They actually opened a brand new and improved gym in the apartment building just across from mine, and it got me thinking...How many of you have looked at a piece of gym equipment, and while it looked interesting, you knew you wouldn't be able to figure it out without looking like an idiot in front of everyone else, so you just walk away? I have to admit, than even I, who has spent a good amount of time in gyms over the years, feels that way from time to time. For that reason, I thought I'd introduce a new series to Bridal Fitness on Paper all about de-mystifying those confusing-looking pieces of exercise equipment that are commonly found at the gym. So next time, you'll be able to confidently walk up to that crazy looking contraption and work it no problem!
The first equipment we'll be digging into is the Power Plate. You know...that vibrating platform with the handlebars attached to it? They always had one at the Pilates studio that I would frequent back in LA, but I never had the courage to actually try it. The thing looks funny, yes, but I've always been really curious as to what it actually does for you. Well, according to its manufacturer, the Power Plate offers "Acceleration Training," which "...creates instability in the human body," where your muscles are "...forced to perform reflexive muscle actions, multiple times per second." So when you do a regular deep squat on the Power Plate, your muscles are contracting 25 to 50 times per second, as opposed to the one or two times your muscles would contract by doing the same squat on the solid ground. The Power Plate not only boasts improved muscle strength and tone, but also improved range of motion, decreased cellulite, increased bone mineral density and faster muscle recovery.
Now, does the vibrating platform actually work? Can you hop on the Power Plate at the gym for 30 minutes, and voila! You're done? I doubt it. An article that I found in the New York Times says that most researchers are still trying to figure out how much the vibration training really does for the human body. Many agree that the Power Plate can be a great tool for athletic conditioning; it's easy to see why a professional snowboarder or skier could benefit from using the vibrating machinery. However, many researchers seem to agree that even if the Power Plate does have significant physical benefit, that it's most likely short lived. Think about it; you do a set of bicep curls on the Power Plate, then you do the same set on solid ground right after, of course, it's going to be easier for you to complete the set on solid ground. You may be able to lift a heavier weight right after using the vibrating platform, for instance, but the platform doesn't make you stronger, itself; one researcher told the NY Times, "One sprint and the effect would be gone."
With all of that being said, exercise, at the end of the day, no matter where you do it, is going to be beneficial. The question is whether or not the Power Plate makes that set of squats significantly more effective than if you just did them on the ground, as usual. I can't say that I've tried the Power Plate for myself just yet, but now, at least, I'll feel a little more confident to try it out! If this machine intrigues you as much as it does me, here are some good, familiar exercises to try out on the Power Plate.
You can see video demonstrations of all of these exercises and more on the Power Plate website.
Bridal Fitness on Paper - The Power Platform
- Alternating Lunges, starting with both feet on the solid ground, step up and lunge onto the vibrating platform, alternating sides.
- Calf Raises, standing on platform, with your hands on the handlebars.
- Close Grip Push-ups, in regular push-up position, with hands close together directly beneath your chest on Power Plate, and feet on the solid ground.
- Front Squats, standing on platform, feet shoulders' length apart, go into a deep squat while pushing your butt back so that your knees stay over your ankles.
- Tricep Dips, using the Power Plate instead of a table or chair!
- Planks and Mountain Climbers, hold the plank position with your hands on the platform, and your feet on the ground.