Achieving a toned and sculpted set of six-pack abs seems to be everyone’s goal when first starting their fitness journey.
But with so many products out on the market targeted towards reducing stomach fat to reveal rock hard abs, it’s hard to determine fact from fiction.
An ab toning belt, for example, is a device created to help slim down your figure and build a stronger set of abdominals.
But how effective are these belts? Can they help you shrink your waist size and build up your abdominals to achieve that desirable dream beach body? Continue reading if you wish to learn more about these belts, how to use them, and how to achieve your dream physique.
What is an Ab Toning Belt?
An ab toning belt is an electronic belt you strap onto your stomach. The device’s primary goal is to stimulate the muscles that make up your abdominals to melt off body fat while sculpting and strengthening your core.
It almost seems too good to be true. You don’t have to exercise. Or even move since it does all the work for you.
So, what’s the science behind the ab toning belt, and how does it work?
An ab toning utilises EMS (Electric Muscle Stimulation) technology to stimulate your abdominal muscles. By sending an electric current through the muscle fibres, the belt activates your muscles and forces them to contract as they do during exercise.
Are Ab Toning Belts Safe to Use?
Ab toning belts are absolutely safe to use! In fact, EMS technology is popular among hospital patients undergoing rehabilitation programs. These patients are typically recovering from spinal injuries or other forms of physical trauma. Exercise is critical during recovery, and EMS technology helps to stimulate their muscles as they progress through physical therapy.
Electric muscle stimulation has been shown as an effective way of promoting activity within the muscle fibres. Now, you can utilise the same technology at home—safely—to help strengthen your own body.
Does an Ab Toning Belt Work?
This depends. Though an ab belt can help you build up your core strength, it may not make a visible difference in your appearance. But keep in mind, that even doing a million crunches won’t get you those washboard abs you’re looking for.
If you want to achieve real results, it’s not going to be a walk in the park. And it definitely won’t happen overnight.
But this is not to say it’s impossible.
While an ab toning belt may not guarantee substantial results on its own, studies show that when paired with a proper diet and exercise routine, using one can increase your success rate.
Variables Affecting Visible Abs
Though it would be nice just to strap a belt on, skip the gym, and call it a day, you also need to consider these next few variables when trying to trim down your midsection.
Your body decides where you lose body fat
Something many newcomers to fitness don’t realise is that you cannot spot reduce fat. Unlike developing muscle (which we can selectively target through weightlifting), losing fat can be a trickier process.
We do not decide where we lose fat and where we gain it. Though the majority of people want to get rid of that layer of fat on their midsection, it’s not going to disappear by just doing crunches every day. Our bodies are selective, and unfortunately, this is something out of our control. For example, if you want to shrink down your arms specifically, there’s no way you can target that one area while trying to lose weight. It may be the last area of fat to come off, which is why it’s important to remain patient while on your fitness journey.
In the same vein, magazines and social media posts that claim certain exercises and workouts will melt belly, arm, or inner thigh fat won’t work as promised. You can strengthen these muscles—making the area more attractive when you lose excess fat surrounding that one body part—but selectively losing body fat in that one area is impossible.
Genetics and Gender
Visible abs are the result of two things. A low body fat percentage and a strong core. Genetics also plays a role in determining your physique. People store and burn fat differently, based on their build, family history, and genes. Some individuals are just more naturally athletically built than others. Building muscle comes more natural to them. They are typically faster and store their fat more favourably.
Gender also affects your physique. Women, tend to store fat in their lower stomach area, their upper back, and their hips. Therefore, when they begin an exercise plan, this may be the last area of their bodies excess body fat will cling onto.
Men, on the other hand, may have an easier time losing fat and building muscle, based merely on the fact that they produce more testosterone.
However, this does not mean you can’t carve out a killer set of abs.
If your main goal is to build shredded abs, these are things you can manipulate to get the body you want.
Lowering your body fat percentage requires you to eat at a caloric deficit, meaning you must consume fewer calories than you burn in a day. This is the basic principle of any weight loss program. The caloric deficient does not have to be dramatic, and you can always start by cutting one hundred calories at a time. Make sure you account for your daily activity level—from the time spent at the gym to walking the dog. You do not want to end up under-eating since this can be just as counter-productive and unhealthy as overeating.
Your diet should remain balanced and contain a sufficient amount of carbs, proteins, and fats from healthy sources.
Make sure you’re eating an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables to meet your micronutrient needs. And eat plenty of fibre for better digestion and increased energy levels.
Exercising for Visible Abs
As previously stated, doing situps all day will not give you the results you’re looking for. There are many other exercises that you’re better off incorporating into your routine. Performing ab-specific exercises that target your core is beneficial for many reasons, such as:
- Improved posture
- Stronger kinetic chain
- An overall improvement to your athletic performance
The abdominals are made up of multiple muscles. This includes the:
- Transversus abdominis
- Rectus abdominis
A well-rounded routine should account for every muscle in your midsection. It’s not enough to only work the transversus abdominis. You also have to perform exercises like Russian Twists, to engage the obliques. Or as they are commonly referred to as the side abs.
Some popular exercises that work the core are leg lifts, V-ups, side planks, and bicycle crunches.
However, you should also focus on lifting weights to improve your body composition also. Compound exercises like squats and deadlifts work the entire trunk of the body and should be done weekly.
Due to their quick recovery time, you can train the abdominal muscles every day or every other day if you’d like. You may find that the best routine for time’s sake, however, is three times a week for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Keeping Track of Your Body Fat Percentage
You may already have an impressive set of abs and not even know it. Abs can hide behind a layer of fat, which is why it’s essential to lower your overall body fat percentage to see them.
Women typically need to achieve sixteen percent to nineteen percent body fat to obtain visible definition in their stomachs. Men, on the other hand, must reach nine to ten percent. Training the abdominals is important, but often people get so caught up with performing ab specific exercises, they forget one of the most crucial rules of developing abs.
As the cliche but the true saying goes: Abs are made in the kitchen and not the gym, so eat wisely and train hard.
Mistakes to Avoid When Training Abs
Avoiding Dynamic Exercises
Let’s start with the first obvious one. Throw crunches out the window. They tend to put too much pressure on your neck and lower back anyway. They also are ineffective on their own.
You need to approach your training style differently if you want to see worthwhile results.
Planks can get stale, so try to utilise more dynamic and exciting exercises. Battle ropes, for example, are fantastic for burning excess body fat while targeting the entire kinetic chain. Especially the abdominals.
Not Regressing an Exercise
Next, if you’re feeling pressure in your lower back while performing an abdominal-focused exercise, you need to regress the exercise or start with the basics. This pressure is a sign that your back muscles are overcompensating for lack of core strength. Try to place your back on a yoga ball for additional support.
Not Warming Up
Foam roll before beginning your ab routine. Stretching or foam rolling beforehand relaxes those tense back muscles and allows you to work the abdominals to the best of their abilities.
You may also practice a simple exercise known as marching. This exercise teaches you how to brace your body and activate the right muscles located in your abdomen. To perform this simple exercise, lie on your back on a flat surface and lift one knee up towards your face. Hold this position for a few seconds and focus on bearing down, using your entire core. Set your leg down and switch. Alternate for 60 seconds and rest. Complete three to four sets.
Working With a Weak Core
Working a desk job can weaken your core over time. We tend to slouch when we’re sitting while working and typing away on our computers. Your upper back becomes overactive as a result. This, paired with a sedentary lifestyle, can lead to back pain and an underdeveloped core.
An ab toning belt is an especially helpful tool for beginners trying to distance themselves from a sedentary lifestyle. The EMS technology in the belt can help improve your core strength, and as a result, you’ll be able to perform better in the gym.
Utilising an Ab Toning Belt in Tandem With Your Training
If you wish to implement an ab toning belt into your routine, along with these other previous guidelines, here’s how you can use it to maximize your results.
Wear the belt before heading for the gym or starting an at-home workout — sit somewhere where no one will bother you and strap the belt around your midsection. Your sessions should take around thirty minutes. Do this five times a week and work your way up slowly if you’d like to leave the belt on longer. Some people may want to leave the belt on for forty minutes at a time.
Wait a full day before you use the ab toning belt again. If you feel too sore to continue, rest twenty-four hours before using the belt again.
Who Should Avoid Using an Ems Ab Trainer?
While these are suitable for nearly anyone, consult your doctor if you are pregnant, are prone to epileptic seizures, or are currently taking insulin. Children under the age of 14 should not use the device. Healthy adults are excellent candidates for using an EMS powered ab belt, regardless of their starting fitness level.
So what’s the final verdict on ab toning belts?
Can you skip the gym and still shrink down your waistline?
Not exactly. Science has come a long way but exercising is still the only road to your dream body. If you wish to use an ab toning belt for best results, use it in tandem with a proper fitness routine. Spend 15 minutes wearing the belt before the gym. Target your abdominals three times a week and incorporate heavy lifts and ab specific yet dynamic workouts.
While ab toning belts help create a stronger base, be consistent with your exercise and diet plan to attain the chiseled abs you see on TV and in magazines. Building a six-pack is not an impossible feat for anyone—but consider all the variables that go into working towards a perfectly toned midsection.