Ab toning belts are special belts worn around the abdomen, which produce electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) in the stomach area by means of low voltage electrical signals that are passed to a set of pre-positioned electrodes. The electrodes might be embedded in replaceable gel pads adhering to the skin or just be incorporated in the belt itself. The placement of the electrodes is done so as to mimic natural muscle contractions and ,consequently, engage and train even hard-to-reach muscles. The belts are designed so as not to cause discomfort and to be wearable under clothes during normal daily life (around the house, at work, while travelling).
Proof of effectiveness and safety considerations
Research carried at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse on multiple subjects that used the belt for 20-40 minutes a day, 5 days a week for over 2 months, concluded that it significantly improved abdominal strength, endurance and muscle firmness. The subjects even lost an average of 1.4 inches from their midsection, which was attributed to firmer muscles that ‘pulled in’ the abdomen.
As for the safety, the technology was developed by physiotherapists long ago and has been successfully used in hospitals and rehabilitation centers for decades and in a wide range of procedures.
The diversity of the models and the features
There is a huge choice of belts one can find in online stores and below are a just a few of the most popular examples:
- Slendertone Connect Ab Belt
- Flex belt
- Slendertone System Abs
- Slendertone 7 Program Abdominal Muscle Toner
- HealthmateForever Ab and Back Pain Relief Belt System
- HealthmateForever HM8G with Multi Belt
- Contour Ab Belt
Most of these models may differ significantly in price (in the range of $60 – $200), may differ slightly in the number of pre-set programs and intensity levels. As a rule, the controllers have about 5-10 pre-set programs and 100 – 150 intensity levels, that can help everyone find a comfortable operation mode. Besides, they can differ in the length of the belt, the size of the screen or the ability to operate the device with a specially designed smart phone app. Belts are also usually marketed as male, female and unisex and come in a great variety of styles. Despite all these, they share the same working principle. In addition, most of the belts are manufactured to conveniently wrap around the midsection which improves the posture.
Some of the models also combine EMS for building abdominal muscle and TENS – another operation procedure directed at the lower back for pain relief – one would just need to turn the belt around, while other models can also allow the belt to be used on arms, legs and other areas. In addition, there are belts that are designed to heat up when operating, causing you to sweat more which is supposed to aid in burning a few calories (not too much though) and help in toning the stomach.
Following recommendations, abdomen toning belts should only be used for up to thirty-forty minutes a day, and it is important to let the muscles rest on certain days during the week. It is of the utmost importance that muscle toning belts are used in tandem with regular exercise and a healthy diet for visible results.