Study/review saying EMS is awesome


Thanks for the link! This is interesting all right…

Just read this entire study… I find it interesting that it’s confirming that EMS training is more beneficial for trained individuals and elite athletes than untrained individuals.

I know that Charlie always said to wait 2hrs after a training session to do an EMS max strength session, but does anyone here think it could really hurt if you did it right after your training session? I’m a weightlifter and I feel like I could possibly reap some benefits from the EMS by reducing/cutting out some assistant work (squats, DL, rdls, etc) right after I do my comp lifts. I’d definitely have to do it right after my training session, as I don’t have the luxury that a full time athlete has.

Did you read the whole study or just the abstract that appears in the link? I’m just asking, because I had not read the article before. I had read part 2 of the same study by the same authors last year. It’s weird that the magazine published part 2 before part 1 (the quirks of peer review, I imagine). By the way the recommendations from part 2, reveal that the programs one can find in a machine are just as important, as the quality and of the electrostimulation parameters.

EMS is not unlike any other form of exercise: it taxes your muscles which to grow have to have time to recover. So EMS is a training session and you can substitute it for another session of regular voluntary exercise, but you shouldn’t double up indiscriminately.

Giovanni, to answer your first question. I did read the entire article as I get the JSC issue every month, it was quite dry and boring and it said it was Part 1 with Part 2 coming soon. From what I read it did give a variety of parameters that have been used in previous studies, but didn’t give a clear-cut list of parameters.

I’ve been talking to Cedric Unholz and he did say that he used it 15-20min after his voluntary training sessions in those videos. It was the only way he had time to incorporate EMS MaxS sessions with his work schedule. He also mentioned if he used it within 2hrs before bed that it would disrupt his sleep. I plan to use it the same as I don’t have the luxury of being a full time athlete.

I have part 2. I will put a link in the research page of my web site, if you are interested to download it. I agree these studies are quite dry. If you are interested to download a more readable article go to my bibliography page, section EMS in Sport to download
Maffiuletti NA - The use of electrostimulation exercise in competitive sport. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2006;1(4):406-7
The titles are in alfabetical order.


Have you read this recent study? It was in this month’s JSC.

Restoring Muscle Work Capacity With Electrical Stimulation

It says that endurance athletes were able to improve their work capacity in their calf muscles with EMS more than the athletes that didn’t use EMS. The protocols were a bit broad, saying that it used mild impulse frequency of 20hz to 120hz, 2sec ON/2secOFF, 20-25 mA intensity for 10 minute duration, 4 hours after the training session. It states that recovery would be less effective if it were performed any less than 4hrs after the training session because the recovery metabolic changes take place 2-4 hours after loading.

Let me know what you think. Do you agree with the protocols used in the study?


Thank you for bringing up this study. I downloaded a copy, went through it, and I’m perplexed. In a nutshell I had the impression it was not a good study. In addition I think the peer reviewers at JSCR do not understand EMS, are not current with recent research, and therefore were not knowledgeable enough to hold the study to a better standard. If I were a reviewer, I would ask to at least have language that conforms with all other papers, then I would start asking serious questions on their methods and conclusions.

The study doesn’t really explain what type of waveform they are employing (and the machine they used can’t be found on the net). They are also concluding, without supporting evidence, that if you want to obtain a good recovery you must use their settings (work/rest times etc.). But if the study doesn’t explore different settings, how can they suggest that their parameters work best? Another clue about the shoddiness of this study (and the Journal’s peer reviewer), is that in the bibliography the authors do not even mention some of the best (and more thorough) studies on recovery with EMS*.

The point you bring up about waiting 2-4 hours before performing recovery work with EMS, is something I’ve read in papers about manual massage for recovery. However, I have not seen a study yet about different time delays. If this study did it, they do not show any detail of it and their full results. I wish that with the number of practitioner that read this forum, we could have an informal peer network to crowd-experiment with optimal delay after exercise.

The 2s on, 2s off protocol also leaves me perplexed. But it’s difficult to make more comments about it without details on the waveform. They only write it has a phase width duration of 0.3 ms (300 µs), which is much weaker than what we use in the machines I import in the US. And then they write that it is an asymmetrical biphasic waveform (while we always use symmetrical), without specifying what the asymmetric part looks like. I assume they use a rectangular waveform but they do not specify, so it’s open to speculations. They also describe a trapezoid with take-off and landing size, but I suspect what they mean is the ramp-up and ramp down of current intensity (and again they do not say how long this is).

So, a lot of grey areas, which were not picked by JSCR. Unfortunately a decent article has to describe all conditions of the experiment, but this tenet was not respected, which makes the article useless.


  1. Cortis C, Tessitore A, D’Artibale E, Meeusen R, Capranica L. Effects of post-exercise recovery interventions on physiological, psychological, and performance parameters. Int J Sports Med. 2010;31(5):327–335.
  2. Tessitore A, Meeusen R, Pagano R, et al. Effectiveness of active versus passive recovery strategies after futsal games. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(5):1402–12.
  3. Tessitore A, Meeusen R, Cortis C, Capranica L. Effects of different recovery interventions on anaerobic performances following preseason soccer training. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21(3):745–50.


I’m not very sharp in EMS studies or reading studies in general so it’s good to have your take on this study. It seems like these studies have too many issues and there aren’t enough common denominators with these studies. It would be nice if every EMS study used the same protocols, machine, etc. Thanks for looking into this for me.

It is true that there are many variables and therefore a lot ground for confusion and misunderstandings. The good news is that in the last half-dozen years, lead researchers have converged on rectangular wave forms, and more or less protocols of the type that Globus and Compex employ. This study though failed to even explain what waveform they used, and it positively is not a rectangular waveform of the type I just referred to.

Since you are a subscriber to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (I only read on-line articles of interest at my local University), how is it possible to send a letter to the editor? Is there an e-mail there? I’d like to critique (deplore) their acceptance of the article.

Check your inbox, I’ve got a few addresses that you could possibly send it to.

Thanks. I wrote to both the official correspondent of the study, and to Prof. Bill Kraemer the editor in chief of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. I’ll write an update if they reply.

Awesome! Keep us posted.

The official correspondent for the article has not replied to my request for clarification.
The editor in chief of the journal admitted that the review process is not perfect, that there may be flaws in the article, and invited to write a critique of it, that he would publish.
One scientist who has written a ton of articles on EMS in the last 10 years, agreed with my critique.
Working now with a credentialed researcher to write the critique.

sorry to highjack!

Does somebody ever tried subscapularis EMS?

I have done 3 session of infraspinatus and supraspinatus so far, the results have been quite spectacular, from a weakness in external rotation to been able to lift more in external than internal.

I have used hypertrophy program with premium 200 Globus.

Since now the internal are more weak, I want to try it on the subscapularis, but I wonder how to place the electrodes since it’s a very deep muscle.

Thanks in advance If someone know or have experience with It!

Can you show picture of pad placement of what you did?

pic pic pic pic

Supraspinatus + infraspinatus EMS.jpg

How were the leads connected?

Good question. Let’s hear from Adonail (my guess is that he connected one lead to the large pad and one to the small pad).

Adonail, besides being a deep muscle the subscapularis is behind the shoulder blade (scapula). So you will have to increase current intensity to a much higher level. My anatomical guess is that the position the lower pair of pads in your picture is about right for the subscapularis. Therefore, as you try to stimulate the subscapularis, you will hit the infraspinatus as well. An additional difficulty is that the bone is a significant obstacle to the passage of current.

I will try to put the stimulation very progressively in the axillary area