While belt exercisers and ab belts sound like a no-sweat way to burn belly fat, fitness professionals caution you to avoid the lure of equipment and gadgets that promise a quick, easy route to weight loss. ACE notes that there's still no conclusive proof that platform vibration machines are beneficial to the average healthy adult who wants to get in shape. It's best not to put your complete trust in vibration fitness training and get back to the basics of weight loss: aerobic exercise, strength training and a reduced calorie diet.
Vibration belt exercisers have a fascinating history. The Kansas Historical Society reports that these dubious devices were around since the mid-1850s. These machines, which simulated massage, purported to loosen fat on the body, making it easier to "flush" away. Yet other manufacturers claimed their machines strengthened the muscles, making fat appear less noticeable. Consumers who used these "belly jiggling" devices could kick back and read the newspaper -- or even sleep -- while they worked their magic in 15 minutes or less. Today, portable, battery-operated "ab belts" supposedly stimulate your muscles, claim to be just as beneficial as doing 700 situps.
Whole body vibration training, or WBV, also operates using a technology that jiggles the entire body. Exercisers either stand or sit on a vibrating platform. In theory, WBV machines make your muscles contract, which in turn builds lean muscle. Research supports this technology for use on individuals with special needs, such as those with Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis, as well as elderly adults. Some marketers of these machines assert that a mere 10 minutes of vibration training is the equivalent of a one-hour training session at the gym.
Weight Loss Myths
In the 2000s, the Federal Trade Commission took action against numerous marketers of "ab belts" for making false and misleading advertising claims to consumers. When investigating devices such as the AbTronic, AB Energizer, Ab Force, and Fast Abs, the FTC alleged that the false claim made by the manufacturers is that the devices yielded flat, washboard abs without exercise.
Weight Loss Solution
As a general rule, avoid exercise equipment that promises to deliver impressive results if you use it only a few minutes a day -- or that claims it's possible to spot reduce belly fat. For guaranteed weight loss and a trimmer tummy, get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise a week. Pair that with strength training sessions at least twice a week for better results. But if you want to shrink belly fat and lose weight, more exercise is always better. Making sure you don't accumulate excess calories is also a vital part of successful weight loss. To lose 1 pound of body weight each week, create a calorie deficit of 500 calories every day, either by cutting calories from your regular diet or increasing your level of physical activity.
- Kansas Historical Society: Belt Vibrators
- ACE Fitness: I Am Hearing a Lot about Whole Body Vibration Training. What Do You Think about This Technology?
- American College of Sports Medicine: Consumers Should Exercise Caution on Fitness Machine Claims
- FTC.gov: FTC Asks Court to Order Ab Belt Makers to Return Money to Consumers