Fitness with Jennifer Hale
One of my favorite perks of life on the road is trying different gyms. My college football crew has a tradition of working out in the home university’s weight room, after we finish meetings. This year, when Michigan State played at Rutgers, I discovered a whole-body vibration machine, or a power plate machine, that the athletic trainers swore by. I’d never tried one, but upon further review, became quite intrigued. Basically, you stand, squat or plank on the platform of this machine and the vibrations massage your muscles and/or give your workout a boost. Three things to know about whole-body vibration machines (WBV) or power plates:
- There are many different strengths, ranging from heavy duty versions with lots of power and amplitude that you can likely find at high-end gyms to relatively inexpensive but less powerful ones that you can buy on the internet for home use. The machine works by forcing your muscles to contract. The more juice the machine has, the more powerfully it will cause your muscles to contract.
- How much benefit does that offer? The jury is out on that. Some claims say these machines will speed up weight loss, work off fat, increase bone density and boost circulation. Other benefits promise that you can tone 90% of your muscles in just 15 minutes, thanks to the muscle contractions; or that by working out on one of these platforms, you can accomplish in 10 minutes what you would normally need a 60-minute workout to do. On the other hand, Cedric Bryant, PhD, Chief Science Officer of the American Council on Exercise, recently told Web MD, that yes whole-body vibration is promising, but data doesn’t yet back up all the miraculous claims. "Right now, the marketing and hype is greatly outpacing the research and the scientific evidence -- but that said, from a conceptual standpoint, it could presumably improve muscle strength and stability and an increase in bone density," Bryant said to Web MD.
- In my experience, the whole-body vibrating machine at Rutgers was a fantastic massage. The vibrations helped me ditch my jet lag and feel reinvigorated. Later, I tried other power plate machines at various gyms. I performed squats, pushups, lunges and planks on the vibrating platform. The workout had a different element – especially the lunges and squats. Those are the exercises where I felt the most difference in working out on the power plate machine versus the regular version. Whether it would have a long term, more powerful affect than my regular routine, I’m not sure. Certainly though, I will enjoy using these machines when the occasion presents itself. They are a different twist on working out that is a fun variation and keeps things interesting.