Effect of whole-body electromyostimulation on energy expenditure during exercise

J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jan;26(1):240-5. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31821a3a11.


The application of whole-body electromyostimulation (WB-EMS) in the area of fat reduction and body shaping has become more popular recently. Indeed, some studies prove positive outcomes concerning parameters related to body composition. However, there are conflicting data as to whether EMS relevantly impacts energy expenditure (EE) during or after application. Thus, the main purpose of the study was to determine the acute effect of WB-EMS on EE. Nineteen moderately trained men (26.4 ± 4.3 years) were randomly assigned to a typically used low-intensity resistance exercise protocol (16 minutes) with (85 Hz) and without WB-EMS. Using a crossover design, the same subjects performed both tests after completely recovering within 7 days. Energy expenditure as the primary endpoint of this study was determined by indirect calorimetry. The EE during low-intensity resistance exercise with adjuvant WB-EMS was significantly higher (p = 0.008) than that during the control condition (412 ± 60 vs. 352 ± 70 kcal; effect size; d = 0.92). This study clearly demonstrates the additive effect of WB-EMS on EE in moderately trained subjects during low-intensity resistance exercise training. Although this effect was statistically significant, the fast and significant reductions of body fat observed in recent studies suggest that the effect of WB-EMS on EE may still be underestimated by indirect calorimetry because of the inability of indirect calorimetry to accurately assess EE during "above-steady state conditions." Although from a statistically point of view WB-EMS clearly impacts EE, the relatively small effect did not suggest a broad application of this device in this area. However, taking other positive outcomes of this technology into account, WB-EMS may be a time-saving option at least for subjects unwilling or unable to exercise conventionally.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Electric Stimulation*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology