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Strong, Sexy Abs

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Best and Worst Belly-Busting Tools

Late-night TV, home gyms, and health clubs are filled with gadgets meant to sculpt your abs in no time. Here's what gets our approval (or scorn).

Thumbs Up: Stability Ball

"It's a great way to challenge your core and can be adapted for any fitness level," says Peter Francis, PhD, of San Diego State University. For beginners, keep your feet wide for support. As you get stronger, bring your feet closer together to challenge the obliques. Advanced exercisers can lift one foot off the floor.

Thumbs Up: The "Captain's Chair"

This machine is the most effective ab-toning machine at the gym, according to research done by Francis. Lean against it with your forearms and upper body supported. Let your legs hang below you. Pull your knees toward your chest to challenge all of your abdominal muscles as you work against gravity.

Thumbs Down: Wheel-Based Rollers

Wheel gadgets that have you rolling from kneeling to an extended position and back again are a big no-no, cautions Francis. "This type of movement is just not safe for your back, which is already prone to injury," he notes.

 

Originally published in Fitness magazine, February 2006.

 

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