I have always used my Ironmaster superbench with the crunch attachment to hang upside down.
Using the superbench for this was OK; but it was hard to get into position and my head was too close to the floor to get a really good stretch and you can't swing back and forth (which really stretches your whole body).
Why would I hang upside down? This is called inversion therapy. For those who are not familiar with it, inversion therapy involves hanging upside down using your body weight and the force of gravity as traction to release pressure and stress on your spinal cord. Some bodybuilders like to hang upside down after doing heavy squats, which can compress your spine.
The benefits of hanging upside down are numerous. If this didn't work, would the US army do it as part of their conditioning program?
Inversion Helps to Relieve Stress and Fatigue
Inversion Helps Improve Circulation and Accelerates the Cleansing of Blood and Lymph Fluids
Inversion Helps Increase Oxygen Flow to the Brain
Inversion Helps Reduce the Effects of Aging Caused by the Force of Gravity
Improve Functional Fitness
If you have the space in your gym, the easiest way to hang upside down is to buy an inversion table:
Or, you can utilize a straight pull-up bar on your power rack (or doorway pull-up bar) and a pair of gravity boots:
I bought the Teeter Hang Ups Gravity Boots These boots provide an ankle-conforming fit through two "fine-tuning" buckles with micro-adjusting ratchets which fit the exact size and taper of your ankle. You can custom fit each inversion boot quickly; a custom fit typically takes less than 20 seconds per boot.
The flexible shell is made of a tough yet pliable blend of DuPont Hytrel, which helps to minimize pressure points. A special blend of 5/8-inch foam is designed to give maximum comfort with minimum compression.
Other features include:
Roger and Jennifer Teeter founded Hang Ups Inversion Products in 1981 and have been dedicated to manufacturing quality inversion products ever since. Roger and Jenny truly believe in the benefits of this simple, natural form of therapy that has been around since 400 BC. In the late 1970’s, Roger tried many forms of therapy to help manage his pain. He finally discovered that by inverting, he was able to relieve his back pain and begin the road to recovery. He credits inversion for keeping him pain free, healthy, and active. Inversion has changed Roger's life, and now he is dedicated to sharing his knowledge of inversion and quality products.
Using the Teeter Hang Ups Gravity Boots
I have the powertec power rack with the "funky" pull-up handles. I added a long piece of galvanized pipe to do fat bar pull-ups:
When I decided to get the gravity boots, I had to change my straight bar. The fat bar (in the middle of the rack) was too "fat" for the hooks on the boots; so I removed the fat bar and replaced it with a long 3/4" pipe.
Getting into position is relatively easy; I just grab the powertec pull-up bars and jump up and place my feet on the Olympic bar for support. Then I hook one boot at a time onto the 3/4” pipe. I then grab the pull-up rope and lower myself into the hanging position.
Gravity Boots allow you to incorporate challenging inverted sit-ups, crunches and bends to your regular workout, while giving your ankles unparalleled support. There is nothing like inverted crunches to chisel your abdominals. My abs are sore for days! Not hanging leg raises, ab coaster or ab machines, NOTHING comes close to inverted sit-ups! I can do about seven inverted sit-ups, with a goal of ten for right now.
Don't let the plastic construction fool you. These things are very sturdy, very comfortable and very safe. I've never felt that they would give out, break or come loose on me.
The removable calf loops seem like a waste; they don't create any bend in the knees like their ad claims. They don't seem to do anything, other than get in the way when putting the boots on and taking them off. I suppose they do help as a hand hold for getting back up, but my pull-up rope method works well.
I’ve seen reviews that say these boots don't fit larger than average calves. I have adequate sized calves and they fit easily, although at first it felt as if I was constricting my calf when I tightened the boot. I solved this by not wearing shoes so the boots would ride lower on my legs.
Initially I thought I made a mistake buying the boots because the first few time hanging upside down I felt as if my head were going to explode (especially If I hung upside down after cardio), but this feeling passed after a few sessions and now I can stretch, do inverted sit-ups and watch TV for about 10-15 minutes straight with no problems.
Can I just say I love these boots and hanging upside down feels GREAT on my lower back! Really, no hype here, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS THERAPY!
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