Hammer Nutrition Blog

EMS Training – Riding the Edge

Posted by Vince Arnone on 08/02/2010 in Electrostimulation | No Comments »
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Owen Gue stays focused heading into a corner. Photo - Angela Nock

Author: Jim Bruskewitz

I speak with many athletes using E-stim (Electro Muscular Stimulation = EMS). We discuss training with the Globus EMS units and the conversations are just like conversations I have with athletes for whom I write training plans. It isn’t easy to feel as though you’ve fit all the pieces together to produce a plan that yields optimal results. One of the challenges of designing a training plan that does or does not include EMS training is that we are capable on any given day of enduring a training load that is larger than one we can absorb and recover from in time to do it again quickly. What makes it all the more challenging is that we don’t know if we have stepped over the line of doing more than we can absorb until later-a day or two removed from a workout or collection of workouts. Everything may seem to be clicking along in a way that bodes well for a great performance only to find that we “get off track” and “lose our edge”. Of course experience with getting off track teaches us what we shouldn’t have done and that’s valuable information. It doesn’t do much for the frustration we feel when our good intentions leave us bent over to pick up the pieces instead of rolling smoothly toward achieving our goals.

At this point in the season we are well into our training routines. E-stim training that includes active recovery, massage, and warm-up programs are no-brainers. They’ll only enhance a training session or race or they’ll get you ready for the next one more quickly. We address the “losing our edge” situation with these programs. Those that try to add training right now, like a host of strength training offered with a Glbous E-stim unit or a race specific workout, can’t find the space within their week to add and absorb this training. If you are trying to do this by following a planned series of workouts or incorporating say a Globus endurance program to help increase your race pace, you may find that changing the frequency and load may put you back on track.

Ever had an injury and found it difficult to find a training load that allows you to regain your ability to absorb a reasonable training load? I know the answer to that question. This is what I have found to work. Increase the frequency of your running (that discipline most likely to leave you limping) or cycling etc… With this increase must come a reduction, many times a dramatic one, in the training load. Decrease both the intensity and the volume. Who runs 20 minutes for a workout? Not many – it isn’t much of a workout unless it’s a 5k race effort. When you are having problems absorbing a load, like when you’re recovering from an injury, a 20 minute run may be way too much. It takes a whole new mental approach to wrap your head around the idea that you can run for only 5 minutes at a time without overstepping your body’s ability to absorb the load. If you runs 5 minutes every day seven days a week, no one session will compromise your ability to recover, and then at least you have 35 minutes of running in for the week. That’s better than running 20 minutes one time and then having to recover for days because of another setback. You can progress quickly and be running 20 minutes every day without problems. In a month’s time you can be running more miles in a week than you did when uninjured.

Finding it impossible to fit in the training you really want to do without dead legs or some kind of fatigue is like being slightly injured. If you want to enjoy the benefits of a faster race pace by using a Globus endurance program but it seems to get in the way of your traditional training, then treat the added training as though you are rehabbing from an injury. You can train with the Globus endurance program without the suggested 48 hours of recovery before your next hard workout if you control the training load by controlling the intensity. This is easily done since you have 120 graded intensity settings starting with an intensity you can’t detect and progressing to one you can’t tolerate. Go easy with the intensity and use the program often, even daily. You can very gradually increase the intensity of the program as your muscles become accustomed to it. You are gaining fitness in the process. Once the levels get up to something that is considered more standard, over 30 mA for those familiar with E-stim training, you’re ready to start taking days off between Globus endurance sessions. The suggested 48 hours of recovery between sessions can be employed. Now you are in a position to absorb a load that fits in with the rest of the traditional training you are doing. You’ve also gained a good deal of insight regarding how you respond to different EMS training loads. It certainly is gratifying when your hard work delivers the desired results. Enjoy riding the edge!

Jim is a multiple-time World and National Age Group Triathlon champion, a coach (www.enduranceperformance.com), and former lecturer at UW-Madison-Department of Kinesiology. He recently left teaching at UW to study and teach EMS training.

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