The mythic six-pack is a common goal for exercisers. Unfortunately, it's fairly challenging to achieve. That's why products that promise shortcuts gain popularity fast. Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) devices claim to be able to give you a firm, toned abdomen with little-to-no abdominal exercise necessary. Two of these products are the Flex Belt and the Contour Belt.
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EMS Device Claims
Both the Flex Belt and the Contour Belt rely on Electrical Muscle Stimulation technology that uses gentle electrical impulses to create muscle contractions. EMS technology has proven to successful in a rehabilitation setting. According to the manufacturers of both devices, EMS can tone the target muscle group in a matter of weeks. The companies claim that this is possible without having to exercise the muscles.
The Contour Belt offers 22 different programs, each designed to encourage certain results, with 100 levels of intensity. The Flex Belt, on the other hand, offers just nine programs and 99 levels. The creators of the Contour Belt assert that having this variety of programs and intensity gives you more noticeable changes. Both devices can be modified to work muscle groups besides your core.
Design and Power Source
The Flex Belt prides itself on a sleek, discreet design. According to the company, this makes it easy for you to wear the belt comfortably under your clothing while you go about your daily activities. Specifically, the Flex Belt has a much smaller remote than the Contour Belt. This is because the Contour Belt has a large back-lit display. As far as power, the Contour Belt is run on four AAA batteries while the Flex Belt has a rechargeable battery pack.
Both companies claim that their products are backed up by scientific studies, but some of those studies were conducted in-house. The Flex Belt does pull largely from the research of exercise scientist Dr. John Porcari, who conducted a study in 2005 on the effectiveness of the product. Porcari and his team found that the Flex Belt produced significant improvements in abdominal strength and endurance. Despite the fact that the subjects reported feeling like they were thinner and more toned, there was no measurable change in their physique. Also, Porcari performed an EMS study for the non-profit American Council on Exercise in 2000 and found that these products are "ineffective, time consuming and — at times — even painful." The FDA has not cleared any product for weight loss or increasing abdominal muscle tone.