There it was again. The familiar bag on my door that brought me the newest issue of the „district news“. Out of pure boredom while riding the bus, I took a lot at the magazine. I’d rather I didn’t. I don’t usually fret about other people in the fitness industry, but today’s experience was too much for me to remain silent.
On the cover page I found a teaser for an article that deals with the first „Power plate“ studio in the district. In case you don’t know, a powerplate is a vibrating device onto which one steps in order to „train“. The basic concept is that the body will reach with muscle tension to stabilize itself on the vibrating surface. This, in turn, is – of course – believed to strenghten the muscles and burn calories. Combined with basic calistenics and isometric holds, this training method has been employed by some professional athletes as a supplementary tool.
Remember those „perfect abs“ electro-muscle-stimulation belts that will „train your abs while you’re watching your favourite soap“? We all know that this stuff is an utter, complete waste of time and money. Yet still, many professional athletes use EMS systems – professional ones, mind you – as an asset in their approach to training. Working out 10+ times per week puts an enormous stress on your whole organism, so doing every possible thing to correct muscular disbalance, strengthen injured body parts and pay attention to every little detail is definately a good idea. For the obese home-user, of course, those details are worth nothing as the main concept of training, which is hard work, is totally missing.
Having ranted about the subsidiary role gadgets like EMS systems or a power plate actually play in the big picture, here follows a shot of the newspapers front cover:
The top two lines translate as „20 minutes on the plate are just as efficient as 90 minutes of resistance training“. I won’t dive into how resistance training is the superior form of training – it is – but rather take a look at what this sentence actually tries to imply. What’s the difference between efficiency and effectiveness?
With effiency, we mean the ratio of effort to result. In other words, if I can reach the same result in two ways but one of them requires less effort, that way is considered to be more efficient.
Effectiveness, on the other hand, is a measure for the result alone. Looking at two methods again, this time one method gives „better“ results than the other, so it’s the more effective exercise. As the name implies, we’re looking at the effect here.
To go back to our definition of efficiency, what exactly is so efficient about resistance training?
Let’s take a closer look at the basic idea of resistance training: to chose a method of doing something in a fashion that requires the highest amount of effort (work) in order to stimulate muscle growth in the body.
So, obviously, the first part is a no-brainer. Efficiency is exactly the opposite of what is desirable in resistance training. Take the deadlift, for example. The whole process would be much more efficient if
- A cable winch is used
- the plates are taken from the barbell and are lifted one-by-one, thus minimizing the effort
Now clearly that’s not what the deadlift is about. It gets worse with other movements. Wouldn’t it be much more efficient to use both hands to lift a weight instead of using only one and doing a „biceps curl“?
Ok, so a trainee who’s into resistance training is doing things the inefficient way on purpose. Having said that, let’s look at the goal of this whole process: Proliferation/Hypertrophy.
Now hypertrophy – however desirable from an aesthetic or athletic point of view – is one of the most inefficient things nature has ever devised. It’s the efficient thing for the body to get rid of as much muscle as possible in order to minimize energy needs. The more muscle a person carries, the more energy he/she needs. That is inefficient, as the bodies main task – survival – can be achieved with a bare minimum of muscle mass.
Apparentaly, not only is the process of resistance training highly inefficient, so is the outcome. Which brings me to the question: What kind of efficiency are those guys talking about when they say that their form of training (power plates) is more than three times that efficient? Let’s just assume they were trying to say that their form of training is very effective (not efficient). Most people propably don’t fully understand the difference between „efficiency“ and „effectiveness“ anyways, so why not use „efficient“? That sounds all nice and warm…
If you know me, you propably know that I’m one of the biggest proponents of strength training and I have absolutely nothing against the resulting hypertrophy. Anyhow, I can’t stand things being given „cuter“ or „more marketingable“ names that aim at concealing that things true nature.
„Power Plate is currently the leading professional training device for anti-aging, muscle-building, fat-loss and medical applications.“.
Really? Damn, I’ve been doing it wrong all those years…
But then seriously, if it’s „the leading training device“, everybody should be using it, right? Especially since it’s „professional“.
I challenge you: Name one professional or semi-professional athlete that would rather step onto a power plate to get a workout than hit the weights. There’s none, I dare say. Even if you can find (or pay) one, I can muster three hundred that will choose a loaded barbell over all the powerplates in the world anytime. So obviously this thing isn’t all that „leading“. At least not in the professional field.
„The good and convenient thing with the POWER PLATE sytem is that very good results can be seen with as little as 2 x 20 minutes per week.“ Ok, now I guess that statement can only be evaluated if you define the term „very good“.
Let’s get this straight: There’s no (legal) shortcuts. Never have been, never will be. Not for you or anyone else. Accept it.
- feast like a pig
- don’t sleep (because you „have better things to do“)
- refuse to exercise
don’t expect to look/feel/perform great or even acceptable.
On the other hand, if you take responsibility for yourself and stick to the basics, you should be fine. It’s as simple as that.