Product Type: Rio sports equipment
Newest Review: ... do you? It is an attractive purple belt that attaches to you using Velcro so it will fit most size people. It also comes with conductiv... more
Cheat your way to a Britney-like tum!
Member Name: LittleEwok
Date: 10/05/05, updated on 24/06/05 (22058 review reads)
Advantages: It works!, Programme 2 feels very nice, Not too expensive to run
Disadvantages: Cant run off the mains, Programme 3 is hellish, conductive gel pricey if bought from Rio
Ab belts use electronic signals to cause your muscles to contract rhythmically, mimicking the way your nerve endings do naturally This is known as Faradic muscle stimulation, and this form of passive exercise has been used for 30 odd years buy medical and sports therapists. In ten minutes you can exercise your tum muscles around 600 times…how many sit-ups would that be???
What they look like
The Rio ab belt is basically a big fabric strap you fix around your belly, with markings on the inside to show you where the pads go. The pads are black rubbery things, and there are three of them. A battery attaches to the Ab Belt, and a little green light comes up to show you the thing is working. There are two positions for the pads, one for working your inner stomach muscles, and one for your obliques.
How they work
While exercising, your nerve endings send your muscles little electrical signals to stimulate a contraction. Once a muscle has contracted and the nerve is no longer sending a signal, the muscle relaxes. Body toners mimic these signals repeatedly to reproduce the muscle contractions of physical exercise.
Using them and ease of use
There are three pads that come with the ab belt, which can be fixed in one of two positions, to work your inner or outer ab muscles. You connect these pads as you wish, and then slap a decent amount of conductive gel on to each pad (the gel makes the belt more comfortable to use and stops you getting big red sucker marks on your stomach), and the wrap the belt around your tummy, and attach the battery. You then press programme button once to turn the belt on, and again if you want to change the programme. The belt also has plus and minus buttons for turning up the power, thus causing stronger muscle contractions.
The Rio Ab Belt is pretty easy to use, however it doest come with any instructions, just a sheet telling you the correct way to hook up the pads. Unfortunately this means its impossible to tell which programme you are using, which is a bit of a pain in the behind, however I have worked out that the first programme is muscle toning, the second shape and trim, and the third shiatsu.
What it feels like
The conductive gel you have to splash on the pads is extremely cold and its rather uncomfortable when you first wrap the belt around yourself.
The first programme is muscle toning (I’ve worked this out from a friend who has a different kind of passive exerciser). Basically it involves feeling your muscles expand and contract rhythmically. The belt starts on the lowest setting and you can up the ante as much as you feel comfortable with. This programme isn’t the most comfortable in the world, but its bearable and a lot less agonising than 300 sit-ups in a row, and at low levels its actually quite comfortable, unfortunately if you want a flat tum quick you probably need to turn up the belt some!
The second programme is shape and trim. This one contracts your muscles slightly, and then harder and then eases off again, whilst giving you a slightly tickling sensation as well. This is easily the most comfortable programme to use and is actually quite pleasurable, almost like a massage. Even at high output levels this programme remains quite comfortable.
The last programme is Shiatsu massage, which I suggest you avoid at all costs! I’m not sure exactly what this is supposed to do for your muscles, but it hurts like hell! It feels like someone flicking millions of tiny elastic bands on your stomach all at once. I suppose its meant to be good for you, but sticking your tongue in a wall socket is more comfortable!
Comfort factor- programme 1- 3/5, programme 2- 5/5, programme 3- 0/5
How often should you use them?
You are supposed to exercise anaerobically (i.e., exercise your muscles), every other day, so I’m sure the same applies here. When I first got this belt I used it daily until my abs were as I wanted them, now I use the belt three or four times a week. Every other day is probably quite sufficient.
Are they expensive to run?
According to the website, if you use the belt every day for an hour, it costs less than 1p to run. The one thing I don’t like is that the belt runs off batteries. Being a bit of a greenie, I would much prefer if there was an optional adaptor included…although I suppose it might be quite inconvenient having your stomach hooked up to a plug for an hour a day! However, I use rechargeable batteries with this belt and they last a good few months before they need recharging, and I use mine for nearly 2 hours three to four times a week now.
2/5 for requiring batteries instead of running off the mains, however still fairly cheap to run!
The Rio ab belt costs £29.99
The Rio Sport ab belt also costs £29.99 and is supposed to provide a more demanding workout
The ab belt pro costs £49.99 and has six programmes instead of three.
You also need the conductive gel to go with the belt, however my advice is to buy it off Ebay, you can buy tonnes of it for low prices, the official Rio stuff is pretty expensive.
Now the important part: Does it work?
Yes. Most people get these sort of exercisers and abandon them after a day or two. You have to use these regularly and for increasing periods of time (so to challenge your muscles) for them to work. The results are not as fast as if you started a sudden fitness regime, but within a couple of weeks you will begin to see the results, your stomach will feel harder and a few weeks later it should be a belly Britney would be proud of- with half the effort and pain! My stomach wasn’t the biggest in the world as it is, but it did need shaping up and this belt managed to pull that off in two weeks.
What the Rio people forget to mention however, is that this belt alone will not give you Britney’s tummy. In order to lose the flab from your tum you need to get a good deal of aerobic exercise, as well as working your muscles. A brisk half hour walk every day, climbing the stairs and walking to the next bus stop are all easy ways to get your heart working. No matter how rock hard your muscles are, you need to get rid of the fat on top of them before you can wear those belly tops!
4/5- Sit-ups are faster but this is a lot more comfortable!
Who cant use it?
It goes without saying that pregnant women shouldn’t use this belt. Women who have a IUD (coil) should avoid it also. Anyone with diabetes, epilepsy, a pace maker, skin disorders, multiple sclerosis or heart problems shouldn’t use the belt either.
It might be the lazy cows way to exercising but at least you can feel more virtuous when you scoff that chocolate bar! I wouldn’t recommend it as a total replacement for exercise of any kind, but if you want a flat stomach and cant be bothered with the 100’s of sit ups a day needed to maintain it, the ab belt is a pretty good addition to an existing exercise regime.
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