Electrical muscle stimulation devices (EMS) have been advertised to increase muscle strength, to decrease body weight and body fat, and to improve muscle firmness and tone in healthy individuals. This study sought to test those claims. Twenty-seven college-aged volunteers were assigned to either an EMS (n = 16) or control group (n = 11). The EMS group underwent stimulation 3 times per week following the manufacturer's recommendations, whereas the control group underwent concurrent sham stimulation sessions. Bilaterally, the muscles stimulated included the biceps femoris, quadriceps, biceps, triceps, and abdominals (rectus abdominus and obliques). An identical pre- and posttesting battery included measurements of body weight, body fat (via skinfolds), girths, isometric and isokinetic strength (biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings), and appearance (via photographs from the front, side, and back). EMS had no significant effect on the any of the measured parameters. Thus, claims relative to the effectiveness of EMS for the apparently healthy individual are not supported by the findings of this study.
(C) 2002 National Strength and Conditioning Association