Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS) training was introduced to South Africa in 2011 with the launch of Bodytec®, the original EMS studio in Cape Town, which now boasts 30 studios across the country.
The training method sees users wear body suits attached to electrodes that send electric impulses through the body during a workout which activates up to 90% of your muscles simultaneously. The trend continues to grow internationally, and gain popularity in South Africa, and with it the discussion around strength training, and whether it’s a form of training reserved for men alone.
Quite the contrary, according to biokineticist, Agnieszka Kühn, who believes that with all the juggling you do as a woman, being tough has become part of your DNA. So, strength training shouldn’t be too much out of your comfort zone. In fact, she claims that if it isn’t already heavily incorporated into your routine, it should be, because it has numerous benefits.
“Strength training gives you natural energy and is a mood booster. It makes you feel stronger physically so you can cope better all round through your day,” says Kühn. Apart from the mental pick-me-up, Kühn says it also offers numerous physical benefits, too. These include:
Helps burn fat
Women carry more body fat than men – it’s a fact. A regular strength-training programme can contribute to healthy weight loss and helps reduce body fat and burn calories in a completely different way to regular cardio. That’s because strength training uses large muscle groups, which boosts your metabolism keeps it elevated for longer after exercise: the so-called “after-burn”. This means weight-loss effects last longer, even when you’re not exercising.
Builds strength without bulking up
It is a misconception that women will develop bulging muscles if they do strength training, and this is a silly excuse to miss out on the many benefits of strength training. Researchers have actually found that women typically don’t gain muscle in the same way as men, because of the differences in hormones: women have 10- to 30-times less of the anabolic hormones (such as testosterone) that cause muscle hypertrophy (increased muscle size and thickness). Most women will find that regular strength training will create better tone and definition throughout the body without the bulk.
Reduces injury risk
As functional ability is maintained or improved through this type of training, risk of injury significantly decreases. “Correct technique (body alignment) is crucial, otherwise you may be increasing your injury risk instead,” warns Kühn. Strength training increases bone density and strength, which can help reduce the risk of fractures and bone related injuries. “This is especially important for women with hormonal imbalances, or those nearing or past menopause: the decrease in oestrogen in the body with these changes can lead to significant decreases in bone density,” he says. Regular strength training can offset this and help stabilise hormone levels in the body.
Reduces risk of chronic illness
Strength training can help in the management of chronic conditions, which include back pain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, arthritis, obesity and more.
It improves mood
There’s no question that strength training has a ton of great physical benefits, but the mental benefits are just as important. Strength training releases endorphins, our “happy hormones,” during and after exercise and acts as a natural anti-depressant, without the side-effects that medication may give. It shouldn’t be used as a sole replacement for anti-depressants and you should always work closely with your doctor if you are on medication.
Generally, strength training leads to more strength, more focus, more endurance, which equals more energy and happiness!
Find out more about Bodytec® at www.bodytec.co.za
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.