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SHAPE, October 2005 p. 118
Kudos for the Classic Crunch

Before you order that abdominal training device you fell in love with on a late night Infomercial, consider this: The traditional crunch is as effective as, if not more than, most ab devices on the market. Researchers in the department of kinesiology at Occidental College in Los Angeles measured activity in the rectus abdominis and external oblique muscles in 46 participants (26 of whom were women) as they performed traditional crunches or used portable ab gadgets set on high resistance. Only the Ab-ONE device elicited more rectus abdo?minis activity than a normal crunch. External oblique activity was higher or the same during the crunch compared to using any of the gizmos.

However, ?using ab devices is most beneficial if it helps you do -  or adhere to ab training more than you would without the device", says assistant professor Eric Sternlicht, Ph.D., who headed the study. If you do decide to buy an ab gadget, choose one that mimics the mechanics of true classic crunch and provides extra resistance. Other devices tested in the study: Perfect Abs Roller, Ab Scissor, Ab Swing, 6 Second Abs and Torso Track.  -  Amanda Vogel,  M.A.