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Do Electric Muscle Stimulators Work: Benefits & Drawbacks!

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An EMS machine may seem gimmicky at first, but physical therapists have implemented them for years to help patients recover from injuries and surgery. Today, they are marketed to deliver intense cardio workouts and increased muscle tone. So, do they work? 

The answer isn’t as simple as you may have hoped. 

While they have their benefits, it isn’t a quick-fix solution to whip your body into shape for swimsuit season. However, when used under the right circumstances, they have been shown to help you get more out of your basic workouts. 

These machines are ripe with claims that sound too good to be true. So, let’s break down some of your burning questions.

Does an Electric Muscle Stimulator work?

EMS stands for Electric Muscle Stimulator and works by sending electrical impulses to your muscle, causing muscle contractions, similar to how they contract during exercise.

Physical therapy strengthens underutilized muscles that develop after an injury or surgery. In fitness circles, they are used to amp up the intensity of basic bodyweight workouts. 

If you find that your cardio workouts aren’t hitting targeted muscle groups in the way you like, using an EMS machine and its electrodes can help target tricky muscle groups for a more concentrated workout. 

These machines can stimulate muscle growth and help tone targeted muscle groups, but any claims to help you lose weight are anecdotal. 

These machines should be used in conjunction with a healthy weight loss diet and modest exercise for optimal results. 

What are the benefits of an EMS machine?

When you incorporate an EMS machine into your daily workout routine, you can cut the time you spend at the gym in half.

Many EMS workout programs are composed of simple bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges completed in just 20 minutes.

Overall, users found that even the most basic movement was much more difficult when using an EMS machine. 

These units zero in on specific muscle groups (such as your abs) that penetrate deeper into the muscle tissue than your average cardio workout.

The result? A stronger, toned body in a fraction of the time. 

Potential side effects

For most, an EMS machine is perfectly safe. The most notable side effect users have experienced was irritation on the skin at the site of the machine.

It’s important to note that users with pacemakers or implanted defibrillators should not use these machines. The electric currents sent through your body could disrupt these devices or cause them to malfunction. 

While these machines are safe, it’s never a bad idea to talk to your doctor first!

Does it hurt?

Sending electrical pulses to your muscles may seem a little scary, but the intensity of the signal isn’t powerful. Most users report that it is more uncomfortable than it is painful. 

Some found that these machines make their muscles feel hot, while others feel tingly. 

It’s a weird sensation, but it’s not painful. 

Will an EMS machine give me a six-pack?

Yes and no. 

We all have a six-pack hidden under a layer of birthday cake and cheeseburgers. It’s there – we can’t see it in most cases. Any machine claiming to give you cut ab muscles isn’t entirely truthful. 

An EMS unit is an effective tool for stimulating abdominal muscles, and it can help to build muscles when used in core-centric workouts

Basic bodyweight workouts and abdominal exercises will target your core muscles, but it’s easy to dump your focus on other parts of your body, such as your glutes or quads. This results in a workout that isn’t as core-centric as you would have liked. 

An EMS machine engages your core muscles more intensely, which helps to maintain muscle engagement in your core. 

In short – yes, it will help strengthen core muscles. But if you want to see the rewards of your hard work, you will need to adjust your diet. 

Can I use it every day? 

Overall, most trainers suggest incorporating EMS workouts once or twice per week. It’s best to start slow and work up to more intense workouts. 

Many users found that their muscles were incredibly sore after one EMS workout routine. As always, it’s best to let your muscles rest and recover for a few days after your workout. Give your machine a break and take a day or so to incorporate light cardio or walking. 

Like any new workout routine, listen to your body. If your muscles are sore and achy, give them time to recover before strapping up for another intense workout session!


EMS devices aren’t a quick-fix solution, but it’s an excellent tool to help you squeeze the most out of your time at the gym.

Incorporating these machines into your cardio workouts once or twice a week will help you achieve that perfectly toned body and the muscle strength you’ve always wanted – as long as you include proper hydration, good nutrition, and a full night’s rest!

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