A popular piece of equipment at most mainstream gyms around the country, an ab board is a simple piece used to strengthen the abdominals. Ab boards provide the kind of ab exercises meant to create a chiseled six-pack look. Also known as an ab bench or recumbent ab bench, the ab board can be used for standard exercises like sit-ups or crunches, or can be an important tool in a variety of more intermediate or even advanced ab workout routines.
The ab board is similar in look to a standard weight bench. Elevated from the ground by four legs, the flat bench features a cushioned seat with balanced legs. The ab board differs from the normal bench in that it does not feature racks for weights. The board is also usually slanted downwards towards the front of the bench. Like a typical decline bench, ab boards allow someone to lie on the bench with their knees elevated above their head. The bench is sometimes made standard on the decline, or can be adjusted to the decline.
In addition to the flat bench, the ab board is equipped with foot pads at two locations. One is at the end of the board, to rest the legs on and throw the knees over when hanging in the decline position. The other pads are located near the bottom of the legs, to hold the feet behind, keeping the body on the bench and the abdominal muscles isolated.
Among the exercises most commonly completed on the ab board are sit-ups or crunches. These are done with a higher degree of difficulty than regular sit-ups, because they use the extra degree of gravity, forcing a longer extension and more strain on the abdominals. In addition to regular crunches, weighted crunches and oblique crunches are popular on the ab board. You can also use exercise balls to increase the difficulty of a crunch, holding them over your head as you sit up, or rolling them side to side to work out the sides of your mid-body.
Exercises should be done on the ab board similarly to other abdominal exercises: by isolating the abdominals and not using any other muscles; by keeping the neck straight to relieve strain; and by flexing the stomach muscles to be sure that the correct parts of the body are being worked. In these ways, ab boards are used to slim the waist, to increase the size of the six-pack muscles, and for a variety of training and fitness regimens.