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Target Tight Abdominals Right

 

It seems like every day some new abdominal infomercial hits the market guaranteeing us that perfectly toned midsection. Does anyone remember the flex belt and other abdominal belts that were heavily advertised about five years ago?

 

If not to give you an idea it was touted as a revolutionary abdominal toning belt claiming to give consumers a perfectly toned six pack in just two weeks.  The flex belt uses a method called Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) that contracts your abdominals just by strapping it around your waist. What’s unreal is that it is actually approved by the FDA, but remember this does not mean it’s better than regular abdominal exercises.

 

The fact of the matter is that abdominal training has nothing to do with having a flat stomach or a beach body six pack. The FDA does NOT approve abdominal belts as weight-loss products, so as always a tighter core comes from lowering your body fat percentage and focusing on a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise program.  The point is never fall into the infomercial trap!  There is no reason to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on these products when you can just get on the floor for your core work.

 

In early 2000, a study by ACE (American Council of Exercise) was conducted recruiting 30 healthy men and women to determine the most effective common abdominal exercises. The subjects ranged from ages 20 to 45 from occasional exercisers to every day exercisers. The research team led by Peter Francis, Ph.D., even looked at popular infomercial products such as the Torso Track and AB Rocker. Each of the exercises were introduced randomly with subjects completing 10 to 12 repetitions, by executing a 2 second concentric phase (the initial contraction) and a 2 second eccentric phase (the lowering phase of the contraction).

 

So how did the researchers determine which exercise targeted best? 

The team used Electromyography (EMG) equipment and monitored the muscle activity during each exercise recording activity in the upper, lower, and oblique abdominal regions. They then normalized the data in comparison to the muscle activity recruited by a traditional crunch. With that said, here is how your common abdominal exercises stack up with muscle activity in our rectus abdominus!

 

Ranking Exercise Mean % of Activity
1 Bicycle Maneuver 248
2 Captain’s Chair 212
3 Exercise Ball (FIT BALL!) 139
4 Vertical Leg Crunch 129
5 Torso Track 127
6 Long Arm Crunch 119
7 Reverse Crunch 109
8 Crunch with Heel Push 107
9 Ab Roller 105
10 Hover 100
11 Traditional Crunch 100
12 Exercise Tubing Pull 92
13 Ab Rocker 21

 

What an interesting study with results proving many abdominal exercises to be far more effective than the traditional crunch and infomercial products. What’s amazing is that the infomercial Ab Rocker ranked about 80 percent less effective than the traditional crunch.  The bicycle maneuver and fit ball topped the list so that’s great news! 

 

All and all, for the best core strength results choose several different exercises session to session. Try to target upper, lower, transverse abdominals and obliques.  Keep in mind that we all feel abdominal exercises differently and no matter what exercises you choose it will take time to strengthen the region.  Now you are all set to target tight abs right.

 

 

New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises, Mark Anders, May/June2001, ACE Fitness Matters, <http://www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/BestWorstAbExercises.pdf>

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