A whole body vibration (WBV) machine uses the power of vibration to increase your strength, durability and flexibility. It improves posture, balance and hormone distribution. It lowers inflammation, pain and fat content. In other words, it has many benefits that can take your workout to the next level with very little effort.
More Than the Next Fad
Vibration plate technology was originally developed by NASA to give astronauts a way to retain muscle mass and bone density while they were in space. It’s been adopted by the medical field as a viable treatment for a wide range of conditions – from scoliosis to diabetes – and in many fitness and sport practices as well.
So why do so many people consider it a fad that doesn’t really work? Simple. Gyms snatched these machines up in the ‘80s, but they didn’t explain how they worked. The result was a wave of serious athletes who tried WBV and wound up experiencing no results. It’s a tragedy, as gains in muscle mass and explosive power gains are shown to be significant, even when compared to leading lifting programs.
How Vibration Stimulates Growth
In the course of normal exercises, you use a weight to stress your muscle. Your muscles stretch, contract and release as they heft around heavy equipment. These controlled repetitions over time build muscle and reinforce your bones.
Would it surprise you to learn WBV can do the same thing when used correctly? The results are easy to achieve in just a few minutes per week. As the vibration plates send waves through your body, your muscles make slight adjustments to keep your body steady. Instead of slow, controlled, weight-bearing exercises, your body experiences rapid responses that create the similar gains of a traditional workout. In some cases, vibration leads to superior results.
The Studies Behind the Science
To compare the effectiveness of WBV with traditional strength-training programs, scientists of one study split participants into three groups. The first performed exercises on a vibration platform set to a frequency of 35-40 Hz and an amplitude of 2.5-5 mm, the second performed resistance training on a leg press and the third group was considered a placebo group.
While the placebo group used a vibration platform, there was no specific frequency or amplitude set for the vibrating platforms. At the end of the 12-week study, the WBV group showed significant increases in explosive strength and the strength of isolated muscle groups. Resistance training was mildly effective in terms of strength, but the placebo group showed no benefits.
These results mirrored those of other vibration studies. It is clear that without proper use, time on a vibration machine goes to waste. However, when paired with proper instruction and exercises aimed at specific muscle groups, vibration maximizes the impact of a workout.
That’s not to say there are no benefits from using vibration alone. Following 10-minute sessions, tests show immediate increases in testosterone and human growth hormone. It also decreases the amount of cortisol in the blood. If you struggle with muscle gain, post-workout anxiety or depression, adding a few minutes of vibration therapy to your workout routine could benefit you greatly.