American Council On Exercise (ACE) Study Tests Merits of the AB-DOer, the Latest Infomercial Fitness Craze

Posted: Sep 19, 2001 in

SAN DIEGO--The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s nonprofit fitness advocate, today announced results of an ACE commissioned study of the AB-DOer, one of the latest products in abdominal fitness equipment. Promising to be a quick fix, the AB-DOer and its messages are reaching thousands of Americans through television infomercials, but many consumers are turning to ACE and wondering if its claims of getting "a flat, firm stomach the easy way," are necessarily true.

From a seated position, AB-DOer users grip the shoulder-high handlebars and rotate the torso in various directions at various speeds to strengthen muscles and elevate heart rate. This product is purported to target the abdominals, obliques and lower back muscles, and claims it is "so advanced it aerobically burns fat and at the same time flattens your stomach in just minutes a day."

The study, led by Steven Loy, Ph.D. and William Whiting, Ph.D. of California State University, Northridge, found that over all, the AB-DOer provides a relatively low-intensity workout that burns approximately four to five calories per minute. By comparison, walking on a treadmill at three miles per hour (which is the equivalent of a light-to-moderate walk) burns approximately 5.3 calories per minute.

"Because the AB-DOer provides a relatively low-intensity workout, one would have to exercise considerably longer to achieve the same calorie-burning effects of higher-intensity exercise such as indoor cycling or step aerobics," said Steven Loy, PhD. "Therefore, we found that the AB-DOer does not appear to live up to the claims made by its manufacturer. However, as with any exercise product, if it provides the necessary motivation to stick with an exercise program, it may be worth the investment."

When evaluated simply by muscle activity, the AB-DOer exercises elicited less activity than traditional exercises in most of the comparisons. As for aerobic benefits, subjects exercising on the AB-DOer had an average heart rate of 53 percent to 57 percent of their age-predicted maximum. This is below the recommended 65 percent to 85 percent target heart-rate range. And, when participants were asked to rate their perceived exertion, the average on the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion 10-point scale was 1.8, which is considered "weak."

Twenty-five men and women, age 18 to 40, were recruited to participate in the study. From this group, five college-age subjects performed exercises recommended on the accompanying video. Subjects then performed three traditional movements—the crunch, oblique crunch and trunk extension—for comparison with the AB-DOer exercises.

To evaluate the aerobic benefit of the AB-DOer, the remaining 20 subjects were monitored while performing the eight-minute introductory video routine. This was followed by a three-minute session during which participants were instructed to go "as hard as possible" using any of the movements learned in the video.

The results of this study support ACE’s long-time opinion that it is not necessary to spend upward of $150 on a piece of exercise equipment to strengthen abs. ACE recommends that if a consumer is going to invest in a piece of equipment, make it a high-quality exercise ball, which retails at approximately $30, depending on size. Also, to flatten your stomach, ACE recommends an effective weight-loss program that requires proper nutrition and appropriate exercise. Over time, one must expend more calories than one consumes.

Recently ACE sponsored a study revealing the best and worst methods for abdominal exercises. Overall, the top three abdominal exercises were bicycle maneuver, captain’s chair and crunch on exercise ball. To view those results, visit our Web site at

About ACE
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at

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