Like so many modern inventions, people have the space program to thank for vibrating plates that are willing to exercise for them. Russian scientists and NASA have worked independently on vibration machines, which might decrease muscle atrophy and loss of bone density during space trips. Now dozens of companies have released vibration machines to use at home. However, some researchers, such as biomedical engineering professor Clinton Rubin, say it’s too early to tell whether these high-powered vibrations might injure your back and cartilage, blur your vision or over-jiggle your brain.
One vibration exercise machine, the Power Plate, looks like a cross between a stair stepper and a bathroom scale. The flat platform vibrates while you stand, lunge, do pushups on it or incorporate it into eighty-something other possible exercises. The plate vibrates 20 to 50 times a second in three directions. Users liken it to lifting weights without the weights. The machine’s main appeal is efficiency. Adherents claim that a 10-minute vibration exercise workout is akin to a 60-minute conventional workout. A vibration user picks five or so exercises, does each for two minutes, and is done for the day. Three or more weekly sessions reap maximum results, according to the Total Body Vibration website.
The International Journal of Exercise Science published the results of a study at the University of Charleston. Researchers recruited 24 young members of a local fitness club. Eleven used the Power Plate machine while 13 followed a traditional resistance training protocol. Participants were tested on pushups, dumbbell biceps curs, tricep dips from a bench, and lateral and front dumbbell raises. At the end of six weeks, both groups showed comparable strength gains. The biggest difference was that the Power Plate group had only exercised for an average of 10 minutes per session, while the conventional group spent much longer in the gym.
Triceps and Biceps
Most vibration machine exercises are similar to standard resistance training, except they incorporate the machine. For example, to do a triceps dip, you face away from the machine, placing your hands on the edge of the vibrating platform and extending your legs in front of you. You repeatedly bend your arms to 90 degrees, then straighten them, like you would in a tricep dip from a bench. To do a bicep curl, you stand facing the platform. Take hold of the machine’s retractable straps with an underhand grip. Maintain strap tension while doing your bicep curls.
Rows and Raises
You can use the straps to do a variety of arm and upper body exercises, including rows. Stand on the floor, facing the machine. Set the vibration to high. Cross the straps and row, keeping your knees and elbows bent. To do an integrated row, stand on the platform while facing away from the machine. Cross your straps and row. You can do lateral and front raises just as you would with dumbbells, substituting the straps instead. Pushup variations also lend themselves to incorporating the vibrating platform.