What is Electric Muscle Stimulation?
Electric Muscle Stimulation Training or EMS is a training method where electric current is sent through your muscles and contracts them. In addition you will perform exercises, but it can also be done without. Usually you have to wear a special type of vest or body suit connected to an EMS machine or device. You will be sprayed with water, so the electric current is transmitted to your muscles. The intensity of the current and muscle contraction will be different depending on body position and which exercise you are doing. But you can always adjust the intensity of every body part to your own preference. If this sounds a bit like torture or electrocution to you don’t worry. I’ve been doing it for a while now and it sounds more intimidating than it really is. Here are my top reasons why you should try Electric Muscle Stimulation training.
EMS is super efficient
Performing exercises while electric current is running through your body is really hard. Your muscles are already contracting because of the current. And then you have to contract them even more. You are therefore working much harder than usually. This is why Electric Muscle Stimulation workouts are usually quite short.
EMS is low impact
Usually you will perform simple body weight exercises while connected to an EMS device. It is therefore very easy on your joints while still giving you a good workout. This means it is great for people that are overweight and suffer from joint problems.
EMS targets your auxiliary muscles
Electric current gets everywhere. EMS will therefore stimulate muscles you are usually not working. One of the first ones you will usually feel is your pelvic floor, which is a really important but often neglected one.
EMS is great for rehab and recovery
When electric current is flowing through your body your muscles will contract even though you are not moving. This is an advantage if you are injured and can’t move certain body parts. Paralyzed athletes therefore also use Electric Muscle Stimulation to maintain muscle mass in their immobilized body parts. But also more and more athletes use EMS devices to stimulate blood flow to their muscles and help with recovery.
EMS is only partially scientifically proven
Electric current contracts muscles, and helps with muscle growth. But while Electric Muscle Stimulation has great benefits for injuries and paralyzed athletes, it is not proven that it has increased benefits for normal healthy athletes compared to other training methods. It will also not help to train your cardiovascular system like running or biking does. So you will have to try it for yourself, if it works for you. However I would still recommend to also incorporate in other activities like classic cardio and classic strength training.
EMS is expensive
EMS sessions can be quite expensive, I’ve seen them from around 25€ per session all the way up to 50€. Some Studios argue that you actually pay for all the saved time, but the amount of money spent is still significant. I therefore try to find studios that offer it with one of my variable gym memberships (ClassPass, Urban Sports Club etc) to reduce the costs.
EMS can get quite boring
Some studios offer a standard workout program that is the same for each and every client. The only thing they adjust is the intensity of the electric current. I personally find this a bit boring and inefficient. I personally prefer a tailor made session where I can work on my individual targets. Some studios offer this, but you have to look for it.
EMS is not suitable for everyone
There are some situations where electric muscle stimulation training is not recommended. Examples include pregnant women, people with epilepsy and people with heart pacemakers. Also if done incorrectly EMS can cause kidney damage, so be careful if you have a pre-existing kidney condition.
Have you tried Electric Muscle Stimulation training? Let me know in the comments.