The crew at Contour contacted Bike198 awhile back asking us to do a review on their Contour Ab belt. Yes…it is that thing you see on “as seen on TV” that promises rock hard abs without having to do sit ups. Admittedly…at first…I took in this product review as a joke. I – like you – have seen the commercials and laughed but at the same time I was actually pretty curious so I figured…why the hell not?
Ironically, during this time I was actually going through physical therapy for my back. I have degenerative disc desease and it had gotten bad enough at the time that I was off the bike completely and going to PT twice a week. During physical therapy, we were working on getting what was left of my discs set back to where they are supposed to be then started working on my core strength so it would act like a back brace keeping everything together. Part of the treatment was exercises and the other part was electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) on the muscles in my lower back.
I receive the package from Contour and what is the ab belt actually made of? Gel pads that are nothing but the same EMS technology I was getting at physical therapy. What started off as a joke got serious really quick as I started looking into ways I could use the Contour Ab belt to get me back on the bike quicker. A quick call into Contour and they sent off their back accessory to use with the kit. I now had the one part of physical therapy I could not do at home…at home.
What is EMS?
The impulses are generated by a device and delivered through electrodes on the skin in direct proximity to the muscles to be stimulated. The impulses mimic the action potential coming from the central nervous system, causing the muscles to contract. The electrodes are generally pads that adhere to the skin. EMS is cited by renown sport scientists as complementary technique for sport training, and published research is available on the results obtained.
The ab belt came with a host of videos and instructions. Most of this information was centered around exercise and proper diet which we all know is the real secret that is combined with exercise to increase muscle strength and burn fat. All of these people that order this thing with the hope they can sit on the couch eating potato chips and ice cream and still have 6 pack abs are going to be sorely disappointed as Contour basically tells them you can’t get results without changing your life.
Of course, I wasn’t really looking for 6 pack abs (even though my wife wishes that would be my goal). I needed to get back on the bike and my little experiment might actually help me get there faster.
Using the Contour Ab Belt is weird. If you have ever had EMS treatment before, you know exactly what I am talking about. The entire process feels unnatural and if you turn up the juice enough it actually hurts (No pain no gain right? Sorry…couldn’t help it). The contractions in your muscles are supposed to help strengthen those areas. As mentioned above, it is a simple process that has actually seen results in labs and on the field. I hooked myself up per the instructions and kept to a routine.
Included with the kit is a preprogramed controller that also adjusts the intensity of the unit. In the instruction manual, there are plans laid out with specific programs attached so you can work your way through the system and start off easy before turning up the juice and program later. All of it is easy to figure out and use with the manual and the LCD screen on the controller unit itself.
Did I get 6 pack abs?
No…not yet. My diet needs to change first as I am still a sucker for ice cream and cheeseburgers. I am just lucky enough to have a metabolism that burns that crap off fast enough to keep me at a healthy weight.
However, the ability to keep my therapy consistent was key in me getting back on the bike faster. I was actually able to stop PT a little bit early and start pushing myself because I was able to continue this treatment at home. For that, the Contour Ab Belt (I just call it my at home physical therapy) was invaluable and I am glad I took on this review in part as a joke. It does help strengthen your core muscles as described. You aren’t going to end up like the guy or girl you see in their promotional videos without some serious work in other areas, but if you goals are defined and realistic…I do believe it has value. It definitely did to me given my situation at the time.
I will be continuing to use it when I have soreness and flareups to try to prevent being on the bike for prolonged periods of time again. After all, if the technology is good enough in a PT office…why shouldn’t I use it at home as well?
Where can you get yours? Click here.