Two weeks ago, I joined five other trainers in Chicago to explore the benefits of training with a Power Plate. The workshop itself was hands-on and informative in ways to implement a Power Plate into a regular workout regimen, but the most stand-out thing I learned? The benefits of using a Power Plate for non-exercise purposes.
The benefits of vibration
According to LiveStrong, vibration training can increase flexibility, lumbar bone mineral density (which can reduce the risk of osteoporosis), strength, and stability (especially in special populations like patients with Parkinson’s disease).
And in our training, we learned the Power Plate can also increase blood flow.
Gary Lewis, Account Executive at Power Plate and our guide at the workshop, explained the importance of increased blood flow in the body.
Essentially, as Lewis explained, the Power Plate’s job is to make muscles contract quickly as an involuntary response to help the body stabilize on the Plate, and to recruit more muscles to get that job done. And a greater neuromuscular response in the body enhances circulatory benefits and produces more blood flow throughout the body than in any traditional exercise.
This clinical study provides more grounds for why regular massage on the Power Plate improves blood circulation and can therefore help recovery post-workout, encourage muscle recovery after an injury, and even improve skin tone and reduce cellulite.
In fact, Power Plate commissioned studies to support many benefits of whole body vibration including increased bone density, but also improved walking function in spinal cord injury patients, positively impacted sprint running and explosive strength performance, and enhanced recovery after ACL reconstruction to name a few other studies.
On top of the benefits of whole body vibration training for recovery and in exercise protocols, Power Plate received the NEAT® certification, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, developed by the Mayo Clinic. NEAT® consists of the daily calories you burn while doing normal, “non-exercise” activity, like standing at your desk or pacing while on a call, doing chores around your house or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
The nitty gritty: what’s happening on a Power Plate
A Power Plate is engineered to “activate the body’s natural reflexive response to vibration, engaging the muscles in a consistent and controlled manner.”
During our training, Lewis explained, “our muscles contract every time we take a step. That’s vibration. We are constantly vibrating.”
That’s why you might find that a distance runner who is used to logging many miles every week won’t be as affected by holding an isometric squat on a Power Plate – their leg muscles are used to consistent impact with the ground, and they’re already conditioned to the stimulus the Power Plate simulates. Lewis told us, though, “Then runners do a push-up on the Power Plate and they feel how hard it is right away.”
Because the Power Plate moves in the three planes that our body moves (transverse, sagittal, and frontal), our bodies adapt in response to the Power Plate. The micro-movements of instability and the micro-hits of ground reaction force it produces cause your muscles to contract reflexively 30-50 times per second.
Training on a Power Plate
Lewis walked us through three phases during training in which a Power Plate can be utilized: preparing, functional/strength/power training, and recovery.
We each took turns performing slow lateral and reverse lunges on the Plate to feel the difference in how warm our bodies got before beginning any type of exercise. It goes back to what Lewis told us before we got started: you’re activating more muscles faster and more often.
We then explored various types of exercises, including squats, push-ups, plank holds, isometric band holds and rows – all of which can help an athlete prepare for other movements they’ll be doing in training or to add to the actual training protocol for clients.
While some of us didn’t mind squatting on the plate, others felt it threw them off balance or they weren’t able to keep control. Lewis simply said that everyone will have a different opinion about how it feels on their body, and it takes time to adapt.
The final method for using the Power Plate, recovery, we could all agree was pretty amazing. We partnered up to aid in calf and hamstring recovery tactics; one partner rested his or her legs on the Plate while the other gently pushed down on their legs.
The Power Plate can be used in similar areas of the body to enhance recovery that you would use a foam roller or a Hyperice.
Is a Power Plate for you?
Professional athletes, Olympians and celebrities have been known to implement Power Plate training to their routines regularly, but whether or not you should train with one is a personal decision.
The only type of person who might be recommended to not use a Power Plate, Lewis said to us, is someone with a detached retina. Outside of that, if you’d like to give it a shot as part of or as the main focus of your training routine, it’s all about personal preference. Even for women who are pregnant, Lewis says, he’d ask the same question he’d ask about any exercise: did you do this before you were pregnant?
Interested in trying it out? Check out a club or gym with a Power Plate machine and ask your personal trainer to help you out. In Chicago, the Power Plate team has a brick and mortar shop in 900 N. Michigan Ave. If you’re interested in getting certified to train others on a Power Plate in Chicago, visit the 900 N. Michigan store to inquire about the next discovery workshop.