You see the smiling face of the girl with the beautifully toned abs smiling back at your from the glossy page of the ad touting the latest abdominal exercise gadget. The ad promises you a similar set of abs in just four weeks. Sound too good to be true? Just how do those fancy and sometimes costly abdominal training devices stack up against traditional abdominal exercises? What are the best abdominal exercises for building a set of six pack abs?

It would certainly be gratifying if an abdominal gadget could be purchased that would make abdominal training both fun and effective, but the reality is it takes hard work and focus to build toned abs and the best abdominal exercises in the world won’t work if they aren’t done regularly.

Interestingly enough, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared a variety of abdominal training aids with the old standby, the tedious, but effective abdominal crunch to determine the best abdominal exercises for building stronger abs. The abdominal training devices they looked at included the Perfect Abs Roller, the Ab Swing, Six Second Abs, Ab Scissor, and the Torso Tuck. To get an idea how each training aid compared to the traditional abdominal crunch, they measured the muscle activity in the rectus abdominus and external oblique muscles during activity.

What were the results of this interesting study? They found the muscle activity in the abdominal muscles was higher when performing a traditional abdominal crunch than it was with any of the fancy abdominal training devices. These results are supported by previous studies that show that the traditional abdominal crunch is more effective than abdominal training aids.

So, are you wasting your money purchasing an abdominal training device? While it appears you can get comparable and even superior results doing traditional abdominal crunches, you have to be willing to do this exercise on a consistent basis to see results. If crunches are difficult for you to perform, you’re probably not going to devote the time and effort needed to mold an impressive set of abs. If an abdominal training aid makes it easier for you to stick with your ab sculpting routine, it may be worth purchasing one despite the results of this study.

When considering the best abdominal exercises to sculpt abs, remember you also need to engage in a regular calorie burning activity to reduce body fat so you can see those freshly sculpted abdominal muscles. Even if you sculpt them, they won’t show if they’re covered by a layer of fat.

The good news is if you’re looking for sculpted abs, you don’t need fancy gadgets or abdominal training devices. The solution may be as simple as pulling out an exercise mat and doing some power crunches.