Targeted muscle building (hypertrophy)

Scientific effects of EMS training

By Dr. Kleinöder, Sports University Cologne (2010)

Maximum strength and muscle hypertrophy
  • Trained athletes from various disciplines experienced increases in maximum isometric strength of between 15% and 40%, with an average of 32.6% (5, 6, 7, 9, 22, 24, 27).

  • The average improvement in maximum isometric strength following EMS training with untrained subjects was 23.5% (1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 28).

  • Athletes can achieve 30 – 40% improvements in maximum strength after only 5 weeks using EMS (12).

  • Using MVC, competitive swimmers achieved improvements in the eccentric and concentric contractions of their latissimus dorsi and quadriceps femoris muscles and better freestyle swimming times (23).

  • Case study of a high-performance weightlifter: 4 months of EMS training: 1 RM (repetition maximum) increased during squats by around 20kg, further improvements to ‘clean’ and ‘jerk and snatch’.

  • EMS can also be provided to untrained people and those looking to get fit: muscle size increased by around 10% after 8 weeks using isokinetic training (eccentric and concentric) combined with EMS (26, 29).

  • Mixed training (hypertrophy using machines) combined with EMS was shown to have the greatest effects on maximum strength (13).

Selected Literature:
  1. Alon, G., McCombre, S.A., Koutsantonis, S., Stumphauzer, L.J., Burgwin, K.C., Parent, M.M., & Bosworth, R.A. (1987). Comparison of the Effects of Electrical Stimulation and Exercise on Abdominal Musculature. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 8 (12), 567-573.
  2. Andersen, L.L., & Aagaard, P. (2006). Influence of maximal muscle strength and intrinsic muscle contractile properties on contractile rate of force development. Eur J Appl Physiol, 96, 46-52.
  3. Balogun, J.A., Onilari, O.O., Akeju, A.O., & Marzouk, D.K. (1993). High Voltage Electrical Stimulation in the Augmentation of Muscle Strength: Effects of Pulse Frequency. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 74, 910-6.
  4. Boutelle, D., Smith, B., & Malone, T. A Strength Study Utilizing the Electro-Stim 180. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 7(2), 50-53.
  5. Cabric, M., & Appell, H. J. (1987a). Zur Wirkung hochfrequenter EMS auf Muskelkraft und Muskelmasse. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Sportmedizin, 38 (1), 15-18.
  6. Cabric, M., & Appell, H. J. (1987b). Effect of electrical stimulation of high and low frequency on maximum isometric force and some morphological characteristics in men. Int J Sports Med, 8 (4), 256-260.
  7. Colson, S., Martin, A., & Van Hoecke, J. (2000). Reexamination of training effects by electrostimulation in the human elbow musculoskeletal system. Int J Sports Med, 21 (4), 281-288.
  8. Currier, D.P., & Mann, R. (1983). Muscular Strength Development by Electrical Stimulation in Healthy Individuals. Physical Therapy, 63 (6), 915-921.
  9. Eriksson, E., Haggmark, T., Kiessling, K. H., & Karlsson, J. (1981). Effect of electrical stimulation on human skeletal muscle. Int. J Sports Med., 2 (1), 18-22.
  10. Gondin, J., Guette, M., Ballay, Y., & Martin, A. (2005). Electromyostimulation training effects on neural drive and muscle architecture. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 37 (8), 1291-1299.
  11. Gondin, J., Guette, M., Ballay, Y., & Martin, A. (2006). Neural and muscular changes to detraining after electrostimulation training. Eur J Appl Physiol, 97 (2), 165-173.
  12. Kots, J.M. & Chwilon, W. (1971). Das Muskelkrafttraining mit der Methode der Elektromyostimulation (russ.). In: Adrianowa, G. et al. (1974). Die Anwendung der Elektrostimulation für das Training der Muskelkraft.
  13. Kreuzer, S., Kleinoeder, H., & Mester, J. (2006). Effects of whole body electro stimulation training and traditional strength training on various strength and blood parameter in juvenile elite water polo players. In: H. Hoppeler, T. Reilly, E. Tsolakidis, L. Gfeller & S. Klossner (Eds.) (Vol. 11, pp. 264). Cologne: Sportverlag Strauss.
  14. Kubiak, R.J., Whitman, K.M., & Johnston, R.M. (1987). Changes in Quadriceps Femoris Muscle Strength Using Isometric Exercise Versus Electrical Stimulation. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 8 (11), 537-541.
  15. Lai, H.S., de Domenico, G., & Straus, G.R., (1988). The Effect of Different Electro-Motor Stimulation Training Intensities on Strength Improvement. The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 34 (3), 151-164.
  16. Laughman, R.K., Youdas, J.W., Garrett, T.R., & Chao, E.Y.S. (1983). Strength Changes in the Normal Quadriceps Femoris Muscle as a Result of Electrical Stimulation. Physical Therapy, 63 (4), 494-499.
  17. Maffiuletti, N. A., Cometti, G., Amiridis, I. G., Martin, A., Pousson, M., & Chatard, J. C. (2000). The effects of electromyostimulation training and basketball practice on muscle strength and jumping ability. Int J Sports Med, 21 (6), 437-443.
  18. Maffiuletti, N. A., Zory, R., Miotti, D., Pellegrino, M. A., Jubeau, M., & Bottinelli, R. (2006). Neuromuscular adaptations to electrostimulation resistance training. Am J Phys Med Rehabil, 85 (2), 167-175.
  19. Martin, L., Cometti, G., Pousson, M., & Morlon, B. (1994). The influence of electrostimulation on mechanical and morphological characteristics of the triceps surae. J Sports Sci, 12 (4), 377-381.
  20. Matsuse, H., Shiba, N., Umezu, Y., Nago, T., Tagawa, Y., Kakuma, T., Nagata, K., & Basford, J.R. (2006). Muscle Training by Means of Combined Electrical Stimulation and Volitional Contraction. Aviat Space Environ Med, 77, 581–585.
  21. McMiken, D.F., Todd-Smith, M. & Thompson, C. (1983). Strengthening of human quadriceps muscles by cutaneous electrical stimulation. Scand J Rehab Med, 15 (1), 25-28.
  22. Miller, C., & Thépaut-Mathieu, C. (1993). Strength Training by Electrostimulation Conditions for Efficacy. In. J Sports Med, 14 (1), 20-28.
  23. 58. Pichon, F., Chatard, J. C., Martin, A., & Cometti, G. (1995). Electrical stimulation and swimming performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 27 (12), 1671-1676.
  24. 59. Portmann, M., & Montpetit, R. (1991). Effects of training by static and dynamic electrical stimulation on the muscular contraction. Science & Sports, 6, 193-203.
  25. Rich, N. C. (1992). Strength training via high frequency electrical stimulation. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 32 (1), 19-25.
  26. Ruther, C.L., Golden, C.L. Harris, R.T., Dudley, G.A. (1995). Hypertrophy, resistance training, and the nature of skeletal muscle activation. Journal of strength and Conditioning Research, 9, 155-159.
  27. Selkowitz, D.M. (1985). Improvement in Isometric Strength of the Quadriceps Femoris Muscle after Training with Electrical Stimulation. Physical Therapy, 65(2), 186-196.
  28. Soo, C.-L., Currier, D.P., & Threlkeld, A.J. (1988). Augment in Voluntary Torque of Healthy Muscle by Optimization of Electrical Stimulation. Phys Ther (United States), 68 (3), 333-337.
  29. Stevenson, S.W., Dudley, G.A. (2001). Dietary creatine supplementation and muscular adaptation to resistive overload. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, 33, 1304-1310.

 Muscle Conditioning