What in the world is an AB Hyper Extension Bench?
First of all if you are not familiar with the jargon AB stands for abdominal muscles. When I started working with a client who owned this piece of equipment made by Stamina, I had never seen one before. That surprised me considering how many gyms Ive been in, worked in and how many homes I have been to training clients. Perhaps there is a reason for this? What Stamina calls the Hyper Extension Bench, I call the Back Extension Machine. Stamina came up with a decent product because it provides a dual workout.
This machine is a 2 in 1 product. It converts from an abdominal workout machine to a back-strengthening machine. Essentially when you are strengthening your abdominal muscles you are strengthening your back and vice versa so combining these two makes a lot of marketing sense.
I am used to a back extension machine on which I place my legs on foot rests, come over the pad on which my abdominal muscles are resting, go down toward the floor and then come up. Staminas works a bit differently. I rest my feet on the floor, adjust the abdominal rest pad so that I can lean over from my waist and come down. However I cant come down all the way because the bench that will become one used for true abdominal work is in the way. That is ok, though. I can come down enough because it is the eccentric movement (the way up- the force of the contraction is greater than the external resistance) that is working your muscles. You have to be very careful with the Hyper Extension Bench. Because there is the word hyper in it some think (as my client did) that coming up higher than parallel to the ground is what she should be doing. In other words she was bending her back and creating an arc. Do not do this if you buy this bench or use it anywhere. Your back should not hyper extend!
The pad that my abdomen rests on is very comfortable. It has bars coming out on each end that can be used to hold onto as you go down. I usually cross my arms over my chest or if there is room just let them hang for a good stretch. The bars have cushioning on each end making them really comfortable to hold. Gloves are not needed on the Stamina Ab Hyper Extension Bench.
I often have trouble adjusting back extension machines. There is often a knob to loosen the metal that the abdominal rest goes into and then I need to pull out a knob to adjust the height of the abdominal rest. This piece of equipment is very easy to adjust. There is just one pin that you take out and put back in when the rest is at the level with which you are comfortable. Padded rests will be behind your calves. These rests are used in the abdominal part of this machine but for the back extension they act as supports to keep your legs in place.
I like the Ab Hyper Extension Bench for abdominal work more than I like it for back work only because Im not crazy about back extensions to begin with. The padded incline board, which has been slanted in front of you on the floor, adjusts easily to 4 angles or flat. You can have it flat (Ill tell you in a minute what I like to do with it in this position.); you can have it at a 10 degree angle, 17, 20 or 30 degree angle depending on how hard you want to work and whether you are new to working your ab muscles. If you are new to all this you will want it at a 10-degree angle. The bench is really comfortable. It is nicely padded and wide enough for most people using it. It is slightly contoured and made of vinyl. Eventually the vinyl will crack. I havent met a vinyl bench that wont. If you are using it just for your own family, though, it will take many years to crack. I would avoid putting heavy dumbbells on it or anything sharp.
Truly, though, if you are extremely overweight, you will not be able to use this bench because of the width just as you may have trouble in airplane seats. After you get your weight down you can use this machine in many ways.
The machine folds easily if you want to store it, but it is small enough that I think you will keep it out unless you really dont have room. My recommendation is this: If you dont have room for it to stay open and you are going to fold it up dont buy it. The likelihood of unfolding it, as easy as that is, is slim. I dont iron if I have to unfold my ironing board so I found a place to keep it where I could keep it open all the time. On the flip side, though, is the risk that if you keep it open it will become a shelf in your house or a place to put your clothes. Try to resist that or you will never use it whether it is open or closed!
This does have to be assembled and according to my client it wasnt difficult at all. The specs are:
Dimensions: open- 49.5" x 27" x 36" folded- 35.5" x 17" x 7.25"
Board Dimensions: 28" x 9.5" x 2.5"(1.75" thinnest)
Construction: 2" steel frame and under-carriage construction
5 Year Warranty
Some suggestions for use:
If you have the padded bench flat, you will be doing reverse crunches. What I do with my client is have her back to the ab rest. She holds on to the handles and with her legs either straight up or crossed curls her tailbone up slightly. That is a fantastic way to work your abdominal muscles.
I use the angles in various ways. You can sit up with your legs under the comfortable leg pads and while your body is at a slight angle you can do pulsing sit-ups. Do not go all the way back. This is a short movement. You should also move from side to side to work your oblique muscles (the ones on the sides of your body). If I have the angle all the way down what I like the best is lying flat on the bench with my clients (or mine) arms behind my head and lifting slightly in a true crunch. I do not recommend the traditional sit-up where you would go from the bench all the way up to a sitting position. I think it is too hard on your back.
Your Personal Trainers Final Thoughts:
I hope this review has helped you make a decision on whether you want to buy the Stamina Ab Hyper Extenstion Bench or if not what to do with these benches if you see them in a gym. Of course I have to give it a recommendation. After 5500 words I am not recommending it. Not because I dont like it. I do like this product. I think, though, for $120 I can give you a lifetime of ab work to do that requires either no money or a $5.00 ball. Granted you wont be able to extend your back, but remember I said that you work your back when you work your abs. I can also include back exercises in that $120 that require no equipment.
Please feel free to leave me a question or comment.
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