best ab stimulators

Ab Stimulator: Test & Reviews

Author: Manuel Heitmann

Coach & Fitness Expert

Firm abdominal muscles or no six-pack at all, that’s what most people want. Benefit from our external comparison test and find the right ab stimulator for you.

Questions to Consider Before Buying An Ab Stimulator

The Ab Stimulator as a fitness assistant

The abdominal muscle belt is a practical helper with which you can train your abdominal muscles. It stimulates the muscles of the core of the body with the help of weak electrical impulses. The muscle fibers respond to electrical stimulation just as they would to a natural signal from the nerves.

By using the abdominal muscle belt you will therefore achieve similar results as with more intensive training – with the same expenditure of time. However, a flat stomach will not come to you without any effort: While exercise is decisive for tight tissue and additional calorie consumption, diet and other factors also have to be right.

For example, it is particularly important that you do not neglect the rest of your body and that you train all muscle groups as evenly as possible. This is the only way to get the best results.

In terms of weight loss, diet accounts for about 80% of success. For the remaining 20% ​​that is due to exercise, the abdominal muscle belt can support you.

But don’t be fooled by these numbers: a minimum of muscle mass is essential for the external appearance. Exercising not only tightens tissues, but can even decrease the visibility of stretch marks, such as those caused by rapid weight gain and loss or pregnancy.

Do Ab Stimulators work?

If you search for an abdominal muscle belt on Amazon, you will find that many abdominal muscle belts have already been rated over 500 times. And mostly positive! That means, even if you assume that 20% of the reviews are fake (which a study assumes) there must be several hundreds of real reviews that have tried an abdominal muscle belt themselves and are satisfied.

Does the six-pack come by itself?

While we now come across before-and-after pictures of customers on Amazon for almost every product (where it makes sense) (pond filter, grinding machine, face brush), there is unfortunately no one among all of the top-reviewed abdominal muscles who posted a before-and-after picture would have. In addition to the pictures, there is only a well-toned six-pack of a buyer and the slim waist of a buyer who both bought the abdominal muscle belt.

The sporty woman wants to tighten her stomach again after giving birth and the firm young man complains that the EMS pads would come off during the situps.

EMS training studies

Studies have shown that EMS training actually works. In the study, 23 scientific studies on the effectiveness of EMS training were evaluated. The conclusion of the study: EMS training does indeed reduce fat and build muscle mass. There are no special risks.

The subject of the investigation is, however, a sports training supported by electricity and not an ab stimulator.

As the author writes, the training is quite exhausting.

Conclusion

The TV commercials for abdominal muscle belts are obviously grossly exaggerated. It is suggested that the belt would replace exercise and diet. But this is not true. While condemning such a serious gap between advertising promises and truth (e.g. with anti-aging creams), a surprising number of customers on Amazon are indulgent and have not set their expectations so high from the start.

Anyone who uses the belt in addition to exercise and diet will feel well supported. Even buyers who use it without exercising believe that after a while you can feel the muscles on your stomach – unfortunately still under the layer of fat, because it won’t go away.

How does an ab stimulator work?

The abdominal muscle belt is basically a wide cuff that you simply place around your stomach. Make sure that the belt is correctly adjusted and the right size or width. When the abdominal muscle belt is properly seated, the stimulation can start. The effect of the abdominal muscle belt is based on electrical muscle stimulation, EMS for short.

The most important part of the abdominal muscle belt are the electrodes. They are located in the belt and make contact with the body. The electrodes generate a weak electrical stimulus that the skin transmits to the muscles under the abdominal wall. The electrical signal causes the muscles to contract – just as if the impulse came from the body’s own nerves.

When the muscle contracts, its filaments slide into one another. This makes the muscle thicker during the contraction. During relaxation, the filaments separate from each other and slide apart – back to their original position. Regular use of the abdominal muscle signals the increasing strain on the body. As a result, protein molecules strengthen the existing muscle fibers to prepare them for the stress. You can easily recognize this muscle growth from the outside by the fact that your abdominal wall is firmer and the muscles stand out more clearly.

So that the EMS can achieve good effects, the belt (unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer) should be worn four to five times a week. The duration of the training with the abdominal muscle belt can vary. Approx. 30 minutes per activity unit is ideal for most users; However, even ten minutes of training can make a difference in the long term if you are regularly active.

How to use an ab stimulator?

The abdominal belt helps to achieve fitness goals, but cannot work miracles on its own. In order for the belt to produce the desired effects, it can be worn during training. Users can expect clearly visible effects after just four to six weeks.

Well-toned abdominal muscles not only help to visibly tighten the tissue around the core of the body; they also help achieve a slimmer waistline. Together with the back muscles, the abdominal muscles are an essential part of the supporting apparatus. Healthy muscles therefore contribute significantly to the prevention of back problems and help you to improve your posture.

Rehabilitation sports also occasionally use helpers such as the abdominal muscle belt. Electrical stimulation can be of particular benefit if you are physically unable to continue your usual training. It can also be used after very long bed rest or partial immobility. Here, too, however, the following applies: Without a balanced diet, the abdominal muscle belt cannot work miracles. In addition to vitamins and minerals, the body needs sufficient protein to build muscle mass. If you have recently recovered from an illness, are recovering from an operation or are still suffering from the consequences of an injury, you should definitely speak to your doctor and, if necessary, a physical therapist before using the abdominal muscle belt.

The electrical stimulation of the abdominal muscles does not simulate muscle movement, it actually induces it. The extra activity of the muscles uses up energy, such as those in the form of calories in food. The abdominal muscle belt can therefore also help you lose weight. Nevertheless, we recommend that you maintain a balanced diet. The higher energy consumption creates a calorie deficit, which leads to weight loss – but only if you do not compensate for the deficit by eating more. Additional training of other body areas improves the results of the assisted abdominal muscle training considerably.

Some groups of people should not use the abdominal belt. This applies, for example, if you have a pacemaker, are pregnant or suffer from rheumatism, arthritis or high blood pressure. Be sure to observe the safety instructions that are enclosed with the abdominal muscle belt when you buy it and that you can usually also view online from the manufacturer.

Different belts for different purposes

In addition to the abdominal muscle belt, which works via electrical stimulation of the muscles, there are other belts that also target the abdominal area and work via mechanical movement. Such belts are often called abdominal belts to separate them from EMS devices. In the abdominal belt, a number of sensors artificially move the muscle to simulate its movement. The downside to these belts, however, is that they don’t come as close to natural movement. In contrast, the electrical stimulation of the abdominal muscle girdle actually causes the muscle to contract.

There are also different types of EMS belts. In various product tests, there were also some models that have an intelligent program design. The training programs range from lighter and shorter activity units to training programs for advanced users. A training program consists of a certain operating time and intensity that are preset in the device. In this way, users can simply start a program and then no longer have to pay attention to the abdominal muscle belt until the end of the training session.

Some devices that have been tested in more detail by test persons have a memory function for the programs: Users who have successfully completed a program can continue with the next program without having to select it. With good equipment, the training programs build on each other and thus enable you to continuously improve your performance.

The advantage of this gradual increase is the optimal promotion and demand for muscle building. So that the abdominal muscles can cope with greater loads and stand out more prominently, they must be continuously exercised. If the training requirements remain the same, the muscle no longer changes once it has reached this level. Constant intensity and duration are therefore particularly suitable if you want to maintain muscle mass. For muscle building and fat reduction, however, a gradual increase makes more sense.

The disadvantage of such automatic programs is, of course, that they cannot be customized. In our product comparison, we found that most abdominal muscle belts with training programs also allow you to start an advanced training program right away. However, the training programs in their entirety have a low bandwidth for some devices. Some products have only a few programs or no training programs for advanced users who want to maintain a high level of training with the abdominal muscle belt. Even people who have very few abdominal muscles due to illness or surgery, for example, cannot always benefit from the automatic training programs. In rare cases, even the lowest program is unsuitable for certain people; However, we were able to determine a balanced mix in most devices.

What do I have to look out for when buying an ab stimulator?

Power supply and operating mode

The electrical muscle stimulation needs – of course – electricity. Abdominal muscle belts can basically be operated in three different ways: with rechargeable batteries, batteries or connected directly to a socket. As a rule, the devices allow both mobile operation with rechargeable batteries or batteries and stationary operation. Nevertheless, keep your eyes open – the battery and rechargeable battery life vary considerably depending on the manufacturer and model. In the case of rechargeable batteries in particular, the quality of the built-in energy provider determines how long the device will last and when you should replace a tired battery.

The mobile power supply not only enables you to choose a suitable place regardless of sockets; You can even wear the abdominal belt outside of your own four walls. This option allows you more flexibility in training. Since the belt is used during sports and its muscle stimulation increases the natural movements of the abdominal muscles, it makes sense to use batteries or rechargeable batteries: a cable is often in the way and sometimes prevents the correct execution of movements. Wireless operation is also safer for other people who may be nearby. When operating without a power cord, however, there is no risk of tripping.

The right size

We recommend that you measure your waist circumference before buying. You can use a simple tape measure to do this. The waist circumference is important so that you acquire a suitable abdominal muscle belt – most belts have a circumference of 60 to 150 cm, but can vary from this width in individual cases. It is therefore essential to pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions; only when the abdominal muscle belt fits properly can it do its job.

Intensity

The abdominal muscle belt usually allows you to choose between different intensities. Depending on how high the test subjects set the regulator in a test, the muscles were stimulated more or less in the practical test. The more the test subjects challenged their bodies, the greater the effects. In no case should the application be too painful. A slow increase is especially important for beginners, starting with the lowest level. This allows the muscles to get used to the unfamiliar stimulation and you can better control the device.

Manufacturer

In our product comparison, we took a close look at various manufacturers in order to obtain a picture that was as representative as possible. Nevertheless, it can’t hurt if you find out about the individual manufacturers independently. Although basically any manufacturer can potentially deliver a good device, some companies are known for their reliability and have been in business for years. However, inexperience does not have to mean a knockout criterion.

The place of manufacture reveals a lot about the conditions under which the manufacturing company will manufacture your device. Working conditions, safety standards and the manufacturer’s environmental behavior can be significantly influenced by on-site conditions. Producing countries that are part of the EU do relatively well in this regard. In contrast to this, in non-EU countries strongly depends on which ethical standards the respective manufacturer implements itself.

Individual requirements and preferences

Before you buy an abdominal muscle belt, you should also first consider the requirements that you place on the device. For our product comparison, we put together several central criteria that users can easily use for orientation. The leaderboard shows you at a glance how the 10 best abdominal muscle belts performed in our 2020 product comparison.

Our Safety Tips

Especially when using it for the first time, it makes sense to take enough time. Reading the instruction manual is an absolute must. Only then should you put on the belt for the first time. This order is also recommended if you have previous experience with other devices or belts from other manufacturers. To get started, it is best to start with the lowest intensity that can be set on the belt. You should increase the intensity only slowly and after a certain period of getting used to. A quick glance at the display of the device or the manual switch provides clarity as to whether the abdominal muscle belt is correctly adjusted. Check the settings before each use.

Not every person perceives the different intensities in the same way. The pain threshold also differs from person to person. Therefore, we cannot give general advice on which intensity level is best. However, once individual perception is tested, you will soon have an idea of ​​how high or low you can set the abdominal girdle.

A continuously adjustable belt can therefore have several advantages. Devices that offer many small gradations are also ideal. If, on the other hand, the abdominal muscle belt has only a few intensity levels, it should be clarified exactly before buying: How strong is the current flow at the respective levels? Is the belt suitable for beginners and is it also useful for advanced users? What duration does the manufacturer recommend?

Since the abdominal muscle belt is electrically operated, you should keep it away from moisture. Many devices from various tests can be cleaned with a slightly damp cloth. We also recommend removing coarse dirt immediately so that it does not damage the electrodes and cables in the belt.

In addition, it was crucial for safe use in a test that the device had the correct size. The belt should close without you stretching it excessively. Avoid pulling or tearing on the device: Jerky movements could damage the electrical inner workings of the abdominal muscle belt. Conversely, however, the belt should not be too loose, so that the electrodes do not slip and the electrical stimulation finds the wrong target.

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A damaged device is always a safety risk; we do not recommend that you continue to use it. If the damage is due to defects in production and the warranty period has not yet expired, manufacturers usually exchange it without any problems. In some cases a repair is worthwhile – however, you should only hire specialists who are familiar with abdominal muscle belts and preferably have experience with your particular device.

These foods will help you fight belly fat

Sitting in front of the TV with an abdominal muscle belt and eating a can of peanuts – that’s it! But unfortunately it won’t be that easy. As we have already explained, activating the abdominal muscles alone is not enough to successfully reduce belly fat.

Fructose responsible for dangerous belly fat

Belly fat is not just an aesthetic problem. The so-called visceral fat in the lower abdomen sticks to the organs and can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes (type 2) and heart disease. According to the latest studies, sugar is primarily responsible for lower abdominal fat. There are also interesting self-experiments like in the documentary “Voll Verzuckert”. At the beginning of his documentary, the main actor still had a flat, muscular stomach. He hadn’t eaten sugar in three years. As soon as he switched his diet back to sugar – with the same daily calorie intake (!) – he got a distinct belly.

Even if it has not yet been clearly proven, science suspects that fruit sugar (fructose) is preferentially stored in belly fat and becomes harmful liver fat or visceral fat.

If juice was considered healthy in the past, juice is not recommended today. The reason is simple: Eating an apple takes some time and then you feel satisfied for the time being. In the case of juice, six apples and their sugar content are easily consumed in a few pulls. Even smoothies – which not so long ago were a figurehead for healthy eating – have already become out again due to their high fructose content.

These foods are great against belly fat

  1. Vegetables and especially broccoli: Instead of eating a lot of fruit because of the vitamins, it is better to eat less fruit and more vegetables. Broccoli is said to be pretty much the best vegetable for belly fat. Thanks to its sulforaphane, it ensures that fat is not stored, but burned as energy.
  2. Green tea: Green tea blends such as matcha tea are said to be good against belly fat for two reasons: It boosts the metabolism and lowers the insulin level, both of which lead to more calories being burned.
  3. Black cumin oil: The oil is particularly widespread in the Arab and Islamic regions, as the Prophet Muhammad already praised black cumin as a “panacea”. Now it is also becoming popular in Europe and is particularly effective against belly fat. It is considered to be a “change booster”. It is particularly good for digestion and the intestinal flora and lowers blood sugar.
  4. Flaxseed: Flaxseeds are the vegan alternative to fish. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids that are supposed to break down dangerous belly fat. In addition, they are considered anti-inflammatory and the dietary fiber promotes bowel activity.
  5. Protein bread:  A protein-rich diet is known to help you lose weight, as the proteins are used to build muscle. However, there are also critical voices who say that protein bread is more expensive, fatter and tastier than “normal” bread.

Useful accessories

Spare battery and second charging cable

If you buy a spare battery when you buy the abdominal muscle belt, you will save yourself a lot of trouble afterwards. With normal wear and tear, the power of the battery deteriorates over time. The battery tires particularly quickly if you do not charge it properly or if it only discharges irregularly and / or with frequent interruptions.

Prevention is advisable, especially if the abdominal muscle belt requires special batteries that only fit a few other devices. Not every model is available for long periods of several years; Economic changes by the individual manufacturer can limit the availability of replacement batteries as well as technical developments. New devices displace their predecessors from the market at more or less regular intervals. Spare parts are then difficult to find – often you need a good dose of luck. However, this annoyance can be avoided if the replacement batteries are taken into account early enough.

Batteries were a weak point in many devices in various abdominal muscle belt tests in 2020. Even abdominal muscle belts from the upper price range were not guaranteed before in a test. Damage to the charging cable, however, was less common in tests; In many tests, the cable only wore out weakly when used correctly, even over long periods of time. However, if you want to be on the safe side, you can also plan a replacement cable as a precaution, provided it is available separately. In particular, users who want to use the abdominal muscle belt in cable mode should consider this small purchase. When operating on the power cable, this is more exposed to the risk of damage.

Bag or suitcase

A suitable pocket to stow away the abdominal muscle belt makes sense, especially for casual users. The bag should not only be the right size, but also protect it against dust, moisture, dirt and fading from UV light. In addition, a bag or even a small suitcase helps with the correct and safe storage of the belt. More stable bags or cases also offer the device protection against mechanical pressure, impacts and falls.

Cleaning material

Maintaining an abdominal belt can have a positive effect on its lifespan. Depending on what material the cuff of the device is made of, you can wipe the surface with a microfiber or cotton cloth that is at most slightly damp. Even mild cleaning agents should only be used if the operating instructions expressly allow this. Furthermore, several users who share an abdominal muscle belt should think about suitable disinfectants.

Sports activities are most effective when they are strenuous enough. The body heats up and produces sweat to cool itself down and to maintain its optimal operating temperature. Even when the abdominal belt is worn over clothing, it comes into contact with sweat. Body secretion residues form a breeding ground for bacteria, which can give rise to odors.

The abdominal muscle belt should therefore be cleaned regularly. Unless otherwise stated in the operating instructions, the belt should be wiped immediately after use. If the material allows more thorough cleaning, users can do this at longer intervals, for example once a month – or before the device is passed on to another person. In the case of rental equipment in rehabilitation centers or specialized fitness studios, users should inquire with the staff about the hygiene rules commonly used on site.

Ab Stimulator Alternatives

In addition to the abdominal muscle belt, to which we have dedicated this product test, there are other training devices that are also based on the principle of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). Corresponding belts and cuffs are also available for arms or thighs, for example. However, it is important that you use each device only as intended by the manufacturer. Since there are electrodes in the belt or in the cuff, the correct placement of the device plays an important role. You should therefore only use the abdominal muscle belt for the stomach and not also use it on the thighs.

In addition to abdominal muscle belts, the market offers other helpers that can support the right training. The crunch aid acts as an assistant in correctly performing crunches. Crunches are simple exercises that, in addition to gravity, make use of the body’s own weight. When exercising, the person performing the exercise lies on their back and lifts their upper body away from the floor until they can clearly feel the tension in their abdominal muscles. Then straighten yourself only as far as the tension still lasts before you go back to the (still tense!) Starting position. Maintaining tension is of great importance during the entire training session – because this is the only way to adequately challenge the abdominal muscles and achieve good training effects. The crunch aid is a metal frame that helps users not to move too far in front of or to maintain optimal muscle tension.

Frequently Asked Questions: Ab Stimulators

Is an ab stimulator worth it?

Studies have shown that EMS training actually works. In the study, 23 scientific studies on the effectiveness of EMS training were evaluated. The study’s conclusion: EMS training does indeed reduce fat and build muscle mass. There are no special risks. The subject of the investigation is, however, a sports training supported by electricity and not an abdominal muscle belt. Many buyers on the Internet are convinced that an abdominal muscle belt would support their training positively.

How does an ab stimulator work?

So-called EMS technology is used for most abdominal muscle belts. EMS stands for electrical muscle stimulation. Electrodes send out weak electrical impulses, which cause the muscles to contract and expand again (like the effect that is otherwise achieved by sit-ups). There are studies that show that EMS training actually promotes muscle building. However, these studies do not relate to abdominal muscle belts, but rather professional EMS training. It is important that it is a supportive training (!) Method. That means: you cannot do without sports training. Another method are sweat belts made of neoprene, which ensure that you sweat more on your stomach. However, sweating only causes you to lose water and no fat and sweating does not build muscle mass.

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