America’s Obsession with Abdominal Machines
* from my paperback, “Total Health for Life, Mind & Body, The Baby Boomer’s Bible of Health”
The multi-million-dollar home abdominal machine infomercial market absolutely amazes me and proves how uneducated most of the public is about fat loss, nutrition, and spot reduction. If they come out with one more ab-doer, ab-roller, ab-tracker, ab-rocker, ab-cruncher, or ab-dolly, I’m going to flip. Ab devices have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. If you were one of the many who spent money on an ab machine, I’d be willing to bet you have not achieved your desired outcome because you haven’t programmed your mind for success and don’t have the knowledge of the science of fitness and nutrition. If you think an ab machine can transform your gut into washboard abs, look up the word “gullible” in the dictionary. Of course the infomercial models have sculpted abs, but they didn’t get them from using a piece of plastic. It is virtually impossible to get those kind of abs with one device and a few minutes a day.
“As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it.”
— Dick Cavett
Now you can buy a little machine that sends electrical impulses to your abdomen, which the manufacturer claims will tone, firm, flatten, and strengthen your abs, love handles, and thighs. This is for those of you who don’t have time to work out and still want to have a “six-pack.” Proof positive that if someone can dream up something, somebody will buy it. We love to spend money.
I saw another famous infomercial guru hawking his “wonder machine” the other day. He wants you to believe his machine simulates six different exercises at once and that you can change your body remarkably in just three minutes a day. Then he hits you with all of the bells and whistles: Call now, and we will take off a whole payment. Call now and receive a slim down book. Lose a dress size in just ten days. Thirty-day money back guarantee. This piece of plastic and metal costs over $200! What a steal! He’s stealing money from you!
Here’s the scoop—there’s no such thing as spot reduction! You can’t trim fat in specific areas of the body unless you have liposuction done. Exercising a particular muscle group will not make the fat around that muscle disappear. Exercise causes the release of such hormones as adrenaline into the bloodstream. In turn, these hormones travel through the bloodstream, stimulating fat release throughout the body. Any exercise device that promises you weight loss in only one targeted area is a fraud. The only thing it will trim is dollars from your wallet.
In an independent study, the American Council on Exercise concluded that most ab infomercial devices—no matter who endorses them or how expensive they are—shape your midsection no better than old-fashioned stomach crunches. Many of these ab products don’t burn more calories than the average walk.
A study at San Diego State University compared various abdominal exercises for their ability to develop the six-pack and the oblique side muscles of the abs. They concluded that the most effective exercises rotated the body and worked the abs the entire time. The best exercise for this is the bicycle maneuver. This is a non-machine exercise where you simply lie flat on the floor pedaling like you are riding a bike as you bring your knees alternately toward your chest. Keep your hands placed loosely behind your head, and as your knee comes up toward your chest, crunch upward with the alternate side of your upper body toward that knee as if trying to touch your elbow and your knee. Don’t pull your head with your hands: you may injure your neck. The object is to use your abs. You can do this anywhere.
Everybody has a six-pack. The only problem is many of us hide it behind a thick layer of fat. The only way to see your six-pack is to get rid of that layer. The way to do this properly is through nutrition and cardio. Where you lose weight first on your body is genetically programmed. Wherever you gained it last, you will lose it first; wherever you gained it first, you will lose it last. You may not like this, but it’s the truth. The fact is, you don’t need any ab machine to achieve the desired effect. Save your money.