You may have also noticed just how many makes and models there are available on the market today. Starting from a fairly modest £50 / $66 all the way up to north of £180 / $238, they all claim to help you achieve the same results by trading off hundreds of ab crunches and leg raises in place of a handy little electric belt that does it all for you.
However, the question you’re probably asking yourself before you even think about spending your hard-earned money is ‘do toning belts work?’
I’m going to answer that question for you as simply as I can…. yes, they do. But, like all things, there are certain caveats! So let’s take a quick look at toning belts, what they do, what they don’t do, and what results you can expect to achieve.
How They Work
Toning belts use EMS technology (electronic muscle stimulation) that send very small electric waves to your muscles to force them to contract in a similar way they would if you were performing ab crunches. The electric stimulation is sent to your muscles via gel pads which you place on your abdominal muscles.
Many models now come with an LED screen which shows you information such as the intensity level you’re currently on, the maximum and minimum intensity levels of your program so you can adjust as necessary, and the battery level.
You would normally wear the belt for around 30 minutes, during which you can walk around, go for a run, do the housework or sit and watch TV or read a book!
Are They Safe?
Toning belts are considered as class II medical devices by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US and the MHRA (Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) in the UK. This means they are safe to use without individuals being overly concerned of any adverse health implications. In fact electronic muscle stimulation has been used for medical purposes over many years, including in physical therapy to re-stimulate damaged muscles.
As with most things however, there are some exceptions which should be clearly stated on the marketing and packing material on every toning belt. In particular, if you have electronic implants like pace makers or defibrillators, or you suffer from any heart-related disorder, then you should not use a toning belt due to the small electric currents given off by the technology.
Of course, if you are unsure, then always speak to a medical professional first.
Debugging The MythsI don’t think I’ve ever seen an advert for a toning belt that hasn’t included a really smiley, fit person that looks like they’ve spent half their life in a gym. These ads are misleading in that they make it look easy and portray these belts as a kind of magical solution that just melt away body fat leaving you slim, toned and rocking an impressive set of abs in exchange for hardly any effort.
Of course what they don’t tell you is that these people spend hours each week keeping fit and following a calorie-controlled nutrition program before they even strap on one of these belts and start to use it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that by fitting one of these toning belts to your waist that you’ll see miraculous results within days, or even weeks, without any extra effort on your part. These belts can help you to tone, but they cannot do the grunt work for you – that’s where you need to put in some effort.
So How Effective Are They?
Toning belts can be effective, but only when incorporated as part of a fitness program and good nutrition plan. If you want to really maximise your results and tone, strengthen and define your ab muscles then you need to do the following:
1. Eat right
Good nutrition is everything. If you’re overweight or have several layers of fat covering your belly then no amount of toning or ab crunching – whether that’s using a belt or working out in the gym – will uncover those abdominal muscles. To lose fat you need to be in a calorie deficit which means you’ll need to be consuming fewer calories than you are burning through daily activity and exercise. I’ve written more about this here as part of an article on nutrition for fat loss. Once your body is in a calorie deficit then you will start to lose the excess fat from across your whole body, including your abs. This process generally works best when you incorporate it with moderate to intense activity, which leads us on to the second point…
2. Get more exercise
If you supplement your nutrition with exercise then you will burn even more calories across the day and shift the fat faster. This can be via any physical activity that gets your heart rate elevated such as cardio and strength training through lifting weights. If your aim is to develop a strong, toned six-pack then I recommend adding in a combination of strength-based training using either free weights or resistance bands, and some cardio – you may find High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) works best. From here, you can use a toning belt to complement your hard work and develop your tone and definition further.
To Buy Or Not To Buy? That Is The Question!
So do toning belts work, and should you buy one? Yes they do, but they’re not a magic solution or a substitute for hard work. When used in conjunction with the right diet and an exercise plan they are great tools for supplementing your fitness and nutrition regime and helping to build upon the work you put in – almost like adding the frosting on top of a cake! So if you have the budget and you feel it might supplement your existing fitness regimen, go ahead and try one out.
If you’re serious about buying one though, then do your research and don’t just go for the first one you see. A toning belt should be seen as a small investment in your overall health and fitness, so consider the make and model, any extras it comes with, and read customer reviews before buying to ensure you get the most benefit out of your toning belt.
Slendertone is an established and trusted manufacturer of body toning equipment and worth considering as part of your research. I’ve just written a review of one of their most popular products.
Have you used a toning belt? If so, what were your experiences and did it have the desired effect? Are there any particular toning belts you’d personally recommend to help others out with their decision? I’d love to know so feel free to comment underneath.