Do Muscle Stimulators Tone Up Your Body?

Muscle stimulators use electronic muscle stimulation technology to produce results. To operate, you place the muscle stimulator belt around the area of the body that you wish to tone. Once power is turned on, electrical currents are sent through the skin to cause the muscles to contract. Purported benefits of muscle stimulators include improved toning, endurance and strength. Speak to your doctor about the safety of these devices before use.

Woman with toned stomach wearing workout shorts and a sports bra
Credit: avemario/iStock/Getty Images

No Six Packs

The Slendertone Flex Belt has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for strengthening, toning and firming the abdominal muscles. Other devices that use electronic muscle stimulation technology may have similar effects on the body. However, electronic muscle stimulators have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for girth reduction, weight loss or to get "six-pack abs."

The Studies

An American Council on Exercise study in May 2010 that took place at the University of Wisconsin determined that the Slendertone Bottom Toner can improve strength and endurance in the glutes with regular use. During the study, the muscle stimulator was compared with traditional exercise like hip extensions that works the glutes. The exercise group experienced a 9 percent strength increase and 26 percent endurance increase after six weeks. The muscle stimulator users improved by 15 percent for strength and 29 percent for endurance.

The Natural Way

Although muscle stimulators may help tone the body, you will not notice the results unless you also follow a calorie-controlled diet and make time for regular cardio exercise. The muscle stimulators can also be time-consuming to use. Manufacturers typically recommend you wear the belts for at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week. If that's the case, a more effective use of your time would be to engage in cardio exercises and activities that tone muscles naturally.

Warnings

Muscle stimulators should not be worn by individuals who are pregnant or have an implanted medical device. You may also experience side effects when using a muscle stimulator belt such as burns, electrical shocks, bruising, pain and skin irritation. Follow all instructions provided by the manufacturer to prevent serious injury like electrocution.

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