Hammer Nutrition Blog

Periodization Principles for EMS – Keeping It Fresh, Keeping It Going

Posted by Vince Arnone on 08/16/2010 in Electrostimulation | No Comments »
Periodization Principles for EMS

Stevie Cullinan, of the Hammer sponsored Team Waste Management, races during the Redlands Classic. Photo - Brian Smith

Author: Jim Bruskewitz

Gains in strength, power and endurance are adaptations to stress (training). If the stress remains constant, there is no need for further adaptation and improvements are followed by a performance plateau and eventually an involution or decline in performance.

In order to enjoy gains throughout a prolonged training experience, the athlete needs to change the training stimulus in a regular fashion. Training efficiently requires a planning process that builds change into an EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) training routine. The kinds of changes and the rate at which they occur should be based on a few training principles mentioned below. Using these training principles as guidelines allows for a great deal of flexibility and individualization of a training program. You can develop your own training program to meet your needs and deliver the kind of results you desire if you can incorporate what is common to all successful training programs. These training principles as they apply to EMS are as follows.

Principles of Variety

  • Variation between training phases
  • Variation of training phase goals

Principles of Specificity

  • The muscle fiber type (slow twitch or fast twitch) and therefore the energy delivery system trained.

Principle of Progressive Resistance

  • Total training stimulus, the intensity of the current in mA at which one trains, should increase in a regular fashion.

We can hang our own EMS training tailored to our needs on these training principles.

Our training phase goals change because we’ll eventually run out of improvement training the same way. When it comes to the different kinds of strength that we can build using a Globus EMS unit, we’ll notice improvements from the max strength program in a few weeks, from the resistive strength program in four to six weeks, and changes in the strength of endurance starting in six weeks. The rate at which we enjoy these improvements will change over time. Our rates of gain will slow in 6 to 8 weeks of max strength training, 6-12 weeks of resistive strength training, and 12 plus weeks of endurance training using the EMS programs. Hence, we are not well-served spending too many weeks training for a specific adaptation, like maximum strength. If we change our training according to the principles listed above, we can enjoy the benefits of the various kinds of strength over an entire season.

It was suggested in the January 09 Endurance News to spend 6-9 weeks first in the max strength programs, followed by 6-9 weeks of resistive strength and finally 10-15 weeks of endurance. A transition of 1 week fits between the strength and resistive strength and again between the resistive strength and endurance phases of the EMS training. This is a very common and effective approach. The training pinpoints the various kinds of strength that can be gained with EMS training one adaptation at a time. There are other approaches that work too. Not only is variety in the kind of training beneficial, but it can be a useful approach to the way we plan our periodized training. Let’s look at two other tried and true approaches to building strength with a periodized EMS training plan.

The amount of time spent in each training phase can be reduced so that one cycles through max strength, resistive strength, and endurance in a six week period instead of the season long cycle described above. Spend two weeks each in the max strength, resistive strength and endurance Globus Premium Sport and Sport Plus model’s EMS programs. After this six week cycle, start the six week cycle over again. This cycle can be repeated throughout an entire season. With this approach, the Principle of Variety and Specificity are certainly applied and the Principle of Progressive Resistance can be applied as follows. During the first six week cycle, the level 1 of the three programs should be used. The next time through the six week cycle, increase the level of the Programs from 1 to 2. Each week, the mA current (the intensity) should be increased slightly. A 5% increase in mA level settings from week to week within a given program level is appropriate. Adjust these levels based on comfort and individual needs.

Another approach to periodized EMS training is to mix the kinds of training programs within each week. If one fits two Globus EMS training days in per week, two different strength programs, like max strength and resistive strength, are included in each week of training. Since a program type is used once per week, one can at least double the number of weeks spent training for a specific adaptation. Throughout this period, the Principle of Progressive resistance should be applied. The mA current, intensity, can again be increased gradually each week. The program level 1, 2 or 3 can be increased bi- or tri-weekly. If you choose to build strength three times weekly, max strength, resistive strength, and endurance could all be trained in the same week.

Whatever form of periodization you choose to use, keep in mind that consistency underpins the potential for gain. No gains can be made no matter how carefully you plan your training if the Globus device is not consistently a part of your training regime. You can rigidly apply the Training Principles of Variety, Specificity, and Progressive Resistance while planning your performance improvement with a Globus EMS unit, and still have a good deal of freedom in how you organize your EMS training. Be creative, have fun with it, and enjoy the improved performance.

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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