Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation: No Enhancement of Recovery From Maximal Exercise

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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To investigate the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) during acute recovery between 2 bouts of maximal aerobic exercise.


On 3 separate days, 19 trained male cyclists (28 ± 7 y, 76.4 ± 10.4 kg, power output at maximal aerobic power [pVo2max] 417 ± 44 W) performed a 3-min maximal cycling bout at 105% PVo2max before a 30-min randomly assigned recovery intervention of passive (PAS: resting), active (ACT: 30% PVo2max), or NMES (5 Hz, 4 pulses at 500 μs). Immediately afterward, a cycle bout at 95% PVo2max to exhaustion (TLIM) was performed. Heart rate (HR) and blood lactate (BLa) were recorded at designated time points. Data were analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA with a Tukey honestly significantly different post hoc test. Statistical significance threshold was P < .05.


The TLIM was significantly shorter for NMES than for ACT (199.6 ± 69.4 s vs 250.7 ± 105.5 s: P = .016) but not PAS recovery (199.6 ± 69.4 s vs 216.4 ± 77.5 s: P = .157). The TLIM was not significantly different between ACT and PAS (250.7 ± 105.5 s vs 216.4 ± 77.5 s: P = .088). The decline in BLa was significantly greater during ACT than NMES and PAS recovery (P < .001), with no difference between NMES and PAS. In addition, HR was significantly higher during ACT than NMES and PAS recovery (P < .001), with no difference between NMES and PAS.


NMES was less effective than ACT and comparable to PAS recovery when used between 2 bouts of maximal aerobic exercise in trained male cyclists.

Malone is with the School of Health Sciences, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, UK. Blake and Caulfield are with the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. Address author correspondence to John Malone at