The Ultimate Guide to Home Exercise Equipment

(For Abs and Core Workouts)

All the equipment

Pros and cons

Value and cost

The Bottom Line:

All you need for an awesome at-home workout is…


At home gym abs equipment: ranked from best to, well, read on!

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What should I buy?

For abs at home

Disclaimer: a lot of articles promise … but deliver just basic (and boring) exercise stuff.  This article will cover (briefly) (almost) everything I know about …. So grab a cup of hot …tea, take some deep breaths, … and...it's about to be…

Lets get started:

Answering some of the most…

…common questions

Q. What is the best home gym equipment to buy?

  1. For Abs, nothing beats a mat, a Swiss ball, Pilates ball.

  2. For weight loss,

q. ideas

Essentials

Room


At home abs workout exercise equipment ab wheel. Jpeg

Ab Wheel

Ab wheel: The Verdict

Overall Score: 25% (lowest score in the group)

Pros:

  • Clever (and sexy) marketing

  • It’s small and easy to store

Cons:

  • People injure their back using these ab wheels every day

Bottom Line:

  • Dangerous (high injury risk)

  • Not very versatile

  • Other far better choices are available

The ab wheel can only do (basically) one exercise: a rollout. For that exercise, Swiss balls are far superior choices (they can do the same exercises more safely and can work your entire body for roughly the same price)

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs):

  • for the core:

  • for fat loss:

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it:

  • For Beginners: Terrible. Too difficult, too dangerous

  • For Intermediate: Awful. Too difficult, too dangerous

  • For Advanced: Barely good. Other equipment does the same job, only better (and more safely)

  • Can you do more than abs exercises: No. It’s basically a one trick pony

Injury Risk: HIGH

Cool Factor: Looks cooler than it is.

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability: Excellent (it’s very small)

  • Ease of Use: Can be used on any flat surface with a mat, but too difficult for beginners.

Overall Value: Extremely low…

Comparison:

  • For roughly the same price, a Swiss ball can do the same exercise as an ab wheel plus hundreds more.

  • If you’re looking for the best possible abdominal workout, get a Swiss ball

  • If space is a factor (and your abs are already strong), get a pair of gliders

Best application: None

Conclusion: Not worth the time. I wouldn’t even consider it. Doing planks on the carpet are far more effective, fun and safe.


Swiss balls: The Verdict

Overall Score: 97%

Pros: Can do literally hundreds of exercises

Cons: none

Bottom Line: Everyone should have a Swiss ball available for exercise in their home. EVERYONE.

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs): High (can do dozens of serious abs exercises)

  • for the core: High (can do dozens of serious functional core exercises, plus it’s good for improving posture)

  • for fat loss: High (can do dozens of fat burning exercises that work the entire body)

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it: Literally Hundreds.

  • Good For Beginners: Very good

  • For Intermediate: Very good

  • For Advanced: Very good

  • Can you do more than abs exercises: Yes, many amazing whole body workouts can be done with this.

Injury Risk:

  • Very low

Cool Factor:

  • Swiss balls are cooler (and sexier) than they appear. They would benefit from better marketing.

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability: Medium. They’re kind of big (but make excellent chairs, great for the low back)

  • Ease of Use: Can be used on any flat surface. Some exercises need a mat (for knee padding)

Overall Value: Extremely High. The best bang for your buck, hands down. Simply learn the exercises (at your fitness level) to enjoy the benefits. Learning them from a skilled personal trainer can guarantee an amazing (and safe) workout!

Total points possible:

Comparison:

  • Far better than an ab wheel (in literally every way, except taking up more storage space)

  • Similar to

Best application:

  • Too many to list. Swiss balls are versatile and fun: we can use them for the rest of our lives and still get amazing results

Conclusion:

  • Buy one. Right now.

Q. What is the best home gym equipment for weight loss?

  1. Start with a Swiss ball and a mat

  2. Add a kettlebell

  3. Add a TRX

  4. Learn to use them

  5. The weight will literally fall off (faster than a treadmill)


Pilates Balls: The Verdict

Overall Score: 75%

Pros:

  • Small, Portable, Store-able

  • Provides good back support during crunches (and other abs exercises)

Cons:

  • Limited number of exercises

  • Can become boring (if it’s your entire workout)

Bottom Line:

  • If you’re looking to add to your collection, a Pilates ball is an inexpensive and fun (even posh) choice

  • If you’re looking to start from scratch, start with a Swiss ball and a nice mat.

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs): Pilates balls are simple and effective for this.

  • For the core: Excellent for beginners, for Pilates class and for home workouts. Good for swimmers. Not great for functional core workouts.

  • For fat loss: Low…not much cardio here, folks.

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it: while you can do a lot of exercises with this ball, there’s something about them that I find lacking…in other words, I stick to the best (and funnest) exercises and avoid the rest.

  • For Beginners: an excellent choice!

  • For Intermediate: Good

  • For Advanced: underwhelming. Use these as a warm up or cool down

  • Can you do more than abs exercises? Not as many as a Swiss ball or gliding discs.

Injury Risk: These reduce our injury risk a lot…so the injury risk here is in the negative. This is an excellent choice for many people with prior back pain and injuries: while it won’t completely prevent all risk, it’s certainly lower here than with an ab wheel.

Cool Factor (marketing, mostly): These are cool: I’d give them a 7 out of 10.

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability: Excellent! These are small, light and good. Great for vacation workouts and at home workouts.

  • Ease of Use: Very easy to learn the basic exercises, but it helps reduce injury risk if you hire a personal trainer for an hour.

Overall Value: High!

Total points possible:

Comparison:

Best application:

  • Crunches. Use them for what they’re designed for: back support during crunches (and you can’t go wrong)

  • A few other exercises

Conclusion:

  • These increase the effectiveness of crunches

  • These reduce the risk of back pain and injuries, somewhat

  • I use these in my exercise classes all the time: awesome!


Exercise sliders: The Verdict

Overall Score: 71%

Pros:

  • Small, portable and affordable

  • Can do a lot of exercises

  • Can work the legs, the abs and the arms (sort of)

  • These work GREAT!

Cons:

  • Too difficult for most beginners (better to start with crunches)

Bottom Line:

  • If you have progressed beyond the beginner stage of working out, then gliding discs are an amazing choice.

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs): Very High (9 out of 10)

  • For the core: Very high (8 out of 10)

  • For fat loss: Medium (6 out of 10…more on this, below)

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it: Dozens, maybe more. Depends on how diverse you’d like your workouts to get

  • Good For Beginners: these are a little too difficult for beginners (trust me: I train hundreds of people every year)

  • For Intermediate: These are tough, but do-able

  • For Advanced: These are good. I primarily use gliders to help my clients rapidly achieve advanced core strength

  • Can you do more than abs exercises?

    • Gliding discs have some great legs exercises, as well as a few cardio exercises (such as mountain climbers). But they’re mostly for core exercises and some legs exercises.

Injury Risk:

  • Low (and if you have good form, very low)

  • Because gliding discs go under the feet (most of the time), they are FAR safer than ab wheels (and more effective: they work the thighs and therefore help burn more calories).

Cool Factor: These are cool…more posh than anything else. They do the job, they take up near zero space, and they’re kind of cool looking (sometimes).

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability: Extremely easy to store. Small. Awesome.

  • Ease of Use: Can use these on any flat surface. Be sure to use the foam side down on hardwood, concrete and linoleum floors, and plastic side down on carpet (or you could damage your floor). Yes, I’ve seen these damage concrete (when the plastic side is down it can leave serious scuff marks)

Overall Value:

  • Low if you’re a beginner

  • Higher if you’re an athlete

  • Very high if you want to bring it in your workouts.

Comparison:

  • Ab rollers with feet straps are just weird, less versatile versions of gliding discs (discs are better)

  • Many of the exercises are similar between these discs and Swiss balls: some the gliders can do better.

Best application:

  • When you want to bring it in your abs workouts. Like a boss. And seriously challenge your abs to a real hardcore workout.

Conclusion:

  • A great addition to your already well equipped home gym.


Suspension Trainers: The Verdict

Overall Score: 94%

Pros:

  • Many extremely advanced core exercises

  • Very versatile

  • Great for functional training

  • These really challenge your core

  • The TRX is by far my favorite exercise choice for my clients

Cons:

  • These exercises are tough!

Bottom Line: The suspension trainers are awesome: my all-time favorite!

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs): High

  • For the core: Very High

  • For fat loss: Very High

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it: Extremely High

  • For Beginners: Extremely High

  • For Intermediate: Extremely High

  • For Advanced: High

  • Can you do more than abs exercises? Hundreds more exercises: literally, hundreds.

Injury Risk:

  • Quite Low

Cool Factor:

  • Very cool. Posh, elite, tough, rugged: suspension trainers have a cool factor for everyone

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability: Extremely High

  • Ease of Use: High (benefiting from excellent coaching, of course)

Comparison:

  • There’s nothing like a suspension trainer: these are in a class of their own

Best application:

  • All-in-one workouts, anywhere.

Conclusion:

  • Extremely versatile, effective and cool, TRX suspension trainers are an excellent choice for people looking to up their game with their home workouts.

q. will a home gym help lose weight?

  1. Yes, and using a TRX suspension trainer for whole body workouts will work the fastest.


Abs Mats: The Verdict:

Overall Score: 75%

Pros:

  • Best padding for the knees and back

Cons:

  • Have to learn the best exercises to get the best benefits

  • Some of these are slippery death traps: be careful to purchase a mat that won’t slide out from under your feet and send you flying across the room, landing on your tailbone and spraining your elbow and wrist.

Bottom Line: Either one of these (better padding) or a yoga mat (more versatile). Every home gym needs a mat.

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs): Excellent

  • For the core: Great

  • For fat loss: Decent

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it: Many

  • For Beginners: Excellent in every way

  • For Intermediate: Excellent in every way

  • For Advanced: Excellent in every way

  • Can you do more than abs exercises? We can also do butt / glutes exercises. And pushups

Injury Risk:

  • Mostly very low

  • Gotta keep the low back flat on the mat (learn correct form)

  • Don’t fold it in half then stand on it: very dangerous with some of the slippery versions

Cool Factor (marketing, mostly):

  • These are coolest if you have a sweet carrying bag

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability: Excellent in every way

  • Ease of Use: Excellent in every way

Comparison:

  • Unlike yoga mats, these provide extra cushioning, which makes them better for sit-ups (and worse for yoga)

Best application:

  • Crunches

  • Knee pushups

  • Glutes bridges

  • Leg lifts

Conclusion:

  • It’s either these or a yoga mat: everybody needs a mat.


Yoga Mats: The Verdict

Overall Score: 75%

Pros:

  • Versatile: can also do Yoga

  • Posh

  • Decent padding for the knees

Cons:

  • Have to learn the best exercises to get the best benefits

  • Less padding than abdominal mats (above)

Bottom Line: Every home gym needs a mat. Either one of these (better for yoga, stretching) or abdominal mat (more padding).

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs): Excellent

  • For the core: Great

  • For fat loss: Decent

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it: Many

  • For Beginners: Excellent in every way

  • For Intermediate: Excellent in every way

  • For Advanced: Excellent in every way

  • Can you do more than abs exercises? We can also do butt / glutes exercises. And pushups. And Yoga. And stretching.

Injury Risk:

  • Mostly very low

  • Gotta keep the low back flat on the mat (learn correct form)

Cool Factor (marketing, mostly):

  • These are coolest if you have a sweet carrying bag

  • Even cooler if your workout outfit is on fleek :p

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability: Excellent in every way

  • Ease of Use: Excellent in every way

Comparison:

  • Unlike abdominal mats, these provide less cushioning, which makes them less comfortable for sit-ups (and better for yoga)

Best application:

  • Crunches

  • Knee pushups

  • Glutes bridges

  • Leg lifts

Conclusion:

  • It’s either these or a yoga mat: everybody needs a mat.

How to choose:

  • Get a abs mat if you’re skinny: yoga mats can hurt your tailbone and spine if you’re thin.


sauna belt sweet sweat waist trimmer.jpg

Sauna Belts

The Verdict

Overall Score: 0 (that’s a zero)

Pros:

  • None.

Cons:

  • science says these are ineffective

Bottom Line:

  • Mostly harmless, completely ineffective, never buy these

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs): none

  • For the core: none

  • For fat loss: none

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it: none

  • For Beginners: none

  • For Intermediate: none

  • For Advanced: none

  • Can you do more than abs exercises? Nope!

Injury Risk:

  • Low: although you might get a skin fungus if you sweat in it a bunch (even worse if you don’t wash it)

Cool Factor (marketing, mostly):

  • Zero cool: less cool than an erupting volcano in hell

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability: Doesn’t matter

  • Ease of Use: Doesn’t matter

Comparison:

  • There’s also the sauna suit (whole body sweat) and the sauna shorts (sweaty crotch): all equally pointless.

Best application:

  • Gag gifts

  • Pranks

  • April 1st

  • Throwing in garbage

Conclusion:

  • These have no evidence that they have ever helped anyone.

  • Worthless.


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Dumbbells, Kettlebells and Medicine Balls

The Verdict:

Overall Score: 65%

Pros:

  • These can greatly add to your workout: increasing strength, cardio and fitness.

Cons:

  • Not as portable as the other lighter options.

Bottom Line:

  • These are an excellent addition to your home workout.

  • Get a kettlebell if you want better cardio

  • Get dumbbells if you want better arms, shoulders and chest

  • Get a medicine ball if you already have a kettlebell and dumbbells

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs): can upgrade to weighted crunches and sit-ups (awesome, but not necessary)

  • For the core: can upgrade to even better functional core exercises

  • For fat loss: major upgrade over a mat, about equivalent to owning a TRX

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it: a few abdominal exercise upgrades (such as weighted Russian twists and weighted crunches and sit-ups)

  • For Beginners: these are great if you have someone to lead the workout

  • For Intermediate: cool upgrades

  • For Advanced: opens the door for amazing core and abs workouts; better than ever

  • Can you do more than abs exercises? yes: lots more!

Injury Risk:

  • Dropping these on the feet, hands and face (when holding them over our body while we lay back) are the main risks.

  • More than half of all gym injuries occur at the dumbbell rack: messy weights, gonna need band-aids.

Cool Factor:

  • These get cooler as you learn how to use them

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability: Very good

  • Ease of Use: Requires some practice. You can do it :-)

Comparison:

  • Get a kettlebell if you want better cardio

  • Get dumbbells if you want better arms, shoulders and chest

  • Get a medicine ball if you already have a kettlebell and dumbbells

Best application:

  • For upgrading our existing abs workout.

  • These are never necessary but for experienced fit people, they are extremely good to have.

Conclusion:

  • Only get these after getting the Swiss ball and mat.

  • Get lighter weight than you think: I recommend:

  • 4 to 8 pound medicine balls for most females

  • 6 to 12 pound medicine balls for most males

    • Men have 40% to 60% more muscle mass in their upper bodies.


Intense 6 Pack Abs Workout
24.99 40.00

For Ripped Abs

Find out how much better your abs can get: try the real abs challenge.

6 weeks 18 Workouts

Instructions for each exercise

Follow along video or just use the GIF images and descriptions

Can do at home or at the gym (or anywhere, really).

3 HIIT Abs Workouts

3 Medicine Ball Workouts

3 Pilates Ball Workouts

3 Swiss Ball Workouts

3 No-Equipment-Required Workouts

3 Gliders Workouts

Add to Cart
Dumbbells sneakers water bottle workout gear

Best equipment for at-home abs workouts

Q. What do you need for a home gym?

The basic kit (for at-home abs workouts)

  • One mat

At best basic kit for home abs workout:

  • One mat

  • One Swiss Ball

The best upgrade for beginners:

  • One Pilates ball (9 inch)

The next upgrade:

  • Add a pair of gliding discs (the kind that has a plastic side and a foam side is best)

The next upgrade (completely optional, not necessary):

  • One pair of light dumbbells (remember: it’s for abdominal exercises, not power lifting)

  • One kettlebell (optional)

  • One medicine ball (optional)

The ultimate upgrade:

  • Everything above

  • Plus a TRX suspension trainer

  • Plus a pair of parallettes (if you’re into legendary core exercises)

q. how much does a home gym cost?

  1. The ultimate home gym set up (for abs) shown on this page costs about $320

q. how to setup a home gym?

  1. Step 1: buy small equipment (listed on this page)

  2. Step 2: store it in a corner or under a table or desk

  3. Step 3: use it 3 times per week (at least) for maximum performance

  4. Step 4: smile! because your body is getting fitter and stronger.

q. are home gym machines worth it?

  1. Short answer: it’s always better to buy more functional, fun and versatile equipment

  2. Swiss balls, yoga mats and suspension trainers are more fun and work better overall

q. which home gym equipment is best?

  1. Kettlebells, stability balls, yoga mats, suspension trainers and hard work are the best assets in any home gym.

  2. Medicine balls and other fun toys are optional.

q. where to buy home gym equipment?

  1. Amazon will ship it for free and deliver it in 2 days (in many cases)

q. home gym on a budget

  1. Buy the most essential things first

  2. Get creative: check out DIY ideas on pinterest

q. Home gym in a small space

  1. Buy small equipment that is easy to store (such as the things shown here)

q. home gym vs gym

  1. Both can be amazing

q. home gym ideas

  1. Build your home gym a few pieces of equipment at a time


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About the ratings

The Verdict:

Overall Score: calculated based on total points from below categories

Pros: Based on years of testing the exercises

Cons: Based on years of experience in the gym

Bottom Line: What matters most

Rating Categories:

Effectiveness (and performance):

  • For the abdominals (6 pack abs): does it work the rectus abdominus (6-pack) and the external obliques (V-lines on abs)

  • For the core: Is it functional

  • For fat loss: Is it burning truckloads of calories and stimulating fat-burning hormones

Versatility:

  • How many Exercises can you do with it: self explanatory

  • Good For Beginners: does it have the appropriately leveled exercises?

  • For Intermediate: does it have the appropriately leveled exercises?

  • For Advanced: does it have the appropriately leveled exercises?

  • Can you do more than abs exercises? Super important that it’s multi-purpose so it’s posh

Injury Risk: Often overlooked, very important…we can only get sexy when we’re feeling strong and working out

Cool Factor: is it amazing?

Home workout rating:

  • Size/storage/portability when we store it, is it going to get annoying?

  • Ease of Use: can we use it at home? For instance: a yoga mat can be used in any room of the house and takes up less space than an Abs Lounge, which is also heavy and ugly, and ends up being a laundry rack for drying clothes.

Comparison: Which one should we get?

Best application: What’s it best for?

Conclusion: The bottom line but called the conclusion.

q. can home gyms build muscle?

  1. Yes! The trick is to work hard at it often enough (and long enough) to see results: stick with it and enjoy the gains!


About this page:

Tucked into the mountains of far northern California (in Shasta County), is the city of Redding. This is where Dale Maynor is a personal trainer, teaching group exercise and fitness. Dale can be found on his Facebook fan page or teaching clients and classes at the Shasta Family YMCA, or the City of Redding Parks and Rec, and more.