Strength training and the effectiveness of electromyography (EMG)


Electromyography (EMG) is a scientific method for testing muscle activity. Some say it is highly valued in the nonscientific community because the simplicity of a stronger reading means stronger muscles. However, it is neither popular nor as well studied as it could be, the question of its effectiveness remains.

Since EMG is not a popular choice, the following questions may come to mind::

  • Where is the effectiveness when applied to training?
  • Should there be a closer focus on exercises with higher peak or medium EMG performance?
  • What risks do we take in limiting our views to these exercise groups?

The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of EMG and its application to training. Finally, should everyone complete an EMG-specific training course, or are magazines / articles sufficient for the selection of exercises?

Neurological EMGs versus kinesiological EMGs

Electromyography (EMG) is an experimental technique that deals with the development, recording, and analysis of myoelectric signals. Myoelectric signals are generated by physiological variations in the state of the muscle fiber membranes.

Peter Konrad1

This can be further divided into neurological and kinesiological EMG.

In this article, kinesiology EMG is only covered as its function is most closely related to exercise programs, voluntary neuromuscular activation, and functional movement. In contrast to neurological EMG tests, kinesiological EMGs are not invasive.

In short, we study how muscles fire during movement and, in the case of movement, which movement more innervates the intended muscle group for the said individual

  • The set-up time for a kinesiology EMG study is minimal, as only electrodes that can be permanently attached to a device or wirelessly sent to an associated receiver are affected.
  • No electric current flows through these electrodes. Instead, the performance of different muscles is measured during a functional movement.
  • However, for any EMG study, the associated costs could be in the mid-hundred to three hundred dollars range. In comparison, neurological EMGs can cost thousands of dollars and require insertion of needles into the muscle and close monitoring

The other inherent risk is who is doing the study.

Time can be wasted if the person skilled in the art does not set up a movement properly or does not understand the output data.

It is best to hire a trained person, e.g. B. a physiotherapist, a sports doctor or a specialist with certification in EMG or even NEUBIE devices. The benefits extend to the competitive area for bodybuilders and athletes involved in active sports.

Finally, an inadvertent risk of EMG testing for exercise choice decreases exercise variation.

Take Olympic lifting for example. The movements that are tested during the competition are cleaning and jerking and snapping.

However, while exercising, front squats, back squats, overhead presses, deadlifts, and pull-ups (to name a few) are performed during a program.

It is to the detriment of the doctor if an EMG result has a psychological effect.

The exercise focuses infinitely revolve around these core exercises, avoiding those that improve mobility, plyometric work, and balance.

Integration of EMG into your training

The safest way to start EMG training is:::

  1. Hire a certified professional.
  2. Set up days when maximum recovery options are available.

By effectively resting between sessions, primary muscle groups can fire more effectively, thereby improving the effectiveness of the study.

In this study, the specialist learns to determine which movement pattern represents the biggest bang for his money.

This is achieved by measuring the mean and peak activation during contraction of the intended muscle group during positional shift.

For exampleWhen recruiting gluteus maximus muscle groups, watch the sumo deadlift, which puts the trainee in a statically abducted position in relation to the glute abduction machine versus a resilient ligament hydrant movement.

The person skilled in the art then goes through the data, identifies these two values ​​and compares them per movement.

In discussing with the client, the practitioner would choose to perform one movement over another for maximum effect during a training session alone.

EMG sessions should not be treated as an intense training session.

Instead, it should be a lab test or a visit to the doctor that will require either a short amount of time due to the muscle areas involved or a significantly longer amount of time due to the optimization of larger muscle groups.

One might wonder if EMG training is right for them.

Follow science in your pursuit of achievement

It goes without saying that Instagram pages are littered with gurus and trainers who have all the answers and are obviously doctors of kinesiology, physical therapists and orthopedists.

The authority I am referring to are legitimate trainers in the field with experience and degrees that contribute to science.

Within this science, articles create beads from EMG studies that shed light on why certain movements are performed in contrast to others.

In practice, however, no one has time to read all of these studies, and unfortunately, no one cares unless you find yourself in that niche. They want the answers.

So if you want the answers, pay for them.

Pay for it through a structured process, consistency in the gym, hiring a trainer, and reading condensed literature from reputable sources (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

EMG studies are beautiful and take away the guesswork.

Lucy will do heavy hip bumps, RDLs, and sumo squats to pop her prey.

In the meantime, Andrea modifies her hyperextension and resistance band glute work.

Is EMG a luxury only for athletes?

Does EMG serve us all along the line, or is this a luxury that can only be spent on competitors or athletes?

The questions for you to ponder are as follows::

  • How long have you been training yet?
  • Do you exercise to stay fit or to develop a particular aesthetic?
  • How often do you workout?
  • Have you ever hired a trainer and / or a professional?
  • Do you have disposable income?
  • Do you see yourself in competition?
  • Which data outside of the training preference do you want to collect? Ie offers the best support for a sprint or for passing a physical exam.
  • Are you injured or are you returning from injury? That means learning anew how to activate muscle groups.
  • Do you like it and are you open to being watched or studied?
  • Is Maximum Hypertrophy Your Ultimate Goal?
  • Have you tried to access trailing body parts without success?

If you answer the previous questions appropriately, consider EMG.


1. Konrad, P., “The ABC of EMG. A practical introduction to kinesiological electromyography”, Version 1.4, March 2006, page 5-30.

2. Basmajian, JV, DeLuca, CJ, “Muscles Alive: Their Function Revealed by Electromyography,” Pub, Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, 1985. 2- p. 1.

3. Dr. Arthur Kornblit, MD. “How much does an EMG test cost?” Spend On Health, accessed January 20, 2021.