Can ab straps serve as abs machine? Well, it’s a little strange to describe a few straps you hang your body on as “machine”, but strangely enough they are the best tools for your lower ab workout.
As we have seen in a previous article, the abdominals are actually a group of muscles, including the “washboard”-like rectus abdominis. Some researchers claim that one of the best and most effective lower ab workouts targeting this muscle are hanging abs exercises, such as the hanging leg raise (see below for an explanation of how to perform hanging leg raises). However, you have to keep in mind that generally all abdominal exercises target at the lower abs are dangerous for your back and you have to be very careful to choose the right exercise and to perform it properly. On the Wikipedia there is a comparison of the back risk involved with doing ab exercises.
The tricky part is that – in order to perform hanging abdominal exercises – you need a strong grip, as you need to hold on to a chin up bar. Sustaining your body during the length of your lower ab workout takes a lot of strength in your hands and forearms, and many people don’t have grip to hold on to the chin up bar for that long.
That’s where the ab straps come in. Ab straps are slings with a ring or carabiner onone end where the straps can be fixed to the chin up bar. You then just fityour arms into the cushioned slings and that way your body hangs on the straps, while your arms and shoulders support your weight and you can focus on your abs workout instead of fighting with your grip.
(image courtesy of amazon, the featured product are the Perfect Pullup Heavy Duty Performance Series Ab Straps)
Now you’re ready to start your lower ab workout. First of all, it’s very important that when you train your abs with ab straps you need to do slow, controlled movements and you don’t swing. You don’t want that the momentum of your swing lifts your legs, you want to train your abs! Also, if you make any jerky movement you can easily strain your back, so you really need to make slow controlled movements and you should try to maintain your back in a neutral position as much as possible.
Hanging Knee Raises:
In the initial position you hang in the ab straps, arms parallel to the floor. Now you slowly raise your knees towards your chest while bending the knees until you reach a 90º angle, with your thighs parallel to the floor. Slowly lower your knees back to the initial position. Remember: no swinging!
Hanging Leg Raises:
This is an advanced exercise and it works your abs even more. From the same initial position, you slowly raise you straight legs without bending the knees until your legs are parallel to the floor. You hold them for a count of two and then slowly lower them back.
If you want to train your obliques, you can vary the previous exercises by twisting your body, i.e. while lifting your legs you lift them first to one side and then in the next movement to the opposite side.
Ab straps are relatively affordable, costing around 10-30 US$. The problem is that you need a chin-up bar to fix your ab straps on, so if you want to train at home and not in a gym you’ll also need to buy a bar.
In a nutshell, ab straps are a good way to trains your abs, especially your lowerabs. However, if you don’t perform the exercise correctly you can strain your back, so if you have any kind of back problem you’re probably better offlooking for a different ab exercise equipment. Read also our post on the best ab machines.
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