You are putting in those hard hours in the “iron paradise” (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, 2018) and you are disciplined enough to hit those all-important macro nutrient targets in your diet. You’re making good progress, honing your physique and getting stronger all the time. But could you be doing more? More to the point, could you be getting more out of this work and dedication you put in? Have you heard of microcurrent? If the answer is no then you can get a great deal more from this lifestyle with no extra reps, no extra meals and pretty much no extra work. Here’s how you leverage that sweat-equity that you work so hard to invest in yourself and your fitness goals…
The Body Electric
You might think of your body as a magnificent system of muscles, organs and fluids with the veins and arteries as rivers delivering nutrients and oxygen all around the body. And you’d be right. But your body is also an electric system. Right now there is an electric current passing over every cell membrane in your body. The level of electrical current is so minute that it cannot be felt but as long as you are alive it’s happening.
In the event of an injury (an open wound on your arm for example) the body’s natural electrical current is disrupted which creates an electrical field around the wound area (Thakral et al, 2013). This causes the cells in that area to increase their rate of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production. ATP, being the power source for all functions of your body, powers the cell’s membrane transport system and allows proteins to be transported more quickly through the surrounding cells to the injury site for growth and repair. Essentially, this ingenious system allows growth and repair to take place faster in the areas of the body that need it most. Perhaps though, through the wonders of science, we can use this mechanism to speed up growth and repair where we want it and not just where we need it? For a building that ripped back like a sack full of cobras for instance.
Well, great news; microcurrent recreates this effect from an external source. Also, due to the many studies on microcurrent for ATP generation that have been conducted over the years we are able to fine-tune this process to achieve very close to ‘peak output’ of ATP rather than simply ‘some increase’. In fact, ATP production can be increased by 400% using microcurrent (Bailey, 1999). Think of it as the bodily equivalent of powering a go-kart with the jet engine from a Eurofighter Typhoon! But much safer. Many studies have found microcurrent to be completely safe to use (Herberger et al., 2012) and most of these studies are conducted on somewhat fragile patients rather than the strongest and healthiest few per cent of us.
Bailey (1999) goes on to state “unlike other forms of electric therapy such as interferential, or higher amperage TENS and galvanic, microcurrent stands unique in that it has a cumulative effect, rather than a diminishing effect.” In short, microcurrent, when used regularly, actually allows your body to produce higher than normal levels of ATP even when you are not using it. Like a well-trained bicep, the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
Can’t I Just Eat ATP?
Well, you could. However, microcurrent shows great benefits over oral supplementation of ATP which may benefit energy stores for a short time until this finite amount is used up, if it actually ever reaches your muscles, that is. Longer-term supplementation of anything that your body creates though, will typically cause a reduction in natural production when you stop taking it. Take testosterone supplementation for example. Scott Berliner, an integrative clinical pharmacist told Men’s Journal “Once you begin taking testosterone, it’s very difficult to stop because the body accommodates for the extra hormone and slows its natural production of it.” However, because microcurrent does not supplement the body with ‘free ATP’ but instead boosts the body’s natural production process, the opposite effect is observed.
Besides, taking ATP orally is a grossly inefficient way to raise energy levels within your body. In fact, most studies on the subject of oral supplementation see no benefits at all. In 2008 just such a study for the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and found exactly zero improvement in muscle strength, power output and endurance (Herda et al., 2008). The reason for this is explained in a later study published in the same journal. They (Arts et al., 2012) found that ATP, when orally ingested, is not ‘bio-available’ (meaning that it never reaches the blood stream or muscles) as it is broken down in the digestive system. This is true even when administered in specially designed ‘proximal-release pellets’ designed to reach the small intestine before releasing their ATP (in order to avoid the stomach acid). So, they found no increase in ATP concentrations in the blood but did find increases in uric acid. They concluded from this that the ATP was being degraded to uric acid and as such, the level of bio-available ATP from these pellets was around 15%. Meaning that 85% of the ATP (and thus, the energy from it) was wasted. Even solar panels are more economical than this and are now able to convert about 44% of the light energy they collect into usable electricity.
Although swallowing ATP pills or capsules seems to be about as efficient as trying to melt a glacier with a hair dryer, we have found one study by Wilson et al (2013) that has seen positive results from ATP supplementation. The participants of this study were athletes who already had an average (one rep max) deadlift of over 2 times their bodyweight and average benchpress of 1.34 times their bodyweight. These guys were no slouches and they were by no means starting from a beginner’s physique where muscle gains and performance improvements can be realised much more easily. They took the supplements and all did the same training regimen for 12 weeks including a brutal period of overtraining in weeks 9 and 10. The guys in the supplemented group made overall strength increases of 12.9% in comparison with 5.9% in the placebo group. Similarly, when they measured the muscle thickness of their quads, the supplemented group outperformed the placebo group with an increase of 9.4% compared with 4.9%. So, despite the fact that most of the ATP they consumed was likely wasted, they still saw significantly better results in just 12 weeks over the control group taking placebos.
The average human has around 250g of ATP in their body and according to Bionumbers (2018), a Harvard educational website, this is turned over so many times that the equivalent of a person’s entire body weight is used in ATP for energy every 24 hours. Adding a supplement of 400mg ATP a day (as in the study by Wilson et al (2013)) seems pretty insignificant, especially when we consider that a lot of this is likely, not bio-available in the bloodstream, let alone the muscles. And yet, despite this ‘drop in the ocean’ increase, the results they achieved are pretty impressive.
Application to Training
Imagine what your body could do with 400% more ATP, all of which is produced and available right where you need it! Let’s briefly return to the go-kart with the jet engine analogy for a second. So, it’s a bit silly but hopefully you see my point. This massive increase in energy production can be used for any process in the body. It is not uncommon for studies using microcurrent to show an increase in healing rate of 200% for a whole host of conditions. Microcurrent has been shown to be extremely effective at healing scars, tendons, ulcers, muscle atrophy, strains, sprains, bone fractures, eczema, psoriasis, burns, cysts and the list goes on and on and on. Seriously, I could go on for days! It has also been used to successfully treat many chronic or long-term pain issues permanently in addition to its ability to treat psychological conditions like stress, insomnia, anxiety and depression. It can even help the body to heal stubborn, old or persistent injuries and improve old scars. The list is truly astounding.
Now consider this…what is weight training doing to your body? As you are probably aware, when you lift heavy weights and stress your muscles you are creating tiny ‘injuries’. Micro-tears to the muscle fibres to be precise. Your body then repairs and adapts them in order to better equip the muscle to deal with this stress in future. And that’s hypertrophy! – (muscle building). I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…
Using microcurrent following your workouts will turbo-charge your recovery. It gives your body the energy to rebuild your muscle to be bigger and stronger and it will do this faster, allowing you to squeeze a couple of extra training sessions into your week (or…you know, just have a nice sit-down and watch the gains roll in). We know from the study mentioned above, that if we can boost ATP in the body, we can make pretty impressive muscle and strength gains much faster than normal, in fact, roughly twice as fast with a very little boost. We also know that microcurrent gives one hell of an ATP boost and it does this naturally.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, it appears we have arrived at the first step on the path to becoming super-humans! Seriously though, when properly applied to a solid training program, we could be looking at steroid-infused levels of athleticism and muscle growth with zero chemical or hormone enhancement and zero health risk from negative side-effects. This is taking your body to the next level naturally!
Arts, I., Coolen, E., Bours, M., Huyghebaert, N., Stuart, M., Bast, A. and Dagnelie, P. (2012). Adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) supplements are not orally bioavailable: a randomized, placebo-controlled cross-over trial in healthy humans. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), p.16.
Bailey, S. (1999). How Microcurrent Stimulation Produces ATP – One Mechanism. Dynamic Chiropractic, 17(18).
Bionumbers.hms.harvard.edu. (2018). Daily turnover of ATP – Human Homo sapiens – BNID 105606. [online] Available at: http://bionumbers.hms.harvard.edu//bionumber.aspx?id=105606&ver=4 [Accessed 2 Mar. 2018].
Dwayne Johnson, Men’s Fitness. (2018). The Rock Would Like to Welcome You to Get Crazy in the “Iron Paradise”. [online] Available at: https://www.mensfitness.com/life/entertainment/rock-would-welcome-you-get-crazy-iron-paradise [Accessed 2 Mar. 2018].
Herberger, K., Debus, E., Larena-Avellaneda, A., Blome, C. and Augustin, M. (2012). Effectiveness, tolerability, and safety of electrical stimulation of wounds with an electrical stimulation device: results of a retrospective register study. Wounds: a compendium of clinical research and practice, 24(4), pp.67-84.
Herda, T., Ryan, E., Stout, J. and Cramer, J. (2008). Effects of a supplement designed to increase ATP levels on muscle strength, power output, and endurance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(1), p.3.
Thakral, G., LaFontaine, J., Najafi, B., Talal, T., Kim, P. and Lavery, L. (2013). Electrical stimulation to accelerate wound healing. Diabetic Foot & Ankle, 4(1), p.22081.
Wilson, J., Joy, J., Lowery, R., Roberts, M., Lockwood, C., Manninen, A., Fuller, J., De Souza, E., Baier, S., Wilson, S. and Rathmacher, J. (2013). Effects of oral adenosine-5′-triphosphate supplementation on athletic performance, skeletal muscle hypertrophy and recovery in resistance-trained men. Nutrition & Metabolism, 10(1), p.57.