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6 Second Abs: Is it "15 times better" than a regular crunch?
By Christian Finn, Men's Health Columnist & Exercise Scientist
www.ChristianFinn.com

6 Second Abs6 Second Abs is an exercise device that's supposed to flatten your stomach, tighten your waistline, and help you lose a dress or pant size in just 7 days.

6 Second Abs spans the abdominal region with one end supported on the thighs and the other held with the hands at chest level. It comes with two sets of resistance bands: 2 yellow (15 pounds of resistance each) and 2 orange (25 pounds of resistance each). You can use one or two bands at a time, in various combinations, to provide five different resistance levels.

The "6 seconds" refers to a series of audible clicks which "guide you through a perfect crunch lasting 6 seconds."

Because of all this, 6 Second Abs is supposed to be up to 15 times more effective than a regular crunch.

Unfortunately, there's no information on the 6 Second Abs website as to how this "15 times" figure was obtained. It looks like they used electromyography (known simply as EMG) — a technique used to measure recruitment of the abdominal muscles during various exercises.

Despite several hours of searching, I couldn't find any independent research to verify the claim that 6 Second Abs is 15 times more effective than a regular crunch.

But I did find one study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which tested two similar devices — Perfect Abs and the AB-DOer [1].

After receiving instruction on the proper technique for using each device, subjects (20 men and 13 women) did one set of 8-10 repetitions for each abdominal exercise.

Surface electrodes were placed on the skin over the right upper portion of rectus abdominis (the upper abs), the right lower portion of rectus abdominis (lower abs), and the right external oblique muscle. Learn more about the abdominal muscles (pop-up window).

Participants were told to perform each set at a constant speed. A metronome was used to pace each phase of the movement at a rate of 1.5 seconds per phase.

Results

The numbers in the table below refer to the activity of the upper rectus abdominis (upper RA), lower rectus abdominis (lower RA) and the external oblique (EO) muscles relative to the crunch.

Device
Upper RA
Lower RA
EO
Ab-DOER (supine)
15%
22%
36%
Perfect Abs (low)
28%
37%
67%
Perfect Abs (medium)
67%
64%
121%
Perfect Abs (high)
109%
98%
179%

For example, when subjects used Perfect Abs with the low- and medium-resistance bands, muscle activity was lower compared to the crunch (28% and 67% respectively).

But the high-resistance band led to slightly greater activity (109%) in upper rectus abdominis compared to the crunch.

However, muscle activity was not 15 times greater than a regular crunch. The biggest difference was seen when subjects used Perfect Abs lying on the floor, where EMG activity in upper rectus abdominis was roughly twice as great compared to the crunch

So, what does this mean for you?

6 Second Abs probably works your abdominal muscles a little harder than a crunch done on the floor without any added resistance. But holding a dumbbell across your chest while doing a crunch is likely to have a very similar effect.

If you're already lean, you might get some benefit from a device like 6 Second Abs. It would also be suitable for anyone with physical limitations that prevent them from doing exercises on the floor.

However, most people who buy products like 6 Second Abs want a smaller waist, a flatter stomach, or to lose a dress or a pant size.

This will require losing fat. The best way to do this is to follow a diet that contains the right number of calories, adequate amounts of protein, a healthy blend of fats, and carbohydrates with a low energy density.

Using 6 Seconds Abs will burn extra calories. But so will training with weights or going for a walk.

Reference
1. Sternlicht, E., & Rugg, S. (2003). Electromyographic analysis of abdominal muscle activity using portable abdominal exercise devices and a traditional crunch. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 17, 463-468


If you enjoyed this article, then you may also be interested in The Facts About Fitness.This website is unique because it's the only site that provides you with cutting-edge scientific fitness discoveries, translated into language you can easily understand, and condensed into small bite-sized chunks that you can read and assimilate quickly (it's ideal if you're really busy, but you like to stay on top of what's new). If you want the latest news and “insider” reports so you can get healthy, lean and fit, without having to doubt the validity or scientific accuracy of the source you're reading, then you can get more information at: www.ChristianFinn.com



About Christian Finn

Christian Finn, Exercise Scientist and Researcher

Christian Finn holds a masters degree with distinction in exercise science. He has lectured at a number of universities and private training organizations around the United Kingdom on fitness training, weight loss and the effective use of nutritional supplements. If you live in the UK, you may have seen Christian in the BBC TV series Body Hits. More recently, Christian was the fitness expert for the Bravo TV series All About Men.

Christian writes extensively on the subject of exercise science, fitness and nutrition. You can find his articles published in numerous magazines, leading industry journals and websites worldwide, including Men's Health, Men's Health Muscle, Fit Pro, CAM magazine, Image, Zest, and Body Life magazine. You also might have seen Christian featured in the July 2004 issue of Muscle & Fitness.

A tireless researcher, Christian has lost count of the number of long hours and late nights he has spent reviewing the latest scientific research in the areas of diet and exercise for the benefit of his numerous fans and readers. Christian’s research on high-intensity intermittent training has been published in the online journal Sport Science (March 2001), and a study Christian authored on the nutritional supplement HMB has also been published in the Journal of Sports Sciences.

As a certified personal trainer, Christian has spent more than a decade working with people of all shapes and sizes, as well exercising regularly himself for over 15 years. He has entered the Body-for-LIFE challenge contest and was the first ever winner of the Outstanding Male Achievement award in the UK.

When you are given advice from Christian Finn, you can be sure he is not only speaking the research-based facts, but also speaking from experience. There is nothing Christian has ever written about, be it a food supplement, diet or exercise routine, which he hasn’t used himself. You can subscribe to his FREE newsletter at www.TheFactsAboutFitness.Com and take a look at his members only website at: www.ChristianFinn.Com



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