Strength training with EMS during the competitive season (EN85)

(Even when injured!)

By Hammer Nutrition

What will the variety of Compex strength programs do for you? The programs will actually build strength more effectively than you could ever build strength in a traditional weight room setting. Additionally, you'll find it takes less time to recover between strength training sessions. The result is that you'll be able to absorb your Compex strength training and traditional training load throughout the year.

A number of the principles that guide a weight trainer through various phases of training annually can be applied to strength training with a Compex. (These periodized programs are discussed on pages 27-29). However, as endurance athletes, the weight training principles that involve range of motion, kind of contraction, speed of contraction, and firing patterns are of little consequence because they are not specific to endurance sport endeavors. Since training in the weight room to attain these adaptations increases the time to recover between training sessions, some training space used to train specifically for the endurance sport is lost. For this reason, most athletes will weight train in the pre-competitive season and then greatly reduce or stop their weight training altogether as they spend more time with sport-specific training. It's unfortunate, but a good part of the gained fitness is lost when the weight training stops or is curtailed.

And then there is strength training with Compex. The programs for Strength, Resistance, and Endurance have been pre-programmed to take into account:

1. A warm-up phase to increase the mechanical efficiency of a shortening muscle and increase the ability to recruit more of the muscle for the upcoming training session.

2. A contraction and alternating recovery phase repeated for a preset period of time designed to deliver an optimal training load.

3. A recovery phase to shorten the recovery period required before meaningful training can be repeated.

When strength training with Compex, the load on the joints and connective tissue is minimal. Also, there is no cardiovascular load associated with performing these programs. As a result, the recovery from running these programs is quicker than with traditional strength training methods. This allows an athlete to strength train throughout the year, gain and maintain the desired adaptations, and leave more room for the sport-specific training that must be done.

Take a look at the training situations on pages 27-29 that you can use to increase your strength and improve your performance.

For those building strength while injured

[Situation 1]

Compex is a very powerful tool for helping to build strength while injured. The contractions elicited with Compex are not generated instantaneously. This contraction build is not noticed by the practitioner, but the nature of the contraction protects connective tissue and joints. Even with this level of protection, the involuntary contraction can recruit more muscle fibers than are recruited with a maximal voluntary contraction. This allows a 100% healthy athlete to build strength more effectively than they could with traditional resistance training programs. In the case of an injured or rehabilitating athlete, where voluntary nervous signals are hampered, the involuntary signals will get through to rebuild strength and balance in muscle groups.

Here's a simple and very powerful way to proceed:

  • Train the muscle groups that have been affected.
  • Train the right and left side simultaneously. Recent clinical studies have demonstrated that the affected side will learn from the unaffected side and guide the re-education of the injured area.
  • Always balance the degree of contraction on the right and left side. Do this by the look and feel of the contraction.
  • No matter what program you use, always take the intensity up to your threshold of tolerance. You'll find that this threshold increases as the program progresses. Continue to find your threshold of tolerance every few minutes. Compex is very powerful. You can contract the muscle to a point that is intolerable. Of course, this level of stimulation is not practical, and yet you cannot hurt yourself with Compex.

Since you can contract more muscle with Compex than you can with a maximal voluntary contraction, you could get quite sore. To prevent this undesirable effect, use an intensity that is below your threshold of tolerance for a few sessions. After running a program for about a week, you can get aggressive with the level of contractions without the downside of delayed onset muscle soreness.

The Endurance program is a slow-twitch (Type I) muscle fiber program, Resistance trains only intermediate fast-twitch (Type IIa), and Strength trains only dedicated fast-twitch (Type IIb). You use all three during exercise, even ultra-distance events and workouts. Training all three muscle groups is the way to go.

Train the target muscle groups as follows until you are rehabilitated. (At that point you can get on a different plan discussed later.)

  • Day 1 Endurance on all target muscle groups
  • Day 2 Resistance on all target muscle groups
  • Day 3 Strength on all target muscle groups
  • Day 4 repeat day 1
  • Day 5 repeat day 2
  • Day 6 repeat day 3
  • Day 7 rest from Compex

This is more strength training than you would want to do if not rehabilitating from an injury. When rehabilitating, traditional training is very limited, so recovery for the next training session is not as big a consideration. Getting stronger so you can return to your normal training more quickly is the focus.

  • Week 1 choose level 1 for all three programs
  • Week 2 choose level 2 for all three programs
  • Week 3 choose level 3 for all three programs
  • Week 4 choose level 4 for all three programs
  • Week 5 choose level 5 for all three programs

This plan will remove a great deal of the neural inhibition that keeps muscle fibers from getting the signal to contract. Compex will give you a large (even larger than pre-injury) pool of motor units (the nerve cell and the muscle fibers that the nerve cell innervates) that you can incorporate into the unique firing patterns used to swim, bike, run, etc. Youll be stronger, given that it is the removal of a good share of neural inhibition that is far and away the biggest contributor to increased strength.