The EMS training is gaining in popularity - more and more people slip into skin-tight suits and vests with built-in electrodes after work, so that power pulses train their muscles and melt their pounds. 20 minutes of electrical muscle stimulation should be sufficient per week to replace classic exercise. What's up with this new form of fitness training? Can EMS really speed up weight loss and effectively support muscle growth? Here you can find out if the "fitness revolution" keeps its promises and what to watch out for EMS training.
What is EMS training?
EMS stands for Electro-Myo-Stimulation - also often referred to as electromuscular stimulation, electro-stimulation training or electrical muscle building.
The underlying principle is simple: as we exert our physical effort, our nerves transmit electrical impulses from the brain to our muscles. The muscles then contract, they contract.
In EMS training, physical exertion is electronically assisted: while performing short movement exercises, a low current impulse is sent to the muscles from outside to increase their natural contraction and train them.
EMS: Training under power
The stimulating current impulses, the so-called stimulation current, originate in the EMS training from electrodes, which are worked into a special functional clothing. This clothing usually consists of a tight body suit, which is sprayed with water for better conductivity, as well as a vest, waist belt and cuffs on arms and legs, in which sit the electrodes.
This clothing is wired with a device that generates the current impulses. Each muscle group can be controlled individually via regulators. Depending on the device, these are for example:
Success in physiotherapy
Its origin is electrical muscle stimulation in physiotherapy. There, stimulation current has been used for many years to - specifically after an injury or a knee surgery - specifically rebuild the muscles or prevent muscle atrophy.
For this, however, no special suits are needed, but electrodes are glued individually to the skin at the appropriate place. EMS has already achieved good results as a short-term rehabilitation measure for muscle building.
Effect on the muscles
If muscles are repeatedly stimulated to contract - whether through physical activity or electrical impulses from electrodes - they are strengthened in the long run. So, with EMS, the muscles are trained without them having to be moved much.
The EMS training is certified by many experts to be effective in building muscle mass, especially to strengthen the back muscles, and even to prevent disease. This is at least suggested by initial studies at various German universities, even though research in this area - above all with regard to the long-term effect - is far from over.
The EMS training is considered very efficient and should let the muscles grow much faster than normal strength training. The different muscle groups can be trained individually or simultaneously. In addition, you should be able to achieve when training with the electrodes - much better than other sports - the deep muscle layers. First effects should be apparent after only a few sessions.
EMS training: That's how it works!
The EMS training combines stimulation impulses via the wired functional clothing with the simultaneous performance of exercises. Used here are classics such as situps and squats, but also isometric holding exercises, so tension exercises. In general, four seconds of current flow and exercises are alternated with four second break.
A trainer shows which exercises are to be performed and regulates specifically the current flow for each muscle group. Usually, the flow of current in the body should not cause pain, but a tingling sensation is considered normal.
It is recommended to carry out EMS training once or twice a week for 15 to 20 minutes each. More frequent sessions are not recommended, as electrostimulation training puts a heavy strain on the body and requires appropriate recovery periods. Sufficient breaks are all the more necessary if EMS is combined with a normal sports program.
Fit and slim without effort?
EMS training sounds like fitness for Lazy. But you should not underestimate EMS. The current impulses increase the exercise-induced contraction of the muscles. The exercises are clearly more strenuous and even light-looking movements can become a sweaty act of strength.
The calorie consumption during EMS training should be about 17 percent higher than a comparable load without additional electrodes. As a rule, more calories are consumed in conventional sports, as a normal sports program usually takes more than 20 minutes.
EMS instead of sports?
Of course, the idea is tempting, instead of spending hours jogging, swimming or dumbbell training, simply sending electricity pulses through his body for 20 minutes. But can the electric muscle stimulation actually replace sports?
According to the current state of knowledge, EMS is perfectly suitable for building muscle mass. Higher muscle mass in turn means higher energy consumption - even when at rest. In this respect, the EMS training can also support weight loss.
No substitute for endurance and coordination training
One should be aware that electrical muscle stimulation only strengthens the strength. EMS can not replace endurance training. The targeted strengthening of the condition is important for the vessels as well as for a healthy cardiovascular system. And also the muscle building should be more effective, if one combines the EMS training with a classical strength training.
Experts also point out that the coordination must be trained specifically. Anyone who wants to strengthen their muscles for a particular sport with EMS should therefore imitate movements that are typical of this sport during exercise.
Furthermore, the joints are not burdened by the EMS training, but also not trained and can take damage in the sequence. Therefore, EMS training should only support the regular sports program, not replace it.
Risks and side effects of EMS
On the Internet, numerous before-and-after images and positive testimonies testify to the possibilities of EMS training. These people may be skeptical or not - in fact, there are many advocates of this training method among sports scientists.
Nevertheless, some people also report negative experiences. Critics warn against the following side effects of EMS:
- Nausea, headache and circulatory problems
- increased risk of overloading or damage to the muscles, as natural mechanisms to protect against overstretching are overridden
- strong sore muscles
- muscular imbalance (uneven training of the body)
- Ligament injuries due to regression of bone and connective tissue due to lack of training of the joints
The relatively intense EMS training also leads to an increased release of the enzyme creatine kinase (CK). This enzyme is broken down by the kidneys - experts warn that excessively high CK levels can permanently lead to kidney damage.
However, there is no reason to worry about a possible effect of the current on the organ and heart muscles: these are not affected by the low-frequency current pulses.
4 important principles for healthy EMS training
- Drinking is basically important - especially when you're doing sports. Even more important, however, is the EMS training. Because during training can accumulate large amounts of water in the muscles. This can cause circulatory problems if not drank sufficiently before EMS training. Also, with regard to the CK levels raised by EMS training, it is particularly important to drink enough fluid to support the kidneys. If, as a result of the EMS training, the urine turns dark, you should definitely consult a doctor.
- It is important to schedule sufficient recovery periods between sessions and not to exercise more often than once or twice a week.
- The training should not be too intense. To endure pain, to put the controls on a higher level and to be able to achieve supposedly greater effects, harms the health more than you use.
- The EMS training should always be under expert guidance and should be seen as support for a traditional sports program.
If you adhere to these four basic rules, the EMS training for healthy people is considered harmless.
For whom is EMS suitable?
EMS is not just for everyone, and in some cases, electrical muscle stimulation is even considered harmful - such as heart problems. For example, people with:
- a cardiovascular disease
- increased risk of thrombosis
- Multiple sclerosis
- skin problems
- sensory disturbances
- feverish cold
Even during pregnancy EMS training is not recommended.
Basically, it is advisable for anyone who wants to try the electric muscle stimulation to first consult with his doctor.
EMS: costs and providers
EMS is offered in special EMS studios. Often the training can also be done in the gym. The cost of a 20-minute EMS training vary depending on the provider, but are on average at about 20 to 25 euros. If you train once a week, you pay about 1, 000 to 1, 300 euros a year.
Nevertheless, it is not recommended to buy a home appliance and to train on your own. EMS training should only be done under professional guidance. With good providers you get an individually tailored training program that slowly increases.
Conclusion: EMS to support muscle building
If you do not have much time for exercise or if you can not or do not want to move for other reasons, an EMS training - provided it is done under professional guidance - can be a good way to train your muscles or support fat loss. Above all, abdominal and back muscles can benefit from this form of fitness training - ideal for people who (for example, for professional reasons) sit a lot.
However, electromuscular stimulation is comparatively expensive. In addition, one should not forget that the EMS training is not a substitute for conventional strength training and especially not for coordination or endurance training - as well as for exercise in the fresh air.