I’ve never had so much fun electrocuting myself.
When Compex said they wanted to send me their Sport Elite muscle stimulator, I have to admit I was a little ambivalent. I make my muscles twitch all the time by running, biking, and lifting. Why would I need to make them twitch while I’m sitting around?
The short answer is, I spend way too much time sitting around. The irony of life as a fitness media professional is that you spend an inordinate amount of time parked at a desk or sitting in a car. Crushing barbell work, soul-bending track workouts, and lung-busting hill repeats on the bike are crammed in between interviews, emails, and article edits. Sometimes there is barely enough time for a shower, let alone a comprehensive warm up, cool down, and mobility routine.
My New Recovery Buddy
This is where the Compex can step in to fill the gaps. With nine separate programs and almost endless electrode placement, the Sport Elite acts like a personal recovery assistant. I’ve found it immensely useful in easing my destroyed muscles into a state of rest and recovery, allowing me to get back in the gym or on the road sooner.
Let me give you an example. On a spring evening, my running team’s coach (who apparently has decided he hates us this year) pushes us through a whole stack of 400m repeats. Driving home, my calves and quads feel like that bratwurst you left on the grill for about three minutes too long. So while I sit at the computer with my dinner and an article to edit, I hook up the Compex to my quads, set it to Active Recovery, and let it do its thing. 25 minutes later, I move the electrodes to my calves, and repeat.
The next morning, I get up and feel like I ran a gentle 5k the night before, rather than having my legs torn off. So I waltz into the CrossFit gym, set a 2RM back squat PR, and bang out a very decent metcon. Back home, back on the Compex, more food, more editing, and a friend invites me to an informal mountain bike race. Sure, I feel fine, let’s go! An hour of pounding away on the pedals and whacking my helmet against trees, and then it’s back home for more food, another shower, and a little more loving attention from my new electronic BFF.
Three Initial Thoughts
Three observations from my first several weeks using the Compex Sport Elite:
- Getting zapped is weird at first, but you get over it. I’ve had experience with e-stims in a physical therapy setting, so I mostly knew what to expect, but it’s still strange the first time your muscles start jumping around on their own. The difference is that the Compex’s stimulation is completely comfortable. You can individually adjust each pair of electrodes to the setting you need, and the pulses feel natural.
- I am taking way too many showers now. Two-a-days were a rare feature in my training over the last couple years. I’m in my 30s, and have already noticed that things don’t bounce back the way I’d like them to. But with the help of the Compex, I find that I can get back out there and train with intensity far more often, since my muscles feel ready to go pretty much all the time, now. The only downside is that, between my wife and I, the shower at our house is basically always running.
- Gadgets make recovery fun. Let’s face it, we all like nifty new tech, and for nerds like me, exploring all the options the Sport Elite has to offer has gotten me much more interested in actually paying attention to my recovery again. I know, I should have been doing it anyway, but I’m the kind of guy who’s way more interested in user interfaces and pulse wavelengths than yoga mats and foam rollers. Plus, it’s not really acceptable to be in a teleconference while doing yoga.
Much More to Learn
I find myself faced with a minor philosophical dilemma. Part of me feels like the Compex Sport Elite is a shortcut, and as a coach, I’m always telling people that there are no shortcuts. But the other part of me says to shut the hell up, because this is working great, and I’ve never trained better.
I think I’ll be listening to that second voice. After all, the best training plan is the one you’ll actually use. If the Compex provides a method to get the stimulus I need with the lifestyle I find myself living, where’s the downside?
There remains a boatload of untapped potential in the Sport Elite that I hope to explore over the coming weeks. It has as many options for before your workouts as after, and can even provide workouts all on its own, for strength, power, and endurance. Stay tuned for my full review.