Power Plate - which causes vibrations in muscles

In the gyms you will find more and more often a device that looks like a futuristic scale and that uses vibrations to trigger muscle reflexes - Power Plate is called it. The promised effects: with only two times ten minutes of training per week, muscle building, fat loss, higher performance. A new miracle apparatus? Learn what's behind the vibration training.

Power Plate - what is it?

Stars like Madonna, who with her almost 50 years presents a well-toned body and is regularly asked for her "recipe", should be an avid follower of the Power Plate. Power Plate, which means power-plate means - but does not sound so great - is a new generation of fitness equipment that has recently become more and more popular in Germany.

Power Plate works with vibrations, and these create muscle reflexes that have it all. Between 30 and 50 muscle contractions per second are achieved. In this way, the jogging training is considered ten times as intense as conventional muscle training.

Vibration against muscle and bone loss

Already in antiquity one knew about the effect of vibrations. The sports-minded Greeks wrapped special saws with a cotton cloth to transfer vibrations to body parts for training. In the 1970s, the vibration training of individual muscles was developed in Russia as an efficient training method for top athletes.

Incidentally, vibration training is also called Whole Body Vibration (WBV) or (bio) mechanical stimulation (BMS) or (bio) mechanical oscillation.

"Bed rest project": vibration in the test

Also known is the more than one-year "bed rest" project for the preparation of a manned mission to Mars by the Berlin Center for Muscle and Bone Research (ZMK) in cooperation with the European Space Agency ESA. The scientists wanted to investigate the mechanisms that lead to muscle and bone atrophy in astronauts in space - or in patients on Earth with strict bed rest.

Between February 2003 and May 2004, 20 subjects went to bed for eight weeks each for the Berlin study. They spent the entire time on an isolation ward under scientific observation, where they had to master their everyday life in the horizontal. So the weightlessness was simulated. A problem occurs in astronauts, who spend a long time in space, again and again, as well as in bedridden: By under-demanding and less burden on the musculoskeletal system, it comes to muscle and bone loss.

Half of the test subjects had to train during the eight-week recumbent phase with a vibrating training device, the "Galileo Space", designed for use in space. The remaining ten participants acted as a non-trained control group.

How vibration training works

For Study Director Dieter Felsenberg of the ZMK, it was clear: The vibrations trigger reflex muscle contractions, in which the muscles briefly mobilized high forces.

Unlike endurance training, for example on a treadmill, it is above all the speed of the muscles that is trained. For this speed force is responsible for a special type of muscle fibers, the so-called type II fibers. "With these type II muscle fibers, the muscle creates the force peaks, and when those strong forces work, the bone deforms quite easily every time, and these deformations are what stimulate bone growth, " explains Felsenberg.

The vibration training thus not only builds the muscles, but on the mechanical stress of the bones at the same time also bone mass. This does not just apply to astronauts.

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