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Oxygen consumption and muscle fatigue induced by whole-body electromyostimulation compared to equal-duration body weight circuit training



Whole-body electromyostimulation (WB-EMS) has become increasingly popular under the promise to offer a time-saving and effective exercise protocols. Few studies estimating the training intervention intensity of WB-EMS are available in the literature.


The aim of this study was first to estimate the metabolic demand and muscle fatigue induced by a training session with WB-EMS, and second to compare them to a control intervention.


Ten young participants performed two training sessions: an experimental condition constituted by five exercises with superimposed WB-EMS and a control condition constituted by five body weight exercises. Both sessions lasted 15 min and were based on isometric intermittent contraction (6 of contraction interspersed by 4 s of rest). Muscle fatigue was assessed by determining the force decrease in the following tests: isometric mid-thigh pull; plyometric push-up; counter-movement jump. Oxygen consumption and energy expenditure were recorded by measuring respiratory gases exchange to quantify the metabolic demand of the exercises.


The WB-EMS intervention required greater volume of oxygen consumed (WB-EMS 1584 ± 251 ml/min; control 1465 ± 216 ml/min, p = 0.006) and energy expenditure (WB-EMS 470 ± 71 kcal/h; control 438 ± 61 kcal/h, p = 0.013) than in control intervention. Overall, the WB-EMS training induced muscle fatigue (all PRE vs POST tests p ≤ 0.02) whereas the body weight exercises did not (all p > 0.14).


These results indicate that WB-EMS intervention constituted a vigorous physical activity. The WB-EMS required also a greater metabolic demand and greater muscle fatigue than a traditional body weight circuit training. Thus, WB-EMS can be considered as an alternative training tool for physically active individuals.

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Analysis of variance


Counter-movement jump


Isometric mid-thigh pull


Metabolic equivalent


Whole-body electromyostimulation


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The authors wish to thank Mara D’Alessandro, Damiano Fruet, Federica Gilli, Roberto Modena, and Andrea Zignoli for their valuable help in data collection.

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Correspondence to Gennaro Boccia.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the local ethical committee (Department of Neurosciences, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, University of Verona) and performed in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration.

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All participants provided their written informed consent before participation in the experiments.

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The research was conducted at CeRiSM Research Center “Sport, Mountain, and Health”, via del Ben 5/b, 38068, Rovereto, (TN), Italy.

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Boccia, G., Fornasiero, A., Savoldelli, A. et al. Oxygen consumption and muscle fatigue induced by whole-body electromyostimulation compared to equal-duration body weight circuit training. Sport Sci Health 13, 121–130 (2017).

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  • Muscle fatigue
  • Oxygen consumption
  • Energy expenditure
  • Plyometric push-up
  • Isometric mid-thigh pull
  • Counter-movement jump