While electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) training has been around for decades, its benefits on the human body were first discovered in ancient times. Patients in Egypt and Rome were treated with electric fish, rays, and eels put in their bathing pools. Because each gives off a different electric discharge, they were used to treat a range of illnesses. The discovery of electricity in the 1800s led to further experiments on electricity’s applications in medicine.
In the 1970s, electricity became the answer to a new problem: muscle atrophy in astronauts. The absence of gravity meant no conventional ground exercises could be performed, and muscle tone regression was countered with EMS. The technology was later introduced in professional sports, where it first appeared in the rehabilitation of injured athletes. Then, as EMS research proved that it led to significant increases in an athlete’s endurance, stamina, and fitness levels, it started to be used as a training method as well.EMS research was proven to significantly increase an athlete’s endurance, stamina, fitness levels. Click To Tweet
The next milestone for EMS occurred in the 1990s, when a new generation of EMS equipment was developed, not for professional athletes, but for “regular” people trying to get into shape. The new devices stimulated the entire body when paired with active exercises. A pair of electrodes were placed on all main muscle groups—including thighs, gluteus, abdomen, back, and arm muscles—and the simultaneous stimulation, along with exercises focused on these muscle groups, provided outstanding efficiency.
Muscles contracted then relaxed due to the low-frequency electrical stimulation. The aerobic muscular metabolism was increased and fat burn began. During these workouts, muscles had an increased development rate and the effect of calorie burning could be felt for several days afterward. This immediately positioned EMS as a perfect exercise form for people with weight management issues, cellulite, or back posture problems, or who just wanted to improve their overall health.
Unfortunately, some EMS devices that appeared on the market during that time period had a questionable impact. For instance, the “weight loss” Slendertone-style slimming belt that was advertised on late-night TV, promising to give a person six-pack abs while they simply sat on the sofa. Customers were deceived by the false advertising, which used young models with perfectly toned bodies as well as computer-generated images, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission banned their sale. While it should seem obvious that there’s no substitute for real exercise and a nutritious diet, this kind of deceit positioned EMS devices as a fad, instead of the viable training aids that they are.
EMS training devices started to become a worldwide phenomenon in the early 2010s, with their biggest market in Europe—particularly Germany and Western Europe. Technology has advanced since the first EMS machines were created and so has the way they are used to work out. Today, one of the most efficient ways to utilize EMS is with an E-Fit 1280US device, the first EMS full-body system cleared by the FDA.
E-Fit, or Electro Fitness, was founded by Dr. Janos Papp in 2010 in Hungary to increase the effectiveness of EMS and advance EMS training. The company created a suit made of a special type of material with electrodes running throughout to contract the wearer’s muscles. E-Fit also developed a program of quick, very intense workouts with personal trainers and technology to support the regimen (and created an app for it). They researched, performed tests, and marketed the high-tech machine all over Europe. Full-body EMS training means working the body at its maximum efficiency. Athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness models loved it and E-Fit became a huge hit.
Embracing the E-Fit Program
As the owner and founder of 4U Fitness, I watched E-Fit’s successful launch and saw that it had staying power in Europe. In 2012, I introduced E-Fit to the U.S., and incorporated the full-body EF-1280US EMS workout system into my 4U Fitness studio franchise in Tampa, Florida. By doing so, I created a high-tech, hybrid fitness studio franchise—the only one of its kind offering EMS in the U.S. We also have a line of equipment and supplements.
4U Fitness and E-Fit developed an app to make it easy to schedule appointments and send out reminders. The app also controls the EF-1280 machine and records data for each client. (For example, what exercises were done, the strength of the current during each exercise, how many reps were completed, etc.) This allows them to review their progress and see the improvements along the way.
Our 4U Fitness clients enjoy the high-tech system. Users can view themselves on the screen in 3D, and actually see what they are doing to their bodies—how their muscles react to their movements by contracting and relaxing. It’s like watching a scientific movie.
After going through the process with the FDA for nearly three years, the EF-1280 earned an FDA clearance in October 2014. It is the only full-body EMS training device with this status. This past spring, fitness model Erin Stern became the face of the 4U Fitness brand. Erin is a two-time Ms. Figure Olympia champion, former Jr. All-American high jumper, and published author. She has been using E-Fit and working out at 4U Fitness to prepare for photo shoots and fitness competitions.
E-Fit is the foundation of 4U Fitness and almost everyone can use it—people who want to lose weight, lose inches, get rid of cellulite, and/or tone their bodies, as well as athletes and others who want to switch up their workout routine. E-Fit can help everybody achieve these goals. However, it is important to note that a few groups of people should not use E-Fit, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people with pacemakers or heart problems.
How E-Fit Training Works
As noted, the scientifically based E-Fit workout program is designed to crank up the intensity of traditional workouts, and is customized to each client’s needs. Electrodes throughout the suit target the major muscle groups simultaneously, including: pectoral muscles, latissimus dorsi muscles, bicep and tricep muscles, lower back section of abdominal muscles, gluteal muscles and quadriceps femoris muscles, hamstrings, and calf muscles. The suit stimulates the entire body, making the muscles repeatedly contract and relax during the entire workout. This stimulation of 350 muscles, combined with active exercising, makes the workout as intense as possible and the results as outstanding as possible.
Every E-Fit session is 20 minutes long, and guided by a personal trainer, who controls and adjusts the intensity of the electrical currents. While wearing the suit, the user performs sets of exercises determined by the trainer, including pushups, lunges, squats, etc. Trainers can add more electrodes, depending on the user’s needs, and also increase the strength of the electrical current to make the muscles work to their maximum capability. They can also decrease the amount of stimulation during each exercise, making E-Fit a low-impact, easy-on-the-joints workout, no weights required. (For more advanced users, a workout with weights is more common.)
The trainer uses the app to control the session, which records data from the workout. These records then help the trainer decide how to adjust the user’s sessions from week to week.
Because the workout is so intense, the recommended frequency is just two 20-minute sessions per week. Advanced athletes can withstand three 20-minute sessions in a week. Even with a necessary 48-hour rest period between E-Fit sessions, the regimen can easily fit into most users’ schedules—especially when you compare it to the traditional training period of 90 minutes daily. E-Fit provides intense, efficient, high-tech workouts that are great for almost everyone.
A lot of users with back pain notice a reduction in pain after working out with E-Fit. The user still works the muscles, but without the heavy lifting. Fat burning is an indirect benefit of EMS training. The expedited process allows the fat-burning process to begin sooner in the workout because the muscles are working harder than in a traditional workout. A low setting on the E-Fit machine increases the blood circulation and stimulates the tissue holding the fat, burning the cellulite.
Why Use E-Fit?
The full-body EMS EF-1280 workout system is highly efficient, enabling users to reach their fitness goals in a safe and timely manner. The EMS technology provides the equivalent of an hour’s workout in 20 minutes. During the training session, the device works 350 different muscles, contracting them a total of 36,000 times—that alone tells you how intense a workout it is. While it takes, on average, four sessions to see results, research has proven that working out with E-Fit is 18 times more effective than traditional training.In a 20-minute E-Fit training session, 350 different muscles are worked, contracting 36,000 times. Click To Tweet
A study at German Sport University Cologne compared traditional strength training methods to full-body EMS training in order to assess the impact on an athlete’s strength and speed. The researchers concluded that: “Dynamic full body EMS training… proved to be a highly effective means of increasing strength and speed as compared to other training methods” .
J. Vatter at Universität Bayreuth conducted a field study on the impact of full-body EMS training on a group of 134 people, both male and female. The subjects performed a full-body EMS workout twice a week for 12 weeks, dropping their body fat by an average of 1.4 percent. Eighty-two percent of participants noted that they’d gained relief from back pain as well .
Research by Mohd Faridz Ahmad and Amirul Hakim Hasbullah from the Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia focused on using EMS to build male skeletal muscle mass. The results of the study found that “[Using an EMS to increase skeletal muscle mass is] beneficial to all human beings that in searched [sic] for healthy lifestyle and also good for athletes” .
As I’ve noted, there are multiple benefits of E-Fit training, including:
- Quick workouts
- Builds muscles
- Trains large muscle groups simultaneously
- Protects joints
- Burns fat
- Improves the appearance of cellulite
- Reduces back pain
- Features personal training
- Suitable for all ages, regardless of fitness level
In general, E-Fit training is not significantly more expensive than the combined cost of a regular gym membership and a good-quality personal trainer. The results more than pay for themselves.
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- Speicher, U, Nowak, S, Schmithüsen, J, Kleinöder, H, Mester. Long- and short- term training results through mechanical and Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS) based on strength parameters. German Sport University Cologne 2008; published inter alia in BISp yearbook– research publication 2008/09.
- Vatter, J. Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS) as a full body training – Multi-fitness centre study. Universität Bayreuth, 2003; Publication AVM-Verlag München 2010.
- Ahmad, MF, and Hasbullah, AH. The Effects of Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) towards Male Skeletal Muscle Mass. International Journal of Medical, Health, Biomedical, Bioengineering and Pharmaceutical Engineering. 2015; 9(12):860-869.