Abdominal exercises for women and men are a hot topic these days. TV and magazines are full of ads promoting the benefits of ab exercise machines. They promise to have your abs looking like those of the model in the ad “with just a few minutes a day”. But do they provide the best abdominal exercise and do they really deliver on their claims? Popular Mechanics recently ran a feature article that examined some of the more popular models you can order. They tried out seven different machines for a period of two months and came up with some revealing results.
The Ab Machines Tested:
Six out of the seven machines used in the Popular Mechanics test were very similar in design (They are the Ab Coach, Ab Roller Plus, Ab Sculptor, Ab Toner, Body Shaping Ab Blaster Plus and Weider Ab Shaper.) These are quite lightweight in construction, and rely on a backward-forward rocking motion to work the abdominal muscles. The only exception to this type of ab machine was the one manufactured by Nordic Track called Ab Works. This is a relatively heavier piece of equipment that uses the ‘reverse crunch’ principle to operate. Instead of lifting the upper body as in the normal crunch exercise, the reverse crunch raises the knees to the chest, while keeping the upper body at rest.
Do they work?
The bottom line is yes – ab machines do work, but perhaps not as well as they claim. They will definitely tighten and strengthen your ab muscles, but not to the point of being really noticeable (unless you are very slim to start with. Likewise they won’t do a whole lot to reduce the fat around your belly. A study released by the American Council on Exercise also confirmed this. The study stated that the machines did not really out-perform the standard crunch exercises. On the plus side however the ab machines do provide your body with more support and can reduce the strain on your neck and upper back. They also make the crunches slightly easier, which is a benefit to those people just starting to exercise.
If you have already bought one of these machines, just keep up with the recommended program. To see results however you will need to do regular aerobic exercise like running or (fast) walking to help burn fat and lose weight.
You will also probably need to be on a diet to reduce your calorie intake. Remember that ab exercises by themselves will not accomplish much in reducing your weight.
If you don’t have an ab exercise machine there are plenty of effective exercises that you can use to trim your tummy. The link in the author bio at the bottom of this article will take you to a good web page on the best abdominal exercise workouts.
If you would like to read more about the Popular Mechanics study of the ab exercise machines you can find that on their website at www.popularmechanics.com/outdoors/sports/1283171.html