To answer that question, let's start with a little background information on what this equipment was originally designed for.
Electric muscle stimulators were (and still are) used in medical rehab situations. They are designed to keep muscles from atrophying (wasting away) in situations where a limb must be immobilized.
For example, if you broke your leg, the doctor could place an electrode on the muscle and use electricity to make it contract. This would provide a minimum level of stimulation, thus keeping the muscle active.
As far as building muscle, such as the ads on TV claim, this is not backed up by research. The level of electrical stimulation necessary to build up the abdominal muscles to what you see on TV would be extremely high, and thus very painful.
Many companies that sell these belts also claim that the belts help burn fat. In reality, the small muscle contractions produced by these belts burn about as many calories as the effort required to take the belt out of the box and put the batteries in.
If you read the fine print in these ads, you will also notice that the instructions for use also include a suggested exercise and nutrition plan. This, without a doubt, would be the true source of the results people get from this equipment.
What about people who have tried the ab belts and say that they feel something when they use it?
Let's put it this way... the belt does provide a small level of stimulation to the abdominal muscles. When a person's abs are totally lacking any form of stimulation, any amount of stimulation has the potential to produce results. It is simply a matter of something is better than nothing (in this case, not a whole lot better, though).
A much better solution for working your abdominal muscles effectively is to do the unglamorous abdominal crunch exercise. It may not send electric shocks into your guts but it will get the job done. Crunches, even done properly and regularly, won't burn fat but they will definitely tighten up your abs.
Do electric ab stimulators work?
These companies are simply preying upon society's desire for results without effort. Don't be fooled by the hype.
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And see every new exercise and training technique the moment I load it up!