Can someone please shed some light on the topic of ab machines. What works and what doesn't? I am a very large person 295 lbs. and I am looking for something basic that will work but not so advanced I can't use it. I bought a Torso Track but cannot support my own weight on my arms to use it. I went forward and landed on my face and was never able to "glide" back. I ended up spraining my wrist fairly bad.
I have recently seen an Ab piece of equipment that is endorsed by someone name Tammy something. The equipment is basically doing a sit up on a board so it supports your neck and back. It looks like I might be able to use it - has anyone tried this? The commercial shows regular and overweight people using it.
I am just so confused with everything out there - Help -- please point me in the right direction.
11-04-2001, 02:57 AM
First off - I have to laugh seeing all the ab machine mania right now! There are a couple of primary reasons for this - one due to the fact that working your abs does NOT cause you to lose bodyfat - it only makes the muscles under your tummy fat stronger. In fact, the models with those washboard ads in all the infomercials have EXTREMELY low bodyfat. And they didn't get that way by using an ab machine! "Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym."
Another reason is the fact that the abs are about the easiest muscle group to work - all you need is a towel or mat on the floor and just about anyone can do crunches - done with the proper form and intensity (and you DON'T need to do an entire sit up) will work your abs just as effectively as any of those ab machines.
In any case, I would totally recommending trying out a piece of exercise equipment BEFORE you buy -- usually this kind of merchandise shows up at Sportmart, Big 5, or Wal-Mart sooner or later (usually sooner). Yeah, I know, the infomercial has a 30-day free trial. But these marketers are pretty smart - they KNOW that most people don't send it back - it's just too much trouble to get it back in the box and arrange for pickup, pay the shipping costs, etc.
But before you spend the $$, check your library for some exercise books showing ab exercises and give 'em a try!
11-07-2001, 04:47 PM
I'm certainly no fitness expert. It seems to me, however, few -- if any -- ab machine is better than regular old crunches. And I sure as heck would stay away from those belts that (allegedly) use electric shocks to tighten your stomach muscles.
Crunches are the most God-aweful, horrible exercise ever invented. Well, next to step aerobics anyway. But they do work wonders.
Try this one, it has worked well for me:
Lay on the ground with legs bent and your feet shoulder-width apart.
With your arms behind your head (or crossed over your chest), round your shoulders and lift your shoulders and upper back off the ground. (Just a little bit, so everything from your brastrap and up are off the ground.)
Hold for a little bit and then roll back down. Each time, try to hold the flexed position for as long as you can and do as many reps as you can.
To work your obliques, you just tip your legs to one side, and lift your upper body straight up as you did during the regular crunches.
I haven't found anything for the lower abs yet. I am told that the stomach is one long muscle and if you work the top you are, in fact, working the lower abs as well. That doesn't seem right to me, because I have a pronounced "pooch" on the lower abs and regular crunches just don't cut it.
Our moderator was right, low body fat seems to be the way to go for really flat abs. Although, once your abs start tightening, you'll notice a dramatic difference in your appearance. (I found this to be a great comfort as I slowly inch my weight downward one to two pounds a week as I should.)
For one thing, my stomach doesn't cover up my naughty bits any more. (Small victories are the best ones!) Infact, in certain light, I can see glimpses in the mirror of what I'll look like when I'm thin.
Don't give up hope. Excercising is especially hard when your heavy, but IT GETS EASIER.
Was 265, Now 190. (60 lbs to go!)
11-09-2001, 02:08 AM
I am no fitness expert, but I have been doing a series of ab exercises that sure feel like they are working my lower abs. Basically you lie on the floor with both legs as straight up towards the ceiling (toes point to ceiling) and then you do small hip raises. Like I said, I can certainly feel it!
Kiki, I started at 290 lbs at a height of 5'7.5" back in July and now I weigh 243.5. I started by doing three videos: QuickFix Arms and Legs (1 10 minute portion), Denise Austin's extra lite Aerobics, and QuickFix abs. I have noticed a marked difference and I actually enjoy ab work now. I too like gadgets, but I actually haven't needed them. I did buy a new bike though! :) My next goal is to buy a set of real free weights.
My best advice is just to do a little at a time and try a little harder each time you do them. Also, I suggest skipping days in between doing abwork - give yourself a chance to rest. I do aerobics in between my weight/abs days.
Best of luck to you,
12-03-2001, 09:33 PM
I have an Ad-doer like the ones on the infro-commercials. When I saw the information on it I thought that finally this was something I could do! I have some limitations because I had polio as I child. I can't do any abdonimal exercises, but I can use the Ab-doer. Unfortunately, I haven't been on it lately as I fell on my left knee and the position I need to use to use the machine is painful. I can tell you that it does wonderful things for my DH's back. I also can tell you that I ejoyed using it and the movement is non- stressful to any part of the body. When the knee quits being swollen and painful, I will resume using it and my stationary bike on alternate days.
12-07-2001, 08:39 AM
I have had two children-a 10 pound daughter, and a 9 pound premature son! My stomach muscles were stretched out beyond recignition, I felt like I was carrying around a deflated basketball where my stomach once was!
Abdominals can be tightened quickly, but not without work-the best videos I have found are by Denise Austin. Try Hit the Spot Abs, or Shortcuts-Arms and Abs. Abdominals are the only body part that can be worked every day-but I do it 5 times a week.
The first thing you will notice after the soreness will be less back pain. You will probably not notice a whole lot as far as reduction until you lose some weight, but the smaller you get, the better it will be.
The Shortcuts workout you can find at Wla-Mart-Hit the Spot is a couple years older, you can get a good deal on Ebay.
Nothing can take the place of good, hard work.
02-01-2002, 06:48 PM
If you're really obese, you are not going to see any ab muscles for maybe a year or even two. I am 10 pounds from my goal and I still don't see the ab muscles even though I work them regularly to the point of soreness (doing the ab exercises someone suggested above). I am getting cut everywhere else though, and I'm happy with that.
At this stage, focus on your large muscle groups: legs, back, butt, upper body and just do crunches without any dumb "machine". Your bigger muscles are the ones that will help raise your metabolism to burn more fat.
02-03-2002, 12:27 AM
I'm still plugging away at the crunches. And I still hate them. The are even starting to work a little. (I genuinely like the way my lateral obliques are starting to look.)
Anyhoo, I just wanted to share with y'all a variation of the cruch that seems to be working for the lower abs (hurray, hurray!).
I started with the crunches that someone recommended above. The ones where you point your toes at the ceiling and lift your butt a tiny bit off the ground. But it did not work well.
I think my tummy muscles are way too weak to accomplish anything. I found it impossibly hard and when I finally managed to pull my tushie off the ground, my back hurt like you wouldn't believe.
So after some gentle experimenting and a few back-aches later, I think I got it.
I start in the basic crunch posion: on your back, knees bent and feet roughly shoulder width apart. Then I tuck my lower belly in as tight as I can and try to lift my tushie off the ground. If I can't do it, I help by pushing slightly with my legs.
Then, as I hold this position, I pull my top half up in the traditional crunch I described above in November.
I pull as tight as I can for a count of ten and then relax and do it again.
It's really been working and I hope it will work well for someone else too.
(Still 190, but I'm ok with it.)
02-03-2002, 10:45 AM
I'm now working with a personal trainer once a week, and learning some new ab routines.
I now do most of my ab work on a Swiss ball (or Stability Ball). I do crunches and oblique crunches on the larger ball and the smaller ball I use to do leg lifts and pelvic thrusts.
It's important to keep tension in your abs at all times to work the muscles properly. When you're lying down, imagine that you're trying to push your belly button down to the floor during the movements. It really helps!
Lastly but certainly not least, here's short piece on "Ab Boot Camp" by Scott Nelson of Muscle Media magazine: EAS Champ Scott Nelson posted this ab workout...
So you want to go to AB Boot Camp do ya Sanieh?…..well okie dokie then here we go…..it ain’t gonna be easy, but if ya want them abs by Vegas, there’s work to be done.
A couple of things on ab training before I get into the details. The diet and cardio training are very important now to reduce the remaining bodyfat down to uncover those abs (particularly the lower abs) that you are looking for. Continue the BFL diet and perhaps pull back the evening carbs for the last several weeks to tighten up. You should be doing cardio at least three times per week and perhaps add an extra session or two if you are not happy with your fat loss progress. To really bring the abs out you must totally FOCUS on ABS when you are doing them (don’t let visions of Vegas get in the way). What I mean is you must contract the abs first and pull with the abs in doing any ab exercise. (not just lifting your shoulders or pulling with your arms). Whenever you are working abs it is important to always do your lower abs first as they tire the easiest and the resistance tends to move to other parts of the abdominal. This routine is different than a BFL routine……but I have found for me that my abdominals respond better and become shaper by using a high repetition workout.
Here is what I want you to do for the next four weeks which is basically the routine I go into about 3 weeks out from a photo shoot. This routine is meant for finishing your abdominals.
Immediately following your a.m. cardio training on an empty stomach (at least three times per week) you will be training your abs. I have always found I can get a much better ab contraction when I am hot, sweaty, and void of food. You will be doing a no rest circuit routine consisting of 6 consecutive exercises, you will then rest and stretch for 2 minutes and repeat, rest and stretch for 2 minutes and repeat again. The whole routine should take you about fifteen minutes. Try the following exercises in your circuit:
1.) Lower ab crunch (15 reps) – lying flat on a bench with knees bent at a 45 degree angle bring your knees toward your chest contracting the lower ab.
2.) Leg Raise – (15 reps) – lying flat on a bench, legs straight, lift legs from hips keeping them straight until your toes are right above your eyes (your butt will come off the bench)
3.) Side Crunch (15 reps ea. Side) – lying on one hip on bench, knees bent, arms grabbing the end of the bench behind you, bring knee toward chest…you should feel these in the obliques and intercostals. Switch to the other hip and do the same thing.
4.) Seated Crunch – (15 reps) sitting on the very end of the bench hands behind your butt, crunch your knees towards your chest then extend back your legs.
5.) Lying Crunch w/ Legs up (15 reps) – with legs up on a wall or bench, pull your shoulders off of the ground about 6 inches BY CONTRACTING your abs.
6.) Back Hyperextension (15 reps) – face down on a hyperextension machine, start in a folded position and go to parallel, repeat.
Ok, now we get an an active rest period for 2-3 minutes. Stretch your abs by locking your hands and reaching as high for the sky as you can, hold for a 10-20 seconds, repeat. Do stomach vacumms (this will reduce your waist size very quickly and give you great abdominal control) by exhaling all of your air and trying to touch your belly button to your backbone, hold for 10 seconds and repeat. These can be done standing, kneeling, or on all fours….concentrate on abdominal control. You can also do some side bends (without weights) during this period. Rests over……repeat the circuit. Active rest for 2-3 minutes, repeat for the third time. You can say ouch now.
If you don’t feel the above workout is giving you the results you want you can add some supplemental ab training- Before my weight workouts, I like to do some hanging leg raises and/or crunches from a pull up bar. These are great lower ab exercises and they stretch you out for your workout. If you have not already, get the 3 minute ab workout (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060952709/o/qid=953686825/sr=8-1/102-652 3705-0767212)and add a couple of the lower ab workouts each week. The exercises are different, effective, and very efficient. Do as many stomach vacuums as often as you want……you can do them at work, standing in line, at church, wherever, and no one will ever know……they give you tremendous control over flexing your abdominals and your waistline. And speaking of flexing, the more you flex your abdominals the more defined they will become. You do this by exhaling all of your air and tightening your midsection as best you can. Do it from the front and sides…….oh, and don’t forget to smile and look natural when you do it :)
Ok girl, the rest is up to you….now kick some butt….i mean some abs! Final Ab inspection in Vegas.
And most important - Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym...if you want that six-pack to show, you've gotta eat clean!
02-03-2002, 12:59 PM
Just lurking, hope it's ok to offer an opinion. Some newer studies show, though, that crunches are not the best way to strengthen abs and that old-fashioned sit-ups work better. It's really about what exercises are safe for you and that you will do. Crunches are hard to do with good form when people are not in shape and can be dangerous to boot. If an ab machine of any kind makes things more comfortable and motivates one to work out, there's no reason not to use one, but IMO it's just more important to eat right and get a good all-around exercise program going under a doctor's supervision.
But I also find that Pilates and ballet exercises are a good way to achieve core strength, good posture and FLAT ABS! Good luck.
02-04-2002, 12:49 PM
I have the Body by Jake Ab and Back Pluss. I find it is more comfortable for me to do it than to get on the floor. It has made a big change in my ab strength but certainly is not my only source of excercise. I also do freeweights and horseback riding. I think using a machine is fine if it gets you to excercise. But deffinatly try it before you buy. I got mine in a used sports equipment shop and saved a lot of money. Lots of these machines end up resold by people who just plain don't use them. Just be determined to use it if you are going to spend your money. It's great that most of you are doing the work without the props but please recognise that for some of us if it can be more comfortable to do we are more likely to excercise. Personally I have knee trouble that makes it hard to do anything on the floor because getting back up is difficult. Also I started at 320 pouns and know how hard it is to do some things. I sarted out with just the diet and the lack of calories required to support my mass was enough to drop about 40 pounds before I needed to add excersise. We just have to want to do it bad enough. Kiki you can do it. Please don't give up!:)
02-04-2002, 05:25 PM
Personally, I think the old way of doing the ab exercise is beneficial.
I did find a little news on the ab belt craze that is going on that people may want to read. It may leave skin burns. OUCH!
ab belts a big no no.
02-04-2002, 06:34 PM
About a few things that were said up above:
It is possible to see your ab muscles when you are even 20 pounds from your goal weight. I think it all depends on your body type-I have an hourglass figure, and my waistline and abs are the first place to look great, while if you are an "apple", or big through the middle and have small behind and legs, it will be the last place you see tone, while you look great in shorts!
As far as the craze with ab machines-I think the biggest scam is the ones where you don't have to do anything-the ones that look like belts...there just isn't anything great about shocking a part of your body over and over...as far as machines-they can help if you are too out of shape to do anything else, but you should try to progress to doing them as floorwork or with a Pilates type ball.
Someone posted how crunches can be dangerous if not done with correct form-this is true of any exercise. People try to do as many as possible, rather than try to do a few CORRECTLY...with ALL exercises!
02-04-2002, 11:02 PM
FeistyFilly: Thanks for posting the link for the story about electronic ab belts. These have been around for years but are only now hitting the drugstores, infomercials, etc. It seems silly to me that anyone would think they could take the place of exercise, but apparently some people do.
The same idea shows up as an aid to firming up the face. I am a huge believer in facial exercise, but it is not as easy as giving oneself electric shocks!
02-06-2002, 08:11 PM
Please check out the 'ab support group' posting on the exercise forum.
I have posted my thoughts on abs exercises, my tips and credentials and think you might benefit from the info there. At the very least you'll be in touch with others who are having similar problems.