Benefits of EMS Fitness: Stronger Faster (Part 2)

In our Stronger Faster (part 1) entry, we looked at why electro-muscle stimulation equated to an hour or even an hour and a half of resistance training.

In this B-side, we are going to dig deeper into why it increases strength faster than traditional weightlifting.  

We need to understand first what muscles are made of.

Muscle physiology:

Skeletal muscles are made up of individual muscle fibers. There are three types of skeletal muscle fibers, fast-twitch, slow-twitch, and intermediate with respective functions.

  • Type 1 or Slow oxidative fibers: Slow-twitch muscle fibers are fatigue-resistant and focus on sustained, smaller movements and postural control. They contain more mitochondria and myoglobin and are aerobic in nature. Slow-twitch fibers are also sometimes called type I or red fibers because of their blood supply. These are ideal for very high repetitions or long-distance running, for example.
  • Type 2a or Fast oxidative fibers: also known as intermediate muscle fibers, share similarities with both type 1 and type 2x. They are medium-sized and depend on oxygen as a source of energy, are somewhat fatigue-resistant, contract quickly like a type 2x, and are more powerful than type 1. These are great for mid-range repetitions or mid-distance running.
  • Type 2b, Type 2x, or Fast glycolytic fibers: Fast-twitch muscle fibers provide bigger and more powerful forces, but for shorter durations and fatigue quickly. They are more anaerobic with less blood supply, hence they are sometimes referred to as white fibers or type II. These fibers are optimal for low repetitions, explosive movements, or sprints.

Benefits of EMS fitness: Stronger Faster (part 2)

How do muscles contract? 

All muscles are activated through an electrical signal that stems from the nervous system.

Skeletal muscle contraction begins when the nervous system generates a signal. The signal, an impulse called an action potential, travels through a type of nerve cell called a motor neuron.

The motor neuron and all of the muscle fibers it is attached to comprise the motor unit.

A motor unit innervates a collection of muscle fibers to create a contraction.

The level of contraction is determined by the number of muscle fibers activated. This is called the “all or nothing” principle. Muscle fibers either contract fully or do not contract at all. The amount of force generated depends on how many motor units are activated.

The number of motor units contracted dictates how much force is produced during a contraction period.

We talked about the “all or nothing” principle. Imagine a big warehouse with a long row of lights and one light switch per row.

Benefits of EMS fitness: Stronger Faster (part 2)

If you want light you’ll turn on one row of lights.

Want more light? Turn on another row of lights.

Can’t see well enough? Switch on another row.

The light switches are the motor units, controlling rows of muscle fibers (rows of lights), and they will either contract (turn on) or won’t contract at all (stay off).

The more motor units controlling muscle fibers are stimulated, the more force is generated.

Your body is always going to try to use the minimum amount of force needed to lift anything.

If you want to pick up a pencil, you’ll turn only a few motor units i.e. muscle fibers. 

Now, if that pencil is made out of Uru metal (like Mjolnir, Thor’s Hammer), you’ll need to turn on more muscle fibers and continue to turn on more fibers until the muscle is able to lift it or the muscle will give up eventually.

The body uses Henneman’s size principle to turn on muscle fibers in a specific order: starting with Type 1(endurance), then Type 2a (mixed), and finally Type 2b (strength).

Cool story bro, but how does it relate to EMS fitness?

Electro-muscle stimulation is done through a SuperSuit containing electrodes covering all the major muscle groups that emit an electrical signal, you know… just like the nervous system!

The muscle doesn’t care whether the signal is internal (nervous system) or external (SuperSuit electrodes), if it receives it, it will contract the muscle fibers in that region.

There are two theories on how electro-muscle stimulation works:

    • Shotgun theory: EMS will turn on all the muscle fibers underneath the electrode, including those strength and explosive muscle fibers.
    • Reverse size principle: EMS will turn on Type 2b (strength) first, then Type 2a (mixed), and Type 1 (endurance) last.

At Bodybuzz, we think the shotgun theory is probably the most accurate, but either way, the result is that we can start training strength from week one instead of after a couple of months into weightlifting.

Long story… long, if you start lifting at the gym, you will (hopefully) start with lighter weights, and higher repetitions, effectively targeting mostly Type 1 (endurance) and Type 2a (mixed) muscle fibers. After a few months of lifting consistently, you will feel more comfortable going into the 5-8 repetitions range in order to train strength (Type 2b) with heavier weights

With EMS fitness, we can train those Type 2b muscle fibers within the first week without using any weights at all.

If you are just starting your fitness journey or recovering from an injury, EMS workouts will allow you to start getting stronger months earlier than with traditional training.

If you want to get stronger faster, reach out to us and we can see if EMS fitness is right for you.

Book a 30-minute call with me to see if EMS would be right for you here.

Conrad, Director of Education and Technology

Bodybuzz combines Certified Personal Training with Electrical Muscle Stimulation, giving your body a deeper, safer, and more effective workout. 20 minutes twice a week is all it takes!

Our personal trainers will guide you through a custom EMS workout designed specifically for you. Whether you’re looking to build strength, lose weight, get toned, or recover from an injury or illness, we offer a safe, low-impact solution to help get you there.

EMS has now been FDA-cleared for use in the US and we are proud to be one of the first companies to introduce this technology. It is a full-body workout that uses a special muscle stimulating suit that sends low-level impulses to your major muscle groups to trigger muscle contractions. It’s a unique sensation that is painless and invigorating.

EMS workouts are designed to achieve optimal conditioning, burn fat, develop strength, build muscle, tighten skin, combat cellulite, jump-start your metabolism and restore your body’s natural balance.