The abdominal muscle group consists of the transversus abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscles and the internal oblique muscles. The deepest muscles inside of the abdomen are considered the “core” and are responsible for bodily balance and stability. Exercises such as the basic crunch can help to develop the abdominal muscles and decrease fat around the midline. The AB Shaper Pro is made by Weider and is available in fitness stores and online.
The AB Shaper consists of a curved pad with U-shaped handles. To use the device, sit on the pad and hold on to the curved handles while performing ab exercises. Your head should rest on the supportive padded headrest. The manufacturers of the device claim it reduces neck strain during abdominal exercises and provides a more effective workout in a shorter period of time. According to “Popular Mechanics,” the device does reduce neck strain when compared with a basic crunch performed without the device. A study published in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Medicine” in 1999 found only a slight difference in the effectiveness of ab exercise devices when compared to standard ab exercises.
Always stretch before beginning your exercise routine. To perform beginner exercises on the AB Shaper, start with the basic crunch. Lie on the mat and place the feet flat on the floor with the knees bent. Hold on to the handles and curl the AB Shaper forward to a 45-degree angle. Lower and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions. Next target the lower abs by performing 10 to 15 reps of a basic crunch with the feet raised one inch above the floor. Finish by targeting the side obliques. Bend the knees to one side and perform five to 10 reps of a basic crunch on one side before switching to the opposite side.
Practice intermediate exercises when the beginner exercises are no longer challenging. Try a raised knee crunch to target the upper abs. Bring the knees into the chest and perform 10 to 15 reps of a basic crunch. Modify the exercise by placing your feet on to a chair. Next, start with your feet flat on the floor with the knees bent. Perform a basic crunch and bring the knees into the chest. Return the upper and lower body to starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 reps. Finish with a twisting oblique crunch. Bring both knees to one side with the legs one inch off of the ground. Perform five to seven reps before switching sides.
Move on to challenging advanced exercises after you have mastered the intermediate exercises. Pratice an “L” crunch by raising the legs straight up into the air. Perform a basic crunch as above but keep the legs in the air the entire time. Next, move on to an advanced raised-knee crunch. Extend the legs out in front of you one inch off of the ground. Perform a crunch and bring the knees into the chest. Release and straighten the legs out once more keeping them above the ground. Finish off with an advanced twisting crunch. Start with the legs extended and just off of the floor. Perform a basic crunch and bring the knees towards the upper left side of the body. Lower the upper and lower body and repeat to the opposite side. Perform 10 to 15 reps of all advanced exercises.
Using only an AB Shaper will not give you six-pack abs. The exercise device should be combined with a healthy diet and a well-rounded exercise plan that includes cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Consult your physician before you begin any exercise program.
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