Ab toning belts are not new to the UK fitness market and although they have had some hard press over the years there is a reason they are still going strong. We take a look at the best ab toning belts available today and also assess whether or not you will benefit from buying one.
Ab toning belts work through a series of electrical currents that are sent from the belt and in to your body. These electrical pulses are designed to stimulate your muscles and the contractions of the abdominal muscles can lead to greater muscle growth and definition in this area. EMS stands for Electric Muscle Stimulation and it is this technology that has come under attack, although the science behind it is pretty solid.
One of the key reasons that people tend not to see the results they want is that they see EMS toning belts as some kind of miracle worker. In other words, they think that just by using it a few times per week they will automatically reduce their levels of fat and develop abs of steel. The truth is that the abdominal muscles are some of the hardest to show and that unless your body fat percentage is below 15% and ideally below 12% then you are not going to see a great deal of muscle – even if the muscle has been well developed. Also, it is worth mentioning that using an ab toning belt alone is unlikely to achieve the results you want as you cannot target all elements of the abdominal region (including the obliques) without some form of resistance training.
The key takeaway here, before we get in to the ab belt reviews, is that unless you have a good all-round training regime and a good nutritional plan then using an ab toner belt alone will not give you the results you crave – that being said, if you use it in conjunction with good training and diet then it can help to develop some killer abs and really give that added definition that training alone is so hard to achieve.
Slendertone Setting The Tone
Slendertone are the household name when it comes to ab toning belts and although they produce some of the more expensive ab toning belts they do produce the best. With over 50 years experience and sitting under their parent company’s umbrella of Bio-Medical Research Limited, they have the experience, knowledge and millions of sales to their name.
Slendertone are constantly reviewing and releasing new models and they will most definitely be featuring in our top 5 ab toning belt list. Of course, there are other options that do a good job, but if you want the best then it has to be Slendertone. Even the likes of Mohammed Ali and Franz Beckenbauer were known to use Slendertone products before they competed in major competitions!
Best Ab Toning Belts – Top 5
We have chosen our top 5 ab belts following testing with 5 different people in our office over a 4 week period. When comparing belts we were essentially looking for comfort, fat loss, muscle definition, visual aesthetic and value for money. This was not an easy test to conduct due to the different body types and of course things like comfort levels and visual aesthetics are fairly subjective – but the results were fairly unanimous and as such are fairly clear in these being our top picks in order of preference.
These ab toners are perfect for men and women and it is rare now to find belts that are designed specifically for male or females.
Abs8 by Slendertone is their newest toning belt and builds on the success of the Abs7 which we have also included in our top 5 list. The Abs8 is designed to be used for 20-30 minutes per day for 5 days per week and promises results in just 4 weeks.
The Abs8 features an OLED display, up to 100 levels of intensity, 10 pre-set programs and can be used passively whilst undertaking other activities or more intensely for a more rigorous workout.
The Abs8 fits all waist sizes between 24 inches and 42inches which is ideal for most people who will likely see a benefit from an ab toning belt. If you find yourself with a waist size of higher than 42 inches then you can either opt for the Abs7 belt or we would suggest pursuing a more all-round fat loss regime that includes training and nutrition.
The Abs8 is controlled by a rechargeable battery powered remote control which is easy to use and you can get started pretty much straight away. Charging times are around 3 hours.
We used the Abs8 for 4 weeks, using it for 5 days of 30 minutes per day each week. We used a combination of active and passive programs, some of which were more intense than others and we were able to gradually increase the intensity throughout this time.
There was a noticeable difference in ab definition from when we started to when we finished and there was a waistline reduction of just under half an inch. That took our tester from a 32 inch waist to a 31.5inch waist. During this time, our tester did follow a strict nutritional programme which was part of his usual routine and was designed at a maintenance level in terms of daily calories vs energy expenditure. He also followed his usual resistance training routine in the gym 4 days per week.
The first thing to point out with the Abs8 is that it is pretty comfortable to wear. It can be worn as you walk around or even go for a jog. If you want to sit and wear it then you can. For those who want to use it to enhance their usual ab workouts you can do this too with a choice of 2 ab crunch settings.
The display on the controller gives you four pieces of data. Although the display is not huge, the OLED screen is bright and can be seen even in brightly lit environments. The display shows the maximum intensity level of your current program, the program you are currently on and how many times you have previously completed the current program, the total number of toning sessions you have completed and the battery level. The controller will generally power your belt for an average of 3 toning sessions although we would suggest you charge it every other day.
The initial setup of the Abs8 toning belt is fairly straightforward and just requires you to apply the gel pads to the correct place based on your own body type. For this reason we would recommend using one toning belt per person rather than sharing.
If you are looking for the out and out best ab toning belt then it simply has to be Slendertone. It is a close run thing between the Abs 8 and the Connect Abs and if you prefer app connectivity then the Connect might be better suited to you, if not (and it isn’t really necessary) then the Abs8 is our winner.back to menu ↑
Slendertone Connect Abs
The flagship product from Slendertone is their Connect Abs variant and essentially it packs the same technology as the Abs8 with one major exception – it is connected and controlled via an app called Slendertone Connect. With both Android and iOS versions of the app, this really promises to bring ab sculpting to the 21st century.
We tested the Connect Abs belt with an Android Samsung S9 phone and the initial setup was pretty simple and intuitive. We had heard that some users had experienced issues with connectivity between their phone and their toning belt and this was a major concern for us – but we didn’t experience any issues whatsoever. We did have a fully updated operating software and ensured we had the latest version of the app and perhaps this saved us from any headaches when setting it up.
The main unit still features its own rechargeable controller that powers the belt and the gel pads are also in use and vital for getting the most out of the belt. There is a screen on the controller but this is mainly used to show whether the unit is powered up and you will need the app to control the belt fully.
Like the Abs8, the Connect is recommended to be used for 20-30 minutes per day for 5 days per week and we followed this guidance with our tester and used it for 4 weeks. We found that the results were pretty much the same as the Abs8 in terms of aesthetic changes, ab strength improvements and there was a small decrease in waist size.
It seems the real difference with the Connect stems from the software in the app and this is pretty impressive. If you are the kind of person who either lacks motivation and self discipline, has little knowledge of what exercises to do or simply thrives in a more competitive environment then the Connect Abs app could be just what you need.
The app itself will walk you through your goals when you initially set up and it will deliver programs based on your specific aims. The app will also remind you to start an ab toning session if you are due one and will compare your data to that of other users (anonymously of course) so you can compete against others if you wish. Like the Abs8, you can choose from 5 different programs manually (yes, there are less in total) and you still have 100 levels of intensity – but the ever evolving app will ensure you are hitting your core muscles in all the right places.
The Slendertone Connect Abs is a great option and is pretty much the top of the range ab toner – if you don’t need the app connectivity then opt for the Abs8, but if you need that extra push and think a bit of healthy competition will keep you motivated then this is for you.back to menu ↑
We debated long and hard whether or not to include the Abs7 in our top ab toners buying guide but in the end we couldn’t leave it out. The truth is that there was nothing wrong with the Abs7 before the release of the Abs8 and that is still the case. The only real reason to opt for the Abs7 over the Abs8 though is that it will save you around 15-20% of the cost of the latest model.
As it stands, this is probably the best value for money ab toner on the market in the UK today and like the latest model it has 10 programs that you can choose from and a (slightly larger) remote control that is rechargeable. The same regime applies with five 20-30 minute ab toning sessions over the course of a week. There are 150 levels of intensity which is 50 more than the Abs8, although we have it on pretty good authority that even the highest level of the Abs7 matches the Abs8 and is slightly below the Connect Abs so if high intensity is your thing then the Connect is probably a better choice for you.
One thing we love about the Abs7 is that you can connect various other toning accessories to it. These include an arm toner for men and an arm toner for women. We haven’t tested these but the reviews from users seem positive on the whole. We did however test the Abs7 for 4 weeks and found comparable results to the Connect and Abs8. There is a clear difference from day 1 to day 28 and if you can stick to the routine you should see results if matched with a good nutritional plan.
The programmes on this model are slightly different to the Abs8 and they feature 7 passive and 3 active presets. This model fits a waist size of up to 47 inches which is the highest of all Slendertone models.
Overall, if you are looking for a cheap Slendertone abs belt then the Abs7 is a top choice.back to menu ↑
Ab Flex Toning Belt
If you can’t quite stretch to a Slendertone ab belt in terms of budget then don’t dismay as there are a couple of really good budget alternatives. Our favourite budget ab toning belt is by Ab Flex and it isn’t just us that thinks this is a top option. It has thousands of 5 star online reviews and comes highly rated by many online retailers – which is what brought it to our attention in the first place.
The Ab Flex belt might not look quite as attractive as the latest Slendertone variants and the controller is pretty large, but the results of this ab toner speak for themselves and the technology behind it is remarkably similar to its more premium priced cousins. The main difference between this model and the Slendertone models is that this requires a very small application of a gel before use whereas the others use pads.
The Ab Flex belt can be worn under clothing and you can carry out active tasks whilst wearing it if you so wish. There are a number of pre-sets to choose from and 100 levels of intensity to choose from too. It is suitable for a waist size of up to 47 inches too which makes it suitable for all starting points.
We tested this unit for 4 weeks and used it for 30 minutes per day for five days per week. The results were pretty comparable to the other models we tested although we did feel the obliques were not as well targeted with than with the Slendertone models.
If you are on a budget then Ab Flex is a top choice.back to menu ↑
Beurer EM37 Ab Belt
The cheapest ab toning belt we tested was the Beurer EM37 and for less than £50 we did not have particularly high expectations. However, we were left mildly surprised after seeing more than modest results after a 4 week testing period. The Beurer also has one significant advantage over other models in that it can be worn by users with up to a 55 inch waist!
The EM37 is pretty similar to the Abs8 in terms of design and the display on the central controller has all the key data you need. There are 5 programmes to choose from and up to 40 levels of intensity – so whilst you don’t get the same level of customised workouts as the other models we reviewed, the end results were still pretty effective.
What we would say is that the EM37 will certainly strengthen your abdominal muscles but it won’t necessarily give you a bulging six-pack – for that you will definitely need to build in some resistance core exercises.
The only real negative other than the level of intensity the EM37 can provide is in terms of overall comfort levels when wearing it. The strap is so large that for those with smaller waistlines the overhanging strap can be off-putting and uncomfortable at times.
If you are just looking for some additional conditioning and want to do this on a real tight budget then the EM37 by Beurer is a good choice.