Whole Body Vibration: Fitness Fad or Actually Effective?

There are a lot of crazy fitness trends out there – including standing on a vibrating plate. Does it do anything? New research shows it actually does have a positive effect on muscular performance.

You’ve probably seen it already, one of the stranger trends in modern fitness – whole body vibration. This type of training is performed by using both static and dynamic resistance training exercises on a ground-based platform. Some entrepreneurial trainers in Los Angeles even have group classes for such things. In order to determine its worth, a recent study investigated if whole body vibration exposure (at 50 Hz, 2.51 mm) had any performance enhancing effects post-exercise.

Sixteen students (12 males, 4 females) participated in the study. Each participant had at least 3 months’ experience with free-weight resistance exercises and training to failure. The participants did not engaged in any organized training programs for two months before the study. Each subjects performed three sets of an elbow extension (working the triceps) exercise on a whole body platform, and each set was performed to failure at a resistance of 70% of one-rep max. The platform was set at 50 Hz and the peak-to-peak vibration amplitude measured 2.51 mm. Kinematic parameters of each rep were monitored by linking a rotary encoder to the highest load plate, and average velocity and acceleration, as well as perceived exertion was analyzed throughout the set.1

There were three conditions in which all of the participants were tested:

  1. Acute: exercise was performed during whole body vibration on a vibration platform
  2. Residual: the whole body vibration stimulus applied 60 seconds before the exercise
  3. Control: exercise was performed on the platform without vibration

The results of the study showed a significant increase in the average velocity of the reps performed for the whole set in the acute effect condition versus the control condition. The average acceleration for reps performed was significantly higher in the acute effect condition compared to the residual effect (increased by 45.3%) and the control condition (increased by 50.4%).2

It was concluded that the positive effect on triceps performance caused by whole body vibration is only achieved when the stimulus is applied during exercise. It is worth noting that whole body vibration applied 60 seconds prior to upper body exercise results in no added benefit. Just as in prior studies, the results of this study were similar in the fact that whole body vibration training was shown to actually enhance performance.

What do you think? Do you see any use for this sort of training in your programming, or is it just a fitness fad?

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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