Do ab machines really work?

Do ab machines really work?


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Print this page Email A Friend!

EVERYONE has seen the ads on TV. If you use this particular machine you will have washboard abs like our professional fitness models in no time at all. But like the millions of consumers who have these machines stored away, I found out the hard way that buying a machine doesn't guarantee that you will use it. Even if you actually dust it off and start, chances are you will never get as ripped as you want and may even injure yourself in the process!

Many of these machines are sold on the "spot reduction" theory, that states that if you exercise a particular muscle group you will lose the fat in the area surrounding it. This is also the premise of the butt and thigh-blasting workouts. Unfortunately, we have long known that this is simply not true. We lose fat from all over only when we perform aerobic exercise and eat a healthy diet. We can't just pick a spot and our body works with our beach body dreams as if we can control this process. Ab machines can strengthen and tone your core when used correctly but you'll still have a pudge over those sweet six packs. The results seen in the infomercials are likely due to the diet and cardio programmes of the subjects giving testimonials.

There are two groups of devices — the electronic ab machines and the technically assisting ab machines. Here is a quick review of some ab machines currently on the market.

Electronic ab machines

For those who don't want to break a sweat while working their abs, users of the electronic ab belts can wear the devices while doing everyday activities. The belts send electrical impulses to the abdominal muscles causing them to contract in a similar fashion to when we do crunches. Some of these machines actually work and are cleared by the FDA for use in strengthening and toning abs. They, however, can be ineffective with a thick layer of fat because the fat insulates the muscles that need to be stimulated.

The ab roller

This machine helps to maintain proper form while doing crunches. This reduces the strain on the back muscles and lessens the likelihood of injury. Simple, cheap and effective but bulky.

Ab wheel

A cheap, portable and easy to use device that works the abs as well as the upper body muscles. It, however, may cause back strain if used incorrectly.

Ab bench

With adjustable angles of inclination, the ab bench allows considerable variation in resistance while exercising. The benches are expensive and require more storage space.

Ab Circle

The Ab Circle Pro is a disc with handlebars that you kneel on and then rotate your body from side-to-side. Touted to help you lose 10 pounds in two weeks with only three minutes a day, this device works mainly the external obliques in the region of the love handles. The Federal Trade Commission filed deceptive advertising charges against the marketers of the Ab Circle Pro.

Ab machines can be great but are no quick fix. You must put in the work, no matter which ab machine you choose to use. A healthy diet and aerobic activity are needed to complement them on your journey to a six-pack. Here's to getting ripped!

Dr Alfred Dawes is a consultant general, laparoscopic and obesity surgeon at Premier Heart and Surgery Centre, and managing director, Mahogany Health and Fitness. Contact him at

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon