Proform Core Master AB Bench

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Finally a 5 Star Abdominal Machine which Can Work the Upper Body!

Dec 5, 2005
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Flexible spine design, effective, easy on the back, works upper body with attachments.

Cons:Expensive with the options.

The Bottom Line: I really like the CoreMaster and I rarely say that about an abdominal machine. It is effective and with the added upper body work is terrific for many readers.


I work my abdominal area lying down, standing up, sitting down, on my side, on my belly and on my back. The ProForm Ab CoreMaster is designed as a seat. It is a little different than any ab machine I’ve used. Although I have used one that works in a similar way by PowerCrunch I lie down on that one rather than sitting up.

The specifications:

The CoreMaster is a well made, sturdy piece of equipment weighing in at about 190 pounds. It folds but I don’t feel it is easily moved and would recommend that you not put it away or it may never come out again. In fact though it folds it folds down. It becomes less conspicuous but with no wheels I don't consider it a machine that can be moved. It measures 45 inches high by 23 inches wide by 55 inches long so it isn’t large.

The user weight can be as high as 300 pounds which in my opinion attests to the stability and strength of the machine. It has ProForm’s awful 90-day warranty. However for $79.95 you can get an extended warranty for 3 years.

I can see having a problem with is the seat and head rest. In both cases they are two pieces that are glued together. Since this most likely is for your home and won’t be used by hundreds of people a day it would seem that these would hold up. If worse comes to worse the seat and head rest could be resealed. Although I didn’t put the CoreMaster together I know it takes two people though it seems to not be as difficult to put together as cardio-vascular machines!

What is this and how does it work:

The ProForm Ab CoreMaster is advertised as a machine that gives me “three-in-one” shaping and toning. We are told that it focuses on our core muscles which though the term sounds fancy are our abdominal muscles, obliques (The muscles running down our sides.) and our back. The core is what we work in Pilates and requires that we tighten our abdominal muscles throughout the entire workout.

We are told that the CoreMaster works differently than a crunch. In reality my body is crunching when I work it on the CoreMaster however it allowed me a greater range of motion than when I crunch on the floor. The machine allowed us to go three ways but a crunch on the floor or in any other position allows me to go three ways as well. I can go to the front and to each side with any kind of crunch. Again the range of motion isn't as great making the CoreMaster effective.

The way I do a crunch on the floor is by holding my head with my hands but never locking my hands together. They are just guiding my head not pulling it up. As I lift my shoulders off the ground looking up at the ceiling I tighten my ab area. The tighter I hold my abdominal area and make sure my back is pressed to the floor the more I get out of my crunch. My legs are usually bent but in more advanced work they are off the floor. This can be hard on the back.

The CoreMaster simulates this crunching movement but it has some benefits and features that other machines and crunches down without a machine gave me. If you have trouble getting on and off the floor then you will be all set because this is like a chair. I sat on the padded seat and grabbed onto the handles that are on the top of the machine.

A nice feature to the CoreMaster is the “spine design.” Rather than just coming up and crunching like most machines the CoreMaster’s back is flexible so it really does follow the curve of my spine eliminating stress on my lower back. I liked that feature a lot.

What is really nice also about the spine design is that it is so flexible I can rotate from side to side. Referring back to the commercial machine, the PowerCrunch, in order to do that I have to pivot a handle. With the CoreMaster I just move my body. Granted I can move my body on the floor when I do crunches but many of you want a machine and this is really quite nice. As I said the flexible spine gives me a greater range of motion going from side to side. Note: crunches involve a very small movement so when I talk about range of motion I see this as a benefit rather than a necessity.

The back rest is adjustable which is also great. There are holes and a pin. I took out the pin and put it in the middle hole and was able to adjust the backrest so that it leaned back. I played around with this and the different angles were nice. This was nice for a couple of reasons. One it allowed me a fuller range of motion while working my abdominal area and two when I used the optional Flex Band Resistance System (currently $40.00) the angle of the back rest really made a difference.

You can also buy resistance rods (about $30). There is no built in resistance with the CoreMaster. Your workout comes from your own hard work. If you want to make it harder the rods snap into the back of the machine. What this does is make the machine less flexible. So I could put in one or two. This really does add resistance. I usually don’t talk about accessories in my reviews but these two I feel are really important. If you are going to spend $150 on the CoreMaster personally I will buy the rods unless you have never worked your abdominal area and want to give it six months to see how you are doing. You may feel you don't need or want the extra resistance.

The Flex Band Resistance System includes three tubes (I will leave a link below in case you don’t know what a tube is.) and a pair of handles. The tubes are said to be light, medium and heavy resistance. There is no way of knowing what the tubes’ resistances translate to in terms of pounds but I am going to take an educated guess and say that the light ones perhaps equal about 5 pounds, the medium about 10 and the heavy about 15. This may not sound like a lot but tubes are effective. If you don’t find them giving you enough resistance you can wrap them around your wrists making them small thus giving you even more resistance.

You may be wondering what you need tubes for while working your abdominal area. What is terrific is that the CoreMaster adds an upper body workout. There are two metal loops on the back base of the machine. The tubes clip on these loops. I can now work my upper body! One exercise I did is for my chest and it is called a flye. I held the handles of the resistant tubes and with my elbows slightly bent I brought the together in front of my chest as if I were giving a big hug. Other exercises I could do include bicep curls (though I found them a bit awkward) and overhead tricep extensions which worked wonderfully with the CoreMaster. I did these by holding the handles of the tubes and then I brought the handles behind my head with my elbows forward and my palms facing each other. I then extended the handles to the ceiling. This is a great exercise that works the back of my upper arms.

The CoreMaster:

Well I have gone over the machine but there are a lot of exercises that can be done to work your entire abdominal area. I will give you a few suggestions. I did an oblique twist. This is easily done while sitting on the seat. I held the handles of the machine and lifted my right shoulder to the left side and paused and then did the same on the opposite side. This is an exercise I always do on the floor but really felt it quickly on the CoreMaster.

I did what I call a double crunch. I sat on the seat and grabbed the handles. As I bent the machine forward I brought my knees up at the same time. This is also a great exercise and one that can cause some back soreness but I found that I was really comfortable doing this exercise as well as all of them on the CoreMaster.

Jo’s Final Thoughts:

My words are always that crunches can be done as effectively on the floor and for free. I still stand by that statement however the ProForm Ab CoreMaster brings abdominal work to a new level. It made my workouts more comfortable, safer, easier, more fun and effective. On top of that I could add resistance other than my own body and was able to work my upper body with tubes. This is a great machine. .

Other Ab Reviews:

Ab LoungeAb Lounge 2Ab Lounge XLDuo Exercise Wheel by EverlastAb SwingBody by Jake Ab Scissor6 Second Abs ProgramPrecise Ab Trainer Club ProStamina AB Hyper Extension BenchThane AB-DOer ProAb LoungeAb Lounge 2Ab Lounge XL Yukon Ab Crunch MachineYukon Chin Dip Leg MachineFitAbs PlusAb Revolutionizer

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Spri Light Tubes

My fitness equipment reviews can be found here. Thank you for reading and feel free to leave a comment or question.


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