There is good news for people looking for tighter abs - some of the best ab equipment is inexpensive and small enough to easily fit into nearly any room in your house. This means you can get an effective ab workout without paying for a gym membership.
A study conducted by the San Diego State University Biomechanics Lab and sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that abdominal crunches on a stability ball may be one of the most effective exercises for the abs, making a good stability ball an invaluable piece of equipment for anyone looking for stronger ab muscles.
Identified as the best stability ball by personal trainer Michael Behnken, the Duraball Pro is also a favorite among reviewers on VideoFitness.com who say the ball is durable and worth the higher price than economy balls (which are typically available for around $20).
Purchase a Duraball Pro from Lifestyle Sports for around $60 with free shipping.
GoFit Stability Ball
Ranked as the best exercise ball by Bestcovery, this stability ball features a high burst resistance and is quite durable. A DVD accompanies this ball, and is appropriate for both beginning exercises and seasoned exercisers alike. Reviewers on Amazon like this ball because of its durability and the firm grip the ball has with non-carpeted floors.
The price for this ball depends on the size and features the customer selects, and varies from around $20 up to just under $70 on Amazon.
The same San Diego State University study cited the captain's chair as one of the best pieces of exercise equipment for abs, particularly for the obliques. Like the stability ball crunch, a captain's chair crunch is simple yet incredibly effective.
Body Vision PT600 Power Tower
This versatile piece of equipment allows users to do knee raises in addition to several other exercises that work more than just the abs. The sturdy base of the Power Tower allows users to feel safe using this equipment and the padded back and arm cushions make for a more comfortable workout.
Relatively affordable at around $150, Amazon customers rate this piece of equipment highly for ease of assembly and versatility. Free shipping is available when purchasing the Power Tower through Amazon.
Best Fitness Vertical Knee Raise
Like the Power Tower, the Best Fitness Vertical Knee Raise can be used for a variety of exercises. It is lightweight and easy to move, though it is not appropriate for heavier customers since the weight limit is 250 pounds.
Wayfair sells this piece of equipment for around $200 including free shipping. Wayfair customers say the Best Fitness Vertical Knee Raise is easy to assemble. It is also available from Amazon, where one customer describes it as an "excellent piece of equipment".
While captain's chairs and stability balls seem to be the two ab equipment options most clearly identified as beneficial through scientific research, trainers and customers alike also find other kinds of equipment to be helpful. Popular options include:
Hyper Extension Bench
The Apex Roman/Hyper Extension Bench gets high marks from Amazon customers. Priced around $90, customers like the stability of this piece of equipment. Customers also state that it is simple to assemble and provides an excellent core workout for stronger abs. This model features a leather padded cover for comfort.
Ab wheels are endorsed as effective by personal trainers and consumer reviewers. In an interview on MuscleandFitness.com, Jay DeMayo, head strength and conditioning coach for the University of Richmond's basketball team states, "Ab wheel exercises are tough, but they're the best way to develop the kind of core stability you need to get stronger."
The Ab Wheel by Valeo is simple to use and small enough to store just about anywhere and is a bestseller on Amazon. This portable piece of equipment sells for less than $15.
Ab Crunch Machine
Crunches have long been recognized as a great way to build and tone abs. Ab crunch machines allow people do do crunches from a seated position, providing a way for beginners to "strengthen and condition the abdominals ready for progression" while also providing advanced users with a way to increase workout intensity.
Customers who have room in their home for gym-sized equipment - and who don't mind spending around $320 - can purchase a Yukon Ab Crunch Machine at The Benchpress Equipment Outfitters. This machine is praised by some body builders as one of the only pieces of ab equipment they suggest as effective for helping define abs.
Simplest Ab Workouts
When it comes to ab conditioning, there is no substitute for hard work. Some push-ups combined with a good diet and steady cardio can do wonders for your abs. If you can't afford to stock your home with exercise equipment, start small with a simple ab routine and go from there.