As summer approaches, I’m shifting the focus of my exercise routine a little more to the core, working on my ab muscles. With that in mind, this week I’ve been testing the Abdometer, the latest gadget in core fitness from Vancouverite and certified personal trainer Shaun Karp. He has 20 years of experience working with women’s fitness.
The Abdometer is a clever machine with an inflatable pillow (called an “air bladder”) that adjusts to fill the space between your lower back and the floor. The pillow is connected to a monitor that measures the downward pressure you exert each time you perform a crunch or leg lift. Karp called it the “new age digital core training device.” So the Abdometer works by providing you stability for your ab exercises while also letting you know when you’re not doing them correctly.
We’ve all seen our fair share of gizmos promising washboard abs, and each one seems a little more ridiculous than the next. But the Abdometer, as I’ve come to quickly realize (and feel!), does have some credibility behind its claims. My first impression is that the ab exercises I think I’ve been doing correctly all these years haven’t really pushed my muscles to reach their full potential…at all.
To begin, I lie down and place the deflated “air bladder” under the small of my back. It inflates to support me and keep my form properly aligned. I start my first set of crunches, noting how secure my back feels. I’m doing a variety of crunches: basic, oblique, bicycle and reverse. I’ve noticed that I can hold my leg lifts a little longer. Afterward, my core muscles are sore, but in a good a way — you know, that accomplished, slightly smug feeling that comes after a great workout.
There are 10 levels to work up to as you increase your fitness, and 20 exercises to keep you challenged and your workouts fresh. What I like about the device is the tailored fit provided by the supportive air bladder. It also lets out a little beep if your form is starting to lag and needs improvement — if you don’t do the exercises right, you aren’t going to get the benefits.
Karp says he took ten years to develop to the Abdometer, altering it so that it would work with a range of body types to help develop and strengthen the core muscles. By taking the pressure off your lower back and monitoring the downward force of each exercise, you get the most out of every crunch. The device has been developed to help you target those hard-to-reach muscles deep in the back and lower abs. As Karp explained, “By always monitoring your technique, you get better results in less time.”
Core training is essential because it helps support your spine, ensures good posture, develops balance and stability and guards against lower back pain. “Core muscles help to control movements, transfer energy and shift body weight to allow for multi-directional movement,” said registered kinesiologist Bradly Penner.
Crunches are a great way to build up core strength, but they aren’t a perfect art. The traditional crunch places pressure on the lower back, and this is where the Abdometer really shines. The inflatable pillow helps you maintain a neutral spine. Instead of straining your back, you’re free to focus all your energy on the core, which helps you execute the perfect crunch.