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More Training Info > Electrical Stimulation

Effects of Electrical Muscle Stimulation on Body Composition Muscle Strength, and Physical Appearance

Original research done by John P Porcari, Karen Palmer McLean, Carl Foster, Thomas Kernozek, Ben Crenshaw and Chad Swenson at the Univerisity of Wisconsin in La Crosse, WI. Published in the National Strength and Conditioning Association's The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Volume 16 Number 2, May 2002.

There are many claims being made that Electrical Muscle Stimulation devices (EMS) increase muscular strength, decrease body fat and improve muscle tone and firmness. The purpose of this study was to test those claims. The study was comprised of 27 college-aged volunteers. Particpants were divided into two groups, 16 in the EMS group and 11 in the control group. The EMS group underwent EMS 3 times per week following the manufacturers recommendations and the control group underwent concurrent sham stimulation sessions. The study duration was 8 weeks. EMS was applied to the hamstrings, quads, biceps, triceps and abs. An identical pre- and post-test battery were taken including body fat, body measurements, isometric strength tests and photos from all sides.

The researchers found no significant effects on any of the measured parameters. The researchers noted that they felt the machine they chose fairly represented the over-the-counter models that are promoted as "an easy way healthy individuals can decrease fat and increase muscle tone and strength." They also noted that the EMS participants said they would rather have lifted weights and that there was some discomfort to the process. There also did not seem to be a time savings since their sessions were averaging about 45 minutes. In addition, the researchers felt that the findings might be different if the units met the same standards as the ones used by medical professionals.


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