The power wheel

Some years ago, among some of the weird and wonderful weight-reducing and slimming advertisements came a contraption that resembled the wheel of a garden wheelbarrow. It was revealed in exalted tones that a quick daily workout with this simple device would not only reduce fat but give you sculpted abdominal muscles. It was a cheap plastic wheel with a metal handle on each side and you knelt down and rolled it out in front ofyou.

A couple of years ago I saw the "power wheel", and, as one of the few people at the gym to remember the plastic prototype, I was not initially impressed. I was told it had been recommended by world champion shoot-fighter Erik Paulson, who regularly came over from Dan Inosanto's

Academy in Los Angeles to give his well-attended seminars. Erik is not only in possession of enormous strength and impressive physique but is also a very useful boxer who spars with professional boxers as part of his demanding training regime. In short, his point of view was to be respected.

The new wheel was a much classier looking affair; much like the front wheel of a motor-scooter; with adjustable foot-straps on the handles and a sturdy rubbertread. It also came at an enhanced price, of course!

The manufacturers claimed it improved balance and stability in the core and, in addition, the shoulders, chest, back arms, glutes and hamstrings.This was a bold claim, but after some initial scepticism, I found that, according to how hard you were prepared to work, many of these claims were about right. You can make impressive core strength gains with the wheel, but there are some points you need to bear in mind before launching into it:

1 you must be warmed up thoroughly

2 you should already be at a fairly good level of fitness

3 you will need a well-padded surface for your knees, to start with. A

judo mat, a firm exercise mat, or carpet is fine.

The velcro-fastening straps and pedals on the side of the wheel mean you can perform push-ups, plyo-jumps, pikes and other assorted moves— all with great difficulty! Due to the highly unstable mode of transport you are balanced on, a huge number of muscles are recruited just to keep you from crumplingto the floor: something most people do initially until they learn to adapt.

In my experience, there is much core training which you have to hope is all working towards a result; the wheel is the one where you feel the effects almost immediately, especially if you become over-enthusiastic.

It really can be a great boon to improving your core strength, but I must stress it should be approached with caution. It will not suit everybody.

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