Nothing but one workout of 15 minutes per week promises to be enough to achieve effective results.
Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?
EMS Training promises simple and effortless top figure tuning thanks to electricity. The concept is literally electrifying as it increasingly catches on within the fitness society.
In today’s article, I’ll scrutinize the current status of EMS Training. Is it truly as effective as promised? What are the downsides, if any exist? And what does the science say?
EMS Training – What is it and how does it work?
To put it shortly, EMS Training is an electronic muscle stimulation that works with stimulation current. The stimulation current causes tension in all muscles and achieves much more effective results than conventional weight training, at least that’s what they all promise…
Let’s clarify it a bit more deeply.
Muscles need stimuli to get active. Normally, these are triggered in everyday life via the central nervous system and then passed on via the spinal cord and nerve fibers to the muscles.
This proprioceptive body stimulus system is electrical in a physical point of view. EMS Training basically acts as a targeted reinforcement of this body’s electrical stimuli from the outside.
In EMS Training, you wear a skin-tight microfiber suit, which is equipped with a total of 20 electrodes on all major muscle areas.
Hereby, agonistic and antagonistic muscle groups are simultaneously stimulated via large electrodes.
In medical rehabilitation and high-performance sports, this type of muscle stimulation training has already been used for quite a while.
What is the good of EMS Training?
Most studies refer to full-body EMS Training. Here are the most interesting results and promises:
- According to surveys, EMS Training apparently promotes a sustained reduction in body weight and body fat
- Also, back pain can be reduced as the results of several studies at the University of Bayreuth reveal.
- Increased torso stability and maximum strength improvement
- Effectively building muscle
- Reducing body weight and tightening the tissue
The high metabolic activity during training and up to many hours afterward causes a high work volume, that is: burning a lot of calories. The long-term development of lean muscle mass leads to a significant increase in basal calorie expenditure.
For women, with EMS Training, a reduction in the girth was noted, especially in the areas of the waist, hips, and thighs. Simultaneously tightening chest and arms.
For men, further research results show that EMS Training can lead to a drop in size at the waist – with slightly increasing glutes size. Also, hypertrophy effects in the form of muscle growth can be found on arms, chest, back and legs.
Is EMS Training harmful or even unhealthy?
The electronic strength training idea originally came from the rehabilitation field and was further developed for high-performance athletes.
In other words, it requires a certain “fitness level”.
If you’re a complete beginner to fitness training, it is advisable to first start with conventional strength training as not to overstrain the body.
The danger of overloading is relatively high since the training impulse comes from the outside and therefore can not be controlled by the athlete himself.
Due to the high intensity of the workouts, the body releases a lot of creatine kinase, an enzyme that supplies our muscles with energy. This substance must be excreted through the kidneys, which, if not sufficiently hydrated, can be damaged.
If you feel overly flabby after EMS Training or even have a rapid heartbeat, you should see a doctor for oneself’s own safety.
Moreover, before deciding on a certain studio to start with EMS Training, I suggest paying close attention to studios with a good reputation and competent supervision by an experienced trainer.
Because in contrast to conventional fitness training there are a lot more factors in EMS Training that are not under your own control that influence the outcome, which makes it indispensable to have a trustworthy and experienced trainer by your side.
EMS Training Tips
How much electricity is good for you?
Be careful: “Everyone here has their own limits and should notify them immediately if they have been exceeded,” advises Stefan Patra, a sports scientist from Hamburg at the UKE Athleticum.
“Especially beginners, who often overestimate themselves, should listen to their body and not hesitate to address the trainer.”
Most importantly, before your first EMS Training, the whole concept on how your individual training will look like needs to be clear for you.
Whenever you are uncertain and questions arise in your mind, just contact your trainer and don’t wait until something happens.
“More does not necessarily help more. This is particularly true for EMS newbies who should take care, start slowly and step up gradually. If training is done too frequent and the training stimulus is constantly too high, the muscle will be deprived of its required regeneration time and decrease performance respectively,” says Patra.
What does EMS Training not do for you?
First and foremost: EMS Training does not replace conventional weight training.
“Ligaments, tendons, joints, and bones are not as well trained in EMS Training as in classical strength training. The same will likely be true for endurance and coordination skills which are not exercised in the same extent as, for example when running,” says the sports scientist Patra.
“Who’s using his EMS Training in addition to running or strength training, combines the benefits of both worlds,” he continues.
However, when applying various training techniques simultaneously it is very significant to align frequency, intensity, and composition to each other.
Who should avoid EMS Training?
“Athletes should completely abstain during pregnancy,” says Marc Götza from Gelsenkirchen, EMS Trainer and instructor.
“Persons with pre-existing conditions or cardiac pacemakers should check with a doctor before starting their training to what extent the EMS Training is suitable for them.”
Nevertheless, training under electricity is not dangerous. The strength of the current is adjusted according to age, disease history and training goal.
“Therefore, pay attention to trained personnel – otherwise it may happen that you set the impulse too hard,” says the EMS instructor.
Dangers in EMS Training
At the beginning of 2018, this announcement made a splash: The German Society for Clinical Neurophysiology and Functional Imaging (DGKN) advises against excessive EMS Training in mass sports – the method should only be used under the guidance of trained sports physicians and physiotherapists.
The researchers say:
- that the training truly meets its promises, was not proven in their view. And: if applied incorrectly, EMS Training can even lead to kidney and muscle damage
“While doctors and physiotherapists were trained in EMS Training, the staff in conventional discounter fitness studios are often not sufficiently trained to assess the stress correctly,” says Professor Dr. med. med. Stefan Knecht, Chief Physician of the Department of Neurology St. Mauritius Therapy Clinic, Meerbusch and press spokesman of the DGKN.
“The low cost is treacherous and can tempt to train more often or more extensively than recommended,” says Knecht.
“The EMS Training should be completed at maximum two times per week.”
As already mentioned above, Professor Knecht emphasizes once more:
Too intense strength training leads to increased release of creatine kinase (CK) – an enzyme that supplies the muscles with energy. Scientists at the Sport University Cologne have found that the increase in CK in EMS Training by the current impulses up to 18 times higher than in conventional strength training.
Thus, these extreme values can in some cases lead to kidney damage.
In case of doubt: if you feel pain, tachycardia or any kind of weakness after the training session, see you doctor right away before continuing with EMS Training.
This new warning is supported by multiple international and new research on the impact of EMS Training. Knecht’s conclusion: “EMS Training is not suitable to get in shape comfortably and effortlessly, because the training effect is not proven and if used incorrectly, the method even has its downside risks,” concludes Knecht.
He recommends regular conventional fitness training – that is effective and safe. However, if you do not obey proper technique and execution in strength training, certainly there is a risk to injuries.
Nevertheless, EMS Training is booming recently.
The fitness search engine www.fitogram.de regularly analyzes the market for EMS Training in Germany.
For some years, the EMS Training conquered the fitness industry, according to the latest study almost 190,000 people already use EMS at around 1,700 providers (as of January 2017) – a year ago there were only 140,000 trainees in 1,400 studios.
If you think about it, apparently it makes sense. All those providers promising its clients to get in shape with just one 15-25 minute workout per week almost effortlessly.
Frankly, to whom does that not appeal?
If you ask me, I just hold such systems and promises cheap.
Just as little as I trust in any “reveal your six-pack in just 3 minutes” or “get your dream body in 6 weeks” programmes, the EMS Training method seems to be a bit too much of a hype.
Nonetheless, given the approach and logic behind the EMS Training, I have relatively little doubt.
However, a microfiber suit equipped with electrodes cannot replace conventional strength training in my personal opinion.
I just love working with the iron and the total exhaustion in the gym after a productive day at work too much.
At the end of the day, you make the call guys, whether you want to give EMS Training a shot, which if done properly can lead to positive results, or just stay keep lifting the iron in the gym.
But, if you decide to start using EMS Training make sure to inform yourself about each suitable provider in your proximity, assess if the instructors are capable and proficient to support you on your journey.
What are your experiences with EMS Training? Have you tried it already?
I am very curious about your opinions, leave a comment below and engage with us!
Thank you for reading, folks