Compex: The Genetic Overide

Human performance will always be governed by the limitations of our genetics.  Fast twitch, slow twitch, limb length etc… With advancements in science and technology mankind is slowly redefining what genetic limitations actually are.  
Arguably the one of the hottest topics concerning genetic limitations and human performance is that of muscle fiber type and predetermined athletic success.  Drs. J. Simoneau and C. Bouchard, Canadian scientists conducted studies of muscle fiber type and their ratio.  The scientists concluded that only 25% of the population had less than 35% or higher than 65% Type I muscle fiber.  That means 75% of the population falls in between those marks.  Three quarters of the population is averaging a 50/50 type I to type II muscle fiber ratio.  Drs. J. Simoneau and C. Bouchard, also concluded that 40% of phenotype variance was due to environmental factors and 45% was associated with inherited factors.  So what does all this mean? Well in my opinion if 40% of your muscle fiber type variance is environmentally influenced than two things matter:

  1. Predetermining athletic performance based off genetics is an overrated and outdated practice.  


Number 2 is in Caps Lock because I believe it’s the more important of the two.  Fun fact about me; when I started playing volleyball nearly 12 years ago I had a 17” vertical. Nothing to write home about. Through constant training (I did two-a-days for the last eight years) and through an evolution in training methods I increased my vertical to 40.5” as of late 2013.  I get asked all the time what sports I played in high school and when I first dunked and people are amazed when I tell them that I didn’t play any sports and I couldn’t dunk till I was in college.
Not to get off topic as this short thought is not on me or even genetic predetermination. No this topic of discussion is on breaking past your own genetic limits.  There is a piece of equipment that I’ve used as my secret weapon both in my own development and the development of my athletes.  This product is produced by the brand COMPEX. It’s a swiss company and the product is a Electro Muscle Stimulator.  Yes, kind of like the ones you see on tv that say you don’t even need to workout to get a better body, you just put it on and it does the work for you.  However the cosmetic use that the advertisements tout are not what they seem to be the FDA states. The electro muscle stimulator has been around since the 1950’s but didn’t really come into it’s own until 1973 when Dr. Y. Kots published a paper on the science and effectiveness in EMS training.  But before we get into the benefits lets briefly describe how it works.  In a voluntary contraction (Muscle contraction) a nerve impulse is sent down the spinal cord and into the muscle. The COMPEX uses an outside electrical source that stimulates the nerves to send signals to your muscle to expand and contract. This is done by sending electrical current through self adhesive electrodes placed over the muscle. The current passes through your skin to the nerves in that area, causing the muscle to expand and contract. The muscle cannot tell the difference between the two impulses.  So now that you have the basic concept lets dive into the factors why you need to train with an EMS if you are seeking legendary athletic status.

  1. Super Maximal Strength Gains: Kots was able to show a 30% greater maximum muscle tension during contraction using EMS compared to voluntary contraction.  
  2. EMS works directly on the muscles, bypassing the body’s energy conservation system, thus there’s no limit to the percentage of fiber that can be activated. The EMS stimulus “spills over” from fully contracted fiber to activate remaining fiber (given sufficient current) allowing the athlete to experience a training stimulus that’s unattainable by any other means.
  3. Recruitment velocity is the rate at which a muscle fiber can achieve maximum tension, varying from 20 milliseconds for white fiber to 65 milliseconds for red fiber. Recruitment rates vary since red fiber gets a “head start” in voluntary contractions as white fiber is only added in as needed once the load has been determined.EMS reverses the natural recruitment order, as its nonspecific current flows more easily through the bigger neuron of the white fiber (less resistance) forcing red and intermediate fibers to shorten their recruitment rates in response to white fiber recruitment, which now precedes rather than follows in the contraction.The reversed recruitment order combined with the positive effects of high intensity make EMS ideal for improving recruitment velocity across all fiber types, a key factor in explosive events.


So to put this in easier terms, It overrides your genetics. The compex allows you to do more work, at greater intensity, on a specific muscle fiber type, with no joint load or cardiovascular load than you could do on your own in a gym.  If you are serious about reaching the pinnacle of your athletic ability training with an EMS like COMPEX is an absolute must.  




Brandon Talbot