EMS Max Strength Journal

Well, I thought things were heading in the right direction but I actually was going in circles again thinking that I was going to slowly work my way back into normal training. I started doing real easy squats a couple of weeks ago and sure enough all of the symptoms came back. Good news is that I’ve finally found out what’s causing my pain. I’ve recently had two MRIs and come to find out, I’ve been diagnosed with Femeroacetabulur impingement syndrome (FAI) and a hip labral tear, an injury that I knew I had for years now… These doctors, they just can’t listen to their patients…

I’ve only received the results from one of the MRIs (done without contrast) and it still says that there’s a chance that I do have early avascular necrosis. But there’s also a chance that it’s confused with bone marrow edema, which is caused by repeated trauma to the joint. Whatever this issue may be, it’s not the reason why I can’t move like a normal person. The reason why I can’t move properly is simply because I have a hip impingement. My orthopaedic doctor (the guy who’s my second opinion) told me that I’m a candidate for a hip arthroscopy. I haven’t met with the surgeon yet, but from my own research it will probably take me 4-6 months to get back into sports from this surgery. It’s been 11 months since I’ve been able to train without the unbearable pain in my left hip and it will be 17-18 months until I will be back. That’s a lot of precious training time lost especially when at age 22, but there’s nothing I could have done about it.

I spoke with Giovanni Ciriani over the phone this week and learned that I could have been using EMS MaxS to my advantage this entire time while I’m injured. A huge mistake on my part and I will start using it again to complement my limited voluntary training. My journal will be quite boring, but I’m going to start logging my training here consistently to see how much of an impact EMS can help with my recovery after surgery.

Monday, 4.29.13
HRV - 68, HR - 86.1
-No training because I had a hip arthrogram aka MRI with contrast. They stick a needle deep down in the hip and inject dye to determine if there’s a labral tear or not. It left me sore to where I could barely walk out of the facility.

Tuesday, 4. 30.13
HRV - 75.7, HR - 84.0
Bench - 185 x 10, 170 x 10, 155 x 10
Neutral Grip Pull-ups - 5 x 5, bodyweight

MaxS EMS - Speedcoach level 1 setting:
Hamstrings - worked up to 24
Glutes - worked up to 44

No quads stim because I was still very sore from the MRI yesterday. As recommended by Giovanni, I’ve started using the speedcoach program. My goal yesterday was to get some hard contractions, not maximal contractions. With the upperbody work, it was real light as I haven’t done any upperbody in a month, another training mistake…

Wednesday, 5.1.13
HRV - 77.7, HR - 77.6
Bulgarian Split Squat from deficit - 4 x 10, 55lb DBs
Active recovery EMS - 10min on quads, glutes, hamstrings.

My left hip was still a little sore from the MRI, but I was able to train with no pain. Those bulgarian split squats nearly killed me though and it was probably a little too much to do. My legs are not as near as sore as I thought they would be. With the cheaper unit I used to have, I used to experience soreness like no other!

Thursday, 5.2.13
HRV - 72.9, HR - 86.1
Bench - 3 x 10 w/ 170lbs
Neutral Grip Pullup - 5 x 5

MaxS EMS - Speedcoach level 1
Quads - worked up to 44
Hamstrings - worked up to 22
Glutes - worked up to 42

I did the quad stimulation a bit different today as I put my legs into a leg extension machine (at home) while doing the contractions. This gave the quads a stimulation from a stretched position. Again, I wasn’t trying to work up to a maximal contraction, just a hard contraction. My upperbody was still a bit sore from Tuesday as expected but not too bad. I’m really enjoying the EMS sessions so far, the biggest issue that I face is making sure the pads are placed symmetrically.

EDIT - also going to start logging in my Heart rate variability (HRV) data, even though it’s somewhat pointless doing this with limited training. My average baseline number the past 4 months I’ve been using it is 74 I think.

Friday, 5.3.13
HRV - 78.4, HR - 81.9
Bulgarian Split Squat - 3 x 10, 53lbs
DB RDL - 3 x 15, 53lbs
ISO Lunge - 2 x 30sec

EMS Active Recovery, 10min each muscle group
Quads - 14
Hams - 14
Glutes - 37

How are you measuring HRV? Are you using ithlete or a different device? Also, what position are you doing the test?

CLIMBON, I use the Ithlete and take the measurement from a standing position like it recommends. I also take it within 1-5min after waking. This explains why my heart rate numbers are a bit high. I may consider taking it from a lying position because I doubt my resting heart rate is below 55. I think the standing position is meant for resting heart rate is below 50 or something.

OK. I was wondering why the HR numbers were so high. I would recommend doing it lying down or at least in sitting. I think it gives a more accurate measure for those of us who are not endurance athletes with extremely low resting HR. I would think that most people who follow the CF’s principles would be in the 50’s to low 60’s (supine or seated) simply because of the low intensity/general conditioning work.

I agree, it’s probably a more consistently accurate way to measure it. I’ll definitely switch tomorrow as I’ve been considering doing this for a while.

Did any of the health professional that treated you like at your joints? Did they rule out spine and pelvis? Did they check to see how the hip, knee and ankle joints moved on both sides for comparison? Or did they only perform soft tissue work?

Ya all of the health professionals compared my left hip to my right, made sure it wasn’t a pelvic or spinal problem, etc. The movement that I’ve always been missing in my left hip is hip flexion and internal rotation. I had a lumbar microdiscectomy 5 years ago and I believe that this missing hip ROM (and ridiculously tight hamstrings) might have caused this injury. I did get soft tissue work but it didn’t do much good.

Did they do any joint mobilizations or was it all soft tissue work? My guess with everything you have said is that there is a joint issue that led to muscular/soft tissue issues due to compensation. If that is the case, soft tissue work will not correct the problem because it never gets to the source. If the issue does turn out to avascular necrosis, there really is much therapists can do for that.

I don’t know if it’s a good idea to change to a seated position when doing the Ithlete HRV test. The test is designed specifically to be done standing while breathing, I believe in order to better see the differences in variability. I would carefully read the Ithlete manual before making a change such as doing the test seated. Heart rate usually spikes by at least 10 BPM once you stand, and this is accounted for as part of the Ithlete test. Taking the test seated may create an altered reading, so again I would carefully read over the manual.

I’ve seen about 10 different professionals consisting of physiotherapists, orthopaedists, sports chiropractors, alternative therapists, soft/deep tissue therapists for this issue and I did get joint mobilizations from the PT and Chiros as well as soft/deep tissue work. I agree that the bottom line is that I have a structural issue - FAI syndrome. The truth is that surgery is most likely the only option I have left and hope for the best that I don’t have true avascular necrosis. I have a very complicated issue to say the least…

Tyrone, I have looked into changing the HRV standing to lying protocol and the FAQ on the Ithlete website (http://myithlete.com/FAQ.html#faq11) says it shouldn’t matter as long as the readings are consistent. It also mentions that the research saying that RHRs below 50 would likely cause skewed data.

I don’t have any major training goals right now besides getting healthy and think this would be a good time to experiment. I think taking the measurement from a lying position would be a lot more convenient. Here are my results from the past three days since switching to the lying measurement:

Saturday - 91.7 HRV, RHR -60.8
Sunday - 91.6 HRV, RHR - 65.3
Monday - 85.8 HRV, RHR - 61.1 (stayed out later than usual last night and didn’t get as much sleep.)

I’ll be posting this stuff daily here to see if it stays consistent.

Week 2, Monday, 5.6.13
HRV - 86, RHR - 61
DB Bulgarian Split Squat - 4 x 10, 45lb DBs
RDL - 3 x 10, 165lbs
ISO Lunge - 2 x 30sec

EMS Speedcoach Level 1
Quads - 41
Hamstrings - 30
Glutes - 38

I can already start to tell that my legs are gaining the muscular size closer to where they once were after two sessions of MaxS EMS. I used different pad placement for the hamstrings and glutes this time. For hamstrings I used to use the rectangular 50x90mm pads for the upper pad placement but the stick wears off a lot faster than the square 50x50mm pads. I now just use all 50x50 for the hamstrings. For the Glutes now I’m using the recommendations from the Globus manual that involves placing three 50x50mm pads on the glute and one 50x90mm pad on each upper hamstring. I noticed a tremendous difference in the glute contractions and it even involved less milli-Amps/power than how I was previously placing the pads.

I found RHR and HRV were never very correlated. Often low RHRs didn’t mean great HRV scores. I also think a subjective test each morning such as a “feel great, feel so-so, feel terrible” helps to correlate what might be ideal for you. Zeo or newer sleep products also help get you more indices. With those you can do all sorts of ratios on sleep, HRV etc. Not sure if it has merit given the time and the lack of proof, but might be something to explore if you do have time and energy for it.

Initially I did not notice any correlation between RHR and HRV, but after having done it consistently I do notice my HRV is normally better the lower my RHR is. This is not always the case though. I have also been able to guess pretty well if my HRV is going to be “great, so-so, terrible” by how I am feeling before and during the test.

I have generally found the same- the lower the resting heart rate, the better the nervous system status. We currently have a lot of data on a Michigan based athlete doing a Short to Long program. I am looking forward to sharing some of that data in the near future.

Tuesday, 5.6.13
HRV - 84, RHR - 64
Bench - 205 x 10, 185 x 10, 165 x 10
NG Chin-ups - 5 x 5 w/ 10lbs added
Contrast shower - ended on hot
EMS Active Recovery Mode - 10min each
Quads - 14
Hamstrings - 20
Glutes -32

I have more lame news to tell about my hip - I’m not even going to get to see the surgeon until mid June because he’s super booked. Part of the reason why I’m getting in so late is because the office secretaries just now sent my info in today when my MRIs were complete last week. Jeez these doctors are causing me to lose all kinds of training time…

Bench was easy today, will go for 225 next week. I don’t have any muscular soreness from yesterday’s EMS session.

So I got a chance to look through Mike’s HRV data. We currently have 110 days of data, with 51 out of 110 days having an HRV score of 80.0 or higher.

Out of the 51 days with scores higher than 80.0, there are 15 days with scores of 85 or higher. They are listed below;

05/6 HRV 87.3 HR 64.1
5/5 HRV 85.3 HR 59.1
4/25 HRV 85.1 HR 67.4
4/23 HRV 85.5 HR 66.5
4/18 HRV 85.1 HR 67.3
4/8 HRV 87.8 HR 60.3
3/14 HRV 88.8 HR 58.4
3/13 HRV 87.9 HR 60.8
2/15 HRV 88.3 HR 58.2
2/11 HRV 86.3 HR 63.0
2/9 HRV 85.6 HR 62.6
1/30 HRV 86.2 HR 59.6
1/27 HRV 87.1 HR 59.9
1/26 HRV 87.5 HR 62.8
1/23 HRV 87.8 HR 53.7

You can see once HRV climbs to 87’s, he has a resting HR of below 60 virtually every time, so there does appear to be a pretty clear correlation between lowest heart rate and highest HRV score. Obviously the sample size is limited, but it’s growing daily!

When I get more time, I can drill down deeper and start to show the effects on HRV of tempo, EMS, and massage. Very interesting stuff!

Tyrone, keep in mind that Mike is also following the recommended Ithlete measurement protocol by taking a standing measurement immediately after waking. I know it’s not ideal to compare Ithlete measurements between two people, but his standing HRV/RHR measurements are better than my lying HRV/RHR measurements! If he were to do a lying measurement, his RHR might get below 40 which makes the standing measurement very necessary for him.

Also, the Ithlete is coming out with a team app now. I bet you could get a beta version of it if you talk to the Ithlete people: http://myithlete.com/blog/?p=1592


It will be interesting to see your results with tempo, EMS, etc and HRV. I have noticed some trends and it will be interesting to see if you are seeing the same things with the athletes you are testing.