Are you too busy to get a workout in every day?
A new crop of fitness studios are popping up around New York City that promise to give you “three hours of conventional fitness training” in around 30 minutes.
Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) training uses low-frequency electrical impulses to contract muscle tissue and activate “90 percent of the body’s muscles simultaneously,” according to Shock Therapy, one of the boutique studios on the Upper East Side.
“You’ll experience a similar challenge to lifting weights or performing squats,” Shock Therapy writes on its website. “However, days after working out, you will feel sore as if you trained for several hours at the gym.”
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How does EMS training work?
At Shock Therapy, clients wear bodysuits that are hooked up to machines that send the electrical pulses to muscles, causing contractions. A live instructor then takes the clients through a series of moves made more difficult by the electrical pulses. Ultimately, “toning” limbs faster than a regular gym workout.
"As all muscle groups are exercised at the same time, the average length of a workout session is reduced to one-sixth,” Jose Luis Zamorano, founder of EMS training facility METAFITclub in San Francisco, told PopSugar.
But, is it legit? Yes and no.
Does EMS training help improve strength?
Electric stimulation is often used by physiologists and physical therapists to help strengthen muscles that have atrophied because of injuries and diseases. It also help alleviate muscle spasms and cramping and helps improve circulation.
But can it build muscle better than banging weights around in the gym? All signs point to no: A 2017 study on 21 male cyclists found that EMS training didn’t help improve endurance or strength. A separate study showed that EMS could help improve a person’s squat, but only if it was used in conjunction with other training methods.
One Men’s Health writer who went through an EMS workout said it made him more aware of his muscles and imbalances between them, but “there are no truly challenging muscle-building exercises here,” he wrote.
Starting at $55 per session, it seems like the only thing EMS training classes are good for is stimulating money out of your wallet.