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Using Electrical Stimulation for Weight Training

By and large, most technology gets in the way of both the athlete and the coach. If you had to break them down, they cause distractions, are hard to integrate, or for one reason or another just don’t deliver as advertised. In fact, this site exists in part to sort through this technological noise and provide a distillation of what really works where it counts - in the trenches.

Preface aside, occasionally you come across a tool so profound that it changes you as a coach. Not many things have done that for me. After researching, experimenting, refining, and refining some more, we can say that the NeuFit Neubie electrostimulation device has helped us bring best practices to our clients. We remember years ago watching with curiosity the changes in certain trainers who were using the device and their training system to seemingly train athleticism into their clients.

The benefits include areas such as dramatically accelerated performance rehabilitation, improved dialog between the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, reduced time to effect of corrective exercises (improved neuromuscular activation), improved contraction and relaxation cycles, pain relief at the "source" and beyond.

The bottom line is that most training systems are output based, but the Neubie electrostimulation device allows you to enter at the input level.

The Technological Difference

There are two main differences compared to existing technology. These differences allow us to use Neubie within training systems to improve outcomes for athletes in a variety of situations.

The first difference is that it uses DC (DCEMS) as opposed to AC. The therapeutic benefits of DC, particularly on tissue healing, have been known for many years. But there has always been a limitation because DC would also burn the skin. The device offers a solution to this problem by using a combination of waveforms that includes a carrier frequency that allows the DC signal to penetrate the skin and fatty layers of the tissue and get to where it is needed to have a meaningful effect.

The second difference has to do with its effect on the neuromuscular system.

The Neubie has a unique combination of frequencies and waveforms that reduce the protective contractions that normally occur with conventional e-stim devices.

At a therapeutic current level where a device from AC would block the body and be unable to move, this technology still allows the user to actively move and allows us as therapists to combine it with our own library of movement protocols. This effect allows us to emphasize eccentric contractions, increase sensory/afferent inputs to the nervous system, and create an opportunity for accelerated neuromuscular re-education. Due to the unique artifacts of the waveform, we can achieve results with the device that are far superior to what can be achieved with conventional devices.

The neurophysiology of the vast majority of devices on the market (e.g. TENS, Russian stimulation, interferential stimulation, etc.) is again that of alternating current (AC). When these devices are turned up high enough to cause a change in the neuromuscular system, they cause the body to make protective co-contractions. There are many benefits associated with this type of technology that have already been covered on this site. Although there may well be some positive neuromuscular activations in the moment, as well as in the mechanical pumping of blood, lymph, and other fluids, this approach ultimately creates more problems in the neurological control of movement.

The current from conventional devices actually reinforces many compensatory and dysfunctional movement patterns that interfere with the body's healing processes and ideal movement strategies. This can contribute to a cycle of pain, limited mobility, and lack of movement.

The net effect is that you, as a coach, are almost able to tap into the athlete at the software level while everyone else is trying to do it at the hardware level. Are you weak? Try stronger this way! You are unbalanced? Shift more to this side. You get the idea.

The technology in Neubie was a game changer because it allows us to "feed" information into the athlete's nervous system. From then on, your creativity is the only limiting factor.

Corrective Exercise and Reconditioning

There are many concepts within the rehabilitation, reconditioning, and movement prep worlds that need reconstitution. Whether you subscribe to PRI, FRC, DNS (explain these? Or at least the full form), neurokinetic therapy, or classical PT exercise, the same complaints about inconsistency of regular benefit acquisition and time to profit are repeated at least some of the time. In each case, this iteration of EMS (what’s EMS?) provides a solution for enhanced quality of work and accelerated rate of desired results taking effect.

Image 1. Balance and proprioception work after an injury is different from just tossing in exercises and hoping things work out. Ankle injuries and EMS are popular functional electrotherapy cases for rehabilitation.

When you are dealing with a post-rehab athlete, it is often the case that they are presented to you with the mobility and range of motion access they need, but are not yet ready to be loaded and/or ballistically used. A quality return-to-play program can greatly accelerate results. A quality return-to-play program in conjunction with DCEMS can push those boundaries even further.

Rather than provide a single example of a recovered athlete, let me just note that I regularly receive feedback from physical therapists that the athlete is 30-50% ahead of schedule and pushing new boundaries in athletic function. In addition, these same physical therapists are often confused as to what "new" exercise prescription to give their clients when they come in for their mandatory check-ups after hearing what we have done in our sessions. I will be blunt and say that this can alienate you from those in rehabilitation who are concerned with scarcity, but it also has the potential to make you the best friends of those who truly work in the interest of best practices.

For athletes on the injured list, it can stimulate dialogue between their nervous and musculoskeletal systems, shortening downtime. A big reason this type of current works well is that it simulates the body's own "current" signals. Although forward-thinking trainers and coaches can certainly act on the nervous system, this is ultimately done through "hardware" manipulation of the body's soft tissues. The ability to mimic the athlete's body's own neurological signaling artifacts results in corrective drills, movement preparation, and specific recovery drills being more dramatic and quicker.

This is hugely important because I see so many trainers and coaches who end up turning their athletes into patients. Do you know HOW much time on movement preparation and corrective exercises?

We have found that we have drastically reduced the amount of time it takes to get an athlete to kinesthetically "feel" and inhibit or activate a particular muscle. Almost every movement therapy-oriented practice has been criticized for problems with repeatability, difficulty of implementation, and difficulty incorporating said corrective exercises into clients' movement strategies ("downloading" them into the nervous system, in other words). Let us repeat that. We’re not saying there aren't systems that are easier or better or more efficient than others - we’re saying there are gaps in everything, and those are the trees you have to debark to get a quality movement therapy system. If you can improve the best exercise therapy program and save time in the process, that's a no-brainer for us.

You see, you never just do rehab/injury prevention or performance - you do both. Health drives performance and solving those underlying mechanical/structural pathologies is often the missing piece to driving performance ROI. For us, if we can outperform our athletes and accelerate our workflow at the same time without cutting back, that's a win for us (outperform your athletes, meaning you do better than your athletes? Or did you mean you make them outperform themselves? unclear).

Scan and Treat

Emphasizing the sensory/afferent side of the nervous system also allows us to engage in a scanning, "diagnostic" process called mapping. In this process, we scan the athlete's body with an electrode to identify areas of neurological dysfunction that manifest as "hot spots." The concept is that the scanning process picks up on the dysfunctional patterns associated with protective responses of the body, including patterns such as excessive tension and muscle inhibition.

Once these hot spots are identified, they can be matched with a table test, strength tests, and movement screens for further validation. In my experience, these hot spots are consistent with what we found out above - just with more efficiency and precision. From here, stimulated treatment over the target area in conjunction with the necessary manual muscle neural therapy techniques, corrective exercises and movement preparation almost always results in improved pain relief, greater range of motion, better strength expression and greater ease or quality of movement (economy of motion) - even in just a few minutes of active treatment.

The ability to hit the scan process is tremendous because it wastes less time and allows for a surgical plan for best results. However, this is not where the benefits of the diagnostic part end - these neurological disorders often help identify controls that the brain has imposed on the neuromuscular system.

We’ll give you an example: a basketball player gets injured and has completed his rehab and is quite advanced in his recovery training. He is fully fit to play, but his vertical is still not what it used to be - let's say 25 inches, to use a simple number. It used to be close to 40 inches. If the athlete is structurally ready and has had enough time to rebuild his athleticism through training, but is still not expressing his maximum athletic ability, it's time to examine the brain.

A governor or limiter in this context refers to the brain fearing for the safety of its host organism of the athlete (can be explained simpler, probably by saying there’s a mental component to an athlete’s performance). The brain operates on a protection/performance continuum. If the brain fears that the athlete's safety is at risk because he can't "survive" landing from a 40-inch vertical, then guess what? The vertical will not be 40 inches, even if he has the innate ability to do so. Neurologically, this is similar to driving with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake, and the athlete's ability to fully express/activate their nervous system is compromised. This is essentially the key variable in many cases of transfer training replication and is mentioned in many classic training research studies, including those of Verkoshansky, Bondarchuk, and Marinovich.

Back to the topic at hand. Neubie has allowed us to locate and resolve many of these neural limiters in our athletes.

Image 2. Optimal pad placement is an art and a science. Make sure you know the location that is best for an athlete, as each body is different.

Rewired Isometric Holds

Isometric hold variations occupy a valuable piece of real estate in my training system. That being said, we feel most coaches have a “black box” understanding of isometric holds. In other words, you do this input and you get this output. It’s important to remember that the reason we introduce isometric holds is because they ultimately grant the athlete deeper and more controlled access to the nervous system, which in turn enables proper recruitment of the musculoskeletal system.

With that warm-up out of the way, it’s not difficult to see how you can use this type of EMS to further deepen, enhance, and customize isometric holds. We’re not here to argue about the theory of application, either. Your own creativity is the limiter here. Let’s hold some varying ideas in the same arena. You could take long-duration isometric holds for strength sports and hypertrophy and use the Neubie to dial up the muscular contraction level to forcibly overload the involved muscle groups. You could also take a approach where you overload the requisite muscles for a much shorter period of time. But be warned that excessively long isometric contractions could cause excess muscle tone or tension.

(From here onwards I’m not gonna change the I/my to we/our/us; please get the writer to do that)

In fact, I like to think the machine actually can unite varying schools of thought. When you are holding near the end range of motion, the body typically tightens to protect itself from injury. This is why such isometric holds can lead to increased tension. With the Neubie, you can send a signal to balance muscle tone and ensure the appropriate activity. This dynamic helps reduce the body’s need to “protect,” allowing it to move more efficiently through greater ranges of motion and optimize the muscle tension-length relationships in training.

Image 3. Most therapists and coaches are familiar with stationary EMS practices and that’s fine. Make sure you can do the basics before moving to movement-style methods.

In the example provided, I’m rewiring a simple wall sit. Instead of a quad-dominant endeavor, I’m using the technology to force the athlete (myself) to pull themselves into position with their posterior chain like a bow and arrow. My goal is to create more repetitive tension (and relaxation technically) in the posterior chain while keeping the quads relaxed (probably better to change this to “we tried this with one of our trainers… or something like that. The I/my and we/us/our conflict is making things confusing). The resultant effect is optimal posterior chain neuromuscular function, bringing with it speed, injury prevention, and explosiveness (reactive strength).

If you’re a sadist, there’s an added benefit to dialing up the current while using breathing as the remote control to your remote control (your nervous system), to maintain a parasympathetic state and respond to the exercise and electrical current combo instead of reacting to it and seeing the brain “bail” on a neuromuscular level. I’ve seen a benefit with this in conditioning work and performance anxiety, believe it or not.

High Stim Trap Bar Deadlift

The use case for this technology with strength work is huge. You can use it to pattern in appropriate muscle activation grouping and, to some extent, muscular firing sequences. The use case with this trap bar deadlift example is a bit easier to unpack.

Image 4. The simple inclusion of EMS with athletes during strength movements is a great way to get the most out of the time with one-on-one training environments, especially return-to-play programs.

Instead of working with the typical muscular activations here, I add stimulation to the hips and glutes and thus augment the athlete’s movement strategy. By emphasizing certain muscle groups, we can train proper form into the athlete more efficiently, make exercises safer, and increase strength types via total and accelerated contraction velocities. We can reprogram previously learned improper form and movement strategies as well.

Stimulated Sporting Movements

A major use case for this type of electrical stimulation is tuned sporting movements. By allowing the athlete to perform movements they see in their sport with the attached current, you can positively affect a number of factors relating to human performance.

Video 1. The use of EMS with shadowboxing training isn’t going to transform anyone into a champion overnight, but it does provide a learning opportunity for everyone. Don’t look to EMS as being sport-specific; treat it like a diagnostic for coaches who need to design better training programs.

In the example here, we have an MMA fighter shadowboxing on proprioceptive pads while concurrently being stimulated by the Neubie. My evaluation process also includes simple film analysis (really the first movement screen you should start with). This athlete had issues with fluid movement in his hips, including striking, takedown, and sprawling needs. Issues with keeping hands up, shoulder fatigue, and maintaining “snap” in strikes as the fight/training wore on were also all previous problems.

In addition to isometric holds, corrective exercise, and movement prep work, the current here enables proper muscular activation and overloaded contraction and relaxation cycles. Furthermore, the current on his shoulders, again, contracts at rates of hundreds of times per second. Both of these are beyond what will be seen in the fight, especially if this exercise is done in an appropriate intra-fatigue setting. Please note that muscle oxygen monitoring should be done here as well to help identify physiological performance limiters.

The net effect was better performance on takedowns, clinch work, sprawls, striking posture, and distance management, with the athlete specifically expanding movement range and quality in the hips. The shoulders also became more or less a non-factor limitation in training. Yes, these things improved with a proper training regimen, but I believe the Neubie enabled this to happen better and faster.

Manual Overload Technique

One of the simplest use cases with the Neubie technology is muscular overload technique. The concept (as with many other examples provided here) can be extrapolated and inserted into many exercise modalities. The idea here is to place the electrodes on the key muscles involved to promote a greater muscular contraction than can traditionally occur at the given weight (flow here is weird, better to start with an explanation of muscular overload technique earlier).

Image 5. Simple conventional bench presses respond very well to functional EMS training. Start with push-ups and basic movements before progressing to barbell activities.

If an athlete is dealing with some type of injury, nagging pain, strength deficit, or anything in between, you can use this technique to manually stimulate the muscle fibers to contract at a higher degree than the given weight used. In addition to providing a greater stimulus to the muscle for more strength and/or power, this also has a seat at the table in programming deloads. If you’re able to maximally stimulate muscles without unwanted CNS costs or functional systems stress when you’re, say, chasing supercompensation or unfavorable Omegawave scores, this can be a great, creative workaround.

To further riff on the deload concept, We have notably used EMS during both deloads and rest days while sleeping to stimulate muscle fiber without weight-bearing load. If an athlete comes into the facility on a rest day or conditioning day, we can have the extra benefit of muscle stimulation without adding excess stress and potentially disrupting the adaptive processes of the body. This is also a great peaking tool if you want to stimulate the dialogue between nervous and musculoskeletal systems without DOMS close to competition and/or in season.

Once again, the limiting factor is your own creativity.

Speed Strength Eccentric Overload

Why is it that when eccentric overload gets discussed, it’s always done at slow, maximal strength? In non-iron sports, the eccentric is almost always done in the speed-strength continuum. Failure to feature these in program design is failure to introduce the athlete to both high-velocity neuromuscular contractions—a key applied stretch shortening cycle need—and sport-specific tendon adaptations, which are the load-bearing features and storage-release of kinetic energy (same issue with flow here, explain the concept earlier, and maybe simpler. A lot of PT jargon).

Video 2. Eccentric strength of the legs is valuable in sport and jumping off a box onto two legs is great for many types of athletes. Make sure you progress carefully, as it’s a demanding exercise.

In this example of speed strength eccentric overload with altitude drops, we don’t address all of those, but we do use gravity to transmit a high-velocity force into the body for high-speed deceleration training, bulletproofing tendons, training timing, coordination, kinesthetic awareness (propriospinal process), and high-speed force absorption.

I use the EMS to uncork some added overloaded muscular tension. This is key for athletes who have a less favorable tension-length relationship and fall more on the latter side.

Plyometric Bench Throws

This is a plyometric exercise for bench pressing that’s both safe and highly effective. It allows you to train a pressing movement for the upper body at plyometric speed.

Video 3. At first glance, bench throws and stability ball exercises can look a little gimmicky, but trust that they’re great for athletes who need upper body power. Use the right equipment and trust the ball is for challenging the body and not for excessive balance.

Though funky-looking and simple, pay attention to both the movement itself and the posture of my feet and hips. Though the bench press is great in its own right, it often results in poor neural adaptations and fragments the athlete’s body and movement into isolated sections. Bondarchuk, Verkoshansky, and Colgan all discuss the need to introduce a specific link of muscle firing sequences in training, but it’s my opinion that most coaches and mainstream schools misinterpret this literature into non-holistic exercise modalities in program design.

The posture adds a component of full body involvement as seen in the muscular recruitment on the football field. The ball adds a proprioceptive component for controlling the trunk, limbs, and load in space. The speed of the load allows us to empower the athlete with the speed of sport in the gym for upper body plyometrics—something that’s hard to come by.

There’s also a “power endurance” neural and physiological component at play here, which matters even more in combat sports. IBy and large, most technology gets in the way of both the athlete and the coach. If you had to break them down, they cause distractions, are hard to integrate, or for one reason or another just don’t deliver as advertised. In fact, this site exists in part to sort through this technological noise and provide a distillation of what really works where it counts - in the trenches.

Preface aside, occasionally you come across a tool so profound that it changes you as a coach. Not many things have done that for me. After researching, experimenting, refining, and refining some more, we can say that the NeuFit Neubie electrostimulation device has helped us bring best practices to our clients. We remember years ago watching with curiosity the changes in certain trainers who were using the device and their training system to seemingly train athleticism into their clients.

The benefits include areas such as dramatically accelerated performance rehabilitation, improved dialog between the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, reduced time to effect of corrective exercises (improved neuromuscular activation), improved contraction and relaxation cycles, pain relief at the "source" and beyond.

The bottom line is that most training systems are output based, but the Neubie electrostimulation device allows you to enter at the input level.

The Technological Difference

There are two main differences compared to existing technology. These differences allow us to use Neubie within training systems to improve outcomes for athletes in a variety of situations.

The first difference is that it uses DC (DCEMS) as opposed to AC. The therapeutic benefits of DC, particularly on tissue healing, have been known for many years. But there has always been a limitation because DC would also burn the skin. The device offers a solution to this problem by using a combination of waveforms that includes a carrier frequency that allows the DC signal to penetrate the skin and fatty layers of the tissue and get to where it is needed to have a meaningful effect.

The second difference has to do with its effect on the neuromuscular system.

The Neubie has a unique combination of frequencies and waveforms that reduce the protective contractions that normally occur with conventional e-stim devices.

At a therapeutic current level where a device from AC would block the body and be unable to move, this technology still allows the user to actively move and allows us as therapists to combine it with our own library of movement protocols. This effect allows us to emphasize eccentric contractions, increase sensory/afferent inputs to the nervous system, and create an opportunity for accelerated neuromuscular re-education. Due to the unique artifacts of the waveform, we can achieve results with the device that are far superior to what can be achieved with conventional devices.

The neurophysiology of the vast majority of devices on the market (e.g. TENS, Russian stimulation, interferential stimulation, etc.) is again that of alternating current (AC). When these devices are turned up high enough to cause a change in the neuromuscular system, they cause the body to make protective co-contractions. There are many benefits associated with this type of technology that have already been covered on this site. Although there may well be some positive neuromuscular activations in the moment, as well as in the mechanical pumping of blood, lymph, and other fluids, this approach ultimately creates more problems in the neurological control of movement.

The current from conventional devices actually reinforces many compensatory and dysfunctional movement patterns that interfere with the body's healing processes and ideal movement strategies. This can contribute to a cycle of pain, limited mobility, and lack of movement.

The net effect is that you, as a coach, are almost able to tap into the athlete at the software level while everyone else is trying to do it at the hardware level. Are you weak? Try stronger this way! You are unbalanced? Shift more to this side. You get the idea.

The technology in Neubie was a game changer because it allows us to "feed" information into the athlete's nervous system. From then on, your creativity is the only limiting factor.

Corrective Exercise and Reconditioning

There are many concepts within the rehabilitation, reconditioning, and movement prep worlds that need reconstitution. Whether you subscribe to PRI, FRC, DNS (explain these? Or at least the full form), neurokinetic therapy, or classical PT exercise, the same complaints about inconsistency of regular benefit acquisition and time to profit are repeated at least some of the time. In each case, this iteration of EMS (what’s EMS?) provides a solution for enhanced quality of work and accelerated rate of desired results taking effect.

Image 1. Balance and proprioception work after an injury is different from just tossing in exercises and hoping things work out. Ankle injuries and EMS are popular functional electrotherapy cases for rehabilitation.

When you are dealing with a post-rehab athlete, it is often the case that they are presented to you with the mobility and range of motion access they need, but are not yet ready to be loaded and/or ballistically used. A quality return-to-play program can greatly accelerate results. A quality return-to-play program in conjunction with DCEMS can push those boundaries even further.

Rather than provide a single example of a recovered athlete, let me just note that I regularly receive feedback from physical therapists that the athlete is 30-50% ahead of schedule and pushing new boundaries in athletic function. In addition, these same physical therapists are often confused as to what "new" exercise prescription to give their clients when they come in for their mandatory check-ups after hearing what we have done in our sessions. I will be blunt and say that this can alienate you from those in rehabilitation who are concerned with scarcity, but it also has the potential to make you the best friends of those who truly work in the interest of best practices.

For athletes on the injured list, it can stimulate dialogue between their nervous and musculoskeletal systems, shortening downtime. A big reason this type of current works well is that it simulates the body's own "current" signals. Although forward-thinking trainers and coaches can certainly act on the nervous system, this is ultimately done through "hardware" manipulation of the body's soft tissues. The ability to mimic the athlete's body's own neurological signaling artifacts results in corrective drills, movement preparation, and specific recovery drills being more dramatic and quicker.

This is hugely important because I see so many trainers and coaches who end up turning their athletes into patients. Do you know HOW much time on movement preparation and corrective exercises?

We have found that we have drastically reduced the amount of time it takes to get an athlete to kinesthetically "feel" and inhibit or activate a particular muscle. Almost every movement therapy-oriented practice has been criticized for problems with repeatability, difficulty of implementation, and difficulty incorporating said corrective exercises into clients' movement strategies ("downloading" them into the nervous system, in other words). Let us repeat that. We’re not saying there aren't systems that are easier or better or more efficient than others - we’re saying there are gaps in everything, and those are the trees you have to debark to get a quality movement therapy system. If you can improve the best exercise therapy program and save time in the process, that's a no-brainer for us.

You see, you never just do rehab/injury prevention or performance - you do both. Health drives performance and solving those underlying mechanical/structural pathologies is often the missing piece to driving performance ROI. For us, if we can outperform our athletes and accelerate our workflow at the same time without cutting back, that's a win for us (outperform your athletes, meaning you do better than your athletes? Or did you mean you make them outperform themselves? unclear).

Scan and Treat

Emphasizing the sensory/afferent side of the nervous system also allows us to engage in a scanning, "diagnostic" process called mapping. In this process, we scan the athlete's body with an electrode to identify areas of neurological dysfunction that manifest as "hot spots." The concept is that the scanning process picks up on the dysfunctional patterns associated with protective responses of the body, including patterns such as excessive tension and muscle inhibition.

Once these hot spots are identified, they can be matched with a table test, strength tests, and movement screens for further validation. In my experience, these hot spots are consistent with what we found out above - just with more efficiency and precision. From here, stimulated treatment over the target area in conjunction with the necessary manual muscle neural therapy techniques, corrective exercises and movement preparation almost always results in improved pain relief, greater range of motion, better strength expression and greater ease or quality of movement (economy of motion) - even in just a few minutes of active treatment.

The ability to hit the scan process is tremendous because it wastes less time and allows for a surgical plan for best results. However, this is not where the benefits of the diagnostic part end - these neurological disorders often help identify controls that the brain has imposed on the neuromuscular system.

We’ll give you an example: a basketball player gets injured and has completed his rehab and is quite advanced in his recovery training. He is fully fit to play, but his vertical is still not what it used to be - let's say 25 inches, to use a simple number. It used to be close to 40 inches. If the athlete is structurally ready and has had enough time to rebuild his athleticism through training, but is still not expressing his maximum athletic ability, it's time to examine the brain.

A governor or limiter in this context refers to the brain fearing for the safety of its host organism of the athlete (can be explained simpler, probably by saying there’s a mental component to an athlete’s performance). The brain operates on a protection/performance continuum. If the brain fears that the athlete's safety is at risk because he can't "survive" landing from a 40-inch vertical, then guess what? The vertical will not be 40 inches, even if he has the innate ability to do so. Neurologically, this is similar to driving with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake, and the athlete's ability to fully express/activate their nervous system is compromised. This is essentially the key variable in many cases of transfer training replication and is mentioned in many classic training research studies, including those of Verkoshansky, Bondarchuk, and Marinovich.

Back to the topic at hand. Neubie has allowed us to locate and resolve many of these neural limiters in our athletes.

Image 2. Optimal pad placement is an art and a science. Make sure you know the location that is best for an athlete, as each body is different.

Rewired Isometric Holds

Isometric hold variations occupy a valuable piece of real estate in my training system. That being said, we feel most coaches have a “black box” understanding of isometric holds. In other words, you do this input and you get this output. It’s important to remember that the reason we introduce isometric holds is because they ultimately grant the athlete deeper and more controlled access to the nervous system, which in turn enables proper recruitment of the musculoskeletal system.

With that warm-up out of the way, it’s not difficult to see how you can use this type of EMS to further deepen, enhance, and customize isometric holds. We’re not here to argue about the theory of application, either. Your own creativity is the limiter here. Let’s hold some varying ideas in the same arena. You could take long-duration isometric holds for strength sports and hypertrophy and use the Neubie to dial up the muscular contraction level to forcibly overload the involved muscle groups. You could also take a approach where you overload the requisite muscles for a much shorter period of time. But be warned that excessively long isometric contractions could cause excess muscle tone or tension.

(From here onwards I’m not gonna change the I/my to we/our/us; please get the writer to do that)

In fact, I like to think the machine actually can unite varying schools of thought. When you are holding near the end range of motion, the body typically tightens to protect itself from injury. This is why such isometric holds can lead to increased tension. With the Neubie, you can send a signal to balance muscle tone and ensure the appropriate activity. This dynamic helps reduce the body’s need to “protect,” allowing it to move more efficiently through greater ranges of motion and optimize the muscle tension-length relationships in training.

Image 3. Most therapists and coaches are familiar with stationary EMS practices and that’s fine. Make sure you can do the basics before moving to movement-style methods.

In the example provided, I’m rewiring a simple wall sit. Instead of a quad-dominant endeavor, I’m using the technology to force the athlete (myself) to pull themselves into position with their posterior chain like a bow and arrow. My goal is to create more repetitive tension (and relaxation technically) in the posterior chain while keeping the quads relaxed (probably better to change this to “we tried this with one of our trainers… or something like that. The I/my and we/us/our conflict is making things confusing). The resultant effect is optimal posterior chain neuromuscular function, bringing with it speed, injury prevention, and explosiveness (reactive strength).

If you’re a sadist, there’s an added benefit to dialing up the current while using breathing as the remote control to your remote control (your nervous system), to maintain a parasympathetic state and respond to the exercise and electrical current combo instead of reacting to it and seeing the brain “bail” on a neuromuscular level. I’ve seen a benefit with this in conditioning work and performance anxiety, believe it or not.

High Stim Trap Bar Deadlift

The use case for this technology with strength work is huge. You can use it to pattern in appropriate muscle activation grouping and, to some extent, muscular firing sequences. The use case with this trap bar deadlift example is a bit easier to unpack.

Image 4. The simple inclusion of EMS with athletes during strength movements is a great way to get the most out of the time with one-on-one training environments, especially return-to-play programs.

Instead of working with the typical muscular activations here, I add stimulation to the hips and glutes and thus augment the athlete’s movement strategy. By emphasizing certain muscle groups, we can train proper form into the athlete more efficiently, make exercises safer, and increase strength types via total and accelerated contraction velocities. We can reprogram previously learned improper form and movement strategies as well.

Stimulated Sporting Movements

A major use case for this type of electrical stimulation is tuned sporting movements. By allowing the athlete to perform movements they see in their sport with the attached current, you can positively affect a number of factors relating to human performance.

Video 1. The use of EMS with shadowboxing training isn’t going to transform anyone into a champion overnight, but it does provide a learning opportunity for everyone. Don’t look to EMS as being sport-specific; treat it like a diagnostic for coaches who need to design better training programs.

In the example here, we have an MMA fighter shadowboxing on proprioceptive pads while concurrently being stimulated by the Neubie. My evaluation process also includes simple film analysis (really the first movement screen you should start with). This athlete had issues with fluid movement in his hips, including striking, takedown, and sprawling needs. Issues with keeping hands up, shoulder fatigue, and maintaining “snap” in strikes as the fight/training wore on were also all previous problems.

In addition to isometric holds, corrective exercise, and movement prep work, the current here enables proper muscular activation and overloaded contraction and relaxation cycles. Furthermore, the current on his shoulders, again, contracts at rates of hundreds of times per second. Both of these are beyond what will be seen in the fight, especially if this exercise is done in an appropriate intra-fatigue setting. Please note that muscle oxygen monitoring should be done here as well to help identify physiological performance limiters.

The net effect was better performance on takedowns, clinch work, sprawls, striking posture, and distance management, with the athlete specifically expanding movement range and quality in the hips. The shoulders also became more or less a non-factor limitation in training. Yes, these things improved with a proper training regimen, but I believe the Neubie enabled this to happen better and faster.

Manual Overload Technique

One of the simplest use cases with the Neubie technology is muscular overload technique. The concept (as with many other examples provided here) can be extrapolated and inserted into many exercise modalities. The idea here is to place the electrodes on the key muscles involved to promote a greater muscular contraction than can traditionally occur at the given weight (flow here is weird, better to start with an explanation of muscular overload technique earlier).

Image 5. Simple conventional bench presses respond very well to functional EMS training. Start with push-ups and basic movements before progressing to barbell activities.

If an athlete is dealing with some type of injury, nagging pain, strength deficit, or anything in between, you can use this technique to manually stimulate the muscle fibers to contract at a higher degree than the given weight used. In addition to providing a greater stimulus to the muscle for more strength and/or power, this also has a seat at the table in programming deloads. If you’re able to maximally stimulate muscles without unwanted CNS costs or functional systems stress when you’re, say, chasing supercompensation or unfavorable Omegawave scores, this can be a great, creative workaround.

To further riff on the deload concept, We have notably used EMS during both deloads and rest days while sleeping to stimulate muscle fiber without weight-bearing load. If an athlete comes into the facility on a rest day or conditioning day, we can have the extra benefit of muscle stimulation without adding excess stress and potentially disrupting the adaptive processes of the body. This is also a great peaking tool if you want to stimulate the dialogue between nervous and musculoskeletal systems without DOMS close to competition and/or in season.

Once again, the limiting factor is your own creativity.

Speed Strength Eccentric Overload

Why is it that when eccentric overload gets discussed, it’s always done at slow, maximal strength? In non-iron sports, the eccentric is almost always done in the speed-strength continuum. Failure to feature these in program design is failure to introduce the athlete to both high-velocity neuromuscular contractions—a key applied stretch shortening cycle need—and sport-specific tendon adaptations, which are the load-bearing features and storage-release of kinetic energy (same issue with flow here, explain the concept earlier, and maybe simpler. A lot of PT jargon).

Video 2. Eccentric strength of the legs is valuable in sport and jumping off a box onto two legs is great for many types of athletes. Make sure you progress carefully, as it’s a demanding exercise.

In this example of speed strength eccentric overload with altitude drops, we don’t address all of those, but we do use gravity to transmit a high-velocity force into the body for high-speed deceleration training, bulletproofing tendons, training timing, coordination, kinesthetic awareness (propriospinal process), and high-speed force absorption.

I use the EMS to uncork some added overloaded muscular tension. This is key for athletes who have a less favorable tension-length relationship and fall more on the latter side.

Plyometric Bench Throws

This is a plyometric exercise for bench pressing that’s both safe and highly effective. It allows you to train a pressing movement for the upper body at plyometric speed.

Video 3. At first glance, bench throws and stability ball exercises can look a little gimmicky, but trust that they’re great for athletes who need upper body power. Use the right equipment and trust the ball is for challenging the body and not for excessive balance.

Though funky-looking and simple, pay attention to both the movement itself and the posture of my feet and hips. Though the bench press is great in its own right, it often results in poor neural adaptations and fragments the athlete’s body and movement into isolated sections. Bondarchuk, Verkoshansky, and Colgan all discuss the need to introduce a specific link of muscle firing sequences in training, but it’s my opinion that most coaches and mainstream schools misinterpret this literature into non-holistic exercise modalities in program design.

The posture adds a component of full body involvement as seen in the muscular recruitment on the football field. The ball adds a proprioceptive component for controlling the trunk, limbs, and load in space. The speed of the load allows us to empower the athlete with the speed of sport in the gym for upper body plyometrics—something that’s hard to come by.

There’s also a “power endurance” neural and physiological component at play here, which matters even more in combat sports. In fact, many combat sports athletes report that this is a novel supplement to their training programs that not only provides neural adaptations for punching power, but also is helpful because it doesn’t freeze their scapula in place. Football players love it as a supplement to their bench pressing. Many have gone so far down that maximal strength combine protocol that they have poorly developed changeover speed and slow contraction-relaxation rates. It only makes sense that if you’ve plateaued on combine-style maximal bench pressing, you dose in (is “dose in” commonly used in PT circles?) some varying neural looks.

The Neubie charges this exercise by providing maximal muscular contraction overload for additional power. The unique current also provides a great stimulus for the relaxation component of the stretch shortening cycle by driving the relaxation abilities and rates of athletes.

Video 4. Quad strength is about smart closed chain movements that focus on specific overload. You don’t have to do leg extensions to get development— just know how to recycle equipment the right way.

Remember, this technology isn’t the answer for everything, but it can absolutely serve as a catalyst for your own training concepts to take shape, as well as an empowering tool for healing. In my experience working with the Neubie, I feel like I have a significant advantage when it comes to keeping my athletes healthy and performing at a high clip. Using this iteration of EMS is almost akin to having a direct line of communication straight to your athletes’ nervous systems.

<Insert Aspire CTA here fact, many combat sports athletes report that this is a novel supplement to their training programs that not only provides neural adaptations for punching power, but also is helpful because it doesn’t freeze their scapula in place. Football players love it as a supplement to their bench pressing. Many have gone so far down that maximal strength combine protocol that they have poorly developed changeover speed and slow contraction-relaxation rates. It only makes sense that if you’ve plateaued on combine-style maximal bench pressing, you dose in (is “dose in” commonly used in PT circles?) some varying neural looks.

The Neubie charges this exercise by providing maximal muscular contraction overload for additional power. The unique current also provides a great stimulus for the relaxation component of the stretch shortening cycle by driving the relaxation abilities and rates of athletes.

Video 4. Quad strength is about smart closed chain movements that focus on specific overload. You don’t have to do leg extensions to get development— just know how to recycle equipment the right way.

Remember, this technology isn’t the answer for everything, but it can absolutely serve as a catalyst for your own training concepts to take shape, as well as an empowering tool for healing. In my experience working with the Neubie, I feel like I have a significant advantage when it comes to keeping my athletes healthy and performing at a high clip. Using this iteration of EMS is almost akin to having a direct line of communication straight to your athletes’ nervous systems.

<Insert Aspire CTA here

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