The Independent

The “Ab Belt” and the “Perfect Pushup”: Are They Legit?

Nicholas Santana, Assistant News Editor

April 27, 2012

                  Last issue, we covered the merits of a standard gym exercise, the upper body squat. This issue, we’ll review the merits of two well-known and highly advertised pieces of fitness equipment: The “Ab Belt™” and the “Perfect Pushup™.” The “Ab Belt™” is essentially an electric muscle stimulator that wraps around your midsection. The nodes emit mild electric shocks to the abdominal muscles, causing them to contract. By this function, advertisers of the Ab Belt promote it as a “portable” form of abdominal exercise that you can simply “put on” to transform your midsection. Does the “Ab Belt™” work? Yes and no. In terms of providing electrical stimulation to the abdominal muscles, the “Ab Belt’s™” advertisers keep their promise. In terms of providing the requisite stimulus for producing the sculpted six-packs as seen in its commercials, the “Ab Belt™” is an out-and-out fraud. While the muscular contractions caused by electronic muscle stimulators such as the “Ab Belt™” are indeed legitimate, they are nowhere near the level of intensity required to cause a substantial improvement in muscle-tone. The visibility of ab muscles is almost completely an issue of body composition, with body composition being a matter of caloric fuel-economy. What’s an alternative to the “Ab Belt™?” Good old-fashioned hard sit-ups and leg-raises, which involve much more intense muscular contractions, coupled with a balanced, low-calorie diet. There’s no easy way around the hard work you need to put in, and no short cut to stunning abdominals. The “Perfect Pushup™” is a set of rotating metal handles that are suppose to improve upon the standard pushup exercise by means of providing a more natural positioning and movement of the wrists. It’s simple: In a standard pushup, your hands and wrists are flat on the ground and stationary for the duration of the entire movement, while in a “Perfect” pushup, your hands are grasping handles while your wrists rotate for the duration of the movement. Is this alteration, in fact, an improvement upon the pushup? The answer is yes. Standard pushups, while beneficial, are nevertheless “imperfect” for your joints. They exert pressure right where the hand and wrist meet, increasing the likelihood of arthritis down the road. Furthermore, that pressure can worsen at various points in the actual pushup movement, as the extension of the elbows naturally causes the wrists to try to rotate with the movement. The “Perfect Pushup™” fulfills its promise by allowing a large amount of that pressure to be transferred to the thenar region of the hand—the area between the thumb and the index finger—where there is much more elastic flesh and cartilage to absorb it. Also, it allows the wrists to rotate as they are naturally inclined to do. Is the “Perfect Pushup™” an ideal modality for the perfection of one’s chest, shoulders and triceps? Probably not. It does not replace the parallel-bar-dip, which allows for more resistance and variation, but the “Perfect Pushup™” is definitely a legitimate asset. In closing, I give the “Ab Belt™” an F and the “Perfect Pushup™” an A. The “Perfect Pushup™” is worth buying while the “Ab Belt™” is next to useless. The moral here is to exercise caution when watching infomercials on products such as these. There are gems and there are gimmicks. It may seem hard to determine which is which, but when in doubt, refer to anatomical science.    ...

Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper
The Perfect Pushup