Everything You Need To Know About EMS Training & How It Works
By Paulina Hemmer
Exercise is not something I enjoy. It does not make me feel good, sexy, or happy. I find it sweaty, messy, and I do not appreciate the task of wrangling myself into a sports bra to avoid giving myself a concussion with a rogue boob. Working out has found itself consistently part of my New Year's resolutions throughout my young adult life, but it's hard to find the motivation and be consistent about exercising when, quite honestly, I simply don't want to spend several hours a week doing it.
Having shifted into a very sedentary lifestyle in the last year (thanks Covid) and wanting to give myself a jump start back into my new normal, I started looking into workout methods that could yield the best results with the least amount of effort. Enter Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS) training, which promises results equivalent to four hours of exercise. IN A TWENTY-MINUTE SESSION. Yup, I needed to know more.
EMS uses a high-frequency electric current to signal muscle contractions in a way that is remarkably like the signals sent by our own central nervous system to the rest of our body. The current flows throughout your muscles and the contractions reach deep fibres of muscles you didn't even know you had.
This method has been around for many years but was initially restricted to professional athlete use. The machines allowed them to get in extra training sessions to complement their schedules, and the system was especially useful for athletes with injuries who could keep up their physical fitness level and exercise specific areas on their body without risking further damage.
In more recent years it's become a favourite of celebs around the world, including Madonna, Alessandra Ambrosio, and even Tom Holland.
Research and clinical studies have concluded that electrical stimulation is an effective complement to resistance and strength training, and improves sport-specific skills and performance.
By Lian Brooks
By Laura Hampson
By Chloe Laws
This is because an EMS workout keeps your body engaged for up to 72 hours after your session and targets around 400 muscles simultaneously. With a price range comparable to a monthly gym membership, it means that even one session a week is enough to get my money's worth. So, after a bit of research, I signed up.
By Macaela Mackenzie
"Will it hurt?" My trainer chuckled a bit at the first question out of my mouth. I was nervous walking into the studio, but as soon as he walked me through what the session would look like, my fear subsided. The intensity, he explained, starts quite low, and is only dialed up at the user's request.
Throughout the session your body becomes accustomed to the sensation, and you can comfortably increase the current. I also learned it can be modulated independently by zone so you can focus your work by area.
While there is a specific workout gear – generally available to purchase or rent on-site – you do not need shoes, a mat, or any equipment, which made packing my gym bag very easy.
I was told beforehand that hydration is particularly important so all I had with me was my water bottle and my face mask. After a brief questionnaire about my health as well as a chat about my fitness goals, I was quickly strapped into a wet vest that looked like a life jacket and a (similarly wet) thick belt around my derrière, and quite literally hooked up to the machine in front of me.
As soon as the machine gets going, I felt pins and needles going through my body, almost as if I was vibrating. The trainer explained that while the electrical stimulation helps engage your muscles, they must be contracted when the current hits for the best results. We started with simple contractions and worked our way up to squats, lunges, and arm exercises.
By Lucy Morgan
The electrical impulses are not continuous, but the rhythm was easy to follow with the display on the screen: relax on green, get ready on yellow, CONTRACT AND EXHALE ON RED. Do not be like me and get distracted and miss your colour cues: the tingles are a lot less pleasant when you are not contracting!
By Lian Brooks
By Laura Hampson
By Chloe Laws
To my surprise, I actually had to ask for higher intensity several times throughout and then learned that specific settings and preferences from each session are saved into a personal key-card for clients. I was, however, not surprised to learn I am out of shape.
I was sweating profusely by the end of the session and had to go into an active rest position twice during the 20-minute training.
Obviously, not having exercised in about a year, I felt my muscles burning all through that first workout and I was achy and stiff for several days after. The pain felt deep, and I became very aware of just how much my body had actually worked during that session. It was a fantastic feeling, knowing that I was getting maximum soreness results for my minimal time investment.
I was back the following week and was so surprised to see I did not need to stop as much as the one before. It felt like a big change in such a short amount of time but considering I had done a week's worth of work, it also made sense.
Ultimately, each session is short enough that it didn't affect my schedule or cause me to dread going to the studio.
Exercise remains something I do not enjoy, but with EMS you are there for 20 gruelling minutes and then you are done. Go to the gym once and get a week's worth of results? Check!
Even after only two weeks, I can tell you I am all in.
You can find a list of different EMS providers in the UK by city here or here, but below are a few of our faves:
EMS Fitness Norwich