Abdominal machines - any good ?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 02, 2007 10:05 AM GMT
    Hi guys,
    Occasionally at the gym I use the Abdominal machine (you know, you crunch forward and lift weights - this one's a Paramount brand if that means anything). Thing is, I used it 4-5 times a week for about 6 months last year and got not very far.

    Then I moved to doing cardio combined with some crunches and stuff and made really good progress.

    Unfortunately, I injured my back doing sit-ups naked on a stoney beach (dumb huh) and until my skin heals properly I don't want to aggravate it.

    My question is if anyone thinks these machines are any good and/or if there is anything else I can be doing which doesn't involve lying on my back. Also, I noticed that I can "lift" more weight if I "pull" on the handles as opposed to simply "pushing" with my chest, but that seems to defeat the purpose. What is the correct way to use the machine ?

    Sorry about the length! (you know I'm normally more interested in the width hehe)

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    Apr 03, 2007 12:43 AM GMT
    I don't use them. Good form is best.
  • leaozinho

    Posts: 177

    Apr 03, 2007 1:44 AM GMT
    If your back is healing but still sore, maybe you should try the stability ball. it will cushion and support your back, you can use it as you would a flat mat. If you look on this site, you can find exercises or ask a trainer at your gym.

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    Apr 03, 2007 2:13 AM GMT
    As with any machine, most ab-rollers or machine based abdominal exercises push you through a set range of motion.

    Most muscles respond better when the smaller, stabilising muscles alongside the main group are brought into play and used to control the range of motion also.

    This is why free weights are most often better than machines and likewise why stability balls and balance style exercises are also beneficial.

    If you need to restrain your range of motion to protect your injury, perhaps look at other ways to strenghten your injured back to a point where free weight or body weight resistance can be returned into your routine.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Apr 09, 2007 1:31 AM GMT
    With abs ... all the equipment you need is your body and gravity
    ...everything else is superfluous...
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    Apr 18, 2007 9:55 PM GMT
    Yeah, i think Cronk is right. But I do use the machine once a week and i use heavy weight... either 70 lbs or 80 lbs. I do 100 reps... I think the heavy weights cause the muscle to grow a bit more.

    It's also important to do a variety of ab exercises targeting your upper and lower abs. I do abs three times a week including the machine. The other two times I use the swiss ball or on my back doing crunches or leg lifts...
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    Apr 19, 2007 12:41 AM GMT
    My trainer says ab machines work the hip flexors more than the abs. The only time we use a machine for ab workouts is upright crunches in a chair with a weight stack. With the rope attached to the high pulley cable, I hold the rope up by my head and do crunches.
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    Apr 19, 2007 4:11 AM GMT
    The machine is OK as one tool but is limited, as noted above...there are many other things you need to do. You can use the stability ball, medicine balls, bosu ball, floor, cables...there are some good exercises on this site that use the stability ball...you need various motions that the one machine can not give you.
    And you were right of course--do not pull with your hands. Even pushing with your chest is not quite the way to think about it--just contract your abs, thereby drawing your chest down and lifting the weight. Pretend you are doing a crunch. And if you have to push with your chest, the weight is too heavy.
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    Apr 19, 2007 4:15 AM GMT
    And to reply to your specific question about exercises where you don't have to lay on your back, I forgot to mention bent knee or straight leg raises in elbow stirrups or hanging from a bar or in a roman-type chair
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Apr 19, 2007 5:12 AM GMT
    Pack I agree get on the ball- also Roman chair sit ups will keep u off the floor, and if u want to make it tougher hold 10 25 35 or a 45 pound plate- Good luck
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    Apr 19, 2007 7:24 AM GMT
    Core training is crucial.

    And, working hip flexors isn't all that bad of an idea, actually.

    Whether you choose bodyweight exercises, or the machines, really doesn't matter. Form and frequency are probably more important.

    Understand, visible abs are a function of cardio training and bodyfat levels, and not generally ab work. You can have a shitty core, and be thin as a rail and have decent abs.

    I see fat people at the gym doing abs. They'd do a lot better to take a walk, instead.

    There are a number of good books / online resources detailing the correct order, and form in which to perform an ab / core workout.

    If you want a trainer, you should find one in the mid 20s, or older (because of their experience level), and have them show you the proper order, and technique. NASM, and Cooper, are two good certifications to look for in a trainer.

    Unbalanced exercise is stupid if you are a neophyte. If you're at that level you need to start out at a lower level of difficulty.

    Cardio for visiblity of abs; core training to good health, be strong, and prevent injury.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 19, 2007 8:49 AM GMT
    You guys are all awesome, thank you very much for your tips! :-)
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    Apr 19, 2007 1:44 PM GMT
    The ab machines are potential injuries if the user is not careful. If you want to use the machine, set the weight much lighter than you would imagine, get into position, and then imagine someone just punched you in the gut; that is the motion you want to follow, keeping your core TIGHT. DO NOT initiate the movement with your back, as most people do!!!
    I agree with the above; get a swiss ball and try doing crunches on it, if you are over 6' tall, you'll want the larger ball (should be 65-75 cm in diameter). Doing crunches on the ball will also bring into use all stabilizer muscles, which normally are not brought into use) resulting in a stronger core. Try to tense up you core/abs whenever you do any upper-body exercises, as a matter of course too. A strong core means a strong you!!!
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    Apr 19, 2007 2:11 PM GMT
    I'm with Chuckystud..... you mention that you don't feel you're getting anywhere with your ab work and I would ask what your goal is. I'd be surprised if you've not improved your posture, flexibility and core strength to some degree in 6 months if you are dedicated enough to have been doing crunches on the rocks....

    However, if your goal is that elusive 6 pack the world has gotten obsessed with in the last 3 years then you need to realize that diet is 80% of the fight.

    Ever see really skinny guys who don't work out? Pay attention, there are visible abs on these guys every time. A friend of mine who has had type 1 diabetes all his life can't keep an ounce of fat on him (yeah, I know, talk about frustrating...) well he's never seen the inside of a gym, but he abs of this fucker!!

    Working your abs will cause the muscles to grow and plump up, helping them be more visible, even through your overlying fat. But if you REALLY want visible abs, examine your diet carefully and do some serious reading about nutrition for abs. You can uncover the work you've already been doing in a matter of 3 months of disciplined clean eating and cardio.