Electromyostimulation--a systematic review of the influence of training regimens and stimulation parameters on effectiveness in electromyostimulation training of selected strength parameters

J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Nov;25(11):3218-38. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318212e3ce.


Our first review from our 2-part series investigated the effects of percutaneous electromyostimulation (EMS) on maximal strength, speed strength, jumping and sprinting ability, and power, revealing the effectiveness of different EMS methods for the enhancement of strength parameters. On the basis of these results, this second study systematically reviews training regimens and stimulation parameters to determine their influence on the effectiveness of strength training with EMS. Out of about 200 studies, 89 trials were selected according to predefined criteria: subject age (<35 years), subject health (unimpaired), EMS type (percutaneus stimulation), and study duration (>7 days). To evaluate these trials, we first defined appropriate categories according to the type of EMS (local or whole-body) and type of muscle contraction (isometric, dynamic, isokinetic). Unlike former reviews, this study differentiates between 3 categories of subjects based on their level of fitness (untrained subjects, trained subjects, and elite athletes) and on the types of EMS methods used (local, whole-body, combination). Special focus was on trained and elite athletes. Untrained subjects were investigated for comparison purposes. The primary purpose of this study was to point out the preconditions for producing a stimulus above the training threshold with EMS that activates strength adaptations to give guidelines for implementing EMS effectively in strength training especially in high-performance sports. As a result, the analysis reveals a significant relationship (p < 0.05) between a stimulation intensity of ≥50% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC; 63.2 ± 19.8%) and significant strength gains. To generate this level of MVC, it was possible to identify guidelines for effectively combining training regimens (4.4 ± 1.5 weeks, 3.2 ± 0.9 sessions per week, 17.7 ± 10.9 minutes per session, 6.0 ± 2.4 seconds per contraction with 20.3 ± 9.0% duty cycle) with relevant stimulation parameters (impulse width 306.9 ± 105.1 microseconds, impulse frequency 76.4 ± 20.9 Hz, impulse intensity 63.7 ± 15.9 mA) to optimize training for systematically developing strength abilities (maximal strength, speed strength, jumping and sprinting ability, power).

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Resistance Training / methods
  • Running / physiology