Physical therapists sometimes use electrical-stimulation devices to rehabilitate damaged or weakened muscles. There are professionals and companies outside the therapy world who claim that electrical stimulation can also help individuals develop “six-pack abs.” Devices come in various forms, from patches to belts, and promise users a nonexercise method for dropping weight. But do these tools live up to the claims? According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2005; 4, 66–75), the answer is yes and no.
The scientists electrically stimulated the abdominal regions of 24 adults 5 days per week for 8 weeks. The goal was to determine the extent of abdominal muscle activation and any resulting body composition changes affecting muscle definition.
Upon study completion, all subjects reported that their abdominals felt “toned” and “firmed,” and 54% “felt that their posture had improved.” “There were no differences in body weight, body mass index, or skinfold thickness over the course of the study,” stated the study authors. However, subjects experienced a 58% increase in abdominal strength and 100% increase in abdominal endurance. What do you think? Do these devices follow through on their promises?