EMS, or Electrical Muscle Stimulation is a type of fitness enhancement device that involves using a low-level electric current to cause muscles to contract, helping them improve in strength and appearance. Electrical Muscle Stimulation originate Sovie Russia in the 1950’s as a way of increasing athletes’ physical strength and muscle tone. Its creator was Dr. Y. Kots of the Central Institute of Physical Culture in the former USSR. Dr. Kots introduced Electrical Muscle Stimulation to the rest of the world when he presented a paper about his discovery at Concordia University in Montreal. There, he outlined the tremendous potential for using Electrical Muscle Stimulation as strength enhancer.
As early as the 1970s, EMS was used in the United States, primarily as a means of rehabilitating injured muscles. It was used in hospitals and rehabilitation clinics, but was fairly rare and unknown by the public. EMS’ effectiveness as a muscle builder (compared with conventional exercise) was as a source of debate, and is still being discussed today. Many researchers still doubt Electrical Muscle Stimulations’ effectiveness, especially when it is compared to the claims used in marketing EMS to the public. However, many researchers and fitness professionals will attest to EMS’ effectiveness.
Eventually, the use of EMS spread to pro athletes, college sports teams, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts as a way of augmenting an exercise program. Currently, Electrical Muscle Stimulation machines are also marketed toward sedentary, non-athletes as way for them to exercise without moving – a source of much discussion and argument.
Many manufacturers claim that their machines will cause people to lose fat and get in shape without a real exercise programs. While EMS machines can in fact increase muscle tone, these claims are largely false. Because EMS is a passive exercise, it doesn’t burn calories or fat. To lose weight, a person must commit to a more meaningful, conventional exercise program.
But, as many coaches and professional trainers will attest, EMS does have its uses and can help athletes reach their potential. People who do purchase and use EMS machines might wonder how often they can use the machines on the same muscle groups. Since EMS involves using electrical current, people might be concerned about over-using it.
Most manufacturers of EMS machines recommend using the machines on one muscle group at a time, alternating muscle groups every day. Some machines allow you to stimulate two muscle groups at a time, which is fine as long as they’re not antagonistic muscle groups. Using EMS on antagonistic muscle groups at the same time is highly dangerous and should be avoided.
Because EMS machines use a very low level electronic current, you don’t have to worry about over-using them and ‘burning’ your muscle.
If you decided to purchase an EMS system as a supplement to your current workout program or as a first step toward fitness, be sure you’re buying a quality product. Check consumer literature; consult quality fitness books, magazines and websites. If you can, consult a fitness professional such as a trainer, and have professional help as you move along your journey to your strongest physical self.