Shapely buttocks. They’re sought-after. They’re drooled over. They make the front pages of magazines. In fact, we value the perfect behind so much that we’ve even appointed it its own mascot, the peach!
But why? What is it about the rear that draws so much attention? And more importantly, how can training with electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) help you achieve it!
Training your glutes with electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) has 3 benefits. The glutes are targeted more efficiently meaning more muscle fiber is activated, less strain is placed on your joints and tendons during training so you can train more frequently, and it can also lead to a reduction in body fat.
Not only does a well-shaped beach butt look aesthetically pleasing, especially in the right outfit, but it’s also a good indicator of who spends their free time being physically active and who is eating cobbler on the couch while binging Netflix series.
So, have we finally found the secret ingredient to turn cobbler back into peach? If you want to know more, keep reading!
Glute Muscles & Functions
To answer that we first need to know what the glutes are and how they work.
The superficial glutes are made up of three muscles:
- the gluteus maximus
- gluteus medius
- gluteus minimus
The gluteus maximus is both the largest muscle in the body and also one of the strongest.
The functions for it include hip extension, external rotation, abduction and adduction of the thigh. Walking, climbing stairs, and keeping the body erect is all aided by this muscle. That’s a lot of work and should make you appreciate just how valuable it is.
The gluteus medius and minimus work together to help produce lateral, medial, and inward hip rotation, as well as abduction.
While not as big as the gluteus maximus, they serve to assist the maximus and add stability, though they are very often overlooked and undertrained, which leads to complications in movement and posture.
What is EMS?
EMS stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation and involves using electric impulses to force a contraction in the muscle. Unlike with a normal contraction, an EMS contraction is able to bypass the brain and fire all the muscles in a targeted area simultaneously, resulting in a 30% greater contraction than when done voluntarily.
One of the added advantages of EMS is that with frequent use, our muscles are able to fire quicker as the body tries to find more efficient nerve pathways to the muscle.
How to Get Stronger Glutes
The biggest misconception is that heavy, deep squats and deadlifts provide enough stimulus to build strong glutes.
Unfortunately, these movements, while important, are restricted to the sagittal plane and can often lead to injury if you’re trying to move too much weight while lacking proper foundational strength in all three muscles.
It’s therefore vital to practice exercises that promote movement in all three planes – sagittal, frontal, and transverse.
You can target all 3 areas three areas of the glutes to achieve a well-rounded workout with the following exercises:
- hip thrusters
- lateral leg raises
- hip abductions
- side lunges
- rotational lunge
- box jumps
If you find these too easy, dumbbells and training bands can be incorporated to add more resistance while you are building up to bigger lifts. They also help challenge your stabiliser muscles.
If you are finding it hard to maintain your balance during a single dumbbell lunge, for example, it’s a good indication that your glutes aren’t doing their job properly and need more attention.
Training Glutes with EMS
Training with EMS is by no means an excuse to kick back and expect the electrical impulses to do all the work for you!
EMS trainers still recommend that trainees go through the usual movements, such as squats, lunges, and hip raises while being stimulated. To increase the difficulty, you can increase the intensity and add weight to the exercise.
Full-body wireless EMS suits, like the AWI Powersuit, have an advantage here as more areas of your body can be targeted at once due to increased pads on the body at a given time. Increased pads also means that all three gluteus muscles, as well as underlying muscles, can be stimulated simultaneously.
Pros of EMS Glute Training
Here we’ll take a look at 3 benefits of exercising your glutes with EMS.
- Precise targeting of glutes
- Less strain on joints
- Reduction in body fat
A common complaint among gym-goers is a lack of activation in their glutes. This holds true even more for those with a sedentary lifestyle who are trying to become more active.
Increased periods of sitting mean that the muscles lose their efficacy for contracting. A glute that doesn’t contract places more work on the hamstrings and surrounding muscles, and this, in turn, can lead to bad posture, anterior pelvic tilt, and bad form when lifting.
- Precise Targeting of Glutes: One of the biggest benefits of EMS is that it helps you pinpoint weak points in your body. If you’re using a wireless EMS suit, you’ll find that the electrodes have already been incorporated into the suit to target muscles with maximum effect. You know that you’re hitting the spot!
- Less Strain on Joints: Compared to weighted exercises, EMS training puts less strain on your joints and tendons and is ideal for those with injury or problematic body parts. If you suffer from lower back pain while training due to weak and unresponsive glutes, EMS can provide you with a safe way of improving glute strength without further discomfort.
- Reduce Body Fat: This can be achieved in combination with a healthy diet and dose of cardio. The electrical stimulation targets cellulite through heating in the gluteal area caused by friction within the molecular structures. Localised heat in this area helps with the breaking down of fat cells and the removal of cellulite.
Cons of EMS Glute Training
While EMS does provide more effective muscle contractions, it can’t entirely simulate progressive overload over the long term. Strength increases are possible, but not to the degree of someone who is doing regular 100kg deadlifts and improving on them.
Most trainers recommend that EMS should be done in conjunction with other forms of training to give you an added edge and to help determine which muscles need more focus.
Is EMS by itself enough to firm up your butt for beach season? Well, not quite. When it comes down to size and strength increases, progressive overload is king. However, the importance of EMS cannot be emphasised enough.
It serves as an invaluable tool that can help you speed up the process of progression by pointing you in the right direction and by assisting in total muscle activation.
Remember though; your body is smart and is designed to adapt. If your aim is to get the best out of your traditional workouts and performance, a combination of “old faithful” and EMS is perfect for keeping your body guessing.
It’s a must for anyone who is looking to push the limits of their fitness and body sculpting potential.