Muscle toners come in many shapes and sizes. Many look like a belt that fits around your abdomen area. Others are toners specifically designed for the bum or thighs (view example here). You can use them when you’re doing pretty much anything from housework to reading a book, in conjunction with regular exercise to strengthen your core. 

Let’s take a look at how EMS muscle toners work, the technology behind, some of the scepticism and limitations of the tone and some of the researched benefits of the toners. 

What is EMS?

Muscle toners use something called EMS or electrical muscle stimulation. EMS uses electrical stimulation to create muscle contractions in the body, and it replicates natural contractions that happen naturally when your brain sends signals to your muscles during exercise.  It can be used all over the body but as mentioned they typically strap around your abdomen area; however, you can find toners for your arms and bottom as well; Once strapped in and turned on the electrical impulses or EMS can then get to work strengthening your muscles. It doesn’t matter if it’s your bum, arm or abdomen area. 

The Science behind EMS machines

Let’s look at muscle contractions.  Here are some sciencey words to explain the natural muscle contraction theory.  For the contraction to occur, you need stimulation. Something called actin and myosin filaments slides over each other to create the muscle contraction. When this contraction occurs, calcium then floods into the muscles, attaching itself to changing the composition of the muscle cell.  

Your body can’t tell the difference between contractions sent from your brain to muscle groups or stimulation from a muscle toning device.  One of the benefits of using muscle toners is there’s no impact on joints as there would be with physical exercise. 

The best core muscle toner devices target and strengthen your entire core. Targeting the internal obliques, external obliques, the transverus abdominis and the rectus abdominis; the rectus abdominis are the muscles that make up the six-pack.  The pads then stimulate the nerve, which then stimulates the muscles. 

Do Muscle Toners work? 

There is much debate about whether muscle toners work. Research exists and is out there to support the legitimacy of toners in the market.  The studies did show participants who wore the ab toners did see improvements in their muscle strength, but little change to the look and appearance of their abs.  

EMS toners are no short-cut to supreme health, fitness and washboard abs. You can’t get healthy by just pressing buttons on a muscle toner while catching up on your favourite tv show.  There’s no real substitution for effective cardio workouts, cutting sugars from your diet, minimising the number of simple carbohydrates you consume in the fight against fat and toning up your body. The same goes for the glutes! If you want to build muscle at home, you’ll need to engage is resistant training with home bum exercise machines such as these listed on House of Peach.

However, there is some evidence to support that muscle toners are useful for both strengthening muscles and increasing muscle endurance.  It’s either more effective or less so, depending on the current physical health of the user. If the subject is in good physical shape, it’s likely to be more effective in strengthening muscles and increasing endurance, however still unlikely to help anybody lose weight, reduce BMI or body fat.