Pros: You get to experience the cheap thrill of electrocuting yourself
Cons: It doesn't work
Update: The FTC has filed a suit against Fast Abs and other EMS device manufacturers for false and deceptive claims including refund, shipping, and warranty practices; and product safety and effectiveness.
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Fast Abs is a product that claims to build muscles using EMS (electronic muscle stimulation). This is based on the fact that EMS has been shown to be useful at maintaining muscle tone during rehabilitation of athletes.
According to the manufacturer, the muscular contractions created by the electrical current will build your muscles in the same way as exercise. Unfortunately, as with most products that seem 'too good to be true', this product fails to live up to it's claims.
What You Get
The Fast Abs Fitness System includes an EMS belt (fits 21-56 inch waist), a smaller EMS belt for legs and arms (fits 7-28 inch), batteries, and a gel. Although marketed for the abdominals, the belts can be applied to other muscle groups.
How It Works
First, you apply a thin film of gel on the belt. You fasten the belt, and choose from 6 workout/massage programs, and start the power.
On lower settings you do not feel anything. When you increase the power, you will feel rhythmic muscular contractions. They feel weird, but not painful. I did not feel any muscle soreness after using the belt, but I know of others who did.
The belt easily wipes clean with a kleenex. Some gel will be left on your skin but that is also easy to remove.
Why It Doesn't Work As Advertised
EMS has indeed proved very useful in rehab. It is used to increase circulation and prevent loss of muscle tone in people who have limited movement. They are not used to build muscle during rehab - at most, they slow the wasting that results from lack of regular use. This meager result is achieved only with professional, expensive, high powered equipment. The cheap EMS gadgets marketed for consumers have much weaker currents and would not be able to produce the same results.
The word "tone" is used by the company to mislead potential buyers. It has two different definitions by the medical and fitness communities.
In medical terms, tone is a function of the neurological system. It is unrelated to the visibility of the muscle, and does not imply a greater muscular strength. So the increased "tone" caused by EMS in rehab is not the same thing as the "toned" stomach muscles touted in the ads.
Also, getting visible stomach muscles involves more than just working the muscle. You can not see a muscle that is covered by a layer of fat. A low percent body fat is the most important factor for having visible abs, and that can only be achieved through proper diet and exercise.
Other tidbits they left out of the infomercials
Some people have reported burns from using this product, particularly if they did not use much gel. Using a lot of gel reduces the risk of burns, but it does not eliminate the risk.
Some people have reported heart palpitations and skipped heartbeats from using it on the chest.
Who should not use Fast Abs
In my opinion, no one should bother :)
According to the manufacturer, people with heart conditions, pacemakers, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and pregnant women should not use this product.
Bought one recently?
Fast Abs comes with a thirty day money back guarantee, so you can return it and get a refund.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.