Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for best ab stimulators

If washboard abs are your goal, committing to the right diet and exercise program is key. In many cases, though, it isn’t enough to spend time in the gym doing sit-ups, crunches, and other abdominal exercises. If you’re not seeing the results you want from diet and exercise alone, it may be time to invest in an ab stimulator.

An ab stimulator is a wearable device that uses electrical stimulation to contract the abdominal muscles. In turn, this helps strengthen and tone the abs. The electrical pulses that target the muscles are produced by electrodes placed on bare abdominal skin. Most ab stimulators have a belt design, which holds the electrodes in place and can compress your abs for additional benefit.

If you want to see results, it’s important to choose the right ab stimulator. That means figuring out the best belt size, the number of electrode pads you prefer, the type of battery that would be most convenient, and any other features that would make your journey toward washboard abs as effective as possible.

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If your skin is red after you finish using your ab stimulator and remove the gel pads, it’s usually a sign that you should lower the intensity.

Key considerations


In terms of length, an ab stimulator belt should be long enough to fit comfortably around your waist. Many belts are one-size-fits-all styles that fit waists of 40 inches or less. However, some ab stimulators have adjustable belts that can accommodate waistlines of up to 52 inches.

In terms of width, a wider belt can target a larger portion of your abdomen. This is desirable for most people, as the larger surface area provides greater tightening and toning.

Gel electrode pads

Ab stimulators may have up to 10 gel electrode pads. The pads are important because they send the electrical impulses that tighten your muscles. In general, pads that are approximately two inches in size are the most comfortable and effective.

Battery type

Ab stimulators require batteries. Some take AA or AAA batteries, which are easy to find when you need replacements. However, the cost of replacement batteries can add up over time. If this bothers you, consider investing in an ab stimulator with lithium batteries that can be recharged via a USB cable.

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For your safety
Ab stimulators use a low-voltage electrical current, so there’s no risk of being electrocuted.

Ab stimulator features

Intensity settings

For the most versatility — and the best results — choose an ab stimulator with a variety of intensity settings. You can start at the lowest intensity and gradually build your strength up to the highest intensity.

Some ab stimulators have as few as 10 intensity settings, while others offer up to 150 different levels. Choose the model with the highest number of intensity settings that fits your budget to see the best results.

Built-in programs

Some ab stimulators have built-in programs that affect the way the electrical pulses target your abs. An effective program sends pulses of a certain intensity for a given period of time and then stops to give your muscles a rest. A built-in program does the stopping and starting so you don’t have to do it manually.

Ab stimulators typically have anywhere from three to ten built-in programs. The more programs there are, the better. Why? Variety guarantees that your muscles won’t become accustomed to any one particular program.


Ab stimulators have controls that allow you to turn the electrical pulses on and off, set the intensity, set the time for a workout, and choose between built-in programs. Some ab stimulators have a remote control; others have buttons located on the belt.

A remote control may be more convenient because it’s easier to see the buttons. What’s more, an ab stimulator with controls on the belt can be fairly bulky, so you may not be able to wear it under clothing.

"Most manufacturers recommend using an ab stimulator for no more than 20 minutes per session. "

Ab stimulator prices

Ab stimulators vary in price based on the number of intensity levels and built-in programs offered. You could pay as little as $10 or as much as $200 for one.

If you’re a beginner and want something inexpensive, be prepared to pay $10 to $50 for an ab stimulator that has 15 to 20 intensity levels and three to four built-in programs.

For greater customization, consider a mid-range ab stimulator in the $50 to $100 zone. Mid-range ab stimulators usually offer up to 50 intensity levels and five to six built-in programs. A person who has been using an entry-level ab stimulator and wants to upgrade could do well with one of these.

The most expensive ab stimulators, in the $100 to $200 range, offer up to 150 different intensity levels, which is why they often provide the most obvious results. They usually have six or more built-in programs and are ideal for individuals who are committed to a comprehensive diet and ab-sculpting exercise program.

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If you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or faint while using an ab stimulator, take it off immediately and talk to your doctor before using it again.


  • Consult your doctor before using an ab stimulator. The electric pulses may not be suitable if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or epilepsy.
  • For maximum effectiveness, the gel electrode pads must be placed on bare skin. Make your skin is clean and dry before applying the pads.
  • When you put an ab stimulator around your waist, be sure to center the gel pad directly over your navel.
  • It’s not uncommon to feel dizzy or lightheaded when using an ab stimulator. Until you know how you’ll react, it’s best to sit down during your sessions.
  • If you’re new to ab stimulators, begin at a low intensity. You don’t want to overtax your ab muscles.
  • If you need to readjust the placement of the gel pads when you’re using an ab stimulator, turn the device off before doing so.
  • Best results typically come from using an ab stimulator five to six times per week. Don’t forget to periodically give your muscles time to rest.
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The gel electrode pads that an ab stimulator uses can degrade over time. Replacement pads are available from most manufacturers.


Q. Are ab stimulators safe?
If used properly, an ab stimulator is perfectly safe. However, if you have certain medical conditions, it could pose a hazard. Individuals with a heart condition or an electronic implant such as a pacemaker should not use an ab stimulator. You shouldn’t use one if you have cancer, epilepsy, or diabetes that requires insulin, either. Pregnant women also shouldn’t use an ab stimulator.

Q. Does it hurt to use an ab stimulator?
No, but you’ll likely experience a tingling sensation when you first start using it. It’s also normal to feel your muscles tighten or contract as the electric impulses target them.

Q. Can I use an ab stimulator to tone my stomach after I’ve had a baby?
An ab stimulator can help you tighten and tone your stomach postpartum, but you should only use it when it’s safe to do so. If you gave birth vaginally, wait at least six weeks after the baby is born before using the stimulator. If you had a Caesarean section, wait at least three months. In both cases, you should consult your doctor first to make sure they’re on board with your plan.

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