In today’s world, having perfect abs is everyone’s dream but actually sculpting them is everyone’s nightmare. Modern workout technologies, particularly ab workout belts, attempt to make this dream achievable in the chaos of everyday life. Through the use of electrical muscle stimulation, ab workout belts offer an alternative to traditional abdominal workouts that allow users to tone abdominal muscles without taking time out of the day for a trip to the gym. The benefits of such ab workout belts are significant, but users should realize the fitness limitations of such devices.
Electronic Muscle Stimulation
Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) has been employed in eliciting muscle contraction for centuries. In normal biological function, nerve endings initiate contraction through the propagation of an electrical impulse through connected muscle fibers. The frequency of these electrical impulses varies with the types of muscles in the body; the abdominal muscles, for example, contract at lower frequencies. EMS uses external electrical fields to cause muscle contraction through the simulation of normal nervous signal propagation. Rubber pads placed onto targeted muscle areas apply these oscillating electrical fields to cause muscles to contract and release in a manner that emulates traditional exercise.
EMS has various therapeutic and training applications. One example is the ab workout belt, which concentrates EMS onto abdominal muscle groups. Such ab workout belts apply safe levels of electrical fields onto abs, thus eliminating the risk of electric shock or excessive muscle stimulation. Continuous use allows blood vessel stimulation of and recruitment to the abdominals, essential for muscle toning. Furthermore, such belts allow for a wide range of stimulation, from low to high, depending on the desired workout level. The advantage of these belts is that they can be used while doing other activities, such as during household chores or sitting in the office. When used properly, abdominal muscle tone and definition can be achieved.
How Effective Are They?
Due to the nature of EMS and ab workout belt technologies, the effects of abdominal workout are limited to muscle toning. The static exercise simulated by these belts does not affect increases in muscle strength or fat loss. Muscle strength is traditionally developed through dynamic weighted ab exercises while fat burning is accomplished through prolonged, cardio workouts. Users of ab workout belts should understand that such devices are primarily for muscle toning, not for strength development or fat burning.
One particularly successful ab workout belt is the Flex Belt, an FDA-approved ab belt alternative. The Flex Belt, like other ab workout belts, uses EMS to target central abdominal muscles and external obliques. The GelPads that apply the electrical field onto the abdominals are custom-fitted to position themselves over regions of highest nerve density. When used daily, effects are typically observed after 4-8 weeks, with notable improvements in dynamic abdominal workout performance, such as sit-ups. Using the Flex Belt in conjunction with traditional abdominal workouts can quickly and effectively carve the perfect abs everyone desires.