EMS Workouts

How EMS Workouts Increase Athletic Endurance

Electric muscle stimulation (EMS) uses electrical impulses to contract muscles and stimulate motor neurons. While the speed and intensity of the contractions vary depending upon the therapeutic goals, this type of stimulation can provide many physical benefits ranging from improved circulation and mobility to faster injury recovery and reduced inflammation.

Individuals frequently seek EMS workouts to accelerate healing after an injury. Although even in the absence of an injury, many sports players and professions could leverage this innovative technology to improve physical performance and endurance.

EMS & Athletic Performance

EMS works by sending an electrical current to soft tissues and muscle groups and creating involuntary contractions. The current mimics the natural signals from our central nervous systems that result in involuntary contractions of the muscles that occur when moving, working out, and participating in sports.

Since EMS provides the same result (a muscle contraction), even though it is involuntary, it still works to increase strength in the same way voluntary contractions do. One study demonstrated that the use of EMS on the abdominal muscles for five days a week over a period of 8 weeks resulted in increases of 58% to 100% in abdominal endurance. Similarly, another study that applied EMS to the biceps resulted in a 23% increase in flexion torque and an 8-16% increase in muscle thickness.

But EMS does more than simulating an involuntary contraction; there is also a physiological difference in the type of contraction. Voluntary contractions activate small motor units comprised of Type-I fibers first, then activating Type II fibers if needed. With involuntary EMS contractions, the Type-II fibers activate first by bypassing the neurological coordination. As a result, the applied current moves better through Type-II fibers, which is impossible with voluntary contractions. This process allows all of the fibers to contract fully without holding anything back. No workout can achieve this physiological response. EMS can be linked to increases in strength, endurance, and sometimes sprinting, jumping, or kicking when looking at a spectrum of different EMS applications and sports performance.

A December 2016 Journal of Sports Science Medicine article found that when EMS was added to the training of soccer players, it resulted in:

  • Strength increases at an average of 30.07%
  • Increase in jumping ability by 9.14%, on average
  • Speed and sprint increases by an average of 19.38%
  • Kicking speed increased by 16.3%, on average

EMS contractions build strength, which is normally built when muscles undergo repeated movement with resistance or strength training. This type of training uses voluntary contractions to incur damage within the muscle tissues. The body then repairs and replaces these damaged tissues with new muscle protein strands called myofibrils. Repaired myofibrils have greater thickness and are present in elevated numbers, which is seen as new muscle growth.

The electrical impulses result in increased circulation and reduced inflammation of the targeted area.  Muscle contractions squeeze on the veins, pushing blood back into the heart, which boosts circulation. This process results in conditions that allow for better oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscle tissue. And optimal cellular conditions for oxygen and nutrient delivery means that muscle cells will experience fatigue less quickly, which can directly improve stamina and endurance. Other medical benefits of good circulation include slowing muscle-wasting and increased flexibility.

EMS & Training

Even when applied as a passive activity, EMS can encourage muscle growth. However, much research indicates that EMS is even more effective when used in conjunction with specific strength training or exercise. This therapy is so effective that even many Olympic contenders use it as part of their training program. Despite greater than normal levels of fitness, EMS can still enhance their level of strength when compared to those who do not receive EMS.

EMS  frequencies and intensities can be controlled and delivered in different phases of training. It can also be applied as a whole-body approach or one that involves specific muscle groups to achieve targeted athletic goals.

EMS has demonstrated that it can help recovery from injury or surgery, but it can also increase strength, power, muscle mass, and endurance to improve athletic performance. It facilitates muscle activation and increases the time to exhaustion, which has a tremendous impact on sports performance. And while EMS can be applied while sedentary, its benefits are multiplied when incorporated into existing strength and athletic training regimens.

To learn more about how EMS workouts can improve athletic performance and give you an edge over competitors, contact the team at Bodybuzz today.