Using vibrating machines to work out or lose inches is by no means a new concept; remember those vibrating belts from the ’50s and ’60s that claimed to shake the fat off your body? While that workout method had questionable efficacy, there’s a more modern piece of equipment that has been taking the U.S. by storm in the past few years. Power Plate, well-loved throughout Europe before making its way to U.S fitness centers, can be a great workout enhancement to tone and strengthen in as little as 30 minutes, two to three times a week.
Developed 60 years ago as a part of the Russian Space Program and later used by Russian Olympic athletes as well as by therapists for rehabilitation purposes, Power Plate technology offers a low impact yet intensive workout that can increase muscle strength, lean muscle mass, circulation and bone density. The workout is modifiable from the exercises performed to the vibration level and amount of time for each set of reps.
“It gives you a core workout – it’s like an amped up version of Pilates,” says Keith Barile of CLAY Health Club + Spa in New York City. Barile is also a former professional skier and uses Power Plate himself. “A strong core is important for skiing and Power Plate is great for the knees, bones, quads and lower body as well.”
While you can hold stagnant positions, Barile says, you can maximize the effects and intensity of your workout by performing on the machine the same resistance-based movements and exercises you would normally do on the floor, like squats, lunges, push-ups and tricep dips. On the floor, these exercises use about 40% of your muscles, whereas doing them on the Power Plate works 100% of them, Barile explains.
“There’s a learning curve for those who have never used it and many misconceptions about Power Plate,” he points out. At CLAY, someone is always available to show guests how to use the machine. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical at first as well, before I realized you don’t just stand on the machine and magically lose inches and get toned.
As I went through 45 seconds of squats on the machine during a recent visit to the posh, comprehensive health club—complete with two studios in which 60 fitness classes a week are held, an organic food and smoothie café, a plethora of workout equipment, roof deck, nutrition services, private saunas and a four-room spa—Barile told me that the recommended no-more-than-30-minutes on the Power Plate machine is equivalent to an hour to an hour-and-a-half of working out. After going through about four to five movements, I felt like I had a fairly full-on strength-training workout. CLAY will be getting another Power Plate next month called the my7, the latest model to hit the market with programmable workouts.
While research studies have not found any side effects related to Power Plate, another health and wellness website has published that excessive use (over 30 minutes, more than two to three times a week) of the machine could potentially cause low back pain, cartilage damage and other side effects. To be safe, limit your use to the recommended times and as always, consult with your doctor and/or trainer about any concerns you might have.
Here are some key takeaways in using the Power Plate:
- There’s always a point of contact with the machine, whether it’s your hands, your feet or your bottom.
- All exercises you perform on the ground can be done on the Power Plate – from push-ups to bicycle crunches to lunges.
- Never lock your legs: if you feel vibrations in your head, you’re standing on it incorrectly. “There’s a sweet spot,” Barile says. Make slight adjustments to make sure you only feel the vibrations in your active muscles; feet should be square on the plate and weight should be placed over the balls of your feet.
- Focus on absorbing the vibrations in your muscles.
- There are time intervals to select from, which dictate how long the machine will vibrate. There are also varied levels of vibration levels or intensity, measured in hertz – “30x” means that your muscles are vibrating 30 times per second.
- Pregnant women and people with pacemakers should not use the Power Plate.
- Power Plate can also be used to massage your calves and thighs.
- For maximum results, it is recommended that you use the Power Plate two to three times a week and balance it with other cardio workouts.