Ab belts have been around for decades. Turn on the TV and you'll see at least one commercial featuring these products. They claim to build core strength, torch belly fat and offer a complete abdominal workout. An ab belt is by no means a magic bullet for weight loss, but it can help strengthen your abdominal muscles. This may improve your overall fitness, reduce injury risk and make everyday activities easier.
Ab belts strengthen the core muscles and may improve your overall fitness, but have no impact on body fat. They work by sending electric impulses that cause your abdominal muscles to contract.
How Do Ab Belts Work?
These devices use EMS technology to activate and strengthen the core muscles. EMS stands for electric muscle stimulation or electromyostimulation. It's commonly used by physiotherapists for rehabilitation purposes.
Ab belts send electric impulses to your muscles, causing them to contract and relax. According to manufacturers, this process helps improve muscle tone and strength in as little as 20 to 30 minutes a day. If you Google "GymTronix abdominal belt reviews" or "Flexbelt reviews," you'll see that there are mixed opinions on these products. Most customers agree that ab belts tone the core muscles but cannot replace a balanced diet and regular exercise.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved these devices for use in physical therapy and rehab, not weight loss. It states that EMS products may be able to temporarily strengthen a muscle, but they won't burn stomach fat, shrink your waistline or build six-pack abs. According to the FDA, medical professionals may use these devices to relieve muscle spasms, prevent muscle atrophy and help their patients recover from an injury, stroke or surgery.
Why Use an Ab Belt?
An abdominal toning belt won't help you lose belly fat and get rid of love handles. It can, however, tone your core muscles. As Harvard Health Publishing points out, a strong core can improve your balance and stability, prevent low back pain and reduce your risk of injury during sports. It also makes it easier to maintain good posture, which in turn, promotes spinal health.
Clinical evidence confirms the potential benefits of electrical stimulation. According to a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science, this technology builds abdominal strength and endurance. Subjects who used high-intensity neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) devices five days a week for six weeks experienced a 29 percent greater increase in strength compared to those using low-intensity NMES.
Both high- and low-frequency NMES training may help increase or preserve muscle function under certain circumstances. This training method appears to be particularly beneficial for people with chronic heart failure, weak muscles and disorders that affect muscle contraction. Inactive individuals, for example, may use these EMS devices to increase functional endurance and prevent muscle atrophy.
Are There Are Side Effects?
A quality ab belt can tone your core muscles and improve functional fitness. Everyday movements, such as bending over, walking, running and lifting, all involve the abdominal muscles. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on building core strength. The reason that ab belts are ineffective for weight loss is that you can't spot reduce fat.
Additionally, these devices may not be safe. As the FDA points out, electrical muscle stimulators may cause skin irritation, burns, pain and shocks. Some models have cables and other components that fail to meet electrical safety standards, posing health hazards.
Abs are made in the kitchen. No device can replace a balanced diet or offset the dangers of poor nutrition. The only way to burn belly fat is to clean up your diet, cut calories and stay active. Regular exercise, especially strength training and high-intensity interval training, combined with clean eating, is your best weapon in the battle against the bulge.
- International Journal of Kinesiology & 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
- Slendertone: How Does Slendertone Work?
- Amazon: The Flex Belt Abdominal Muscle Toner
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Electronic Muscle Stimulators
- Harvard Health Publishing: The Real-World Benefits of Strengthening Your Core
- Frontiers in Physiology: Effects of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Training on Endurance Performance
- Nerd Fitness: Can You Actually Banish Belly Fat? The Quest for a Flat Stomach
- Springer Link: Sports Medicine: Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass