Skeletal muscle is one of the most adaptable tissues of the human body. As we apply stress, the physiological makeup of our muscles change to compliment said stress. It is only over the course of repeated stress that our muscles can experience hypertrophy and gain strength. The real question to many researchers and personal trainers, is strength training the best way to condition our abdominals or can electrical stimulation abdominal belts help you get a six pack?
Many have put these belts to the test, and the conclusions are contradicting. While the makers of this latest fitness technology will provide many studies to support their product, the general population seems to have mixed reviews. Neither position should be dismissed, while the voices of both sides bring up valid points.
Activation of deep abdominal muscles.
A press release from SlenderTone (one maker of the abdominal belts) provides great insight into the intentions of their latest model, Abs8. “The key to achieving stronger, engaged abs is by working the deepest muscle, the transverse abdominis which is incredibly hard to activate”.
In the same press release, SlenderTone indicates that when people are performing abdominal exercises without properly activating the deep core muscles it “could be detrimental to the lower back and neck causing injury.”
Could electrical stimulation abdominal belts be the wave of the future for rehabilitation and/or modification protocol for those who have physical limitations? If these electrical pulses can deter from muscular atrophy, this might be the a solution utilised for inpatient hospital care and beyond. Other electrical stimulator techniques are already currently utilised in these practices, but abdominal belts have yet to make it onto the hospital shelves.
Hands free, work free
What better pro to using the ab belt than to be able to work your core anytime, anywhere. This hands-free technology allows for freedom, multitasking and channel surfing all while working your abdominals.
In order to achieve true adaptation and hypertrophy, the muscle must be stressed to the point of breakdown. It is during this rebuilding that tissue gains strength and tone. At this time there isn’t enough valid studies that prove electrical stimulation to have the amount of impact to cause this physiological reaction in long term.
There is a fundamental principle that certified personal trainers follow; push and pull. Educated exercise programming includes the concept of push/pull, or training all aspect of the functional movement. To properly perform a squat you must have strength in both quadriceps and hamstrings, which means during accessory training you would perform both leg extension and leg curl. The electrical stimulation abdominal belts focus the attention on the anterior aspect of our core, leaving 50% of our abdominals out of the loop. Training in such a fashion would only lead to muscular imbalances and risk of injury.
With any tech device, there are health risks. Reported medical cases of the electronic stimulation interacting with implanted devices (pacemakers, defibrillators), as well as causing tissue and skin burns. Those utilising such devices should remember that they are dealing with real electrical currents. The majority of the safety features of these devices lie in the hands of its’ users. Whether it is cranking the stimulation too high, or just not aware of your own bodies reaction, the electrical stimulation abdominal belts should be used with caution.
Hands free, work free
You read that right, this pro is also a con. Proper progressive abdominal routines incorporate total function movement of the core which, many times, includes a cardiovascular component. Although advancement of technology has its place, we should not be so quit to take away incentives to move our bodies. Simple exercises such as mountain climbers, planks, and high knees tie in a variety of much needed training elements: core, cardio, function movement, range of motion and endurance.
The electrical stimulation abdominal belt provides the ideal concept, gaining great core strength and 6 pack abs without contributing any physical exertion. Technology of today provides us many means of convenience, and the fitness world is no stranger to technological advances. The perfected designs of the electrical stimulation abdominal belt could be the next staple ab equipment seen in every gym. Until then, we recommend to continue your progressive abdominal routine.
Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.