EMS Training Improves Functional Strength Endurance
Based on research by Justin Pienaar, Alex Johl and Martin Gerry Gerhardt (2017)
Movement and activity patterns of modern lifestyles are often one-dimensional and functional fitness has established itself as a stable and global trend. The functional fitness training concept is based on movements and physical capacity requirements of everyday life, work or sporting activities. As the primary goal of functional training is to transfer training-related strength improvements from one movement to another by affecting the entire neuromuscular system, EMS training might be a training form to significantly contribute towards this goal. While previous studies have found positive effects of EMS training on strength parameters, such as improvement of maximum strength, speed and explosiveness this study aimed to expand on the existing knowledge by examining how whole-body EMS training affects functional strength endurance.
Research description and outcome
The aim of this study was to examine the effects of an 8-week EMS training on functional strength endurance. Therefore, a modified version of a common strength endurance benchmark test from the CrossFit training concept, consisting of as many rounds as possible of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats in consecutive order within 10 minutes was selected and administered to a group of 25 men between 25 and 49 years of age (average age 35,6 years) before and after 8-weeks of EMS training. All research participants were regularly physically active (at least twice per week) and continued with their usual training, only adding one additional 20-minute EMS training session per week.
The results of the research show a highly significant performance increase of 43,4% after the 8-weeks EMS training. Research participants significantly improved their strength endurance capacity from an average of 2,67 rounds of pulling, pushing and squatting to an average of 3,83 rounds. It is assumed that these improvements are a result of the combination of an increase in core muscle strength, a long training-induced time under tension and the possibility to perform functional movements within the EMS training framework.
In conclusion, the findings of this research suggest that controlled, dynamic and bodyweight-only EMS training is an effective form of training for individuals wanting or needing to improve strength endurance or functional strength abilities for everyday activities and sport specific requirements.