eli5: why don’t the ab stimulator belts not work?


If the goal is to strain the muscles so they add mass, then wouldn’t an electric stimulation cause that? I’m reading that it’s all a scam, so I’d like to know the science behind what else the bode needs to build mass then.

In: 12

It’s a scam for two reasons. First, visible abs are more due to diet than muscle mass. Second, there is no such thing as a free workout.

Between your ab muscles and your skin, there is a layer of fat. For your abs to be visible, that layer of fat has to be very thin. If there’s too much fat, then it doesn’t matter how much you work out your abs, you’ll never get that six-pack. You can lose the fat by burning calories, and exercise can help with that (though mostly aerobic exercise like running), but diet has a much bigger impact (you can eat 1000 calories much faster than you can burn them through exercise). And then there’s genetics too. Some people are simply predisposed to store fat on their belly. So even if you have the same percentage body fat as someone else, if yours is mainly on your belly while theirs is more distributed over their body, then they might have a six-pack while you don’t. That’s a genetic lottery that you can’t do much about, and so for some people those washboard abs are simply out of reach (at least with a lifestyle that is still somewhat reasonable & healthy).

In any case, an ab stimulator won’t help you lose belly fat, and therefore they won’t turn your flabby tummy into a six-pack.

As for the second part: the promise these devices make is that they’ll work out your abs while you just relax and watch TV, read a book, do chores, etc. Gone are the days of strenuous ab exercises that are tiring and uncomfortable! Except, you can’t have it both ways. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your brain or an external stimulator that’s sending the electric signals to your abs: a workout is a workout. So either it’s going to hurt and really work out your abs, or it isn’t going to hurt but then it also doesn’t do very much. So either a device like this does work out your abs, but then it won’t deliver on its promise that you can just relax while it’s happening, or it doesn’t really do much and does let you watch TV while barely noticing the effect, but then it also will do very little to actually strengthen your abs.

Consider also that to really work out your abs, you need to put some load on them. For instance, when you do sit-ups, your abs are pulling up the weight of your entire upper body. If you’re on the couch watching TV, a strong contraction of your abs would make you double over. That’s clearly not happening with these devices. They can only stimulate your abs a little before it becomes not just uncomfortable but totally infeasible.

I think you answered your own question right in the first sentence.
Stimulation doesn’t necessarily mean straining.
Your muscles are stimulated with almost every move you make.

I think the key difference is the ability to tear a muscle vs contract one. You don’t build muscle from lifting a feather 1000 times.

Your body adapts to stress. Lifting weights is a stress to your muscles which makes the body go “*oh shit, this dude is lifting stuff on a regular basis, I better grow him better muscles*”. But the trick is, the stress needs to be the right amount.

Too little stress = no growth.

Too much stress = injury.

Ab stimulators don’t provide enough stress to make your body grow stronger muscles.