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I have just been given an abs toner belt, and would like to know if these actually do anything or not? Should I waste my time and use it or just put it away in a cupboard and forget about it.

The one I have been given is "Slendertone Flex Max Unisex Toning Belt", it was bought for some one and they never used it so they have given it to me, so it hasn't cost me anything.

Any advice would be great. Thanks

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What does it do? How do you use it? –  Kate Jan 20 '13 at 22:42
    
@Kate not even taken it out the box yet. –  Popeye Jan 20 '13 at 23:01
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@Kate it is basically a belt with some electrodes that "activates" your abdominal muscles. I have never seen one of these things live, but a lot of commercials. They often market it claiming that you can train your abs while watching TV etc. –  Baarn Jan 20 '13 at 23:03
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1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

First off, lets clear how these things work. They use EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) to contract your muscles.

I quote from an article that talked to a physiologist.

"These devices tend to only activate the surface of the muscle," Swoap says. The electricity causes tingly-feeling contractions around your middle, but it doesn't reach deep. To entirely activate the abdominal muscles, "You would either need to have a massive voltage from the surface (burning skin, anyone?) or surgically implanted electrodes."

These belts effectively don't train your muscles, they don't even help you burn a noticeable amount of calories.

There is a full answer on Skeptics.SE, I will only quote a part.

The results showed no significant changes in weight, percent body fat, girth or strength of the treatment areas.

The EMS device did not work for any of the claims.

Note that the question on Skeptics confused "TENS" (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) with "EMS". EMS is a a variation of TENS but serves another purpose. Both have their purpose in therapeutic applications (see @BackInShapeBuddy's comment), but not for the claims which are used to market the Slendertone belt.

And lastly, there is always the spot reduction myth. Your body will not burn fat on based on the muscles you train but in places where it prefers to take fat from and this happens to be defined by your genetics. Although some recent research suggest that there is a slight spot reduction this effect is minimal.

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So they do nothing? I should just put it in the cupboard and forget about it? –  Popeye Jan 20 '13 at 22:59
    
Thanks this is a good answer for me. Will leave it a day or two see if I get anything better but will check your answer if not. +1 –  Popeye Jan 20 '13 at 23:01
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@Popeye see my edit, Skeptics is pretty good when it comes to researching these things. I would not spend time using it, do some exercises instead. You can still watch TV lying on the floor doing crunches. –  Baarn Jan 20 '13 at 23:01
    
I would still keep my 4 day a week gym sessions anyway just wondered if it was worth even using, but will probably not even take it out the box. Thanks. –  Popeye Jan 20 '13 at 23:02
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@Info, I don't think that it is fully accurate to equate TENS and EMS. The purpose of TENS is to reduce pain symptoms using electrical currents of different frequencies and wave lengths. EMS is used to stimulate a contraction of weak muscles and is effective in muscle re-education, especially post injury or surgery. You are accurate to explain that with normally functioning abdominal muscles, EMS devices will not give an effective abdominal muscle contraction as compared to actively contracting your abs. –  BackInShapeBuddy Jan 21 '13 at 0:16
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