Many years ago, I had the first of four knee surgeries. During one of my outpatient appointments, the physiotherapist used electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to help in my rehabilitation.
One of my appointments didn’t go as expected. She did something wrong and electrocuted me with a massive current surge from the mains.
My muscles contracted so violently that my body shot off the bed and into the air. I was lucky to live without any lasting injuries.
EMS is a tool that’s regularly used when a person has muscular inhibition and weakness due to pain, swelling, and immobilization. Mine was following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee surgery, and I had weakened quads.
The EMS technology causes involuntary activation of the muscles so that you don’t lose muscle mass or function.
These days EMS technology is a buzzword for small fitness studios with workouts that involve electrical impulses sent to your muscles to recruit more muscle fibres and increase the intensity of a strength-training routine.
Recently I was invited along to check out one such fitness programme from the guys at Exerceo Training, they claim to make you feel stronger, leaner and fitter, in just over 20 minutes (all whilst burning 500 calories!).
They also claim EMS training is endorsed by professional athletes, A list actors and models worldwide including Usain Bolt, Madonna, Heidi Klum, Chrissy Teigan and Liz Hurley to name a few.
Exerceo Training – a unique concept using the latest in EMS technology from XBody to offer a time-efficient and high-intensity workout, suitable for even the busiest of lifestyles: short enough to do on your lunchtime and still give you enough spare time to get a bite to eat afterward.
Some say it’s a gimmick, so here’s what you need to know.
How does EMS work?
For a muscle to contract, your brain sends an electrical impulse to neurons in muscle fibres. EMS mimics what your brain does by telling muscles to contract.
What does it promise?
According to my Exerceo trainer on the day Alin Ciobotaru, a 20-minute EMS session is the equivalent of a 90-minute regular workout, and you burn up to 500 calories per session. Because you activate more muscle fibres than a standard strength exercise without EMS.
What’s it like?
Looking like ‘Robocop’ EMS felt like a pulsing full-body vibration. However, there’s not enough electricity to run a car battery or start one.
My trainer took me through a series of bodyweight exercises and adjusted the level of electricity sent to my body.
So, how does EMS help during a workout?
Evidence shows people who did a six-week squat program with EMS had more significant strength improvements than those who didn’t.
Is EMS safe?
Do your research on the provider before the session. There have been reports of shocks, burns, bruising and skin irritation from unregulated EMS devices.
How much does EMS cost?
I had a session at ‘Exerceo’ in Belgravia cost ranges between £35 and £60 a go.
Should you stop the gym and just do EMS?
Yes. Then no. Then maybe save your money and commit to resistance training combined with aerobic exercise.
The jury is still out whether EMS has long-term improvements in health and fitness. But I did enjoy the session and that is crucial to any successful workout.
Benefit Claims of EMS Training
- Scientifically proven to achieve fast, sustainable results
- EX20 training sessions are equal to 90 minutes of high-intensity gym training
- Burn up to 500 calories per session
- Repairs and strengthens muscles and joints
- Beneficial for those recovering from injury as it places no strain on joints or tendons
- Can help improve bone density
- Aesthetic results in a very small fraction of time
- Tone up, lose weight, gain muscle and reduce the appearance of cellulite