The 10 Best Ab Belts
10. Your Weigh
9. Bracoo SCY10B
8. Flex Belt
7. Maxboost Trimmer
6. TNT Pro Series
5. Sports Research Sweet Sweat
4. McDavid 491
3. Slendertone Connect
2. ActiveGear Sweat Wrap
1. Slendertone 5020
A Six Pack Without The Heart Attack
There are precious few markers of human fitness as sought after as a set of well-honed abdominal muscles. The six pack, the washboard, the rippling tummy of a thousand suns; whatever you call them, they are one of the clearest indicators of serious personal fitness on the human body.
The problem with getting ripped up abs is twofold. First of all, they require an extremely low percentage of body fat, the kind of percentage that's tough to achieve without a steady diet of skinless chicken breast and steamed broccoli. Secondly, a firm six pack is the result of hours and hours of rather painful ab exercises that can be as murderous on the back and neck as they are on the abdominals and obliques themselves.
For the sake of one's overall wellness, as well as one's time management, the ab belt provides a thorough amount of muscle stimulation to the abdominal area without requiring a personal trainer and a costly gym membership.
An ab belt will essentially do a similar thing to your muscle fibers as a handful of ab workouts will. The whole purpose of wearing the belt is to get a rapid and consistent contraction of the muscles around your stomach. Muscle contraction tears muscle fiber, and the rebuilding of that fiber results in increased bulk or increased toning, depending on the degree of the tear.
Lifting heavier weights will tear muscle fibers more severely, giving you a bulkier muscle rebuild if bolstered by enough protein. It's common knowledge in the fitness community that more reps with a lower weight will give you a nice tone, but it won't bulk you up. That's the kind of muscle work you would want on your abs, that they might appear toned without bulging forward.
An ab belt hooks little electrodes to the muscles you want to work and pulses low voltage electricity through them, causing them to contract as though they were under the kind of physical stress you might get doing light crunches.
The effect is a very gentle tearing of the muscle tissue, which is why the belts recommend you wear them for up to an hour. That way, you essentially give yourself a tremendous quantity of very tiny reps all while sitting around enjoying your favorite shows.
Don't Get Too Ab-Stract
I promise that is the one and only ab-related pun I will allow myself. Ab-solutely. Okay, now I'm done.
Picking the right ab belt is going to have a lot to do with what you're looking to tone, and how you want to interact with the belt itself.
Some of the belts on our list can be reconfigured to work on a number of different muscle groups, so you can transition from working on your six pack to refining your biceps in no time at all. Others offer interactions with your smart phone, so you can make adjustments to your routine between tweets, without ever having to put down your mobile device.
One important point before you get yourself so psyched up about your ab belt that you run the risk of being let down: No matter how much you work your ab muscles, they will be invisible if they're hidden behind layers of adipose tissue. That's fat.
If you want to get the most out of your ab belt purchase, you'll want to get yourself on a diet and exercise plan that will compliment its toning capabilities. If you're already well on your way to fitness, an ab belt will only increase the firmness and delectability of your burgeoning washboard. And remember, for a quality six pack, it's a good idea to ab-stain from refined sugar. Last one, I promise.
Electrical Stimulation Before Electricity Was A Thing
While human beings have had contact with electricity long before we had any understanding of it, it was the interaction between a scalpel and a frog that tipped Italian biologist Luigi Galvani off to the notion that muscles respond to electrical currents. By the early 1800s Galvani performed incredible feats of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) on the bodies of deceased prisoners.
Even with all the knowledge and experimentation around electricity that occurred in the intervening years, it wasn't until the 1960s-at the height of the cold war–that Soviet scientists and doctors began experimenting with the effects of EMS on their athletes (read: soldiers). They presented their findings over the following decade, and the experiments spread quickly throughout the world.
One of the most common uses for EMS is in recuperative and rehabilitative therapy. After injury or surgery, electrical currents can help bound up muscle tissue to relax, even as they lead to increased toning and subtle increases in strength.
That knowledge was not lost on manufacturers, who saw a great opportunity to offer pinpoint muscle contractions to consumers interested in refining their physique even in the slightest. Go check out a classic scene from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story to see a man–whose body was a lethal weapon–casually sitting at his typewriter with EMS electrodes on his pecs and biceps. I'm sure he worked out in other ways, as well, but those belts had to have given him some advantage.