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I have never enjoyed doing ab work and in more than 30 years of hanging around gyms I never met anyone else that did either. There just doesn't seem to be anything fun about high rep, boring, and uncomfortable exercises. Let's face it, the person that enjoys doing crunches, sit ups, and leg raises would also enjoy having the Marquis de Sade over to their house to provide the after dinner entertainment. As a result of my disdain for abdominal exercises I have always sought the most efficient and least painful way to work my waist. This means doing an exercise against progressive resistance and with a full-range of motion while protecting my lower back from injury. Unfortunately, not too many ab exercises that fit that criteria exist - the ab bench is one of the few exceptions.

I bought the Ab Bench a few years ago and now use it regularly in my home gym. This bench allows me to do perfect crunches with resistance while putting zero strain on my lower back. I have a bad lower back that make sit ups and ordinary crunches painful to do and this exercise actually feels good on it. My personal experience with this bench is that even when I am having a "bad back" day, I can do crunches on this piece of equipment with no problem.

The secret to this piece of equipment is the curved back - it works the abs through their full range of motion and is much better than ordinary crunches done on the floor. No other abdominal exercise machine on the market has this curved back - it fits the natural curve of your spine and all the vertebrae are supported as you curl your torso forward. Your spinal column does not bend on a single pivot point - like your elbows and knees do. The spine bends on a gradual curve - kind of like a short piece of garden hose does. Most ab machines are designed with a single hinge and a flat back and this does NOT at all fit the design of your lower back and that is why most other ab exercises cause lower back strain for so many people. The piece of equipment that you choose to work your abdominal muscles with should have a curved back so your spinal column can move naturally - curling up one vertebrae at time and immediately transferring the workload to the next vertebrae as your curl your torso forward in a crunch motion. No major stress is imposed on any single vertebrae this way.

I can get a tremendous burn in my abs in a very short period of time and I don't have to do endless repetitions as my stomach muscles get stronger because I just add more weight to the machine. As I am using the machine I feel the full range of motion my abs go through as I stretch all the way back and then crunch forward - it is the most efficient way to do crunches that I have ever experienced. Working your abs through a full range of motion as the Ab Bench allows will make you realize that your were just doing half motions with crunches on the floor.

When performing basic crunches on this bench, as with most exercises, do the repetitions VERY SLOW. Start at the stretch position of the movement, exhale as you curl the torso forward one vertebrae at a time and taking a full 4 seconds to complete that curl, until you are in the full crunch position. Once in the crunch position, exhale all the air from your lungs and tense your abdominal muscles as hard as you can for a full 2 seconds, that is a slow count of "one-thousand-one, two-thousand-two", and then slowly lower back to the stretch position taking a full 4 seconds to lower your torso while you inhale. Do NOT let the weight touch the floor, but stop it just before it hits, keeping the tension on your abs, and immediately curl the torso back up -- again taking a full 4 seconds to reach the crunch position and hold that crunch position for a long count of two. Use enough weight that will only allow you to perform 20 to 30 repetitions in this manner. If you can perform more than 30 reps you need to increase the weight. I am pretty strong and I use 50 Lbs. when I perform my crunches on this machine.

You can even take this set a little further if you really want to torture you abs. When you can no longer do any more strict reps then immediately ( no rest at all ) start doing a short partial crunch, using just the mid-range of the movement, but at a slightly faster pace -- about 1-2 seconds for the positive phase and 1-2 seconds for the negative phase, and with no pause in the fully contracted position. Don't go so fast that you aren't controlling the weight anymore but just fast enough to keep forcing out more reps, using just enough momentum to keep going. Try to do another 10-20 reps of these "burns" to really make your abs scream out to you. Keep going until the fire burning in your abdominal muscles becomes too intense to endure anymore and literally "makes" you quit. At the end of this set, with the strict reps taken to failure and the "burns" done at the end of the set, you should experience the feeling that you have worked your abs to their max and you won't feel the need to do any more.

One properly performed set to failure, every other day, and no more than 3 times per week, should be all most people need to adequately work their abs on this machine. If you still want to pound those abs even more (and this is my personal favorite combination that I do) then immediately jump ( no rest at all or very little ) from the ab bench to one set of Vertical Knee Raises taken to failure in the same manner as you did on the ab bench. This one-set each, superset combination is un-paralleled by any other exercise combination that you could ever do and will give you a six pack that is contest worthy. This high-intense superset, completed in just a handful of minutes 3 timers per week, will make other sets or exercises unnecessary, will not strain you lower back, and will give you doorknob size abs poking out under the skin.

The only other exercise that you may need to do is push yourself away from the dinner table when that slice of cherry pie is brought around for dessert (and most any other good dessert or snack by the way - I really miss chocolate milk and strawberry cheese cake).

If you are really looking for that "waist solution" and are looking for an honest piece equipment that can really get the job done (and not some goofy thing that you see advertised on TV all the time), without straining your lower back, then I highly recommend this piece of equipment. - Eric

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