Is EMS Training as Great as Advertised?

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Workouts are an essential part of the weight loss process, especially if you understand that it’s important to lose weight in a healthy and maintainable way. Unfortunately, many of those who struggle with weight also have problems finding the time for workouts. So, the idea that you can do it in 20 minutes and then go back to your busy schedule is really attractive. That is what EMS training promises – great results in very short workouts. But is it as good as it sounds?

Just a quick note before we begin – EMS training, as defined below, is related to fitness and workouts. We’re not talking about training to become a paramedic or medic, which, in some jurisdictions, are also known as EMTs or working for an EMS – emergency medical services. With that out of the way, let’s dig into everything you need to know about EMS training!

What is EMS Training?

EMS training stands for electrical muscle stimulation training. It sounds a bit strange and complicated, and when you see it for the first time it looks intriguing or even a bit scary. The suit used looks cool, but the electrical wires attached to it may make you nervous. Even the idea of having electric pulses sent around your body seems unnatural to many at first. And yet people are doing it to lose weight, and EMS training has actually become very popular lately, so it’s worth checking out.

Electrical muscle stimulation was first used by physical therapists to help patients recover after an injury or surgery. It helps treat pain and keeps the muscles in good shape if someone has to stay in bed for an extended period of time for a medical reason. Basically, it’s a type of workout that does part of the work for you. That’s how EMS training ideas appeared, to help even people who aren’t keen on sports or don’t have enough time but still want a full-body workout. So, EMS training drills combine the electrical muscle stimulation with certain exercises that your personal trainer will choose. Since EMS training works the muscles in addition to the training you are doing, it’s like a double-workout in a way, and can supercharge fitness and weight loss.

How Does It Work?

The first thing you will do before your first session of EMS training is to talk to your trainer and let them know what your goals are. EMS programs are mainly strength training, but they can also help you lose weight. Tell your trainer what you need, whether it’s cellulite reduction or just toning your body or gaining muscle mass. In turn, they will explain the process in detail and show you exactly what your expectations should be.

Your first session is usually a trial run, just to get used to the feeling and the effort. The trainer will strap the belts to your body, after having spayed water or conductive gel on them for the electricity to be better conducted. Then they will begin sending electrical impulses, letting you know in advance which is the next muscle to contract. They will gradually increase the intensity to determine your ideal level. Then they will give you a few poses and exercises that will intensify the workout.

Is EMS Training Safe?

That is probably the first question that comes to mind if you haven’t tried it yet. The thought of electricity running through your body isn’t a very pleasant one. Generally, electric muscle stimulation training is safe. However, you need to keep in mind that it depends very much on a device, so for the training to be safe the device itself must be functioning correctly and be approved by authorities. This is even more important since electricity is involved. There have been cases where people suffered injuries like burns or pain because the device malfunctioned.

It also is not a good idea if you have known electrical problems with the function of your heart, have implanted medical devices, or several other risk factors. In essence, it’s largely safe for the vast majority of people, but you should always ensure you check with your doctor or healthcare professional before considering something like EMS training (or really, any fitness routine).

How Often Should You Do EMS Training?

This is something you need to discuss with your trainer, as it depends on what your fitness levels are and what you expect from EMS training. Naturally, your goals will dictate frequency and duration of EMS training regimens. Getting rid of some cellulite takes a different amount of time and intensity than having a full-body workout, or using EMS training for bodybuilding. The usual recommendations are twice a week in the beginning and once a week to maintain your results once you have achieved them. EMS workouts can be quite demanding on your body, so it’s not a good idea to overdo it.

Does EMS Training Burn Fat?

EMS technology helps you tone your muscles – that is the main purpose. Of course, just like any other workout, it will help you burn fat, provided you follow the instructions. That means you need to have a balanced and healthy diet as well. It’s actually common knowledge that no workout, not even tactical EMS training will help you lose weight if you eat more calories than you burn. The more specific question people usually ask is: does EMS reduce belly fat? It does, as long as you work hard and don’t neglect your nutrition.

ALSO READ – 24 Tips to Burn Belly Fat in Just 10 Minutes a Day

Does it Hurt?

We all know the expression “no pain, no gain,” but when it comes to electrical impulses we may think twice before trying it. EMS training doesn’t really hurt, but there is a strange feeling like having many tiny needles pushed against your muscle fibers. The level is adjusted gradually, allowing you to get used to the intensity. On the other hand, every person is different, including their sensitivity. You may even feel the impulses stronger on one side of your body than on the other. It will seem more intense the first time, but after a few sessions, you will discover you want to try a higher level and even enjoy it. In fact, many people use similar technologies in home medical equipment for pain relief, often called TENS units, so rather than being intended to cause pain, it can actually help alleviate it – just like a good workout can!

Is EMS Training Right for All Ages?

Exercise in general can be used at almost any age, but we must keep in mind that every age has its particular needs and limitations. The goals are different, and so is the effort you need to push through. It also depends on the physical state and health of every person. As we mentioned before, it’s always best to check with your doctor, who should be familiar with your whole health and medication history, before beginning any health regimen. That goes double for a health regimen involving electricity. But in general, expectations should be as described in the table below.

Age Group Effort Level Expected Results
18-25High-level workout with little effortWeight loss & toning
25-35High-level workout with little effortWeight loss & toning
35-50Medium-level workout with some effortWeight loss, toning & metabolism boosting
50-60Medium-level workout focused on impulse intensity, not on effortHealth benefits rather than weight loss
60+Medium or low-level workouts avoiding effortIncreased balance and coordination, improved blood circulation and general feeling


If you do a little research before finding your first EMS training course (and you definitely should), you will see that there is a major concern about the way it affects the kidneys. EMS is demanding on your entire body even if you are in perfect health, but your muscles and kidneys take the biggest shock. That is why EMS training isn’t recommended as a long-term workout. That is also why you should also keep to the frequency your trainer considers safe.

There is one more aspect of EMS training you should keep in mind. During an ordinary workout at the gym, your muscles receive commands from your central nervous system, but during an EMS training the source of those commands are external to your body. That works well, but is not recommended in all cases or for longer periods. It is much better to let your body function the way it was built, even if it means more time and effort on your part. Consider, therefore, EMS training as a supplement or aid to help boost your fitness and weight loss, and not a long-term solution to remain fit and healthy once you’ve reached your targets or goals.


Does EMS training really work?

EMS training is just like other workouts if we are referring to efficiency. If you want it to work, follow the rules, and stick to it. It’s not a magic cure-all and won’t do the workout for you – you still need to put in the effort.

Does EMS work for abs?

There are many EMS drill ideas being used lately. But in all cases the wires are attached to different parts of your body, including your abdomen, so your abs will definitely be among the muscle groups that receive impulses. You can ask your trainer to increase the intensity on your abs for better results.

Can I use EMS training every day?

Just like in most aspects of our lives, moderation is the key. And in this case, it is actually essential to follow the recommendations and don’t overdo it, to make sure you won’t suffer serious damage to your muscles or even your kidneys. So, every day is a bit too much according to most experts, and you should limit EMS training sessions to twice a week or so at most for optimal results. More is not always better!

Is EMS dangerous?

It can be. First of all, there are certain medical conditions that can prevent you from trying this type of workout, so be sure to pay attention to the initial discussion when you are presented with the risks and contraindications. Heart conditions are typically on this list, as are implanted medical devices. There is also the risk of dehydration, so make sure to drink plenty of water. And last but not least, don’t force yourself out of enthusiasm or curiosity alone, accept your limits, and be patient. The results you work towards will come!

Final Thoughts

Just as it happens with every new trend on the market, EMS training has received a lot of attention since it appeared. And while you can definitely benefit from it, keep in mind things are not always exactly as advertised. In this case, if you read things like EMS training burning a huge amount of calories, do more research. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

It is said that 20 minutes of EMS workout burns the same amount of calories as two hours at the gym, but that claim is a bit dubious. With that said, it definitely burns more than the same amount or duration of workout without EMS. But don’t forget everything is relative, it all depends on how high the electrical intensity is and how correctly you do the exercises. Even if two sessions a week equal 4 hours in the gym, you cannot expect it to work wonders. It also depends on how much weight you need to lose, on how dedicated you are to your diet and on many other factors. Not to mention that although there are many EMS training ideas available, you must make sure you are choosing the right place and the right trainer.

The bottom line is that EMS training may be right for you, because it saves time and gives you a great feeling after only 20 minutes of effort. But it is very important to have realistic expectations and to be patient. Big changes don’t happen overnight and with no struggle. In general, things are rarely as great as advertised, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them. Just be prepared for the results to be more ‘down to earth.’ So, if you think this sounds interesting or that it may be the right solution for you, go ahead! You won’t know until you’ve tried it!

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