Power Past Plateau

By: David Howatson-Begg

We've all been there, no matter what we try to do with training, nutrition or lifestyle that last few pounds won't shift, you can't run any faster or lift any heavier. With any routine it's typical for the body to hit a ceiling. Several factors can contribute to levelling out in training such as lack of recovery, overtraining, poor guidance or simply that our genetic make-up won't allow our system to progress any further.

Two major areas in which a plateau is often seen are in weight loss and basic strength and conditioning due mainly to the fact that, generally speaking, these are the basic goals of most gym users across the world. If we take a look at muscle tone and growth, the traditional methods of progressing for gains in strength when a limit is reached are:

  • To change the exercise
  • Manipulate the mass by making the weight heavier
  • Change the distribution of the mass (e.g. swapping a dumbbell for a kettlebell)
  • Increase or decrease range of motion, speed or intensity

While this is by no means an exhaustive list these are the 'go-to' techniques used by gym members and trainers alike. If your personal trainer or gym instructor tells you to simply 'make it heavier' or 'speed up' then you are wasting your money! Likewise if the exercise is too hard or not performed effectively and a trainer says 'do something different' then why ask you to do it in the first place?! We have talked a lot about changes in direction and using different movement patterns but performing a basic exercise on Power Plate can be an extremely effective way of improving performance.

Strong Thinking

A skilled coach should be able to help you to progress and teach these movements which are tricky to learn. Power Plate is a formidable tool in motor learning and processing especially during periods of flat lining in your training. This relates to developing absolute strength as the level of stimulation in the muscular tissue increases greatly due to rapid activation of the nervous system. Within the belly of our muscles lie important receptors of information (muscle spindles), which are switched on by movement. The body will recruit muscle fibres to lift, throw, pull or take action depending on the demand of the action. The mechanical vibration of Power Plate is so fast that these muscle spindles communicate at an accelerated level, leading to a flood of information and stimulation for the muscular tissues. As a result, the body has a chance to increase the number of muscle fibres recruited to act. With more fibres working, the muscle has the potential to lift heavier, throw further, pull harder or take action faster.

Before your next workout, before your next bench press or chest session try the hand positions (taken from foot positions in the Squat Matrix by the Gray Institute www.grayinstitute.com) below during your push-ups on Power Plate. The vibration mixed with the variation and 3D tweaks will help activate the upper body pre-session as well as act as a tough exercise thrown in among the others in your main workout.


By David Howatson-Begg, Performance Health Systems UK Master Trainer