For golfers, a strong core is essential. But if you hate sit-ups, the Ab Coaster is a good alternative in your quest for better golf fitness.
If you're like most people, you hate sit-ups. I have to find a couch or chair to anchor my feet and about a minute or two into it, my neck starts hurting, and I'm trying to reposition my feet so I don't have to rock to do the exercise.
Besides, no matter how dedicated I am when I start out, my commitment to doing daily sit-ups never seems to last more than a week or so.
There has to be a better way, right? (How many times have you heard that?)
Well, you could try the "as-seen-on-TV" Ab Coaster, which retails at $399 and seems to have more merit than some other abdominal exercise devices.
The Ab Coaster comes from the same guy who invented the successful Ab Roller. Don Brown, the inventor of the Ab Coaster and the president of Ab Coaster LLC, said about three years ago Dallas inventor Rob Nelson contacted him for some help on a product he was developing called the "Ab Razor."
"His idea was to pull your knees up an incline by holding on with your arms," Brown said. "I loved his concept and started to work with him on improving the design so it would isolate the abs from the bottom up, working lower, mid and upper abdominal area all at the same time. This involved adding a curved track, swivel seat and weight resistance."
Fourteen months later, the Ab Coaster was born, and the rest, including the often-run infomercial, is history.
The Ab Coaster: Setup and how it works
Getting everything out of the box was probably the hardest part, but once I had everything laid out, it probably took less than a half hour to assemble the Ab Coaster.
The machine basically consists of a curved track with a pad for your elbows up top and a padded seat for your shins that runs along the track. To operate it, you rest your elbows on the top pads while holding onto two grips and rest you shins on the pad below with your feet pointing downward.
Each exercise basically consists of pulling your knees and the seat toward your upper torso as the shin rest runs along the curved track. There are both fixed and swivel positions of the seat to target different abdominal muscle groups, including the obliques.
The machine also comes with two DVDs, one of which is "Core Express Workout." This video, which is about 25 minutes long, is probably 75 percent aerobics and strength training with lots of squats and stretches. About every five minutes or so, you are directed to the Ab Coaster to get in a few sets of crunches.
Each session on the Ab Coaster is slightly different, some of them using the locked position and some using the swivel feature. The latter is used for a maneuver called the "Mermaid," in which you make a fish tail movement with your lower body during the exercise.
The verdict on the Ab Coaster
Like all pieces of exercise equipment, the AbCoaster comes with some "ifs." If you are looking to lose weight, the AbCoaster will be of little help if you do not significantly change a poor diet, especially in terms of calorie intake.
Therefore, the Ab Coaster also comes with a diet plan, which if followed, will greatly increase your results.
"Diet is a critical piece of the puzzle," said Sean Gagnon, vice president of Ab Coaster LLC and exercise physiologist. "In fact, most studies show that the best results from an exercise program are achieved by those that combine a proper exercise routine with a sensible eating program as opposed to only one or the other."
It's also important to note that the consensus among nutritionists and exercise physiologists is that you can't spot reduce, meaning no matter how many reps you do on the Ab Coaster or any other piece of equipment, you will not have great looking abs unless you get rid of the overlying fat on top of them. And that can only occur if you create a calorie deficit (burn more calories than you take in) over time.
With that said, strengthening the core can never be a bad move, especially in golf, and if you use this machine regularly, you will be successful.
When I got the machine, I didn't go overboard, I merely followed the Express Workout DVD for two weeks. I didn't lose any weight (I wasn't exactly strict about my diet) or make any great distance gains in that time, but I did feel like it was easier to make a turn and get through the ball. By strengthening the core, my back also felt stronger, which for golfers is always a plus.
I also liked that I was in an upright position while doing the exercises, which means you can get in a thousand or so crunches if you wanted to and not miss a play on TV.
You can't do that with sit-ups. Every time you lie prone, you could be missing an Albert Pujols grand slam or a Peyton Manning-to-Dallas Clark TD pass. With the Ab Coaster, you could even watch Kenny Perry blow it down the stretch at the Masters and still work your abs without commercial interruption.