How to Use a TENS Unit to Build Muscle

Written by nikola goddard
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How to Use a TENS Unit to Build Muscle
A TENS unit can be used to stimulate muscle growth. (Michael Rowe/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator unit, or TENS unit, is a similar device to an Electronic Muscle Stimulator (EMS). Both pieces of equipment use electric charges to stimulate the nerves and cause the muscles to contract as a result. TENS units are most commonly used as a form of pain relief by physiotherapists treating conditions such as arthritis, although the treatment has also been shown to be effective in improving muscle strength and stimulating growth.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • TENS unit pack
  • Cotton pads
  • Rubbing alcohol

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  1. 1

    Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a cotton pad and thoroughly wipe the area to be treated. Dry the area well.

  2. 2

    Apply a thin layer of gel to the underside of each electrode and apply the electrodes to the skin directly above the muscle to be treated. The gel is provided with your TENS pack.

  3. 3

    Secure the electrodes to the skin with tape.

  4. 4

    Hook the pin connectors to the electrodes and plug the other ends of the wires into the TENS unit.

  5. 5

    Turn the knobs on the front of the unit up slowly to the desired levels. You should feel a slight tingling sensation in the muscle you are treating. Leave the electrodes in place for up to 30 minutes.

  6. 6

    Turn the knobs to the off position. Unplug the wires from the unit, then from the electrodes. Remove the electrodes from your skin and wash with soapy water.

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