Best Ab Exercise Mat: Get a Full Range of Motion Ab Mat Workout
Get a Full Range Motion Ab Workout with the Right Ab Exercise Mat
Are you looking to take your core workouts to the next level and get more out of your crunches, sit ups and other ab exercises?
Using an ab mat designed for full range of motion can help you better target your abs through a wider movement range while protecting your back.
Read on to learn how the right ab exercise equipment enables stronger, more effective core training.
When doing abdominal exercises like crunches on the floor, it can be difficult to maintain proper form as your back arcs off the ground. This limits your range of motion, preventing you from fully contracting the abs through their fullest range. It also puts strain on the lower back.
An ab roller or ab wheel allows for greater extension but can also put pressure on the spine.
An abdominal exercise mat provides an ergonomic surface that allows for full range of motion ab exercises without hurting your back.
Quality ab mats are made of dense foam or PVC leather over high density foam to support and cushion vertebrae. Their contoured or wedge shape props up your lower back to enable a fuller crunch or sit up range of motion that fully stretches the abdominals. This leads to more effective strengthening and shaping of abdominal muscles.
Let’s explore the benefits of using an ab workout mat for enhancing core training and sculpting six pack abs.
Why Use an Ab Mat for Core Workouts?
Ab mats provide a comfortable, supportive surface for effective core training. Here are some top reasons to use a quality ab exercise mat:
Prevents Back Strain and Injury
Doing hundreds of crunches right on a hard floor can cause back discomfort or lead to injury over time as discs press against the floor. An ab mat with tailbone protector allows you to exercise safely through a full range of motion without excessive tailbone pressure.
Offers Lumbar Support for Better Form
The ergonomic design and angled shape cups your spine to maintain natural lumbar curve. This alignment allows you to crunch correctly without your back arching off the floor, enabling fuller abdominal contraction.
Enables Fuller Range of Motion
The elevated design lets you extend further on the eccentric phase of moves like crunches, reverse crunches, and leg lifts to better target the abs through their fullest range for greater muscle activation and strength gains.
Intensifies Your Core Workouts
The instability of the curved surface makes moves more challenging. Your core has to work harder to stabilize your body, creating a more intense ab workout.
Protects Tailbone and Hip Flexors
The high-density foam cushioning prevents bruising of delicate tailbone and hips on the floor, reducing pain and injury risk.
Top 5 Best Exercise Mats
- Typical Features: Portable, padded, designed for a variety of abdominal exercises and core training.
- Pros: Often lightweight and easy to carry, provides adequate support for the back during sit-ups and crunches.
- Cons: The thickness and firmness might vary; some users might prefer a thicker mat for extra support.
- Typical Features: Designed for a full range of motion in ab workouts, usually comes with a durable and comfortable surface.
- Pros: Helps in targeting abdominal muscles effectively, suitable for various core exercises.
- Cons: The size or curvature might not be ideal for all body types.
- Typical Features: Ergonomic design with options for tailbone support, often foldable and versatile for different workouts.
- Pros: Enhanced comfort for tailbone, versatile use for various exercises, usually compact and easy to store.
- Cons: The foam density might be too soft or too hard for some preferences.
- Typical Features: Designed for full range of motion crunches, focuses on sit-up support and abdominal training.
- Pros: Usually offers good support for the lower back, aids in targeting core muscles effectively.
- Cons: Some users may find the mat too stiff or uncomfortable for longer workouts.
- Typical Features: Extra thick and soft, provides cushioning for knees and elbows, portable.
- Pros: Good for exercises that require kneeling or elbow support, soft padding offers comfort.
- Cons: Might be too bulky or thick for some users, not exclusively designed for abdominal exercises.
When choosing an exercise mat, consider factors such as purpose, size, thickness, and ease of cleaning.
For instance, the thickness of the mat should support your knees, hips, and back for a variety of exercises, and it should be easy to clean and store.
*Note the difference between yoga mats and exercise mats: yoga mats are often thinner and grippier, while exercise mats tend to be thicker and have more cushioning but are not as grippy
What Muscles Does an Ab Mat Work?
Using a quality abdominal exercise mat enables you to intensely train all muscles of your core through a wider range of motion. Key areas targeted include:
The six pack muscles running vertically along the front of your abdomen. Fully stretching them via crunches on an ab mat hits them more deeply.
Your internal and external obliques run along the side of your torso and twist your spine. The instability of an ab mat forces them to work hard during core moves.
This deepest core muscle wraps around your abdomen like a corset under the six packs. It must contract hard to stabilize the spine on an unsteady ab mat surface.
These long muscles supporting your lower back work isometrically to prevent overarching during ab mat crunches and sit ups through a fuller range.
In addition to blasting your abdominal muscles, using an ab roller mat also trains supporting core muscles like the quadratus lumborum, hip flexors, glutes and thigh muscles more thoroughly for full core activation.
What Exercises Can You Do on An Ab Wheel Mat?
There are many effective core moves that can be enhanced using an abdominal exercise mat:
The improved spinal alignment lets you do proper crunches through a greater range, intensely hitting the upper and lower abs.
The legs can lower further, enabling the lower abs to fully stretch before powerfully contracting them.
The instability hits your obliques harder from side to side.
The cushioned surface makes sit ups comfortable while the angle facilitates fuller spinal flexion and muscle activation.
Performing planks with hands on an ab mat increases balance challenge to fire the core maximally.
An ab wheel mat lets you lower legs further while keeping back flat to better isolate the lower abs.
What to Look for in the Best Ab Exercise Mats
Not all ab workout mats are created equal when it comes to quality and functionality. When shopping, look for an ab wheel mat that has these features:
Ergonomic wedge shape
Provides incline to support back and improve spinal alignment.
High density cushioning
Prevents bruising and discomfort on hip bones and spine.
Withstands daily training without flattening. PVC leather covers prevent tearing.
Ensure your mat stays firmly in place on wood or tile floors during training.
Allows for easy transport if storing mat out of the way after workouts. Trying an ab mat out at the gym first can help you determine thickness, density, comfort and portability preferences before purchasing online.
What Thickness Ab Mat is Best?
Standard ab roller mat thickness ranges from 2 to 6 centimeters. Thicker mats provide more cushioning for bony hips and tailbone but lower ones allow you to extend slightly further for a wider range of motion. Most people do best with a 4-5cm thick ab mat.
Consider your flexibility, sensitivity, workout surface hardness and types of exercises when choosing thickness. For example, very thin 1-2cm mats work better for planks than crunches or sit ups.
How Do You Use an Ab Wheel Mat?
Using an abdominal exercise mat takes a bit or practice but enables more effective, joint-friendly core training. Follow these tips:
Find a Non-Slip Surface
Ensure your mat stays in place on the floor. Secure it to a non-slip yoga or gym mat if needed.
Proper Spinal Alignment
Your lower back should make solid contact with the elevated part of the wedge to support the natural lumbar curve.
Avoid Arching Backwards
Concentrate on keeping your spine fully aligned rather than overarching when crunching upward.
Perform reps slowly and controlled on both concentric and eccentric phases for best core activation rather than flinging arms and legs.
Keep abs braced as if preparing for a punch throughout the movements to fully work the deep core with added instability.
Where Should You Place The Ab Wheel Mat?
One benefit of quality ab exercise equipment like mats is convenience. You can workout your core from home any time without heading to the gym. Consider these ideal areas for your ab roller mat:
Store your mat with other fitness accessories like dumbbells, bands, foam rollers etc. Makes core training part of your regular strength workout routine.
Keep your mat under the bed for quick morning ab sessions just after waking up. Great way to fire up your core before breakfast.
Leave an ab exercise mat next to the couch or TV to enable crunches, plank and stability holds during commercial breaks. Easy way to accumulate training volume.
Yoga / Home Studio Room
The thick cushioning makes an ab wheel mat comfy for floor stretches like child's pose after workouts in addition to core moves.
Wherever you workout, ensure the floor surface under your mat provides sufficient traction to prevent sliding.
DIY Alternative Ab Pads
While commercial ab roller mats allow for the greatest comfort, stability and full range of motion, you can create a budget ab exercise pad using household items:
Firm Pillow or Cushion
Fold a firm pillow covered with a yoga mat to support your spine during crunches.
Exercise / Yoga Ball
Performing moves like reverse crunches with your lower back and sacrum against an exercise ball lets you extend further.
Folded Towels or Blankets
Stack sufficient cushioning under your spine to lift hips and reduce floor contact.
Slide a couch cushion partially under your back for makeshift elevation during living room core moves.
Though not as stable or adjustable, these DIY options can enable a greater range of motion for those on a budget.
Added Features of Advanced Ab Mats
Basic ab workout mats provide an angled surface to enable fuller spinal flexion and protect the back.
More advanced models include bonus features to improve functionality:
For greater neck support during sit ups. Some also have an optional shoulder block.
Smartphone / Tablet Holder
Lets you watch training videos during your workout for added motivation and proper form.
Built in anchor loops allow you attach bands above your chest for added load on crunches.
For easily gliding mat out of the way into a closet or under furniture to save space when not training abs.
While not must-have add-ons, these extras can provide a nicer user experience for those serious about their core strength program.
Common Ab Exercise Mat Mistakes
It takes practice to train your abs effectively on an unstable surface. Avoid these common mistakes:
Picking Too Thick of Mat
Excess padding reduces range of spinal flexion. Find optimal elevation for full range.
Overarching places unhealthy strain on spine. Keep back flattened against the mat.
No benefit to flinging arms and legs. Keep the motion slow and controlled.
Remember to exhale on the exertion phase and inhale when lowering to maintain core brace.
Insufficient Warm Up
Prepare abs for training by rehearsing form on the floor before using the elevated mat.
With mindful practice, an ab roller mat helps you train your core safely and efficiently.
Are Ab Mats Worth It?
If you perform frequent core workouts, a quality ab exercise mat is definitely worth the relatively low investment.
The descendant price buys you:
- Extended range of motion
- Increased muscle activation
- Reduced strain on your back
- More effective strength gains
- Added balance / stability challenge
- Enhanced muscle definition
For those training abs several times per week at home, an ab wheel mat is affordable workout gear that will noticeably improve your core training quality, safety, and results over doing moves directly on the floor.
Take Your Core Strength to the Next Level
Incorporate an ab roller mat into your regular core routines to intensify your abdominal, obliques, and lower back training. The instability and improved spinal alignment lead to greater muscle activation through a fuller range of crunches, sit-ups, and stability holds.
Protect your back while sculpting stronger six-pack abs faster using the proper ab exercise equipment. Invest in a quality high-density foam ab mat today to take your core strengthening results to new heights!
- Ab exercise mats improve spinal alignment for fuller range ab workouts.
- Reduces back strain for safer, joint-friendly core training.
- Targets abs more thoroughly to enhance muscle strength and definition.
- Provides added balance challenge to fire more muscle fibers.
- Enables a wider variety of effective core moves from home.
- Durable, high-density foam supports users up to 300lbs
- Look for a non-slip base, carry handle, and proper thickness padding.
Start intensifying your core training by performing your favorite ab exercises on a quality ab roller mat. Within a month, you’ll notice impressive gains in abdominal definition, stability, mobility, and core strength.
What is the Benefit of an Ab Workout on a Mat?
The mat is designed with an ergonomic shape that cups your spine to support proper alignment during abdominal exercises. This enables fuller range of movement that provides greater muscle activation and targets the abs more thoroughly without straining your back.
Can You Do Sit-ups on an Ab Mat?
Yes, the cushioned, non-slip surface makes doing sit-ups comfortable while the angled shape facilitates a wider range of spinal flexion to work your core through its fullest range of motion.
What Core Muscles Does an Ab Mat Target?
Using an ab mat trains all the muscles of your core including rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae. The instability forces the abdominal muscles to work harder to stabilize the spine.
How is an Ab Mat Different than a Core Trainer?
While both train the abs, an ab mat focuses on a wider range of crunches and sit-up motions while a core trainer targets rotational movements to hit obliques. An ab mat provides spinal support a core trainer lacks.
What Exercises Require Full Range of Motion?
Moves like crunches, reverse crunches, and sit-ups all benefit from the greater full range of motion enabled by the elevated design of a quality ab mat over just doing them on the floor.
Where Should You Place an Ab Mat Sit Up Pad?
The portable sit-up pad can be used conveniently in your home gym, bedroom, living room, or exercise room for core training anytime. Having it visible keeps ab workouts top of mind.
Can You Hurt Your Back Using a Core Trainer Mat?
No, a quality core trainer mat for full range of motion is designed to support the natural spine curvature and prevent hyperextension that strains the lower back during crunches and sit-ups.
Why Get a Trainer Mat for Full Range Ab Exercises?
The contoured shape lifts your hips to allow safely exercising through a broader range of motion. This lets you fully contract abs through their fullest range for superior muscle activation.
How Many Sit-ups Should You Do a Day?
Aim for 3-4 sets of 10-25 sit-ups, allowing full recovery between sets. Listen to your body and don't overdo it if feeling back discomfort. Proper form on an ab mat prevents injury.
Will an Ab Workout Mat Help My Lower Back?
Yes, the ergonomic shape provides lower back support to maintain a healthy lumbar curve so your back stays pressed to the surface instead of arched off the floor during sit-ups.
Why Are Ab Mats Contoured?
The contour is designed to cradle your spine at an angle to facilitate a greater range of spinal flexion and abdominal contraction compared to flat on the floor.
Can You Use an Ab Mat as an Abdominal Mat?
Yes, an abdominal mat helps you safely perform effective ab strengthening exercises like crunches, leg lifts, and planks through a wider range of motion to better target your core.
Where is the Best Place to Store a Workout Mat?
Store your workout mat someplace easily accessible like your home gym area. Having it visible will remind you to train abs more often for better results.
What is Power Guidance on an Ab Mat?
Power guidance refers to contour indents on some ab roller mats that cradle elbows during crunches. This encourages proper elbow positioning to better target muscles.
Can I Use an Ab Mat to Strengthen My Abdominal Muscle?
Yes, the instability of an ab mat forces you to engage your deep abdominal muscles more to stabilize your core. Over time, this strengthens and tones abs.
Are Ab Mats as Good as Yoga Mats for Core Exercise?
Ab mats specialize in effective, joint-friendly core exercise for sculpting six-packs whereas yoga mats focus more on flexibility training and relaxation during light flows.
What is the Benefit of a Full Range of Motion Ab Mat?
A full range of motion ab workout mat enables your abs to move through a greater range eccentrically and concentrically. This enhanced stretch and contraction helps strengthen abdominals faster.
Is it Better to Do Sit-ups on a Mat or Floor?
Doing sit-ups on a properly designed mat for sit-ups allows for better spinal alignment and fuller range of motion. The cushioning also prevents tailbone bruising.
Do Ab Mats Provide Back Support?
Yes, quality ab mats provide ergonomic back support to maintain the natural lumbar curve, keeping your spine correctly aligned as you crunch upward through a wider range of motion.
Why Does an Ab Mat Have a Contoured Design?
The contoured design angles your pelvis to allow for greater spinal flexion and abdominal contraction compared to laying flat on the floor during core exercises.
Where Can I Buy Mats for My Home Gym?
Quality mats for home gyms are often available from specialty fitness retailers, large online retailers like Amazon, and direct from manufacturers online. Compare materials used and sizing.
What Thickness Ab Mat Makes the Best Gym Mat?
The best gym mat thickness is very user dependent based on your build, sensitivity, flooring, and preferences but generally between 2 to 6 cm is ideal. Start mid-range with a 4 cm mat.
Can You Use an Ab Roller Wheel on an Ab Mat?
For optimal comfort and full wheel range of motion, use your ab roller wheel directly on a mat over hard floors. Doing rolls on top of an elevated ab mat reduces the wheel’s range.
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PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Ab Training Guides: