Abdominal Exercise Equipment that Really Works
Building a washboard, or ‘six-pack’ abdominal section has been written about as much as any popular subject. Like any popular topic, hundreds of products have been developed to make money off of the desire for that ‘sleek, sexy core.’
Some products are tangible equipment, like the AbCircle Pro or the Ab Rocket. Others are complete workout programs with names like ‘sixpackshortcuts.’
Regardless of the form they take, they are marketed as tools that ‘target your abs’ like nothing else can, for a fast and easy way to six pack abs.
Unfortunately, there are no short cuts. The path to a tight waistline is laden with hard work and steady progress.
There are two important components to a lean, muscular midsection.
1. Your Diet: It's true, you can't outtrain a bad diet. For a great fat-shredding eating plan, read The Zone by Dr. Barry Sears or look up the slow carb eating plan in The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferris.
These plans work, let you lose fat while maintaining/building muscle, and you will feel the results within a short time of starting either one.
2. Exercise: The second component is exercise. Just about any properly executed 'core' exercise will work, but if you want to get the greatest effect from your efforts, keep the isolation exercises (crunches, machine crunches) to a minimum and focus on compound movements that incorporate more than just your abdominal wall, or 'six pack.'
What you DO need:
1. Excellent nutrition via The Zone Diet or the slow carb diet (http://fourhourworkweek.com/category/the-slow-carb-diet/ )
*This works for carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike people.
2. Some simple, inexpensive exercise equipment and knowledge of a few bodyweight movements.
3. The will to follow through and be patient as you persist!
Good Core Equipment
A whole body approach to training the core involves multiple muscles and creates a strong, well developed midsection. Consider putting the following effective core workout tools in your home gym:
The Ab Wheel
A simple Valeo ab wheel for under $10 will help you strengthen and develop your entire core, and is a lot of fun to use.
When you first try an ab rollout with this, start on your knees as the standing rollout is a very difficult, advanced exercise.
After doing some work on an ab wheel, you feel the effort put forth by your lats, triceps and even chest muscles.
The Power Wheel
Lifeline USA has taken this rolling workout to the next level.The Power Wheel () is a single, larger rubberized wheel of superior construction, and is a staple at Monkey Bar Gyms. Lifeline Power Wheel
In addition to handles, it has foot rests (which look like pedals) with straps to keep them from slipping. The reason for this? Crawling. Pikes. Plank walking. The list of exercises is extensive.
In a contest held by one of their distributors, some participants plank-walked (my name for it) over a mile! Talk about a serious core workout.
The Power Wheel costs just over $50, but it is versatile. Designed for rolling abdominal exercises, it is a legitimate pushup workout tool as well.
Using a Power Wheel, one can instantly increase the angle of their pushup to emphasize the deltoids or rest the pectorals.
Once you work up to a full standing rollout on any wheel, increase the difficulty by adding a weighted vest or backpack. Much more effective than sitting on a padded chair and rotating.
Pullup Bar/Ab Straps
Besides being one of the best upper body workout tools available, a pullup bar is an excellent core workout tool as well.
Think of the gymnast on the parallel bars. Hanging leg raises, hanging knee raises, inverted movements. For that matter, doing pullups in strict form requires good core activation as well.
The drawback to doing an abdominal workout on a pullup bar is grip failure. Your arms may tire before the abs get a decent workout.
Enter the ‘ab straps.’ Also known as ‘ab slings,’ these connect to your pullup bar and allow the user to hang by their upper arms bent at a 90 degree angle. This puts hanging work on larger muscle groups, allowing you to hang longer.
A good pullup bar and a set of ab straps can cost over $200, or it can cost about $30, depending on how heavy duty you wish to go with your pullup bar.
Either way you have a great addition to the home gym that will last a long time.
A set of resistance bands attached to an anchor point can provide a comprehensive and functional core workout (see: Resistance Bands for Strength and Function.)
Even better, resistance bands are cheap and all you need is a basic set to get started.
Some resistance/exercise band sets come with a door anchor or other anchoring system, but if you workout outdoors or simply don’t workout in a doorway, you can buy a carabineer instead. Attach it to a fence/fence post, a pullup bar, park playground equipment, and you're ready to go.
Workout in the garage? Screw an eye hook into a wall stud and connect the carabineer to that.
So how do you use resistance bands for a great core workout? Simple. Standing or kneeling, start with the resistance bands on one side of you.
Holding the handles with both hands and your arms extended, move them from the side until they are in front of you. Maintain this contraction for a few seconds, increasing the time each workout.
Do several sets like this, alternating between kneeling and standing, side to side and overhead positions. This is just one example, resistance bands are a versatile and effective core workout tool.
Your plan for success, to review:
1. Nutrition: An important part of your plan to have muscles you can actually see. Avoid excess carbs, eliminate processed junk.
2. Exercise Program: Begin a well-rounded exercise program. This means resistance training, steady cardio and especially high intensity workouts.
3. Good Equipment: You do not have to spend a lot of money on equipment. A good pair of adjustable dumbbells, a pull-up bar, a set of resistance bands and either a power wheel or an ab wheel are more than you need for a serious physique.
Get started and don't look back!
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