Research | EMS training as an alternative form of training for the elderly


Based on EMS research done by Wolfgang Kemmler and Simon von Stengel (2010 – 2012)

It is generally known and extensively researched that the most effective way to fight the natural and age-related decline of muscle mass and function is a physically active lifestyle, and most importantly, participation in regular exercise. However due to physical limitations, lack of time or lack of motivation, a large number of elderly participants are either unable or unwilling to perform (intense) corresponding resistance training.

Research description and outcome

In most of their research on EMS training, Kemmler and von Stengel assessed the effects of whole body EMS training on strength parameters and body composition/muscle mass in elderly subjects. Thirty postmenopausal females (average age 65, ± 5 years), participants of a year-long study in high-intensity resistance training, performed 20-minute EMS training sessions for a period of 14 weeks. Significant positive effects were observed:

  • Body fat reduced
  • Strength increased
  • Power increased

Adding validity to their findings from their study done with postmenopausal females, the researchers did another study, testing even more parameters. For the second study, 28 untrained males (65-75 years old) were tested on their physical capacity and changes in body composition before and after EMS training. After 14 weeks of EMS training, the test results for the 28 males also showed significant positive effects:

  • Muscle mass increased
  • Body fat reduced
  • Waist circumference reduced
  • Strength increased
  • Power increased
  • Aerobic capacity increased

The results of this research indicate the effectiveness of EMS training for people 60 years and older and offers an attractive alternative method of training. Being able to perform risk-free strength training beyond age-related barriers, EMS training proved to be effective for females and males respectively. Both study groups showed improvements in body composition (body fat, muscle mass, waist circumference), as well as in physical capacity (strength, power and aerobic capacity).


The study results show EMS training can be used by most age groups and can help people improve their body composition as well as their physical capacity. In conclusion of their findings, the researchers stated the following: “… to our best knowledge, we are not aware of conventional exercise studies that reported comparably favourable changes of body fat and free fat mass. The results are remarkable especially considering the short duration…”

W. Kemmler & S. von Stengel (Institute of Medical Physics, Friedrich-Alexander University)

Research | EMS training for cardiac patients


Based on Will EMS training become important for secondary prevention? by FRITZSCHE, D. / FRUEND, A. / SCHENK, S. / MELLWIG, K.-P. / KLEINÖDER, H. / GUMMERT, J. / HORSTKOTTE, D., Cardiology Clinic Bad Oeynhausen, Herz 2010; 35 (1): 34–40


The idea that moderate endurance training improves chronic cardiac insufficiency (CHI) as a secondary prevention has been sufficiently validated. But in reality, experience has shown that only few well-instructed, highly motivated and mostly younger patients are prepared to commit to a constant supplementary therapy. The experiences with full body electromyostimulation (EMS) used in cardiac patients show a great and unexpected potential regarding the regeneration of neurohumoral, inflammatory and skeletal muscle related symptoms within the framework of the systemic disease CHI.


15 patients diagnosed with CHI completed a 6-month EMS training programme using Miha bodytec machines. The amplitude was chosen by the patients according to their subjective sensation of muscle contraction/pulse sensation at level 8 on a ten-step scale. Before and after the 3 and 6 months of training, the cardiac performance was assessed by means of spiroergometry, electrocardiography (EKG) and echocardiogram. Furthermore, the metabolic status including creatine kinase (CK) and laktatedehydrogenase (LDH) and the patient’s weight and body fat distribution was determined (impedance scale).


An increase of up to 96% in oxygen uptake at the individual’s anaerobic threshold could be proven. The diastolic blood pressure lowered significantly; muscle mass increased up to 14% while the body weight remained constant. The patients all stated that they felt a profound increase in performance capacity.


The study shows for the first time the effect of EMS-training on cardiac insufficiency patients. The improvements on objective performance, optimisation of muscles strength, physiology and metabolic rates exceeded the results of conventional aerobic training methods within the scope of primary and secondary cardiac rehabilitation in CHI patients by far. In conclusion, EMS training has a high potential for therapy of chronic cardiac insufficiency.

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