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Ab Handlebars™
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Ab Handlebars™
Accessory for the BackSystem3™

Price: $175.00

Accessory for the BackSystem3™

The Ab Handlebars™ for the BackSystem3™ provide the missing link in exercise programs, the perfect tool to develop a progressive resistive exercise program for the abdominal muscles.

Exercises with this unique accessory to the BackSystem3™ build strength and stability of the lower abdominals (obliques) and torso. No other exercise equipment available today targets this vital link to top performance.
You are already aware of the superior results from the BackSystem3™ in functional flexibility of the back, hips, shoulders, arms and legs. The Ab Handlebars™ enhance the results even further by building a firm foundation of abdominal stabilization and strength.

There are three components of optimum performance of the trunk and lower quarter:

lower extremity flexibility (hips, knees, and ankles)
2. torso stability and strength, which matches in specific patterns to match the downward pull of the lower extremity, and
3. conditioning of desired neuromuscular patterns of normal movement (coordination, timing and specific recruitment patterns). The BackSystem3™ with the Ab Handlebars™ accomplishes all three.

The BackSystem3™ not only provides excellent stretches for the hips, but simulates the functional pattern of flexibility. The stretches of the hips occur from the bottom up (leg moves upward toward a stable torso) rather than the top down (flexed torso moves downward toward the leg). During a flexion stretch, the hips are flexed maximally before the trunk is asked to flex. This is exactly the pattern required in many functional activities: the trunk must remain stable while the hip flexes against gravity (running, stair climbing, lifting objects).

In most activities of the lower extremities, the hip muscles must contract against a stable (rigid) trunk to achieve adequate propulsion and control of movement. The hip should generate the power while the trunk and torso remain dynamically stable, therefore the role of the hips is to be powerful, yet flexible, and the role of the trunk is to be stable, but flexible enough to adapt to different postures and situations.

Flexibility must be present for functional range of motion. Hip strength and power must be present for maximal propulsion. Trunk strength must match that of the lower extremities. The trunk muscles must counter-balance the forces created by the legs, so that the back is not pulled into an undesirable position. A stable trunk enables more efficient motion of the legs and protects the back.

The hip flexors pull downward on the trunk (lumbar spine) when they contract strongly or when they are too tight. To provide stability against this strong downward pull, the abdominal muscles must contract from the bottom up, not the top down. The strength of the ab contraction must match that of the hip’s muscles in order for stabilization (no movement of the trunk) to occur. So, for the proper training of the abdominals, three things must occur:

1. Abdominal muscles responsible for upward pull on the pelvis (obliques) must be strong.
2. Strength must match that of hip muscles pulling downward.
3. The upward pattern of contraction must be coordinated with the downward contraction of the leg muscles in order for stabilization to occur.

Other equipment, which claim to strengthen the abdominals, flex the trunk from the top down, lifting the upper torso against gravity. But, in real life, during activities when the trunk is upright, the abdominals do not cause the trunk to flex. Gravity does – gravity flexes the trunk forward. Any anti-gravity function of the abdominals must be from the bottom up. That functions, primarily, to stabilize the torso against the downward pull of the leg muscles rather than move the trunk into a flexed position. The Ab Handlebars™ are the only equipment available to therapists and trainers to exercise the abdominals in the way they are designed and required to function.

The third component of safe, functional performance of the trunk and lower quarter is conditioning of the pattern of coordination and timing between the trunk and hip muscles. Even if strength is equal, the timing of contraction is off. The trunk will still be unstable. The muscle contractions must match lower extremity contractions, not only in strength, but also in timing.

Traditionally, we have isolated the abdominals from the strengthening exercises, without using the hip flexors. However, all functional movement is a collaborative effort of the hip flexors and the abdominals. The hip flexors initiate flexion and the abdominals stabilize the spine and trunk, giving the hip flexors a stable base from which to create force and move the hips.

Secondly, most abdominal exercises focus on the rectus abdominus, which is probably the least functional muscle in the group. The transverse abdominus and the internal and external oblique muscles (lower abdominals) support the spine and act as three-dimensional stabilizers. They coordinate with the hip flexors to protect the trunk and spine from the jarring forces of running, jumping, sprinting, and other activities. To exercise these muscles functionally, they must contract from the bottom up, at varying angles of the hip.

The three most important muscles in the spine are the oblique abdominus, the transverse abdominus and the multifidus. Because of their strategic placement, in relation with the spine, they are used as proprioceptive and dynamic stabilizers of the lumbar spine. Because of the pelvic tilt movement associated with the BackSystem3 training and flexibility programs, all three of these muscles are moved in their natural alignment plane and the sequence of motion is anatomically correct.

1. With the Ab Handlebars™, the BackSystem3™ exercises can be designed for the high level athlete as well as the person just beginning an exercise program. Weaker lower abdominal muscles can be assisted, initially, by varying hand position on the Ab Handlebars™ . With the advantage of leverage, even the weakest person can complete 20 - 30 repetitions. Initially, high repetitions are particularly important, so that appropriate motor learning can occur. Strength is a goal, only after the proper motor pattern is established. Once the motor pattern is established, exercise can be progressed to any level of difficulty by varying the lever arm and mechanical advantage or disadvantage for targeted muscles.

2. With the Ab Handlebars™, abdominals can be activated from the bottom up at varying degrees of hip flexion or extension (tuck). This has been documented through EMG and kinematic modeling. This allows the person to develop abdominals for spinal stabilization during hip flexion and extension movements. Once the neuromuscular coordination is established, increased strength (force production) can be achieved through changes in the lever arm.

3. The Ab Handlebars™ allow for trunk flexion and extension in a diagonal as well as in a straight plane. Most athletic activities require movement strength and power in a rotational pattern of motion (tennis, golf, batting, throwing, boxing and dance). Most abdominal exercise devices work only in a single plane.

4. The Ab Handlebars™ and the BackSystem3™ also strengthen postural muscles: the lower trapezius and serratus anterior, which are often deconditioned and neglected in other exercise activities. Appropriate hand placement and posture promote activation of the upper extremity and scapular stabilizers. So, while lower abdominals are getting stronger, scapular stability, posture and thoracic mobility improve.