US 20020173412 A1
An exercise device for performing progressive resistance type exercises of the abdominal, leg, thigh and gluteal muscles includes a generally horizontal extending base frame having a seat support beam extending upwardly therefrom. Front and rear link members pivotally connected to the base frame support an upper back pad and lower back pad at the distal ends thereof. Handles are provided for the user to grasp while exercising. A foot plate is supported at one end of the base frame. One or more resistance straps provide variable exercise resistance.
1. An exercise apparatus, comprising:
a base frame;
a seat supported on a seat support member, said seat support member secured to said base frame;
a lower back pad fixedly secured to an end of a front support member pivotally connected to said base frame and extending upwardly therefrom;
an upper back pad pivotally connected to an end of a rear support member, wherein said rear support member is pivotally secured to said base frame at an opposite end thereof;
a foot plate secured to a front end of said base frame; and
an exercise resistance member adapted for resisting the movement of said front support member.
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 The present invention relates to an exercise device, particularly a variable resistance device for strengthening the abdominal and gluteal muscles.
 The fitness industry has heretofore provided various exercise devices, particularly for home use, for exercising a user's lower torso. U.S. Pat. No. 4,489,936 issued on Dec. 25, 1984, provides a platform or board to support a user in a reclining position with the weight of the user providing resistance for the exercises. A movable frame having a single non-adjustable pivot axis is actuated by the user and may be positioned at selected fulcrum points along the platform to provide the desired resistance. Such an exercise machine is relatively inexpensive and can be utilized for exercising various body muscles.
 In U.S. Pat. No. 5,346,447 issued on Sep. 13, 1994, an exercise machine is provided having a platform on which a user is supported in a reclined position. The weight of the user is utilized as the resistance for various exercises. U.S. Pat. No. 5,545,114 issued on Aug. 13, 1996 provides an exercise device for exercising the upper and lower abdominal muscles and the back muscles. The device includes rigid upper and lower back supports which are pivotally joined. Resistance means attach to the pivotal portions of the device for providing adjustable resistance to exercise motions. Each of the above described devices however are directed to one mode of exercise for strengthening specific muscles.
 It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an exercise device which combines abdominal crunch and full leg, thigh and hip extension exercises in one easy to use machine.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide an exercise device which may be set to isolate specific muscle groups.
 It is yet another object of the present invention to provide an exercise device which automatically positions a user to look forward while using the exercise machine.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide an exercise device in which the exercise resistance is adjustable providing a means of progressive resistance exercises.
 Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent after referring to the following specification and drawings.
 In accordance with the present invention, an exercise device is provided for progressive resistance type exercises of the abdominal, leg, thigh and gluteal muscles. The exercise device includes a generally horizontally extending base frame having a seat support beam extending upwardly therefrom. An upper back pad is pivotally connected to the base frame by a rear support member. A lower back pad pivotally connected to the upper back pad is supported by a front support member which is pivotally secured to the base frame. Handles are provided for the user to grip while exercising. A foot plate is supported at one end of the base frame for engagement by the user while exercising. One or more resistance members provide variable exercise resistance.
 So that the manner in which the above recited features, advantages and objects of the present invention are attained can be understood in detail, a more particular description of the invention briefly summarized above, may be had by reference to the embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings.
 It is noted, however, that the appended drawings illustrate only typical embodiments of this invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope, for the invention may admit to other equally effective embodiments.
FIG. 1 is perspective view of the exercise device of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a side view of the exercise device of the invention;
FIG. 3 is a side view of the exercise de vice of the invention illustrating the position of the exercise device at the end of an exercise motion;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the exercise device of the invention;
FIG. 5 is a side view of the exercise device shown in FIG. 4; and
FIG. 6 is a side view of the exercise device shown in FIG. 4 illustrating the position of the exercise device at the end of an exercise motion.
 Referring first to FIG. 1, the exercise device of the invention is generally identified by the reference numeral 10. The exercise device 10 includes a base frame 12 comprising an elongated rail 14 and transverse frame members 16 and 18 connected to the distal ends of the rail 14. The rail 14 and frame members 16 and 18 form a I-beam configuration or profile providing stability to the exercise device 10, which when in use is posisioned on a flat surface, such as a floor.
 The exercise device 10 includes an upper back pad 20 and a lower back pad 22 which are pivotally joined by a rod 24 which links the upper end of the lower back pad 22 to the lower end of the upper back pad 20. Handles 26 are attached to the upper back pad 20. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the handles 26 are located near the head end of the upper back pad 20 and extend upwardly therefrom for convenient grasping by a user while performing various exercise routines. Handles or hand grips may also be provided on the lower back pad 22 for the user to grip while exercising.
 The upper and lower back pads 20 and 22 are supported above the base frame 12 by a front support member 28 and rear support member 30 which pivotally link the upper and lower back pads 20 and 22 to the rail 14 of the base frame 12. The lower end of the front support member 28 is attached to a rail bracket 32 by a pivot pin 34 extending through aligned holes formed in the rail bracket 32 and a first hole extending through the front support member 28 adjacent the lower end thereof. A second hole 36 near the lower end of the front support member 28 provides an alternate location for attaching the front support member 28 to the rail bracket 32. The upper end of the front support member 28 is attached to a bracket 38 which is fixedly secured to the back of the lower back pad 22. Lock pins 40 and 42 secure the upper end of the front support member 28 to the bracket 38.
 Referring still to FIG. 2, rear support member 30 connects the upper back pad 20 to the base frame 12. The rear support member 30 extends between brackets 44 and 46 located on the base rail 14 and the back of the upper back pad 20, respectively. The bracket 44 extends upwardly from the base rail 14 near the transverse base member 18. The bracket 44 includes two sets of holes 48 for receiving a removable lock pin 49 therethrough for pivotally connecting the lower end of the rear support member 30 to the bracket 44. The second or inner most hole 48 provides an alternate pivot lock location for reducing the crunch movement of the upper back pad 20. Additional holes 48 may be provided in the bracket 44 for increasing the number of pivot location for the rear support member 30 and thereby providing the user with a greater selection for setting the crunch movement, i.e. increasing or decreasing the pivotal movement of the upper lower back pad 20, relative to the lower body workout. The exercise device 10 may also be set in a no crunch movement mode by removing the lock pin 49 and connecting the lower end of the rear support member 30 to the second hole 36 in the first support member 28. In this arrangement, the lower ends of the front and rear support members are locked together so that no crunch movement is achieved during the exercise motion.
 A seat support beam 50 supports a seat 52 above the base rail 14. The seat 52 is spaced from the bottom end of the lower back pad 22 but is in alignment therewith for supporting a user in a slightly reclined upright position on the exercise device 10. The support beam 50 is secured to the base rail 14 by a support beam bracket 54. The bracket 54 is provided with two sets of holes for receiving lock pins 56 and 58 therethrough for locking the seat support beam 50 to the base rail 14. A post 53 projects upwardly from the seat support beam 50. The post 53 functions as a stop for limiting the downward pivotal motion of the front support member 28.
 Referring still to FIG. 2, exercise resistance is provided by resistance straps 60 affixed at one end to the front support member 28 and at the opposite ends thereof to the seat support beam 50. The straps 60 may be conventional springs or rubber straps. Other biasing means, such as hydraulic pistons, pulleys and weights or other resistance methods known in the art, may be utilized instead of rubber straps. The resistance straps 60 are mounted on anchor posts 62 and 64 projecting outwardly from the front link 28 and the seat support beam 50, respectively. One or more straps 60 may be utilized to vary the resistance provided by the exercise device 10. The anchor posts 62 and 64 may be integrally formed with the support member 28 and the seat support beam 50, respectively, or may extend through holes formed in the support member 28 and the seat support beam 50.
 The forward end of the base frame 12 is provided with a foot plate 66 supported by a foot plate support arm 68. A pivot pin 70 pivotally connects the support arm 68 to a bracket 72 secured to the frame rail 14 adjacent the front transverse frame member 16. The support arm 68 is free to rotate about the pivot pin 70. A stop 74 projecting downwardly from the support arm 68 is provided to limit the angular rotation of the support arm 68 and thereby position the foot plate 66 for engagement by the user while performing exercise routines. Multiple holes may be formed in the bracket 72 so that the foot plate 66 may be locked in multiple angular positions relative to the base frame 12.
 Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, use of the exercise device 10 to perform an exercise routine will be described in greater detail. In the start position of the device 10 shown in FIG. 3, the user sits on the exercise device 10 with his upper and lower back in contact with the upper and lower back pads 20 and 22, respectively. The feet of the user engage the foot plate 66 and his hands grip the handles 26. As the user presses back against the upper and lower back pads 20, 22 and against the foot plate 66, the user's buttocks raise off the seat 52. Resistance is provided by the resistance straps 60 as the user extends his body while simultaneously pulling on the handles 26 to pivot the upper back pad 20 downwardly about the pivot rod 24. The user's efforts are aided by the rear support member 30 which forces the upper back pad 20 forward about the pivot rod 24 as the user presses against the back pads 20 and 22. The exercise motion is completed when the user's body is completely extended forcing the exercise device 10 to the end position shown in FIG. 5. The linked arrangement of the exercise device 10 requires no coordination from the user to properly complete the exercise motion. The linked motion of the exercise device 10 permits the user to combine abdominal crunch and leg, thigh and hip extension exercises in one fluid motion. The linked arrangement of the exercise device 10 also ensures that the user always looks forward throughout the exercise routine. The user may therefore watch TV or other monitor device rather than staring at the ceiling while exercising as is common with many other machines for exercising the abdominal muscles.
 Referring now to FIG. 4, an alternate embodiment of the exercise device of the invention is generally identified by the reference numeral 80. The exercise device 80 is very similar to the exercise device 10 previously described herein so the same reference numerals are employed to identify similar components. In the embodiment of FIG. 4, one or more resistance bands 82 are coupled to the rear support member 30 at one end thereof and to an upstanding bracket 84 at the rear of the base frame 12 at the opposite ends of the resistance bands 82. The lower end of the rear support member 30 is pivotally connected to the frame rail 14 at a bracket 86 which is located forward of the connection point of the lower end of the front support member 28. The seat 52 is fixedly secured to the lower end of the lower back pad 22 so that the seat 52 moves with the lower back pad 22.
 Referring still to FIG. 4, it will be observed that the rear support member 30 comprises a forklike support member formed by a pair of lever arms 88 spaced from each other and pivotally connected at the lower ends thereof to the bracket 86 secured to the frame rail 14. The opposite ends of the lever arms 88 are welded or otherwise secured to a support beam 92, which in turn is pivotally connected to the pivot bracket 46. The lever arms 88 define a gap between them so that the front support member 28 passes through the gap between the lever arms 88 and pivotally connects to the bracket 32 mounted to the frame rail 14. Downward pivotal movement of the front support member 28 is limited by the stop member 94 projecting upwardly from the frame rail 14.
 Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6, the movement of the exercise device 80 is the reverse of the motion described above relating to the exercise device 10. In this arrangement, the user lowers down. That is, the user pulls down on the handles 26 and up against toe straps 96 securing his feet to the foot plate 66. As the user pulls forward, the lower back pad 22 moves downward as the user's upper torso and lower body come together simultaneously, thereby performing a “double crunch.” During the lowering down motion, the front support member 28 pivots downwardly about the pivot pin 34 until it engages the stop 94. The resistance bands 82 oppose the lowering down motion thereby providing exercise resistance which may be varied by adding or removing resistance bands 82.
 While a preferred embodiment of the invention has been shown and described, other and further embodiments of the invention may be devised without departing from the basic scope thereof, and the scope thereof is determined by the claims which follow.