The Six Pack Ab Lie

Health & FitnessExercise & Meditation

  • Author Craig Pepin Donat
  • Published June 1, 2008
  • Word count 1,044

Often wish you had more time to spend on exercise? Trust me, you are not the only one. The number one reason people say they don't exercise is due to lack of time. With people working longer hours during the workweek, commitments with family, longer drives to and from work, we often put ourselves last.

But can you really see fitness results in "five minutes a day," the way home exercise equipment infomercials promise? Remember this: if it sounds too good to be true, it is. These products give hopeful consumers promises for "fast weight loss" and "million dollar abs." Consumers abandon their fitness efforts completely when products are harder to use than they expected, or if they don't see the results they thought they would see.

Ab Exercisers Worst of the Bunch The worst culprits when it comes to the "slimmer-in-only-five-minutes-a-day" scams are the ones that call themselves "ab exercisers." The problem? Spot reduction does not work. The exercises may help you tone and build your muscles, but if your beautifully strong abs are hidden beneath layers of fat, no one will see the results!

We're not saying ab exercises themselves are bad. We're saying that these exercises alone will not get you those six-pack abs. Not even crunches will give you those results—but at least crunches are free and don't take up room in your closet!

In a study conducted by the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University and funded by ACE (the American Council on Exercise), many ab exercisers advertised on infomercials were found to be no more effective or only slightly more effective than traditional crunches. Other ab equipment doesn't require a study to support the fact that it won't live up to its claims. All you need for that is common sense. A NASA scientist doesn't need to sit on a tin can to know it won't fly his butt to the moon.

Here are just a few of the ab exercisers that don't live up to their hype and false promises.

Ab Lounge XL - The Ab Lounge XL claims to "tighten and tone upper abs, lower abs and obliques faster than you ever thought possible." The product looks like a fold-up lounge chair, and the infomercials show people effortlessly rocking back and forth in the chair. Momentum is doing most of the work. Manufacturers claim the AB Lounge XL works because it provides a wider range of motion, keeping ab muscles working longer. But longer than what? And does it matter? Research shows that crunches are most effective when completed over a range of no more than 30 degrees. By putting this in your living room, it will more than likely be used as a chaise lounge instead of as an exerciser. Save your money, do crunches on a mat, and buy a La-Z-Boy if you want an extra chair. Torso Track - Once again, this product promises results in five minutes a day; don't always believe these claims. The user kneels on the attached kneepad and glides back and forth, exercising the abs, arms, shoulders, and back all in one motion. According to the ACE study, the Torso Track seemed to be marginally more effective than traditional crunches. However, the study reports, "This training benefit is likely offset by the lower-back discomfort reported by a significant number of subjects while using the Torso Track." If it hurts, you're doing it wrong! (I don't mean the burn that comes from working muscles hard... I'm talking about aches and pains caused by straining and pulling in awkward positions.) The Web site claims this exerciser stores easily under the bed... and that's where it should stay.

Ab Rocker - In two separate ACE studies, the Ab Rocker, perhaps the worst in the bunch, was shown to be 80 percent less effective than crunches. Why would someone want to spend money on an exerciser that is only one-fifth as effective of something you can do for free? Most users reported that it was difficult to use, and some reported tipping over backwards on it the first few times they tried! Ineffective and dangerous... a losing combination.

Red Exerciser - This is another example of how manufacturers try to create a new mousetrap to snare consumers but use the same old lies. The product claims you can reduce inches from your waistline by sitting on a red seat that spins like any office chair. By twisting your upper body from left to right while holding hand grips, you are supposedly exercising your midsection "where you need it, to sculpt a slimmer, new, you." The biggest problem with this piece of equipment is that it is a rotary torso movement, which can place stress on the spine if not performed properly. The dangers are increased when additional resistance is added, placing more pressure on your spine as you twist your body back and forth. Those with back problems should avoid this movement altogether. There is a simple tension knob to adjust the resistance on the Red Exerciser called the "Torsion Max Resistance System," which makes it sounds like there is some sort of advanced technology involved. This piece of equipment is anything but advanced. It's just another marketing scheme and a waste of money.

The Bean - One of the newer ab exercisers, the Bean promises a "full-body workout in only five minutes a day!" If you read more closely, you'll see you can use the Bean instead of a stability ball (exercise ball) for Pilates or Yoga. But why not just buy a much less expensive, more reliable, stability ball? Unfortunately there have been many reports of a deflating Bean and, since I purchased one myself to test and it did, in fact, deflate after only a few months, I can vouch for that theory. I have owned a stability ball for about ten years now and it's still as good as new. The other problem with doing ab exercises on the Bean is that it allows you to rock back and forth, creating momentum. It's a great ride if you have a four-year-old daughter like I do, but if you actually want to exercise your abdominal muscles, there are much better solutions for less money.

Copyright (c) 2008 Craig Pepin Donat

Craig has dedicated his life to helping people through health and fitness education and now brings that knowledge and expertise to you in his ground breaking book, The Big Fat Health and Fitness Lie. He founded and

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