- Gym machines help target and build specific muscle groups, making them great for ab exercise.
- Moves like the Pallof press, leg raise, and cable crunch work all the muscles of your core.
- Exercise like rowing also helps burn calories to reduce body fat and make your abs pop.
Forget crunches — if you want to build a strong, sculpted core, take advantage of gym machines to zero in on ab strength and stability, experts say.
Gym machines can be advantageous for focusing on a specific muscle group. Abs, like any muscle, get bigger and stronger when you challenge them with progressive overload, according to trainers.
While developing a six-pack also requires good nutrition (since maintaining low body fat allows muscles to show), building the muscles will help create more visible definition, too.
Machine exercises like leg raises, Pallof presses, and landmines allow you to add weight and resistance to take your core workouts to the next level.
Cable crunches help you load up your abs for better gains
Lifting weights is great for building muscle because as you increase weight over time, your muscles get bigger and stronger to adapt.
By using a cable machine for crunches, you can apply the same principle to your abs, physique coach Cliff Wilson told Insider’s Rachel Hosie.
“Abs are just like every other muscle group in that they respond well to added weight,” he said.
As a result, you can save time by doing shorts sets of heavier exercise, instead of spending hours on bodyweight ab workouts, he said.
The Pallof press works the core as well as full-body stability
One of the most underrated moves in the gym is also one of the best for abs, according to Noam Tamir, the founder and CEO of TS Fitness in New York City.
The Pallof press involves pressing out in from of you with a cable or exercise band, with an anchor point off to the side, forcing you to work your core to stay in alignment.
As a result, you’re tapping into all the muscles of your abs, including your obliques on the side of the body, as well as your glutes and back.
“You’re resisting rotation, so it’s very functional,” Tamir said.
Hanging leg raises use gravity to create ab tension
A deceptively simple exercise, the hanging leg raise is a favorite of famously ripped athletes like CrossFit star Kari Pearce and bodybuilder Sunny Andrews.
Leg raises work by using your own body weight to work your core as you hang from a
and slowly lift your legs into an L shape.
For an extra challenge, you can tuck a medicine ball or dumbbell between your feet.
Captain’s chair leg lifts targets upper abs, lower abs, and obliques
If you want to work on leg raises but struggle with grip or upper body strength, the captain’s chair offers a cushioned back and armrests to brace against during the exercise.
When done correctly with slow, controlled movement, the exercise hits every part of the abs from the rectus abdominis (the muscles that make a six-pack) to the transverse abs deep in your core, according to Tamir.
“You really need to focus when doing this because you can easily let the hip flexors take over. It’s great at helping to create definition for your core,” he said.
Rowing machines build your abs and burn calories
While most cardio exercise isn’t ideal for muscle building, rowing is an exception, since it elevates your heart rate while putting tension on your muscles to prompt growth, Tamir said.
As you drive with your legs and pull with your arms, your core is helping stabilize the entire time, putting your abs to work.
Rowing also torches calories, making it a especially helpful if you’re trying to uncover your abs by burning body fat with a calorie deficit.