Do ab stimulators really work? There is growing anxiety among people to get into the perfect shape. We all want to look good (with perfect abs) on the beach, have stronger core muscles or have our eyes on that one dress or shirt we want to fit better into.
Unfortunately, not all of us have the time and dedication it takes to commit to a gym or a strict diet. It is, thus, that the interest in electrical muscle stimulation devices especially increases during this season. While some people see these popular ab toning belts as magical devices helping to transform bulging tummies into six-pack abs, others see them as a complete gimmick.
The question, thus, we are asking is: are electronic abs belt effective, or are they a complete waste of your time and money?
How Do Ab Toning Belts Work?
Ab toning belts function by using the Electrical Muscle Stimulation technology. The EMS technology was initially developed to help medical patients who had lost the ability to move in serious accidents. However, in recent years, the use of EMS technology in ab toning devices has gained significant importance. Over time, many notable players in the EMS-toning equipment market, such as Slendertone, have perfected the use of this technology to modify the behavior of abdominal muscles.
The electrical stimulation in an ab belt is responsible for passing a small electrical current to the body through the skin via gel pads. These small electrodes come into contact with the bare skin of the abdominal region and pass a low voltage electrical current. This electric current causes the development of tension in muscles, which, in turn, causes ab muscles to contract and relax. This muscle contraction is similar to exercise (where tears in muscle fibers occur) and will cause an increase in muscle mass.
Ab toning belts make use of this EMS technology cleverly causing abdominal muscles to contract even when the user is not taking part in any exercise.
Some users can take a while to get used to contractions caused by these electrical pulses, and the initial sensation may feel very uncomfortable, but once they get used to the Electrical Muscle Stimulation feeling, these ab stimulators become quite comfortable to use. The idea is that the strength and tone of the abdominal muscles are improved with regular use of the belt.
Are They Effective?
Muscle stimulators were originally medical devices used to help prevent muscle atrophy in patients who were not able to physically exercise or were bedridden. You may have heard of similar devices called TENS units (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) used for physical therapy. These are often also used to treat back pain or acute pain.
There is ample scientific evidence to prove that regular use of ab toners can increase a person’s ab strength and endurance by almost 50%.
In 2005, the Sports Science in Medicine published a study that claimed that people who used an ab stimulator for over eight weeks (5 sessions each week, each lasting 20 to 40 minutes) noticed increased abdominal strength and endurance in their abdominal area muscles when compared to a control group. The study also reported that people who used an ab toning belt regularly saw a loss of 1.3-inches in their waist size.
In the past, several other studies have also been conducted to study the effect of ab toning belts on the human body. While the studies differ in terms of their findings regarding perceivable changes in the body, all studies have concluded that ab trainer belts do an excellent job of strengthening the muscles in the stomach area. In general, it can be said that these ab training belts are capable of transforming a person’s body when healthy lifestyle choices accompany their usage. But there is less evidence showing that they can help to attain a better posture or slimmer waistline.
A good quality ab belt can improve core muscle endurance and functional fitness.
In the case people using an electrical ab toning belt continue to use them without making any lifestyle-related changes, they will most certainly feel their abs region improving in muscle tone, but the actual physical changes may be negligible. But for leaner people, they can be beneficial in a muscle strength increase and improving resting tone.
Getting The Best Results Out Of An Ab Belt
Firstly, as we’ve covered in our ab belt reviews, it’s important to only use safe and FDA approved products, from reputable companies such as those by Slendertone or the Flex Belt brand. In 2005, twenty-four adults were asked to wear am abdominal toning belt for 20 to 40 minutes each day, and for five days a week, as part of a research study, the participants were asked to not indulge in any ab-related exercises. At the end of the study, researchers concluded that all participants noticed almost a 50% increase in their abdominal strength and a 100% increase in abdominal endurance.
However, participants noticed only negligible changes in body weight and body mass index. Thus, it can be concluded that while ab toning belts can leave muscle feeling toned, they don’t cause body fat loss. If you want to lose bodyweight while using ab belts, follow these simple tips:
Ab toning belts will tone your abs, but won’t burn body fat surrounding the abdominal muscles. The first thing you must pay attention to for weight loss and burn belly fat is to have a healthy diet and have a calorie deficit. Stop eating junk food, plan your meals, cook them, and if need be, store them for later.
If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t avoid junk food, make it a point to stay away from anything too high on calories or carbs. Include fruits and vegetables into your diet, and drink plenty of water.
You perhaps bought an ab toning belt because you don’t have the time to go to a gym, workout or perform crunches. However, exercising doesn’t always mean hitting the gym. Regular exercise such as walking or any other cardio exercise is the best way to lose body fat, and improve your overall fitness.
According to the American Council on Exercise, the 3 most effective ab exercises are crunches on an exercise ball, the captains chair and the bicycle.
Go running, if you can. Conversely, you can invest in a treadmill and run at home when you can to improve your overall fitness. The truth is one does not need to go to the gym to improve their fitness, lose weight or get slim. All you need is to find the motivation for training and staying fit.
My Experience with the Slendertone Belt
I belonged to the category of people who did not believe at all in ab toning devices, and hence, I had never invested in one. However, my husband gave me the Slendertone belt by Bio Medical Researcgas an appreciation present for everything I do, and out of respect for his feelings, I decided to give this electronic belt a try. Three weeks into the program and after increasing intensity levels, I began to notice some changes, and that’s when I started taking things a bit more seriously.
Over the next four weeks of using the Connect Abs, I made some dietary and lifestyle changes. I stayed away from junk food and included a basic but regular exercise routine, such as walking and stretching into my schedule.
At the end of eight weeks, I had lost close to 5 lbs of fat, and my abs felt tight and toned. Had it not been for my husband and these positive results, I would have continued to mock ab toning devices. But I understand that these devices have limitations and in the real world it’s best to add strength training, high-intensity interval training and some hard work to my routine to achieve my fitness goals.
The Final Word
Ab toners aren’t a magical device and will not give you a buffed body like that of the Instagram model you were admiring on their own. Also, when it comes to weight loss, they won’t spot reduce body fat. However, these devices can certainly make you feel fitter and impove core strength. Moreover, when combined with the right training and diet, ab toning belts are truly capable of changing the way you look.
Lastly, be aware of belts from unknown brands. There have been reports to the FDA regarding bruising, skin irritation, and burns from using some electronic muscle stimulation devices. These unregulated ab stimulators can contain components that fail to meet safety standards and can present a significant risk or health hazard.