Training with electrostimulation transforms moderate training into high intensity training

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Going to the gym four times a week, more than an hour of training each day, and not achieving the results you are aiming for: whether losing weight, attaining muscle mass, or getting toned. Sound familiar?

We get frustrated when we don’t manage to obtain the desired results or meet the targets we have set ourselves after devoting so much time to training each day.

The key is not how much time we devote to training, but rather how we make our training more efficient. Electrostimulation boosts your training by increasing energy consumption, the consumption of energy and other physiological factors so you obtain the maximum performance and health in each session. Therefore, with correct training with electrostimulation you can transform your moderate daily training into high intensity training.

What is metabolism

To begin with, we need to consider what the metabolism is.

The metabolism encompasses a series of physical and chemical processes that occur in cells, and it is responsible for turning the nutrients in the food we consume into energy and fuel for our daily life. The foods we consume are measured in calories, and when we consume an excessive amount, or we don’t burn off all the energy we ingest, the calories accumulate in the form of fat

Working with metabolic training

When we don´t correctly stimulate our body with daily habits, we tend to accumulate fat and to gradually lose energy and health, so gradually indeed that we sometimes don´t realise until it is too late.

Good metabolic training will activate your metabolism, but how do we achieve it? The key is in the intensity of the training.

 However, before carrying out high intensity exercises, it is necessary to consider two factors:

  • The exercise technique: Be aware of the technique encompassing the movements in order to prevent the risk of injury.
  • Appropriate intensity: Getting our body used to and teaching it to work at high intensities, that is to say, not stopping the exercise prematurely. We need to have an awareness of the exercise and reach an appropriate intensity in order to achieve our objectives.

Low and moderate intensity training sessions produce less and slower adaptation than training sessions that combine moderate and high intensities.

Electrostimulation can transform a low or moderate intensity training session into an intense training session, even when doing exercises that are extremely straightforward, easy to do and without the risk of injury.

How do we use electrostimulation in our training?

Electrostimulation (NMES) can recruit high-threshold motor units and improve glycolysis. Thanks to this we achieve greater effectiveness with muscular electrostimulation, as we activate muscles more intensely and increase energy consumption during exercise.

Also, with the selection of suitable electrostimulation programmes, we can obtain energy through nutrient oxidation, or through other means more related to strength or power.

It is important to understand that this even happens when carrying out a simple exercise at low speed The programme and the electrostimulation suit activate different muscle fibres, and boost certain pathways for obtaining energy.

The combination of NMES and low intensity voluntary exercise causes the consumption of aerobic and anaerobic energy and this type of exercise may be more efficient and effective than conventional exercise. 

This means that you can combine the benefits of different types of training while you carry out the tasks you like best and that are most suited to your physical condition and fitness level. 

Electrostimulation boosts your training. Case study

We are going to summarise a study whose objective was to study metabolic responses and muscle fatigue during the use of whole-body electrostimulation.

 Thirteen healthy young men participated in this study. The subjects didn´t regularly carry out resistance or strength training, nor did they participate in competitive sporting events. In other words, they were people who were not used to training.

 Measurements were carried out in three different situations.

  1. Voluntary exercise: 15 minutes of callisthenics (exercises mobilising your own body weight, with no equipment)
  1. Whole-body electrostimulation (WB-EMS) without voluntary exercise: using a programme of 20 Hz with 4 seconds of work and 4 of rest. A 2 Hz programme was used for the warm-up and cool down. The intensity of the electrostimulation was configured in order to produce a clear muscle contraction, but without discomfort.
  1. Combination of both methods (voluntary exercise + WB-EMS): Using the same wavelength parameters as in the previous group. 

EMS training routine

Every day, exactly the same voluntary training was carried out, at the same exercise intensity. One day it was carried out without electrostimulation (V), another day electrostimulation without voluntary exercise was carried out, and another day it was done with electrostimulation (VE).

 There were at least 48 hours of rest between each type of training. Then, on each of these 3 days, the following were measured: 

  • Blood lactate concentration: an indicator of exercise intensity. 
  • Muscle strength at the start and end of each training session: this helps us to find out the level of fatigue (tiredness) caused by the training. The greater the difference between muscle strength at the start and end of the session, the greater the fatigue caused. Maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) was the method chosen to determine this variable. 
  • Spirometry during exercise. Analysis of gases inhaled and exhaled during exercise. This makes it possible to find out exactly how much oxygen we consume, how much carbon dioxide we exhale and to calculate the nutrient oxidation rate during exercise.

Wave parameters used

The wave parameters that were used with WB-EMS were a compensated biphasic square wave, with a 20 Hz frequency and a pulse width of 100 µs.

The work cycle was 4 seconds of electrical impulse and 4 seconds of rest. 

Also, a frequency of 2 Hz was applied during the warm up and resting periods. The intensity was applied at a motor threshold without reaching the pain threshold (clear muscle contraction, but one that makes it possible to carry out exercises normally).

During the procedure of the EV group, the contraction and relaxation times of WB-EMS (4secs/4secs) were synchronised with the voluntary exercise. Therefore, people carried out exercise while they felt the muscle contractions of electrostimulation and they rested between contractions.

* Explanatory note: On the first day of the study, the participants carried out the familiarisation with the exercises and electrostimulation. They learned the training exercises and all the parameters described were measured for the participants in order to have an initial reference point. After that, they were familiarised with electrostimulation and the electrical intensities that would be used in the study were chosen. This process ensures that the differences between measurements each day are not due to the nervousness of the person or their level of control in the exercises. 

Results and conclusion

When analysing the results of this study, we see that in the WB-EMS scenario combined with exercise there is an increase in the parameters:

Graphic 1- Significant increases in the consumption of energy and oxygen during training sessions combining electrostimulation and callisthenics exercise.

Graphic 2- Significant increase in blood lactate during combined training. This shows that the activity of the fast-twitch fibres and glycolysis was increased. 

  1. Energy expenditure and the consumption of oxygen in relation to body mass in the group that used ems training. Therefore, they consumed more calories by including electrostimulation, even though the training was exactly the same.
  1. The respiratory exchange ratio (RER) of gases during groups E and VE were higher than group V. This means that their nutrient oxidation rate was greater during the training with electrostimulation. 
  1. The blood lactate concentration of the electrostimulation group was significantly higher in conventional training. This indicates that the intensity of the exercise at a metabolic level was clearly greater when including electrostimulation. 

EMS training results

These results suggest that the combination of voluntary exercise and WB-EMS can improve metabolic response to a level equivalent to high intensity exercise when carrying out exercise whose physiological load corresponds to a low-medium intensity.

This type of training methodology would be useful for people who cannot carry out high intensity exercise that requires a high metabolic threshold, such as patients with diabetes mellitus type 2 or older adults.

These results are also useful for people who already train at high intensities.

At present, we are carrying out very interesting tests at our WiemsLab laboratory in collaboration with the University of Granada.

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Very shortly, we will show you all these results in detail and explain them in an easy way. Keep an eye out!