The Power Plate acceleration training platform is a curiosity at the HealthStyles retail stores. While most athletic trainers may have heard of it because of its high-profile users around the world, the extraordinary draw of the Power Plate acceleration training system becomes clear the minute you try it out for yourself. It is pleasant and stimulating, yet you can achieve training that challenges your neuromuscular system more than the heaviest weights you have ever lifted. How is this possible?
Acceleration training represents the very cutting edge of today’s technology in helping test the limits of human potential and rebuilding damaged or aging bodies. “From space programs to Olympic medals, from wheelchair-bound persons regaining the ability to walk, to offering safe and inclusive exercise for anti-aging and rebuilding bone density, acceleration training is still a young technology and has many thresholds to cross.” – Guus van der Meer, et. al. Handbook of Acceleration Training.
So, how does this technology work?
To explain acceleration training, we must refer to the second law of physics by Sir Isaac Newton,
F = m * a
(Force equals mass times acceleration).
While you may be familiar with varying the mass (weights) in your workouts to help increase your body strength, this new technology focuses on the other variable, acceleration.
The Power Plate platform enables your body to actively absorb vibration in response to acceleration, forcing your muscles to reflexively contract. This exposure to acceleration while dynamically working out not only helps you see greater results in less time, but also boasts extraordinary advantages of minimized risk of injury, less stress on ligaments and joints. Extensive studies of vibration science and acceleration training show benefits for muscular strength, flexibility, power, bone density, circulation, and recovery.
Some testimonies from Olympic and professional athletes report:
- An endurance athlete lacking sprint capacity, becoming very successful at sprints after Power Plate training for a few months
- In 9-week pilot study of triathletes, 15 minutes 3 x a week with Power Plate training was equivalent to 1 hour 3 x a week without.
- Significant improvements in explosive strength
- Medical interventions were quicker and easier to recover from; Injuries heal 30% faster with acceleration training than without
- Changes can be immediately demonstrated with electromyography (EMG)
- Significant increases in running speed and jump height
- After one stretch session, clear improvement in range of motion
- After 2-3 weeks: better recruitment of muscle fibers and muscular coordination
- Long-term: distinct hypertrophy, sensory motor adaptation and capillarization (beneficial peripheral circulation to extremities and joints); and more.
Power Plate technology mechanically vibrates in three dimensions – vertical (up and down), frontal (left and right), and sagital (forward and back) planes. These vibrations achieve acceleration, which is the rate of change of velocity, by varying their measures of frequency and amplitude. The acceleration offers exponential increase in producing force. Doing a squat on the Power Plate platform doubles or triples the force produced by doing a squat conventionally.
Furthermore, by engaging the natural reflex responses of the body, communicated directly with the spinal cord rather than the brain, the workout activates the muscle contractions automatically. This is also the reason why the perceived exertion is less, even while producing more force.
How does Power Plate acceleration training improve flexibility on top of increasing explosive force? It turns out—they are not isolated metrics as the mental images of body builders with limited ranges of motion suggest. The stretch reflex, called myotatic reflex, describes the reflexive contraction of the muscle when stretched. The stretch-shortening cycle is the brilliant way in which the muscle stores elastic energy for use later, when stretched (like a rubber band).
When a muscle is stretched, the body senses the stretch’s speed and length separately in monosynaptic pathways, which helps us against overstretching. At the same time, the body activates one muscle as it inhibits the functional antagonist in polysynaptic pathways (biceps engage, triceps don’t, etc.). Power Plate acceleration training stimulates polysynaptic pathways alternating 25-50 times per second, while also getting past body’s interpretation of range of motion barriers, explaining how vibration users gain simultaneous benefits of strength and flexibility.
For more on the fascinating Science of Acceleration Training, you can contact your HealthStyles Exercise Equipment rep or attend a Power Plate Acceleration Training session. Matt Johnson of Power Plate is responsible for the Academy Trainings he runs periodically in Denver.