Background: Whole-body electrical myostimulation (WB-EMS) is a relatively recent training methodology that has been extraordinarily used in recent years. However, there is a lack of consensus on the effectiveness of WB-EMS in the situations in which its use has been largely popularized. The objective of this systematic review was to determine the effects produced by WB-EMS.
Methods: A search of PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus and Cochrane was performed to identify all the studies that have applied electrical stimulation in lower and upper limbs simultaneously and that have clearly presented their protocols for the training and application of the stimulation. The last search was performed on September 9, 2018. Studies written in English or German were included.
Results: A total of 21 articles met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed following the guidelines of the Cochrane Guide for Systematic Reviews. Nineteen studies analyzed the chronic effects of WB-EMS, and 2 analyzed acute effects with a total of 505 subjects (310 men and 195 women). In total, 35% were moderately trained, and 65% were sedentary subjects. Different dependent variables were studied, such as anthropometric parameters, strength parameters, energy expenditure, psychophysiological parameters and blood parameters. There is a lack of randomized controlled studies, and the studies included exhibit a moderate to high level of risk of bias.
Conclusions: Given the limited number of available studies on WB-EMS, the scarce amount of scientific evidence found does not allow definitive conclusions about its effects; therefore, future studies about WB-EMS are necessary.
Keywords: Global-body electromyostimulation; Integral electrical stimulation; Whole-body electrical muscle stimulation; Whole-body electrostimulation.