So, you know a bit about EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) and its benefits, you’re excited to give it a go but you’re still wondering how to actually use it…
Then you’ve come to the right place!
Today we’re going to answer 6 common questions we get asked about how to use an EMS suit.
We’re going to cover:
- Warming Up Before Using EMS
- How to Control EMS
- Where to Place the Electrodes
- How to Train with EMS
- Managing the Intensity
- How Long are the Muscle Contractions and Pauses
EMS Machine or EMS Suit
Before we dive in, let’s have a quick refresher of the two main ways we can use EMS:
- Hooked up to a EMS machine in a gym or rehab centre under the guidance of a personal trainer, who will manage the intensity and support you through your workout.
- Wearing a wireless EMS suit, allowing you to enjoy total fitness freedom of training anywhere, anytime. With an EMS suit you are in total control of your workout!
Warming Up Before Using EMS
Warming up before working out is something which is often skipped or forgotten about, but is so important to give you a productive and injury-free workout.
If you’re training with an EMS suit, warming up is essential for 2 reasons:
- Having some dampness on your skin will allow the electrode pads to have a strong connection with the muscles.
- You need your muscles to be warmed up, so they are ready to be engaged and get the full benefit from the electrical impulses.
To stay well hydrated, drink plenty of water before and after training, and if you live in a cold climate, or your skin is dry, you may wish to have a hot shower before the workout.
And as with any exercise, you should also warm up first with some easy cardio moves, preferably until you break into a mild sweat.
Where to Place the Electrodes
One of the great things about using an EMS suit is that you don’t have to worry about where to place the electrode pads which create the muscle contractions.
With an EMS suit, the electrodes are already lined up with your major muscle groups, meaning that the muscles are ready to be targeted accurately.
Simply get into the suit and pull up the zipper and you’re ready to go!
The 10 traditional muscle groups targeted by an EMS suit are:
- Middle Back + Waist
Controlling the EMS Suit via an App
EMS suits are powered by a battery pack that magnetically attaches to the suit, with other variables such as intensity, workout time and the length of muscle contractions being conveniently managed through an app on your phone.
Most apps come with preset training modes allowing you to decide which muscle groups you want to focus on. For example, the AWI Powersuit comes with 4 presets, fat burn, cardio, strength and relax, with each mode targeting a different set of muscles at a different intensity.
How to Train with EMS
Now that you are warmed up and have the app set up, you’re ready to begin training with your EMS suit!
We workout because we want to look and feel good, and we do this by building muscle and losing body fat.
To do this we incorporate two types of training into our workouts:
- Resistance Training
Resistance training aids to reshape and tone your body, whereas cardio will help you to lose weight.
Take a look at our “How to Train with EMS” post for more info on how EMS can be used by both beginners and advanced athletes to build muscle and endurance.
Whenever you workout or exercise, be careful not to overtrain as this can be counterproductive and lead to injury.
A study by Professor Prof. Dr. Dirk Fritzsche found that over-exertion of the untrained muscles caused actual damage to the muscles which went above and beyond simple muscle fatigue.
He goes on to add that “I’d like to give you this rule of thumb: Train enough to exert yourself but ensure that you can still breathe during the stimulation phase,
don’t overdo it (especially at the beginning)!
The results of the training improve with increasing intensity.
For beginners, it is important in the beginning not to train too much with too high intensity. Slowly increase the intensity step by step and slowly reach a higher level.
The contraction, which initially appears to be the maximum tolerable, will feel largely bearable after a few training sessions.
As a benchmark, aim to begin at around 5% – 10% intensity, and then gradually increase according to your comfort level.
Turn it up to a level where you can feel it working, but not uncomfortable.
With an EMS suit, you have the ability to easily and quickly adjust the intensity of the workout – just another one of the ways that an EMS suit can take your performance to the next level.
Duration of Muscle Contractions and Pauses
Once you become more familiar with EMS and confident in its use, you can begin to change the muscle contraction time to march your training goal.
We recommend that beginners use the EMS presets.
The presets are based on the “Time Under Tension” principle of resistance or strength training. When we’re doing resistance training we want to be creating as much tension in our muscles as possible.
To do this, Dan Trink from Muscle and Fitness recommends taking 4 seconds for the eccentric part of the movement so that you are working your muscles in a way to optimize growth.
With an EMS suit, this means that the contraction will last for 4 seconds, followed by a 4 second rest.
Not sure what eccentric training is? Head over to this useful post by Verywell Fit for a quick intro and the benefits.
Hopefully you’re a bit clearer now about how to use an EMS suit.
For beginners, getting to grips with the basics is fairly straightforward and easy to use, giving you a workout which is highly productive yet not too intense.
And if you’re looking to use EMS to boost your sporting and athletic performance, the options are almost limitless.
Go and visit our video on YouTube for a quick guide on how to use the AWI Powersuit, or visit our website for more information on how the AWI Powersuit can support your health and fitness goals and take your sporting performance to the next level.