Electrical muscle stimulation or EMS is an excellent method for muscle recovery. Its ability to enhance muscular strength and burn calories in minutes also created quite a buzz in the fitness industry.
I have to admit that this extra function sounds interesting. Others find it too good to be true, though. In that case, a little research can help us learn more. And here’s what I found out and what you should know about EMS training.
1. EMS training works more muscles.
First things first: how does an EMS device work? Well, an EMS machine has electrode pads that you can stick to your skin to activate muscles. It comes with buttons or a control unit to produce low and mid-frequency electric currents. This electric stimulation allows your muscles to contract fully.
OK, but traditional training methods also result in muscle contraction, right? Yes, but conventional training cannot reach deep-lying muscle tissues. EMS, on the other hand, can stimulate more muscles. With an EMS workout, you then get optimised results through the intensity of your performed exercises and electrical impulse regulation.
2. EMS is safe and not painful.
Wait, activating muscles through electrical impulses? Isn’t that dangerous? An EMS machine is like any other exercise equipment. You need to know how to use it to avoid risks or injuries. It can be unsafe if you set the electric frequency too high or if you pair it with strenuous workouts too quickly.
Either of this error can produce more tension than your muscles can take. In turn, these can lead to inflammation, small muscle tears and severe muscle tissue breakdown or rhabdomyolysis. It is then crucial to follow the manual of your at-home EMS machine. Also, consult the experts or a physical therapist to learn how best to use it.
One thing to know that you are using an EMS device correctly is when it’s painless. You will experience a cramp or spasm-like sensation but nothing intolerable. It should not hinder your range of movement either. Here’s one fact to reassure you: our body parts communicate by sending electrical signals. EMS training, in a way, uses a similar mechanism. The only difference is that only we apply the electric current externally.
3. EMS training has many benefits.
People find EMS workouts appealing because of their advantages. Here are some of them:
- Maximised results. As mentioned earlier, EMS can activate more muscles and get to deeper tissues. If you complement this effect with a suitable exercise, you can increase the results without exerting extra energy.
- Enhanced strength. Electrical stimulation cannot provide this benefit on its own. But when paired with conventional training methods, researchers say it can contribute to muscle mass and strength and enhance sports performance.
- Shorter workout time. Exercise and electrical stimulation combined can enhance training results. It’s like working out twice for a shorter period. And this effect makes EMS training time-efficient. Experts say that a 20-minute EMS session can easily save you hours of gym time. I think it still depends on our individual training needs, though.
- Good posture. The versatile and adjustable nature of an EMS device lets us target our underdeveloped muscles. Fixing muscular imbalances, in turn, helps in correcting posture.
- Better training consistency. Exercise makes us feel tired. Soreness and body pains, however, can prevent us from training every day. EMS can help solve this by stimulating blood flow and preventing lactic acid build-up. You can also opt to pair it with a light exercise to reduce joint pressure. With electric stimulation, your muscles recover faster, so you can exercise daily without problems.
4. EMS workout frequency varies.
How often your EMS training session should be is dependent on your current fitness level and overall health. It can also vary if you use EMS as a baseline workout or complement to your exercise routine. However, in general, experts recommend one session for beginners during the first 8 to 10 weeks of training.
Your body needs time to adapt to electric impulses. Also, it will prevent you from overtraining. Afterwards, you can adjust it to once every four days. It’s best to consult your trainer about this.
5. EMS training has contraindications.
Healthy individuals, especially those who want to gain muscle strength, can incorporate electric muscle stimulation into their fitness routine. Serious athletes, for example, can optimise muscle contraction with an EMS machine without overexerting their bodies.
In the same way, electric impulses can reduce body strain and allow faster recovery amongst endurance athletes. As for regular fitness enthusiasts, EMS can help them achieve work-and-life balance through time-saving workouts.
Keep in mind, however, that EMS is not ideal for other people. Pregnant women, those with pacemakers and people with serious health issues cannot use an EMS device. Medical clearance from a doctor before EMS is also a must for other conditions like acute back pain and organ diseases.
EMS training is more than a fitness trend. However, its use is no different from any other type of exercise equipment. You need to use it the right way and seek expert advice beforehand if necessary. And when you do use it with care, you get a myriad of benefits on top of powering up your regular exercise routine.
And the best part is current EMS units are super compact and light. Check out my EMS TENS machine reviews and buying guide to see which one is perfect for your gym bag and fitness goals!
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