Hook up some electrodes to your body and zap your muscles with electricity to get in shape? Sounds ridiculous, too good to be true, downright crazy. But whole-body electric muscle stimulation (EMS) training is quickly becoming one of the leading fitness trends. Maybe you’ve heard of electricity being used in rehab settings, but never for fitness. Or, maybe you think of the electric ab blaster, just hook it up, relax on the couch, and let your abs work themselves into existence. EMS training uses impulses delivered through electrodes to the skin surface to assist in muscle contraction. The impulses take the place of traditional weights, and allow for a full, stronger muscle contraction. Replacing weights with this system allows for some unique benefits that are driving the rapid growth of EMS style training.
More efficient, more effective
Let’s look at what happens during traditional training. You pick up a 20-pound dumbbell and start doing bicep curls with it. Your brain tells your bicep to fire as many muscle fibers as needed to lift 20 pounds, no more, no less. Once those muscle fibers start to fatigue, your brain recruits more and more muscle fibers so you can continue doing curls. At some point you’ll reach total fatigue, probably after like 80 reps cause you’re a beast, and you will have exhausted all the muscle fibers in your arm.
With EMS training, because we have an outside stimulation – electricity – telling more motor neurons to fire, we’re able to recruit all those muscle fibers from the very first repetition. That means we can perform the same work in a much shorter amount of time, while also achieving a more effective workout because we are ensuring the use of all those muscle fibers. More active muscle tissue requires more energy intake burning more calories, even at rest.
Because your muscles are reliant on the signal sent from your brain to fire, it’s easy to develop weak connections to certain muscle groups. Injuries or postural imbalances can make it difficult to activate and develop those muscle groups; maybe you’ve noticed that you have a hard time growing your chest, shoulders, or glutes. These postural issues and imbalances cause certain muscles to become underactive, forcing others to become overactive to compensate. EMS training targets the motoric nerves in your muscle, making those underactive muscles easier to fire which, over time, will improve your posture and your quality of movement.
Relieve joint stress
Your muscular system controls and stabilizes your joints, so it’s important to have strong muscles to ensure your joints can remain strong and injury free. That can be a major setback if traditional resistance training (being under load) causes you pain. Unlike traditional training with weights, EMS Training allows you to get full muscular contractions without being under load, so we can strengthen the whole system pain free.
The benefits of whole-body EMS training have driven it’s rise in popularity. No weights, no pain, more muscle, better posture. It allows for a greater diversity of individuals to properly strengthen their muscular systems – those with injuries, joint pain, muscle disfunction – and provides a more efficient system to burn calories and add lean muscle.
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