If you are used to traditional weightlifting machines that work your arms, legs and shoulders, core exercise machines might look strange. Although their appearance can differ from the machines you normally use, their concept is the same. They, too, use resistance to boost the intensity of your workout. They just put the resistance in a different area.
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What They Do
Core exercise machines are devices meant to strengthen your core muscles, which consist of muscles in your abdomen, hips and lower back. Stronger core muscles can lead to improved balance, stability and posture. Core exercises generally crunch, twist or otherwise repeatedly move the muscles that make up your core. Core exercise machines go one level beyond the exercises by adding weights, pulleys, bungee cords or other resistance devices to your core workouts.
Because Pilates focuses on strengthening your core, the Pilates reformer qualifies as a core exercise machine. The reformer consists of a set of rails beneath a sliding bench where you can sit or lie down to perform your exercises. The machine includes handled straps attached to adjustable springs that provide tension and resistance for your targeted muscle groups. The machine appears similar to an exercise bench, except it is supported by metal rails rather than legs and usually has a foot board you can push against during your exercises.
Abdominal crunching machines work your core muscles, with a focus on crunching your abdominal muscles. Ab crunchers generally have a padded seat and back support surrounded by side bars with handles or a front panel, both of which are attached to pulleys and weights. The machines with bars work your core when you grab onto the side handles and pull down and crunch your upper body, using your core strength to lift the attached weights. Front panel machines work your core as you bend forward, again using your core muscles to move the attached weights.
Several other exercise machines also work your core muscles. One is a mechanical horseback riding machine, a tamer version of a mechanical bull, which forces you to balance and stabilize your core in order to stay seated on the machine. Exercise machines that work your torso can also provide a core workout. They include machines where you stand and twist your torso or perform various other exercises while holding a metal set of handlebars attached to cables and weights.