OK, you get up, shuffle your feet across the rug, reach for the door handle and zap! You get a static electric shock. That is NOT what Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) feels like. You generated a charge with your feet that jumped across the gap from your hand to the door knob. An arc of electricity does not have the same characteristics as those supplied from an EMS device.
There is a whole field of science behind how electric waves move and how electrical intensities are controlled. There is also an entire field of science and research about how muscle and nerve cells possess an intrinsic electrical force responsible for muscle contractions and nerve conduction in living organisms.
So, we know that if we have a very small electric current, with very specific characteristics and parameters, we can stimulate the motor nerves that go to muscles and make muscles contract. Yes, life is bio-electric.
Ok. Let’s experiment.
Make a fist, tighten your bicep, hard. You feel the muscle contract and the hardest you can contract the muscle is called the maximum voluntary contraction MVP. The same way you contracted the muscle is the same way EMS contracts muscle, through the nerve attached to the muscle. The nerve is stimulated, and it sends a signal to the muscle to do its thing – contract. It feels kind of weird at first to feel your muscle contract and ‘you’ are not doing it. EMS is a bio-hack that uses the electrical connection from nerve to muscle to make the muscle work, allowing us to work more of the muscle and higher intensity. At first, the muscle feels shanghaied – weird – that it is working, and you feel the contraction and you are not doing it.
Remember that maximum contraction that you did a minute ago? (no, that doesn’t count as a workout) Well, EMS can contract muscle fiber more than voluntary contraction, but the trainers only take you to a level that is comfortable to you. The good news is EMS works to increase strength below MVC; even significantly below MVC. And yes, it does recruit more muscle fiber than almost any level of voluntary contraction, except extremely heavy weight lifting but then it is safer to joints. So, it is a safe way to help you train (also it won’t make you stronger with abs of steel while you sit on the couch). It is the dynamic workout you do, combined with EMS that makes this a unique, safe, fast, effective way to condition your body, build muscle, lose inches and feel amazing.
So, the first time you try it, is a fun experience. Almost everyone that tries it is smiling and laughing from the sensation. They get used to it quickly as they can feel the heightened effects and muscle fatigue from simple movements combined with the muscle stimulation. It is a serious workout – but one that is tailored to each individual client and their training goals. They quickly realize that they are in for an amazingly awesome major workout.
At FITtec, we have the EMS capabilities and equipment, but we also have, just as importantly, experienced trainers who make the combination of EMS and voluntary muscle exertion work seamlessly to maximize the client’s needs. The client gets more muscle contraction in less time, so they max strength building and fat burning in shorter time. Twice-a-week 20-minute sessions gives the benefits of three 90-minute intense gym workouts. (That’s 40 minutes compared to 4 and a half hours). Muscles and joints love us (FITtec. EMS training) and fat hates us because we build muscle, take strain off joints, and burn the fat (with an awesome afterburn). FITtec is a Whole Body Electrical Muscle Stimulation (WB-EMS) studio. You just have to try it!
FITtec. – Fitness for Life
Principles and Practice 4th ed.
Robertson, Ward, Low, Reed, Elsevier, 2006.
Physical Principles Explained, Low, Reed, Butterworth, 1997
Biophysical Bases of Electrotherapy, Ward, Butterworth, 2006
Sang-Yeol Lee, RPT, PhD and Marg-Eun Jo, RPT, MS
Comparison of maximum voluntary isometric contraction of the biceps on various posture and respiration conditions for normalization of electromyography data
J Phys Ther Sci. 2016 Nov; 28(11): 3007–3010. Published online 2016 Nov 29. doi: 10.1589/jpts.28.3007