Modern people are poor on time and rich on distraction. We are all about multi-tasking and it would be great if exercise can be one of those things you can multi-task away, say while watching TV and playing with your phone.
Our muscles contracts and relaxes due to electro-chemical signals from our nervous system to our muscle. This is the reason why our body twitch uncontrollably when we accidentally get electrocuted. This mechanism is useful in physiotherapy. Muscles that are not used tend to shrink. When our joints are injured, we cannot do regular exercise. Pulsed electric frequency can be used to stimulate the muscles and prevent them from shrinking while our joints are recovering.
These days, these mechanism are being used, such as by a product that sounded like “sixpack” to promote a method of gaining muscles without breaking a sweat, allowing you to finally multi-task while gaining muscle!
What is the Problem?
Electrocuting yourself while binge watching netflix might seemed to be a good idea to get six pack abs. But what exactly are you missing when you skipped the squat rack for electric pad?
People that are properly trained in functional movement patterns (not to be confused with a misguided youtuber with similar handle) will learn how to move in a joint conserving way. For example, when they squat, they will know how to engage both the posterior and anterior chain of movement, using power from the hips and how to align the knees. This skill will enable them to move in a joint conservative way while generating high power. You will not learn this skill if you simply zap your legs.
My main bread and butter right now is training 70-80 year old grannies proper functional movement patterns as described in Prof. McGill’s Ultimate Back Fitness. These people are people with early knee osteoarthritis issues that have been to the best orthopedic surgeons, acupuncturist and physiotherapist money can buy in Hong Kong and still find it painful to walk, sit and climb stairs. The reliefs they are getting after several sessions with me are caused by their increased movement skills and this cannot be earned by simple muscle electrocution.
Your skeletal muscles are connected with neurons to your brain. This connection is what enables you to consciously move your body. The more you train, the more refined would your connection be. Think of martial arts masters, olympic weightlifters and powerlifters that are able to recruit high proportion of their muscle fibers at multiple joints to execute a single movement in harmony. This is connection cannot be built when your training method doesn’t even involve your conscious mind.
It costs USD 22,000 / kg of items shipped to ISS. NASA and CSA is definitely spending way more money sending a glorified treadmill and squat rack into space when they could save a tonne of money in the short term simply sending those muscle electrocuting pads.
Your bone is actually alive. It has blood vessels and neural network inside. This is why your bone can heal after fracture. Your bone can also increase in density with repeated loading-unloading such as squats and deadlifts. Athletes, farmers and construction workers have high bone density due to this mechanism. Just don’t expect this benefit if you are a couch athlete.
By all means, if your goal is simple cosmetics, then these type of devices can definitely help you. Unlike training with improper movement, this method of training have no risk of harming your joints. But proper exercise have far more benefit than simply looking buffed. You will not get those benefits without putting the actual work.