An adjustable ab bench is a critical component of any strength-building exercise regimen. Especially with some of the innovative discoveries in core strength training, the benefits of having an ab bench go far beyond just simple abdominal toning.
Why Use an Adjustable Ab Bench?
The answer to this question is easy: core strength. Not just the recent exercise phenomenon, but rather the essential concept as it's been used throughout human history by dancers and athletes. People who move from their center have more grace, endurance, and, most of all, prevent injuries through well-developed muscles. They originate their movement from their core muscles in the abdomen and back. These dancers and athletes may not ever actually go into the gym and use an adjustable ab bench, because of how much work their everyday activity puts into their center - but the benefits are undeniable. People who want to reap the benefits without having to spend hours in the gym use this piece of equipment to maximize their workout time - sometimes as little as twenty minutes a day when combined with good cardio and a healthy diet.
What It Is, What It Does
The design of an adjustable abdominal bench is deceptively simple. While they vary somewhat in the details from manufacturer to manufacturer, they all have a few characteristics in common:
- Stable Platform - the central part of an ab bench is the bench, a stable and padded platform where you sit. Sometimes these are adjustable in height, but as long as your feet can comfortably rest flat on the floor it is at a good level.
- Foot Anchors - There will be some way to anchor your feet under a bar, usually padded, close to the floor at the front of the bench. This helps protect the lower back as you are doing the workout by letting your legs anchor you (relieving stress on the spine). It also adds a bit of a workout to your calves and quadriceps, but that's incidental.
- Adjustable Back - this is the key element that makes the ab bench so valuable. While you can change the intensity of an ab crunch exercise simply by laying on an incline or using weights, these all are imprecise methods that leave your thoracic muscles prone to strain and injury. The adjustable incline allows you precise control over the effort needed to do the ab exercises as well as providing padded support and protection from strain.
Depending on the model, there may be additions such as weights, pulleys, or even additional axes of rotation for the bench. These latter features enable you to focus on specific muscle groups such as the lateral abdominals. Also, some of the better adjustable ab benches will allow the back to fold almost completely down and the foot anchors to extend horizontally, which helps when doing reverse-crunches to work on the back muscles more directly.
A Worthy Investment in You
At first the cost of an adjustable ab workout bench may seem a bit frivolous, given that it is easy to do sit ups with no equipment at all. A quality ab bench is going to begin at about $200, though there will be many cheaper versions. It is important to pay attention to quality of manufacture - a good ab bench will be able to easily support someone weighing 300 pounds or more. Purchasing from a trusted name such as Weider is much more likely to result in equipment that will stand the test of time.
It should be noted that just doing ab crunches will not give you the proverbial "six-pack abs" - in fact, doing ab crunches alone can result in a larger belly as the muscles build. However, when combined with a healthy diet and regular cardiovascular exercise, the buildup of muscle will also help burn more of the fat deposits away giving the trim look of athletes, dancers, and body-aware individuals.