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EMS Training – Electricity For Your Muscles

EMS Training – Electricity For Your Muscles

EMS training, also known as electric myostimulation, has become an effective and time-saving training method in recent years. While initially, this type of training was only used by professional athletes or celebrities, it has now made its way into the mainstream and can be found in gyms all around the world. EMS uses electrical impulses to trigger muscle contractions. These electric currents can help increase muscle strength and mass and lead to weight loss. In this comprehensive guide, CARE introduces you to various aspects of EMS training. We will explain how it works, what advantages it offers, who it is suitable for, and what you should pay special attention to during EMS training.

Blog Author Jris Health Coach at CARE
Jris Bernet

Health Coach EN

Published in Activity
12 min read · Mar 03, 2024

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What Is EMS Training?

EMS training stands for electric myostimulation, a state-of-the-art training method in which certain muscle groups are specifically stimulated with electrical impulses. While traditional training aims to stimulate muscles through movement that is initiated by the synapses in our brain, EMS training uses electrical impulses to increase muscle contraction and optimize training effects. [1]

The electrical impulses are applied to the muscles via electrodes. The electric currents mimic our body's natural bioelectric signals and activate natural muscle contraction. By that, EMS mobilizes even more muscle fibers and, therefore, makes the training more intense and effective.

An important advantage of EMS fitness is that multiple muscle groups can be stimulated simultaneously, resulting in a holistic and efficient training method for the whole body. [2]

How Does EMS Training Work?

The electric impulses in EMS are applied to your body through special EMS equipment like suits and vests that are connected to electricity through a cable. The equipment applies targeted electric impulses via electrodes to your muscle groups while you execute movements instructed by your personal trainer. The electric currents reach the muscle cells and cause the muscles to contract – similar to normal muscle training through physical exercise.

The difference in EMS training lies in the intensity of muscle contraction, which is increased by the electrical impulses. The intensity and frequency of the impulses can be individually adjusted for you, typically low-frequency currents with a voltage of around nine volts and between 50 and 90 milliamperes, depending on your fitness, training goals, and personal physical condition. The targeted muscle stimulation activates more muscle fibers, resulting in more effective training with faster results.

It is indispensable to always carry out EMS training under professional guidance and supervision so that you train safely and efficiently. There are also designated EMS studios that specialize in EMS fitness.

What does EMS training feel like?

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In this chapter, we will explain in detail what EMS training feels like and what sensations you can expect.

EMS training usually begins with the application of electrodes to different muscle groups of your body. The electrodes are connected to a device that generates electrical impulses and transmits the electric currents to your muscles.

As soon as the electrodes are activated, the exerciser feels a series of electric impulses that penetrate deep into the muscle fibers and stimulate them to contract.

One of the most common questions people who are new to EMS training ask is: Does it hurt?

Does EMS Training Hurt?

No, EMS should never hurt. However, the answer to this question depends on several factors, including the intensity of the electrical impulses used during the session, as well as individual pain tolerance and sensitivity.

During EMS training, the electrical pulses should be felt, but they should not be painful or uncomfortable. The electric intensity used can vary from person to person and is typically customized by your trainer to ensure a comfortable yet effective workout experience.

In most cases, EMS participants describe the sensation during exercise as unfamiliar but not painful. It may be felt as a tingling or pulling sensation in the muscles being stimulated.

Another important point that is often raised concerns the intensity and effort of EMS training compared to traditional muscle-building training.

EMS training allows for more intense muscle activation because it reaches muscle fibers that may not be activated during traditional exercises, or at least not as intensively. This means that similar or even better muscular activation can be achieved in a shorter period of time by EMS fitness.

Despite the intense muscle stimulation, EMS training is often perceived as less strenuous than traditional training to gain strength and muscles. This is because the exerciser does not have to work with heavy weights during training, and the electrical stimulation allows the muscles to tire more quickly.

However, the impression should not be given that EMS training is a replacement for traditional physical activity. It still requires active muscle involvement and can be demanding, especially when higher intensities are chosen.

Is EMS training “For the Lazy”?

EMS training is sometimes referred to as a “workout for the lazy” because it provides intense muscle stimulation in a short period of time that would normally involve a lot of sweat and physical activity. It is important to emphasize that EMS training is by no means a replacement for a healthy, active lifestyle. It can be a valuable addition to other forms of physical activity, especially for people with limited time or physical limitations.

Ultimately, the effect of EMS training depends on individual motivation, training goals, and the correct guidance from qualified trainers.

It can be an effective tool for strengthening and toning muscles, relieving pain, and improving overall fitness, as long as it is used judiciously and combined with a balanced diet and other forms of exercise.

What Are The Benefits of EMS Training?

EMS training offers a wide range of physical fitness and health benefits. We at CARE have summarized some of the most important and scientifically proven benefits of electric myostimulation training for you:

Weight Loss Through EMS Sports

EMS training reduces body fat and supports weight loss. A study by Kemmler et al. (2012) found that combined EMS and endurance training significantly reduced body fat in postmenopausal women. [3]

Building Muscle Through EMS Training

EMS training is efficient for building muscle. A systematic review by Filipovic et al. (2012) found that EMS training significantly increased muscle strength and muscle mass.

Another study by Kemmler et al. (2012) states that EMS training in combination with traditional strength training significantly increased maximum muscle strength in study participants. [4]

EMS Training Stimulates The Metabolism

EMS training stimulates your metabolism and helps burn calories. Increased muscle activity during exercise leads to increased energy consumption. Thereby, EMS training stimulates the metabolism and has a long-term positive effect on your energy metabolism.

“From Head to Toe” – Full-Body Workout

Electrical muscle stimulation activates several muscle groups at the same time during EMS training. This stimulates both large and deep muscle groups, resulting in an effective full-body workout.

EMS Training Offers Efficiency & Saves Time

EMS training enables efficient and intensive muscle training in a short time. Due to the intense muscle contractions and simultaneous activation of different muscle groups, more muscles can be trained in a single 20-minute EMS training session than in a traditional one.

EMS Got Your Back – Strengthening The Back Muscles

EMS training can help strengthen back muscles and reduce back pain. A randomized controlled study by Kemmler et al. (2018) found that EMS training led to significant pain reduction and improved back function in people with chronic non-specific back pain. [5]

Improving Athletic Performance & Endurance

A study by Kemmler et al. (2015) examined the effects of EMS training on endurance performance in older women. The results indicated that maximum oxygen uptake (the so-called VO2 max) and aerobic exercise performance increased significantly after an EMS training program. [6]

Posture And Body Awareness

EMS training can also help improve posture and increase body awareness. A study by Paillard et al. (2018) showed that EMS training can help improve muscle balance between antagonistic muscle groups and optimize postural control. [7]

EMS Is A Joint-Friendly Training Method

Since EMS training puts less strain on the joints than traditional exercise, it is also suitable for people with joint problems or injuries. A study by Lohkamp et al. (2016) examined the effects of EMS training on joint stress and concluded that the training method is gentler on the joints than conventional training. [8]

It can be summarized that the benefits of EMS training are scientifically proven and desirable for any athlete or just the common person.

Who Is EMS Training Suitable For?

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EMS is generally suitable for everyone who has no contraindications. Women or men who don't particularly enjoy going to the gym and older people who want to build muscle and fitness can achieve quick success with EMS. Everyone else who has little time or wants to focus on a specific muscle group or recover after surgery can also benefit from EMS training significantly.

We have summarized a few groups for you that can particularly benefit from EMS training:

EMS Muscle Building Training – Fitness Enthusiasts and Professional Athletes

EMS training is an intensive addition to traditional training and can improve muscle building, strength, and performance. Studies have shown that EMS training can lead to significant improvements in muscle strength and size. Thanks to the additional electrical muscle stimulation, athletes and sports enthusiasts can achieve their training goals more effectively. [9]

People With Limited Time

In our hectic everyday lives, it is often difficult to find time for exercise on a regular basis. EMS fitness and EMS sport is a time-saving alternative to traditional training sessions, as it efficiently stimulates multiple muscle groups at the same time.

You can train your entire body in just a short time with an EMS full-body workout. EMS training can achieve similar effects as traditional strength training in half the time. It is, therefore, ideal for anyone who wants to train their body effectively but has little time. [10]

People Who Wish To Increase Their Physical Performance

EMS training can also help active people and professional athletes increase their physical performance and achieve their athletic goals faster. Through targeted electrical muscle stimulation, specific muscle groups can be strengthened, and muscle strength improved.

Studies have also shown that EMS training can improve jumping power, maximum strength, and endurance performance. [10] [11]

This can lead to an advantage in sports such as football, track and field, tennis, and many others. [12]

People With Physical Limitations

EMS training can be particularly suitable for people with physical limitations or injuries. Because EMS training places less strain on joints and ligaments than traditional training, it can be a gentle training method for people with joint problems or orthopedic limitations. [13]

For example, a study has shown that EMS training can lead to improvements in muscle strength and walking ability in older people with knee osteoarthritis. [14]

Even after surgery, EMS training can be a helpful method for fitness rehabilitation.

What Do I Have to Consider During EMS Training?

To ensure a safe and effective training experience, there are some important aspects to keep in mind when training with EMS:

EMS Training With Qualified Trainers

EMS training must be carried out under the guidance of qualified trainers who have the appropriate expertise and experience with EMS devices. Moreover, make sure that the EMS devices and electrodes used are always clean and hygienic.

Only specialized trainers can help you find the right training intensity and technique for you. A study has shown that training under the guidance of a qualified trainer produces better results than training on your own. [15]

There are also specialized EMS studios that you can visit for EMS training programs.

Consistency Is Key – Regular Training

To achieve the best results, it is important to carry out EMS training regularly. Discuss with your trainer the frequency and duration of an EMS training program that suits your goals and fitness level best.

As a rule, 1-2 EMS training sessions per week are recommended.

Listen To Your Body

Everybody reacts differently to EMS training. Pay attention to your body's signals and inform your personal trainer about your physical sensations or any discomfort during or after training.

Appropriate training intensity and good communication with your coach are crucial to avoid injuries and to achieve results safely and efficiently.

Is EMS Training Dangerous? — Contraindications

It is important to note that EMS training is not equally suitable for everyone. People with certain health conditions, such as heart problems or epilepsy, should consult a doctor before beginning EMS exercise.

Additionally, women who have had a cesarean section or anyone who suffers from skin conditions should consult a doctor to determine whether EMS training is suitable for them.

Barring clinical contraindications, EMS training is safe when performed under expert guidance. The following two aspects are the most common that can lead to difficulties in relation to EMS training.

Stimulating muscles too intensively: EMS training that is too intense or not appropriate for your individual fitness can lead to an overstimulation of muscles. It's indispensable to adjust your training intensity according to your body.

Improper Use: Improper use of EMS devices or incorrect placement of electrodes can result in injury or discomfort. It is, therefore, essential to train with EMS under the guidance of qualified trainers and to follow their instructions.

CARE will be happy to refer you to a qualified trainer or EMS studio near your location.

Our Conclusion – EMS Training As An Efficient and Promising Exercise Method

We are happy to conclude that EMS training is a suitable and promising exercise that can help you increase your fitness.

Electric myostimulation training offers a time-saving approach to improve muscle strength and performance, especially for people with limited training time or physical limitations. Furthermore, EMS training can help athletes increase their physical performance and provide a low-impact training method.

It is important that EMS training should be carried out under qualified supervision to ensure a safe and effective training experience. People with certain underlying health conditions, such as coronary disease or epilepsy, should consult a doctor before starting EMS training.

When training, always listen to your body and, together with your trainer, adjust the electric intensity accordingly to avoid injuries.

List of References

Blog Author Jris Health Coach at CARE

Jris Bernet

Health Coach EN at CARE Zurich

About the author

Jris is a health coach (nerd) and blog author at CARE. She has many years of experience as a coach for classic lifestyle conditions such as diabetes and women's health. She enjoys facilitating health challenges and courses. Fasting, keto, sleep, women's health and biohacking - Jris feels at home in these topics. When she's not working for CARE, she loves to listen to health podcasts and try out new (health) gadgets. Her credo: "It's never too late to start living a new lifestyle."