Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Abdominal Exercises & Informercial Gadgets


Review of Ab Exercise Infomercial Gadgets

Believe it or not, one of my favorite ab exercises includes one of those cheap infomercial gadgets, "the ab wheel". You can pick oneup at Walmart for under 20 bucks, and it works your abs hard without crunches.

But do other ab gadgets hold up?

Researchers (from the Mayo Clinic, of all places) tested the"Ab-Slide" device and compared it to the ab crunch, the supine double leg thrust (seated knee tuck-in), and side plank.

Reference:
J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Nov;22(6):1939-46
.

Ten young men and twelve young women did all the exercises.

Tests showed that the Ab-Slide, a contraption fairly similar to the Ab Wheel, worked the abs the hardest.

On the other hand, the seated knee tuck-in required a lot of hip flexion, and the doctors believed it could cause BACK PROBLEMS in people prone to low back injury.

Personally, I'm going to stick with the Ab Wheel, but as usual, I'm going to keep crunches out of my program, and add the Seated Knee Tuck-in to my list of ab exercises to avoid.

Not only are crunches and knee tuck-ins hard on your low back, they are also useless for helping you get a flat stomach. Instead, stick to interval training and research proven ab exercises if you want to transform your body.

To do the ab wheel exercise, kneel on a mat with your hands on the ab wheel. Keep your body in a straight line, brace your abs, and keep your low back
tensed. Slowly roll out as far as is comfortable. Keep your abs braced, and contract them maximally to come back up to the start. That's a great ab exercise.

If you don't have an ab wheel, you can use a stability ball for a similar exercise. Kneel on a mat and place your clasped hands on the top of a medium
sized ball.

Brace your abs and slowly lean forward and roll your hands over the ball while the ball moves away from your body. Keep your body in a straight line and go as far as you can with perfect form.

Contract your abs and reverse the motion to return to the upright position.

And to do the side plank, Lie on a mat on your right side. Support your bodyweight with your knees and on your right elbow. Raise your body in a straight line so that your body hovers over the mat.

Keep your back straight and your hips up. Hold your abs tight. Contract them as if someone was about to punch you in the stomach, but breath normally.

Hold this position for the recommended amount of time. Switch sides.

All of those exercises are powerful, non-traditional ab exercises that will help you get more results in less time, plus they are safe for your back. Avoid crunches and stick to those exercises to work your abs.

Sincerely,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, M.Sc.
Author, TT for Abs

5 comments:

Vegas said...

Craig, Where do Planks fit into a good Ab workout? My trainer has recently got me doing them and they are an exercise that looks easy but once I tried it it went to the top of my Ab exercises.

Thanks Mike

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS said...

You can do planks everyday.

bobbifitchick said...

I always forget about the ab wheel exercise. Thanks for the reminder. I love that one. I use a dumbbell - the old fashioned ones that you can slide weight plates on and roll.
Bobbi


Bobbi Johnson, CSCS
http://www.funfitchicks.com

CSRunner said...

Craig, I've noticed in some of your older programs, specifically TT bodyweight, that you use Bicycle Crunchs. Would you please provide some insite on those, are they still worth doing or do they also increase back injury risk. What could they be replaced with?

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS said...

Thanks Bobbi!

CS, take out those and use any of the okay ab exercises, like planks, side planks, planks with elbows on ball, rollouts, jackknives, knee ups, or cross body mountain climbers.