The present study investigated the influence of a 12-week electromyostimulation (EMS) training program performed by elite rugby players. Twenty-five rugby players participated in the study, 15 in an electrostimulated group and the remaining 10 in a control group. EMS was conducted on the knee extensor, plantar flexor, and gluteus muscles. During the first 6 weeks, training sessions were carried out 3 times a week and during the last 6 weeks, once a week. Isokinetic torque of the knee extensors was determined at different eccentric and concentric angular velocities ranging from -120 to 360 degrees .s(-1). Scrummaging and full squat strength, vertical jump height and sprint-running times were also evaluated. After the first 6 weeks of EMS, only the squat strength was significantly improved (+8.3 +/- 6.5%; p < 0.01). After the 12th week, the -120 degrees .s(-1) maximal eccentric, 120 and 240 degrees .s(-1) maximal concentric torque (p < 0.05), squat strength (+15.0 +/- 8.0%; p < 0.001), squat jump (+10.0 +/- 9.5%; p < 0.01), and drop jump from a 40-cm height (+6.6 +/- 6.1%; p < 0.05) were significantly improved. No significant change was observed for the control group. A 12-week EMS training program demonstrated beneficial effects on muscle strength and power in elite rugby players on particular tests. However, rugby skills such as scrummaging and sprinting were not enhanced.
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