Do abdominal machines provide the best abdominal exercise?
Abdominal exercises for women and men are a hot topic these days. Television and magazines are full of advertisements touting the benefits of abdominal exercise machines. They promise to have abs like those of the model in the ad “with just a few minutes a day.” But do they provide the best ab workout and do they really live up to their claims? Popular Mechanics recently published a featured article looking at some of the most popular models you can order. They tested seven different machines over a two-month period and got some eye-opening results.
The tested ab machines:
Six of the seven machines used in 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). construction, and is based on a rocking movement back and forth to work the abdominal muscles. The one exception to this type of ab machine was the one made by Nordic Track called the Ab Works. This is a relatively heavy piece of equipment that uses the ‘reverse crunch’ principle to operate. Instead of raising your upper body as in the normal crunch exercise, the reverse crunch brings your knees up toward your chest, while keeping your upper body at rest.
Do they work?
The bottom line is yes: ab machines work, but maybe not as well as they say. They will definitely tighten and strengthen your abdominal muscles, but not to the point of being really noticeable (unless you’re very skinny to begin with). Likewise, they won’t do much to reduce the fat around your belly. A study published by The American Council on Exercise also confirmed this. The study indicated that the machines did not really outperform standard ab exercises. On the plus side, however, ab machines provide more support for your body and can reduce stress on your neck and upper back. They also make the abs a bit easier, which is a benefit for those just starting out.
If you have already purchased one of these machines, simply continue with the recommended program. However, to see results, you will need to do regular aerobic exercise such as running or (fast) walking to help burn fat and lose weight.
You will probably also need to be on a diet to reduce your calorie intake. Remember that abdominal exercises alone will not do much to reduce your weight.
If you don’t have an ab exercise machine, there are many effective exercises you can use to trim your tummy. The link in the author bio at the end of this article will take you to a good webpage on the best ab exercises.
If you’d like to read more about Popular Mechanics’ study on abdominal exercise machines, you can find it on their website at www.popularmechanics.com/outdoors/sports/1283171.html