Bodytec Review: The future of strength training?
20 minutes of training once a week is the tag line Bodytec swears by. I joined a 6-week trial period at their Foreshore HQ with a healthy dose of skepticism. Truthfully, I had zero expectation, but I figured 6 weeks was enough time to really give it a proper go.
For those new to Bodytec, it revolves around the use of Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) combined with basic movements to provide a strength training workout that is super effective at recruiting muscle fibres. It’s a full body workout squeezed into a single 20min session that is equivalent to 1.5hrs in the gym 3 days per week i.e. the perfect strength training program for those short on time – or if you just aren’t into the gym buzz
EMS training is not new. The use of electrical impulses to stimulate muscular contraction is backed by proper science. And after that first session, you’ll know that it works.
Three days after that first session I still felt soreness after awakening some dormant muscle fibres – just ask Aanikah about the funny sounds I made trying to sit down on the toilet!
Over the course of the 6-week trial, a simple lunge became something so much more intense as you not only fought against gravity, but against the electrical pulses from the control unit.
Here’s a view of what a typical workout looks like:
Aside from my questionable facial expressions, Bodytec is super cool. You enter a minimal look studio and your workout kit is provided for you. You are then strapped into the EMS suit and linked up to the control unit. Then it’s just you and a personal trainer grinding out each movement. The entire experience is slick and feels like you’ve just stepped into the future 🙂
You can’t compare it to a normal gym. There are clear points of difference:
- You train muscles from each side of your body in an identical manner all at the same time. Each major muscle group has its intensity set individually and the EMS pads work them in unison. At the gym you will tend to use some “body English” to compensate for the weaker sides. Here it all works together to strengthen the entire chain.
- In the time that I was there, I came close to getting a pump in some of my muscle groups, but never fully. The machines are generally set so that you don’t reach failure in a rep. Although the pump isn’t a necessary indicator that growth is happening, I thought it important to share this distinction to conventional weight training
- It’s a different kind of strength training and not the traditional barbell kind. To be honest, you feel stronger and deeper muscle contractions that I believe helped me address some imbalances, especially in the glutes and core (which has translated into some stronger running). The closest thing I can liken it to is a mix between bootcamp and pilates, but probably done in some gravity chamber (Geek Alert! Yes that’s my Dragon Ball Z reference 🙂 )
- Lower risk of injury due to the controlled approach to training and emphasizing proper form. The trainers keep you honest and no shortcuts are allowed
- Smaller muscle groups are worked indirectly. EMS pads are placed on the larger muscle groups so deltoids and calves aren’t directly stimulated, but still get their fair share of work per session
- You have a trainer that works specifically with you. There is a maximum of two people per session so you can really go as far as you are willing to go – no matter what age or training level you find yourself at
Getting Connected – Making the best of each workout
One thing I realised that is critically important to your success at Bodytec is the ability to be connected during each movement. It’s really important to actively work the mind-muscle connection during each rep.
There will be days that you will feel a bit flat, didn’t get enough sleep or maybe your diet wasn’t that great. But if you can approach each workout switched on and ready to work hard it makes all the difference. To be honest, this principle is relevant for all types of training, but because each Bodytec session is only 20min long you really need to fully commit to the session or it would just be a string of movements without maximum benefit.
Those hard contractions, engaging and activating each stimulated muscle group and mindfully grinding out each movement with proper effort will leave you in a pool of sweat by the end of the 20 minutes. Actively approaching each session ready to work should be your aim. There were days where I was absolutely broken after a session and it wasn’t because the intensity was turned up on the machine, but because I was putting maximum effort into engaging the muscles while keeping my form in check. That video above is an example of one of those sessions
Yes, this is a longer than normal LTC review and I know you were after one thing in the end: Is it worth it?
It is pricey, but I think it is definitely worth including in your training. I’ve shed my skepticism and am a Bodytec believer!
This is without doubt solid strength training. You feel it with every movement as you engage your core and tense each muscle to coincide with the EMS pulse. And you feel it days after. Deep muscular contractions are happening and I now believe the 20min vs. 1.5hrs hype.
If you are currently doing traditional gym style training, a 12-week training cycle at Bodytec would be perfect each year. If you struggle for time or just don’t like the gym scene, then this should be your go-to strength training all year round.
Note: This isn’t something that you can just sit on and lose fat. Combine it with a good diet and preferably some cardio (running etc.) and you will benefit from a well-rounded training approach.
The worst thing you can do is just go through the motions at Bodytec. The harder you push… the better the quality of workout. If your plan is to cut corners with a quick and easy 20min workout then rather spend that money getting a massage.
It’s a proper workout. You will know when those sweat droplets are hitting the floor 🙂
Have you tried Bodytec before? Let me know what you thought in the comments section below.