By Dr. Mercola
A machine from the Soviet space travel era has made its way into contemporary fitness centers. Strongly resembling a shaking diet scale, the vibrations on the Power Plate stimulate your body's stretch reflex, and cause your muscles to work harder.
In the words of one Power Plate user, World Champion cyclist and world record holder Sarah Hammer:
"When races are decided by a fraction of a second, I need the absolute best training equipment – and my Power Plate machine is it! Before the Beijing Olympics, I had the worst back injury in my career. Not only did the Power Plate machine get me healthy enough to win more world titles for Team USA, but it also gave me the strength I needed to set two new world records and two silver medals at the 2012 Olympics! Power Plate training keeps me healthy and gives me that extra edge over my competitors."
Creating a successful exercise program requires that it be time efficient. Let's face it – who has time to spend hours at the gym every day – unless you're a professional athlete, for whom working out is your main job?
This is why I was so grateful to learn of the Peak Fitness program in 2010 from Phil Campbell. Peak Fitness includes high intensity exercises that can be completed in a fraction of the time of traditional workouts.
But I am always looking to further improve the Peak Fitness program, and a few years ago I discovered whole body vibration exercise, also known as Acceleration Training™ – the proprietary vibration training method created by Power Plate – which is performed on a vibrating platform.
Interestingly, one of the reasons I was so excited about Peak Fitness or high intensity training, was the impact on growth hormone. It turns out Power Plate training is also associated with an increase in growth hormone which is one of the reasons why using the Power Plate has become a regular part of my exercise program
I believe this technology can kick up your exercise regimen several notches, radically increasing your chances of reaching your fitness goals.
The Power Plate doesn't replace Peak Fitness exercises, but offers a powerful adjunct to them. Essentially, vibration makes it possible to utilize the force of gravity to exercise with less weight and time and achieve more superior results than you've had previously, in a surprising number of ways, as your body responds to this form of exercise.
The Power Plate: Star Trek Health Technology in the 21st Century
The research on Whole Body Vibrational Training (WBVT) is quite remarkable. WBVT achieves what no other form of exercise can, in a very short period of time. The technology is based on the second of Newton's Three Laws of Motion:1
F = M x A
The force (F) on an object is a function of its mass (M) and its acceleration (A)
When thinking about your workout routine, you can think of force as your amount of work done. In order to gain benefit from your workout, you must increase the forces on your body by increasing one of the two variables, mass or acceleration. By increasing either (or both) of these variables, you increase the amount of force on your body, which is what puts the WORK in your workout:
- When you lift weights, you tinker with the equation by increasing mass (the mass of your body plus any weights you use).
- Acceleration Training tinkers with the equation by increasing acceleration. The vibrations are actually very rapid small movements of the platform – mainly up and down. The changes of directions of the platform result in strong acceleration and decelerating forces, 25 to 50 times per second. The mass is simply your body, and vibration is the acceleration.
Gravity is another form of acceleration. Gravity is the ONE form of acceleration we are all subject to, every moment of our lives. It causes your muscles to develop, as your muscles allow you to counter the effects of gravity, so that you can move. If Earth had no gravity, you wouldn't develop muscles. That's why astronauts lose significant muscle mass in space.
Vibration is simply adding more GRAVITY to your body, or increasing "G forces."
The benefits of G forces are the reason why rebounding on a mini-trampoline is so beneficial for you. Rebounding subjects your body to gravitational pulls ranging from zero G at the top of each bounce to 2 to 3 Gs at the bottom, depending on how high you jump. But the Power Plate is significantly better than a rebounder at generating those gravitational forces and can generate forces equivalent to 2 to 6 Gs depending on the settings used.
The Many Health Benefits of Acceleration Training
Research2 has shown acceleration/vibrational training can give you a number of excellent health benefits, such as:
|Increased muscle strength, especially explosive strength
|Increased hormone secretion: IGF-1, testosterone, and HGH (human growth hormone)
||Increased lymphatic drainage
|Enhanced muscle building
|Increased bone mass and mineral density
||Decreased cortisol levels
|Increased flexibility and mobility
||Increased secretion of serotonin and norepinephrine
|Improved proprioception and balance
||Increased visceral fat loss
|Immediate improvement in blood circulation
||Faster recovery from injury
Immediate Benefits for a Variety of Neurological Conditions
Beyond its applications for fitness enthusiasts, the Power Plate has been useful in treating a wide variety of clinical conditions, such as poor circulation, hormonal deficiencies, limited mobility, and even some neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS). It is surprisingly versatile, and truly more than just an exercise device and can be used in a number of different ways, with a variety of specific exercises to meet your needs.
Interestingly, the people who have more clinical issues see improvement much faster – for example, if you have any kind of circulatory problem or nervous system disorder, you will typically see benefits right away. The Power Plate has been used in Europe for neurological rehabilitation and found to help relieve symptoms of MS, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and paralysis resulting from trauma. Also, if you have limited mobility, vibrational training allows you to get into some positions that you would not ordinarily be able to tolerate in conventional strength training.
Finally, the Power Plate is an excellent and FAST way to warm up before any type of exercise routine. In three to five minutes, you are ready to roll in terms of increased circulation, nervous system activation, and body heat.
The tri-directional movement of the platform promotes proprioception, which is just a medical term for sensing the relative position of neighboring parts of your body. Proprioception is an internal feedback mechanism crucial for balance, as your body constantly adjusts to uneven terrain as you walk. If you have ever done any exercise training on an uneven surface, you'll have noticed that it's harder – you were recruiting more muscle fibers and more energetic pathways. The same idea applies to the Power Plate.
As the video below shows, you can re-train motor patterns and re-establish communication within your body as the Power Plate balances muscle groups, resulting in profound improvements in your overall balance.
Is this vibrating platform hard to get used to? Power Plate users report acclimating pretty quickly to the feeling of the vibration, which was my experience as well. It's an odd sensation initially, but within a few sessions those sensations become much less noticeable. Kind of like if you have ever used an electric toothbrush – the first time, the vibration feels very strange, but after a few brushings, you hardly notice it.
If you find it difficult to tolerate the vibration, there is a pad that can be placed on top of the platform that acts as a buffer. However, the company suggests you limit the use of the pad as much as possible, since it's the full vibrational motion that will produce the highest benefits for you.
Exercise Doesn't Have to Be Hard or Time-Consuming!
I truly believe acceleration training technology represents a revolution in fitness science. The Power Plate, along with a well-rounded Peak Fitness program, proves that exercise doesn't have to be difficult and time consuming. Near-total muscle fiber recruitment translates into a higher-intensity workout, unlike anything you've ever experienced. The Power Plate can offer you a complete, full-body workout – incorporating flexibility, balance, strength and even massage – in 30 minutes or less.
The following sources offer instructions and guidelines for a wide variety of Power Plate exercises. The video below contains three sample exercises as well. For additional videos, check out the Power Plate YouTube channel:
- Beginners' Guide to Power Plate Exercises, by FitnessRocks!
- Build a Six-Pack with the Power Plate, by Men's Health
Total Video Length: 1:23
Obviously, if you have health challenges such as heart disease or high blood pressure, you will want to consult with your health care provider before starting a new fitness program. For an in-depth explanation of my Peak Fitness regimen, please review this previous article, and for even more fitness tips that will keep you in optimal health no matter what your age, be sure to review Mercola Peak Fitness for a variety of important fitness videos and articles.
Beware of Cheap Imitations
The Power Plate, used by numerous Olympians, including world record holder and 2012 silver medalist Sarah Hammer, is the leader in the field. It was developed by Guus van der Meer, a Dutch Olympic coach who, inspired by the Soviet space program, effectively used it for his Olympic athletes. He really is the creator of this technology for the public.
There are a variety of cheap machines on the market being sold under different names. Typically, such machines are manufactured using vibrating equipment that is notoriously poor with faulty electronics, cheap bearings and buttons, and shoddy welds that often fail.
Beware of skinny support posts, platforms that are too small or unstable, weak motors and units with insufficient power to support the vibration capacity.
The Power Plate Acceleration Training equipment moves in all three axes and it is made of the highest quality materials and designed to give you many long years of effective training. In fact it has patents which prevent other companies from copying its radical innovations. So before you decide to purchase Acceleration Training equipment, make sure you at least evaluate the Power Plate as you could be making a significant mistake by purchasing something cheaper that won't give you the same benefits.