EMS: plug-in muscles?
by Patrick Bardelli
Simon and Yannick are identical twins. The brothers from Küttigen near Aarau will be buzzing over the next few months. They’re testing electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS for short, for Galaxus.
Küttigen is taking a siesta. No wonder, the summer heat has not spared the canton of Aargau. Detached houses glisten in the sun, while their inhabitants are trying to cool off behind closed shutters. It’s lunchtime and I step out of the sweaty car to meet up with Simon and Yannick Heibei. «Water?» Simon says as he waves me in. Yes, please. We take a seat in the sunroom. The irony. The twins’ mum and dad pop their heads in to say hi and brother Yannick joins us.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation – EMS for short. These three letters are causing a stir in the fitness industry. So what’s the deal with an electric workout? The respective suit has been available from Galaxus since earlier this year.
Here’s the problem: how do you compare unplugged strength training to electrically enhanced strength training? How do you get a significant result with this product? The solution: identical twins.
So that’s the story behind me sitting in a sunroom in Küttigen near Aarau at the height of summer and getting to know Simon and Yannick, who will be testing the suit for us. They were picked from a bunch of twins who responded to my call. The two 20-year-old brothers still live with their parents. They’ll both be starting their studies in autumn. Psychology. Both of them. Before they can answer my question if they’re actually identical, their mother pokes her head through the door: «Yes, I can confirm that,» she replies with a cheeky grin. And she should know.
The brothers got their sporty streak from their mum and dad. «They’re both keen amateur athletes, who enjoy running and cycling,» says Simon. They always made sure Yannick and Simon didn't plonk themselves in front of the TV or Playstation after school. The order was: first sports then TV or gaming. This brought the boys to the local football club FC Küttigen early on. At the age of 15, they lost interest in playing football. Endurance sports like their parents enjoyed didn’t appeal to them either. But the weight bench and rowing machine in the basement sparked the interest of them both. Today, Simon and Yannick do classic strength training four to five times a week. This is complemented by the occasional jog or length at pool. A bit of cardio is a must, right?
With the exception of kindergarten, the brothers spent their entire school days together. They both played football for FCK – on the same team, of course. Simon right wing, Yannick left wing. «Simon only has a left foot so he doesn’t fall over,» left-footed Yannick teases with a smile. Right-footed Simon nods. How would they describe each other, I want to know. Funny is the attribute that comes to both their minds first. «Having said that, Yannick’s punch lines are generally a bit better than mine,» Simon confesses. It’s an ability he’d like to get from his brother. In turn, Yannick would like Simon’s self-discipline: «I do envy him for it. He can be extremely focussed. It’s something I lack somewhat.» However, when it comes to gaming, Simon’s self-discipline is out the window. He’s been known to break a joystick.
Both of them are interested in history. A considerable number of corresponding books are proof of this. And they’re fans of FC Bayern Munich. This leads to repeated discussions with their friends. The Bavarian team isn’t particularly popular in Switzerland either, so being a fan requires a bit of explanation.
School, soccer, going out – without the beard, the identical twins would be almost impossible to tell apart. This provides endless possibilities for shenanigans. Taking a uni exam for the other twin, for example. Not an option? «We’ll look into it as an option for the future, but I it’s unlikely we’ll make use of it,» Simon and Yannick reply. Role reversal has never really been their thing. Speaking of roles...
To determine the effect of electronic muscle stimulation as precisely as possible, we’ve come up with the following setting:
Over the course of three months, one twin will be working out with the EMS suit and one without. At the Höferlin Institute in Basel, Simon and Yannick will undergo a thorough checkup, body analysis and receive detailed training plans prior to the experiment. After six weeks there will be an interim analysis; after twelve weeks, we’ll be taking a look at the results. The focus will be on who gained more muscle mass. What’s more effective? Working out three times a week for 20 minutes whilst wearing an EMS suit or classic weight training at the gym? Considering that the identical twins are in their early 20s, have identical living conditions and the same genes, the results can be compared really well. At least that’s the plan.
This question is still unanswered. To make a decision, we set off to the sports field Schachen. Time for a wee competition between the brothers who generally prefer playing on the same team than competing against each other. With the exception of the Playstation that is.
It soon becomes apparent that it’s too hot for a physical challenge. Instead, we decide to toss a coin. Heads or tails, which will it be?
The five frank coin flips to heads and Yannick gets to wear the suit. The EMS challenge starts in September. Want to find out how effective electrically enhanced workouts are? Click here to stay in the loop and find out which twin builds more muscle.