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Exercises for the Ab Swing
Among abdominal exercise contraptions, the Ab Swing is one of the earlier ones to have been sold on TV and the internet. If you've acquired one recently, you may have trouble locating a guide for it. So here's the skinny on the Ab Swing: it's a manual exercise machine made of gray steel, with a red seat and handlebars with black grips, primarily intended for abdominal exercise. The user sits on a padded seat that swings up and down, creating a crunch-style movement.
How the Ab Pendulum Really Swings
The Ab Swing -- and many other exercise machines -- are frequently advertised to burn belly fat. But your abs live in the real world, and if there were a device to do the work of burning fat for us, we would all have flat stomachs. Abdominal exercise creates muscles but it doesn't burn off fat.
And alas, the highly desirable notion of "Spot Reduction" -- being able to choose where you lose fat -- is a myth. Muscle does burn more calories than fat, so the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn, even when resting. However, if excess weight it what's making you thick around the middle, calorie reduction is key. To lose a pound of fat, you need to burn 3500 calories. Cardiovascular exercise and strength training are necessary parts of that equation.
When first using the Ab Swing, position yourself on the device by lowering yourself into the seat pad with your buttocks as far back on the pad as possible. Place both feet under the foot rest unit with your knees bent. If you do not have a bend in your knees, readjust the footrest extension for your height.
If you're an intermediate user, position yourself in the middle of the Ab Swing seat pad. Advanced users can increase the intensity of the exercise by moving to the third range on the Ab Swing, which is the downward-most end of the seat pad.
Keep your feet locked in position when you're exercising in the Ab Swing.
Basic Form and Movement
Sitting in an upright position with your back straight, lift your legs towards your torso, contracting your abdominal muscles. You'll engage the lower portion of the abs at first, while at the top of the movement, your upper ab region activates.
Hold for two seconds at the top of the motion while contracting all of the muscles of the abdominal wall.
Slowly release from the position by lowering your legs and feet back towards the ground, without touching down. Perform 10 to 20 reps in each set. Perform two sets for the beginner level, three sets for intermediate and four sets for advanced.
Do the following exercises to put more emphasis on specific regions of your abs:
Lower Ab Crunch: Grasping the handles, lift your legs toward your torso for each repetition. Your pelvis should remain stable. At the end of each set, you may want to rest in the down position.
Upper Ab Crunch: Lean your upper body slightly forward with each crunch. Lift your legs toward your torso for each repetition. Your pelvis should remain stable.
Oblique Crunch: Twist the body slightly to the side, leaving only one buttock on the seat. Lift your legs toward your torso for each repetition. Keep your pelvis stable.
The Ab Swing
The leg extension exercise on the Ab Swing is intended for advanced training only.
Adjust the leg bars so your legs are straight rather than bent.
Position your behind on the seat -- on the upper third if you're a beginner, the middle if you're intermediate, and the downward-most third if you're advanced. Lock in your feet and lift your legs toward your torso for each repetition. Keep your pelvis from moving.
Do 10 to 20 repetitions for each seat. Do two to three sets at the beginner level, three for intermediate and four for advanced.
DCD Incorporated of Malibu, Calif. voluntarily recalled about 9,500 Ab Swing exercise units in 2003. The word "abswing" is printed on the front of the seat and the phrase "Made in Malaysia" is printed on a tag on the back of the seat. Units that contain the phrase "Made in China" are not included in this recall. Home Shopping Network (HSN) sold these recalled exercise units in September 2002 for about $89.
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Martin Booe is a health, fitness and wellness writer who lives in Los Angeles. He is currently collaborating on a book about digital addiction to be published in the UK this December.