How I Kept Off The Weight, Training Just 20 Minutes A Week
Like most MH staffers, I’m relatively fit. But like the rest of my team, my lifestyle is often packed with late nights, deadlines and little sleep. Not to mention the hours of travelling involved – covering stories across the country, and sometimes, across continents. And, despite having a host of workout plans, great nutritional advice and mega fit role models around me, I constantly battle to find the time to work out. So, I tried something new: Bodytec.
Bodytec is South Africa’s leading brand for EMS training, with 40 studios across the country. I was in good hands, and with a session only 20 minutes a week, it was a no brainer. So, I stopped my early morning training attempts, put down the weights and kept all my workout clothing at home for three months. Here’s what I learnt.
About EMS Training
EMS, known as Electro Muscle Stimulation, uses electricity to stimulate and activate muscle groups while you train. And according to Bodytec, during EMS training up to 90% of muscles are activated simultaneously. That’s a lot of muscle stimulation, but what’s more is that the quality of stimulation is higher than that of voluntary exertion – also known as conventional weight training.
This is because the muscle contractions are of higher quality and more intense than what you’d find at the gym, all with no strain on your joints. But before you try to add more weight to the bar, just slow down, chief. It’s time to train smarter.
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My first workout with Bodytec, was painful. But I was prepared: my Bodytec City Bowl trainer Riaz Jogee sat down with me beforehand and asked about previous injuries, my fitness levels, and what I’d like to achieve. And my answer was straightforward: I wanted to keep fit, feel stronger and keep a healthy body fat percentage, all with my busy schedule.
He also explained the process: I’d have to strip down, get into a black Bodytec suit and trust him. Once the formalities were out the way, I went with it, and I loved the badass bodysuit look, too. Bodytec also provided all the clothing and shower towels needed for every session. That meant I avoided the morning rush to pack my gym bag before work.
Lastly, the EMS workout makes for tons of sweat and focused, high intensity repetition. The EMS device can stimulate multiple muscle groups simultaneously, allowing for a repeated activation of the whole body.
Months into my Bodytec training, I damaged ligaments in my left ankle while playing beach volleyball. But with EMS I continued to train. I was able to activate certain muscle groups, such as my biceps, glutes, lower back and stomach, all while avoiding the ankle. This meant I could continue with a calorie burning, high intensity workout while injured.
And there’s plenty of science to back EMS training’s role in recovery. EMS training is great for decreasing back pain, and back related issues. At the University of Bayreuth, researchers aimed to identify the effects of complex EMS training on back pain. 49 individuals used EMS training for 5 weeks and they found myriad benefits. A decrease in back pain was observed in 88.7% of participants, frequency and the intensity of back pain significantly decreased within the training period, 75.5% showed improvements in mood and 69.4% noticed increased vitality.
Compared to conventional weight training, EMS training activates deeper muscle groups which leads to better balance and an increased core stability. With EMS training, I noticed an increase in my mobility and I was much better prepared functionally for daily tasks: whether it was carrying my new couch or hiking up Table Mountain’s Devils Peak, I felt stronger.
Studies show that controlled, dynamic and bodyweight-only EMS training is an effective form of training for individuals wanting or needing to improve strength endurance or functional strength abilities for everyday activities. And this is especially so if you’re trying to improve your strength and form on the sports field.
What I Took Home
EMS training taught me to train smarter, but more importantly it allowed me to understand my muscle groups. And in the process, with better form, I improved my posture, developed a stronger core and boosted my balance (I now am amped to join any yoga class, without fear).
I also learnt what EMS training is NOT. It is not a quick fix, or an easy workout. It takes dedication, with one having to stay focused and in touch with their body throughout the 20-minute process. For me, it was tougher than a regular gym workout, and I’ve seen promising results.
With 20-minutes a week to spare, over 3 months I managed to retain a 12.7 body fat percentage from the start of my Bodytec journey, with no added training. According to the Jackson/Pollock 4 Calliper Method, this kept me in the ‘athlete’ category for men. This was all with an intense work schedule, and the added calorie bombs when on the road.