How Fast Can Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) Actually Shape My Body?

Electronic muscle stimulation has become the topic of conversation in the fitness field and for good reason. It can help with toning, muscle building, relaxation and recovery after a workout. Although you should still maintain a healthy diet and exercise, this can help fast track your way towards better and faster results.

Muscle Stimulator Machine 

A muscle stimulator machine is a device that incorporates EMS technology by stimulating your motor neurons to make your muscles contract. Although widely used in clinics and spas, there are models available on the market that you can purchase to use in your own home. They have become extremely popular lately and many people have reported great results by using them.

Under normal circumstances or during regular exercise, the brain sends an electrical impulse along a nerve to the motor point of the muscle causing it to contract. A muscle stimulator, however, creates contractions in the muscles but does so without your nervous system. Instead, the machine itself generates the electrical impulse.

There are many factors to consider when purchasing a muscle stimulator machine. Most EMS units you see in clinics allow you to control various settings such as contraction time (the length of time you want your muscles to contract), relaxation time (the time in between muscle contractions / rest period), and the rate of the electrical current (HZ). These machines are very expensive and average in the thousands. 

On the other hand, many EMS machines designed for at home use are a lot more cost effective and still get the job done. Most of these units do not allow you to adjust the contraction/relaxation times and HZ rate. Instead, those parameters are chosen for you in different pre-set programs.

Electrical Muscle Stimulation 

When you use a muscle stimulator machine, your body won't recognize the difference between a contraction that has been stimulated electrically and one that has been created naturally. Your body will react to the stimulus and won't question where it is coming from. This provides a lot of potential for people that want to lose weight and for others that want to increase blood flow to the muscles for warm ups performed before strenuous activities. It can also be used to help with pain management and recovery.

How Long Will It Take to See Results using EMS?

It's really difficult to put a specific time on when you would expect to see results since everyone has a different body type and other varying factors such as age, metabolism, overall health, etc. That being said, however, there was a study that was done in 2015 where female participants received 30 minutes of electric stimulation 3 times a week. At the end of 6 weeks, the body mass index, the percentage of total body fat, the amount of subcutaneous fat and waist circumference was measured and the results showed that the EMS had provided significant, positive effects. It's important to note as well that during the study the participants did not modify their diet or exercise at all [ Jin-seop Kim, Duck-won. (2015). Effects of high-frequency current therapy on abdominal obesity in young women: a randomized controlled trial.]

What Is the Difference between an EMS Machine and a TENS Device?

An EMS machine is often confused with a TENS unit but they are not the same thing. A TENS unit provides  "transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation", whereas an EMS machine provides “electric muscle stimulation”. The purpose of the stimulation and the frequency used are different; TENS stimulates the nerves for pain management using a small frequency, while EMS stimulates the muscles for strength and uses a higher frequency.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators are a safe non-invasive drug free method of pain management. They send small electrical pulses through pads placed on the skin to underlying nerve fibres. TENS works by using two different mechanisms. First, electrical stimulation of the nerve fibres can block pain signals from being carried to the brain. Secondly, the body has its own processes for suppressing pain through the release of natural chemicals called endorphins. TENS assists in activating this natural mechanism. By effectively managing pain without drugs, TENS allows people with acute and chronic pain conditions to resume their daily activities. 

There are some muscle stimulator machines on the market that have both EMS and TENS built into it, giving you the option to use either frequency without having to buy two separate machines. These units can be used for muscle building, as well as treatment for back pain, sciatica, tension, sport strains, and all muscle related injuries.

When you are researching how to build muscle at home, concentrate on only looking at the EMS machines to help narrow down your choice for the best muscle stimulator 2020.

How to Use the Muscle Stimulator

Make sure you consult your physician and read the instructions before using a muscle stimulator machine. When you are ready to have an EMS session, insert the wires into each channel / port (usually located at the bottom part of the unit). Once the wires are inserted into the machine, you will then need to connect the wires to the pads and then place the pads on the surface of your skin. When you have decided what skeletal band of muscles you want to work, these pads are placed at each end of the band. If you are using rubber pads, the side that touches your skin needs to be wet with water or any water-soluble gel and should be held in place with Velcro straps. If you are using adhesive pads, they will stick right onto your skin and don’t need to be wet. The next step is to adjust your settings and select what program you want to use for the session. Once you press START, you can then adjust the level of intensity / the strength of the current for each channel.

For more information on where to place the pads, visit

How EMS Works

As the session starts, small electrical currents run a circuit between the pads. The conduit in this scenario is the muscles. The motor neurons contract as they are stimulated according to the specific program that you have chosen. Depending on the type of muscle stimulator machine you have, you’ll either have the option to choose from different pre-set programs or you'll have the option to choose the pulse durations and the frequencies for electrical muscle stimulation. Since this bypasses the energy of the body and works directly on the muscles, the sky’s the limit in terms of the activation of the muscle fibers. 

Muscle Stimulator Machine Uses

Electrical muscle stimulation can be used for many different purposes and to reach different goals including the following:

Warming up - Use this device to help you warm up before a workout. Get your muscles moving while conserving your body's own energy. Save your energy for the hard work ahead!

Cooling down - After working out use the machine to help cool down your muscles. This is a fantastic way to make sure that you are winding down completely - especially after a vigorous workout. 

Weight loss - Muscle burns more calories than fat. Using an EMS unit will help you tone and strengthen your muscles. Therefore as you build muscle mass, your metabolism increases and you are able to burn off excess fat at a much faster rate.

Massage - When you use an EMS machine to stimulate a massage, the endorphin production in the body is increased. This leads to better circulation and blood flow, which in turn helps to decrease aches and pains, stiffness and sore muscles.

Endurance - Use a program that stimulates the slow twitch fibers of your muscles to increase endurance. This is great for marathon runners and anyone else that is engaging in activities that require long endurance.

Resistance - Work the fast twitch fibers of your muscles to get better anaerobic and aerobic results. This also helps with strength exercises by training muscle fibers to generate more force when training.

Injury Recovery - Not everyone is trying to find out how to build muscle at home. Some people are looking for faster ways to recover from an injury and an EMS machine fits the bill. This machine can be used when you are at rest. Sit back, watch some television and turn on the muscle stimulator machine. You can also adapt this method by using the machine while you are standing up at a workstation and want to stimulate the muscles in your legs.

Which Program to Choose

When using an EMS unit, the first thing you need to consider before selecting a program is the goal or purpose of the session. Are you looking to tone your muscles, alleviate pain, warm up, recover from a muscle injury, or build strength? Each program has its own frequency range that can target different muscle fibers (fast, medium, and slow twitch), has a different current pattern, and penetrates the muscle at varying levels.

Once you start working with the muscle stimulator, you'll be able to pick and choose a program according to what you want to achieve.

Not all EMS units have the same programs, but some of the more popular ones are: Regular EMS stimulation, TENS, and Russian Stimulation.

Regular EMS stimulation is valuable in three main areas: strength, endurance, and resistance. 


The Strength program is a form of regular EMS stimulation that activates muscle fibers at a high-power working level and includes a warm-up and workout period. The stimulation is continuous during the warm-up and then alternates between weak twitch and strong twitch contractions at the workout phase. This program is ideal for anyone looking to tone and firm their muscles.

The Endurance program is a form of regular EMS stimulation that activates your slow twitch muscle fibers to increase the muscular effort that must be maintained over a long period of time. This program is ideal for athletes involved in endurance sports such as long distance running, cross country skiing, marathons etc. 

The resistance program is a form of regular EMS stimulation that activates both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers and is intended to increase muscle toning and basic strength. Some of the benefits of resistance training include improved muscle strength, decreased risk of injury, and better mobility and flexibility. Use this program on areas where you wish to develop increased muscle mass. 

As mentioned earlier, the TENS program is used to relieve chronic pain, pinched nerve, and muscle injuries. It produces muscle twitches at a very low frequency. These twitches act like a massage and can be used after your workout.

Russian Stimulation is very similar to regular EMS stimulation, but uses a much higher frequency. This allows for a deeper and stronger penetration to the muscle. This program is most popular among professional athletes, body builders, and individuals that want to build muscle.

Learn more about the best muscle stimulator 2020 and explore the possibilities now by visiting