Training for an IRONMAN?
Whether this is your first or you’ve tackled many IRONMANS, you know that you’ll need to put heavier-than-usual loads on your body to meet your training plan.
During training, you put a ton of stress on your body. All that amount of pressure can lead to injury before, during, or after race day. What can you do? Using electric muscle stimulation (EMS) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be the final puzzle piece in your triathlon training plan to help you keep healthy for your IRONMAN and beyond the finish line.
Why EMS and TENS?
EMS and TENS is an essential part of IRONMAN training because it helps increase strength, endurance, stamina, and recovery, all of which help maximize performance.
Lisa Bentley, 11-time IRONMAN Champion, coach, speaker and author of An Unlikely Champion says, “I have used TENS to reduce pain around a few different injuries—inflammation of tendons, lower-back tightness, and subsequent SI joint issues. I have used EMS to stimulate the muscles which often get turned off due to injury.”
What are EMS and TENS?
Basically, EMS mimics the way your body works to cause your muscles to contract. Your muscles act as if you’re working out. Except, instead of voluntarily firing off (because you, say, lift something), the muscles fire when given a very particular electrical impulse from your Compex® device. The TENS can help relieve muscle pain due to injury and over-training. The TENS setting on your Compex delivers small, safe, electrical signals through conductive pads to stimulate the nerves under your skin. It relieves pain in two ways: by helping the body to release natural painkillers (called endorphins) and by blocking pain messages.
Using Compex® During Training
Using Compex during your training can help you gain muscle strength in hard-to-reach areas and strengthen muscles when injured. “I had patellar femoral pain, I used EMS to stimulate the medial quadriceps muscle to get stronger and activated so that it could help hold my knee cap in place and counteract my overactive ITB from pulling my kneecap to the outside,” explains Bentley. “I had used EMS when I had a stress fracture to keep the surrounding muscles activated while we rested the bone and joint as they repaired. That way, when the bone was healed, I was able to return to training faster since the normal muscular atrophy had been reduced or eliminated.”
Compex for Recovery
Also, Compex can also activate muscles on recovery days to enhance blow flow, which in turn helps heal your body. “Training is the process of stressing out muscles and breaking them down. Improvements come during the recovery phase where the muscle gets stronger and more resilient,” shares Bentley.
Ironically, injuries happen when you overload muscles and tendons. Recovery from injury occurs when you gradually introduce load to the muscle or tendons. You cannot have rehabilitation without introducing a controlled load. Adding in your Compex device to your training allows for that controlled load by stimulating the muscles.
Compex for Warming Up
On top of strength and recovery, you can use your Compex for an effective warm up. The pre-designed programs can target the specific muscle groups you’ll be using, whether you’re in the locker room, at your desk, or sitting next to the pool. The great thing about using Compex during your IRONMAN training is that it’s portable so you can multitask and warm up as you make your way to the pool or set up your bike for a ride. And, it reaches muscle groups that are hard to reach from a regular warm-up.
Compex is a tool to supplement strength and endurance programs. You can use the conditioning pre-designed programs to supplement weight training on the same day. Say you focus on training legs one morning, you can use EMS strength on the same muscles that evening, and follow up with active recovery. This helps to fire up your muscles a little quicker than training alone.
You’re putting in a lot of hard work for your IRONMAN. You want to wake up feeling refresh and ready to train each day. In addition to your plan, make sure you get proper sleep, eat well, and use your Compex for an all-around solid training routine.
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The contents of this blog were independently prepared, and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the views of any other party. Individual results may vary depending on a variety of patient-specific attributes and related factors.
Love or hate them; the squat is one of the most effective exercises for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. They are completely versatile. You can do them anywhere, at any time—with or without weights. Also, the squat can help tone your legs and glutes, allow you to log a few more miles, increase speed, boost power, and prevent injury. However, to reap all the benefits from this one move, you must perform it with proper form.
Whether you’re new to the squat or not, it’s best to do this move with no weights to develop the good form. Once you’ve mastered the technique of a perfect squat, then you can switch it up and add Compex or weights to the move.
How to Squat with Proper Form
- Stand tall with feet a little more than shoulder-width apart.
- Slightly point toes outward.
- Begin to sit down, pushing the hips back (as you sit into the squat push your knees out to stay in line with your toes).
- Make sure your weight is on your heels, because if you are too forward or on your toes you can add stress onto the knee joint.
- Keep your chest up and eyes looking straight ahead as you continue to sit down.
- Once your hips descend below the knees, pause, the descent part of the move is now complete.
- Continue to shift your weight into your heels and push your feet into the ground.
- Press your body back up to extend you knees and hips, to finish in the starting position
Advance the Squat
Once you’ve perfected the basic squat, you can progress to a more advanced move. You can use weights, bands, or your Compex to increase the load on the muscles. It’s important to maintain your form, especially when you increase resistance, to prevent injury.
Here are some views that show how to use a regular barbell as well as how to set up your Compex device to complete these squats. You can use your Compex with body weight, a bar or PVC pipe as you work on proper squat form.
Squatting with the bar
More Quad Activation with Compex
One of the big questions we get from athletes is how to use Compex for more than Recovery. We sat down with Casey Parlett, Co-Owner of CrossFit760, to discuss how they introduce Compex to their athlete’s at all different levels.
What is the CrossFit 760 philosophy?
CrossFit760’s philosophy is directly in line with what CrossFit has been doing since the beginning: Constantly varied, Functional movements executed at a high intensity. To take that a step further at CrossFit760 we are adement the proper movement mechanics and consistency must be in place before adding intensity.
How does Compex fit in with that Philosophy?
Compex fits right in with what we are doing because of its ability to teach proper muscle recruitment to improve movement flaws. Also the recovery and strength building with Compex allow our athletes to be in the gym more consistently – they’re constantly being able to work at those high intensities that produce the greatest results.
How do you recommend someone new to lifting use Compex?
New athletes wanting to use Compex will generally feel most comfortable using it for the recovery aspect. However, starting a new lifter on the resistance setting in a static position on a low intensity level, allows the athlete to start acheiving strength and muscle building benefits, while getting comfortable with how to use and feel of the unit.
When do you progress?
As with any other training protocol it is important to have a slow and steady linear progression over 4-8 weeks, gradually increasing intensity. Everyone is different in their level of fitness and how they’ll adapt to Compex. Some people have more experience with form and technique, or have years of lifting experience so they may find they progress faster as they get comfortable with the device.
Example of a Squat Progression for a person new to lifting.
What gains have you seen compared to before recommending Compex?
In the gym we’ve seen improvements across the board from our athletes that are using it. From increased recovery, to strength gains, to injury rehabilitation.
How does that change for a more experienced lifter?
The more experienced lifter is going to see smaller gains, but that little bit more work the device allows through increased recovery and the small strength gains pay off huge long term.
Stay Tuned as we continue to dive deeper into incorporating Compex into specific lifting techniques, for beginners to advanced lifters, throughout the year.
Join Compex this weekend at the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Stop by our Compex booth inside the Vendor Village which is open daily from 8am-7pm Thursday July 23rd- Sunday July 26th 2015 to test out a device, learn about the benefits of electric muscle stimulation and how you can use it to target your training and increase power, speed, endurance and recovery, meet Compex athletes, win prizes and more.
Compex athletes Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, the 2014 CrossFit Games winner and Graham Holmberg, the 2010 CrossFit Games winner will both be competing this year in The Games.