EMS Q&A (EN86)
with Hammer Nutrition EMS Expert Levi HochBy Hammer Nutrition
As Hammer Nutrition's in-house EMS consultant, I help customers get the maximum benefit out of their EMS unit, whether it is for speeding training recovery, amping up training to achieve a PR this summer, or addressing a specific injury that they are recovering from. While some of the folks I talk to are looking to create very specific, highly detailed training programs for a particular strength or movement (such as a pedal rotation), most of the Hammer Nutrition athletes I speak with share the same, common questions about basic EMS operations. Hopefully some of the following FAQs will help clear up any questions you have concerning getting started with EMS.
Q: Which model should I get?
A: This is one of the most commonly asked questions, understandably. The programs can't be upgraded or added, so whichever model you select is what you will be limited to.
THE EDGE model has three programs: Endurance, Resistance, and Active Recovery. Here are their respective program descriptions (more details on each available in the Compex Program Guide):
Endurance - Targets slow-twitch muscle fibers. Increases capillarization of the muscles and establishes a working regimen for developing the oxidative power of the endurance muscle fibers.
Resistance - Targets both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. Builds muscle size, strength, and density.
Active Recovery - Produces a muscle twitch. Clears lactic acid, increases blood flow, promotes muscle relaxation, and enables a faster recovery. Active Recovery is probably the most popular program featured on all three models and is probably the one that gets the most use.
If you are looking for additional training options beyond what the Edge provides, the PERFORMANCE U.S. includes all of the programs on the Edge plus Strength and Pre-Warmup:
Strength - Targets fast-twitch muscle fibers. Increases sheer strength and works the muscles at maximum power with less risk of injury to joints and tendons, with virtually no cardiovascular or mental fatigue.
Pre-Warmup - Produces a muscle twitch. Runs at a low frequency, increases blood flow, and oxygenates the muscles prior to a workout or competition.
For the maximum in training, pre-race warmup, and recovery options, SPORT ELITE gets you all of the programs on the Edge and Performance U.S. plus Recovery Plus, Massage, Explosive Strength, and Potentiation.
Recovery Plus - Produces a muscle twitch. Runs at a lower frequency, clears lactic acid, increases blood flow, and promotes muscle relaxation when muscles are fatigued after a vigorous workout or competition. Recovery Plus is similar to Active Recovery and is sometimes preferable if the muscles are very sore or sensitive, or if used when the muscles are "cold" with a margin of time between exercising and running the Compex. This is because it runs warm-up frequencies before going into the higher frequencies that are best for flushing metabolic waste and creating maximal circulation. Active Recovery is still preferable for immediately following exercise because it starts with the higher, most beneficial frequencies first, but for applications where muscles are very tender or sensitive, Recovery Plus is a phenomenal program.
Massage - Produces a muscle twitch. Runs at the lowest frequency possible to relax muscles that are severely fatigued after a workout or competition. Massage is a 20-minute program that only runs at low frequency for the ultimate in relaxation and endorphin release. Massage is perfect for loosening up tight or inflamed muscles and is a good program to use for sensitive areas such as the back, shoulders, or neck.
Explosive Strength - Targets fast twitch fibers located in large muscle tissue. Improves jumping, sprinting, or "explosive" muscle movements. Explosive Strength is a program that would benefit athletes who do explosive type activity such as track athletes, cyclists who race criteriums or time trials, ball players, etc.
Potentiation - Optimizes muscle potential before a workout or competition. Especially effective for sports requiring speed and velocity. Should be used ten minutes prior to activity. Potentiation is a vigorous but very short warm-up that preps the muscles for a fast start in a hard workout or race.
Q: What energy level should I turn an EMS unit up to during recovery programs?
A: Active Recovery and Recovery Plus should be run between 100-120 energy levels for best results. There is no need to exceed 120 energy levels during the recovery programs, and it's not recommended because it could fatigue the muscles unnecessarily. Massage is frequently used to loosen tight or inflamed muscles, and can be run at a comfortable energy level below 120.
Q: How often can I run the recovery programs?
A: You really can't overuse the recovery programs. In fact, the more you use them the better. Use them daily if you have the time and even multiple times per day if you're very sore or are using it for injury recovery.
Q: How often can I run the training programs?
A: You should run them 2-3 times per week for a muscle group to see maximal gains, but it's important to allow at least 48 hours of recovery time between sessions on the same muscle.
Q: Can EMS help patients with Multiple Sclerosis?
A: Although we don't make claims that it will, there have been MS patients who have benefited from EMS.
Q: What do the highlighted letter abbreviations mean at the bottom of the pad placement diagrams?
A: They stand for the program names ("E" indicates Endurance, "R" indicates Resistance, etc.) and are in relation to the body position of the figure in the corner of the illustration. The muscles should always be trained in an isometric fashion. Therefore, you must fix the extremities of your limbs securely. In this way, you provide maximum resistance to the movement and prevent any shortening of the muscle during the contraction, which could create the discomfort of muscle cramps and/or serious stiffness after the session.
For example, when stimulating the quadriceps, the user should be in a seated position with the ankles fixed with straps to prevent extension of the legs. The pad placements used for training programs will also work for recovery programs, but the recovery programs aren't highlighted in the same diagram because you should be in a comfortable, relaxed position instead of maintaining the isometric, elongated muscle position.
These are just a few of the many Compex questions I field daily. If you have questions about getting started with EMS, or want to schedule an appointment for a more in-depth consultation about how to take your EMS training to a new level, give me a call at 1.800.336.1977.View PDF