You know the saying: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Keep that in mind when reading the promises made by companies that sell abdominal toning belts. These devices promise to contract your ab muscles with minimal effort from you.
All that's required is that you strap one on your waist, turn it on and let the electrical stimulation do its "magic." But are these ab stimulator results real?
While the belt may technically stimulate your muscles and affect strength, they won't do much to make a difference in your size or shape. Only committed exercise and diet can do that.
While abdominal toning belts might seem like a "magic cure," they won't change your size or shape.
Understanding Ab Belts
The belts contain electrodes that you strap onto bare skin. The electrical stimulation causes your abs to tingle and even contract.
The stimulation does target your muscles — this much is true. But it isn't enough to give you a six-pack or induce fat loss. Frankly, if the toning belts worked, you'd see far fewer cars parked in front of your local health club.
A small January 2018 study published by International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science found that the application of high intensity neuromuscular electrical stimulation did notably increase strength and endurance after six weeks of use for 30 minutes, five days per week. However, there was no change in abdominal girth.
Recognize the Limiting Factors
If you desire to improve strength mildly, the device might work for you — but only if you're already at a normal weight. Overweight and obese people have too much fat covering the ab muscles, so the stimulation just can't penetrate the ab muscles.
Toning belts aren't made to reduce fat, either. Even if you do develop stronger abs by using the device, you most likely won't see them. Only fat loss enables the muscles and striations that define them to be visible.
Your ticket to fat loss is through diet and exercise. An eating plan that ditches sweets, refined grains and saturated fats is more likely to help you lose pounds of fat than a buzzing belt. Watch your calorie intake, emphasize lean proteins, such as fish and chicken, and consume only moderate amounts of carbohydrates to get lean.
Moving to burn calories is also going to help you tap into fat stores. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, individuals should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week to maintain a healthy weight. To lose weight, you will likely need to exceed this amount.
Augment this cardio with a minimum of two strength-training workouts per week that train all of your major muscle groups with heavy weights.
You can take a gamble and wear the belt to increase abdominal strength or make the effort to do tried-and-true exercises to build abs you reveal once you lose the extra fat. Bicycle crunches, stability ball crunches, plank holds and woodchop twists with a medicine ball, as demonstrated by ExRx.net, are effective ways to train your abs at no cost to you.
Read more: The Best Way to Slim Down Belly Fat
- International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science: "The Effects of High Intensity Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation on Abdominal Strength and Endurance, Core Strength, Abdominal Girth, and Perceived Body Shape and Satisfaction"
- Department of Health & Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition"
- ExRx.net: "Medicine Ball Diagonal Chop"