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Comparison of Whole Body Vibration Machines

by
author image Laura Dayton
Laura Dayton has been writing since 1969, starting as an editor for "Runner's World" and a correspondent for "Muscle & Fitness." She is a certified strength and conditioning coach, gym owner, professional bodybuilding judge and author of four books on weight training. Dayton has a Master of Science in journalism from San Jose State University.
Comparison of Whole Body Vibration Machines
Woman's feet on a scale Photo Credit Kamil Macniak/iStock/Getty Images

Whole body vibration, or WBV training is a fairly recent category of exercise that has been gaining popularity in the United States fitness community since 2002. Enthusiasts of WBV training believe it can accelerate weight loss, eliminate unwanted fat and train and tone muscles in a fraction of the time required when using traditional training methods. A variety of systems are available, and knowing which features to look for will help you select the best WVB system for you.

Science of WBV Training

WBV exercise offers an alternative form of resistance training. In WBV training, your muscle cells are subjected to a vibration frequency as you perform various exercises on a vibrating platform. It is thought that vibrations produce fast and short changes in the length of the muscle-tendon complex, resulting in greater stimulus and a more pronounced training effect. WBV machines deliver vibration to the whole body using one of two different systems. The first is by reciprocating vertical displacements on the left and right side of a fulcrum and the second is by the whole plate oscillating uniformly up and down.

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Effectiveness of WBV

A number of scientific studies have been conducted to examine the effectiveness of WBV training. A 2010 analysis of 30 studies published in the "Journal of Sports Conditioning Research" found that vibration exercise can be effective for improving muscular power. Another 2010 study published in "Obesity Facts" found that WBV training may potentially reduce visceral abdominal fat more effectively than aerobic exercise in obese adults. A 2009 study published by the European Association for the Study of Obesity found that vibration plate machines may aid in weight loss and help trim abdominal fat. In both obesity studies, WVB was combined with a restricted calorie diet.

WVB System Features

WBV trainers vary in a number of features, including frequency, amplitude and horse power. Motor size is typically expressed in horsepower, or HP. A larger motor can handle heavier usage and provide enough power to vibrate the plate at a higher amplitude. Amplitude is the distance the plate travels from the lowest to the highest position, measured in millimeters per vibration. The higher the amplitude, the more intense the workout. Frequency refers to how fast the plate can vibrate, measured in impulses per second. A higher frequency provides more force to your bones and muscles, resulting in a more intense workout. Settling for a cheaper model may mean settling for less horsepower, less amplitude and lower frequency. More expensive machines typically come with a larger plate, which will enable you to do a greater variety of exercises.

Selecting Your WBV Trainer

In general, you will get what you pay for with a WBV trainer. Your training goals should also be considered when buying a WBV machine. The researchers in the 2010 "Journal of Strength Conditioning Research" meta-analysis noted that vertical machines were more effective than oscillating machines in eliciting muscular adaptations. In a 2010 doctoral thesis, sports science researcher Riccardo Di Giminiani of Semmelweis University noted that whole-body vibrations can produce very different responses ranging from beneficial to dangerous. Before purchasing a WBV machine, consult your physician for any potential adverse effects on your health.

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