Despite their increasing popularity in the fitness industry as well as home and public gyms, vibration plates and platforms are not a new technology. In fact, these devices have been around for quite a while and were first developed by the Russians in the 1970s to help astronauts overcome muscle atrophy and bone loss during long periods of weightlessness and inactivity in space.
The attraction behind vibration plate machines like this one today is probably the fact that they cut workout time by two thirds and significantly boost exercise results. With a vibration plate, you get to enjoy all sorts of benefits (tone your body, reduce cellulite, improve bone density, promote recovery, increase strength, etc.) without having to engage in vigorous exercise. But do vibration plate machines really work or is it all just hype? Here’s a look at what the fitness community and researchers have to say about vibration training.
The Theory behind Vibration Plates
Also referred to as power plates, vibration plate machines are basically workout equipment with a base/platform that creates very powerful, pulsating, multi-directional vibrations continuously during use. In theory, these vibrations force the body to use up more of its muscle fibers during any form of physical activity.
In a normal setup (i.e. a workout area/equipment with a stable surface), all voluntary muscle movements (e.g. walking, running, lifting weights) typically activate about 40-60% of muscle fibers. Power plate machines, however, have an unstable surface that forces the muscles to perform reflexive contractions several times per second in a bid to maintain stability.
Contractions can be as high as 50 times per second depending on the vibration frequency set on a power plate. Maintaining this near-constant state of muscle contraction requires almost all of the muscle fibers to kick in. This in turn results in an effective workout in just a short amount of time.
Since a vibration platform forces your body to work harder on whatever exercise you’re doing, it tends to greatly increase blood flow, which helps speed up recovery after workout. Manufactures of these machines also claim that a vibration plate can improve balance, increase strength, maintain muscle tone and enhance bone health in people who cannot use their muscles normally.
Do They Work?
Theories and claims aside, do vibration platforms really work or are they just a money-making gimmick? Well, the simple and short answer to this question is an emphatic yes. A vibration plate can deliver on its promises and there is even serious scientific research and anecdotal evidence to back up this fact. There’s also a ton of testimonies online from individuals who have lost weight, toned up, gotten rid of stubborn belly fat, improved posture, and enjoyed a range of other benefits from vibration training.
As for scientific proof, there is quite a bit of research that proves beyond doubt the effectiveness of vibration machines. For instance, scientists at the University of Antwerp at one time conducted a study to determine vibration plate effects on weight loss. Test subjects were divided into 3 groups and put under the same diet. The first group was told to do no exercise for 6 months, the second group was instructed to perform aerobic exercise 3 times a week, and the final group was put under vibration training where they exercised on a vibration plate 13 minutes a day for 5 days a week. At the end of this study, the individuals put under vibration training had lost 11% of their body fat while the aerobic and diet only groups had simply lost 7% & 6% body fat respectively. The vibration training group had also lost nearly two-thirds more abdominal fat than those who simply did aerobic exercises.
Several similar studies on vibration training have been conducted in different parts of the world with the findings always showing weight loss, improved fitness and posture, enhanced athletic performance, improvement of certain medical conditions, among a range of other positive end results.
How to Ensure the Best Results
While it’s a proven fact that vibration plate machines deliver results, you should not believe the hyped-up infomercials that claim that you can simply stand on a vibration plate for 10 minutes several times a week and lose pounds of fat effortlessly. The truth is that it will take a lot more effort than that for you to enjoy the various benefits that come with vibration training.
- Balanced Approach
All positive research findings published on vibration training emphasize that end results were achieved only after combining regular and intense vibration plate routines with controlled calorie intake, good nutrition, and other forms of physical activity. So, for you to enjoy significant results with a power plate machine, you’ll need to adopt healthy eating habits and include at least 15-30 minutes of proper vibration plate exercises (e.g. crunches, squats, pushups, lunges, and squats) in your regular workout routine.
- Quality Product
Another important aspect to keep in mind is that not all vibration plate machines deliver the same results. Cheaper machines will not deliver the same level of effectiveness as high-end models. So, it’s important to do thorough research when shopping for a vibration plate to ensure you end up with a good quality machine.
- Vibration Frequency and Amplitude
Additionally, the set vibration frequency and amplitude of a power plate also play an important role in helping you achieve the particular result you’re looking for. Therefore, using a quality machine and consulting a fitness expert/trainer with knowledge on plate settings as well as what setting is appropriate for what purpose is the best way to ensure results when using a vibration plate.
The Bottom Line
The recent vibration plate craze is in no way unfounded. Not only does a vibration plate work, it also offers a convenient way to work out where you gain significant results without exerting too much effort or spending a lot of time on your exercise routines. However, whether or not you will be able to shed those extra pounds, tone up, develop a well-defined muscular physique, or achieve whatever fitness goal you’re after depends on how you use your power plate, your dieting habits, and you level of commitment in keeping up with a regular workout routine. For best results, don’t quit your current workout plan just yet and make sure to use your vibration plate properly.