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Best Muscle Stimulators for Toning and Recovery Reviewed

last updated Aug 08, 2019

When you’re training out, you’re working your muscles hard–that’s one of the reasons why it’s called “working out.” However, by virtue of this intense training, you’re stressing your body, and with stress comes pain. Everyone who’s a serious gym rat is familiar with the burning you feel in your legs, arm, or shoulders the day after a particularly intense workout session. For a long time, the most you could do was grit your teeth and bear it. Today, though, technology has invented a solution that can help us with this problem. Having in mind, all previously said, we have made a guide for best muscle stimulators, so check it out!

In a Hurry? The test winner after 19 hrs of research

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Compex Sport Elite
98.5/100 our score
Features
99
Materials
98
Power Source
99
Advanced Features
98
Compex Sport Elite
Why is it better?

9 programs options

Quick recovery from soreness

Massage option

12 easy snap electrodes

Case

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Compex Sport Elite
Test Winner: Compex Sport Elite
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
30
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
1.5k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
19
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
10
Products Evaluated
Sorting Options
Features Materials Power Source Advanced Features By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.5
Features
99 %
Materials
98 %
Power Source
99 %
Advanced Features
98 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$308.09
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.8
Features
98 %
Materials
98 %
Power Source
95 %
Advanced Features
96 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$81.57
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
Features
95 %
Materials
97 %
Power Source
95 %
Advanced Features
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$23.99
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Features
94 %
Materials
92 %
Power Source
92 %
Advanced Features
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$169.99
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.3
Features
91 %
Materials
92 %
Power Source
92 %
Advanced Features
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$29.99
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
Features
88 %
Materials
89 %
Power Source
90 %
Advanced Features
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$29.99
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Features
85 %
Materials
88 %
Power Source
88 %
Advanced Features
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$37.99
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
Features
84 %
Materials
85 %
Power Source
85 %
Advanced Features
86 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$54.95
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82
Features
82 %
Materials
83 %
Power Source
82 %
Advanced Features
81 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$79.95
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78
Features
80 %
Materials
78 %
Power Source
78 %
Advanced Features
76 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (23.10.19)
Amazon Link
$79.99

Top 10 Picks

1. Compex Sport Elite

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.5
Compex Sport Elite
Amazon Link
Features
99
Materials
98
Power Source
99
Advanced Features
98
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$308.09
Pros:

9 programs options

Quick recovery from soreness

Massage option

12 easy snap electrodes

Case

Cons:

Difficulties charging

Compex Corporation was founded in 1976, and today is a privately held company. They specialize in Single Layer Electronic Components, providing them to the RF, Microwave, and Telecommunications industries, among others. All of their designing and manufacturing is done in their headquarters in West Berlin, New Jersey, USA and their impressive manufacturing facility in Rhode Island. The Compex Sport Elite comes with 9 programs options, allows for quick recovery from soreness, and has an included massage option.

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12 easy snap electrodes
Most products on this list provide an average of four electrodes, up to a maximum of 6. However, this doesn't leave much room for flexibility when the electrodes eventually wear out, or one gets misplaced. However, this top-of-the-line bundle kit comes with twelve electrodes for your convenience and peace of mind.

Case
Sometimes you need to be able to take your device with you. You may be trapped in the car all day but still want to get yourself primed for training; you may be a beginner athlete hoping to maximize your gains on the go. However, transporting your device is always risky. When you take it outside the home, you risk breaking or damaging it. To overcome this issue, this device comes with included peace to give you peace of mind.

Cost and Value

This is by far the most expensive item on our list, by several hundred dollars. If you're just starting out and are looking for a simple, basic model, you might be better off looking at something that requires less of an up-front investment. However, if you're serious about your training, this product bundle has a complete set of features and accessories that other items on this list can't even come close to.

2. [email protected] TENS Unit

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.8
 Easy@Home TENS Unit
Amazon Link
Features
98
Materials
98
Power Source
95
Advanced Features
96
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$81.57
Pros:

Clincally-proven

TENS system

Handheld

Backlit LED screen

EMS system

Cons:

electrodes stop working

[email protected] is a health products company devoted to their online retail presence. Their stated goal is to empower everyday persons to take control of their health. [email protected]'s product line is diverse and contains a wide range of items. This includes fertility products, drug tests, thermometers, and urine analysis tests. They also have several EMS and TENS products. The [email protected] TENS Unit has both EMS and TENS capability that is convenient and handheld.

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Clinically proven
Nowadays products make all sorts of claims, especially health products. However, it's hard to know if those claims are true, and the products can do what they claim to do, and are what they claim to be. However, when a product is clinically tested, as this one is, you know that it has been scientifically proved to produce results.

Backlit LED screen
For clarity and ease of vision, this product comes with a backlit LED screen. No matter the light level where you're at, you'll be able to manage this product and navigate its settings. Some products have no backlight, and you'll struggle to read them in dim places or low-light areas. You won't have that issue here.

Cost and Value
This product has a low cost when compared to other items on this list. It has a solid set of basic features and accessories. Though some might call it bare-bones, it does everything that one would expect a product such as this to do, all for a reasonable price. Though it may not have fancy bells and whistles, it is clinically proven, and well worth its price.

3. Famidoc Combo

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
 Famidoc Combo
Amazon Link
Features
95
Materials
97
Power Source
95
Advanced Features
94
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$23.99
Pros:

TENS and EMS included

Double-function

Safe and reliable

Intelligent design

Portable

Cons:

can't affix to clothing

Famidoc is an internet-based company with a product line devoted to helping people live more health-conscious lives. Their line ranges from scales and thermometers to more advanced products, including stimulation devices both for athletes and for physical therapists. They have many best-selling items, which is a testament to the quality of their products. Rounding out this product line is the Famidoc Combo, which is an intuitively-designed TENS and EMS combo unit.

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Portable
One of the downfalls of products such as these is that they are large and clunky. For the athlete looking for stimulation on the go, however, that can be an inconvenience. The Famidoc Combo is designed to go where you go, to fit in your hand or your pocket. You can get on with your day with this helpful feature.

Safe and Reliable
There are few disappointments like purchasing a product that makes great claims, but that then dies out quickly after purchasing. When you purchase a product, you want it to last. That's exactly what you'll get with the Famidoc Combo, whose circuits, casing, and inner mechanisms are designed to be resilient and long-lived.

Cost and Value
This item is the least expensive product on our list. While it does not have some features that other products take for granted, the features it does have are extremely well-executed. It is convenient and portable, in addition to being an EMS and TENS combo unit. Considering the high quality and low price of this item, it's perfect for the gym-goer on a budget.

4. Compex Edge 2.0

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
 Compex Edge 2.0
Amazon Link
Features
94
Materials
92
Power Source
92
Advanced Features
93
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$169.99
Pros:

3 program options

Resistance program

Active recovery program

4 easy snap electrodes

Cons:

Difficulty charging

Compex brings another product to our list with the Compex Edge. This company's products are so highly rated that they've garnered a second spot in the rankings. Though this product is not a bundle like its compatriot, it has all of the high-quality features one would expect from an industry-leading company like Compex. The Compex Edge has three different stimulation programs available and comes equipped with four easy-snap electrodes.

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Resistance Program
This product comes equipped with a resistance program. Some products like these are designed solely with physical therapists in mind and thus aren't the best able to help with the unique challenges that gym-goers and those undergoing training face. However, this product is designed with you in mind. The resistance program is designed to tone, as well as build both strength, and density.

Active Recovery Program
Sore muscles happen. When we're pushing our bodies to the limits and testing the boundaries of our abilities, sometimes we get sore and worn out. However, with the Compex Edge Active Recovery Program, you won't be kept out of the game for long. This mode is designed to clear lactic acid and get you back on your feet faster.

Cost and Value

This product is the second most expensive on the list. However, this is to be expected with such a high-quality, industry-leading company like Compex. If you're on a budget and don't want to spend a lot of money right off the bat, you may want to think of other products. However, if you're willing to spend more on a high-quality product tailored to athletes that will not only get the job done but will last and stand the test of time, then look no further.

5. HealthmateForever

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.3
HealthmateForever
Amazon Link
Features
91
Materials
92
Power Source
92
Advanced Features
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$29.99
Pros:

Snap-on pads

Long-lasting pad material

Set of 6 pads

8 modes

20 intensity levels

Cons:

Defective units die quickly

HealthmateForever is a company that was founded on the principles of uniting the best aspects of Eastern and Western medicine. The East has thousands of years of traditional therapeutic techniques, and the West brought forward some of the most revolutionary ideas in technology and science. Where the two meet, HeatlhmateForever stands. They are a company that specializes solely in EMS and TENS devices. Their unit has many notable features, including a set of six snap-on pads and having 8 modes to choose from.

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Long-lasting pad material
Of the parts that wear out on products like these, the electrode pads go fastest. This is simply due to the nature of their construction. They are made of thin material that adheres to the skin. Eventually, this material falls apart, rips, or otherwise gives out. However, this product is designed with unique construction in the electrode pads, making them last longer than their competitors.

20 intensity levels

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to muscle training or recovery. Everyone's body is different and will require different things. Having products that only offer one or two settings ignores this basic reality. HealthmateForever understands this reality and has 20 different intensity levels to choose from.

Cost and Value
The HealthmateForever unit is extremely low-price when compared to other items on this list. It is jam-packed with features and has many different intensity levels and settings. It also comes with six electrodes, which is two more than the standard four you receive with most other products. When you take into account its durability and high ratings, this product is well worth its astonishingly low cost.

6. AccuMed Tens Unit

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
AccuMed Tens Unit
Amazon Link
Features
88
Materials
89
Power Source
90
Advanced Features
88
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$29.99
Pros:

16 auto-routines

Intuitive design

Portable

TENS system

20 intensity levels

Cons:

loose leads

Acumed, LLC is headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon. They are a privately-owned manufacturer of medical devices. Since their founding in 1988, the company has grown to employ nearly 500 people both within and outside of the United States. This diverse employee base design, manufacture, and market their products, which include orthopedic implants and surgical devices. The AccuMed Tens Unit is another of their high-quality products, which is portable, is a
TENS system, and has 20 intensity levels.

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16 auto-routines
This product is loaded with different routines based on the specific kind of stimulation you are looking to achieve. There are routines designed for toning, as well as routines that are based on various therapeutic techniques to help with recovery. Whether you're looking to tone your muscles or need help recovering from a long day at the gym, there's a routine for that.

Intuitive design
Sometimes electronic devices can be difficult to navigate. It can be difficult to find your way around and figure out the ins and outs. Sometimes designers fail in this respect. The AccuMed Tens Unit does not disappoint in this respect. Designed with the principle of intuitive design in mind, this product is easy to use, even for the electronics-averse.

Cost and Value
This is one of the least expensive items on our list. It has a huge range of intensity levels, modes, and routines. The sheer versatility alone makes it well worth the low cost. If that wasn't enough, its intuitive navigation system and portability are icing on the cake. Ultimately, this product is too good to pass up.

7. Ohuhu Rechargeable

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
 Ohuhu Rechargeable
Amazon Link
Features
85
Materials
88
Power Source
88
Advanced Features
87
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$37.99
Pros:

FDA approved

TENS system

Adjustable time

Adustable Intensity

16 modes

Cons:

non-intuitive design

Ohuhu is truly one of the most versatile companies in our list. They have products in almost every single industry imaginable, from automotive to back-to-school supplies to home tools to gardening equipment. The secret to their success is the high quality of their products, the excellence of their customer service, and their versatility across industries. The Ohuhu Rechargeable is no exception. This TENS system has adjustable intensity levels and 16 modes to choose from.

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FDA approved
When the FDA has put their stamp on something, you know it works. They don't give out their seal of approval lightly, but when they do, you know the product is assured to do what it's supposed to do. That is clearly the case here with the Ohuhu Rechargeable 16 Modes and 12 Pads Muscle Stimulator. This product is tested and proven to help you tone yourself and recover quickly.

Adjustable timer
This product has a huge range of customizability. This is extremely useful because everyone's body is different. Some people need their product to run for ten minutes, some need all the way up to an hour. Whatever your unique need, this product's adjustable timer has you covered.

Cost and Value
This product has a low to mid-range price when compared to other items on our list. It comes with over ten electrode pads, which is something that only the most expensive item on our list can match. It also is FDA approved and has a wide range of modes and programs to choose from. Considering the fact that it can go toe-to-toe, at least in regards to some features, with a product several hundred dollars more than it, this item is a steal.

8. Massage Therapy Concepts

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85
Massage Therapy Concepts
Amazon Link
Features
84
Materials
85
Power Source
85
Advanced Features
86
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$54.95
Pros:

12 programs

20 intensity levels

60 min adjustable timer

Professional-grade construction

Cons:

Buttons may break

Massage Therapy Concepts was founded on the basis of one simple goal, which was to create products that were high-quality, easy to use, and that came with the best customer service possible. By accomplishing this goal, they hope to improve people's lives with their relaxation, therepeutic, health, and personal care products. Massage Therapy Concepts is well-known among publishers, industry leaders, and customers for being the best in design for this class of products. The Massage Therapy Concepts Two-Channel exemplifies this

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12 programs
This product has a huge range of programs. From toning and training for the person looking to grow and tone to therapeutic programs designed to help with recovery, this product has it all. Resistance and massage modes will get your muscles the right level of stimulation, no matter your needs.

Professional grade
Some products are designed for the average layperson. They are intended to be used at home, by someone who isn't a professional. However, this product is designed for professionals, by professionals. Having been designed for these people, you can expect only the highest quality. A product designed for use in a physical therapist's office is going to be held to extremely high standards.

Cost and Value
This product has a middling to high cost when compared to other items on our list. However, unlike other items on this list, the Massage Therapy Concepts model, with the attendant quality and high standards. With its adjustable timer, many modes, and 20 intensity levels, you can be sure this product will meet your needs. If you're looking for a less-expensive product, others may have similar features, but they won't be as sturdy or well-constructed.

9. iReliev TENS + EMS

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82
 iReliev TENS + EMS
Amazon Link
Features
82
Materials
83
Power Source
82
Advanced Features
81
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$79.95
Pros:

TENS+EMS combo

14 therapy modes

7 pain relief modes

60 min adjustable timer

25 intensity levels

Cons:

Runs on batteries

iReliev is extremely well-known in the health products industry. Specializing in EMS and TENS units, their products are geared towards physical therapists and other healthcare professionals. With this audience in mind, they are dedicated to providing the best quality items and customer service available. The iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit Muscle comes with a 60 min adjustable timer and 25 intensity levels.

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TENS and EMS combo
There are several different ways and technologies that can be used to stimulate the muscles. Many devices that are available for purchase only utilize one form of technology at a time. However, in this case, the more the merrier. Why settle for one kind of technology when you can have a device that combines multiple?

7 pain relief modes
If you're looking at purchasing a product such as this specifically for workout recover, then look no further. This product has no fewer than seven separate modes to help with pain relief and to alleviate muscle soreness. Whatever your individual body shape or muscle density, this product is able to help.

Cost and Value
This is one of the most expensive products on our list. If you're only looking for a simple, low-cost item with an array of basic options, you'll want to pass. However, if you're an athlete who wants a variety of pain-relief modes to help you recover from your training, this TENS and EMS blended piece of technology is right for you.

10. Pure Enrichment Pulse Duo

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78
Pure Enrichment Pulse Duo
Amazon Link
Features
80
Materials
78
Power Source
78
Advanced Features
76
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$79.99
Pros:

TENS+EMS combo

8 TENS programs

6 EMS programs

60min adjustable timer

7 part video series

Cons:

May break after consistent use

Pure Enrichments was founded by Brenda Tibbitts in 1998. Tibbitts had a life-changing experience with holistic therapy after she lost her father and older sister to colon cancer. Determined not to meet the same fate, she dedicated her life to developing health and wellness products to empower people to take their well-being and their body into their own hands. The Pure Enrichments product line is diverse with over 300 products, of which the Pure Enrichment Pulse Duo is one. This product combines the most efficient kinds of muscle-stimulating technology and comes with a built-in timer.

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7 part video series
When decided to go down the path of muscle stimulation, you have probably done some research. However, there's a lot of information and scientific studies out there, much of it contradictory, some of it just wildly inaccurate. Pure Enrichment provides a seven-part video series to educate you on the science behind its product, the benefits, and the proper uses of the Pure Enrichment Pulse Duo.

Variety of TENS and EMS programs
This product combines the most common and effective technologies for muscle stimulation into one handy device with more than five programs of each stored inside. Whatever your preference or your needs, this product has the technology and the program to help you out. Whether you're keeping your muscles active during a four-hour car ride or helping to ease the soreness post-training, it has what you need.

Cost and Value
This is one of the more expensive products on our list when compared to the other items here. However, it does have a few traits that set it apart. Its combination of TENS and EMS technology and the fact that it has multiple programs for each is a handy thing. Additionally, no other product on this list comes with the explanatory resources that this product has. If you're looking for more than just a basic model that comes with resources to help you learn the science behind the product, the Pure Enrichment Pulse could be for you.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Features

The number of electrodes: Most basic systems will come with a set of at least four electrodes. Some may have six; the more expensive units may provide upwards of ten or twelve.

Having replacement electrodes is generally a good idea, as they are the part of the system most vulnerable to wear and tear.

Materials

Most systems have a digital screen to display the mode, setting, and intensity level. You’d be hard-pressed to find an analog system nowadays. Some are backlit, some are not; you’ll want to consider where you’ll be using the product. If it’s going to be largely used in low-light areas, you’ll want to consider purchasing a product with a backlit screen.

Power Source

Some units are battery-operated, while some need to be plugged into the wall. Generally, the wall-plug-in units are able to deliver more power; however, the battery-operated models are largely more portable. You’ll need to decide on your priorities before purchasing.

Advanced Features

Recovery Mode: Many of these devices have a variety of modes, one of the most common of which is a recovery mode. This mode is used to ease soreness after an intense workout. Generally, the nerves are stimulated to help clear lactic acid from the muscles. The lactic acid buildup is largely the culprit behind soreness. Clearing it faster helps you can back to training quicker.

Toning Mode: If you’re going to be sedentary for a long time, or want to prepare yourself for training, a toning mode is what you would use. This encourages the muscle so that you don’t get stiff and sore during a long car ride. It is also valuable to help you prepare for an intense workout; some athletes respond to pre-training with EMS, and some don’t. It will depend on your body.

Massage mode: This mode generally has to do with pain regulation. When you’ve developed a stiff neck from sleeping wrong, or sitting too long at the office, this is the mode you would use. It’s difficult to train when your body is in pain, and prepping with this mode can ease distractions.

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expert tips icon
muscle recovery

Soreness occurs when lactic acid builds up. Lactic acid is produced when your body strains itself. Stimulating the muscle can help clear lactic acid faster, leading to shorter recovery time.

Electrodes

Placement of the electrodes will generally depend on the area that you are looking to stimulate. Generally, the electrodes should be placed on the meat of the muscle, not the bone. You will want to arrange them along with the targetted muscle group.

Other Factors to Consider

Bottom Line

Your body will get sore due to a buildup of lactic acid within the muscle fibers. In times past, the most you could hope to do is stretch, and wait for time to go by so that the burning would decrease. Now, though, these stimulators we’re talking about today have been invented that can help clear that lactic acid and get you feeling better, faster. The benefits of clearing this acid are obvious: the fast you recover, the faster you can get back to training. And the shorter your recovery time, the faster you are able to reach your athletic goals.

These machines are not only just good for clearing lactic acid, though. They can also be used to stimulate the muscles when you are sedentary, preventing atrophy and also toning your body when you can’t be working out. These machines were originally designed for use by physical therapists to help patients who had been bedridden for long periods, and whose muscles had atrophied.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Where do I put the electrodes?

a:

Placement of the electrodes will generally depend on the area that you are looking to stimulate. Generally, the electrodes should be placed on the meat of the muscle, not the bone. You will want to arrange them along with the targetted muscle group.

q: How long should I run it for?

a:

Again, this will depend largely on your intention. Different settings and modes will require different lengths of time to run. A recovery protocol is going to run for a different length of time than a pre-training protocol. Take a look at the instructions included with your product for more details.

q: Is this device a fire hazard?

a:

These products are designed to meet rigorous safety standards and typically are not fire hazards. While there is always the slim possibility of receiving a defective unit, this is largely the exception, not the rule.

Sources

  1. Paul Igraham, Transcutaneous Electric Stimulation, Informational
  2. Multi, Electrical Muscle Stimulation, Informational
  3. Multi, Electrical Nerve Stimulation, Informational