T Nation

Russian Stim Machines


Once again, I apologze if this topic has already been posted.

I was trimming through a recent paper magazine looking for a company that sells heavy grips. Right next to that advertisement (always in the last pages) was something ive never really acknowledged before. Its a machine that looks like the radio-com I have in my Cessna, except you plug in these “pads” and attach them to select places on your body. ‘A few minutes a day with these bodybuilding and fitness machines and you can get jacked in weeks…’

Naturally, It sounds like a crock of shit, especially at mid and top hundred prices (cheapest I think is $400). I was thinking maybe they are a really expensive relaxation and rehabilitation device, but im even doubtful of that.

Thoughts?

These things have been advertised in bodybuilding magazines since the early 80’s…on the last page…with the rest of the crap that won’t work to make your muscle much bigger. If getting larger muscles was as simple as sending electrical stimulation through them, there would be no reason to lift weights. The only use I can see for this device is in physical therapy in order to delay muscle atrophy after an injury. I have heard some claim they think it can aid recovery. I personally disagree with even that assumption.

I was thinking that too, that it could be used for rehab and relaxation after an injury or something.

I think I’ll spend the money on a really nice sweedish massage then.

While not very good at stimulating hypertrophy, I think EMS is great for athletes. I have used it and find that it brings up strength in lagging muscle groups quickly and also increases the muscle “stiffness” needed for explosive sprints and jumping.

Here is what some of the authors here say about it:

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459574

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=518535

Oh, and if you want to try it out, I’d recommend getting one of the cheaper machines (50-75 dollar range). They usually have the basic features you need. The 400 dollar machines have a bunch of extra stuff that isn’t necessary: more settings, more leads for electrodes, etc.

[quote]smallmike wrote:
Oh, and if you want to try it out, I’d recommend getting one of the cheaper machines (50-75 dollar range). They usually have the basic features you need. The 400 dollar machines have a bunch of extra stuff that isn’t necessary: more settings, more leads for electrodes, etc.[/quote]

I have tried it out. If you have never had the experience, the sensation simply causes your muscles to contract as they would if you were having an involuntary spasm. The rate of contraction can be controlled. Unless you were some Olympic athlete hoping for at least some edge on the competition after absolutely every other possibility in your training and diet had been covered, I would spend the money on some decent food and a gym membership.

The cheaper machines are not the same, they don?t’ do what the real ones can do for an athlete. Charlie Francis was a big fan of the Russian stim for his athletes. I personally have tried it with great results. It works best if done after a heavy squat workout, and then I usually do a session on my hamstrings at the highest intensity that I can stand.

Charlie’s protocol was a 10 second contraction with a 50 second rest at the highest tolerable intensity. The theory I believe, is that b/c the body is efficient it will only use the amount of muscle fibers need to move a load, and it often spares some fast twitch fibers during training. The machine causes an involuntary contraction, and if any of you have every zapped a muscle in grade 12 biology you’ll know that the current forces all fibers to contract.

My favorite muscles groups to train with this machine are: hamstrings, quads, glutes, and lower back. This really help my speed and explosiveness in my olympic lifts.

It in no way replaces training, but it is one of my favorite methods to help my recovery while developing speed and explosiveness

I had one put on my forearm one time at a rehab clinic as a demo…it basically forced a grip contraction against my will. It was interesting.

In other cutting-edge news, isometrics will keep someone from kicking sand in your face.

There are different protocols for rehab and training with thes machine. It isn’t fair to judge these machines based on your experiences at rehab. Physios use these machines at very low settings to rehab muscles. That is not true russian stim training. It works, maybe not for building heaps of muscle, but it will help you build speed and explosiveness.

There’s a section in Supertraining that gets into some nitty-gritty on the different types of EMS and their usefulness. Many types are ineffective for most uses but the are a couple specific methods that are supposed to work to a certain degree. I suggest looking that up.

[quote]LittleBigMuscles wrote:
There are different protocols for rehab and training with thes machine. It isn’t fair to judge these machines based on your experiences at rehab. Physios use these machines at very low settings to rehab muscles. That is not true russian stim training. It works, maybe not for building heaps of muscle, but it will help you build speed and explosiveness.[/quote]

If these machines can do just that, then combat athletes (like myself) would benefit from a few days a week from this therapy. Im sure, like The Professor said, it would be an “edge” and not the knife itself in these sports, I would imagine clinics and some gyms having them handy for just such a purpose.

It would be nice if my gym did anyway…

My brother used one for rehabbing artrophied muscles after breaking his neck, and I used to put it on my arms and chest.
The only problem was that the current required to get a very strong signal burns your skin, even using an electrolytic gell.

One other use was after I dislocated a vertebra in my spine. It was applied very gently, fast pulses for 15 second cycles. It reduced pain, increased circulation, and kept the muscle in good condition while I healed.

Let’s have a 50-buck clunk of metal do what your brain ought to.

What’s next - hard-drives that think for you?

Darwin help us.

[quote]diesel25 wrote:
Let’s have a 50-buck clunk of metal do what your brain ought to.

What’s next - hard-drives that think for you?

Darwin help us.[/quote]

You’re one of those smart people we hear about sometimes, huh?

The only applications that I’ve seen these used for were cases of spinal/neurological impairment injuries, so maybe you should start looking in to one of those hard drives.

Ironically…

I found a Canadian made “Dr. Ho’s” muscle stim device. I tried it…

Man that thing fuckin sucked. I really hope the expensive ones are nothing like the one I used yesterday. It was wierd feeling. Almost like static shock transfering into my arms, inches away from where the pads were placed with a cold gooey gel.

Im glad I diddnt buy this, Im spending the money on a sweedish massage.

I’ve read stories of basketball players using this to increase their vertical. Apparantly it worked but their bone structure wasnt strong enough to support the higher jumping. They ended up with permantly ruined knees.

I geuss thats what they get for bein lazy and trying to get a machine to do their work. I wouldnt mind trying it out once just to see what its like tho. You wont see me buying one anytime soon.

Please take the time to read the links I posted. Especially the second one; Thibs wrote a pretty good summary of the benefits of EMS.

Doing EMS is not the “easy” way to gain strength. At proper intensities, it stimulates maximum muscle contraction (far greater than any contraction you can voluntarily produce). This HURTS. Many people have to bite down on a rag when using EMS in order to tolerate the pain.

Do you always evaluate new exercises based on how they “feel”? Twenty-rep squats make most people feel like they’re dying, but that doesn’t make them bad. Base your opinions on actual results. However, I’ll give you that there are some crap machines out there, and maybe that was one of them.

I don’t know what intensity you had it set on, but if the frequency was too high, the signal might not be going deep enough into the muscle. This causes an uncomfortable buzzing/pinching sensation on the surface of the skin. It is important to use the proper settings and pad placement to get the correct effect.

EMS is not for everyone, but I am really surprised about how many negative opinions there are about it, especially from people who haven’t tried it. I mean it is one thing to say it didn’t work for you, but another to say it doesn’t work, period.

I’ve actually used EMS with great success in the past. Regular applications to my hamstrings resulted in a great deal of muscle growth and allowed my to go from doing no natural GHRs, to doing 11 in one set. I improved my sprinting speed significantly in the same time, as well. And I only had a $50 model too.

If you’re willing to buy an $800 dollar Compex model and use it regularly then you’ll reap great rewards. However, using these things hurts much worse than training, and the pain alone is often enough to deter one from using EMS.

Don’t make fun of this training modality, as it certainly has its uses.

I wanted to thank you for posting those links, I learned alot from them.

Also, you might be right about the setting thing. At the lower part of the dial I wasnt feeling anything, but at higher intervals it was working well. It might have been the goo that was ameturely smeared about when placing on the pads, I just wasnt careful.

Im going to take a second shot at it with this new evidence.

I think EMS has it’s uses as a supplement to normal training. It has many of the positives of weight training without the neural fatigue… but of course you are also not stimulating the nervous system and are not taking the muscle through any range of motion and are not involving the non-contractile elements at all.

I’ve used (recently stopped as part of my end-of-season taper) the EMS 7500 as a way to supplement training in-season when I have to reduce my volume of weight training and felt like it had some positive benefits. Basically I felt like I was able to replace some of my normal weight training with EMS which helped me stay a little fresher during the season while not losing strength.

I plan on experimenting with it this off-season, both as part of a max strength phase (to overload more volume) and also during a power phase to help maintain muscle mass while normal “hypertrophy” training is not done as much. So I’m interested to see if it yields any more positive benefits.

It’s definitly not neccessary, but I think it definitly has more applications than just for elite athletes. It does hurt like a motherfucker though…