Does HIFEM Technology Work?

I received a question from a member asking me to discuss HIFEM technology. I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of it, and had to do some digging. So, what is HIFEM technology? It stands for High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic (HIFEM) field therapy. It is frequently advertised by aestheticians as a way to sculpt 6-pack abs, or lift your glutes, etc. In essence, the treatment uses a magnetic field to cause muscle contractions, which helps you theoretically build muscle. But Does HIFEM Technology Work? Let’s dig in.

Does HIFEM Technology Work
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External stimulation methods are not new. Bruce Lee frequently used Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) to build muscle, and TENS units (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) have recently gained popularity in CrossFit and the larger strength and conditioning world.  HIFEM claims to deliver more energy than TENS, arguing that it is therefore more powerful.

Whatever the method, the purpose is the same – these are passive methods of causing muscle contractions – as opposed to active methods like lifting weights. And yes, these methods can be used to build muscle. This has been shown both anecdotally and in studies.

At the end of the day, HIFEM is advertising spot training – which argues that training ONE particular spot will lead to a reduction of fat in that spot. For example – doing endless biceps curls would lead to fat burning off your biceps. Unfortunately, this isn’t how fat loss works, and spot training has been debunked repeatedly. Burning fat requires you to be in a caloric deficit, and everyone burns their fat stores differently. Some people store it in their abdomen, some store it in their buttocks, and which burns first is largely individual.

To get a 6-pack requires two things: having a muscular rectus abdominis and having low enough body fat to see that muscle. So does HIFEM technology work in that sense? It could potentially help with the first part, but it won’t help with the second. At the end of the day, if you want to expose the muscle you have, diet is going to be the key. Or, if you’re already in a plastic surgery office for the HIFEM treatment, liposuction will work too. To each their own. See you in the gym.

by Erik Castiglione

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