This particular posts list the latest products we tested, Electronic Muscle Stimulators (EMS). For those unfamiliar, these devices work by sending electronic impulses to electrodes that are placed on the skin. They may be used to build muscle, help with injury recovery, increase explosive power, decrease body fat (very popular for abs), relieve lower back pain, etc. One of the models that we tested also includes a TENS mode, this is used for pain relief and injury recovery for knees, lower back, etc.
We tested the most popular models on the market (above $150, less expensive ones are a waste of money, trust us) and have listed our feedback below, the reviews are based on a combination of our own experience using the units and the comments from our clients. The overall results are listed below:
Our Top-Electric Muscle Stimulators of 2017
|#1 (TIE) Compex Wireless|
Nice display & easy to use with long battery life, also had 9 programs for a variety of workouts. Many of our clients like the recovery programs after a workout to remove lactic acid. Includes four adjustable channels. Good customer service, we called & the gentleman was knowledgeable and helpful. Contractions received with this device were comfortable and distributed evenly without "hot spots".
The "wireless" electrodes really have wires, they're just not connected to the device. Additionally, they fall of easily if you move so there's really not much point with wireless since you need to remain pretty still, having electrodes charged at all times can be somewhat tiresome as well. The built-in programs cater more to the "cross-fitters" of the world and were not necessarily beneficial to about 1/2 of our clients who were looking more to reduce body fat and get back into shape. This model does not include TENS therapy.
The retail price of over $1,000 can buy a lot of training sessions. One of the devices had to be rebooted several times in order to function, something we've noticed on other reviews. Additionally, replacement electrodes are pricey. I believe these are now available in WalMart as well, say it ain't so!
|#1 STIMTENS TG-5500BDY|
Includes a detailed LCD display that indicates your program while in use. 19 total programs for a variety of workouts from explosive power to specific abs & definition. This is also the only one we tested that also includes 8 TENS therapy programs for pain relief. The ab & definition programs were extremely popular with our clients including four that SWORE they had results after two sessions. We're somewhat skeptical of such quick benefits but who are we to argue. Our trainers liked the "feel" of this device best in terms of contractions received and the distribution of power across the electrodes. As mentioned, this is a hybrid device that includes TENS programs to relieve pain and recover. Also includes a manual setting program to customize your own workouts. The rechargeable battery wouldn't die. This unit has four separate channels with ranges up to 100, none of us got past 50 as reference. I was personally on level 12 for my abs; I couldn't imagine level 100. Customer service was excellent, they answered phone within two rings & were extremely knowledgeable about the product. On a side note, the packaging is awesome for this product, they even include a binder with program descriptions, nicely done StimTens!
Finding the correct program can be somewhat challenging with 19 to chose from, if you're a novice EMS user, this is nothing that you don't get used to after about two sessions.
If you buy this for your wife as a present, she may think you're trying to tell her something.
|#2 Marc Pro Plus|
Marc Pro Plus: Cost $949.95
Easy to use with easy-to-ready display. The contractions were comfortable & controlled, though some of our clients did complain of a "stinging" sensation when channel power was turned up. Also includes pain relief mode to help with aches and pains.
By looking at the "hype" on the website, we expected a little more for this price. This is pretty much a generic EMS unit with one program and only two channels as far as we could tell. We did not notice any more comfort or better contractions with the Marc Pro. vs. the Compex or StimTens TG5500-BDY. The wires that plugged into the ports could be a little better quality too for this price.
$949 is a lot to pay for this device, especially with only two channels.
|#3 Islim by StimTens|
Includes a large fool-proof LCD display and four separate channels that can operate independently allowing use on multiple body parts simultaneously. Contractions were comfortable and controlled being evenly dispersed throughout each pad. Also includes six programs with lean muscle/body fat reduction focus.
Obese individuals or power lifters may not find this device suitable for their needs, this device caters more to the weight loss & lean muscle building clientele. The Islim does not include a rechargeable battery so it's best used with an AC Adapter, not the end of the world since your usually stationary while using.
Powerlifters may have to shop elsewhere.
|#4 Flexbelt www.flexbelt.com|
This is a very portable device that you can wear around the house while using, you probably wouldn't want to leave the house with it though.
Several of our clients mentioned that they could not feel contractions on one side of the belt while in use and also that one side felt stronger than the other. Other clients had difficulty fitting the belt, it's adjustable but not for everyone.
The belt seemed to get somewhat moldy rather quickly and does not seem to be washable. Replacement electrodes for this device are expensive. Also, you can only use this on your abdominal region. You can purchase Flexarms but it will cost an additional $129.
#5 Slendertone Connect Abs
|#5 Slendertone Connect Abs|
Slendertone Connect Abs: Cost $229
This is very similar to the Flexbelt mentioned above, this is a portable device that you may wear around the house while in use. It also connects to your iphone bluetooth. The power of the device is adequate for most users.
Similar to the Flexbelt, our clients felt unequal power distribution within the belt, one side seems stronger than the other in many situations, this may be the result of a poor fitting belt that seems to be an issue with quite a few users. The belt is adjustable but still may not fit everyone one properly. The bluetooth app. is rather pointless since you're wearing the device anyway, really just a drain on your phone.
These belts get dirty quickly and do not wash well so $229 can be an expensive temporary purchase. Additionally, you can only exercise your mid-section with these belts and have to purchase additional accessories in order to exercise your arms.
We hope this helps steer you in the right direction when considering purchasing an electric muscle stimulator device for fitness purposes. Overall, we truly believe that EMS provides a fantastic workout and is a great supplement to any fitness regimen. A lot of our clients that have never tried EMS before raved about the experience with these. The common theme seemed to be...abs first, then arms & then legs, shoulders, etc. surprisingly, this theme reversed after a few days where clients would want to use the devices on legs first and then abs became more secondary. This was a fantastic experience for all involved and thank you for taking the time to read our reviews. -Trainer Nation.