electro Electrostimulation is a technology that is used for physiotherapy and has applications in sport.

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Jocelyn-William LOUBRIAT


Electrostimulation is a technology that is used for physiotherapy and has applications in sport. 

A low intensity electric current is applied with electrodes taped on the skin surface. According to the nature of the current (variation of the frequency, of the pulse width, of the form of the current, etc.), the goals differ: 
muscle relaxation,
muscle recovery,
muscle strengthening,
pain relief.
In any case, the current stimulates the nerve that stimulates the muscle or the nervous system (analgesic current). 

The concerned public

The regular climber, who climbs without real training and who wishes to gain muscle bulk, but has no material means for weight training, will certainly took advantage of combining his or her climbing sessions with some sessions of electrostimulation.

The efficient climber, who already integrates classical weight lifting into his or her training, will also find advantages of electrostimulation at certain periods of his schedule as it can be a real timesaver.

The competitor will optimise his performances thanks to a smart use of the machine for strengthening and recovery. 


If there were only one reason justifying the use of electrostimulation then it would be the beneficial effect of this technology for recovery.

Better relaxation, good venous return and improvement of the arterial supply are possible thanks to the stimulation provoking short muscle twitches. The muscle eliminates the wastes resulting of the muscle contraction more easily.

There are several programs:


To be used in the hours following the effort, between two rounds (qualifications/semi-finals/finals), between two training sessions in the same day.

Active recovery:

To be used in the 8 to 24 hours following the effort for a faster recovery after a competition or a hard session. (Can be used between two rounds if your machine does not have a relaxation program.)

Muscle relaxation:

If the effort has provoked contractures, use this program to make them disappear quickly. (To be avoided between two rounds because of the diminution of muscle tone)

Muscle strengthening

The second important advantage of electrostimulation is the strengthening.

The electric stimulation enables more intense muscle solicitation thanks to a higher recruitment of the number of fibres. That really means that the muscle stimulated by the electric current contracts more than when contracted voluntarily.
Thus, while a traditional session of muscle strengthening causes the general fatigue of the sportsman with an under maximum stimulation of the muscle fibres, the specific electric stimulation of one or more muscle groups causes only the fatigue of these particular muscles, and with a higher performance. 

In addition, depending on the frequency of the stimulation, we are able to target the muscle fibres we want to work out: fibres of endurance, resistance, maximum strength, and explosive strength.

Endurance :

Endurance programs develop the capacity of the muscle to provide an effort of moderate intensity during a very long period (several dozen minutes and several hours = big routes).

Resistance :

This program develops the capacity of the muscle to maintain a sustained effort on an extended length (several minutes = cliff, traverse)

Maximum strength:

Enables the development of the maximum strength of the muscle, that is, the capacity to mobilise (or maintain) a maximum load on a short length. (some seconds = bouldering)

Explosive strength:

Develops the capacity to provide an instant effort with an important strength and a maximum speed. (dyno, bouldering)

In climbing, the energy pathways are quite complex because even during an effort that could be classified as endurance (big routes), you may need to provide an explosive effort for a dyno. In the same manner, during a bouldering competition, we seek a lot of strength, but also notions of resistance and endurance, that is, the capacity to recover quickly to succeed in the following tries or the following boulders. 
Therefore, it is not enough to strengthen the major pathways of the discipline practised; you should also train the others. 

Other programs

There are other programs on the electrostimulation machines:

Warm up:

In climbing, the warm up is too often neglected. 
Use the program on the forearms before a trial of the type “difficult”. With 15 to 20 minutes of electrostimulation before going on a route, you can specifically warm up your forearms without straining them too much. The blood circulates better, the oxygen boosts your cells, you climb higher than the others and thereby you reach the top of the podium.


Increase the vascularization of the muscle and thus increase the number of capillaries (small blood vessels) at the level of muscle fibres. To be effective, this program must be used regularly (several times a week). The increase of the muscle vascularization improves the capacity of resistance and endurance.

Analgesic currents or TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)

These currents stimulate the nerve to disturb the pain message. The principle is to inundate the main nerves, which have the priority over the nerves carrying pain, and so the painful information does not reach the brain. It consists in a symptomatic treatment – the cause of the pain is not treated. Therefore, if the pain persists, please see your doctor.

Muscles to be stimulated

Here are the main muscles to be strengthened for climbing

Finger flexors: enable to grip holds. By working out mainly on strength, resistance and endurance, the last two programs as well as the capillarization can limit the inconveniences of “tetanization” during the effort.
Biceps Brachii: the main muscle of the closing of the arms. It requires strength and resistance in priority.
Latissimus dorsi: very important muscle for blockings; strength and resistance. 
Quadriceps: muscle of the thigh, very big and strong muscle, of which the explosive strength is very important for dynos, but also of which the strength is essential when performing on one leg in slab climbing (You know the slab is always part of competition in bouldering!!! The one you lose regularly!!!) 

However it is not useless to stimulate other important muscle groups: 
Triceps brachii: important for mantles and to hold on very low blockings, 
Triceps Surae (calf): important muscles during dynos (slight overhang or vertical wall) (explosive strength), but also for long slabs (endurance).

Do not forget that the principle rule of any weight lifting workout is to avoid a loss of balance between antagonist and agonist muscles. Let me explain it to you: if you strengthen too much the finger flexors without training the extensors, you will disturb the balance between these two muscle groups located on both sides of the forearm, and this is not good! Ditto for biceps/triceps, quadriceps/hamstrings, etc.

Which machine should I choose? 
Choose a machine that is easy to use and that disposes of enough programs to cover all muscle groups that need training.
Cheap products can produce mediocre currents and have lower functionalities (products from supermarkets or teleshopping). 
We work regularly with Electrofitness, a specialist in the sale of electrostimulators for sportsmen. They will give you information and advice about the kind of machine that best fits your needs. You will also find valuable explanations on their website.


For more information about it:


L'Electrostimulation dans l'Entraînement du Grimpeur (Electrostimulation in climbers training)
By Jocelyn-William LOUBRIAT

Small French how-to book bound to accompany climbers who use or wish to use electrostimulation in their daily training. 

Available here for 14,99 € - Kinescalade Editions