Title:
Hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device includes a substantially rigid handle assembly which has a pair of hand-grip portions that are held in a spaced, generally parallel position by a transversely extending cross-member. The exercise device is used by a person in performing twisting type abdominal exercises to maintain the person's upper body in proper exercise position relative to the person's lower body to effectively exercise abdominal muscles at the person's waist. The exercise device may include a fixed or pivoting abdominal support adapted to engage and be firmly pressed against the waist of the person during exercise to massage the user's abdominal muscles to provide enhanced blood flow and stimulation thereof.



Inventors:
Wimber, Timothy Deon (Lauderdale Lakes, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/184406
Publication Date:
01/01/2004
Filing Date:
07/01/2002
Assignee:
WIMBER TIMOTHY DEON
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/126
International Classes:
A63B23/02; A63B23/00; (IPC1-7): A63B21/02; A63B26/00; A63B71/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
DONNELLY, JEROME W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Oltman, Flynn & Kubler (Ft. Lauderdale, FL, US)
Claims:

I claim as my invention:



1. A hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device for use by a person in performing abdominal exercises which when held in the person's hands maintains the person's upper body in proper exercise position relative to the person's lower body to effectively exercise abdominal muscles at the person's waist, the exercise device comprising: a substantially rigid handle assembly which includes a pair of hand-grip portions that are held in a spaced, generally parallel position by a transversely extending cross-member; and wherein the exercise device is used by the person while a standing position with feet slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface by grasping said hand-grip portions such that the person's hands are positioned with palms inwardly facing in a parallel, laterally spaced position parallel to the person's upper body, and wherein alternating direction twisting of the upper body with exercise device at the waist relative to the lower body strengthens the abdominal muscles due to alternating inertia and momentum forces of the exercise device and the person's upper body during such alternating twisting, the exercise device forcing the person's body to assume the correct posture and path of motion as well as the ideal range of movement for targeting the abdominal muscles.

2. The exercise device of claim I, wherein the handle assembly comprises an elongate tube having a transversely extending portion comprising the cross-member and at least one bend adjacent each opposite end portions thereof which form the hand grip portions.

3. The exercise device of claim 2, wherein the elongate tube is in the generally V-shaped, having at least one additional bend formed generally centrally along the transversely extending portion, said V-shape which allows the user to invert the tool and gives maximum effects for teaching the hands to be self-stabilizing during exercise.

4. The exercise device of claim 3, wherein the elongate tube includes a pair of the additional bends, forming a short straight central portion, respective divergent straight portions, and respective straight hand-grip portions.

5. The exercise device of claim 3, additionally comprising a pair of resilient tubular hand-grips, one being affixed disposed about each hand-grip portion.

6. The exercise device of claim 3, additionally comprising a pair of end caps, one affixed to each end of the elongate tube to seal an inner chamber which extends therethrough.

7. The exercise device of claim 6, wherein the end caps each include a dome and a dependent stem adapted to be affixed within the respective hand-grip portions.

8. The exercise device of claim 1, additionally comprising a weighting material disposable within an inner chamber of the handle assembly to increase inertia of the exercise device to a desired level.

9. The exercise device of claim 8, wherein the handle assembly comprises an elongate tube having a transversely extending portion comprising the cross-member and at least one bend adjacent each opposite end portions thereof which form the hand grip portions, said tube having the inner chamber therethrough, the weighting material comprising a granulated material disposed within said inner chamber, being retained therein by a pair of end caps, one affixed to each end of said tube to seal said granulated material within said inner chamber.

10. The exercise device of claim 9, additionally comprising at least one barrier which is affixable within the inner chamber of the elongate tube to retain the weighting material within one or more predetermined portions of said inner chamber.

11. The exercise device of claim 8, having a weight of up to about twenty-five pounds.

12. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein the handle assembly is of an adjustable width, having separate hand-grip portions that are rigidly lockable to the cross-member in a plurality extension of positions using a pair of respective adjustable locking devices.

13. The exercise device of claim 12, wherein the cross-member is curved and the hand-grip portions comprise respective curved hand-grip portions, said curved cross-member being adapted to engage and be firmly pressed against the waist of the person using said curved hand-grip arms to massage the user's abdominal muscles to provide enhanced blood flow and stimulation thereof.

14. The exercise device of claim 13, additionally comprising a center cushion affixed to the cross-member.

15. The exercise device of claim 13, additionally comprising a pair of resilient tubular hand-grips, one being affixed disposed about each hand-grip portion.

16. The exercise device of claim 13, additionally comprising a pair of end caps, one affixed to an end of each end of the hand-grip portions to seal an inner chamber which extends through the handle assembly.

17. The exercise device of claim 16, wherein the end caps each include a dome and a dependent stem adapted to be affixed to the respective hand-grip portions.

18. The exercise device of claim 12, wherein the cross-member and the hand-grip portions are tubular, said hand-grip portions telecopically engaging said cross-member and being retained in the plurality of extension positions using adjustable locking devices.

19. The exercise device of claim 18, wherein the adjustable locking devices comprise respective spring clips, the cross-member includes opposite end portions and the hand-grip portions include respective lower portions, said opposite ends of said cross-member and said lower portions of said hand-grip portions including corresponding individual adjustment holes and pluralities of adjustment holes, wherein each spring clip is disposed within the handle assembly and includes at least one locking button which is extendible through said adjustment holes to allow adjustment of said handle assembly to a plurality of predetermined widths.

20. The exercise device of claim 19, wherein the spring clips are disposed in the lower portions of the hand-grip portions which telescopically fit within the opposite end portions of the cross-member, said lower portions having the individual adjustment holes and said opposite end portions having the pluralities of adjustment holes.

21. The exercise device of claim 19, wherein the spring clips include a resilient V-shaped body made of sheet spring steel material and a pair of opposing locking buttons affixed to respective slightly angled end portions of body, the adjustment holes extending completely through the respective hand-grip portions and the cross-member.

22. The exercise device of claim 18, additionally comprising a pair of resilient tubular hand-grips, one being affixed disposed about each hand-grip portion.

23. The exercise device of claim 18, additionally comprising a pair of end caps, one affixed to each end of the elongate tube to seal an inner chamber which extends therethrough.

24. The exercise device of claim 23, wherein the end caps each include a dome and a dependent stem adapted to be affixed within the respective hand-grip portions.

25. The exercise device of claim 12, additionally comprising an abdominal support having a generally curved abdominal support plate and a support member that extends from a center portion of said support plate and is affixed to a center portion of the cross-member, said abdominal support plate being adapted to engage and be firmly pressed against the waist of the person using said hand-grip portions to massage the user's abdominal muscles to provide enhanced blood flow and stimulation thereof.

26. The exercise device of claim 25, wherein the cross-member comprises a substantially straight center tube, the center portion of the abdominal support plate is substantially straight and with respective opposite curved end portions, and the support member comprises a generally rectangular support tube which includes a concave curved end affixed to center portion of the center tube.

27. The exercise device of claim 25, additionally comprising a sheet center cushion affixed to said abdominal support plate opposite the support member.

28. The exercise device of claim 25, additionally comprising a pair of resilient tubular hand-grips, one being affixed disposed about each hand-grip portion.

29. The exercise device of claim 25, additionally comprising a pair of end caps, one affixed to each end of the elongate tube to seal an inner chamber which extends therethrough.

30. The exercise device of claim 29, wherein the end caps each include a dome and a dependent stem adapted to be affixed within the respective hand-grip portions.

31. A hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device for use by a person in performing abdominal exercises which when held in the person's hands maintains the person's upper body in proper exercise position relative to the person's lower body to effectively exercise abdominal muscles at the person's waist, the exercise device comprising: a substantially rigid handle assembly of a generally doughnut shape which includes a pair of hand-grip portions disposed at opposite sides of said handle assembly that are held in a spaced, generally parallel position; and wherein the exercise device is used by the person while a standing position with feet slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface by grasping said hand-grip portions such that the person's hands are positioned with palms inwardly facing in a parallel, laterally spaced position perpendicular to the person's upper body, and wherein alternating direction twisting of the upper body with exercise device at the waist relative to the lower body strengthens the abdominal muscles due to alternating inertia and momentum forces of the exercise device and the person's upper body during such alternating twisting, the exercise device forcing the person's body to assume the correct posture and path of motion as well as the ideal range of movement for targeting the abdominal muscles.

32. The exercise device of claim 31, wherein the hand-grip portions are curved.

33. The exercise device of claim 31, wherein the handle assembly includes at least one concave abdominal-engaging portion disposed between the hand-grip portions adapted to engage the person's waist, said abdominal-engaging portion being adapted to engage and be firmly pressed against the waist of the person using the hand-grip portions to massage the user's abdominal muscles to provide enhanced blood flow and stimulation thereof.

34. The exercise device of claim 33, wherein the hand-grip portions are curved, and the handle assembly includes a pair of concave abdominal-engaging portions disposed between the hand-grip portions at opposite front and rear ends of said handle assembly, each being adapted to individually engage the person's waist.

35. The exercise device of claim 31, wherein the handle assembly comprises a pair of half-tubes which are interconnected using a pair of connectors adapted to be affixed within respective ends of each half-tube.

36. The exercise device of claim 31, additionally comprising a pair of resilient tubular hand-grips, one being affixed disposed about each hand-grip portion.

37. The exercise device of claim 31, additionally comprising a weighting material disposable within an inner chamber of the handle assembly to increase inertia of the exercise device to a desired level.

38. A hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device for use by a person in performing abdominal exercises which when held in the person's hands maintains the person's upper body in proper exercise position relative to the person's lower body to effectively exercise abdominal muscles at the person's waist, the exercise device comprising: a substantially rigid handle assembly which includes a pair of hand-grip portions that are held in a spaced, generally parallel position by a transversely extending cross-member; and an abdominal support which is pivotally connected to said handle assembly centrally of and substantially perpendicular to said hand-grip portions, said abdominal support being adapted to engage the person's waist; and wherein the exercise device is used by the person while a standing position with feet slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface by grasping said hand-grip portions such that the person's hands are positioned with palms inwardly facing in a parallel, laterally spaced position parallel to the person's upper body with said abdominal support firmly pressed against the person's waist, wherein alternating direction twisting of the upper body with exercise device at the waist relative to the lower body strengthens the abdominal muscles due to alternating inertia and momentum forces of the exercise device and the person's upper body during such alternating twisting, the exercise device forcing the person's body to assume the correct posture and path of motion as well as the ideal range of movement for targeting the abdominal muscles, and wherein said abdominal support pressed against the person's waist acts to massage the abdominal muscles so that during exercise the abdominal muscles get adequate blood flow and stimulation for maximum exercise effect.

39. The exercise device of claim 38, additionally comprising a pair of elastic members which interconnect the abdominal support and the handle assembly to laterally center said abdominal support and provide for lateral movement thereof upon application of sufficient lateral force during use of the exercise device.

40. The exercise device of claim 39, wherein the handle assembly comprises a pair of hollow half-shells which are connectable together.

41. The exercise device of claim 40, wherein the half-shells each include a center portion and a pair of dependent upstanding contoured hand-grip portions.

42. The exercise device of claim 41, wherein at least one of the half-shells includes a transverse slot into which an end portion of the plate support closely slidably fits.

43. The exercise device of claim 40, additionally comprising a plurality of weighting members disposable within an inner chamber of the handle assembly to increase inertia of the exercise device to a desired level.

44. The exercise device of claim 40, wherein the center portions of the half-shells are of a generally straight rectangular configuration.

45. The exercise device of claim 39, wherein the elastic members each include an elongate body and opposite ends having respective anchoring pin holes therethrough, and wherein the abdominal support pivotally mounts to the handle assembly using a main pivot pin, and said elastic members are pivotally connected at said opposite ends to said abdominal support and said handle assembly using a plurality of anchoring pins.

46. The exercise device of claim 45, wherein at least one of the half-shells includes a transverse slot into which an end portion of the plate support closely slidably fits, the plate support includes a pair of generally triangular slots adapted to receive the elastic members, and said elastic members are of such a height as to be received within said transverse slot.

47. The exercise device of claim 38, wherein the abdominal support includes a contoured abdominal support member having a contoured wall having a curved periphery, and an integral generally triangular plate support which extends from said contoured wall.

48. The exercise device of claim 47, additionally comprising a pair of elastic members which interconnect the abdominal support and the handle assembly to laterally center said abdominal support and provide for lateral movement thereof upon application of sufficient lateral force during use of the exercise device.

49. The exercise device of claim 48, wherein the handle assembly comprises a pair of hollow half-shells which are connectable together.

50. The exercise device of claim 49, wherein the half-shells each include a center portion and a pair of dependent upstanding contoured hand-grip portions.

51. The exercise device of claim 50, wherein at least one of the half-shells includes a transverse slot into which an end portion of the plate support closely slidably fits.

52. The exercise device of claim 49, additionally comprising a plurality of weighting members disposable within an inner chamber of the handle assembly to increase inertia of the exercise device to a desired level.

53. The exercise device of claim 38, additionally comprising a weighting material disposable within an inner chamber of the handle assembly to increase inertia of the exercise device to a desired level.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority of my co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/298,824 filed Jun. 18, 2001, the disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates generally to the field of exercise devices for performing abdominal exercises. More specifically the present invention relates to a hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device for twisting type waist exercises by a person which replaces free weights and exercise batons for performing such exercise. The exercise device maintains the person's upper body in proper exercise position relative to the person's lower body to effectively exercise abdominal muscles at the person's waist, so as to safely and effectively exercise all three of the abdominal muscles, while minimizing stresses placed on the user's back. The exercise device may also be used in performing crunch type sit-ups.

[0004] The hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device is preferably a substantially rigid handle assembly which includes a pair of hand-grip portions that are held in a spaced, generally parallel position by a transversely extending cross-member. The exercise device is used by the person while a standing position with feet slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface by grasping the hand-grip portions such that the person's hands are positioned with palms inwardly facing in a parallel, laterally spaced position parallel or alternatively perpendicular to the person's upper body. Alternating direction twisting of the upper body with exercise device at the waist relative to the lower body strengthens the abdominal muscles due to alternating inertia and momentum forces of the exercise device and the person's upper body during such alternating twisting. The exercise device forces the person's body to assume the correct posture and path of motion as well as the ideal range of movement for targeting the abdominal muscles. The exercise device is preferably weighted to a predetermined inertia to provide the desired level of resistance to twisting motion during exercise.

[0005] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0006] The fitness movement has captured the attention of ever increasing numbers of people in the United States and throughout the world. One result is an endless array of exercise equipment which may be beneficial, though many are merely a marketing gimmick or which may even prove harmful to users thereof. One particular area of concentration for manufacturers and promoters of exercise equipment has been abdominal exercisers to achieve the elusive washboard or “six pack” abdominal muscles seen on body builders and other such weight lifters. The abdominal muscles include three separate muscle groups comprising (1) the rectus abdominous, (2) the inner oblique, and (3) the outer oblique. It is typically necessary to exercise all three muscle groups to achieve a lean, muscular waistline.

[0007] One example of what is likely a marketing gimmick are electronic pulsing devices which claim to strengthen and flatten the abdominal muscles and the waist of a user without doing any sit-ups or other such exercises. While these devices do stimulate the abdominal muscle cells to contract and retract using electrical energy sent through pads affixed to the skin over the muscles, the actual claimed benefits have recently been called into question. Examples of legitimate abdominal muscle exercisers are typically based upon the traditional sit-up exercise.

[0008] Sit-ups are a popular exercise for strengthening and toning the abdominal muscles and as such is the most commonly used abdominal exercise. Sit-ups are typically performed by a person laying upon their back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. The person then contracts the abdominal muscles to raise the head and upper body off the ground. The person's hands may be placed behind the head with the elbows forward so that the elbows touch the knees when the head and shoulders are lifted. Conventional sit-ups can strain the person's back and spine due to the stresses and the large range of motion required of the back muscles and spine. An alternative to conventional sit-ups is the abdominal “crunch” which has become a popular alternative to the conventional sit-up to lessen stresses placed on the back and spine encountered during conventional sit-ups. Crunches are performed in the same manner as conventional sit-ups except that only the head and shoulders are lifted a short distance rather than the entire upper body. Thus, while only a limited range of motion is required of the spine and the muscles in the lower back, the stress is reduced but not eliminated.

[0009] There are other attempts at exercising the abdominal muscles. One design is a simple bowl-shaped seat in which a person. The bowl-shape assists the person in doing sit-ups by helping in rocking forward during the sit-up. More recently various exercise devices resembling an in-line roller skate with a hand-grip have become popular. The device is used with the user kneeling with hands gripping the handle. The user extends to a near-horizontal position and back to exercise the abdominal muscles.

[0010] As an alternative to the sit-up or crunch type abdominal exercises there are twisting abdominal exercises which are performed by the person while in a standing position. One such twisting abdominal exercise is performed with the person in a standing position atop a roller plate exercise device on a floor surface. The exercise device has a stationary base which supports a rotary top plate on a plurality of rollers or ball bearings. The person alternately twists the upper body in one direction and the lower body in the opposite direction on the top plate then opposite to strengthen the abdominal muscles. Another such twisting abdominal exercise is performed with the person in a standing position directly on the floor surface. The person holds a conventional dumbbell in each hand at roughly waist level or holds a single elongate barbell used to hold free-weights in both hands at roughly waist level. The person alternately twists the upper body and dumbbells or barbell in one direction then the other direction to strengthen the abdominal muscles. The dumbbells or barbell provide alternate inertial resistance to twisting of the upper body and momentum once in motion to enhance the workout of the abdominal muscles.

[0011] There have been a variety of patented abdominal exercise devices, some of which are large exercise machines which provide resistance to body movement using a plurality of weights which are alternately raised and lowered along a vertical guide rod.

[0012] An upper abdominal sidebend machine is disclosed in Lambert, Jr. et al. U.S. Pat. No. 4,349,191, issued on Sep. 14, 1982. The sidebend machine includes a base frame which carries a weight-supporting cage, a seating area supported by the base, a roller trackway which revolves about the seat. An upwardly extending transverse track supports a pair of upwardly extending pads whose displacement from a center area on the roller is adjustable. A person may loop one arm over the pad and one arm in front of the pad to provide an exercise in which rotation about the seat exercises the person's upper abdomen. The roller is connected, through sprockets, chains, and a cam, to a plurality of weights which provide resistance to the person's twisting motion when exercising to reduce the number of repetitions required.

[0013] Lambert, Jr. et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,349,193 issued on Sep. 14, 1982 reveals a lower abdominal twist machine including a frame having a plurality of weights which are slidably mounted in a cage. The weights are operatively connected to a rotatable seat on which a person sits. A hand-grip on the frame may be grasped by the seated person to twist the person's lower body in each direction against the resistance of the seat provided by the weights thereby exercising the abdominal muscles.

[0014] An exercise apparatus for abdominal exercises is disclosed in Stearns, U.S. Pat. No. 5,094,449, issued on Mar. 10, 1992. The exercise apparatus is used by a person while in a seated position on a fixed seat of a fixed frame. Three separate movable frames in the form of a crunch frame, a sway frame, and a twist frame are provided to allow the user to individually or simultaneously exercise abdominal muscles while crunching or bending forward, swaying or bending from side-to-side, or twisting. Variable resistance to the movement of the frames is provided by weights and pulleys connected through a cable to the individual frames.

[0015] Other patented abdominal exercise devices are more compact to assist the user to perform conventional sit-ups and crunches, or twisting-type abdominal strengthening exercises.

[0016] An abdominal exerciser device is disclosed in Brown U.S. Pat. No. 5,492,520, issued on Feb. 20, 1996. The abdominal exerciser device comprises a one piece frame having a pair of support rails, a pair of arcuate rocker portions, a pair of arm rest portions, and an upstanding arch-shaped portion connecting the support rails together. Removable cushions are disposed on the arm rest portions to receive the elbows of a person when in a supine position. The person's head and neck are supported on a support extending across the arch-shaped portion. The rocker portions are curved to mimic the curvature of the spine of the person.

[0017] Zetocha et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,683,337, issued on Nov. 4, 1997 reveals a rotary exerciser machine for exercising the deltoids, the pectorals, the external obliques, the abdominus rectos, the quadriceps, and the calves of a person. The exerciser machine includes a circular top plate which is rotatably mounted on a circular bottom plate. A resistance device in the form of a thumb screw and a brake surface provides variable resistance to rotation of the top plate on the bottom plate. The exerciser machine is used by a person standing upon a top plate and alternately twisting in one direction then the other. The person adjusts the resistance to rotation by turning the thumb screw.

[0018] An abdominal exercise device is disclosed in Abdo, U.S. Pat. No. 6,022,303, issued on Feb. 8, 2000. The abdominal exercise device includes a base support member assembly upon a person is seated, a vertical resistance and restorative force member assembly mounted on the base support member assembly, and an arm support member. The arm support member positions the person's upper body in an upright position. The exercise device strengthens the major and minor muscles of the upper and lower back, the frontal portion of the midsection, the abdominals, and the obliques while avoiding compression of the person's spine.

[0019] A waist-trimming exercise apparatus is disclosed in Steinfeld U.S. Pat. No. 5,449,335, issued on Sep. 12, 1995. Steinfeld teaches a system for exercising the muscles at a person's waist. The exercise apparatus includes a spotting fixture having a base, side frame members, and a central vertical member arranged in a tripod configuration. A pair of C-shape arms are connected to respective top ends of the side frame members and the central vertical member. Mechanical hands are swivel-mounted to opposite ends of each arm which engage the waist of a person standing on the base. The mechanical hands holding the person's lower body stationary during twisting movement of the person's upper body. The mechanical hands adjust laterally and vertically to suit the person. Free weights such as a twisting baton can be held by the user to increase the exertion level during exercise.

[0020] It is thus an object of the present invention to provide a relatively simple, low cost exercise device for strengthening the abdominal muscles.

[0021] It is another object of the present invention to provide an abdominal exercise device which allows the user to maintain the body in a balanced position maintaining a constant center of gravity during exercise use.

[0022] It is a still further object of the present invention to provide an abdominal exercise device which does not place undue stress of the muscles in the lower back of the user.

[0023] It is another object of the present invention to provide such an abdominal exercise device which is of adjustable inertial swing resistance by utilizing varying weights.

[0024] It is still another object of the present invention to provide such an abdominal exercise device which is safer to use than individual hand-held dumbbells and which is of a more compact design than standard weight bars and free weights.

[0025] It is yet another object of the present invention to provide such an abdominal exercise device which provides adjustable width of the hand-grips to suit individual users.

[0026] It is finally an object of the present invention to provide an abdominal exercise device which is constructed of lightweight tubing which is inexpensive to manufacture yet sturdy.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0027] The present invention accomplishes the above-stated objectives, as well as others, as may be determined by a fair reading and interpretation of the entire specification.

[0028] A hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device is provided for use by a person in performing abdominal exercises. The exercise device when held in the person's hands maintains the person's upper body in proper exercise position relative to the person's lower body to effectively exercise abdominal muscles at the person's waist.

[0029] A first embodiment of the hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device includes a substantially rigid handle assembly which includes a pair of hand-grip portions that are held in a spaced, generally parallel position by a transversely extending cross-member. The exercise device is used by the person while a standing position with feet slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface. The person grasps the hand-grip portions such that the person's hands are positioned with palms inwardly facing in a parallel, laterally spaced position parallel to the person's upper body. Alternating direction twisting of the person's upper body with exercise device at the waist relative to the lower body strengthens the abdominal muscles due to alternating inertia and momentum forces of the exercise device and the person's upper body during such alternating twisting. The exercise device forces the person's body to assume the correct posture and path of motion as well as the ideal range of movement for targeting the abdominal muscles. The exercise device is preferably weighted to a predetermined inertia to provide the desired level of resistance to twisting motion during exercise.

[0030] A second embodiment of the hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device includes a substantially rigid handle assembly of a generally doughnut shape which includes a pair of hand-grip portions disposed at opposite sides of the handle assembly that are held in a spaced, generally parallel position. The exercise device is used in a similar manner with the person's hands are positioned with palms inwardly facing in a parallel, laterally spaced position perpendicular to the person's upper body rather than parallel thereto. The exercise device is preferably weighted to a predetermined inertia to provide the desired level of resistance to twisting motion during exercise. The exercise device also preferably includes at least one concave abdominal-engaging portion disposed between the hand-grip portions adapted to engage the person's waist. The abdominal-engaging portion is adapted to engage and be firmly pressed against the waist of the person using the hand-grip portions to massage the user's abdominal muscles to provide enhanced blood flow and stimulation thereof.

[0031] A third hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device includes a substantially rigid handle assembly which includes a pair of hand-grip portions that are held in a spaced, generally parallel position by a transversely extending cross-member. An abdominal support is pivotally connected to the handle assembly centrally of and substantially perpendicular to the hand-grip portions. The abdominal support is adapted to engage and be firmly pressed against the waist of the person using the hand-grip portions to massage the user's abdominal muscles to provide enhanced blood flow and stimulation thereof. The exercise device preferably includes a pair of elastic members which interconnect the abdominal support and the handle assembly to laterally center the abdominal support and provide for lateral movement thereof upon application of sufficient lateral force during use of the exercise device. The exercise device is preferably weighted to a predetermined inertia to provide the desired level of resistance to twisting motion during exercise.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0032] Various other objects, advantages, and features of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following discussion taken in conjunction with the following drawings, in which:

[0033] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device generally in the form of a V-shaped tube.

[0034] FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the first exercise device.

[0035] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the first exercise device as used by a person.

[0036] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a second preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device in the general form of an oblong doughnut tube.

[0037] FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of the second exercise device.

[0038] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the second exercise device as used by the person.

[0039] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a third preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device in the general form of a U-shaped tube of an adjustable width.

[0040] FIG. 8 is an exploded perspective view of the third exercise device.

[0041] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the third exercise device as used by the person.

[0042] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a fourth preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device in the general form of a U-shaped tube of an adjustable width.

[0043] FIG. 11 is an exploded perspective view of the fourth exercise device.

[0044] FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the fourth exercise device as used by the person.

[0045] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a fifth preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device in the general form of a U-shaped tube of an adjustable width.

[0046] FIG. 14 is a perspective view substantially as in FIG. 13, showing the rear of the fifth exercise device.

[0047] FIG. 15 is an exploded perspective view of the fifth exercise device.

[0048] FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the fifth exercise device as used by the person.

[0049] FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the fifth exercise device as used by a person to do crunches.

[0050] FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the fifth exercise device as used by a person to do crunches.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0051] As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein, however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention which may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure.

[0052] Reference is now made to the drawings, wherein like characteristics and features of the present invention shown in the various FIGURES are designated by the same reference numerals.

[0053] First Preferred Embodiment

[0054] Referring to FIGS. 1-3, a first preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device 20, preferably in the general form of a V-shaped tube is disclosed.

[0055] FIGS. 1 and 2 include the first exercise device 20 having a V-tube 23, a pair of resilient tubular hand grips 26, a pair of domed end caps 29, and a granulated weighting material 32. The V-tube 23 is made of a single piece of rigid material such as polyvinyl chloride or other such extruded and formed plastic, metal, etc. V-tube 23 includes a short straight central portion 35, respective divergent straight portions 38 and 41, and respective straight hand-grip portions 44 and 47. The tubular hand grips 26 are made of polyurethane foam or other such resilient grippable material and are press-fit or adhesively bonded disposed about the respective hand-grip portions 44 and 47 of V-tube 23. The end caps 29 are hollowed, each including a dome 50 and a dependent tubular stem 53 adapted to be affixed within the respective hand-grip portions 44 and 47 such as by press-fitting or adhesive bonding. The weighting material 32 is silica sand, or other such material which may be conveniently added within an elongate inner chamber 56 that extends through V-tube 23. The desired weight of the exercise device 20 can thus be achieved using the same component parts. The exercise device 20 preferably weighs up to about twenty-five pounds, being adjustable to suit the user thereof. The V-shape also allows the user to invert the exercise device 20 for teaching the hands 62 and 65 to be self-stabilizing during exercise.

[0056] FIG. 3 shows the exercise device 20 as used by a person 59 grasping the hand-grips 26 in hands 62 and 65 while in an upright position with the feet 68 and 71 slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface 74. Twisting of the upper body 77 relative to the lower body 80 at the waist 83 with the head 86 moving with the upper body 74 as at arrows “A” and “B” strengthens the abdominal muscles (not shown) of the waist 80.

[0057] Second Preferred Embodiment

[0058] Referring to FIGS. 4-6, a second preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device 95, preferably in the general form of a oblong doughnut is disclosed.

[0059] FIGS. 4 and 5 include the second exercise device 95 having an O-tube assembly 98, a pair of resilient tubular hand grips 101, and the granulated weighting material 32. The O-tube assembly 98 is made of a pair of curved half-tubes 107 of a rigid material such as polyvinyl chloride or other such extruded and formed plastic, metal, etc., and a pair of tubular connectors 108. Half-tubes 107 each include a short curved central portion 110, and respective curved hand-grip portions 113 and 116 which are oppositely curved from the central portion 110. The tubular hand grips 101 are made of polyurethane foam or other such resilient grippable material and are press-fit or adhesively bonded disposed about the respective hand-grip portions 113 and 116 of the half-tubes 107, which are interconnected by the connector tubes 108 adapted to be affixed within the respective hand-grip portions 113 and 116 such as by press-fitting or adhesive bonding. The weighting material 32 of silica sand or other such material is disposed within an elongate inner chamber 119 that extends through each half-tube 107. The desired weight of the exercise device 95 can thus be achieved using the same component parts. The exercise device 95 preferably weighs up to about twenty-five pounds, being adjustable to suit the user thereof. The adjustable weight allows the user to choose the best range of exercises to perform.

[0060] FIG. 6 shows the exercise device 95 as used by the person 59 grasping the hand-grips 101 in hands 62 and 65 while in an upright position with the feet 68 and 71 slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface 74. Twisting of the upper body 77 relative to the lower body 80 at the waist 83 with the head 86 moving with the upper body 74 as at arrows “A” and “B” strengthens the abdominal muscles of the waist 80. The exercise device 95 is used with one of the curved central portions firmly pressed against the waist 83 to act as a massager for the abdominal muscles, so that during exercise, the abdominal muscles will get adequate blood flow and stimulation for maximum effect.

[0061] Third Preferred Embodiment

[0062] Referring to FIGS. 7-9, a third preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device 122, preferably in the general form of a U-shaped tube of an adjustable width is disclosed.

[0063] FIGS. 7 and 8 include the third exercise device 122 having an adjustable width U-tube assembly 125, a pair of resilient tubular hand grips 128, and the granulated weighting material 32. The U-tube assembly 125 is made of a curved center tube 131, a tubular center cushion 134, a pair of curved hand-grip arms 137 and 140, all of a rigid material such as polyvinyl chloride or other such extruded and formed plastic, metal, etc., a pair of adjustable locking devices in the form of respective spring clips 140, and a pair of domed end caps 29. The center tube 131 has a curved center portion 143 and respective opposite end portions 146 and 149 which include a plurality of respective adjustment holes 152 and 155. The tubular center cushion 134 is made of polyurethane foam or other such resilient grippable material and is press-fit or adhesively bonded disposed about the center tube 131 between end portions 146 and 149. The hand-grip arms 137 and 140 include respective curved lower portions 158 and 161, and respective curved hand-grip portions 164 and 167. The hand-grip arms 137 and 140 are of such an outer diameter such that the lower portions 158 and 161 closely slidably fit within the respective end portions 146 and 149 of center tube 131. The lower portions 146 and 149 include a respective adjustment hole 170 and 173 which correspond with adjustment holes 152 and 155 of the center tube 131. The spring clips 140 include a resilient V-shaped body 176 made of sheet spring steel material and a pair of opposing locking buttons 179 affixed to respective slightly angled end portions 182 and 185 of body 176. The hand-grip arms 137 and 140 are adjustably connected to the center tube 131 using the spring clips 140, which are disposed within the respective lower portions 146 and 149 of the hand-grip arms 137 and 140 with the locking buttons 179 extending through the respective adjustment holes 170 and 173 of lower portions 146 and 149, and 152 and 155 of center tube 131. The tubular hand grips 128 are made of polyurethane foam or other such resilient grippable material and are press-fit or adhesively bonded disposed about the respective hand-grip portions 164 and 167 of the hand-grip arms 137 and 140. The tubular stem 53 of the respective end caps 29 are affixed within the respective hand-grip portions 164 and 167 such as by press-fitting or adhesive bonding. The weighting material 32 of silica sand or other such material may be disposed within an elongate inner chamber 188 that extends through the center tube 131, and respective elongate inner chambers 191 and 194 that extend through the hand-grip arms 137 and 140 using respective large and small sealing cups 197 and 200 which are press-fit or adhesively bonded therewithin to retain the weighting material 32 therewithin. The desired weight of the exercise device 122 can thus be achieved using the same component parts.

[0064] FIG. 9 shows the exercise device 122 as used by the person 59 grasping the hand-grips 128 in hands 62 and 65 while in an upright position with the feet 68 and 71 slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface 74. Twisting of the upper body 77 relative to the lower body 80 at the waist 83 with the head 86 moving with the upper body 74 as at arrows “A” and “B” strengthens the abdominal muscles of the waist 80. The exercise device 122 is used with the center cushion 134 firmly pressed against the waist 83 to act as a massager for the abdominal muscles, so that during exercise, the abdominal muscles will get adequate blood flow and stimulation for maximum effect.

[0065] Fourth Preferred Embodiment

[0066] Referring to FIGS. 10-12, a fourth preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device 203, preferably in the general form of a U-shaped tube of an adjustable width with an abdominal support is disclosed.

[0067] FIGS. 10 and 11 include the fourth exercise device 203 having an adjustable width U-tube assembly 206, a pair of resilient tubular hand grips 209, and the granulated weighting material 32. The U-tube assembly 206 is made of a straight center tube 212, an abdominal support 215, a rectangular sheet center cushion 218, a pair of curved hand-grip arms 224 and 227, the center tube 212, the abdominal support 215. The center tube 212, the abdominal support 215, and the abdominal support 215 are all made of a rigid material such as polyvinyl chloride or other such extruded, molded, or formed plastic, or of metal. A pair of adjustable locking devices in the form of respective spring clips 140, and a pair of domed end caps 29. The center tube 212 has a straight center portion 230 and respective opposite end portions 233 and 236 which include a plurality of respective adjustment holes 239 and 242. The abdominal support 215 includes a curved abdominal support plate 245 having a straight center portion 248 and respective opposite curved end portions 251 and 254. A generally rectangular support tube 257 extends from center portion 248 and includes a concave curved distal end 260 affixed to center portion 230 of the center tube 212. The flat center cushion 218 is made of polyurethane foam or other such resilient material and is adhesively bonded to support plate 245. The hand-grip arms 224 and 227 include respective curved lower portions 266 and 269, and respective straight hand-grip portions 272 and 275. The hand-grip arms 224 and 227 are of such an outer diameter such that the lower portions 266 and 269 closely slidably fit within the respective end portions 233 and 236 of center tube 212. The lower portions 266 and 269 include a respective adjustment hole 278 and 281 which correspond with adjustment holes 239 and 242 of the center tube 212. The hand-grip arms 224 and 227 are adjustably connected to the center tube 212 using the spring clips 140, which are disposed within the respective lower portions 266 and 269 of the hand-grip arms 224 and 227 with the locking buttons 179 extending through the respective adjustment holes 278 and 281, and 239 and 242 of center tube 212. The tubular hand grips 209 are made of polyurethane foam or other such resilient grippable material and are press-fit or adhesively bonded disposed about the respective hand-grip portions 272 and 275 of the hand-grip arms 224 and 227. The tubular stem 53 of the respective end caps 29 are affixed within the respective hand-grip portions 272 and 275 such as by press-fitting or adhesive bonding. The weighting material 32 of silica sand or other such material may be disposed within an elongate inner chamber 284 that extends through the center tube 212, and respective elongate inner chambers 287 and 290 that extend through the hand-grip arms 224 and 227 using respective large and small sealing cups 197 and 200 which are press-fit or adhesively bonded therewithin to retain the weighting material 32 therewithin. The desired weight of the exercise device 203 can thus be achieved using the same component parts.

[0068] FIG. 12 shows the exercise device 203 as used by the person 59 grasping the hand-grips 209 in hands 62 and 65 while in an upright position with the feet 68 and 71 slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface 74. Twisting of the upper body 77 relative to the lower body 80 at the waist 83 with the head 86 moving with the upper body 74 as at arrows “A” and “B” strengthens the abdominal muscles of the waist 80. The exercise device 203 is used with the center cushion 218 firmly pressed against the waist 83 to act as a massager for the abdominal muscles, so that during exercise, the abdominal muscles will get adequate blood flow and stimulation for maximum effect.

[0069] Fifth Preferred Embodiment

[0070] Referring to FIGS. 13-16, a fifth preferred hand-held abdominal muscle exercise device 293, preferably in the general form of a U-shaped tube of an adjustable width with an abdominal support is disclosed.

[0071] FIGS. 13-15 include the fifth exercise device 293 having a U-shaped handle assembly 296, a pivoting abdominal support 299, a rectangular sheet center cushion 302, a pair of elastic members 305, and a plurality of cylindrical weights 307. The handle assembly 296 is made of a pair of contoured hollow half-shells 308 and 311 which are molded from a suitable plastic material such as by injection molding, pressure forming, or other suitable process. Alternatively, half-shells 308 and 311 may be made from metal such as by die-casting. Half-shells 308 and 311 include respective generally straight rectangular webbed center portions 314 and 317, and respective pairs of dependent upstanding contoured hand-grip portions 320 and 321, and 323 and 324. Center portions 314 and 317 include respective tubular inserts 326 and 329 defining coaxial transverse slots 332 and 335. A main pivot pin bore 338 and a pair of anchoring pin bores 341 and 344 extend vertically through a top wall 347 of half-shell 317 and through tubular insert 329. The half-shells 308 and 311 are connected together to form handle assembly 296 using a plurality of self-tapping screws 350 which extend through respective holes 353 of a plurality of bosses 356 of half-shell 311 and thread into corresponding holes 359 of a plurality of bosses 362 of half-shell 308. The abdominal support 299 includes a contoured abdominal support member 365 having a contoured wall 368 having a curved periphery 371, and an integral generally triangular plate support 374 which extends from wall 368. The plate support 374 includes a base portion 377 and an undercut portion 380 of such a height as to be closely received within the transverse slots 332 and 335 of the handle assembly 296. A pair of triangular slots 383 and 386 extend laterally into plate support 374. A main pivot pin hole 389 and a pair of anchoring pin holes 392 and 395 extend vertically through plate support 374, with the anchoring pin holes 392 and 395 extending through the respective triangular slots 283 and 386. A central hole 398 is centrally disposed through the plate support 374 to facilitate injection molding thereof and to reduce the amount of plastic required. The center cushion 302 is made of polyurethane foam or other such resilient material. Center cushion 302 is adhesively bonded to the contoured wall 368 of abdominal support member. The elastic members 305 include an elongate body 401 and respective bulbous ends 404 and 407 having respective anchoring pin holes 410 and 413 therethrough. The elastic members are of such a height as to be received within the triangular slots 383 and 386 of plate support 374, and to also fit within the transverse slots 332 and 335 of handle assembly 296. Elastic members 305 are molded from an elastic or resilient material such as rubber which can be stretched. The abdominal support 299 pivotally mounts to the handle assembly 296 using a main pivot pin 416 having a head 419 and a shaft 422 with an annular groove 425 distal from head 419, a pair of long anchoring pins 428 having a head 431 and a shaft 434 with an annular groove 437 distal from head 431, a pair of short anchoring pins 440 having a head 443 and a shaft 446 with an annular groove 449 distal from head 443, and respective snap-rings 452 and 455 which engage the respective annular grooves 425, 437, and 449. The elastic members 305 are retained by the pins 428 and 440. The cylindrical weights 307 may be disposed within an elongate inner chamber 456 that extends through the handle assembly 296. The desired weight of the exercise device 203 can thus be achieved using the same component parts.

[0072] FIG. 16 shows the exercise device 293 as used by the person 59 grasping the assembled together hand grip portions 320 and 321, and 323 and 324 in hands 62 and 65 while in an upright position with the feet 68 and 71 slightly spaced on a supporting floor surface 74. Twisting of the upper body 77 relative to the lower body 80 at the waist 83 with the head 86 moving with the upper body 74 as at arrows “A” and “B” strengthens the abdominal muscles of the waist 80. The exercise device 203 is used with the center cushion 302 firmly pressed against the waist 83 to act as a massager for the abdominal muscles, so that during exercise, the abdominal muscles will get adequate blood flow and stimulation for maximum effect.

[0073] FIGS. 17 and 18 show the exercise device 293 as used by the person 458 to do the sit-up type exercise commonly called “crunches” by grasping the assembled together contoured hand-grip portions 320 and 321, and 323 and 324 in hands 461 and 464 while in a prone position on a supporting floor surface 467. Lifting of the upper body 470 relative to the lower body 473 at the waist 476 with the head 479 moving with the upper body 470 as at arrows “C” and “D” strengthens the abdominal muscles of the waist 80. The exercise device 203 is used with the center cushion 302 firmly pressed against the waist 83 to act as a massager for the abdominal muscles, so that during exercise, the abdominal muscles will get adequate blood flow and stimulation for maximum effect.

[0074] Using the hand-held abdominal muscle exercise devices of the present invention is safer and easier to use than dumbbells or barbells for doing twisting exercises. The twisting movements involving the use of a barbell may actually cause spinal problems. Conversely, the exercise devices of the present invention stabilize the torso during twisting exercises which reduces lower back pain caused by improper posture or form during use. The exercise devices are held with palms parallel at a fixed or adjustable lateral distance ranging from about five to fourteen inches. The hands when gripping the hand-grips are positioned in a vertical position parallel to the upper body so the torso is forced to a proper exercise position, forcing the body to assume the correct posture and path of motion as well as the ideal range of movement for targeting the abdominal muscles. The user then proceeds to twist in a fashion consistent with conventional abdominal twists. The exercise device works by naturally stabilizing the torso and position the hands in the natural and ideal positioning and for toning and building the abdominal muscles. The exercise devices may also be used for conventional crunches. The user sets the separation distance of the hand-grips and proceeds to twist or crunch in a fashion consistent for proper development of the abdominal muscles. The exercise device may be built in a range of fixed or adjustable weights to provide a desired inertial resistance level.

[0075] Many variations of the present invention are possible while staying within the same inventive concept. For example, while tubes and other hollow handles are used typically with internal weights, the tubes may be replaced with solid rods or bars of a sufficient weight to produce inertia sufficient for twisting exercise with or without the addition of separate weights affixed thereto. The exercise device may be made in different sizes to accommodate different sizes of users. Further, the exercise device may be made in a relatively simple manner for use by an individual at home or in a more robust manner for use as a commercial unit in health clubs.

[0076] While the invention has been described,.disclosed, illustrated and shown in various terms or certain embodiments or modifications which it has assumed in practice, the scope of the invention is not intended to be, nor should it be deemed to be, limited thereby and such other modifications or embodiments as may be suggested by the teaching herein are particularly reversed especially as they fall within the breadth and scope of the claims here appended.