Standing on a vibration platform is a way to experience whole-body vibration (WBV), which has been shown to offer various health and fitness benefits.
But do vibration platforms work? What do vibrating exercise platforms do, and can they help with weight loss?
In this article, we will discuss what vibrating platforms are, their potential benefits, how they work, and if they are good for weight loss or other fitness benefits.
We will cover the following:
- What Is a Vibration Platform?
- How Does a Vibration Platform Work?
- 5 Health Benefits of Vibration Platforms
Let’s dive in!
What Is a Vibration Platform?
A vibration platform, also called a vibrating platform, a vibrating exercise platform, or a vibration plate, is a device that goes on the floor and vibrates at a high frequency.
Depending on the particular vibration platform product you buy, the size of the vibrating platform device may be anywhere from roughly the surface area of a bathroom scale to the size of a bed pillow.
Typically, you stand on the vibration platform, either statically while the machine isolates at a high frequency, or you might do specific exercises.
Although whole-body vibration and vibrating exercise platforms seem like a relatively new fitness fad or weight loss gimmick, whole-body vibration technology is actually over 60 years old.
The concept of using whole-body vibration for health originated in the 1960s out of NASA’s efforts to design a way to counteract the consequences of the zero gravity, non-weight-bearing environment of being in space.
How Does a Vibration Platform Work?
Vibration platforms are able to oscillate at very high frequencies.When you use the vibration platform, you stand or sit on the platform, or you might perform specific vibration platform exercises like squats or push-ups with your feet or hands on the platform.
As the vibrating platform rapidly oscillates, it forces your muscles to contract and relax numerous times each second.
The vibrations stimulate the muscle spindles in the muscle fibers. This, in turn, activates the motor neurons, causing muscle contractions.
Although these contractions are involuntary, they have a similar outcome on muscle strength and energy expenditure as the voluntary muscle contractions you perform when you’re performing intentional exercises, though usually not to the same magnitude.
5 Health Benefits of Vibration Platforms
Overall, most health and fitness experts say that there may be benefits of using a vibration platform for whole-vibration therapy, but users should be aware that these devices may fall under the umbrella of “over promise and under deliver.” So, do vibration platforms work?
For example, Dr. Edward R. Laskowski at the Mayo Clinic says that whole-body vibration training can provide some fitness and health benefits, but there is not enough research-based evidence to suggest that it is as good for your body as getting regular exercise.
Here are the potential benefits of using a vibration platform for whole-body vibration training:
#1: May Increase Bone Density and Strengthen Muscles
Low bone density is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and subsequent bone fractures. Using a vibration platform may be one way to help combat bone loss with aging.
These hormones are associated with supporting the maintenance of bone mass and muscle mass, potentially helping to offset age-related sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteoporosis, and helping support muscle growth and recovery from workouts.
Furthermore, even though the muscle contractions induced by standing on a vibrating platform are reflexive, meaning that they are not under your conscious control, any type of muscle contraction can still strengthen muscles and bones.
When muscles contract, they pull on the bones via the tendinous junctions at the end of long bones, which helps strengthen the bones over time.
Thus, given the hormonal benefits of using a vibration platform and the physiological changes that are induced by reflexive WBV muscle contractions, adding VP exercises to a well-rounded workout routine that includes resistance training may help enhance the hypertrophy benefits and protect against bone loss and muscle loss with age.
However, it is important to keep in mind that simply sitting or standing on a vibration platform will not be nearly as effective at building muscle and increasing bone density compared to actually lifting weights and performing high-impact, weight-bearing exercises.
#2: May Increase Fat Loss
The most common question regarding using a vibration platform is: “Will a vibration platform help me lose weight?”
The good news is that even though vibration platforms may not be as effective for weight loss or burning fat as the claims may lead you to believe, there is some evidence to suggest that using a vibration platform can help you lose weight and improve your body composition.
For example, one study divided the subjects (middle-aged women with obesity) into three different groups: a diet-only group, a diet and aerobic exercise group, and a diet and whole-body vibration training group.
Results indicated that over the eight-week study, all three groups lost body fat.
However, the women in groups that performed aerobic exercise or whole-body vibration training lost significantly more body fat than the women in the diet-only group.
Furthermore, the amount of body fat loss with vibration platform exercises was the same as the average amount of body fat lost by the women in the group performing traditional aerobic exercise.
This is not to say that using a vibration platform should replace regular cardio exercise. Aerobic exercise provides health benefits and reduces the risk of lifestyle diseases that vibrating platforms may not be able to match.
However, many adults with obesity have difficulty starting or maintaining a consistent exercise practice because it is simply more challenging to move your body when you have a lot of excess body fat.
Thus, potentially combining vibration platform exercises with some regular aerobic exercise can be a great way to jumpstart a fat loss program while improving adherence because a vibrating platform is generally better tolerated and feels easier than cardio exercise.
Plus, another tick in the box of the benefits of vibration training vs aerobic exercise is that the results of the study found that the women who use the vibration platform experienced a significant increase in bone mineral density, whereas the other two groups, including the regular cardio exercise group, did not.
Another study found that women who were engaging in twice-weekly vibration training workouts lost significantly more body fat and gained more lean body mass than those who did not.
This means that both sides of the body composition equation—body fat and lean body mass—improved using a vibration platform.
Other studies have found that vibration training can reduce total fat mass but not necessarily body fat percentage.
For example, a large review that compiled the results of seven research studies involving a total of 280 participants found that vibration therapy did yield a reduction in total body fat but not body fat percentage.
There is also 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: May Improve Balance and Flexibility
There are certain aspects of fitness that are often overlooked but contribute to overall health and functional performance.
For example, balance and flexibility can decrease your risk of injuries, particularly in terms of elderly adults falling or acute sports injuries related to poor flexibility or balance.
Studies have found that whole-body vibration therapy can improve balance, which may decrease the risk of falls.
Whole-body vibration has also been shown to improve flexibility.
#4: May Decrease Blood Pressure
One small study found that doing exercises on a vibrating platform reduced blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
#5: Can Increase Muscular Strength
Even though vibration platforms induce involuntary muscle contractions, evidence suggests that using one may help improve muscular strength and power, particularly if you do vibration platform exercises rather than standing or sitting passively on the unit.
One study found that whole-body vibration platform sessions that involved performing squats and calf raises three times a week for six weeks increased maximum leg extension strength in women by an average of 8.2 kilograms, or 18 pounds, compared to the control group.
This exercise requires leg strength and power, so improvements in long-term performance are indicative of gains in strength and explosive force development.
Overall, most fitness experts believe that there are benefits of using a vibration platform but that this device should not replace traditional exercise, as vibration training exercise only provides a fraction of the benefits of regular cardio and resistance training.
To get started on a resistance training program, check out our bodyweight exercises here.