Floor AB work vs. Machine

Curious as to if there is a big difference or any difference at all for that matter between doing ab work (sit ups, crunches, scissor kicks etc…) on the floor the traditional way vs. doing the various ab machines in a gym. Are they both pretty much the same or is one better than the other?

Select free weight exercises rather than machines whenever possible.

Exercise machines are great for some things like rehab, but they should be limited for healthy baseball pitchers.

Free weight exercises require the body to stabilize the joints, core, and balance the weights. Machines keep the movement fixed in a certain plane, but nothing is fixed in baseball—it’s dynamic.

This means body weight squats, for example, are better than using a leg press machine to build lower body strength.

Remember, most pitching-specific movements are done with your weight on one leg or the other, so it’s wise to include exercises like lunges to be able to develop functional strength and balance while on one leg. Or in your example core exercises standing with med balls for example rather than crunches on your back.

Hope this helps.

Yes I agree with that but I’m specifically referring to AB work. Like in Tuff Cuff each day has various AB exercises. I’m wondering if those can be subbed for the gym AB machines or is the floor better. Just asking wondering if it would be easier for my son to do at the gym on the machines or not.

Better to do them off of the machines.
Machines isolate the movement. Doin a movement on the floor or standing requires the body to balance ect through the movement. Remember, most gym weight machines were designed with body builders in mind not athletes who need to move.

Thanks, that’s pretty much what I was wondering. Thanks for the input.

Maybe it was just and example but I would bag the situps and crunches for ab development and look for exercises that do not pot the spine in flexion. Plank variations and others are much better. Cressey and Stack both have a lot of info.

Best regards,


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Ok, I’ll look into that. I just want to find things for my son to lose some of his stomach fat. He’s not a fat kid just has a little to much in his belly so I just need good ways to trim that down without having him lose to much weight. I like the weight he’s at (158) but it could be more lean.

Remember that ab work isn’t the greatest weight loss tool. My understanding is that we can form the strongest abs ever but if they are hidden behind body fat, we lose some of the benefit (both aesthetics and functionality). Make sure your son is getting ample cardio to truly melt away fat. Also don’t be too hard on his weight depending on age. Many of my friends were pudgy up until about 16 or 17, and all of sudden that pudge became lean muscle. It’s usually the slightly more portly kids who can pack on the muscle once puberty strikes.

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Thanks for that response. He will be 16 in a week and a half and as I said he’s not a fat kid it’s just he has some belly fat, and can probably stand to slim out in his face a tad. He works hard and has lost two pounds in the month that we’ve been working out. I find myself I think mentioning it to him a bit much that he needs to cut down on some of the stomach fat and I don’t want him to get discouraged by that. He’s been eating pretty good, doing cardio, DDP yoga and working out so hopefully he will start to trim out a little more and I know that will help his strength athleticism, and velocity. I have to just learn to be more patient with his progress, and results. I think we will crank up the cardio a little more, and just be more patient.

Heavy safety bar squats, front squats and deadlift variations with RDLs and other heavy work will make him stronger, increase muscle mass (more weight) and better train his body to pitch. All of that needs to be supervised by someone who really understands what is going on.

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Ted is right on,
It’s about strength first. You can big guys that are weak and small guys that are strong. Focusing on lifts (free weights) that develop strength first and not visible muscle so much is the way to go. A kid could grab a 15 LB dumbbell and do tons of reps doing curls and tricep presses and get ripped arms…he is still moving 15lbs.
Body building is based on tons of reps generally. Strength programs have a lot less lifting in terms of reps. If the goal is performance focusing on visible things (ripped abs vs a softer midsection) will have little affect. When it comes to the core rotational core work is the way to go.
Payloff press, Russian twist variations, med ball scoops, wood choppers ect. are more benefitial than crunches which don’t have
much carry over. Losing weight slowly while maintaining a focus on gaining strength and mobility is the way I would go.

Doing endless amounts of ab exercises is not going to help your son lose belly fat. Improving the quality of his diet, on the other hand, will.

Some general dietary recommendations for losing abdominal fat:

  • Increase protein intake (minimum 1 gram per pound of body weight)
  • Improve quality of carbohydrate sources (fruit, legumes, whole grains, root vegetables, etc…)
  • Improve quality of fat sources (nuts, seeds, avocados, cocao, olives, olive oil, etc…)
  • Decrease overall energy (Calorie) intake!
  • Train hard but also smart

Is your son currently playing?

I would probably limit the total amount of cardio he does in-season, unless performing at his best is not a major priority. Once or twice a week, after starts, is just fine but after that you’re going to start seeing diminishing returns and potentially compromising recovery, particularly if he’s lifting weights on top of that.

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No, he’s not currently playing. We both decided that he should take the summer off to focus more on strength and conditioning to get him ready for High School ball next year. So we’ve been doing weights, and conditioning 3 times a week, and yoga 3 times a week with one day off. He just started his throwing this week so will be working that in too.

A basic off-season schedule I use with my athletes is strength training 4x/week using a basic upper/lower body split, speed & plyometric work 2x/week (typically before strength training), and sprints or tempo runs 2x/week (depending on the individual, their training goals, the time of the year). Shoulder and core stability work is done on strength training days. Mobility and corrective exercise is completed every day before and after (and sometimes during) training.

This usually works out to training 6 days out of 7 but we can manipulate the training schedule to accommodate anywhere from 2 days/week (certainly not optimal and probably would be the absolute minimum) all the way up to 7 days/week.

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This is a good layout…
Glad to hear a focus on mobility work as this is ignored way too often. Also, good hip activation and attention to movement patterns is key.

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