|1.||Having fully described my invention I claim: Claim 1: A variable resistance abdominal bench for situps comprising: (a) a lower main frame  supporting a front torso section  and a seat section ; (b) a pivotable front torso section attached to said frame at a torso pivot point  having at least one handle  attached thereto ; (c) a seat section attached to said lower main frame having a leg and foot support  attached thereto; (d) a weight , adjustably attached to the bottom of said torso section such that said weight may be positioned on either side of the torso pivot point, wherein the location of said weight in relation to said torso pivot point increases or decreases the weight load required to do a situp. (e) a side foot pivot system comprising a pivotable upper leg support  and a quick release system  including a handle  and a brake block  wherein said upper leg support  may be adjusted to the right or left of vertical. Claim 2: A variable resistance abdominal bench as in Claim 1, wherein said handles may be adjusted to different angels relative to said torso support. Claim 3: A variable resistance abdominal bench as in Claim 1, wherein said leg and foot support may be adjusted to different angles relative to said seat support.|
|2.||Claim 4: A variable resistance abdominal bench for situps, comprising: (a) a lower main frame.|
|3.||supporting a front torso section.|
|4.||and a seat section.|
|5.||; (b) a pivotable front torso section attached to said frame at a torso pivot point  having at least one handle  attached thereto; (c) a seat section attached to said lower main frame having a leg and foot support.|
|6.||attached thereto; (d) a weight slide shaft  attached to the bottom of said torso section, wherein said torso pivot point is located between the ends of said slide shaft ; and (e) a weight locking means  to position said weight at a location along said shaft, wherein the location of said torso pivot point increases or decreases the weight load required to do a situp. Claim 5: A variable resistance abdominal bench for situps as in Claim 4, wherien said handles may be adjusted to different angles relative to said torso support Claim 6: A variable resistance abdominal bench for situps as in Claim 4, wherein said leg and foot support may be adjusted to different angles relative to said seat support.|
II. BACKGROUND ART Increasing general obesity in the adult and adolescent population has been noted throughout the last number of decades. This general obesity can be attributed to many things, including the electronic age of television and videos, the increased availability of sporting events that may be watched rather than played, and the general higher standard of living leading to a greater intake of food. The junk food business in particular has contributed greatly to an overweight society. In reaction to these many variable factors, a number of programs have been developed in private and by governments to enable the overweight population to exercise and even to tone muscles. Health clubs, athletic organizations, societies, and private homes are now in need of exercise equipment to allow for the revitalization, strengthening, and toning of the human body.
With the advent of exercise as a desired pasttime, many types of specialized equipment has been produced and marketed throughout the world. This specialized equipment includes exercise bicycles, weight lifting apparatus, indoor stationary running tracks, and abdominal benches.
Abdominal benches in particular are required to enable the participant to strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles. However, starting to do an abdominal exercise, or body crunch, is often a painful and strenuous undertaking. In order to assist the participant in his abdominal exercises, a variable resistance abdominal bench such as the one described later, helps the participant to ease into an exercise regimen. With the addition of the side foot pivot system such as the one described herein, side lateral placement of the foot and legs during a sit-up enables the participant to exercise obliques and outer rim muscles to great advantage.
One type of common abdominal exercise device is found in the 1986 patent issued to Rockwell. This patent, U. S. Patent #4, 627,619, involves a device to exercise the abdominal muscles and back. The device is basically a passive exercise device in that no weights other than the user's body weight are built into the equipment. It is an object of this invention to provide an abdominal exerciser utilizing weights in addition to the normal body weight.
Various complicated machinery exists to exercise numerous parts of the body, including the abdominal muscles. One such abdominal waist machine is found in the 1980 U. S. Patent #4, 240, 626 issued to Lambert. In the Lambert device, abdominal exercise motions are developed by working against weights that are ultimately transferred from the back of the knee to exercising muscles throughout the groin and abdomen. The Lamb device is of general interest in the field in that it discloses an exercise bench utilizing variable resistance weights to incrementally increase the work done in the exercise. However, Lambert does not disclose an abdominal bench that provides both negative and positive weight resistance for abdominal exercise purposes. It is another object of this invention to provide an abdominal exercise bench that supplies an increased and a lessened resistance to the sit-up for incrementally increasing the exercise resistance.
Standard exercise benches exist which are designed to pivot near the waist area of the user. One such device is found in the 1995 U. S. Patent #5, 462,510 issued to Ish. The Ish single effort double action exercise bench pivots near the center. Ish also has stationary footrests provided so that the exercise can be accomplished. However, Ish is basically a one-size fits all bench in that the footrest is not adjustable. Additionally, Ish does not provide any handles for the arms and hands. It is a still further object of this invention to provide a pivotable abdominal bench having adjustable foot rests and handles so that the bench can be adapted to different sizes of users.
The instant device discloses a pivotable abdominal bench which provides lessened or increased resistance while exercising. There are numerous devices which direct themselves to the field of providing incrementally increased resistance when doing abdominal sit-ups. One device is disclosed in the 1986 patent issued to Luna. This patent, U. S. Patent #4, 582, 319 provides an inclined surface upon which the exerciser sits. A strap is then placed around the exerciser's shoulder. The abdominal sit-up is then conducted against a spring tension. This spring tension provides added resistance to the abdominal exercise.
Also of note in the background field is the 1998 patent issued to Wang, U. S. Patent #5, 769, 766. Wan anism that includes a torso portion which pivots. However, while the torso portion of Wang does pivot to aid the abdominal crunch, Wang does not disclose or suggest that a weight be attached to the torso portion of the abdominal bench in order to increase or decrease the weight load required to do a sit-up. It has been found that, particularly with the beginner, it is highly desirable to have an aid to doing the first number of abdominal sit-ups. The particular device disclosed herein has a variable resistance weight such that the sit-up can be assisted. After the exercise participant becomes more accustomed to doing sit-ups, the weight can be shifted to a neutral position or even to a positive load position to facilitate the strengthening and toning of the abdominal muscles. While a free standing weight may have a support in conjunction with exercise equipment (see United States Patent #5, 993,360 issued to Stevens in 1999), the concept of having positive or negative resistance for abdominal bench has not heretofore been designed or used by the public.
It has been found that an angle of approximately 5 to 22 degrees from the vertical is advantageously utilized in working the side oblique muscles of the abdomen. If the angle is greater than approximately 22 t/2 degrees injury or discomfort could occur during the exercise.
However, with an angle of from 5 to 22 % 2 degrees from the vertical, an efficient and helpful abdominal exercise can be performed. Utilizing this particular bench, one may lay on one's back, being fully supported by the torso pads, and still have one's feet and legs at a 5 to 22 1/2 degree angle from the vertical position.
All of the prior patents found in the background art, and all of the exercise equipment known to the public, lack one important feature, that being the capability of providing negative resistance for the sit-ups required to exercise abdominal muscles. Negative resistance aids the exerciser in performing the sit-up, while positive resistance would require more effort to complete the sit-up. Negative resistance for beginners and positive resistance for those more experienced and fit provide significant enhancements to the exercising abdominal bench. In addition, most of the previous abdominal benches do not provide adjustable handles or adjustable foot rests. Further, the addition of the side oblique system for positioning the feet and legs of the exerciser is a most salutary advancement in the abdominal sit-up exercise field. It is a still and further object of this invention to provide a pivotable abdominal bench which has adjustable handles and footrests which provides both negative or positive incremental resistance for the abdominal exercise and which allows the exerciser to exercise the oblique side muscles during the exercise movements.
Other and further objects of this invention will become apparent upon reading the below described Specification.
III. DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION A variable resistance abdominal bench has a lower base and an upper seat and pivotable torso portion. The seat portion also has a footrest that may be adjusted to the size and height of the exerciser. In addition to vertical adjustments, the footrest may also be adjusted at angles of 5 to 25 degrees either right or left, to further enhance the sit-up exercise. The pivotable torso section has handles that may be adjusted according to the size of the exerciser, and has attached to its lower section a weight that slides along a track located near the torso pivot point. The weight may be placed such that it provides negative, neutral or positive resistance to the torso portion of the bench during exercise, thus facilitating or making more difficult the sit-up exercise. With the side oblique system for positioning the legs and feet, side oblique muscles may also be exercised, thus toning and strengthening all facets of the abdominal muscle group.
IV. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Figure 1 is a perspective view of the variable resistance abdominal bench.
Figure 2 is a torso end view of the abdominal bench shown in Figure 1.
Figure 3 is a side view of the abdominal bench shown in Figure 1.
Figure 4 is a side view of the pivotable torso support piece of the abdominal bench.
Figure 5 is a perspective view of the pivotable torso support piece shown in Figure 4.
Figure 6 is a front view of the pivotable torso support piece in Figure 5, taken along lines 6-6 of Figure 5.
Figure 7 is a perspective view of the pivotable torso support from below.
Figure 8 is a perspective view of the lower main frame of the abdominal bench.
Figures 9A, 9B and 9C are perspective views of the abdominal bench showing how the torso section pivots upward during a sit-up.
Figures 10A, 10B and 10C are side views of the abdominal bench showing the various locations of the adjustable weight.
Figure 11 is an exploded perspective view of the torso end of the abdominal bench showing the adjustable handle mechanism.
Figure 12 is an exploded perspective view of the leg and foot support end of the abdominal bench.
Figure 12A is an enlarged perspective view of the adjustable leg support block shown in Figure 12.
Figure 13 is a partial exploded perspective view of the abdominal bench showing the weight, weight slide shaft and weight locking mechanism.
Figure 13A is an end cutaway view of the weight, weight shaft and weight locking mechanism shown in Figure 13.
Figure 14 is a perspective view of the abdominal bench showing the side foot pivot system embodiment.
Figure 15 is an end perspective view of the embodiment shown in Figure 14.
Figure 16 is a side view of the embodiment shown in Figure 14.
Figure 17 is a detailed perspective view of the side foot pivot system shown in Figure 14.
Figure 18 is a perspective exploded view of the side foot pivot system shown in the vertical position.
Figure 18A is a view similar to Figure 18, showing the side foot pivot system at the left 1 1 l/2-degree position.
Figure 18B is a perspective view of the side foot pivot system shown in the 11 1/2-degree right position.
Figure 19 is a front view of the side foot pivot system shown in perspective at Figure 17, with the adjustable leg support in the 111/2-degree left position.
Figure 20 is a cutaway view of the side foot pivot system shown in detail, similar to the view of that system shown in Figure 16.
Figure 21 is a top cutaway view of the side foot pivot system mechanism shown in Figure 20.
Figure 22 is a detailed cutaway view of the side foot pivot system showing the brake block in the right 111/a-degree position.
Figure 22A is a detailed cutaway view of the side foot pivot system shown in the lull/2 degree left position.
Figure 23 is a perspective view of the side foot pivot system showing the reference and adjustment lines.
Figure 24 is a perspective detailed view of the reference and adjustment lines shown in Figure 23.
V. BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION The abdominal bench of the present invention is shown in Figure 1. Generally, the abdominal bench has a lower frame, cushions, and a leg support. The instant invention differs from the standard abdominal benches in at least three main aspects, to be described herein.
The variable resistance bench 1, as best shown in Figure 1, includes a lower main frame 2, as best shown in Figures 17 3 and 8 The lower main frame 2 supports the front torso section 3. As best shown in Figures 1 and 5, the front torso section 3 of the instant invention includes a torso support 7 (as shown in Figures 4 through7) which supports a torso cushion 4'.
As shown on Figure 1, this front torso section 3 is adjacent to a seat section 5, which is also supported by the lower main frame. Attached at the seat section 5 is a seat cushion 5'. The seat cushion 5'is attached to the lower main frame 2 by bolts or other familiar attaching means.
The variable resistance bench 1 also has an adjustable leg support system 6.
The front torso section 3 pivots upwardly, as shown in Figures 9A, 9B, and 9C. The torso support 7 has at one end a torso support pivot cylinder 9, and at the other end a cushion supporting member 4, as best shown in Figures 4 and 5. The torso support 7 is pivotably attached to the upper portion of the main frame 2 about torso support pivot holes 9'. The cushion support member 4 has torso cushion plates 8. The torso cushion 4'is attached to the torso cushion plate 8 by screws or other familiar fastening means. With the torso support 7 and cushion 8 pivotably attached to the lower main frame 2, the torso section 3 may pivot in the fashion as shown consecutively in Drawing Figures 9A, 9B, and 9C.
Also attached to the lower main frame 2 are leg supports 10 as best shown in Figure 8.
The foot main lever tube 19, as best shown in Figure 12, is attached to the leg supports 10 as best shown in Figures 3 and 8.
Also attached to the front torso section 3 of the bench are left 11 and right 11'adjustable handles. One unique aspect of this invention is the adjustability of the handles, 11 and 11'. As best shown in Figure 11, the handles are adjustable to three different angles relative to the torso support. The angle settings are determined by two slotted plates 12 located on each side of the cushion supporting member 4 of the torso support bar 7. The angle setting is locked in place by a handle pin 13 that slides into a guided slot 14 in the cushion supporting member. A pin holder 13A as shown in Figure 11, slides over the handle-adjusting pin 13 so that the pin holder 13A is in the longitudinal middle of the pin 13. A rod 15 then secures the pin holder 13A in place when it is screwed into the pin holder 13A. The locking pin 13 is biased towards the leg support section 6 of the device. The locking pin 13 slides in the slots 14. The locking pin, being biased forward by the spring 16, thus holds the slotted plates 12 in position. The spring 16 is compressed by the screw plug 17, which is in turn fastened to the rod 15 by the handle adjustment knob 18.
The handles 11 are maintained at a set angle by pulling the knob 18, which in turn release the locking pin 13 from the slotted plates 12. The handles 11 and 11'may thus be adjusted to the athlete's size and preferences while using the variable resistance abdominal bench.
Turning next to Figures 12 and 12A, the adjustable leg and foot lever mechanism is shown. The leg lever mechanism allows for three different angle setting relative to the seat section. The leg lever mechanism includes a block 24 with two extending tabs 25 and 25'.
These tabs are permanently attached to the main foot lever tube 19. The extending tabs both have tapped holes forming the axis of the adjustable leg and foot lever 6. The adjustable support block 22 has deep holes with a flat bottom that constrain a biasing spring 21. This biasing spring keeps pressure on the locking pin 20 such that the locking pin remains locked in the leg adjustment holes 26. These leg adjustment holes are shown on Figure 12A.
The adjustable support block 22 is held in place by two screws 23 having a precise diameter such that the support block 22 slides with a very small tolerance in the block pivot holes 27. The support block 22 slides tightly in the adjustable leg lever 20 and is locked in place by the two screws 23. By pulling upwards on the leg lever knob 28, the adjustable leg lever 6 can be adjusted to various angles as desired. One unique feature of this invention is the adjustability of the leg and foot support 6.
A final and most important feature of this invention is the provision for a variable load resistance. This variable load resistance provides the athlete with three different settings for adjusting the amount of exertion required to do a sit-up or body crunchy on the abdominal bench. This unique variable load resistance system is best shown in Figures 13 and 13A.
A weight 29 is adjustably and slidably attached to the pivotable torso support 7. A weight slide shaft 34 is attached to the torso support 7. The weight 29 has a shaft 38 non- symmetrically located along its longitudinal length as best shown in 13A. The bottom portion 34'of the weight slide shaft 34 is rounded as shown in Figures 13 and 13A. The weight 29 is adjustably and slidably attached to the weight slide shaft 34 when the rounded portion of the weight slide shaft 34 is inserted into the longitudinal shaft 38 of the weight 29. This longitudinal shaft 38 is located in the upper portion of the cross section of the weight 29, as shown in Figure 13A.
The weight 29 is locked in place at a desired setting along the length of the weight slide shaft 34 by a locking pin 30. This locking pin 30 is biased towards the weight slide shaft 34 by a weight biasing spring 31. The locking pin 30 and the biasing spring 31 are guided by a socket 32.
The lower cylindrical portion 34'of the weight slide shaft 34 also has weight slide locking holes 33. These locking holes 33 and are spaced at regular intervals along the longitudinal length of the weight slide shaft 34. Once the weight 29 is located at a desired position along the longitudinal length of the weight slide shaft 34, the weight locking pin 30 is pushed through a small hole 39 located in the weight. The locking pin 30 has a weight adjustment knob 35. By pulling the weight adjustment knob 35, and hence the locking pin 30, away from the weight slide shaft 34, the weight 29 is free to move along the longitudinal length of the shaft. However, when the knob 35 is released, the biasing spring 31 pushes the pin 30 through the weight hole 39 and locks the weight 29 in place when the inner tip of the locking pin 30 is inserted through one of the weight slide locking holes 33, as best shown in Figure 13A.
In this simple manner, the variable load resistance system can be adjusted to either increase or decrease the weight load required to do a sit-up by easily moving the weight 29 forward or backward to different resistance settings. This different resistance settings are best shown in Figures 10A, 10B and 10C The weight 29 may be adjusted such that the weight is positioned on either side of the torso pivot point 9'. Locating the weight in the handle side of pivot point 9'provides positive resistance ; locating the weight on the foot side of pivot point 9' provides negative resistance.
This variable resistance abdominal bench enables a user to shift easily to a ten percent (10%) negative resistance (Figure 10C) which has the effect of"reducing"the user's body weight so that upward movement becomes easier to perform. As one slides the weight block towards the handles of the device, the resistance can be increased up to a maximum load of 45 pounds. As shown in Figure 10A, this maximum load would increase the resistance required to do a sit-up. As shown in Figure 10B, the weight can also be adjusted such that it will have no impact on the resistance (either negative or positive) of the device.
Also attached to the torso support 7, as best shown in Figure 7, is a weight plate holder 36. The plate holder is installed for the super athlete who might need a great deal of additional weight in addition to the maximum setting of the weight 29 as shown in Figure 10A Although this weight plate would only be necessary in less than one percent of the athletes using this variable resistance abdominal bench, it has also been included as an added feature of this device.
Foot and ankle pads 37 are also attached to the adjustable leg support 6, as shown in the Drawing Figures. These foot and ankle pads are standardfor most abdominal or other exercise benches.
The means for adjusting the handles disclosed herein are preferred, as is the means for adjusting the angle of the foot and leg support. Further, the means for sliding the weight along the torso section is also preferred. However, other means for adjusting the handles and foot and leg support, as well as for locating the weight along the longitudinal axis of the torso support may be utilized while still keeping within the spirit and disclosure of the invention.
Another embodiment to this particular device includes a side foot pivot system for exercising the oblique or outer rim abdominal muscles. This particular embodiment includes an adjustable leg lever 6 that is pivotably adjusted to the left or right to exercise the side oblique muscles. In performing this particular exercise, the participant would lay on his or her back, with the adjustable leg lever 6 in either the left or right position. The participant would then perform torso lifts on the bench with or without the negative or positive resistance.
Turning to Figures 14 through 16, and Figures 18, 18A and 18B, the additional side foot lateral pivot system 40 is shown. This pivot system 40 pivots the upper adjustable leg lever 6 about an axis located on the main foot lever tube 19. The upper leg lever 6 adjusts to either the left or the right, according to the requirements of the exerciser, as related below.
The side lateral pivot system 40 includes a top plate 42, as best shown in Figure 18. This top plate 42 joins the upper leg lever support 41 to the lower main foot lever tube 19. The lower portion 45 of top plate 42 is welded to the main foot lever tube 19. A bottom plate 43 also has its lower portion welded to the main foot lever tube 19.
The top plate 42 has a central flange 44 that is located between upper leg lever support 41 and main foot lever tube 19, as shown in drawing figures 18, 18A and 23. The operation of this central flange 44 will be described later.
The upper portion 46 of the main foot lever tube 19 supports the side lateral pivot system mechanism 40. The upper leg lever support 41 has a pivot hole 47 located therein. The top plate 42 has a corresponding pivot hole 48. The top plate bolt 49 pivotably connects the upper leg lever support 41 and the lower main foot lever tube 19. This top plate bolt 49 is placed through the top plate pivot hole 48 and the upper leg lever pivot hole 47 and is threaded into a threaded hole in bottom plate 43. This pivot bolt 49 thus pivotablyconnects the adjustable leg lever 6 to the main frame.
In order to allow the adjustment of the upper leg lever support 41, and consequently the leg lever 6, an adjustment support component 50 is permanently attached to the center 50'of top plate 42. Support component 50 may by simply threadedly attached to top plate 42. A threaded attaching means allows for the easy replacement of brass stopper plug 51 when required.
The adjustment mechanism of the side foot pivot system is best shown on Figure 18B.
The mechanism includes adjustment support component 50 and an inner, slidable stopper plug 51. The support component 50 is generally made out of stainless steel and is threadedly attached to the top plate 42, Inside of support component 50 is a slidable stopper plug 51 that is made of a relatively ductal material such as brass. The stopper plug 51 is guided by support component 50 such that it may press against brake block 53 to secure the upper leg lever support 41 in position as desired. Since the stopper plug 51 is normally made of brass, normal wear could require it to be periodically replaced. Replacement is accomplished by removing the threadedly attached support component 50.
Adjustment support component 50 has central, inner threads adapted to receive the threads of the adjustment handle 52. This adjustment handle 52 enables the upper leg lever support 41 to be quickly and firmly adjusted. This quick-release type mechanism functions by pushing the stopper plug 51 towards the brake block 53. The plug 51 is pushed towards the brake block 53 as the handle 52 is turned into the threads of adjustment component 50. As the handle is threaded into the adjustment component 50, protruding end 52'of handle 52 pushes stopper plug 51 into the brake block 53. The stopper plug 51 has an upper flange 51'. This upper flange 51'prohibits the stopper plug 51 from being pushed all the way through the central hole of the top plate 42 due to the presence of a flange 51"located near the bottom of the central hole of top plate 42.
The brake block 53 slidably fits inside the upper leg lever support 41. The brake block 53 has flats 54 that are machined on the bottom of the brake block. The two flats are machined at approximately 12 degrees such that the block leans against the upper face 58 of foot lever tube 19. These flats and their contact with the upper face of the foot lever tube 19 hold the upper leg lever support 41 in the desired angle.
As best shown on Figures 23 and 24, the upper leg lever support 41 has a reference scale 55, This reference scale 55 includes a centerline 56 and degree reference lines 57. If it is desired to adjust the legs according to the exercise being performed, the reference scale 55 may readily be used in conjunction with the quick-release handle 52 and pivoting upper leg lever support 41 to make the desired adjustment.
The angles of the side lateral pivot system 40 may vary from 5 degrees to 22.5 degrees on either side. Varying this angle gives a side lateral movement so that obliques or outer rim' muscles are required to work to its greater motion without any strain on the lower back. No other bench has previously been disclosed which includes both the side lateral pivot system and the adjustable weight feature of the present device.
VI. INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY This invention is most advantageously used in the exercise equipment industry. The exercise equipment industry can include retail sales of exercise equipment at sporting outlets, shopping malls, or stores designed specifically to sell at retail exercise equipment. In addition, this adjustable exercise abdominal bench may also be sold to exercise facilities either public or private and to private individuals to be used in their homes. The industrial applicability of this device includes sales to individuals, sales to exercise equipment outlets and to sales and marketing to exercise societies, college or high school athletic departments or independent exercise clubs.
The device pertains specifically to the industry of exercise equipment and to the use and manufacture thereof.
The invention is capable of exploitation in the individual exercise equipment industry, in the sporting goods industry, and in the industry involving exercise clubs and organizations.