Who hasn’t been mesmerized by an infomercial extolling the virtues of the latest ab machine? Sleek, toned ab muscles are the height of fashion. We want them. And, we want them now, preferably without having to spend hours sweating at the gym.
But do they work? That’s the question on millions of American minds as they ponder whether or not the time has come to invest in their own ab machine.
First the good news: an ab machine can be a wise purchase for the home exerciser, especially if you are new to abdominal workouts. A well-designed ab machine can improve the overall experience of exercise by reducing discomfort, back pain and neck strain—a common complaint from novices attempting stomach crunches without the benefit of an ab machine.
The use of an ab machine almost guarantees that you will work out in both safety and comfort, which reduces your risk of injury. As an added bonus, an ab machine is usually marketed with accompanying DVD workouts and manuals, both of which offer the home exerciser valuable know-how and support.
Is an ab machine right for you?
1. Are you committed to using the ab machine on a consistent basis?
2. Do you have a convenient, accessible place to store the ab machine? (You won’t use it very often if you have to dig it out of the cellar.)
3. Are your expectations realistic? Abdominal exercises alone will not give you a sleek, toned torso—despite the testimonials on TV. To see results you have to complement your ab workout with regular cardio activity and a balanced diet.
If you’ve decided to go ahead and invest in an ab machine, do your homework first.
5 key considerations when buying an ab machine:
1. Price. When it comes to the ab machine, you get what you pay for. Consumer advocates agree that there is a direct correlation between the price of an ab machine and the benefits it provides. Think long term and consider shelling out the big bucks for a high quality ab machine.
2. Expert advice. Consider asking your physiotherapist or one of the fitness trainers at your local gym to recommend a good quality machine. Even if they are unable to recommend a particular ab machine, they can give you a clear idea of what type of ab machine would best meet your needs and body type.
3. Personal experience. Try before you buy. Test several different models at a large fitness equipment retailer before making your purchase. Make sure the ab machine you buy is comfortable, adjustable and easy to use.
4. Forget the hype. When it comes to those infomercials, the primary complaint from fitness experts is that they over-sell and under-deliver. Take a critical look at each product and its claims. Be suspicious of any company that claims its ab machine can burn fat from your abdomen; unfortunately, spot reduction is an urban myth.
5. Work the whole core. Make sure the ab machine you buy works all of the abdominal muscles: the upper abdomen and lower abdomen as well as the internal and external obliques. Don’t waste your money on an ab machine that won’t give you a complete abdominal workout.
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