Several late-night infomercials have marketed electrical stimulation belts that activate the abdominal muscles. This is an attempt at effortless spot reducing, which most weight-loss experts say is impossible. A study from the University of Québec at Montréal found that electrical muscle stimulation triggered abdominal fat breakdown (lipolysis) in middle-aged women. The researchers measured lipolysis following 30 minutes of electrical stimulation with electrodes placed over surface fat.
Several years ago, a Danish study found that high-repetition knee extensions increased fat activation in fat pads near the active muscle. It appears that spot reducing might be possible through high-rep exercises or prolonged electrical muscle stimulation. It is not known whether these procedures trigger long-term or significant fat loss. (Applied Physiology Nutrition Metabolism, 36: 271-275)