Every few years another company comes out with a revolutionary new device that claims it will change your life, and your abs, forever. And it’s usually the same thing: an uncomfortable padded belt that delivers disturbing and slightly painful shocks to your abs, at intervals and an intensity of your choice, causing your muscles to involuntarily ‘work out’.
Of course, on the other side of the home fitness aisle are tummy trimming machines that take a different approach. These usually make it easier and less harmful to your back to do exercises like crunches and bicycle kicks. They do this by working with your body to support you when you would be using your back or the wrong muscle group to do it, so that you have no choice but to exercise the targeted muscle group.
While neither of these is likely to make you burn tummy fat, let’s have a look at two examples of each breed, and you can decide whether one of these tummy toning machines is right for you:
- Slendertone Flex and Go! Abdominal Training System
- The Posture Pump Elliptical Rocker
Here we have our standard miracle cure electrical abdominal flexing machine. These work by literally shocking your muscles to cause the contractions that would happen when doing crunches.
What We Like
There are dozens and dozens of these things on the market, and they all do technically work – any repeated contraction by a muscle is going to make it stronger over time. But this one is one of the most pleasant ones to use, and it actually does do what it says on the tin – you really can sit in front of the TV and get an ab workout (but we never said you’d be comfortable).
Also, the way the Flex and Go shocks you is a little more pleasant than the average, as it ramps up the voltage rather than delivering it in one punch to the stomach. It also only takes 3 AAA batteries, which makes it economical.
What We Didn’t Like
Paying money to be shocked in the gut. Aside from this, it takes a little bit of getting used to the sensation, but it has become a preferred way to compliment an exercise routine for many people. The operative word here is complement, because on its own this will probably not give you a thorough stomach workout.
Upon opening the Posture Pump Elliptical Rocker, it is not immediately obvious how it is supposed to be assembled, inflated and operated. However, this is one of the most effective crunch-aids on the market, and once you get the hang of it you’ll never do a crunch wrong again.
What We Liked
There are a number of different ab exercises you can do with the Elliptical Rocker, but the only one we could figure out was crunches. Immediately you’ll notice that there is no strain on your lower back, and instead of using that to pull when your tummy muscles give out, you just can’t – signaling it’s time to take a break.
It certainly makes it a lot easier to tone lower abs, one of the most difficult areas to target.
What We Didn’t Like
It’s not immediately comfortable or natural, and some of the selling points are slightly dubious (improves circulation to the joints, apparently…). Despite this, it only takes a few minutes of finding the right position to be able to do most of your regular ab exercises a lot more comfortably than normal.