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The Scientific Proof

The Scientific Proof

How and why it works:

We mimic shivering! A calorie is a unit of heat. When the body wants to warm up / burn calories it shivers. There is this resonant frequency of around 7-8Hz where the muscle fibers contract and relax optimizing energy consumption. The muscles cry out for oxygen and fuel creating a demand for blood – hence the heart rate increases and the lungs work harder. Special electrodes allow us to target concentrated impulses. Of course there is a little bit of magic in the formula. Even though the electrodes are only on the thigh we manage to bring in the calf muscles and the gluteals (bum) muscles.


Scientific studies:

All the graphs below are from peer-reviewed scientific literature. (BionicGym technology has been subject to a dozen scientific studies). The studies have been supported by European Space Agency, Enterprise Ireland, Bio-Medical Research Ltd, Hull University (UK), and University College Dublin (Ireland).



Calories burnt versus Intensity


Sitting at rest, you burn 1-2 calories per minute. At each mark (black triangle) there was an increase in the stimulation intensity. Caloric expenditure increased to 15Kcal/min – very vigorous exercise! (the American Heart Association defines ‘vigorous exercise’ as >6 METS or metabolic equivalents. This subject is exercizing not just vigorously but 50% above this threshold).


HR and oxygen consumption (VO2)

At rest the subjects heart rate is <60 as the stimulation intensity increases his heart rate increases – reaching his maximal rate of >185 bpm. (Also greater than his age-predicted maximal heart rate and equal to his maximal heart rate with voluntary /’normal’ exercise).


O2 uptake and Calories over 4 hours

At self-selected intensities this subject watched a couple of DVDs on a reclining physio-table. Oxygen consumption and cumulative calories are plotted.


Lactate Response -2 mins supra-max

Comparison of blood lactate levels post 2 minutes supra-maximal exercise (voluntary exercise and stimulation). Note for comfort the stimulation intensity should be gradually increased. This could not be done in this 2 minute experiment. The limiting factor is probably due to the subjects’ tolerance of the stimulation intensity within the 2 minute window rather than the physiological limit as maximal stimulation intensity was not reached.


Exercise to fatigue at 125+bpm

This experiment compares exercise-to-fatigue of stationary cycling and stimulation at a given heart rate (125-130bpm). Pedaling at 80 revolutions/min the resistance was adjusted to keep the HR at 125-130. For stimulation the intensity was adjusted. The subject was fasting overnight each time. The energy expenditure per min was higher for cycling. Near 4 hours, with resistance at zero, the subject was unable to continue pedaling. After 6 hours of stimulation the subject could have continued.


Increases in aerobic fitness -VO2max

Controlled Study over six weeks on healthy subjects showed statistically significant increases in maximum aerobic capacity / VO2max (VO2max is the ‘gold standard’ measurement of aerobic fitness).



Selected peer-reviewed publications in the scientific literature on this exercise technique (authored/ co-authored by Dr Louis Crowe):
The use of electrical muscle stimulation to elicit a cardiovascular exercise response without loading the joints. Caulfield B, Crowe L, Minogue C, Banerjee P, Clark A. Journal of Exercise PhysiologyOnline 2004;7(3):84-88.
In 1 line : “Increased heart-rate response and calorie burn possible and repeatable”.
Clinical application of neuromuscular electrical stimulation induced cardiovascular exercise. Caulfield B, Crowe L, Coughlan G, Minogue C. Conf Proc IEEE Engineering inMedicine and Biology Society. 2011;2011:3266-9. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6090887.
In 1 Line: “Potential to work in micro-gravity /space”.
Neuro-muscular electrical stimulation training enhances maximal aerobic capacity in healthy physically active adults. Crognale D, Crowe L, Devito G, Minogue C, Caulfield B. Conf Proc IEEE Engineeringin Medicine and Biology Society. 2009;2009:2137-40. doi:10.1109/IEMBS.2009.5333972.
In 1 line : “…a viable alternative to cardiovascular exercise”.
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation can elicit aerobic exercise response without undue discomfort in healthy physically active adults. Crognale D, Vito GD, Grosset JF, Crowe L, Minogue C, Caulfield B. Journalof Strength & Conditioning Research. 2013 Jan;27(1):208-15. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318252f5e5.
In 1 line : “It is acceptably comfortable at training intensities”.
Pushing out the limits of electrical stimulation. A case study in the aggressive use of an alternative to voluntary exercise. Crowe L, Caulfield B. British MedicalJournal Case Reports. 2011 Oct 11;2011. doi:pii: bcr0620114343.10.1136/bcr.06.2011.4343. [Note: only some of the techniques described are being made available at this moment].
In 1 line : “Shows-off the incredible potential of this technology”.
Electrical stimulation of unloaded muscles causes cardiovascular exercise by increasing oxygen demand. BanerjeeP, Clark A, Witte K, Crowe L, Caulfield B. European Journalof Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation. 2005 Oct;12(5):503-8.
In 1 line : “It’s really exercise! – Department of Academic Cardiology, University of Hull, UK”.
Prolonged electrical muscle stimulation exercise improves strength and aerobic capacity in healthy sedentary adults. Banerjee P, Caulfield B, Crowe L, Clark A. Journalof Applied Physiology. 2005 Dec;99(6):2307-11. Epub 2005 Aug 4.
In 1 line : “Even works for those who do not train much”
Comparative effect of a 1 h session of electrical muscle stimulation and walking activity on energy expenditure and substrate oxidation in obese subjects. Grosset JF, Crowe L, De Vito G, O’Shea D, Caulfield B. AppliedPhysiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2013 Jan;38(1):57-65. doi:10.1139/apnm-2011-0367. Epub 2012 Nov 12.
In 1 line : “Stimulation uses glucose/sugar as an energy source – even at low levels”.

It began with an epiphany !

It began with an epiphany !

Dr Louis went for a swim and had an epiphany.

Twenty years ago, Dr Louis Crowe, an Irish Medical Doctor, went for a swim in the cold Irish sea. Getting out, he shivered like he always would, only this time, he noticed something:  His teeth chattered at the same speed his legs shook.

He’d never noticed this before... so he began to pay attention. He realised his shivering was synchronised and had a kind of rhythm.

He reasoned, as his brain sends electrical signals to his muscles when he shivers, it must be possible to induce shivering by copying those signals. In that moment, he had an epiphany that would change the course of his life.

Why shivering is like ''music for muscles''.

Dr Louis knew that shivering burned a lot of calories - as when cold, it is the body’s natural mechanism for heating up through movement. So, he began studying shivering, using himself as a guinea pig.  He noticed, if he let himself get colder, he'd shiver more intensely with more movement, but his muscles moved at the same speed. 

As he measured this phenomenon, he realized that just as dance music, viewed on a spectral analyser, shows a pattern, shiver signals sent from the brain to muscles have a pattern too. When shivering more intensely, the pattern stays approximately the same, but the amplitude increases - like turning up the volume.   

By mimicking these pulse patterns - like playing music to muscles in the form of electrical pulses, Dr Louis found a way to induce intense shivering without coldness, and in doing so, invented a new form of exercise.

Harnessing your bodies biggest muscle group – your legs.


In order to achieve exercise that would have effects on the heart, Dr Louis knew he needed to focus on his body’s largest muscle groups – his legs, this was the final piece of the puzzle.

By stimulating his legs to rapidly contract and relax, with high intensity, using the special shiver signal patterns, Dr Louis was able to achieve real vigorous exercise  – this was obvious by the sweat, rapid breathing and an elevated heart-rate.

Peer Reviewed Science.

Over the twenty years since this observation Dr Louis Crowe has become one of the World's foremost experts in this science of neuro-muscular stimulation. He has completed numerous peer-reviewed studies with leading universities and led innovation teams within medical technology companies. His research has been conducted in associated with leading European Universities and even the European Space Agency.

Through his research, he has proven that from stimulated shivering, applied to legs, via special electrical signals, he could:

  • Burn calories rapidly - at levels equivalent to intense exercise
  • Increase a person’s heart rate - to levels equivalent to intense exercise
  • Enable sustained cardio exercise - once you had trained up with it
  • Increase a person’s VO2 Max levels, i.e. boost aerobic fitness
  • Deliver the benefits of exercise in a way that is gentle on the joints

Ultra-Convenient, Low Will Power Exercise.

Perhaps what is most revolutionary about BionicGym is it requires less willpower.  Or at least a different type of will-power.  At intense levels you still get all the body's signalling that it is intense exercise but you can distract yourself by watching TV, etc.

Many forms of exercise require constant mental-effort to complete. For example, when using an exercise bike or treadmill, a person must choose to keep pushing themselves. If they are mentally fatigued, they often can’t exercise for long.

However, stimulated shivering via BionicGym is different. As electrical impulses trigger the legs to move repeatedly, users can simply put BionicGym on, dial up the intensity, and via a kind of remote-control exercise, watch their legs move. This makes it possible to do passive exercise while engaged in another activity - like watching TV or playing a computer game. This also means that many normal environments, from working at a desk to lying on a couch, can become places where exercise can occur.


Is BionicGym a scam?

Is BionicGym a scam?

Until people see BionicGym in action they often think it must be too good to be true… The idea that you could be on your couch training vigorously and actually burning calories is appealing, too appealing! You, like most people, may have seen late night infomercials for something that, at first, seems similar and are a little sceptical.


So, is BionicGym really too good to be true?


BionicGym is indeed wonderful and delivers real results which are proven and quantifiable. In addition to the hard science and scientific studies (published in peer-reviewed journals) we now have dozens of people training with the technology, loving it and posting their results. (See our backers community page to see real people getting real results.)


Once in use nobody asks “Is this exercise?” … it self-evidently is. People know what true exercise feels like. You begin to warm up, your breathing increases, your heart rate goes up… you feel all this (and, of course, this is very easy to measure and quantify). As you increase the intensity you’ll become more breathless and even sweat. A calorie is a term of heat. So when you are burning calories you are warming up… exercise enough and you will sweat. Indeed, some backers put it on at low levels when they are cold… just to warm up!


Our backers are a very tech-savvy lot and like to quantify and track their exercise – especially their BionicGym workouts. Many use heart rate monitors– these will also give an indication of the calories burnt – and have posted the results. Others post videos of their workout, you can see the sweat, hear the breathing and read their heart rate monitor. [Thank you backers for being so generous with your support and showing others how you too can exercise].


An increase in heart rate is the definition of cardio exercise. Here is the read-out of an extremely intense BionicGym session I did:


wearable exercise machine


Note: this was an extremely tough session! I was shattered after it. Many people when they say “BionicGym must be a scam because it is too good to be true” say so thinking that you just press a button and don’t feel anything. Because it is exercise you get all the sensations and challenges of exercise – they mistake it being super-convenient and ‘passive’ with it being easy.

Obviously, this graph is not typical – not everyone has a similar cardiac reserve/exercise capability as I had back then – but our backers are posting their results (including some getting through tougher workouts than I can do!).




The above are the Heart Rate readouts from beta-testers that would be more typical of results in the first few sessions (it takes a little while to get used to it).  There are dozens more posted in the forums.  [Note: the heart rate monitoring is not done by BionicGym, these were people who had third-party products to monitor their exercise].

But many people like to use it at lower intensities… they can double their metabolic rate (calorie burn) for hours while at work or watching TV. 

So BionicGym can really do something that we can be proud of, something many think is impossible.  But now dozens of backers are showing they can replicate the hard science and do the wonderful everyday.

We are still crowdfunding BionicGym, visit our Indiegogo page to learn more about our product or to pre-order.