We’re all familiar with the “effortless abs” achieved by infomercial models.
Usually pictured crunching away on the latest trendy abdominal exercise machine, their encouraging smiles and ripped cores often have us whipping out our credit cards on the spot. Or, maybe we try to mimic them using machines at the gym.
What these infomercials fail to tell you is that most of the machines being advertised are not only ineffective, but downright dangerous.
They put your lower back, spine, and hip flexors (the muscles connecting from the front of the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae) at risk. These machines place extreme stress on the hip flexors, while simultaneously compressing the disks of the lower back.
They also promise visible abs through continued use, while studies show that no amount of crunches, sit-ups, or unnatural twists will “burn” belly fat (1).
To help save your back and help you get the abs you want, I’ve put together this list of abdominal exercise machines that are the worst offenders, along with some of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your abs.
7 Worst Abdominal Exercise Machines
1. Incline Sit-Ups
Incline sit-ups are one of the most deceptive of ab machine workouts, not only because they tend to look extremely effective (like an enhanced super-crunch), but also take quite a bit of effort, which makes many believe they’ve gotten an effective ab workout.
Unfortunately, the burn induced by incline sit-ups is concentrated in the hip flexors, and is especially taxing on their connection point to the upper legs.
Along with the potential for tearing one of these flexors, the load placed by gravity on the lower back is enough to set the stage for a back injury.