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Flat Abs for Men: Go-to Exercises

Want 6-pack abs? Here's how to get them.
(continued)

Flat Abs Exercise: Pilates continued...

Pilates is increasingly popular. An annual survey of health and fitness professionals conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine lists it among the top 10 "fitness trends" for 2010.

Robinson says he trains people in a variety of fitness techniques, but he thinks that Pilates is "the best core exercise modality out there."

If you have the impression that Pilates is somehow unmanly, consider Robinson. Here is a guy who is Oprah’s personal trainer and a punisher in a martial sport that can make Western boxing look like patty-cake. He says that his Pilates and Muay Thai martial arts training are all of a piece.

Kraemer says he thinks the main benefit of Pilates is the novelty of exercises involved, which get people to move in ways they normally wouldn’t. But he cautions against following any "prepackaged" exercise program exclusively because they all have different strengths and weaknesses. 

Flat Abs Exercise: "As Seen on TV"

You’ve probably seen TV ads for ab exercise devices. Studies have shown that some of these devices were more effective than the traditional crunch, while others were about the same or less effective.

The ACE-commissioned study included tests of the Ab Roller, Ab Rocker, and Torso Track. Of the three, the Torso Track performed the best, generating a little more activity in the rectus abdominis than the traditional crunch, but a significant number of users reported lower back discomfort. There was practically no difference between the Ab Roller and the crunch. The Ab Rocker was shown to be much less effective compared with the crunch, generating about 80% less activity in the rectus abdominis.

Another study, published in the journal Physical Therapy,  compared several ab exercises, including the traditional crunch and two patented exercise devices. The study was conducted by academic researchers at California State University in Sacramento, Calif.

Four different exercises using a device called the Ab Revolutionizer were all shown to be less effective than the traditional crunch. The researchers also tested the Power Wheel -- a small treaded wheel with handle grips. They found one technique using the Power Wheel to be the most effective of 12 exercises tested. That technique, called the "roll out," involved gripping the wheel and rolling it forward from a kneeling position.

Kraemer says he thinks most commercial ab exercisers he’s seen aren’t bad; they’re just nothing special. An ab device may be advertised as a breakthrough in fitness, but it’s probably just a prop for doing a sit-up or a crunch, he says. "It’s not better. It's just another thing."

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Reviewed on August 29, 2011
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