Whole Body Vibration Training
Shake, Shake, Shake Your Way to Fitness?
Vibration therapy is the answer! That's the headline that screams from an advertisement for a WBV or "Whole Body Vibration" device. These machines are platforms you stand on that shake you in an attempt to "melt away extra fat," "strengthen core muscles" and "boost metabolism."
But the claims don't stop there. The companies that sell these machines say they can "reduce the appearance of cellulite," "combat joint and muscle pain" and even "improve blood flow, digestion and circulation." Could it really be true?
There's a certain level of excitement that I feel whenever something new comes along. I'm always hoping that the next diet, machine or technique is going to be something that I can use to help clients make more progress. Sometimes I'm lucky. Over the last few years, there have been things that have helped the fitness industry make significant advances.
There are now inexpensive ways to accurately test metabolism, software to easily track and measure everything you eat, diets that can reverse heart disease and workout techniques such as time under tension that produce results unimaginable thirty years ago. Could a whole body vibration machine be another tool in the fitness arsenal?
Don't count on it.
One of the statements I re-read three times. I couldn't believe the makers of the Quantum Body Fit actually said this. "Other workout machines work against your body by creating and using resistance. Moving your body against its natural motions and movements will only result in sore muscles, injuries and fatigue."
I can only guess the manufacturer of the Quantum Body Fit has never had a single lesson in physiology. If they did, they would know that the only non-chemical way muscles have been shown to grow is through increasing levels of resistance.
That's when I thought, maybe they found a new way? So I started going through the medical literature to see what researchers said.
The first studies I focused in on were using whole body vibration in the treatment of various medical problems.
Parkinson's Disease: The Movement Disorders Clinic in Beelitz-Heilstatten Germany looked into whole body vibration and compared it to conventional physiotherapy. Their goal was to improve balance and gait in people with Parkinson's disease.
They summarized the experiment with this statement. "There was no conclusive evidence for superior efficacy of WBV compared with conventional balance training."
Stroke: Sint Maartenskliniek Research out of the Netherlands wanted to see if a 6-week WBV routine could help with balance recovery and/or activities of daily living after a patient suffered a stroke.
They concluded that, "Daily sessions of whole-body vibration during 6 weeks are not more effective in terms of recovery of balance and activities of daily living than the same amount of exercise therapy on music in the post acute phase of stroke." In other words, jiggling stroke victims while they worked out didn't help them any more than traditional exercise therapy.
Researchers compared WBV training and traditional fitness training on dozens of different groups.
Sprint-trained Athletes: "This specific Whole Body Vibration protocol of 5 weeks had no surplus value upon the conventional training program to improve speed-strength performance in sprint-trained athletes." (Department of Kinesiology at the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium.)
Untrained Females: "24 weeks of whole body vibration training did not reduce weight, total body fat or subcutaneous fat in previously untrained females." (Department of Kinesiology at the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium.)
Men Over 60: There were no significant differences in isometric muscle strength, explosive muscle strength or muscle mass between the groups that used WBV training versus standard fitness training. (Department of Kinesiology at the Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium.)
Lower-Extremity Muscle Strength in Older Population: "There were no significant differences between the VIB (WBV) and EX (typical exercise) groups for knee flexor or extensor strength." (University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.)
Study after study came to the same conclusions. Training on a whole body vibration device doesn't offer any benefit from simple training. It's just another gimmick you shouldn't waste your time or money on.
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