NMES is not effective as a recovery intervention between two bouts of maximal aerobic exercise

John K. Malone*, Catherine Blake, Brian Caulfield

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


There are many situations in sport, where inadequate recovery can limit performance (Higgins et al. 2011). Previous studies investigating the effectiveness of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) as a short-term < 1 h) recovery intervention have been inconclusive (Heyman et al. 2009; Malone et al. 2011). The aim of this study was to compare NMES to traditional methods during short-term (30 min) recovery between 2 bouts of maximal aerobic exercise. Methods On 3 separate days, 19 trained male cyclists performed a 3 min maximal aerobic exercise bout @ 105% VO2max on a cycle ergometer, prior to a 30 min randomly assigned recovery intervention of either: i) passive (PASS), ii) active (ACT - cycling @ 30% VO2max) or iii) NMES (5 Hz / 4 pulses @ 620 μs). Immediately after, a second bout @ 95% VO2max to exhaustion (TLim) was performed. Heart rate (HR) and blood lactate (BLa) were recorded at designated time-points throughout. Data were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA with Tukey’s HSD post hoc test. Results TLim was significantly longer for ACT compared to NMES (P < 0.05), but not PASS. TLim was not significantly different between NMES and PASS. BLa was significantly lower, and HR significantly higher during the recovery intervention period for ACT compared to NMES and PASS (P < 0.001), with no significant differences between NMES and PASS. Discussion The findings for NMES in this study differ to our previous study (Malone et al. 2011), which found no significant performance differences compared to ACT and PASS, when used as a short-term recovery intervention (30 min) between two sessions of multiple supra-maximal anaerobic exercise bouts. The reasons for these findings are unknown but are likely to be multifactorial. In conclusion, NMES is less effective than active recovery when used during short-term recovery between 2 bouts of maximal aerobic cycle bouts in trained male cyclists. References Heyman E, B DEG, Mertens I, Meeusen R (2009) Effects of four recovery methods on repeated maximal rock climbing performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41:1303-1310 Higgins TR, Heazlewood IT, Climstein M (2011) A Random Control Trial of Contrast Baths and Ice Baths for Recovery during Competition in U/20 Rugby Union. J Strength Cond Res 25:1046-1051 Malone JK, Coughlan GF, Crowe L, Gissane GC, Caulfield B (2011) The physiological effects of low-intensity neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) on short-term recovery from supra-maximal exercise bouts in male triathletes. European Journal of Applied Physiology doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2212-9
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes
Event17th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science - Bruges, Belgium
Duration: 4 Jul 20127 Jul 2012


Conference17th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science
Abbreviated titleECSS 2012


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