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EMS: 48 minutes to a fresh set of legs!

By Brian Frank

If you already own an EMS device or have been thinking about purchasing one, here's a timesaving trick that I learned a long time ago when I first was introduced to this powerful technology in the early 2000s. By placing the pads creatively, you can effectively run Active Recovery on two muscle groups simultaneously to refresh four muscle groups in less than an hour. First, you do quads and calves, then you flip over and do hamstrings and glutes/piriformis. (The latter are treated as a single muscle group because they are positioned atop one another and are activated together.)

For those of you who are not well-acquainted with EMS devices and their benefits, the Active Recovery program is a 24-minute routine that effectively replicates the best sports massage you can imagine. It is the most often-used EMS program, and when we demonstrate EMS units at events, this is the program that convinces athletes that they need to own one of these devices.

Active Recovery is a compound program. It creates a "pumping" action on the capillaries that flushes out lactic acid and metabolic waste-filled blood and replaces it with fresh, new blood. The second component of the program is for de-contracture and endorphin release. This "feel good" part of the program causes tense muscles to relax and elongate, while also creating a powerful endorphin flush.

You'll need an EMS device, Compex or Globus, and eight of the 2x4 pads, either single lead (Globus only) or double lead.

1. Quads and calves: Follow the diagrams for pad placement and body positioning; I like to do this part of the routine in a seated, semi-reclined posture so that my knees are at about a 45° angle and my calves are not pressing against anything. For maximum comfort on the calves, be sure to keep your ankle at 90°. Do not point your toes at all.

2. Hamstrings and glutes/piriformis: Next, flip over and apply the pads to your hamstrings and glutes/piriformis (see diagram). I like to lie on the floor or bed face-down with a cushion under my ankles so that there is about a 15° bend in my knees.

A few words about input levels: To gain the maximum benefits from the Active Recovery program, it's important to turn up the input levels to the ideal ranges. If you own a Compex EMS unit, work your way up to a level of at least 50 energy units to a maximum of 100. There's no harm in going higher, but there's also no benefit to it. If you own a Globus EMS unit, you should be between 30 and 50 milliamp units. Again, no harm in going over 50, but no additional gain either.

With this simple trick, you can give yourself a completely fresh set of legs in well under an hour - including the time it takes to apply and relocate the pads. HN

Brian Frank is the founder and proprietor of Hammer Nutrition.