The best ab mat
When performed properly, the simple crunch is an effective way to tone and strengthen your core. However, without comfort, support, and a bit of guidance, a sit-up can strain the lower back and prove inefficient and even harmful.
Ab mats work to reverse the potential negatives of crunches, fitting into the curve of your back to keep you safely positioned during a sit-up. Ab mats allow a full range of motion while protecting your hips and spine, welcoming a variety of exercises. If you're familiar with ab mats, we recommend the comfortable and durable Synergee Core Mat. For those who want a better understanding, our guide is here to help.
Considerations when choosing ab mats
Benefits and drawbacks
Ab mats stabilize your back, preventing you from moving around while doing crunches. They provide your body the necessary support and allow for a range of motion to perform a complete, proper crunch, among other similar core exercises. When first using an ab mat, sit-ups may seem more difficult, but that would indicate they weren’t being executed accurately before.
However, most ab mats are the same size, so they may not perfectly support all individuals. While they’re a useful accessory, they only have a specific function and do not help with other exercises.
When sitting up on the ground, the ab mat should be placed with the smaller end pushed up against your lower back. The steeper side is where your shoulders connect when you lean back, and the mat should match the curve of your spine when you’re supine. Once set up, you can perform a variety of crunches and core exercises, changing the position of your arms, and bringing up your legs for slight variations.
Ab mats are not adjustable and most come in similar sizes, which means they may not work effectively for everyone. They tend to be two or three inches tall at their highest point, and about 12 inches wide and 15 inches long. They’re soft and lightweight, making them easy to store and transport.
Most ab mats are black and likely feature the company’s logo, but certain options may be sold in a variety of color options. Some users may want a splash of color or a mat to match other exercise accessories.
Some mats may come with other pieces of equipment for a more balanced core workout. Resistance bands are a popular inclusion, as they can be used in ab workouts, to help you stretch, or incorporated in free weight exercises.
While ab mats are specifically designed for crunches, there are plenty of variations that are worth keeping in mind. Reverse crunch, bicycle crunch, Russian twist, and V-up are among the many types of sit-ups to consider. These movements can also incorporate resistance bands, workout balls, or weights.
You can expect to spend between $15 and $30 for a quality ab mat from a reputable exercise company, providing comfort and support.
Q. Where can I use the ab mat?
A. The ab mat can be used anywhere you have a flat surface, including floors or carpets in the home. Some users may also want to use the mat outside. Just be sure to note any sticks, rocks, or uneven surfaces that can damage the mat or disrupt the workout.
Q. How do I take care of my ab mat?
A. Be sure to wipe down the ab mat after use with some mild sanitizer. This prevents the buildup of bacteria and keeps the mat from wearing down more quickly. Avoid storing the mat until it’s completely dry and keep it away from hot or humid areas.
Ab mats we recommend
Best of the best: Synergee Core Mat
Our take: Quality ab mat that allows for a full range of motion to perform complete, effective crunches for toning and strengthening.
What we like: Curvature and design allow for a deep, challenging crunch, targeting all muscles in the core. Mat is firm, comfortable, and durable. Lightweight.
What we dislike: Higher than some at the shoulders. Beginners may struggle.
Best bang for your buck: ProsourceFit Abdominal Mat
Our take: Convenient and portable ab mat that provides a quality workout at a low price.
What we like: Compatible ab mat for intense trainers, yoga enthusiasts, and casual exercisers. Comfortable; includes a strong grip to stay in place. Good value. Offered in three colors.
What we dislike: May come with a manufacturing odor.
Our take: Comfortable and welcoming ab mat ideal for beginners, serious trainers, and everyone in between.
What we like: Ab mat that helps with stretching, comfort, toning, and strengthening. Average size accommodates most users. Lightweight and easy to store.
What we dislike: May slip on the floor. Concerns about durability.
Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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