T Nation

Home Workouts and Compex EMS

Hi Coach,

I enjoyed your article about home workouts today. One part in-particular, EMS hit me. I have the exact unit you linked to in your article, and I noticed you used it as well. My questions are:

A- Do you actually workout with the units on? And do you do so for the suggested time compex provides?
B-How often do you incorporate this? Monthly, bi-monthly etc?

A. Yes and no.

You CAN do movements with the EMS device on. In that case, you would time the movement with the intense contraction period (this works better with the “strength” program). But I don’t really do it with weights (yet). It’s just to get a better neurological transfer to dynamic movements.

Normal EMS (done without moving, which is what I do 90% of the time) is a lot like isometric work. It does get the muscles stronger, but it doesn’t transfer directly to a movement because the coordination and muscle recruitment pattern is not the same.

The logic is that doing some sessions where you perform either the eccentric or concentric action while the machine is producing tension, allows you to get a better transfer.

I find that doing only the concentric portion of the movement works better (for strength) than doing only the eccentric portion.

For example, I would put the EMS pads on my triceps (or chest). Set myself in a bench in the power rack with the empty bar set on safety pins in the low position. When the intense contraction starts (which lasts around 5 seconds) I press the bar up slowly, focusing on contracting the muscle being stimulated as hard as possible. At the end of the intense contraction I bring the bar down (the rest period being around 15 seconds).

I have not done it with weights yet, but I’m sure it can be done and I will do it in the future.

I think that the best protocol to do “with movement” would be the explosive strength protocol, which has a contraction of around 3 seconds and wouldn’t force me to go slow on purpose.

I still do most of my sessions without movement though. Because I do plenty of regular lifting, the transfer is still likely to occur.

The protocol that I will experiment with we me and some athletes will be:

Weeks 1-3: no movement, with strength protocol
Week 4: movement (lightly loaded) with explosive strength protocol

B) Well I use some form in every block. I use block/concentrated periodization (my goal right now is sprinting speed, until next november). During power development blocks, I don’t use it on major muscles, only on abs and lower back. During the strength blocks I use it on quads/hams/glutes (I don’t really need my upper body to be bigger or stronger), 3x a week.

So that means normally 3-4 weeks of intense EMS work

Wow, thanks so much for going to that level of detail coach! Very much appreciated!