Abdominal Devices - Save Your Bucks!
© Joan Price. May not be reprinted without permission.
The winner of the "Gimmicks- and- Gizmos- that- Aren't- Worth- Your- Money Award": home abdominal devices.
Wouldn't it be nice: you buy one machine that miraculously transforms your jelly belly to washboard abs. Oh, sure, it takes work--but you can give it 5 minutes a day, can't you? Dream on, friends. Yes, the infomercial models have washboard abs, but I'll bet you the cost of a gym membership that they got those sculpted physiques the old-fashioned way, and that doesn't mean pushing or pulling plastic! You can't buy those hard, rippling midsections with one device and a few minutes a day.
Even if these devices were developed with state-of-the-art knowledge (of physiology, I mean, not marketing), they wouldn't work. Here's fact: Spot reducing doesn't work. I know you want to reduce your midsection, but you can't trim fat in that area alone with any machine, tool, prop or pill. So any exercise device that promises you weight loss in one targeted area is a fraud--period. (You can, however, trim dollars from your bank account. Ab device sales topped $450 million through 1996.)
So how do you reduce a belly which is overlapping your belt and turn it into a tight, toned torso? Aerobic exercise burns fat from all over your body, and a low-fat, moderate-calorie, healthful diet will help you avoid eating that fat back on again. Whether you lose weight first from your abs, thighs, arms or elsewhere is genetically programmed: Wherever you gained it last, you'll lose it first, and wherever you gained it first, you'll lose it last. Not your favorite news of the day, but it's the truth.
Abdominal curlups, also known as crunches, are excellent for strengthening and defining your abdominal muscles, and you don't need any machine to do them. When done correctly (learn much more in my book, The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book), they can give you the chiseled look you want, but it will take time, effort, and getting your body fat low enough to let those muscles show. That may or may not be a realistic goal for you.
More important, in my opinion, is that curlups will strengthen your back as well as abdominals, improving strength and posture and letting you function better through the rest of your life. Now that's worth more than giving up a chunk of paycheck because you've got ab-model envy.