Vibration plates are a great way to literally and figuratively shake up your workout routine.
Although you might not vibrate away a ton of fat as some people are led to believe, there are actually quite a few research-backed vibration plate benefits.
In this article, we will discuss the basics of vibration plates for fitness and health, the evidence supporting the benefits of a vibration plate versus claims, and how to use vibration plates in your workouts.
We will look at:
- What Is a Vibration Plate?
- How Does a Vibration Plate Work?
- 5 Vibration Plate Benefits
- How Do You Use a Vibration Plate?
- Are There Risks Associated With Using Vibration Machines?
Let’s get started!
What Is a Vibration Plate?
A vibration plate, also frequently referred to as a vibration platform, is a device that oscillates or vibrates at high frequencies.
Users stand on the vibration platform while it vibrates to experience whole-body vibration (WBV), which has been shown to confer various health and fitness benefits.
Whole-body vibration (WBV), which involves rapid vertical oscillations applied to the body by standing on the WBV platform, is far from new technology or a new approach to boosting health.
The concept was borne out of NASA’s efforts in the 1960s to help design a way to counteract the consequences of the zero gravity, non-weight-bearing environment of being in space.
How Does a Vibration Plate Work?
With whole-body vibration, you stand, sit or lie on a machine with a vibrating platform. As the machine vibrates, it transmits energy to your body, forcing your muscles to contract and relax dozens of times each second. The activity may cause you to feel as if you’re exerting yourself.
Essentially, the vibrations stimulate the muscle spindles, which activate the motor neurons. This causes muscle contractions.
Although these contractions are involuntary, they have a similar effect on muscle strength and energy expenditure as the voluntary muscle contractions you perform when you’re performing intentional exercise, though perhaps not to the same magnitude.
In this way, standing or sitting on a vibration plate can mimic the feelings of exerting yourself even when you are in a static position.
However, many people augment the muscle-activating effects of whole-body vibration training by performing exercises like squats and push-ups while on the vibration platform.
Vibration Plate Benefits
According to Dr. Edward R. Laskowski at the Mayo Clinic, whole-body vibration training can offer some fitness and health benefits, but there’s not enough evidence to suggest that it’s as good for your body as regular exercise.
With that said, there are several potential whole-body vibration training vibration plate benefits, including the following:
#1: Whole-Body Vibration Can Increase Bone Density
Studies have found that whole-body vibration can be an effective means to increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
Evidence suggests that the vibrations associated with whole-body vibration (WBV) training may improve the levels of growth hormone, parathyroid hormone, and testosterone. These hormonal changes may prevent sarcopenia and osteoporosis.
Plus, because the vibrations cause reflexive muscle contractions, WBV training stimulates muscle and bone growth. Muscle contractions strengthen muscles, and stronger muscles pull harder on bones, which strengthens the bones.
#2: Whole-Body Vibration May Increase Fat Loss
Although the evidence demonstrating significant weight loss from whole-body vibration plates is generally not as robust as the claims make it seem, there is research that has shown that whole-body vibration therapy can improve body composition and decrease weight.
For example, one study investigated the effects of whole-body vibration training on the body composition of middle-aged obese women over a period of eight weeks.
The women were separated into three groups: a diet-only group, a diet, and aerobic exercise group, and a diet and whole-body vibration training group.
Although all three groups lost body fat, the group that also performed aerobic exercise and the group that underwent whole-body vibration training lost significantly more body fat than the group that was only on a calorie-controlled diet.
Moreover, vibration training was equally as effective as the aerobic training protocol, as both groups lost the same amount of body fat.
Furthermore, the whole-body vibration group increased their bone mineral content, whereas the other two groups did not.
These results suggest that whole-body vibration therapy can potentially be effective at reducing body fat and increasing bone density.
Another study examined the potential effects of eight weeks of twice-weekly, whole-body vibration training sessions on non-obese young women.
After the study period, subjects receiving the WBV training experienced significant decreases in body fat coupled with increases in lean body mass, indicating a dual-pronged favorable change in body composition.
Other studies on the potential weight loss effects of whole-body vibration therapy have been somewhat inconclusive, though not necessarily unfavorable.
For example, a fairly large review looking at seven research studies involving a total of 280 participants found that whole-body vibration therapy was associated with a significant amount of fat loss in terms of fat mass (kg) but not body fat percentage.
However, the researchers suggested that longer-term studies (greater than 6 months) were needed.
There is evidence to suggest that WBV therapy, especially when coupled with diet and conventional exercise, can be an effective way to decrease body fat percentage.
#3: Whole-Body Vibration May Decrease Blood Pressure
Whole-body vibration training has been shown to decrease blood pressure, at least when exercises are performed on the vibration plate.
For example, one small study involving young women who were overweight or obese investigated the effects of six weeks of WBV training on measures of cardiovascular health and muscular strength and performance.
Subjects in the WBV training group had three sessions per week where they performed static and dynamic squats and calf raises while on the vibration plate.
The whole-body vibration significantly reduced arterial stiffness (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease) as well as blood pressure.
Of note, measures of balance, strength, and power also improved as a result of vibration training.
#4: Whole-Body Vibration May Improve Balance
Studies have found that whole-body vibration therapy can improve balance, which may decrease the risk of falls.
This could be especially beneficial for older adults and those with osteoporosis who have a high risk of fractures with falling.
Whole-body vibration has also been shown to improve flexibility.
#5: Whole-Body Vibration Can Increase Muscular Strength
Whole-body vibration training has been shown to increase muscular strength.
This is likely due to the fact that the oscillating platform requires the muscles to contract in order to stabilize the body. Even though these contractions are unconscious, they still have the same type of benefits that are gleaned by voluntary contractions through deliberate exercise.
One study found that whole-body vibration therapy increased maximum leg extension strength in women by an average of 8.2-kilogram, or 18-pounds compared to the control group.
It’s important to note that the whole-body vibration therapy wasn’t simply standing or sitting on the vibration platform.
The WBV training involved three sessions per week for six weeks of static and dynamic squats, and calf raises while on the vibration plate.
Additionally, another study with non-obese young women found that eight weeks of WBV training twice a week improved standing long jump performance, which is evidence of greater leg strength and explosive power.
How Do You Use a Vibration Plate?
Using a vibration plate can be as simple as standing, sitting, or lying on the vibration platform for 5-20 minutes or so, but some people also perform exercises while receiving whole-body vibration.
For example, you can do a plank with your forearms on the vibration plate or place your hands on top of the vibration platform while you do push-ups.
Depending on the size of your WBV platform, it may also be possible to do squats or lunges with one or both feet on the platform.
Calf raises are also a great option, as the vibration plate makes it all the more challenging to balance and stabilize your body.
Finally, you can perform dumbbell exercises while standing on the WBV plate. Examples include bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, overhead presses, forward and side raises, and dumbbell punches.
Performing exercises while using a vibration plate won’t necessarily accelerate fat loss or burn appreciably more calories, but it not only makes your whole-body vibration time more efficient since you’re multitasking with working out, but it can also make the exercises much more difficult because you’re trying to stabilize on a moving surface.
This requires much more core control, so WBV platform exercises are a great way to strengthen the core.
Are There Risks Associated With Using Vibration Machines?
Vibration plates are generally safe for most people.
However, if you have balance issues or a high risk of falling, it’s always best to either sit or lie down on the WBV platform or make sure you can hold onto something stable the whole time.
There is also some evidence to suggest that repeated exposure to vibrations may increase the risk of joint pain or skeletal pain, such as hip, neck, knee, shoulder, or back pain.
With that said, this research was looking at occupational sources of vibration (such as jackhammering or driving delivery vehicles) rather than WBV machines.
Vibration machines may not be safe for women who are pregnant, people with seizure disorders, or those prone to migraines.
It’s always a good idea to consult your physician before beginning any type of whole-body vibration therapy.
Overall, although the vibration plate benefits probably don’t match those of regular exercise, and thus WBV training shouldn’t necessarily replace traditional exercise, it shows promise as a component in a well-rounded health and fitness routine and has some unique benefits for those who might not be able to engage in as much exercise.
If you are interested in getting started at the gym, we have a great list of gym etiquette to get you prepared for your first day!