Power Plate Blog: Reflex Action

By: David Howatson-Begg


When was the last time your Power Plate trainer, coach or instructor said ‘today we are working on firing up the nervous system’? It might be a pretty rare occurrence to hear that phrase but every time you come into contact with Power Plate your nervous system rapidly responds. To understand this response we are going to play a game and share a few pointers on how to get the most bang for your neurological buck.

Stability Game

Go ahead and stand up in the middle of the room, allowing some space around your body. You are going to recreate one of the best music videos of all time, ‘Smooth Criminal’, by leaning as far forward as you can while keeping your body aligned. With your body now pitched forward, stay as still as you can and as straight as you can (no bending at the hips). Do you feel the toes grip the floor? Are the calves beginning to work? Tense glutes and hamstrings? Lower to upper back working? Is there some hip and core contraction starting to happen?

Everything from the tip of your big toe right up the back of your body switched on automatically when you hit the end point of that lean. You may have even felt some parts of the front or anterior fire up. The sensation you experienced was reflexive stabilization.

In simple terms your reflexes stopped the lean forward becoming a fall by activating lots of muscles in a very particular order. Every time the body moves on Power Plate we get this reflex reaction whereby the body works subconsciously due to the speed of the vibration. Think about how many muscles had to work in that simple movement you just performed. By shifting your body, moving, leaning, reaching, and changing your center of gravity on Power Plate you will recruit more muscles to do the job. More demand, more action and more results.

Training Tips

  1. Add some unfamiliar movements to your exercises that will test your ability to remain stable. For example, when squatting throw in an arm reach overhead, in rotation or to the left and right. These subtle changes in your position will get more tissues/muscles involved in the action.
  2. Insert some unpredictability into your workout by using tools such as bouncing balls, balloons and anything that obliges you to respond quickly to catch or reach.
  3. Do not…I repeat do not rely on the handlebars! Gripping the bars on your Power Plate removes much of the instability and often negates the whole exercise. Plus you’ll have more room to maneuver facing away from the column and screen.

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