Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pseudoscience in Fitness - FLEX Belt

I know what you’re thinking, “goodbye hard work, hello flex belt”. This belt almost seems too good to be true, right? Well that’s because it is. Let’s take a look at why the flex belt is lacking everything that is science.
The flex belt in theory is supposed to stimulate you’re abdominal region periodically causing the wearer to flex and become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger in a matter of weeks. This product is a result of Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) which is just a scientific term used to described shocking the body mildly enough to stimulate muscles to contract. EMS is primarily used by chiropractors or physical therapists helping patients with an injury. I have experienced EMS first hand during a treatment for my back and I must say I did not leave there with back muscles the size of a silverback gorilla.
Another factor to consider when looking at this product is the actors in the commercial (keyword being “actors”). By hiring actors with already established physiques it gives the illusion that it is a result of the belt. If you asked these actors what it takes to get stronger and look better I can guarantee the word flex belt will not come out of their mouths.
Unlike in science where other explanations are considered, the flex belt does not mention other external factors. If people do truly believe in this belt because they have had a positive result, is it safe to say it is all because of the belt? Nutrition and weight training are the basis of good health and weight loss. Do these people track their calories to know whether they are in a caloric deficit or surplus? Have these people also started going to the gym regularly once they started wearing the belt. It is safe to say that the flex belt has absolutely no scientific basis for it’s results and that EMS will not cause substantial muscular development.


  1. I think your right, the belt is almost like an active placebo since I'm sure you can feel a small tingle of the electrical charge at times convincing people through logic that something must be changing I feel it...

    1. That is exactly right Gordon. The electrical charge causing your muscles to contract which obviously is a naturally reaction. But the Flex Belt's whole premise is that this contraction will cause significant muscular development which cannot be backed up scientifically.

  2. Anthony,

    I always find it hilarious when companies come out with the "latest and greatest" fitness/health market item and idea simply because they always seem to defy all scientific knowledge and logic. Their exploits are two-fold: one being that with the rise of obesity and unhealthy lifestyles people are seeking the quickest route to the "ideal body" and second the general lack of knowledge when it comes to fitness and health.

    I cannot say I wasn't once like the general public - I weighed 250lbs and lived a very unhealthy lifestyle and one day I tried to go for a run and couldn't even make it a block. I researched different diet pills and various other items that promised quick results, but they all lacked in actual results. I became more and more discouraged until I finally buckled down and was in it for the long haul - a year later I was at a healthy weight of 175lbs running multiple miles at a time and competing in various endurance events. A year from now seems like a long time and companies exploit this lack of patience, as is a prime example in your post on Flex Belt.

    1. Sean,
      First let me say congratulations on your weight loss. You are totally right about people seeking the "ideal body" and becoming impatient. Like you said when you realized you needed to start living healthier you looked for the easy way out such as diet pills, which is not something I can blame you for as everyone does that at first. But over time you realize that there is no easy way, no magical solution, and can identify pseudoscience such as the Flex belt. These companies take advantage of the beginner by giving them a false hope that there is a quick fix by using fancy scientific vocabulary to make their product sound like it is the answer the have been looking for.