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New X3S Bench triples the intensity of the classic sit-up: Stretching Out

March 21, 2018 GMT

New X3S Bench triples the intensity of the classic sit-up: Stretching Out

CLEVELAND – The good old-fashioned sit-up just got a whole lot more interesting, and a great deal tougher.

When performed on an X3S Bench, the classic exercise transforms entirely, from a sit-up to a stand-up. Beyond just the abdominal muscles, the reformed motion taps the entire lower body.

No wonder Euphoria Health & Fitness owner Kyle Amsdell wanted one. A specialist in triathlon training, he bought one ($399, theabscompany.com) for his Cleveland gym as soon as possible, the better to prep his clients for all those weary miles of riding and running.

In truth, there’s little genuinely new about the X3S. People have been weighting their feet and standing up out of sit-ups for ages. All the X3S does is enable one to perform the exercise solo, and a bit more aggressively.

OK, make that much more aggressively. I’ve done a lot of sit-ups in my time, but the workout Amsdell put me through on the X3S was like no sit-up workout I’ve ever known. After just five or maybe 10 minutes, I was sweating buckets.

Unlike the exercise it affords, the X3S itself is quite simple. It’s just the leg portion of a leg curl machine, affixed to a sturdy base and positioned low to the ground. The segment that supports the knees can be raised or lowered.

My first attempt at the exercise was a bit awkward. Thank goodness Amsdell thought to place a cushion on the floor. The first time I sat down on the X3S, my tail bone hit the ground hard.

Of course, that was nothing compared to the next part, the sit-up to standing. To get vertical each time, I first had perform a vigorous sit-up, then press my calves and shins hard against the machine, leveraging the strength of both my quadriceps and hamstrings.

A few of those alone would have been tough enough. Amsdell, though, had other plans. In his workout, there was also work to do at the top of each stand-up, and sometimes along the way.

To warm me up, Amsdell had me stand up in the X3S while clutching weights on my shoulders. Three sets, each heavier than the last. At the top of each motion, I pressed the weights overhead.

Then came the actual workout. Wearing small boxing gloves, I rose to standing and then punched a training bag, as I might in a kickboxing or bootcamp-style exercise class. A few times, I even punched while still holding the weight.

Hardest by far was a combination move involving a handled medicine ball. Holding the ball at my side in one hand, I stood up as before, laboring not to lean in the direction of the weight.

That I was able, just for fun, to go ahead as planned and run through Euphoria’s outdoor obstacle course was a minor miracle. My legs, especially my calves, ached like crazy, and my abs felt like they, not the punching bag, had borne the brunt of my many blows.

Now I just want to see the X3S take off. The sit-up is great, but it’s due for an overhaul. From now on, if you can, don’t just sit there. Stand up.