Fitness gadgets are mostly useless, un-necessary, waste of money and more often than not, LESS effective than simple body weight exercises or free weight exercises. So why in the world did I bother to spend a good 1.5 weeks with the so called Power Wheel by Lifeline USA? Because as far as ab “machines” or “gadgets” go, this one has been talked about the most — and is being used by players in the NHL and NFL.
So I figured hey, football and hockey players are one thing, let’s see if it can keep up with a gymnastics and martial arts workout. For those of you who are totally clueless… Watch the movie Stick It, it will give you a whole new perspective on gymnastics training (and that shit’s not fake, I can personally vouch for the legitimacy of what the movie portrays).
So back to the product in question– The PowerWheel. At first glance this thing seems like nothing new, there are PLENTY of ab wheels out there that claim to effectively help you train your abs, but this is where all the similarities end. Let’s take a closer look at the wheel itself and what you get in the box.
Right off the bat, the VERY first thing you’ll notice is the size of the wheel, it’s actually pretty big… Much bigger than I thought. It’s more like a black rim (Look mom, my abs are ridin’ twelves!). At first I was a bit unsure about this, but after a fair bit of use I not only got used to it, but started to enjoy it and started applying it in funky situations by thinking “outside the box”. Well, more like outside the house… The big wheel works perfectly on less than ideal surfaces such as wooden decks, concrete floors and most importantly, GRASS! On a nice day you can take your sturdy Power Wheel outside and do up a kick ass workout because it’s a joy to use.
Speaking of sturdy, this thing is built quite well. The spokesperson told me that 200+lbs athletes use this on the regular… So the wheel must surely get its fair share of punishment. However, there is one minor quirk that worries me. When you receive the Power Wheel, there is obviously some assembly that’s required. Which is fine… because all you have to do is slip the wheel onto a metal rod then attach a foot pedal to it by tightening the hex screw, cool.
The only problem is that the hinges which attach the foot pedals to the metal rod are plastic… so while trying to screw them down as tightly as possible (assuming that’s the right thing to do since I don’t feel like falling on my face if a foot pedal goes flying off) the plastic started to show signs of minor crackage. See the picture for more detail.
This is a bit baffling since the rest of the wheel is superbly constructed and I don’t see why the hinges were chosen to be plastic… Making them out of metal would make more sense. This quirk might end up becoming the Achilles heel of the Power Wheel, but in all fairness the little crack (or whatever you want to call it) remained constant throughout the testing and did not get worse. Nor did it hinder the experience or break down, and let me tell you, I put it through some serious punishment.
Next is the smoothness of the wheel when everything is assembled. Give it a lil flick and the wheel will keep spinning without any stutter… All without ball bearings. Impressive. I’m glad Lifeline USA nailed this because a clunky wheel will give you a shitty workout, it’s just that simple.
The DVD has some really good exercises that you can do which range in difficulty from beginner, intermediate and advanced. Everything is explained nicely… The only thing that let me down is the production quality — it could have been SO much better. Celebrity sex tapes have nicer visual quality. It seems out of balance to have such a well built product with a slightly amateur looking DVD, makes it seem like it was either rushed or was an afterthought which makes you feel like it wasn’t meant to be a part of the bundle from the beginning. Other than that it’s all functional so I can’t complain too much.
The instruction manual explains most of the workouts that are shown in the DVD along with assembly instructions… Pfft! Usually I’d never bother to look at instructions (just like any other guy around the freaking world) but for the sake of the review I had a peek. Looked alright to me… There is a diagram, arrows pointing to shit and sentences in English. The only thing that worried me was the lack of Warranty info. I contacted Lifeline USA about this and they got back to me and said they will fix this little error. If I’m not mistaken, the Power Wheel has a lifetime warranty(?). Don’t quote me on this though.
The Lifeline® Power Wheel dynamically improves core strength, power and balance. Designed to fit hands or feet, the Power Wheel forces your core to adapt and stabilize with each dynamic move for the strongest back and abs ever!
The Lifeline® Power Wheel was determined to be “The Best Core Trainer in the World” by an independent research study done at the University of California Berkeley.
Real World Results:
I’ve used plenty of ab wheels in the past, so the first thing I wanted to do was slip my feet into the foot pedals and test drive the unique angle the Power Wheel has over ALL the other ab trainers. Since I was at home, I figured what the hell… Let’s go bare feet… Well that turned out to be a stupid idea. It’s wayyy to uncomfortable and the rubber straps just don’t get a good enough stretch to hold your feet sturdy, It’s all wonky and lame. Fortunately things start to turn around as soon as you put on a pair of running shoes… It fits perfectly without a hitch. I guess you can’t have the best of both worlds but it would have been nice if the pedals were designed to accommodate both bare feet and shoes. I demand perfection!
With my feet firmly attached, I tried out all of the different exercises that were shown on the DVD. These include: push ups, pike ups, walking (think human wheelbarrow), alligator walk & inch worms. I also noticed that since the wheel is so damn big, it creates its own gravity… Which means you get a KILLER workout when you do leg raises. Love it.
After going through that narly little routine (and noticing the sweat dripping down my head), I decided to step it up a notch and do inch worms to handstand. Rinse and repeat. Holy shit was I dying. Good stuff.
Then it was time to detach my feet and use the Power Wheel like the traditional ab wheels and do roll outs. All aces here. The wheel itself is extremely smooth as I had stated above… This means that your abs will have to do ALL of the work and cheating is pretty much eliminated.
Another surprising thing I found was that even though the treads on the wheel are FLAT, I had no trouble tilting it and rolling it from side to side for destroying my obliques. Good shit. For those of you who want a real challenge, do a rollout followed by a push up on the wheel… Just make sure you don’t need to use your triceps the next day or you’ll be hurtin’
No point in beating around the bush here… I like the Power Wheel. It’s well built, effective, functional and challenging. At $59.99 it might be a tad bit steep, specially in this economy, but as a core trainer it could turn out to be a worth while investment. In the end it boils down to one simple question… Should YOU buy it?
Well here’s what you should consider. If you cannot perform at least a minimum of 10 sit ups and crunches then the wheel will be too advanced for you. Even the beginner exercises that you can perform with this thing need some degree of muscle control… And if you have none, be prepared to flop on your face.
But if you’ve worked out your abs before using the most basic of ab exercises such as crunches, sit ups and leg raises… Then the Power Wheel will help you get from a beginner/intermediate stage to relatively advanced. The best part is that I don’t think you could ever “out grow” the wheel. Roll outs can always go deeper, push ups and can always go lower and pike ups can always get snappier… So once you own the wheel, you’ll be using it for life. No question.
To Being Fit & Sexy 4 Life
– Fit Jerk
[UPDATE: Well that was mighty quick of them... Lifeline USA read the review and are taking proactive measures to correct the minor hiccups that I've mentioned. They will be updating the DVD's for their products and will start rolling out new pamphlets to go along with them. The plastic hinges issue is also being taken into consideration from the R&D department. As most of you have read, these issues are particularly minor but it's good to see that they are being resolved. It won't surprise me if Lifeline USA stays in business for a long, long time to come.]
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Sites That Link to this Post
- FJs Intense Ab Workout | January 20, 2010