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Do Abdominal Trainers Strengthen Your Abdominal Core Better Than Crunches?

written by: Dr. Kristie Leong • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 1/7/2009

You may have heard them being promoted on early morning infomercials. Do abdominal trainers really work your abdominal core more effectively?

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    The World of Abdominal Trainers

    One trend in the world of fitness is an emphasis on training the abdominal core. Because these muscles are some of the most important muscles for enabling smooth functional movements, keeping these muscles strong and toned can help you perform every day tasks such as lifting and reaching more safely and efficiently. Not to mention a toned abdominal core looks pretty sexy in a fitted dress or swimsuit!

    While some people use a floor mat or stability to ball to work their abdominal core, others look for an easier solution in the form of an abdominal training device. There are certainly a variety of abdominal trainers to choose from these days. You’ve probably heard their names mentioned on early morning infomercials, including two of the most popular: Perfect Abs Roller and Ab Swing. All of these devices claim to be able to strengthen the abdominal core more efficiently than traditional abdominal floor exercises. Do these devices really work and are they better than traditional floor exercises?

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    Are Abdominal Trainers Really More Effective?

    A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the effectiveness of abdominal training devices in comparison to standard floor crunches. In this study they compared two roller-type abdominal trainers and two pivot-types to standard abdominal floor exercises. The results? It was found that core abdominal training using the abdominal trainers resulted in less abdominal range of motion than did standard floor crunches performed on a mat. This means less of the abdominal muscles were actively engaged using the abdominal trainers than when simple abdominal crunches were performed. (1)

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    Should You Buy an Abdominal Trainer?

    Does this mean you should save your money and do abdominal core training on a mat instead? While it appears that the traditional abdominal crunch is just as effective or more effective than an abdominal training device, these abdominal trainers may have some benefits if you suffer from neck or back problems that would make traditional crunches difficult to perform. In this case, it would be important to choose your abdominal training device carefully to avoid further neck or back strain.

    The results of this study are consistent with previous ones that have shown the standard abdominal crunch to be more effective than roller and pivot type abdominal trainers. (2) It doesn’t appear that these devices offer any additional benefits for building the abdominal core over traditional techniques, but if you’re motivated to use one of these devices, they may be of some value. The best method of abdominal core training is the one that inspires you to take action on a consistent basis. If one of these abdominal trainers helps to motivate you, by all means, use it. Otherwise, save your money and do standard abdominal crunches instead.

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    References

    1. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Volume 16, Issue 1, February 2002

    2. Oxygen Magazine. November 2006. page 32

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