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The Difference between toning your Muscles and building them

Woman stretching on yoga matt

There must be thousands of men who would love to possess the body of an Arnold Schwarzenegger, and women who envy that of Sharon Bruneau, the world’s top female bodybuilder. However, there at least as many who simply wish for a lean body in which the musculature is clearly defined but without the greatly increased bulk that is the ultimate goal of the dedicated bodybuilder. Naturally, depending upon which of these apparently conflicting goals one may wish to achieve, the recommended regimen of exercise will differ.

That lean, defined look is the result of muscle toning. This may either involve maintaining its existing mass and ridding oneself of excess fat or combining the fat loss with a modest growth of lean muscle. Since a kilogram of the former occupies about double the space taken by a kilogram of the latter, any accompanying weight loss or gain is normally minimal. It is the composition of the body that is altered and not its mass.

Convention has it that, in order to build bulk, moving to successively heavier weights, rather than endless reps under the same load, and an increased calorie intake is the way to go. By contrast, it is held that achieving the mean and lean look is less about the load and more about quick repetitions with less rest until the point that one is too fatigued to continue. Flying in the face of these conventional beliefs, a newly-perfected technology known as EMS or Electro Muscular Stimulation makes use of a phenomenon first observed during the 18th century to provide what could be seen as a one-size-fits-all solution for both muscle toning and bulking up.

The phenomenon referred to was first named galvanism after its Italian discoverer, Luigi Galvani. He observed that application of a small electric current to a piece of isolated frog muscle caused it to contract. In a refinement of this same principle, EMS technology applies a series of successive electrical impulses, via electrodes positioned on the skin, to the underlying muscles to achieve repeated contractions that emulate conventional exercise. By varying the placement of the electrodes, and making appropriate adjustments to the strength of the current and the rate at which the impulses are delivered, a number of different health and fitness goals may be achieved. From the perspective of the trainee, perhaps the most significant benefit of EMS is that it requires far less time and almost no effort when compared to the conventional approach to muscle toning and bodybuilding.

Equally suitable for weight loss, cellulite reduction, strengthening the core and abdominal musculature and increasing overall strength and stamina, EMS involves no straining or impact and so is easy on the joints and those lesser-used, weakened areas. These latter qualities mean that it can also provide a safe and effective therapeutic option following a prolonged period of convalescence or an incapacitating sports injury, for instance.

Body20 is a rapidly expanding fitness franchise that offers EMS training from a number of well-equipped studios around South Africa and employing cutting-edge German technology developed by the industry’s global leader – Miha Bodytec. Whatever your need, be it weight loss, more bulk or muscle toning, an experienced EMS trainer will design a programme to target it.