Study Reveals How EMS Helps Improve Muscle Mass in Women by 0.5% and More

Study Title: Whole-body electromyostimulation as a means to impact muscle mass and abdominal body fat in lean, sedentary, older female adults: subanalysis of the TEST-III trial

Publication: Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging

Authors: Kemmler W., von Stengel S.

Read Katalyst's Summary

This study aimed to find out if a 12-month program of whole-body electromyostimulation (WB-EMS) exercise could benefit older women at risk of muscle loss (sarcopenia) and abdominal obesity who couldn't or didn't want to do regular exercise. They enrolled 46 elderly women who didn't engage in much physical activity and had abdominal obesity. Half of the participants did WB-EMS exercises, while the other half didn't do any special exercise. The results after 12 months showed that the WB-EMS group had a positive impact on key factors: they gained more muscle in their arms and reduced abdominal fat compared to the control group. Their leg muscles also got stronger. Overall, this suggests that WB-EMS exercises could be a practical and well-received alternative for older individuals who can't or won't engage in conventional exercise, helping improve muscle mass and reduce abdominal fat in this population at risk for sarcopenia and abdominal obesity.

“Our primary hypothesis was that WB-EMS training significantly increases appendicular skeletal muscle mass and decreases abdominal fat mass compared with a control group."

Check out more specific key findings below: 

  • After 12 months of WB-EMS exercise, the group using this technology showed a 0.5% increase in appendicular muscle mass, whereas the control group had a decrease of -0.8%. This indicates a significant positive effect of WB-EMS on muscle mass (0.5% vs. -0.8%).
  • The WB-EMS group experienced a reduction of -1.2% in abdominal fat mass, while the control group saw an increase of 2.4%. This demonstrates a significant benefit of WB-EMS in reducing abdominal fat ( -1.2% vs. 2.4%).
  • Leg extensor strength in the WB-EMS group improved by 9.1%, whereas the control group only had a 1.0% improvement. This shows a substantial enhancement in leg strength with WB-EMS exercise (9.1% vs. 1.0%).
  • Upper leg lean muscle mass also improved favorably in the WB-EMS group with a 0.5% increase, whereas the control group had a decrease of -0.9%. This highlights another positive impact of WB-EMS on muscle mass, specifically in the upper leg region (0.5% vs. -0.9%)