In 1994 to 1996 or so, there were infomercials that aired in the late afternoon in the northwestern USA, about a piece of exercise equipment called an Abflex. To use it, you would sit and pull on the device with your arms so that part of the device pressed into your stomach (and you would do this repeatedly) in order to exercise your stomach. I think the general impression I got was that using the device was supposed to give you a muscular stomach. It may have exercised the arms, too, but I don't remember. I think it had different resistance settings.

The device wasn't electronic. It looked something like a large crossbow in generic shape (but it obviously wasn't one). It certainly wasn't an ab-roller, nor the electric Ab flex training belt.

Anyway, how effective are/were these things at exercising the abdomen (for muscle strength; not for weight loss)? If you've actually used one, I would love to hear your experience. If you know a modern device that functions the same way, I'd also love to hear about it.

They looked like they were fun to use.

Ah, I found some links selling the old product (so you can see what it is):

The product says "Abflex™ The Rapid Abdominal Development Machine!" They express a lot of confidence about it on the packaging.

Anyway, I'm not wondering if the Abflex lives up to every claim made in its behalf; I'm specifically wondering how good it is for strength and muscle training (not whether it reaches a certain benchmark indicated in the advertising).

  • These were advertised in late night informercials around the world. I remember reading somewhere that lots of these types of products are developed with marketing first, to look cool and sell well.
    – Luciano
    Commented May 29 at 10:07

1 Answer 1


I'm not an ab expert, but let's see:

abflex box

From the box image alone you should be able to see that the machine works with a resistance that you pull towards your abs. What other machine does this remind you of?

machine row

As you can imagine, pulling something towards you will work your back, biceps, shoulders... But not really your abs! Since the piece touching your abs is quite small you don't have chest support, so your work your core to stay in an isometric hold, but your abs are not doing as much there.

I'd say it's as effective as a machine row for building abs...

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