You can count on celebrities to try all kinds of exciting workout innovations. After all, they have access to some of the best trainers and newest technologies to help them work toward their fitness goals. Case in point, Jessica Alba’s longtime trainer, Ramona Braganza, recently shared a snap of Alba utilizing electrical muscle stimulation while exercising.
This was Alba’s first time trying EMS, Braganza tells Shape, explaining that she makes an effort to keep up with technological advancements and has been working with the company Wiemspro to do so. “Our initial session was to test out the suit, and it went well,” she adds, noting “Jessica has always been open to trying new things.”
As Braganza points out, in theory, EMS increases the intensity of an exercise, allowing you to get in an effective workout in less time than usual. Here’s how it works: You wear a suit, vest, and/or shorts that deliver electrical stimulation to large areas of the body as you exercise. Though you’re already engaging muscles by exercising, electrical impulses force muscles to contract, resulting in more muscle recruitment, Blake Dircksen, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., a physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments in New York City, previously told Shape.
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A typical EMS workout might last 15 minutes and include low-impact exercises, such as planks, lunges, and squats (as Alba demonstrates in Braganza’s Instagram post). Even though that’s a short period of time to spend exercising, EMS pulses make every move feel harder, accelerating how quickly you feel fatigued. How sore you feel after this kind of workout depends on the “intensity of the work, the weight used, the amount of time, how much eccentric load was done, and if any of the movements were done in new ranges,” added Dircksen.
Braganza plans to incorporate this type of training for her clients once or twice a week, which is “the maximum recommended amount,” she notes. “However, I am also conscious that EMS can make someone very sore if set at too high an intensity, so my goal is to use this along with other modalities.”
If you have access to this kind of technology, an EMS workout may seem like a great way to get the most out of a short gym session. However, it’s important to note that there isn’t much research to prove the effectiveness of EMS for working out.
“I think a person doing an EMS workout needs to have realistic expectations, especially if they’re using it to cut down minutes on the gym,” Jaclyn Fulop, M.S.P.T., founder of Exchange Physical Therapy Group, previously told Shape. Additionally, using unregulated EMS products could cause burns, bruising, skin irritation, and pain, according to the Food & Drug Administration.
There are certainly pros and cons to trying out this buzzy workout technology. If you’re interested in taking a page from Alba’s book, you can look for gyms that utilize EMS units or find a trainer who is well-versed in using them.