Can you CHEAT your way to a toned tummy?

You’re panicking about the beach but hate sit-ups: Can you CHEAT your way to a toned tummy?

  • Expert Colin Crosby, shared his verdict on the latest tummy toning gadgets
  • The sports medicine consultant says Slendertone Abs 8 gives a noticeable tone
  • He advises against using Opti Sauna Suit without supervision due to health risks
  • Colin says traditional targeted exercise is the best method for toning up

A flat, toned stomach is the ultimate sign of achievement in the gym — but for many of us, it’s our chief body bugbear, too. That’s because it requires serious commitment to a healthy diet as well as hours spent working on your core muscles.

But what if you could cheat your way to a perfectly toned tummy? That’s what Slendertone’s latest gizmo claims to help you do, and there are a host of other gadgets and treatments that promise to give you a flatter stomach without lifting a finger.

But do any of them really deliver? Alice Smellie asked Colin Crosby, a consultant in sports medicine and medical director at BMI Hendon, for his verdict . . .

BELT UP WATCHING TV

Slendertone Abs 8, from £140, slendertone.co.uk

WHAT IS IT? A muscle-toning belt that compresses and works abs and core.

Sports medicine consultant Colin Crosby, gave his verdict on a selection of gadgets chosen by Alice Smellie that hope to give you a flatter stomach with minimal work. He says Slendertone Abs 8 (pictured) can deliver a noticeably toned tummy

HOW DOES IT WORK? Using EMS technology (electrical muscle stimulation). Electrical impulses are sent through conductive gel pads to zap core muscles, making them contract repeatedly. The tightening feeling as your stomach is pulled in is incredibly satisfying.

Slendertone recommends doing 30 minutes five times a week, but you can do it while watching television. Slendertone unsurprisingly points out that it works best in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. A Slendertone trial found users had an average waistline reduction of 3.5cm over four weeks.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘There are seven muscles that make up the abdominal wall, and for a really toned tummy it’s important to work all of them,’ says Colin.

‘The most visible — the “six-pack” muscle — is the rectus abdominis. The more you work this and the less fat covering the area, the more you will notice it.’ He adds: ‘You’ll see a toning effect, but bear in mind it has less impact than voluntary action such as sit-ups.’ 4/5


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SWEAT IT OUT 

Opti Sauna Suit, £11.99, argos.com

WHAT IS IT? A gentle workout in a sauna suit, an all-in-one garment made from waterproof fabric, with elastic at the cuffs.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Designed to make the wearer sweat profusely, leading to a more defined-looking stomach by reducing water retention. Keeps muscles warm.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Don’t try this at home,’ says Colin. ‘Yes, jockeys and boxers use these to get into their preferred weight category by losing water weight — but only under strict supervision.’

He points out that dehydration can be dangerous. 0/5

Colin says muscles will respond to The Abs Fit 2 (pictured) but it isn’t as effective as sit-ups

FLATTER THE BETTER

Optibac Probiotics One Week Flat, £8.69, optibacprobiotics.co.uk

WHAT IS IT? Probiotics that boost healthy gut bacteria and improve digestion. This reduces bloating, making your stomach look flatter.

HOW DOES IT WORK? These healthy bacteria produce enzymes that aid the breaking down of food. Optibac has done clinical trials demonstrating the benefits of probiotic bacteria — though they’ve focused more on the health aspects rather than how you look in a bikini.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Although you aren’t working on muscles, reducing bloating can make the stomach look and feel far better.’ 3/5

LEAN MACHINE

Abs Fit 2, £230, sixpad.uk

WHAT IS IT? A black sticky patch you attach to your stomach, with a central dial and six gel pads.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Another product powered by EMS — electrical impulses that make your muscles contract. This one connects to your mobile phone via an app so you can track progress and control the level.

My husband thinks it’s fantastic and sits watching Die Hard as his stomach contracts.

I find the slight throbbing sensation disconcerting. The makers recommend using it daily, including before or after the gym. Results take a month or two, they say.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Yes, the muscles will respond, but it’s not as effective as sit-ups.’ 4/5

Colin claims weighted hula hoops are able to target the relevant muscles in the same way as belly dancing. He warns there is a risk of ending up uneven if not practiced in both directions (file image)

FAT ZAPPER

BodyFX Body Toning Abs Treatment, £170, drdavidjack.com

WHAT IS IT? A new, non-invasive treatment that uses electrical pulses to destroy fat cells in the stomach. Then the area is blasted with electromagnetic waves that stimulate collagen production, making the skin look firmer.

HOW DOES IT WORK? It sounds bizarre but it’s not painful. A large handheld probe is held on your skin, and you feel a heating and sucking sensation followed by a little electrical pulse.

This permanently breaks down fat cells, which are absorbed into the blood stream and eventually excreted. Four to six sessions are recommended.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘This works for fat reduction in a small area,’ says Colin. ‘But if you regain weight, the few fat cells remaining can create a bulging appearance.’ 3/5

HULA HOOP WORK OUT

Weighted Fitness Exercise Hula Hoop, £17.92, amazon.co.uk

WHAT IS IT? Weighted hula hoops are an excellent way of working out abdominal muscles, boosting heart rate and burning fat. A six-week trial found it’s associated with reduced waist and hip size.

HOW DOES IT WORK? ‘It’s hard to keep the hoop in place, but this is amazing exercise,’ says personal trainer Cornel Chin. ‘The abs are contracting the whole time.’ Trying it leaves me out of breath within ten minutes, but it’s very satisfying.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘This is like belly dancing — targeted, repetitive movements of all the relevant muscles,’ says Colin. ‘Just make sure you do it in both directions, or you may end up uneven!’ 4/5

Colin warns body wraps such as Universal Contour Wrap Professional Slimming Body Wrap Kit (pictured) are unable to deliver a long-term effect on muscle as they focus on compression

IT’S A WRAP

Universal Contour Wrap Professional Slimming Body Wrap Kit, £55 (three treatments), universal contourwrap.com

WHAT IS IT? Body wraps can make your tummy look flatter and defined, and this at-home version is far cheaper than at a salon.

HOW DOES IT WORK? This consists of pink bandages and powdered clay. You soak the bandages in the clay, wrap around your stomach and leave for an hour — it’s surprisingly comfortable. Your fatty tissue is compressed and toxins are drawn out, so you look slimmer.

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘This won’t have a long-term effect on muscles, it’s all about compression.’3/5

OR THE HARD WAY

WHAT IS IT? What every woman dreads — targeted daily exercise to reduce waistline and define abdominal muscles.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Cornel recommends most of us aim for a trim, flat stomach rather than a six-pack — to get that sort of definition you have to have very low total body fat, which is unsustainable for most women.

‘Do a combination of exercises,’ he suggests. ‘Firstly, abdominal crunches: lie on your back with feet on floor and knees bent. Cradle head, press lower back to floor and draw navel into lower spine.

Raise head and shoulders until you feel stomach muscles contracting. Exhale as you lower head down to floor. Repeat ten to 15 times, doing two sets daily, with a 30-second rest.

‘Next, lie flat on back with legs in air, bring knees into chest as you raise your bottom from floor. Do these ten to 15 times for two or three sets.

‘Finally, lying on your back with shoulders off floor, bend and lift legs — so shins are parallel to ground.

Then move right shoulder forward so right elbow meets left knee. Repeat on the other side. Do 12 to 16 of these.’

EXPERT VERDICT: ‘I’m afraid this is by far the best method, and targeting all the muscle groups, including those in your back, will create a girdle-like effect, pulling in the whole area.’5/5

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