[Transcript] – Is This The World’s Most Efficient, Biohacked Workout? The New Full-Body Electro Muscle Stimulation Science by Katalyst (& How To Build Muscle In 20 Minutes) With Bjoern Woltermann.

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From podcast: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/bjoern-katalyst/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:02] Podcast Sponsors

[00:03:38] World's Most Efficient New Way To Work Out: EMS

[00:06:08] Guest Introduction

[00:08:15] How Bjoern Got Interested in EMS

[00:15:13] A Brief History of EMS Training

[00:18:48] The Science that Backs Up the Efficacy of EMS

[00:21:14] Why EMS Induces a High Amount of Soreness

[00:28:48] Podcast Sponsors

[00:31:18] cont. Why EMS Induces a High Amount of Soreness

[00:33:08] Why The Body Gets So Hot In An EMS Suit

[00:36:15] Why Different Ranges Of Motion Are Used In EMS

[00:40:01] The Recovery Setting On The Katalyst

[00:41:36] How EMS May Affect Longevity And Anti-Aging

[00:44:38] How To Mix Regimens To Get The Most Out Of EMS

[00:46:47] Topicals Or Cold Packs That Can Improve The Efficacy Of EMS

[00:49:35] How The EMS Routines Are Conducted In Real-Time

[00:57:29] How To Access The Katalyst And Skip The Waitlist

[00:58:44] Transformation Challenge

[01:01:05] Closing the Podcast

[01:02:27] End of Podcast

Ben:  On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.

Bjoern:  Generally, when people are injured, they're not working out in a certain area. They stay stiff, they stay tight, and you never get out of this vicious circle. What we want to achieve is we want to achieve a stronger body, we want to give you access to your muscles, but we also want to ensure that you are flexible and you have full range of motion. The Ronaldos of this world are just so much more in shape than soccer players have been 20 years ago. And it's partially because of full-body electro muscle stimulation training.

Ben:  Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.

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Alright, folks. So, in a recent weekly roundup, I reported on what I think I called in the roundup, possibly the world's most efficient new way to work out. And I told you to get ready for the next frontier of something called electrical muscle stimulation, which is also known as EMS. And I've done podcasts on electrical muscle stimulation before. I've done articles on it. I've used it for muscle retraining, I've used it for recovery, I've used it for building strength, but it's always been an issue because you got to get all these electrodes and put a bunch of gel on them and put them in different areas of the body and precisely place them according to where the manual instructs you to. And then, they all have a bunch of wires hanging off of them that you get tangled up in while you're working out. And don't get me wrong, those units work. But by the time I get set up for a workout, it's like 10, 15 minutes. And by the time I take everything off, it's another 5 to 10 minutes.

Well, my ears perked when my friend Martin was over at my house and he had this suit in a bag that he'd brought with him, and he pulled it on, and it looked like a suit that I'd worn in New York City once for an electrical muscle stimulation workout. But that suit I wore in New York City still had a bunch of wires coming off it. This thing he just pulled on flipped open his iPad and it automatically stems your body like full-body workout without you doing anything except like pulling this suit on. And so, I got one, and I've been using it, and it's a total game-changer. I mean, you literally just pull on the suit, you select from any of the workouts on the app, and this personal trainer walks you through the whole workout, which is actually a functional athletic workout like squats, and side lunges, and presses, and cardio movements, and power movements.

But the intensity gets automatically adjusted as you go. So, the trainers make it harder as you go even though if it's super too much stimulation for you. You can adjust it. And it is one of the coolest time hacks for exercise I've discovered in a long time. This is like as seen on TV, get six-pack abs while you're sitting on the couch. This is like full-on athletic functional training that you can do with a full-body electrical muscle stimulation suit. And I would say my only complaint about it is that it makes you sore because you're using all these muscles you haven't used before and you're overriding some of your brain's tendency to hold back a little bit.

And I'll have my guest on today's show fill you in more on why that's happening because he basically came up with this whole harebrained idea. So, his name is Bjoern Woltermann. And he is the founder and CEO of this company called Katalyst, which developed this full-body electrical muscle stimulation technology. He has been in the industry for a while and initially used EMS to rehabilitate a back injury, but now has developed this thing, and holy cow, it's amazing. Now, Bjoern and I–I do have a confession to make. I was going to get up this morning and do a Katalyst workout and I actually hit this on it instead. I wimped out. I got to get my coffee and breathe up and get ready for that thing. And this morning, I was just like a little tired. My heart rate variability was a little low. And often when I interview someone about like cold thermogenesis, I'll go do a cold soak beforehand. Or if I interview someone about psilocybin, I'll microdose with shrooms beforehand. I like to get into the same space as my guest. But in this case, I did not yet stimulate myself, so I apologize about wimping out this morning.

Bjoern:  I also didn't one this morning, so we're in the same place.

Ben:  You didn't do one this morning?

Bjoern:  No, I didn't do one this morning.

Ben:  Oh, my gosh.

Bjoern:  I did one yesterday. I was on yesterday, so yes.

Ben:  I'm disappointed in you. You're not even drinking your own Kool-Aid, geez.

Bjoern:  Not every day, every second day.

Ben:  Yeah. No, I've actually, in all seriousness, for me, the sweet spot is I've been doing it Wednesday and Saturday because it does give you an appreciable amount of delayed onset muscle soreness. And that's probably why I've been able to maintain strength with that thing so effectively even without lifting heavy weights, but yeah. For me, twice a week is the sweet spot. I do the 20-minute full-body strength routine, and then I finish it up with the 10-minute cardio routine. And for me, it's a perfect 30-minute back-to-back workout. Anyways though, let's lay the background out behind this thing. How did you get interested in using electrical muscle stimulation in the first place?

Bjoern:  I have found out about full-body electro muscle stimulation in 2012. At that time, I had a corporate job with teams all over the world, and I amassed roughly 150 flights a year, which was the second time I spent a lot of time sitting and my lower back was blowing up. I was in pain, in constant pain. I tried different beds and planks in here and there, but nothing really helped. And then, my physician, actually my orthopedic physician, said, “You have to massively strengthen your core and your lower back, and you either quit your job and stop flying all the time, and sitting in planes all the time, or you're going to end up with a herniated disk very, very quickly.”

At that time, I was early 30s and I didn't really want to give up my job. So, he said, “I have this thing. I'm going to the studio twice a week. It's down the road, and I totally love it, and it totally will fix your abs and your lower back and strengthen them so that your spine isn't going into extreme positions. And it's only 20 minutes.” And I was like, “Okay. Now, you lost me because this is too good to be true.” He said, “No, no. Go, go.” So, I went down the street and it was the studio back in the days and very modern, empty-looking personal training studio. And there were just two people in black suits, totally wired up like cables everywhere, and the cable towards two standing machines. A personal trainer in between them, telling them what to do. Both of them were like nothing lifting or nothing holding in their hands, and they were dripping like crazy. There was a puddle of water in front of them and I was like, “What I'm seeing makes no sense. It totally makes no sense.”

Ben:  Trust me, I get it because my kids come down and I'm dripping with sweat when I pull that suit off. I'm wearing it literally for a total of half-hour.

Bjoern:  No, absolutely. And I walked in and this second personal trainer greeted me and said like, “Hey, how are you doing?” And I said, “What are you guys doing here?” And he said like, “Full body EMS.” I said, “Can I try this?” And he said like, “Sorry, we're booked, but you can come tomorrow.” So, I made an appointment for the next day. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I think like four or five minutes into the workout, I was completely sweating and it was very intense, and I felt my body like never before. The 20 minutes can be long. I don't know how you feel about it, but the last minutes of the 20 minutes can be long.

Ben:  I feel like the last minute when they do a final sprint and the EMS intensity is jacked up pretty high, sometimes the last minute I got to breathe my way through. But actually, for me, both the cardio session and the strength session go by really fast, like faster than most workouts that I've done. And I don't know if it's because it's switching exercises throughout. So, over 20 minutes, you have like 10 different exercises. I don't know if it's the breathwork that they coach you through so you're staying in that zone throughout. But for me, it goes by pretty quick.

Bjoern:  Yeah. We have these two different reactions in general. They're like, “Oh, this is really hard, and people have to do a lot of breathing, and people who are not really used to it first have to learn.” And you obviously have probably done a lot of breathwork in your life previously to Katalyst. But the thing is like the system really helps you engage your body and work you out. So, the mental load is relatively low. That's my perception, where if I have to do, whatever, other classic workouts, the mental load I think is quite higher. So, I did this workout. I did a session. And then, two days later, like you say, you get quite sore, especially the first time because it hits all these muscles and muscle groups that you basically totally have neglected over years and decades.

Ben:  Yeah, remarkably. As a matter of fact, I like to do it especially on a Friday before I know I've got some weekend trip with the family where I'm not going to get any workouts in or anything. I'll save a session for that, or for like a really long plane trip where I'm–I just want to do something super hard. And so, sometimes I'll do a hard session and really jack up the intensity when I know I've got a couple days pretty much off anyways.

Bjoern:  No, absolutely. And I had this experience and I was like, “Wow, I just spent 20 minutes in the studio,” which in my super packed schedule back in the days, I mean it's still super packed, but very different because there was a travel involved, a lot of travel involved. I felt like this could be really something. So, I became a member at this club or at the studio, and every Monday at 6:00 p.m., I had my session, which was my non-travel day. After six weeks, I woke up a Sunday morning for context. At that time, I was probably like 15 to 20 days a month on painkillers because I was in pain. I woke up and I told my wife, “I haven't taken anything in a week and I'm not in pain getting out of bed.” And she was like, “What? How long have you been doing that?” And literally, I did it for six weeks and I did one session a week at that time. Kept doing it and I'm pain-free ever since. I never had surgery and just became a big fan. I told everybody about it and a lot of my friends and colleagues became members in these kind of studios.

Ben:  And at these studios, if it's the one that I went to in New York City, you have the trainer standing there with like a pad, then the wires are connected to the suit, and they're telling you, “Do this, do this, do this,” and then they're adjusting intensity and asking you, “Okay. Do you feel that? What's that one feels like for you?” And this was just like a studio where they had multiple people using these suits and working out like that?

Bjoern:  Yes. So, it was a chain called Bodystreet. It still exists. I think they now have roughly 300 studios in Germany. And it's generally the format is two people with one personal trainer, and that still is the format. I mean, COVID gave it a big hit because you're very close with people and you have a suit that you share with other people on something that didn't really work. But pre-COVID, Germany grew up to two and a half thousand studios just offering EMS training. It's massive outside of America.

Ben:  Okay. So, with EMS training, has it been around a while in terms of these types of facilities? Just EMS training in general. And the reason I ask is I think I first came across it when Jay Schroeder, who I actually wound up interviewing for my podcast, this was, I believe, almost 10 years ago, at one of Dave Asprey‘s first bulletproof conferences. We had a very small group of people there, and all of us were trying out this electrical muscle stimulation unit that was like a Russian e-stim unit. Far different than these wimpy little stims that you'd seen up until that time. And they're full-blown athletes in there just literally getting destroyed on this thing. And again, big, clunky device with a bunch of wires and electrodes attached, but I think that was like 10 years ago that Jay Schroeder was using this with a lot of NFL athletes. But I don't know how far back it actually goes.

Bjoern:  The science was discovered actually by the Russians in the '60s, late '60s. And like Moscow Institute of Physiology, those were the first to figure it out. We can simulate or replace what the motoric novel system is doing to the muscle, and we can intensify that and just increase the muscle work. They found out about this for the first time and you see then certain athletes, sprinters, and so and so forth from Russia getting up to the scene and we were like, “We didn't have sprinters before from Russia. Where are they coming from?” And in the '80s and '90s, it became just rehab, and I mean, a lot of people have used e-stim before, but just for rehab and very local, like if you had an injury and–

Ben:  To clarify real quick, a lot of people think they've used e-stim, but in many cases have used transcutaneous nerve stimulation, like the tens units, which–

Bjoern:  Tens units.

Ben:  Those are different. Those just stimulate superficial nerves to kill pain, whereas electrical muscle stimulation is actually stimulating the muscle.

Bjoern:  Exactly, 100%, yes. They think they have used it and it's related. It's still a stim, but the frequencies are very different, the intensities are very different, also the locations and the applications. So, a lot of that is pain treatment, which we're not doing. We're actually stimulating the muscle. And then, in the early 2000s, actually a German engineer said all these sticky pads are just very cumbersome, and it's very hard, and you need a cable per sticky pad. And if you want to do the whole body, it takes you half an hour to set up an athlete that's not really usable. And they started to put these electrodes into a suit. You still had a million wires, but getting in and out of a suit was much easier than–before, there was a device called the body transformer, which was the first of its kind, and it literally looks out of emergency room medical thing.

The [00:17:10] _____ were heavy users in the early 2000s, and then later, famously using bolts and these guys used it. The first real commercial device was around 2007. Still tons of wires, and that's probably something that you have used in New York. Then in soccer, it became a staple. So, German's national soccer team by Munich, Real Madrid, and so on so forth, they started seeing the benefits for their athletes. And rumor has it that even the first applications of the teams, like all the athletes had to sign NDAs that they didn't tell anybody because it gave them such an edge. We see a change in the physique of soccer players over the last 15, 20 years. I mean, the Ronaldos of this world are just so much more in shape than soccer players have been 20 years ago. And it's partially because of full-body electro muscle stimulation training.

Ben:  That's interesting. Well, like I told you, my friend Martin, who's investing in a lot of health and fitness companies and tries out all these new devices and often introduces me to many of them, he was looking really fit. And really, [00:18:14] _____ came over to my house and he said he was just doing like two or three of the Katalyst workouts per week and had put on something–it was pushing something like 20 pounds of muscle over four months of using it. So, I actually wanted to ask you about that, though it's one thing to pull out anecdotal examples of friends or random soccer players. But is there actual good science or research on what currently exists surrounding EMS for something like strength or hypertrophy? Have they actually compared it to, say, traditional weight training?

Bjoern:  So, first of all, maybe to lay the groundwork a little bit, we are here in the United States and we're talking about this as, like you're saying, it's relatively new to us, but somewhere else it hasn't been. So, in the U.S., it's an FDA-regulated category where the U.S. treats it as a medical device. Technically, it's the same thing as other devices that you can buy on Amazon. But for the manufacturers that are building these things, the hurdle was just so high that they didn't bother coming to the United States for 10 years or 15 years. So, in Europe, they're actually like–for example, in Germany, two universities, one in Cologne and one in Nuremberg, with physical medicine chairs and departments. And they are basically conducting like two, three, four blown studies every year on different things.

So, on specific use cases and on rehab, they use like, for example, countermovement jumps or squats and eccentric physical strength of certain muscle groups, then do control groups, and they have a physical exercise group, traditional personal training or physical training group. They have an EMS group, and then they have combined group. And then, they have EMS training with nutrition changes or increase the protein intake and all these things. There's tons of science around it. And what we have created is we created a mini knowledge base around this. I think now it's like 85 medical studies or something like this that we take, and we generally analyze them and say what are the general categories and outcomes. It's pretty crazy.

So, for example, they took hockey players and then they were testing skating speed before and after a six-week exercise regime, and they were like 1.5% faster than before. And they had basketball players on jumping height, and they had single-digit percentage increases, although they were perfectly in shape. And because it's a new way to activate your muscles, it's a more complete activation. And what we'd probably get to later a little bit is we can specifically target fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are normally really, really hard to work out.

Ben:  Yeah. I've noticed that, by the way, the difference between the strength, and the power, and the cardio workouts. There's definitely something different in terms of the frequency of stimulation and the way it's delivered. I wanted to ask you about that later, but when it comes to a lot of these improvements in hypertrophy or strength, I'm certain that a big part of it is due to the increase in muscle damage that occurs. I was able to find one study back when I was noodling over why I was so sore after these workouts, sore than I'd expect. And it appears there's a lot of histological alterations in muscle fibers and connective tissue, like a ton of creatine kinase activity.

And basically, with an isometric, because actually multiple times during, for example, as you know, the strength training workout in the Katalyst app, there's I think maybe six or seven different strength training options on there, but most of them include almost in between your functional range of motion exercise is what they call a base where you're just like in this full-body isometric contraction. And this one study I looked at said that an electro-stim evoked isometric contraction was comparable to a maximal voluntary eccentric contraction, which for anybody who lifts weights knows that maximal voluntary eccentric muscle damage is a huge amount of mechanical stress on the activated muscle fibers.

And the other interesting thing I noted when I was looking into that study was that the more that you train with electrical muscle stimulation, the faster you actually recover from that type of eccentric damage. So, I don't know if it's stepping up endogenous production of antioxidants or what, but it's interesting. And what I wanted to ask you was in terms of why that amount of muscle damage occurs, my theory was that maybe you're recruiting muscles that you haven't used before. But then again, the muscles that I'm already using, that I know I'm using, also gets sore. Maybe it's overriding the central governor in the brain that would normally hold you back when you're going to do a maximal contraction. Now that the iPad is in charge, your brain isn't able to break you as much. Have you looked into why it is that that induces such amount of soreness?

Bjoern:  Absolutely. And I think two of the three things that we found or like that our theories are, I have to say, because science is still not 100% sure what soreness actually is. I actually haven't looked at it in a year or so, but the exercise science world is generally discussing what is soreness in the first place. Now, to your point, the first thing that we find is it's unused muscles. So, you get sore in areas like in the lower back, or on your abs, or upper glutes, what we have a lot, or traps and so and so forth. It's generally like where some people are either working out or not working out, but they have a really hard time activating them. So, especially around female athletes and customers, we see a lot of like, hey, I can activate my glutes much more than I was able to do without Katalyst. So, unused muscle is one thing. And if you have dormant muscles and you're waking them up, they have to adapt.

Ben:  It actually is a good thing. I discovered that way back with EMS that I could retrain myself, or people came over to my house who say had a lot of, let's say, external rotation on foot strike during the run. We just slapped those electrodes on, retrain areas like the glute medias and the external rotators of the hips that weren't firing properly. They turned back on after the electro-stim. And then, when not using the electro-stim and engaged in daily activity or sport, they've been woke, they remember. And so, I was already familiar with that concept of grabbing muscles using EMS that your brain has almost lost the ability to be able to recruit efficiently. But of course, I guess the side advantage/drawback of that is that you're able to build those muscles very effectively using electrical muscle stimulation, but you also feel soreness as those muscles that haven't been used in a long time are being used.

Bjoern:  Yes, absolutely. And because the Katalyst suit is like–it's 13 areas of the body, each muscle group gets its own channel, and we can talk about this a little bit later, and you can dial in all of these. But it's literally like we leave no muscle behind it. There's no cheating around this. When we're lifting, or even when we are squatting, we have our favorite muscle groups and then some we neglect. And then, those are underused and they are then prone to injuries when they're actually being used. So, it's literally making sure all the muscles are being–all the relevant late major muscle groups are being targeted.

The second thing is definitely a much more complete muscle activation. And it goes in two ways. So, the first thing is, yes, we activate a larger percentage of the muscle fibers simultaneously. Then normally, you would do in a workout, even if you are really well-trained athlete and you have access to a lot of your muscle fibers. And in another proportion of your muscle mass, you only can activate a subset of the fibers simultaneously. That's just physically given. And this is what you've called. There's a function that makes sure the endurance of the muscle and the replenishment of nutrients is actually possible so that you don't immediately fall asleep after full exhaustion. It's a survival mechanism from the old days. Like if you run from the saber tooth, you don't want to fall asleep two minutes later.

However, what we know is that to train a muscle, we need to really exhaust it and create some damage and have progressive overload. So, generally in bodybuilding and in fitness, we need time to do that because we can only activate a certain amount of muscle fibers. So, then we need to have a short rest, and then we have a second set, and we have a third set, and potentially we have a fourth set. And again, is that good to have a fourth set or not? It's all to be discussed, but we are doing these things with multiple sets because we can't activate the complete muscle simultaneously during the first one. What we are now doing, we are increasing the recruitment of muscle fibers during each rep. So, we are really increasing that.

So, what we're doing is, first of all, we are getting to an exhaustive state of the muscle faster, we're activating more muscle fibers at the same time, which also gives us a feedback, just a sensory feedback, or this is kind of like subconsciously, this is how it's supposed to feel. Similar to what you were saying around waking up certain muscle groups and then you are able to use them in general exercise or in a daily routine as well. And on top of that, what we are able to do based on impulse parameters is we can say, do we want to get the slow-twitch muscle fibers so the efficient muscle fibers, so to say, which the body tries to use as much as possible, add on an activation of the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which counterintuitively come in very late in a progressive strength development of a muscle? But then they kick in very quickly. It's kind of like a kick-down in a car or something like this. You're getting down a gear and just get more power in. But it goes only when you really need that power in the car. The challenge with that is, A, you need to do extreme loads to naturally activate these fast-twitch muscle fibers. But also, you need to add extreme loads or very quick movements, which both–

Ben:  You mean if you're using conventional weight training equipment?

Bjoern:  Yes, exactly. If you're using conventional weight training, you need either extreme loads or very quick movements, which also from a training perspective are very injury prone. So, what we are now able to do is we are able to shape stimulation parameters in a way that we're activating either one, the other, or both at the same time.

Ben:  You mean either slow-twitch, fast-switch, or both at the same time?

Bjoern:  Absolutely, 100%.

Ben:  Hey, I want to interrupt today's show. If you are working out in the ways that we talked about on the show, you may want a little bit of recovery, a little bit of like a massage in your back pocket, so to speak. And there's this company that developed something called a Theragun. If you've used a massage gun before, you've never used one like this, like wicked quiet. It has this wonderful physician-created percussive therapy function that uses a scientifically calibrated combination of depth, and speed, and power to relax and release deep muscle tissue tension, trigger points. I mean, honestly, it is like a massage therapist in your back pocket. It's endorsed by professional athletes all over the globe.

International Soccer Star, Cristiano Ronaldo, the NHL, the NFL, the tennis champion, Maria Sharapova, swears by this thing, World Champion Surfer, John John Florence. I mean, 250 different professional sports teams from around the world use Theragun. And there are other Therabody products. They have recovery boots called RecoveryAir. They have the PowerDot, which is the sleek electro-stim device that you can carry in your pocket, maybe to dress up some of the stuff you do with the Katalyst that we're talking about today. So, anyways, and they did a recent study and 100% of people who used Theragun reported improvements in their overall quality of life and said they'd recommend it to others. And I definitely recommend it to others. I love it. So, you go to theragun.com/ben. That's theragun.com/ben. They're going to give you a 30-day money-back guarantee on any of their products if you get anything, like start off with that Theragun. It's absolutely a game-changer.

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So, if I'm understanding correctly, I might be getting ahead of you here but I would imagine that for one of the cardio workouts you're more stimming slow twitch. For power workout, you're really focusing purely on fast twitch. And, for the strength training workouts, maybe a slow twitch-fast switch combination, something like that.

Bjoern:  Yeah, you're right around strength and power. With cardio, it's a little bit different. With cardio, what we're actually doing is we're not causing a full tightness. We're not causing a full contraction of the muscle. It's more like twitches. Because we want to be able to have the body, like you're either walking while you're doing it.

Ben:  It's continuous motion, I noticed that. With the strength training it's like “mm-mm,” then off. With the cardio it's like “dung-dung-dung” kind of the whole time.

Bjoern:  Exactly. So, what we are causing in cardio mode versus strength training is, in cardio mode we're causing the muscle to be active and burn energy. You can't burn energy but transform energy into motion, chemical energy into motion. And, have a calorie burn effect, and have a cardiovascular load on the body. But, we don't want to cause a certain direction of motion. So, your arms are not going in a way and you're not trying to do a squat or whatsoever. You are continuously either walking or running. And, my new favorite is get on an air bike. Total killer. Do this interval with [00:32:44] _____.

Ben:  I haven't done it, yet. That's actually the one I was going to do this morning because you can literally just have the suit on the whole time stimming you and be riding the Airdyne simultaneously.

Bjoern:  Yes, it's the total killer.

Ben:  My family has a drive to seaside on Sunday morning which is a six-hour road trip. I'm going to get up in the morning and go out and jam on that bike with the full suit on before we take off and see what that feels like.

Bjoern:  Yeah, totally. And, if you really want to get your cardiovascular load up, wear a beanie and keep your core temperature high. Your body is going to totally —

Ben:  Why does the body get so hot in that thing, like surprising amount of sweat when using the unit? Is it just because you're wearing the full-body suit, or is there another reason?

Bjoern:  It's coming back to how much muscle activation is happening during a given time. We are basically–So, I don't know if it's going too mathematical, but let me try this for a second.

Ben:  That's okay. You're the right accent for getting really mathematical.

Bjoern:  A German mad scientist?

Ben:  Mm-hmm.

Bjoern:  So, let's say you're doing biceps curls, just isolated biceps curls. Let's keep it really simple, just one muscle group. And, let's say you're doing 15 reps and you do three sets. So, during each biceps curl, you have the time under tension of one second. And then, you relax. And, you have another second, and you relax. So, you have 15 seconds time under tension with your biceps times three. So, we have 45 seconds time under tension. And, you're walking to the next station, and now you train a different muscle.

We're doing all this. Basically, you spend two hours in the gym, working out all the different areas of the body. And, we basically squeeze this into a 20-minute session, because what you now have is you have an electrode on your arms and a set on your arms, and you're working your biceps and your triceps. So, four seconds you're working, four seconds you rest, four seconds you're working, four seconds you rest, 50% of the time you're working, 50% of the time. And, now, you take 20 minutes, divide it by half. Your biceps is working for 10 minutes.

So, within a 20 minutes, you have a 10-minute time under tension of biceps alone. Now, you add up all the other muscle groups. So, the excess heat that's being generated by muscles working is now not evaporated by your body over a two-hour set period of time. It has to be evaporated over 20 minutes.

Ben:  Yeah, that makes sense.

Bjoern:  You're squeezing so much work in such a short amount of time, your body needs to cool off. That's really it.

Ben:  And, you do before you pull the suit on, you have this sexy little spray bottle that comes with it that you just spray down. And, I was actually surprised you can just use pure water because I thought you'd have to use a conductive gel or some kind of sodium chloride dissolved in the water or something like that. But, water provides enough conductivity?

Bjoern:  Totally, absolutely.

Ben:  Alright, so you spray it down, you pull it on. And, once you're actually in the suit and you flip it on, one thing that I noticed was that, of course, you start with all these isometric contractions, especially if you're doing the beginner workout that walks you through how to use the suit. But then, most of the workouts, you're not just standing there statically and letting the unit stim the muscles. You stand there statically, which is a method of training I've used in the past with electro muscle stimulation, just isometrics. But, the trainers are having you move through range of motion, like an overhead press or a squat or a lunge or a row. And, of course, it's very difficult to move through that range of motion while you're being stimmed, but you feel there's a recruiting a lot more muscle. I'm curious, is that the case? Or, what's the reasoning behind moving through different ranges of motion versus just standing there and letting it just stimulate your whole body while you stand there?

Bjoern:  We always start with why at Katalyst. Like, why are we doing this workout? What's the ultimate goal? What's the ultimate outcome? So, what we want to achieve is we want to achieve a stronger body. We want to give you access to your muscles. But, we also want to ensure that you are flexible and you have full range of motion. What we don't want to end up is with muscle mass that only works between 20 and 50% of state, of lengthened state.

Basically, what we want to teach the body is, “Hey, you can activate these fibers, but you could do it from a total contraction. You can do it from almost like extreme stretching state.” And, you're basically teaching your body how to activate these while you are doing these movements because with this way, we don't have shortened muscles, we don't have tension. We get rid of all tensions. One of the big things is back pain and tightness around the neck, and then a lot of headache that is being caused. People have a lot of problems with this. What we hear very quickly, this goes away after two, three sessions, because now your neck and your shoulders and your traps and all these muscle groups —

Ben:  Just to interrupt you, I was thinking about this. One of my clients got one because I emailed some of my private training clients. Once I've done a few workouts, I said, “You guys you got to get this thing so I can begin to work it into your workouts.” And, he had a knee problem. He did three workouts. And, I realized that there's a pretty big endorphin and adrenaline response that results in kind of a painkilling-like effect, almost like a runner's high within, gosh, for me within the first five minutes of the workout.

And, it sticks with you. I can't do it any closer in three hours prior to bedtime, or else I'm wide awake from that big dump of excitatory neurotransmitters and hormones. But, this fella, it wasn't like, for the next 20 minutes after the workout, his knee didn't hurt, as you would expect from that painkilling effect. His knee pain disappeared. So, I'm guessing there must have been a trigger point or something along his quads or adductors or something that that thing actually kind of broke up or introduce more oxygen or blood flow to or something.

Bjoern:  What we're seeing in general is–So, a lot of our unused muscles are very tight. So, generally, unused muscles are in a tight state. It's kind of like a protection mechanism of the body because we're not used to using them, so they don't want to be elongated. So, they're in a really tight state.

So, now, what's happening is, with full-body electro muscle stimulation and Katalyst training, you're actually training this muscle and you're getting the muscle into an exhaustive state. And, now, you have a relaxation in it. The muscle is actually exhausted. And, you feel a little bit wobbly after a really good workout, no matter what you're doing. Now, what we're making sure is these muscles actually can relax and get into this state without the injury risk of the workout before.

Because, generally, when people are injured, they're not working out in a certain area. They stay stiff. They stay tight. And, you never get out of this vicious circle. So, what we now have with this kind of training, electro muscle stimulation training, we can work out in areas that have been injured, that had issues before, and they just soften up. And then, the cramps and the tightness goes away, which also is probably a disposition of the knee because the knees are very open joint. Now, if you have tightness in certain muscle groups, it gets into the wrong position, which causes other issues, like ACL and so on, so forth. We basically relax the muscle, get back to a natural function.

Ben:  The other thing I wanted to ask you kind of regarding injuries is there's a recovery setting, too. And, that's another one I haven't used. I would imagine, let's say I do that work out on the Airdyne with the Katalyst on in cardio mode on Sunday morning before we head out to the coast, does the recovery mode kind of involved something where I could pull it on and sit in the car and it'll do kind of low NDMS? Or, what's going on with the recovery setting? I haven't even messed around with that one, yet.

Bjoern:  So, first of all, never use it in a car.

Ben:  Really?

Bjoern:  No.

Ben:  Wow.

Bjoern:  When you have someone overriding your muscles, you don't want to be steering a —

Ben:  No, no. I ride passenger. My wife and I make a great team. Usually, she drives and I write books and articles, and posts. And, I do all the DJ and the AC and the heat. She loves to drive. I don't like to drive but I love to manage and plan and map out as we're driving. So, see, I would be in the passenger's seat.

Bjoern:  Great. Disclaimer here. No. Same thing my wife and I would do the same thing when we go over land and have longer drives, I'm just working and she's driving. We have the same divide and conquer approach. What the recovery mode generally does is it promotes blood flow. So, it's a very low frequency. It's about one mini-contraction or one twitch a second. And, it's kind of a pumping effect to the muscle. So, the muscle gets moved and the blood in the rest time has then, basically, the chance to keep flowing. So, basically, it's kind of a pumping massaging effect that's just promoting nutrient and lactic acid movement. So, that's what the intention of this mode is.

Ben:  Got it. Got it. Has any research been done on this for anything regarding longevity or anti-aging? We know that, for example, pulsed electromagnetic field stimulation can cause stem cell mobilization, especially if you use it kind of around the long bone of the femur, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy can decrease the rate at which telomeres shorten to a certain extent. Has anything like that been researched for electrical muscle stimulation?

Bjoern:  Indeed, it has, yes.

Ben:  And, I'm not throwing you a softball there. This is one I actually haven't looked into.

Bjoern:  No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We haven't talked about this before. I totally know. So, one of the things, in general, that I was so fascinated by when I found this technology is the breadth of application. It's literally a solution for a lot of different problems that we have in this day and age. People don't have time to work out, even if they are fit and healthy. And then, over time, people just amass certain injuries and then they just drop off the bandwagon of working out, in general.

One of the longevity aspects that has been studied is [00:42:35] _____ took, I think, 100 women, 75 years old and above, through a year-long long-term study. They worked out, I think — Don't quote me on this, but I think they worked out 16 minutes every four days. I think that was the regiment on a light full-body e-stim. Think about it. They're 75 years old. So, you're not doing crazy stuff. You're just doing light movements and mobilization, but you put them in that.

The first interesting thing for me was two individuals dropped out of the study. Two, out of 100. And, they moved away. One went on a cruise and the other one moved away. So, those were the reasons. So, they kept using it. So, that's the first thing that we see a lot with full-body muscle stimulation is people see results and they stick on it. They don't drop off after six weeks, after their New Year's resolution.

So, first of all, they gained muscle mass again. So, they totally reversed atrophy and basically went back and gained muscle mass again. They increased walking speed by, I think, between 10% and 20%, something that number.

Ben:  Which is directly correlated with longevity, actually. Grip strength and walking speed and being able to get up off the floor are three good metrics for longevity.

Bjoern:  Exactly. So, they really tried these standard metrics. But then, what totally was a surprise is they gained bone density again.

Ben:  That's interesting because the muscles aren't actually being loaded.

Bjoern:  Yes, however, the muscles are loaded. To some extent, they're not externally loaded. But, let's say if you do a biceps curl, your biceps is working against your triceps. So, now both biceps and triceps are pulling on your upper arm.

Ben:  Yeah, you are getting loading from the muscle pulling you. So, there's some amount of an axial load. Wow, that's super interesting. You're covering a lot of bases with this thing, but I'm curious, could one theoretically, instead of doing what I do, like doing a strength and a cardio workout, do you think that you'd be able to use it more frequently if you did something like strength one day, cardio one day, power another day, a day-off, something like that? Have you experimented with anything like that?

Bjoern:  So, what we recommend and what we found works the best is do a strength or power workout day one. Let's say start day one. You do a strength and power workout. And, now, you're already in the suit. You're already suited up. You're already there.

Ben:  That's why I did a back-to-back workouts because I don't want to [00:45:12] _____ yet.

Bjoern:  Yeah. So, do another 10 or 20 minutes of cardio towards the end. So, 10 minutes is totally fine. Do it towards the end. And, we can talk about cortisol levels and whatsoever as well, but generally, do this and do this kind of as an active recovery. So, you have a cardiovascular load, kind of have an active recovery. You still have additional blood flow. The cardio workouts don't cause a full twitch, like a full tightness. They just cause twitches. So, there's a lot of blood flow in that. So, basically, now, for day one, you have that covered.

Day two, just do a cardio session. Give your body some time to recover. And then, day three or four, you can do strength again. So, when you're starting, what we generally see people start with, two sessions a week. And, also, the question is what's the rest of your fitness regime look like? So, people who are already doing a lot, who are running, who are rowing, who are weightlifting, do other things, they integrate it twice a week into their exercise routine.

But, for example, one of our customers, he's 62 years old and he's a commercial airline pilot. He's always traveling. Also, during COVID, all the gyms are closed. Nothing is working. He's using the thing every day.

Ben:  Because there's pretty much nothing to pack. It's like your iPad and your suit.

Bjoern:  Yeah, it's 3 pounds. The suit is 3 pounds. The big versions are 3 1/2 pounds, something like this. It's totally packable and you can just travel with it. And, this is what he does. To your question, strength training should have some distance in between them. And then, the cardio sessions you can add in every day.

Ben:  So, another question I have for you is, in terms of things you've found to combine well with this. For example, when I interviewed Jeff Spencer, who was a physician who helped out–He was actually a chiro who helped out a lot of Tour de France cyclists with recovery and with injuries, especially between stages, he would apply electrical muscle stimulation. But then, before he would apply the electro, he would apply a topical. This is usually for an injury, like Traumeel or magnesium or a CBD topical. And then, use the electrodes or the electricity to drive that topical transdermally deeper than it would normally go. And, he would often also combine that with ice, meaning he'd have–And, I still do this sometimes with the smaller units that have the electrodes coming off of them. If I use a Marc Pro or a Compex or something like that, these small portable electro-stim devices, I'll use that strategy, topical anti-inflammatory, plus electrodes, plus ice. And, it got me thinking about Katalyst. Have you ever looked into, for example, a topical L-carnitine or some type of lactic acid buffer to be used against the skin while using the suit, or perhaps, even introducing something like cold packs over the top of the actual Katalyst? Have you guys experiment with this type of stuff internally?

Bjoern:  No, we haven't, yet. I have to say I had always knee issues in my life, and I use something with a physiotherapist called [00:48:10] _____. And, basically, it's putting gels on your knee, and then using e-stim to basically move it through the skin and transport it. These type of stimulation pulses are actually unidirectional. So, you're trying– So, basically, the compound that's being put on your skin is basically ionized. And, you're then using the directed currents to actually pull that through. It's kind of like using a magnet on something to pull it over a table or something like that. So, that's possible. We haven't used that.

And, we're also very focused on the one thing that we're doing. And, also, from a just pure practicality perspective. We haven't tried that yet, no.

Ben:  Well, I will keep you posted, because I've got a lot of little experiments I'm going to run with it. And, I've probably done a total of 12 actual workouts with it. And, I'm kind of ready and wanted to throw a few questions at you before I really start hacking with this thing and wearing an oxygen mask or putting a transdermal on or even applying cold wraps around it. But, I feel like there's a lot of directions that you could go with something like this, or even combining it with something like my Vasper machine, which is cold, and get pressure and put on the suit and go out and do a workout on that in cardio mode. There's a lot of fun ways that I think one can go with this.

So, another question is, in terms of the actual usability of this device. I know that for me with the iPad, I like to have Wi-Fi off, so I just downloaded all the workouts to the iPad and then I'll bring it outside in the sunshine, or if it's raining or whatever, down in the basement. You pull up the workout. It connects to the suit. And then, the trainer walks you through the workout. You guys have this internal team of trainers who are coming up with these routines. Who's actually developing these?

Bjoern:  So, first of all, I fell in love with it roughly in '12. I was in 2012. And then, did all the research, like, is this true? Is this a fad? Does it actually work? And so on, so forth. And then, when I decided in 2015 to actually quit my job, my parents were like, “You're totally crazy. You quit your job,” which is awesome, “and you want to do something that no one has ever done before in a different country and move continents and so on and so forth.” I knew that I needed the experience of what works in full-body EMS training and what doesn't. And, I actually asked my trainer who was a former soccer player in Berlin, has been doing this for five years already, “Are you going to join me? And, are you also going to move to the US and figure this out?”

Max, who's our lead trainer and master trainer who's been doing this now for over 10 years, started building a catalog, which we have in our– So, the Katalyst system has a backend, obviously. And, we have a catalog of exercises. And, it's constantly growing. There's 160 different exercises on it. And, we then combined them into these workouts. The trainers basically do this. They script them. And then, while they are working out and while they are being filmed, they basically follow the workouts that they create on their own.

It's not that easy, I have to say. So, we know that some trainers, when they first did it, there's a lot to do because you have to run the tech and you have to talk to the camera and have to figure out how your form is right, and you're working out at the same time. And so, it's actually quite challenging for the trainers, but we are developing these and we continue to experiment with them. Especially because our system is completely wireless, you can move around with it and there's nothing hanging off it. What we're learning now is because of our freedom that we have, there are a lot more things that we can do then, traditionally could have been done.

So, for example, I was at IMG Academy a few weeks ago down in Florida, and one of the trainers immediately was like, “So, can I go and test and try sprints?” And, I'm like, “Okay.” So, he was on this inside blow-up hall and he was starting doing sprints under stim. And, he was like “That's interesting. And, I can do this.”

Ben:  Yeah, you can do just about anything functional. Another one of my buddies works with the UFC. He contacted me a week after he got the unit and said he wanted to get it on some of his fighters. So, yeah, I think there's a lot of different ways that it can be used. Is there ever a plan to basically allow for a detached mode where you could not have an actual workout by a trainer on there and just say, “I'm going to go for a walk. I don't want to mess around with the iPad,” or something like that, and just put the stim on and go for a walk?

Bjoern:  Yes.

Ben:  Cool. Ping me when that feature comes up, because for me I'm a minimalist. The less equipment I can have, the better. Plus, I like to make up my own workouts, too.

Bjoern:  So, think about this, especially outside or with other equipment, there's going to be– We have things in the books, or on the road map, that's going to make it for these specific use cases much more usable and even more free. For now, it's really introducing this kind of technology and teaching the general public about this exists and how to do it. And then, for the more advanced users, there will be a lot of additional ways to use this.

Ben:  Awesome. Now, one thing I was wondering was, when the trainers are walking you through the workout, are they actually getting stimmed themselves? Because I can't tell if they're just pretending.

Bjoern:  No, they are.

Ben:  So, it's like a spin class where the person is actually riding a bike.

Bjoern:  Exactly.

Ben:  You don't know what intensity they're at, but–

Bjoern:  Yeah, but they're actually riding the bike. So, what we wanted to do– And, it's, by the way, the first time this has ever been done in the whole content creation. There's no EMS training with content in the rest of the world. Didn't exist. So, it's basically a trainer doing this and the trainer is running the device. I always compare this to you going to a club and someone is playing DJ, or someone is playing the violin in a concert. You can play the violin in the concert, but dancing at the same time doesn't work. So, the roles of the customer and the trainer are very distinguished, very separated.

And, what we wanted to create was literally an experience that you'd think the trainer is with you and he's training with you in the same room. And, I don't know if we mentioned this already, but the moment the trainer on the screen is touching his own iPad and saying, “Hey, let's take it up a moment,” your suit reacts to that in real-time. I don't know. Probably, the first time, it's a bit surprising that this is happening, because normally, you have to adjust your bike yourself, or whatever you're doing. But, we wanted to get this really immersive experience because we want the customer to totally focus on their body and the exercise. We don't want them to having to play around with the tech. So, the only thing you do as a customer is like, “I want a little bit more than the trainer is telling me.” Or, “I want a little bit less than a trainer is telling me.” Everything else is just taken care of.

Ben:  Yeah, because what I like is you can reach over and not only say, “Hey, I want more stim on my legs or more stim on my chest or more stim on my arms,” select a certain body part that you might feel. For me, my legs are pretty strong and they have a lot of endurance, just from all my years of triathlon and running and cycling, things like that. So, when I fire up a workout, typically, first thing I do is I select legs and I turn up legs higher than upper body. And, that kind of evens things out for me. And then, I'll launch it in the workout. And, if I need to adjust along the way because the trainer's adjustment isn't high enough, I'll adjust along the way.

But, I have to admit, I am often, especially towards the end of the workout, cursing those darn trainers because you feel like you're giving it your all and they're like, “I go up one more time.” And then, it goes up, and you're like, “I don't know.” And then, you're like, “I can handle this. I can handle this.” And then, they do it again. And so, it sneaks up on you, by the time you finish the end of the workout. I've been above 420 before in terms of the stim level. And, you're definitely [00:56:15] _____.

Bjoern:  Wow. So, that might explain why you're very sore because you're really taking this to the high levels.

Ben:  I get kind of extreme. I jacked that thing up just buzz high as it can go. And, honestly, I like it. I like it [00:56:32] _____ work.

Bjoern:  Just on jet levels in general. So, first of all, the system always remembers what you've been doing. And then, next time applies it. So, it's learning over time. The other thing that I have to say is the levels are always individual to a person. So, someone could start in the hundreds and is already sore and likes a certain aspect. And, what we see a lot is people working out between 100 and 200, and then some who's taking it high and in the 200s to up to 300, 400, then you're really taking it far. The max output is at 480, is the max for each channel that can be given out. But, I have to say that that's already a very extreme thing.

But, the nice thing about this is it's kind of like you're going to the gym and there's a weight for everyone. If you want go over high, you can do it. And, if you want to do a light one and that's the right one for you, you can do it as well. So, that's what I like so much about this technology.

Ben:  I'll have all the show notes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/KatalystPodcast. It's spelled with a “K,” though. So, Katalyst Podcast. BenGreenfieldFitness.com/KatalystPodcast. Now, I also have a link at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Katalyst, and that basically gets you access. I don't even know what that means, Bjoern. When you say you get access to it, do you guys have a waitlist? Or, what do people get when they go to my special link?

Bjoern:  So, in general, what we have is [00:57:59] _____ and we have to start production and ramp it up over time. So, we have limited supply at the moment. Everyone has limited supply in these days. So, we want to be able to say, “Hey, if someone actually orders, we're shipping,” and not I want to have 10 weeks or 12 weeks or whatsoever you get it. So, we basically have a waitlist. And, people can sign up when they go to Katalyst.fit. They can sign up to the waitlist.

What we have with your audience and with your link is people basically skip the waitlist. So we have reserved a certain set of equipment. And, that's where people can get.

Ben:  Awesome. Alright, so we're moving the velvet rope for folks.

Bjoern:  Yes, exactly.

Ben:  Hey, so I want to pop in here and tell you about something new. I've created this brand-new coaching opportunity. It's unlike anything I've ever offered before. It goes above and beyond to keep you motivated and accountable and supported. It's a six-week long course. It's called the “Transformation Challenge.” And, the purpose is to help you reach your body composition goals as quickly and safely as possible, whether that's lose fat, gain lean muscle. You name it.

Because body image is something a lot of people struggle with. I know that. But, what I want to do is to provide this supportive resource that cuts through the confusion and it doesn't rely on fad diets or endless hours in the gym, which could be more harmful than helpful. I hope you know. But, anyways, each week you'll get tasks. You'll get to explore all these resources I give you. We get a group call with one of my expert coaches all while tracking daily meals. Workouts got an easy-to-use app to help you stay accountable along the way.

And, all of you who engage with this transformation challenge, you get a one-hour consult call with one of my trained coaches to get set up for success before you even begin. And then, they give you a nutrition and a fitness blueprint. All the challenges from the last one we did, which was incredibly popular, it was crazy how many pounds of body fat that were lost, how many people started working out less by following this script that we gave them and getting way better strength and body comp goals. Balanced training caused a ton of people to be sleeping better. HRV scores went through the roof. We even worked on gratitude, spirituality. And then, there was this whole community aspect, which was a huge success factor, a whole bunch of like-minded individuals around cheering each other on the whole time and interacting through our private feed that we make available.

So, anyways, at the end of the six weeks, the top two grand prize winners, one male and one female, get a ton of cool prizes: a free coaching consult with me, a fitness nutrition plan, a book bundle, including my new “Boundless Cookbook,” a Kion supplement bundle, a shout-out all over my social media to celebrate your transformation. And, that's it. And, it starts very soon. Our last round sold out super quickly. You got to get on this one by June 30th, which is coming up in just a few days.

BenGreenfieldCoaching.com/TransformationChallenge. That's BenGreenfieldCoaching.com/TransformationChallenge. And, I hope to see on the inside.

So, it's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Katalyst. Thank me now and then cursed me later after your first workout. It really is as hard as you make it. You don't have to be a glutton for punishment like me. You can ease your way in if you want. But, I've done some electrical muscle stimulation in the past, so I was like, “Alright, let's see what this thing can do.” And so, since my first few sessions were like that, now if I bring the intensity down, I'm like, “I'm used to high-intensity stuff.” But, it's really amazing. I'm going to take it down to seaside on this next trip and use it when I'm down there on the beach, so I don't have to hunt down a gym or anything. And, I'm super stoked.

So, again, the show notes are at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/KatalystPodcast, where I'll also link to other podcasts and articles I've done about electrical muscle stimulation, if you want to take a deep dive into the science. Leave your comments, if you have ways that you've used something like this, or questions for Bjoern or me, and we'll reply. You go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/KatalystPodcast for that.

And then, you can get a unit for yourself, straight to the front of the waiting list, at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Katalyst with a “K.” You don't need a code or anything, just BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Katalyst with a “K.”

Bjoern, thanks for coming on the show, for sharing all this stuff with us, and for giving me an idea for a crazy workout this weekend.

Bjoern:  Thank you, Ben. Thanks for having me.

Ben:  Alright, folks. I'm Ben Greenfield, along with Bjoern from Katalyst, signing out. Have an amazing week.

Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the show notes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned, over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful, “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormones, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes that I mentioned during this and every episode helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. So, when you listen in, be sure to use the links in the show notes, to use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.

 

 

In a recent weekly roundup, I reported on what I called “Possibly The World's Most Efficient (New) Workout: The “Katalyst,” and told you to get ready for the next frontier of electrical muscle stimulation.

In my book Boundless, on my podcast, and elsewhere, I've talked about how I use electrical muscle stimulation, also known as “EMS”…

…but with all other forms of EMS I've used in the past, although getting great results for injury rehab, muscle growth, targeted muscle “re-training,” and more, I've also had to deal with all sorts of wires, time-consuming electrode attachments, confusing user interfaces, and a pretty clunky experience that takes up a lot of time.

This brand-new electrical muscle stimulation suit called the Katalyst is a total game-changer. You literally just pull on the suit and select from any of the workouts on the app and a personal trainer not only walks you through the entire workout, which involves functional fitness moves like squats, side lunges, presses, cardiovascular and power movements, and a whole lot more…

…but the intensity is automatically adjusted by your trainer as you go, and so it also creates a highly customized workout. This is one of the coolest time hacks for exercise that I've discovered in a long time and—coming from a guy who has done a lot of different workouts—I can tell you that this thing is not some gimmicky “As Seen On TV” technology that you use to get a six-pack while you're sitting on the couch eating Twinkies.

Instead, I think this technology is going to take the fitness world by storm. Pro athletes can train muscles they've never used before and retrain injured muscles while complete exercise beginners or those in rehab can lift weights without excess stress on the joints.

Again, the Katalyst suit is a total game-changer, and this thing is flying off the shelves now as folks discover the magic of EMS. Here's where you can get the Katalyst suit today (that link gives you “early access” to getting a unit for yourself).

I wanted to get the founder and CEO of Katalyst—Bjoern Woltermann—on the show to take a deep dive into exactly how this new technology works.

Using proven Full-Body EMS (Electro Muscle Stimulation) technology, Katalyst removes common barriers to fitness like time, ability and motivation, and replaces them with a 20-minute, full-body workout that works with your body rather than against it. Because there are no weights and no joint impact, Katalyst empowers all people to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

A startup veteran and economist by trade, Bjoern was introduced to Full-Body EMS as a way to fit strength training into his busy travel schedule and to rehabilitate a back injury. After training every Monday for six weeks, Bjoern was amazed to find himself both pain-free and in better physical shape than he had been in years. He soon realized that this technology had the potential to significantly improve millions of lives. Driven by an innate desire to serve people, Bjoern founded Katalyst in 2015 to bring Full-Body EMS to the United States.

Aside from Katalyst, Bjoern is a devoted husband and uncle who loves to travel the world and is committed to a healthy lifestyle.

During this discussion, you'll discover:

-How Bjoern got interested in EMS…8:54

  • In 2012, he had a corporate job; flying all over the world
  • This resulted in chronic back pain
  • Advised to strengthen core and lower back, otherwise he would end up with herniated disc
  • Introduced to an EMS clinic (20-minute treatment is too good to be true)
  • Bodystreet studio EMS
  • The format is 2 people with one trainer
  • After 6 weeks, with one session per week, he was pain-free, no pain meds, etc.
  • Two different reactions: horribly uncomfortable or relatively manageable
  • Breathworkis important for comfort level
  • EMS is far more popular in Germany than in the U.S.; pre-COVID, Germany had around 2,500 EMS studios

-A brief history of EMS training…15:10

-The science that backs up the efficacy of EMS…19:10

  • EMS devices are FDA-regulated, treated as a medical device
  • The hurdles were too high for manufacturers to expand in the U.S.
  • Some European universities carry out 2-3 full-blown studies on EMS per year; a mini-knowledge base has been created around the devices, with around 85 medical studies done so far
  • Hockey players 1.5% faster after EMS; jumping height of basketball players
  • New way to activate muscles; easier to target specific muscle fibers

-Why EMS induces a high amount of soreness…23:20


  • Muscle damage induced by electrical stimulation“the magnitude of muscle damage induced by ES-evoked isometric contractions is comparable to that induced by maximal voluntary eccentric contractions”
  • Previously unused and dormant muscles
  • The Katalystsuit hits 13 areas of the body, each muscle group has its own channel
  • No muscles left behind
  • Much more complete muscle activation; increasing the recruitment of muscle fibers in each repetition
  • Get to an exhaustive state of the muscle faster
  • Activate more muscle fibers at the same time, subconsciously this is how it's supposed to feel
  • Need extreme loads to activate fast-twitch muscle fibers or very quick movements with conventional weight training
  • Cardio mode causes the muscle to be active, transform energy into motion, calorie burn effect
  • Airdynebike is the ultimate EMS workout

-Why the body gets so hot in an EMS suit…34:05

  • How much muscle activation is going on at a given time
  • A two-hour gym workout is squeezed into a 20-minute session
  • Excess heat generated by muscles working is not evaporated over a 2-hour period but in 20 minutes
  • The body needs to cool off from so much work done in so short a time
  • Water provides adequate conductivity

-Why different ranges of motion are used in EMS…37:00

  • Always start with why. Why are you doing this workout? What's the ultimate goal? What's the ultimate outcome?
    • You want to achieve a stronger body, you want to have access to your muscles
    • You want flexibility and have a full range of motion
  • No shortened muscles, no tension like tightness around the neck
  • One of Ben's training clients had knee pain disappear after using the Katalystfor a couple of sessions
  • Usually, unused muscles are in a tight state as a protective mechanism
  • Katalysttraining is getting muscles into an exhaustive state; previously injured areas become softened up and loosened
  • Relax the muscle, get back to a natural function

-The recovery setting on the Katalyst…40:45

  • Recovery mode promotes blood flow
  • Very low frequency, 1 twitch a second
  • Pumping effect to the muscles; pumping massaging effect that promotes nutrient and lactic acid movement

-How EMS may affect longevity and anti-aging…42:20

  • EMS is a solution to a lot of different problems in this day and age; people don't have time to work out
  • Study of 100 women over the age of 75
    • Two of the women dropped out, not because it was too stringent
    • Gained muscle mass, reversed atrophy
    • Increased walking speed 10-20%
      • Walking speed, grip strength, and ability to get off the floor are good metrics for longevity
    • Gained bone density

-How to mix regimens to get the most out of EMS…45:20

  • Do strength/power on first day followed by 10 minutes of cardio
  • Day 2, cardio only
  • Day 3-4, do strength again
  • Do two sessions per week
  • Katalystsuit is 3 to 3.5 lbs, depending on the size
  • Strength training should have some intervals in-between while cardio can be done every day

-Topicals or cold packs that can improve the efficacy of EMS…47:30

-How the EMS routines are conducted in real-time…50:20

  • Katalysthas a catalog of exercises, now numbering about 160
  • System is completely wireless
  • Things are in the works to do EMS detached from the current system
  • Trainers are actually getting the treatment while the user does
  • Roles of customer and trainer are very different
  • Immersive experience for the customer
  • The system always remembers what you are doing, so it learns over time
  • The levels are always individual to a person

-How to access the Katalyst and skip the waitlist…58:30

  • There is a limited supply but using the linkbasically skips the waitlist

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

– Bjoern Woltermann:

– Podcasts And Articles:

– Gear:

– Other Resources:

Upcoming events:

Episode sponsors:

The Boundless Cookbook: Optimize your physical and mental performance with nutritious and delicious Greenfield family recipes. This is your roadmap to a culinary journey that includes ancient food and wild game preparation tactics, biohacked smoothies, meat rubs, cocktails, desserts, and beyond—without any restrictive diet, limited ingredients, or tasteless “health foods!”

Kion Refer a Friend: My personal playground for new supplement formulations, Kion blends ancestral wisdom with modern science. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners, save 20% off your first order with code BGF20, and we'll pay you to send your friends to us!

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One thought on “[Transcript] – Is This The World’s Most Efficient, Biohacked Workout? The New Full-Body Electro Muscle Stimulation Science by Katalyst (& How To Build Muscle In 20 Minutes) With Bjoern Woltermann.

  1. Dani says:

    Hi Ben,

    Have you eventually received a discount code from Bjorn?

    Thanks,
    Danijel

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