When you first hear about BionicGym, it usually sounds too good to be true. After all, true "wearable exercise" was a pipe dream for years. And even the scientific community claimed that you couldn't really burn many calories with electrical muscle stimulation (EMS).
Well, that's why it might still be hard to believe when we say that we've found a way to actually burn a significant number of calories with BionicGym.
The simulated shivering that we stimulate in skeletal muscle is a new form of cardio exercise. And it has at least three major benefits.
- With consistent training, it becomes real cardio exercise, on par with running or cycling. It's possible to achieve high heart rates and really work the heart and lungs. (At high intensities, you become breathless, your heart works hard, and you sweat!)
- From the very first workout, it engages fast-twitch muscle fibers. These are often undertrained in folks who have weight to lose, or who are sedentary. More on the importance of those fibers in a bit.
- It's so low impact on joints that it's possible to even get a workout while lying back on a couch (although you may want a towel).
The benefits might sound pretty good (and still a bit far-fetched). And what can make BionicGym a fitness game changer is the fact that it's the only EMS training device that can provide this form of simulated shivering training. There is serious scientific proof, too (controlled peer-reviewed studies showing it causes vigorous exercise and real cardio training).
You see, BionicGym has a computer controller not much bigger than a couple decks of cards, and this controller is what makes BionicGym workouts possible. By coordinating signals among 8 electrode pads placed on the quads and hamstrings - with millisecond control of timings - BionicGym is able to create different kinds of shivering workouts.
By carefully controlling the parameters of the signals, it can, for example, target fast-twitch fibers in a way that rapidly depletes stored glucose (glycogen) reserves in the body. There's current scientific research among endurance athletes that shows that depleting glycogen may be a powerful way to stimulate endurance adaptations in already fit individuals.
Another benefit of depleting glycogen and burning excess glucose is that it can train the muscles to become more "metabolically flexible." For ordinary folks who are looking to get fitter and perhaps lose a few pounds, improving metabolic fitness is associated with a lower risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome and Type-2 Diabetes. It also may accelerate the ability of a person to burn off excess fat without having to go on a keto or low-carb diet.
(The workout that does this is called Glucose Gobblers, btw.)
There are more BionicGym workouts.
Some of them are tailored for stimulating the quads more than the hamstrings and glutes, and vice versa. Another one, called Twinkle Toes, even engages the calves and can lead to high heart rates with training.
All of those workouts are only possible because of how precisely the Control Unit coordinates the signals among the 8 gel pads. Which might make it a bit easier to see how BionicGym differs from an ordinary EMS training device or TENS unit.
You might be wondering about the phrase "with training" when it comes to how you'll respond to BionicGym. If you look in the Community online, you'll find that a common statement is: "I put it on and my heart rate barely moved and I'm not sweating."
Here's why that happens.
In order to raise your heart rate and sweat, it's necessary to engage a large amount of muscle and make it work hard. In order to make your muscles work hard, they need to be trained for it (just like you'd train to run, for example).
For someone relatively new to exercise, or perhaps a bit unfit, then there's going to be an acclimation period with BionicGym. During this time, it's wise to go through the beginner programs first, and give yourself anywhere from a few days to even several weeks of gradually increasing intensity workouts.
During this time, you'll be training the body's fast-twitch fibers to become more active and better able to burn energy.
The acclimation period may take longer if you have extra adipose tissue on your thighs. The fat tissue interferes with the signals from the gel pads to your muscles. The best way to solve that is to use BionicGym at lower levels for longer periods of time, and to expect an acclimation period of perhaps up to 4-6 weeks.
Another "edge case" when it comes to acclimation is if you're a fit endurance athlete. In this case, you likely have a well-trained cardio system and a higher than average proportion of "slow twitch" fibers. BionicGym can be a way to train your fast-twitch fibers and "round out" your fitness. You'll also want to be patient with acclimation, and increase intensity gradually as you "wake up" new muscle fibers.
While having to go through an acclimation period might sound like a test of patience, the benefits can truly be worth it.
Thanks for reading, and it's wonderful to know you're interested in getting the benefits of this new form of physical training!