The Power Plate – Home Fitness Solution or Gimmick?

In the first of our instalments of home fitness equipment reviews, we shall look at the power plate. The power plate is a vibration device designed to work the muscles without you actually having to move. At first glance power plates appear to be an easy way to exercise at home, however a surprisingly large amount of effort is required when fighting the machine – and it does at times feel like a fight!

By assuming different stances on the Power Plate you stimulate different muscle groups, apparently in a more effective way than standard resistance exercises. The Power Plate also takes up much less space than a multi gym (and you can hang your coat on it).

A word of caution – Power Plates are quite heavy and the vibrations are noisy too – similar to an old washing machines with a failed drum bearings. Best used on the ground floor and not near to adjoining wall with neighbors!

Some results can be seen within a few weeks of using this machine. However, you have to decide whether this will be your desired approach to training in the long term, as it is a very expensive piece of equipment to discard after a few months. We recommend that you try one out first before buying.

And ask yourself – “will I still be using this next year?”

Power Plates exercise machines are a great piece of home exercise equipment for those who love having the latest gadgets in their gym. However, for the average person they are best left to occasional use in the gym.

Whenever I am confronted with a piece of fitness equipment I asked myself if it actually provides a real benefit over traditional exercises. The powerplate fails on this simple test as I feel that I gain just a good workout by doing a variety of bodyweight exercises, kettlebell swings and traditional weight training.

The only piece of fitness equipment I have bought (other than free weights and kettlebells) is an elliptical trainer, which I love. This is because an elliptical trainer allows me to carry on doing low impact cardio workouts in all weathers. Due to ankle and heel injuries I no longer go running but I can do a pretty intensive workout on a cross trainer without straining any old injuries.

The Power Plate really is just another gimmick. OK, some personal trainers I have spoken to have said that they like it and that many of their clients enjoy exercising on one, and that is actually part of the battle to get people active and fit – to get them to enjoy exercise. But really there are more effective, and much cheaper, ways to get fit.

4 Comments on “The Power Plate – Home Fitness Solution or Gimmick?”

  1. MotleyHealth says:

    I was in a Virgin Active gym the other day and had the opportunity to ask one of the personal trainers to give his honest opinion of power plates. I made it clear that I thought they looked a bit gimmicky really. He said that in his opinion they really do provide a good workout, as you literally have to constantly work to just stand there. As you move you put tension on different muscles to keep your stability, and this is the workout.

    Whether or not they are better than performing some plyometrics, squats and lunges remains to be seen though.

  2. You are leaving out the fact that there is extensive research regarding the Power Plate. If you purchase the book and read it is very insightful and it’s not totally used for getting a better workout. It helps with osteoporosis. It is my understanding that the Power Plate was used in the space program. The Russians and the Americans went up in space and the only difference between the programs was that the Russians had the Power Plate. The Americans came back with osteoporosis, while the Russians did not.

  3. MotleyHealth says:

    Hi Pat, that maybe true, however, on the International Space Station they use more traditional resistance machines and exercise bikes to stay in shape today. Power plates can certainly help, but if it takes longer to produce the same results as traditional (and cheaper) equipment then it does become more of a gimmick. I do agree that these may benefit people who have not done any exercise for a long time and need to start toning muscles. However, a fully body dumbbell workout may still produce better results.

    Rachel Holmes wrote a good review on The Guardian, and warned at the end that “using the machine incorrectly could lead to some nasty injuries” – although that of course applies to any exercise machine really.

    As for extensive research, I have not been able to find much really. A paper in the International Journal of Sports Medicine concluded:

    In conclusion, 24 weeks whole body vibration training did not reduce weight, total body fat or subcutaneous fat in previously untrained females. However, whole body vibration training induces a gain in knee-extensor strength combined with a small increase in fat free mass. The gain in strength is comparable to the strength increase following a standard fitness training program consisting of cardiovascular and resistance training.

    – which is really as expected.

    Ref: “Effects of 24 Weeks of Whole Body Vibration Training on Body Composition and Muscle Strength in Untrained Females” by Roelants et al. Int J Sports Med 2004; 25(1): 1-5

  4. Lloyd Shaw says:

    A few points..

    (1) The plastic Power Plate is not a real Vibration Training unit. It is a lighter Therapy device sold as a training machine to gullible consumers and gyms who have marketers in charge of buying their equipment .

    Guus Van Der Meer ( who wrote the book mentioned above ) has now left Power Plate. He is now rubbishing Chinese made plastic machines openly.

    (2) Fake specs…

    Because these machines are so weak, they fail to perform under the weight of the average person. This has a similar effect as picking up a weight that looks heavy, but it made of plastic.

    (3) 99% of all research has been done on fake machines. Yes, the “academics” forgot to independently test the machines. And are now scrambling to explain why they did not question Power Plates advertised specs

    Read this to understand the true range of equipment available. And try multiple brands before you buy or use anything.

    Ps.. No I do not retail machines.

    No Vibration Training is not a cardio workout. It is more akin to climbing and has the same effect on the body.

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