Recently, on this forum, an individual named Dave posted a series of comments related to the subject of Vibration training. Mostly written from the point of view of someone new to the industry and holding quite a bit of skepticism towards it, these posts touched on many of the beliefs that, despite an enormous body of research contradicting them, still unfortunately exist. These beliefs, which continue to prevent many individuals in need from benefiting from Vibration Training, are not only inaccurate as they pertain to Vibration Training, but also to any form of fitness training or technology.
In this post, I hope to attempt to dispel these myths once and for all. This is by no means an attack on Dave, but rather an opportunity to answer his comments more thoroughly, and in doing so, better educate the consumer and visitors to this site.
Please keep in mind that much like some of the material written below may go against what you have believe. It is also likely that in the future, newer ideas will be proposed, some of which may invalidate those contained here. This is nothing more than the process of evolution; the same process in which Vibration Training is currently playing a major role.
“It would seem that the majority of vibration machines being sold are comparable to the Crazy Fit, which means my machine performs as well as those that cost thousands of dollars more.”
First off, the machine referenced here (Crazy Fit) stands among the absolute “bottom of the barrel” of Vibration Training equipment. It sits here because of several factors. Some of these factors will be addressed below, but for a more precise understanding, please read our other article titled, “How to Properly Select a Platform” (Part I and Part II).
Although there are several ways to interpret this comment, what it brings to light is a common misconception. This being that because the majority of platforms look similar and share the same cost, they are all that one needs to enjoy the wide array of research-based benefits of Whole Body Vibration. This is the furthest from the truth.
While a machine that vibrates can certainly provide benefit to an individual, a closer look at the research indicates that only a few vibration training platforms stand behind all of the research. Of these platforms, not a single one performs or is engineered in the same way “the majority of vibration machines” referenced in Dave’s comments are. As a result, none of them have a similar price tag either.
There are two primary reasons why these platforms do, in fact, represent the majority of vibration training platforms on the market. The first being that most people on the manufacturing side of the industry care little for research or for understanding the ways in which the human body works. Secondly, with profit being their primary motive, they rely on the ignorance of the consumer to save money by manufacturing their equipment with cheap materials, weak motors, and gimmicky websites built upon deception and scare tactics.
As will be touched upon below, and has been many times on this site already, the key to vibration training is the variable of ACCELERATION WHILE LOADED. Without proper engineering, the necessary acceleration levels of a vibration training platform cannot be achieved. Therefore, the corresponding changes in the body cannot be expected. This is beautifully demonstrated in the engineering report video located on the homepage of the site. Why is acceleration so important? This will be explained below.
“Galileo seems like it is the best performer on the market. But the truth is that it’s too much money for me to spend on something that I have serious doubts about…”
Yes. The Galileo (Vibraflex in the US) is certainly an expensive vibration platform. The reason of course, is the cost of manufacturing in Germany with state-of-the-art materials. Now ask why they would do this? If you are not someone that believes the Germans are just outright idiots, then you will begin to understand the obvious relationship between engineering, machine performance and the benefits yielded. I don’t see these prices dropping anytime soon, and unfortunately, for those of us in the US, as the dollar declines so does our chances of enjoying the superior quality of the Galileo. Machines with comparable acceleration levels, offered at lower prices will be the only hope.
As far as your doubts, let’s look at where they originate……
“Every couple of years something new comes along in health and fitness that gets hyped to the max and then you find them at yard sales for a couple of bucks.”
There is nothing “new” about Vibration Training. The concept of using Vibration for the purposes of strength and performance was validated in the 1960’s. The benefits of Vibration Training on a platform system dates back to the mid-1990’s. A more detailed account of the history can be found here:
Unfortunately, the combination of consumer (and professional) skepticism, profit driven engineering inadequacies, and deceptive marketing strategies have kept the industry in the dark. The reason more people are hearing about it now, and as a result believe it is something “new”, is that it continues to be proven effective in a growing body of international research and the demand for it is increasing exponentially.
Not only has it been shown to be effective for strength and performance, but also low back pain, bone density, circulatory disease, neurological disease, and flexibility. This includes groups of both adults and children, and those are just a few of the benefits that have been shown. Will you find these at yard sales in the future? I believe so, but only because the consumer will understand the industry better, demand quality product, and the need for massive plastic massagers will equal that of the need for $200 stationary bicycles and $3,000 Cybex bicep curl machines (talk about a ridiculous concept!).
“Will a 5g machine give me 90% or the benefits of a 20g machine?
I answer this question with another question. Will your muscle growth potential lifting a 5 lb weight be 90% of that of a 20 lb weight? Does repeated jumping from a 3 inch step yield the same training effect as a 12 inch step? Not at all.
“I’m not an expert and I don’t know if there has been enough REAL exercise research done on vibration machines to answers that question.”
As mentioned above, the breakdown and simplification of the body of research that exists on the subject of vibration training will be available soon in part III of the article titled “How to Properly Select a Platform”. In the meantime, for those interested in exploring a substantial amount of the research available on the topic, you can view any number of the 111 studies that are available on my website:
For those not interested in “combing through” the data, until part three becomes available, here are just a few examples of the conclusions drawn from several of these studies.
“The WBV-induced increases in muscle hypertrophy and isometric lumbar extension torque suggest a potential benefit of incorporating WBV into slow-velocity RT programs involving exercises of long duration
– Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2011.
“However, concerning muscle strength and power, there was a tendency in favor of the VTG. Only vibration training resulted in a significant increase of leg and trunk flexion strength compared with CG. In summary, WBV embedded in a multipurpose exercise program showed minor additive effects on body composition and neuromuscular performance.” – Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010.
“We have shown for the first time that low-frequency, low-magnitude vibration 3×/week for eight weeks in postmenopausal women results in a significant reduction in NTx/Cr, a marker of bone resorption, when compared with sham vibration exposure.” – Journal of Osteoporosis Volume 2011
“A 12-week course of low-frequency vibrating board therapy is feasible and may represent a novel physical therapy for patients with non-specific low back pain.” – J Rehabil Med. 2011
“Combining aerobic exercise or WBV training with caloric restriction can help to achieve a sustained long-term weight loss of 5-10%. These preliminary data show that WBV training may have the potential to reduce VAT more than aerobic exercise in obese adults, possibly making it a meaningful addition to future weight loss programs.”- Obes Facts. 2010
“….yet body fat could be exclusively decreased by WBV” – Eur J Appl Physiol.
“A day with a 30-min multiple exercise WBV session increased 24 h VO2 versus a day that included the same exercise session without vibration, and versus a non-exercise day by 10 and 25%, respectively.
– Eur J Appl Physiol.
“Repeated measures analysis of the variance showed peak resultant force was 6% greater when the vibration platform was utilized prior to the start (p=0.013). – Int J Exerc Sci 2(4): 264-268, 2009.
“The current study shows that individualized whole-body vibration without superimposing other exercises is an effective method of acutely increasing lower back and hamstring flexibility. Furthermore, the applied individualized whole-body vibration over time influences the reactive strength rather than flexibility.”
– J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010.
Now I do realize that we could take anyone of these studies, scrutinize it, and find something we don’t like about it. This is the case with all research. But at the end of the day, we will have to decide whether there is enough information here to take Vibration Training seriously and commit ourselves to trying it with an open mind. Otherwise, we can wait for the “proof” that will never come, and in the meantime, let opportunity pass us by.
“Vibration Training is not going to melt pounds of fat off of you, nor give you 18″ biceps. It’s also not going to strengthen your heart. You want real results you need to do real work”
Very few exercise techniques will “melt pounds of fat off of you” or give you massive biceps. For the former, you need a strict diet and a superior metabolism, the latter requires superior genetics and extreme training methods. I don’t believe this is what most people have or are looking for when training. If so, I am more than willing to suggest that you look elsewhere. Having that been said, if you are suggesting that Vibration Training cannot successfully reduce body fat or improve muscle mass, you are sadly mistaken and once again need to review the research. Some of those studies were quoted above for your convenience.
As for strengthening your heart, or more specifically, improving your level of cardiovascular (CV) fitness, the effectiveness of Vibration Training for this purpose would depend on the individuals starting point. For example, a deconditioned client that I worked with recently was huffing and puffing after both a one minute squat and a one minute pushup. She had fatigued on both exercises very rapidly. If this had been the intended goal of the exercise then this would be considered High Intensity Training (HIT). This form of “anaerobic” training, growing in popularity in both fitness and rehabilitation, has been shown in a growing body of research to be as effective, if not more, than traditional “steady state cardio” exercises (treadmill, elliptical, bicycle etc.) at improving CV fitness. Up until now these “cardio” machines have been considered the only way to strengthen the heart. Not surprisingly, the rules are changing.
Speaking of Vibration and HIT, in a soon to be published study out of Switzerland, researchers were able to use the Galileo platform in a very unique manner to create a wide array of aerobic power benefits. Among these benefits included increased “graded cycling test power”, “cycling time to exhaustion”, “ventilatory threshold”, “capillary-to-fiber ratio” (improved oxygen delivery), and “slow twitch muscle fiber hypertrophy”(growth of aerobic muscle fibers). Oh…by the way, the subjects exercised for 3 minutes total from what I understand.
Putting this unique study aside, the bottom line is that both aerobic and anaerobic systems work together. While one system may be used more than the other for a specific activity, they can both be improved through the proper manipulation of variables. This includes those associated with HIT. HIT requires that the individual be SAFELY “pushed” hard while training and this can only be done with proper Vibration Training equipment, that which can deliver strong forces (high acceleration levels) on the body, and in some cases, maintain the acceleration levels with increasing loads (through use of weighted vests, dumbbells etc.) . I can assure you that this level of intensity will never be reached on a Crazy Fit or any other low acceleration platform.
At this point, with researchers being overly conservative in their protocols, there are not a lot of HIT and WBV studies being performed. I believe that will change in the future however, so stay tuned. Once the results are in, I am confident the idea of Vibration Training not being a “cardio” tool will disappear along with the televisions everyone stares at while they barely break a sweat on their favorite elliptical machine. You think that strengthens the heart…think again! Even more is the growing amount of belief that people who rely on stationary bicycles and ellipticals at the gym as their primary form of fitness may actually be losing muscle mass and bone density. Both of which can be obtained with Vibration Training on proper equipment.