(This is a 10 part series in which I am reviewing some of the products sold as exercise equipment, fitness solutions, etc. on infomercials, magazine ads, and cable shopping networks. Unlike most of the ads for these products, this isn’t based on a double blind, major university backed study. It is simply my professional opinion based on my fitness experience and knowledge in the hopes that it will save you some time, aggravation and money.)
One of my favorite comedies of all time is the hilarious There’s Something About Mary. No many how many times I’ve seen it, there are lines and scenes from that movie that still make me laugh like I’m witnessing them for the first time. But as a fitness professional, one that stands out in my mind of course had something to do with exercise, and not Mary.
A Genius Idea is Born?
Ben Stiller’s character, Ted, is on his way to Florida to seek Mary and along the way picks up a hitchhiker. Unbeknownst to Ted, the hitchhiker is a serial killer with an entrepreneurial mind and in their conversation, he discusses his idea for an exercise video called “7 Minute Abs”, in retribution to the already famous ‘8 Minute Abs”. Ted goes along with the idea but then challenges his awkward passenger by saying, “That’s good. Unless of course somebody comes up with 6 Minute Abs. Then you’re in trouble huh?” The hitchhiker convulses and of course thinks that’s just ridiculous. That scene always makes me laugh not so much for the acting, but the lunacy that abs are sold on a time factor. Case in point, 6 Second Abs. (Ted’s passenger would have truly lost his mind on this one.)
A Genius Idea is Bad?
The basic premise behind 6 Second Abs is that the abs can be worked more efficiently when crunches are performed properly. By leaning into the “jack hammer looking” apparatus and listening for the three clicks in the positive, or concentric phase, and the three clicks in the negative, or eccentric phase, you’ll get a much more result yielding crunch than traditional abdominal exercises. OK. Without getting overly technical and discussing tension load and time on muscles, working any muscle in the body deliberately slower is going to yield a different response on that muscle than if the repetition was performed at normal speed. Is that relevant to this exercise? Depends. Bottom line is, there is no doubt that it could potentially lead to a stronger abdominal muscle, but that in and of itself has nothing to do with leaning up the midsection.
Just a Bad Idea
Yet again, the abdominals are the easy target to sell product to the emotion driven consumer: I deserve a flat stomach (then get up off of the couch and do something about it); ab training should be easy (anything worth having doesn’t come easy); abs can be trained quickly (depends, but chances are they’re the least of your problems); abs can be worked efficiently in 6 seconds (you can create a burn in 6 seconds but that’s hardly considered efficient); this is the answer to my flabby belly (you’d be better off putting the device between you and the dinner table). 7 minutes, 8 minutes, 6 seconds – the time doesn’t matter. As with any training, consistency, intensity, and proper progression are the variables that are going to lead to the greatest result. Any thought process otherwise and you should stop before you ever begin.
It goes without saying: abdominal devices are gimmicks. Do any of them work? To an extent, some may have very little merit. But none of them are necessary and will leave you broke, financially and emotionally. And if Ted really wanted to be with Mary, he didn’t need to be Brett Fav…ruh or any of the other goons that were drawn to her. He needed to be true to himself and that’s where the best abdominal training begins.
Stay tuned for future posts with the remaining 2.
Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.
In case you’ve missed them, here are My Top 10 Most Useless Pieces of Exercise Equipment so far: