You want to build muscle, so you’re thinking of investing in the best TENS unit you can find. Before you do anything, read this article.
In short, TENS units aren’t considered to be the most effective tool for muscles, though they are beneficial in many other ways.
There’s a chance that you’re thinking of an electric muscle stimulation (EMS) machine, a very similar looking device.
Let’s firstly look at why a TENS unit isn’t the right option:
Can a TENS Unit Build Muscle?
Not really. A TENS machine isn’t designed to work your muscles.
Instead, the stimulating pulses excite the sensory nerve endings, which help to block pain signals from reaching your brain. It is primarily a pain relief tool.
In some cases if the electrode pads are placed on a muscle and used on a high setting, a TENS device may cause the muscles to twitch and contract.
However this is not the intention of TENS therapy and not what the devices have been designed to do.
What you need is an electric muscle stimulator (EMS).
TENS and EMS devices look very similar, both use electrode pads and mild electrical impulses, but there are some big differences.
EMS machines stimulate motor nerves, causing muscles to contract, rather than impacting on pain signals.
The programs on an electric muscle stimulator are created with the intention of causing muscle contractions, making them more effective for muscle building and rehabilitation.
- If you like the sound of both TENS and EMS, you can get combination devices (like the ones featured below) that offer both therapies.
What Is an EMS Unit?
EMS stands for electrical muscle stimulation. The device sends signals to your muscles to make them contract.
How Does an EMS Unit Help Muscle Growth?
An EMS machine stimulates your motor nerves, which induces muscle contractions, mimicking the way they contract during a workout.
It is these contractions that make the device more effective for muscle building.
- By successfully working your muscles with no exertion, you’re also able to warm up and recover faster, meaning optimum time for your muscle building workouts!
Most EMS machines have programs designed for both warm up and recovery, along with programs for strength, resistance, and endurance.
Plus they aren’t just great for muscle building. Research shows they have many other benefits, including increasing your aerobic capacity.
Choosing the Right EMS Machine for Building Muscle
There are a wide range of devices on the market right now.
Though they all deliver EMS treatment, the way they do it and the benefits they offer are slightly different.
Here are three great EMS machines (that also have TENS programs) to help with muscle growth:
Compex Edge 3.0 Muscle Stimulator with TENS Kit
Compex has been a trusted name in the EMS world for many years.
Their Edge 3.0 Muscle Stimulator Kit offers a simple way to control your treatment.
Use the center navigation button to easily move between four different programs.
Select Resistance, one of the programs designed for endurance and strength, and you’ll start building both your slow and fast twitch muscle fibers.
Learn more about the device by watching the video below, that explains a little more about how it works:
What Else Can an EMS Unit Do for Muscles?
Electrical muscle stimulation has lots of health advantages, particularly when it comes to your muscles.
Overuse of muscles is one of the main causes of cramps.
EMS can stimulate overused muscles, helping them to recover without any exertion.
Respondents who experienced cramping at least once a week, were the subject of a 2018 research project.
After just six weeks of EMS, the number of cramps experienced was reduced by a massive 78%!
Amazingly, electrical muscle stimulation can even retrain muscles following an injury.
Some evidence was found to show that the treatment can increase voluntary function in partially paralyzed muscles.
That’s because the repetitive stimulating pulses effectively help to teach the body how to operate the muscles again.
Improves Cosmetic Muscle Tone
Facial muscles can even be toned with EMS, according to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.
Age-related loss of muscle mass is what contributes to the aging of the human face.
The use of an EMS facial device for 12 weeks, led 80% of test subjects to report improved firmness, tone and lift, with a significant increase in muscle thickness!
Preserves Muscle Mass
Critically ill patients in intensive care can struggle to preserve muscle mass, as they’re unable to take part in active exercise.
Electrical muscle stimulation provides a way to work those muscles, without any limb movement.
A study in Greece showed that muscle mass decreased significantly less in intensive care patients when they received daily EMS treatments.