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19 EMS Training Benefits: Build Muscle, Strength, VO2 Max & Burn Fat With Electricity?

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EMS Training Ftd
EMS Training Ftd

Behind closed doors, the world’s elite physical performers use a technology that appears straight out of a sci-fi movie.

Getting them results quickly and unattainable via any other means. With low impact, low injury risk, incredible versatility, time efficiency, and much more.

It’s called “electric muscle stimulation therapy”.

At first blush, this has all the hallmarks of yet another fitness scam. The kind that promises “get a six-pack while watching TV on your couch”.

For years, I dismissed it as a “fitness biohack” for those who don’t understand science.

Then a friend experienced with this modality suggested I do my research and comb through PubMed.

After looking through nearly 90 studies, I decided to try it out. I bought a system. To my surprise, the workout kicked my butt.

Fast forward 90 sessions or so later, I wanted to break down some of what I learned. The science, the benefits, mistakes, biohacks, and my experiences so far. So that you can determine if electro-muscle stimulation (EMS) training is right for you.

What is EMS Fitness Training?

The Katalyst EMS suit
EMS training often uses a suit fitted with electrode pads to deliver electrical impulses throughout the body

Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) Training is a form of exercise that causes muscles to contract using electrical impulses. This mimics the normal way our central nervous system sends electrical impulses to muscles to make them contract.

With EMS training, however, a device generates these impulses and delivers them into the body. Through electrodes on the skin, above the desired muscles.

EMS allows us to tailor the exact stimulus to the body. Helping us achieve results beyond the voluntary muscle contractions that occur during conventional workouts.

The origins of EMS training date back to the mid-20th century. Eventually, Russian athletes began experimenting with it. And it has grown dramatically over the last half-century.

Now, in the research, electro-muscle stimulation therapy goes by many names:

  • Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) training
  • Electrofitness
  • Electrical muscle activation
  • Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) training
  • Electro-physical therapy
  • Electro-stimulation workout
  • Electronic muscle enhancement
  • E-Stim fitness training
  • Bioelectrical stimulation training
  • Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)
  • Electric impulse training
  • EMS workout
  • Electro-myostimulation fitness
  • Wireless EMS training
  • Smart fitness stimulation

Although they’re not all exactly the same, these generally refer to using electricity to enhance movement practices.

How electro-muscle stimulation training works (basic science)

When I first heard of EMS, I wondered how it works. If you’ve used a little TENS device for muscle relaxation, this works similarly.

EMS is a form of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES). Your body’s central nervous system sends electrical signals (action potentials) through brain cells (neurons) to muscle fibers, making the muscles contract.

Unlike conventional training styles, EMS impacts two parts differently: muscle recruitment and activation sequence.

  • Motor unit recruitment: A motor unit consists of a motor neuron and skeletal muscle fibers. Under normal conditions, the body recruits motor units based on size – smaller units are recruited first, and larger units only as more force is needed. EMS bypasses this natural order, potentially recruiting larger motor units earlier.
  • Synchronous activation: During voluntary muscle contractions, motor units get activated asynchronously. This helps the body sustain force production over time. EMS, on the other hand, causes a more synchronous activation. Many muscle fibers contract simultaneously, leading to more intense muscle work in a shorter period.

Practically speaking, you apply custom adhesive pads positioned over your major muscle groups. These adhesive pads have electrodes designed to conduct electricity.

Only your muscles covered by an electrode get directly stimulated. The higher-end systems have designed special suits that automatically position electrodes over key muscle groups.

Based on your goals and use case, the EMS device sends specific electrical impulses to these electrodes.

Your training objectives and goals (strength, power, mobility, endurance, recovery) determine the ideal parameters of these impulses. The three main parameters include:

  • Frequency: The number of electrical impulses delivered per second, measured in Hertz (Hz). Lower frequencies (<30 Hz) typically target endurance training, while higher frequencies (50-100 Hz) stimulate strength and power training.
  • Duration (Pulse width/Duty cycle): The length of each electrical impulse, measured in microseconds. Longer durations stimulate deeper muscle fibers.
  • Intensity (Amplitude): The strength of the electrical impulse. The intensity should cause a significant muscle contraction without pain or discomfort.

You don’t need to remember these; your EMS system should control these parameters for you. The more professional your EMS unit is, the greater your ability to customize the parameters to match your fitness levels and goals.

The physics of training with EMS leads to much quicker whole-body workouts. But as you can see, there are tons of variables here. Which happens to be one of the glaring downsides of this style of training.

EMS research is convoluted & mixed

Electric muscle stimulation therapy is quite difficult to research. It’s the Achilles heel of this training style.

That’s because it requires researchers to account for all the typical variables of conventional resistance training (time under tension, volume, intensity, rest, etc) PLUS additional parameters unique to EMS.

Scientists haven’t yet standardized the gear or even determined the best session parameters. Then there’s the issue of use case and study language.

The biggest roadblocks preventing EMS research from becoming mainstream include:

  • Language barrier: Many studies are published in one language and never translated into English
  • Lack of standardization: Gear, electrode placement, and session parameters are not always held constant
  • Workout parameters: Similar to the above, EMS workouts require different parameters than conventional resistance training
  • Research quality: As with most fitness interventions, it’s impossible to carry out randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled research with this style of training
  • Whole-body vs local: Some studies investigate local effects of this training style, while most people care more about full-body results
  • Wrong endpoints measured: Experimental design requires researchers to pick which biomarkers to measure before and after sessions. Scientists without deep EMS knowledge sometimes choose the wrong ones
  • Scam devices: Junk as-seen-on-TV systems tarnish the public opinion of EMS

Altogether, these cast doubt over the overall efficacy of this style of training. But as you’ll soon see, done right, EMS users can enjoy fantastic results.

EMS Training for Specific Goals

Muscle, Strength, Power, & Cardio in Just 20 Mins (Katalyst EMS Suit Review)
Here’s my review of the Katalyst EMS suit and a little sneak peek of an EMS training session

Though most known for building strength and accelerating rehabilitation from injury, EMS has a long list of potential use cases.

Where it really shines, however, is as a functional fitness and sports-specific training adjunctive.

It allows users to move through highly relevant ranges of motion, loaded with resistance, unencumbered by the physics of gravity.

For example, instead of laying on their back underneath a barbell, a football lineman can practice their blocking on their feet—just out of their (more realistic) three-point stance.

Or, a tennis player can practice their actual swing, without worrying about cables, dumbbells, or needing a weighted racket.

Same with boxers; what better way to master their biomotor patterns than shadowboxing against resistance?

Athletes and everyday folks alike use EMS to improve:

  • Strength (especially core strength)
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Endurance
  • Jumping
  • Plyometrics
  • Cardio
  • Flexibility
  • Mobility
  • Recovery
  • Injury rehab
  • Running efficiency

These among many more.

The Many Uses & Benefits of Electric Muscle Stimulation Therapy

Electromuscle stimulation scientific research history through 2024

Research on whole-body electric muscle training dates back to Russia in 1971, over 50 years ago.

Russian athletes training with a custom device improved their maximum strength and speed performance by 20-40% [R].

Since then, it has grown steadily.

It’s not just world-class athletes. Everyday folks also experience similar benefits when EMS training Share on X

Old and young; sick and healthy; elite and untrained. Many of the benefits match what you get from traditional resistance training, while some differ.

When you comb through the literature, you’ll notice a pattern…

Some studies show remarkable results, and others come back inconclusive.

How can this be?

With this kind of training, your results will only be as good as the EMS suit/machine.

What follows is the research I’ve found on what high-quality, full-body electro-muscle stimulation can do.

Improved strength

Dozens of research papers along with overwhelming real-world user experience confirm that electrical muscle stimulation training can build muscle strength, endurance, and the hybrid of the two called muscular endurance.

The strength-building properties explain why athletes across virtually all sports use it.

The landmark 1971 study of Russian athletes found that it increased their maximal strength by 20-40% [R].

Results vary dramatically, with strength/endurance gains ranging from 12-87.5% via EMS training [R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R]. Depending on the participants’ level of training as well as the muscle group studied.

These include measures like:

  • Eccentric torque
  • Concentric torque
  • Squat strength
  • Max quad strength
  • Strength endurance
  • Endurance
  • Overall strength

But it’s not just for athletes.

A 2023 meta-analysis concluded that “…training based on NMES+ can induce a significant improvement of muscle strength in both healthy and orthopedic individuals.” [R].

Protocols generally involve 2-4 sessions per week, for 4-8 weeks.

What’s especially notable about this type of training, however, is it can target both entire muscle groups or specific muscle groups with precision.

Helping correct muscular imbalances, and fix bioindivideal muscular “weak links”.

Muscle hypertrophy & tone

Electro-muscle stimulation training also improves muscle hypertrophy. Promoting greater muscle growth and size increases.

This kind of training can improve “tone” by deeply stimulating muscle fibers that are hard to activate through conventional exercise.

Again, many studies come to the same conclusion. EMS works to build muscle mass, volume, and size [R, R].

As you’d expect, it also increases lean body mass [R].

Plus, the size and strength gains persist even after four weeks of detraining [R].

This confirms the bodily changes observed by many long-term users. Noticeable results do take 4-8 weeks to show though.

Functional sport-specific skill development

Strength, Power, Cardio, Muscle & Rehab in 20 Mins (EMS Training) | Bjoern Woltermann @KATALYSTfit
Check out my conversation with Bjoern Woltermann of Katalyst on the power of EMS training

Most uniquely and impressively, EMS excels at building functional sport (and life) specific skills. This alone attracts many athletes.

Few fitness technologies allow users to load all their key movements. Usually, gravity complicates things.

This is incredible for athletes. For example. EMS helps basketball players jump higher, more efficiently, and build usable strength [R].

Volleyball players used it to improve their vertical and other key parameters [R].

Ice hockey players used it in just three weeks of training to improve their skating time and power [R].

Rugby players use EMS to build power, strength, and jump height [R].

Electro-muscle stim is especially useful for “athletes whose performance has plateaued” [R]. But it’s not just a tool for athletes.

Whole-body EMS builds not only muscle but improves performance on functional fitness tests [R].

The tests that best transfer to everyday life.

For example, a study of the elderly showed that it safely helped them improve their balance [R].

And it can make us more efficient, strong, and effective at the ranges of motion we (sometimes uniquely) go through most often.

Fitness is extremely movement and activity-specific. Elite cyclists may have great endurance capacity, but that won’t carry over to their running ability.

So EMS gives athletes and everyday folks an excellent way to train for what matters most.

Speed & power

The general public rarely trains speed and power, but these two abilities distinguish the best athletes.

In fact, they’re the backbone of athleticism.

You’re likely familiar with speed; the ability to accelerate, move quickly, and change directions. Also called agility.

Power is the ability to rapidly transmit force.

Due to the nature of power training, unfortunately, predisposes athletes to higher injury risk.

EMS dramatically but safely affects the parameters of both power and speed. Some of the studies show improved:

  • Agility [R]
  • Sprint time [R, R]
  • Torque [R, R]
  • Ball speed [R]
  • Explosiveness [R]
  • Jump height [R, R]
  • Dynamic power [R, R]

Again, these results translate to both athletes and non-athletes. Power and speed help all ages and abilities in normal life.

For example, elderly folks with greater power can catch themselves and prevent serious injuries from a mere fall.

The ability to build low-injury risk power makes electrostim an awesome training modality.

Endurance & stamina

When looking through the research, I noticed that many studies reported that EMS also impacts endurance capacity.

Folks who use this training can exercise for longer, maintaining their output.

One of the best measures of exercise tolerance is how far you can walk within six minutes. Several papers show that EMS significantly increases endurance capacity as measured by max distance walked [R, R].

And it’s not just walking, electrostim also increases biking distance [R].

Conventional training does this too. What’s cool about EMS is that it facilitates building endurance and makes the process much faster.

This is likely partially mediated by increasing levels of a metabolic molecule called lactate.

Faster workout & muscle recovery

Elite athletes dial in their recovery. The more often you can train, the greater your potential gains.

Electro-muscle stimulation training can speed up muscle recovery after intense workouts.

By promoting blood circulation and reducing inflammation, EMS helps muscles recover quicker, allowing for more frequent training sessions without overloading the body.

Without excessive muscle muscle damage or immune side effects [R].

Much of the research equates the recovery benefits to ice baths and other typical recovery modalities. Athletes generally prefer EMS over cold plunging.

Plus, it appears not to blunt some of the important inflammatory and hormonal signaling responsible for beneficial training adaptations [R, R].

I wouldn’t buy a system just to accelerate recovery (you have better options), but since many have it built-in, it’s worth testing.

Injury prevention

Muscular and biomotor imbalances often lead to injuries over the long term.

By targeting specific muscle groups and improving muscle balance, electro-muscle stimulation training can help prevent injuries.

Strengthening muscles through EMS corrects imbalances, enhances joint stability, and reduces the risk of strains or sprains.

Especially because it doesn’t require heavy loads.

It also helps neuromuscular re-education, ensuring the body can properly recruit muscle fibers, increasing movement efficiency, and reducing “sticking points”.

This training style even has some of the injury prevention benefits of conventional training, like increased bone & connective tissue density [R].

Injury & surgery rehabilitation

Woman instructed by an EMS trainer
EMS is effective for rehab because it stimulates muscles without heavy loads

Injury rehab clinics around the world rely heavily on electro-muscle stimulation training. Its safety, versatility, low-impact nature, and ease of use make it a valuable tool for physical therapists.

Not just to recover from injuries, but a great addition to surgery rehabilitation programs.

By selectively stimulating muscles, EMS also helps these users maintain muscle mass, improve their range of motion, and accelerate recovery.

Recent 2023 research suggests it works well for both use cases [R, R].

NMES also stacks nicely with another modality called BFR training to further boost the efficacy of rehabilitation exercises [R]. Patients using this tech experienced greater muscle control and balance [R].

All without causing excessive muscle muscle damage or immunological side effects [R].

Improved blood circulation & pressure

Just like conventional exercise, EMS improves numerous cardiometabolic parameters. Most notably, circulation, blood flow, and pressure.

The electrical impulses applied locally from electro-muscle stimulation training improve blood circulation to the targeted muscles. Better circulation means more efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. Aiding performance, recovery, and overall muscle health.

Whole-body EMS accomplishes this best. Improving maximal blood pressure, blood flow, max heart rate, resting blood pressure, and psychophysiological factors [R, R, R, R, R, R, R].

Many trials investigating NMES discovered cardiometabolic benefits as secondary endpoints. I foresee this therapy becoming both a preventative tool and a treatment modality for those who’ve had cardiovascular events.

Mood & mental health

Exercise has significant and noticeable mental health and performance benefits. Any regular exerciser will attest to that.

Scientists generally attribute the feel-good effects to a family of neurochemicals called beta-endorphins. But there’s likely much more going on.

EMS impacts mental well-being too, such as:

  • Soreness [R]
  • Anxiety [R]
  • Fatigue [R]
  • Sleeplessness [R]
  • Relaxation [R, R]
  • Mood [R, R]
  • Calmness [R]
  • Anger [R]
  • Depression [R]

And overall vitality [R].

Some of those results showed impressive 39-79% improvements.

As discussed later, this training style even impacts a biomarker of learning and cognitive performance called BDNF.

Personally, I certainly notice that my mental state shifts after a tough EMS session.

Increased metabolic rate

Many forms of vigorous exercise increase the rate you burn calories (called metabolic rate).

The more muscle fibers activated together, the higher the increase.

This occurs as an adaptation to the demands placed on the body.

Regular electro-muscle stimulation training also boosts your metabolic rate [R, R, R].

As you might expect, the intensity of your muscle stimulation determines the extent of your metabolic increase. Although, even more mild recovery sessions increase your energy expenditure [R].

By activating a large number of muscle fibers simultaneously, EMS increases your energy expenditure both during and after the training session.

The latter plays a key role in weight loss and fat loss.

Like compound interest, your post-session metabolic rate determines far more of your net energy gain or loss than the calories you burn during the workout itself.

That’s one reason treadmill runners struggle with weight loss, while weightlifters fare better.

Interestingly, your metabolic rate increase post-EMS lasts about 72 hours before returning to baseline[R].

Although the results are statistically significant, the magnitude of difference in calories burned is pretty low.

Enhanced muscle activation & coordination

One of the key benefits of electro-muscle stimulation training is its ability to activate a higher percentage of muscle fibers compared to conventional training.

The body normally recruits muscle fibers sequentially; only activating the minimum needed. This conserves energy.

Some estimates are that conventional weight lifting activates about 40% of muscle fibers, while EMS can activate up to 90%.

This results in more comprehensive muscle engagement, leading to better overall muscle development and performance.

It also helps with “neuromuscular re-education”—the process of teaching the brain how to recruit muscle fibers that it has previously lost the ability to activate due to injuries, traumas, or other issues.

Plus, by enhancing the communication between nerves and muscles, EMS improves coordination and balance over time.

Enhanced core stability

Woman doing an EMS training session with an instructor
EMS training is a great way to activate your abdominal muscles

Athletic abilities depend on not just the abdominals, but the entire core.

A strong and stable core forms the foundation from which the limbs (arms and legs) generate force. Force, balance, and posture too.

Yet the anatomy of the core is complex.

Certain muscle groups are tricky to stimulate via conventional means. Electro-muscle stimulation engages deep core muscle fibers. Building core strength and stability. Symmetrically and safely.

This is another key to preventing serious injuries over the long term.

When I began using EMS, my core felt sore in areas I hadn’t previously experienced. Indicating that I had begun correcting imbalances.

Pain relief

Electrical muscle stimulation provides pain relief through multiple mechanisms.

Like other exercise, it triggers the release of the body’s natural painkillers called endorphins. Reducing the perception of pain and providing relief.

EMS also relaxes tight muscles and reduces muscle spasms. Which are common sources of pain.

This training style improves blood circulation. By delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, it promotes healing and reduces pain.

Electrostim also decreases swelling and inflammation, common sources of pain.

Several studies show that EMS works well for pain:

  • Reduced pain intensity and frequency [R, R]
  • Relieved back pain [R]
  • Overall pain relief [R, R]

In one study, 88% of participants experienced pain relief, and in another, 61% had “strong improvements”.

Considering that this modality improves strength and many facets of overall health, it deserves consideration in pain management practices.

Body fat & weight loss

Transforming your body composition has two distinct parts. Increasing lean body mass, and dropping body fat.

Body fat percentage matters far more than body weight.

We’ve established that this training style can help build muscle, but what about fat loss?

EMS can improve body composition by:

  • Decreasing overall body fat [R]
  • Decreasing total body fat mass [R]
  • Decreasing abdominal fat mass [R, R, R, R]
  • Decreasing waist circumference [R, R, R]
  • Decreasing skin folds [R]
  • Decreasing subcutaneous fat mass [R]

This isn’t one of those TV infomercial “6-minute ab” type workouts.

Burning body fat takes hard work, multiple times per week for several weeks.

EMS can amplify your weight loss efforts both directly and indirectly by increasing your metabolic rate.

For the best results, you’ll want to combine this with fasted walking or rucking.

Time-efficient workouts

Individuals with busy schedules love electro-muscle stimulation training. It offers a time-efficient alternative to traditional workouts, with whole-body sessions taking just 15-30 minutes.

The equivalent full-body strength or power session in a gym could take as long as two hours.

Mainly because time under tension, recovery time, and other parameters hinder the efficiency of conventional training.

And that’s for full-body training.

The ability to target particular muscles means that bodybuilders or athletes can isolate and thoroughly fatigue individual muscle groups much faster.

Flexibility, mobility & range of motion

ems training range of motion img
Use EMS training to enhance your mobility work

Mobility is the ability to exert power through a large range of motion. It’s more important than flexibility as it has greater functional value.

Too much flexibility without power in those ranges of motion can actually increase your injury risk.

Mobility work takes time and consistency. I generally find mobility workouts quite boring.

EMS helps you develop range of motion, flexibility, and power.

There’s much less research on this than other use cases, but it still warrants consideration.

One study found that participants enjoyed 39% improved mobility [R].

Another found that EMS improved mobility by an impressive 64%, and agility by 81% [R].

This technology also improves balance in older adults [R].

I personally love tacking on a short mobility routine to the end of a strength or power workout. From my work, so far I’ve improved my ankle and shoulder ranges of motion.

VO2 max

VO2 max measures the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can use during intense exercise. It’s a key marker of aerobic fitness and endurance capacity.

VO2 max training usually involves heavy cardio with the goal of improving your ability to use oxygen efficiently during intense activities.

Most athletes use a four x four protocol of four minutes of max effort running, followed by four minutes of rest, repeated four times.

Tons of studies conclusively show that EMS significantly improves max oxygen consumption during exercise (VO2 max) [R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R].

What’s especially notable is that EMS appears to improve other running and endurance parameters like running economy and ventilatory thresholds.

Given the upsides and the ability to use EMS in cardio mode, I see little reason not to incorporate it into training cardiorespiratory protocols.

Other biomarkers

When I looked through the research, I came across some other interesting results that didn’t really fit into the other sections.

For example, EMS increases lactate levels [R, R]. Lactate tolerance highly correlates with endurance performance, but also serves as a vital neurochemical involved in brain performance.

Another biomarker that inversely correlates with athlete age is their max heart rate. The higher your max heart rate, the younger your bioage. Electrostim training significantly increases max heart rate [R]. As well as improves cholesterol levels [R].

It also helps improve bone mineral density, another key marker inversely correlated with frailty [R].

Another benefit I found interesting is that intense EMS work increases levels of a protein involved in building brain connections (called BDNF) [R].

Insomniacs will appreciate that this training style can help improve sleep quality [R].

Making EMS Fitness Training Practical

This style of training can get quite complicated.

I’ve compiled some of the most important things to know before getting started.

Safely performing EMS workouts

A person doing a workout session with an EMS suit
I recommend working with an EMS trainer for the best results

Virtually all the studies on EMS show that it passes safety tests. With two major caveats.

The #1 key to safe and effective EMS training is to make sure you meet the criteria for safe use.

Though it’s safe for most groups, make sure you don’t have any contraindications.

The main groups that should consult their doctor before considering electrical muscle stimulation training include:

  • People with pacemakers or other implanted electronics
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with heart problems
  • Epileptics
  • Folks with recent surgical implants or metal hardware
  • Anyone currently sick
  • Individuals with major neurological disorders
  • Those with sensory impairment

Then, it’s all about your equipment choice.

During the sessions themselves, you should never feel pain. Intense muscle contractions, yes. But not pain. Never exceed your tolerable intensity.

Disadvantages & drawbacks of at-home EMS training

I’m about 90 sessions into my journey combining electricity and muscle stimulation. So far, I’ve noticed several key factors that limit the utility of this training method.

The downsides of EMS training include:

  • Suit sizing
  • Electrode placement and suit fit
  • EMS-specific exercise form

First and perhaps most important to get right, is the equipment fit. If you use an EMS suit, your results hinge on fitting you properly.

Too small, and you can’t wear it; too big, and the electrodes won’t fit appropriately.

If you’re unsure about sizing, consult an EMS expert or bring your suit to a local gym and have one of their trainers check your fit.

Even if the suit fits you properly, the electrodes must go in specific positions. While good EMS systems help ensure proper placement, you still may want to consult a pro.

After a dozen sessions or so, I learned the hard way that some slight adjustments dramatically impacted my workouts.

Then, you have the proper exercise form, unique to this style of training.

You can get away with biomechanics that otherwise wouldn’t work with free weights. The stimulus itself feels different, with a unique force curve, making form a concern even for experienced weightlifters.

As I practiced, I used a mirror and some guidance from a virtual EMS trainer to ensure good form.

Pricing guide: the cost of EMS sessions & gear

ems training suits stack img
Boutique EMS gyms and fitness centers offer guided EMS workouts or you can get a suit designed for beginners to use at-home

High-quality, safe electrostimulation machines are certainly expensive. A ton of R&D goes into the production of each design.

As I said earlier, the system will make or break your experience. If you want good results, you’ll either need your own EMS suit or go to a special gym that has these.

Either way, before investing in electro-muscle stimulation equipment, I highly suggest trying it at your local boutique EMS gym. You can try a session, or get a package. That way you’ll know if it’s right for you.

Full Electrical Muscle Stimulation setups generally cost $2,400 for an at-home system and up to $20,000 for a professional machine.

Sessions at a boutique EMS studio can cost from $50-$200+. Some fitness centers or clinics offer EMS training as part of a membership model, ranging from $100-$400 per month.

The device I personally use costs about $2,400. You can learn more in my Katalyst electric muscle stimulation suit review.

How to Biohack EMS Training for Max Results

The savvy biohacker uses cross-training and multiple modalities to optimize their fitness and workout programming.

If you have it available to you, I suggest combining EMS with other modalities like whole-body vibration therapy. A few studies used these machines and observed greater results.

You can also stack Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Training with another awesome modality called BFR training to get even more benefits. Particularly for muscle function and balance [R].

Good news for women. Several studies suggest that electrical fitness training works better and with less intensity for women than men [R, R].

Are you an athlete?

Research suggests that EMS is particularly useful for athletes whose performance has plateaued and/or when combined with other methods of training [R].

My personal favorite way to use this technology, however, is to combine exercise mimetic supplements with a multi-session workout.

For example, I’ll consume exogenous ketone supplements and Epicatechin before a workout, and then do a session for both strength and then immediately follow it with mobility or cardio.

This helps me improve multiple energy systems and pathways simultaneously.

Real-World EMS Users

Most people have understandable skepticism over EMS.

What they don’t realize, however, is that this tech has a much larger user base outside of the USA.

Some of the well-known alleged users of EMS training include:

  • Renowned coaches
    • Wolfgang Unsöld
  • Olympians
    • Usain Bolt
    • Alistair Brownlee
  • Professional athletes
    • Rafael Nadal
    • Fernando Torres
    • Mario Gomez
    • David Haye
  • Doctors
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Fire departments
  • Military special forces units
  • Celebrities
    • Jamie Foxx
    • Madonna
    • Ben Affleck
  • Teams
    • Bayern Munich Football Club
    • German National Soccer Team
    • The New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team
    • Borussia Dortmund Football Club

Some of these are easily verifiable in media interviews and YouTube videos, while others come from inside sources.

Regardless, you can expect this kind of training to continue to grow.

EMS Fitness Questions & Answers

How often should I do EMS exercises and workouts?

According to research, the best EMS training regime is 7-30 minutes, 2-4 sessions per week, for 4-8 weeks. With workout parameters of 3.5-8.5 seconds per contraction, with the muscles being stimulated 11-29% of the time (duty cycle) [R]. Your exact parameters will depend on your training level, goals, and lifestyle.

Is EMS training safe?

EMS training is only safe with a high-quality system with built-in safety features. When done with an appropriate machine, many studies have shown that EMS training is even more safe than conventional forms of training [R].

When should I avoid EMS?

Aside from the points already mentioned (like if you have implants), stop doing EMS training if you feel a sudden change in the target muscle. Do not use it on malignant tissues or if you have moist wounds. I would not use it anywhere near the eyes, front of your neck, or over reproductive organs.

Verdict: Is EMS Fitness Training Your Science-Backed Panacea?

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Training is one of the most studied yet least-known forms of training.

It’s rightfully met with downright skepticism due to many unscrupulous vendors making impossible promises.

Plus, effective high-quality systems cost more than a simple home gym.

For many, this style of training is a luxury. A fun, efficient, expensive, and effective adjunct to a normal fitness routine.

I certainly didn’t need to drop $2,500 on a new fitness device; I’ve enjoyed thousands of days lifting free weights. And I still do today.

Whether you’re traveling, sustained an injury, live at an age where you cannot afford an injury, looking for a leg up on your competition, or just want to enjoy a thorough “2-hour full-body workout in 20 minutes”, Electrical Muscle Stimulation may be your answer.

As of this writing, 100+ studies over the last 53 years support its use across virtually all fitness outcomes. From:

  • Weight loss
  • Muscle building
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Mobility
  • VO2 max
  • Running
  • Sport-specific skill building
  • Sprinting
  • Jumping
  • Plyometrics
  • Recovery
  • Injury rehab
  • Pain relief
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Mood and mental health

And the overall quality of life enhancements.

Yet all of this hinges on having the right equipment. I recommend you try a session at a local EMS studio near you. Then, only if you like it, upgrade to a quality system.

If you found this interesting, send it to a friend or share it on social media.

If you’ve used EMS tech yourself or have any questions, go ahead and drop a comment below.



Post Tags: Biohacking, Fat Loss, Fitness, Movement, Strength & Muscle

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