There is enough research now to support the notion that Whole Body Vibration training (WBV training) can enhance strength and power capacity, increase bone density, improve muscle performance, and even reduce body fat over time. We’re now seeing new evidence to strongly suggest that whole body vibration therapy can actually reduce inflammation in the body, reverse some symptoms of type II diabetes, and even improve your microbiome.
What Is ‘Whole Body Vibration’
Whole-body vibration refers to a machine that you can stand, sit, lie, and do exercises on whilst the machine vibrates (or oscillates) at high frequencies of 15 to 70 hertz (Hz). It was first popularized in the 1990’s but has since had more robust research and data to support its credibility. Before that, Russian space scientists had been working on this, and NASA had also been testing the use of vibrating plates in space to prevent muscle and bone atrophy due to prolonged time in a weightless atmosphere.
How Does It Work?
The studies suggest that vibrations signals are sent through the machine and into your muscles, tendons, and body tissue which activate muscle contraction. This in turn improves strength, balance, and coordination over time as the muscles are being forced to work. Other research indicates that bone cells feel an effect too – and respond by improved bone density. Over time these contractions lead to increased muscle mass, oxygen consumption, energy expenditure, and improved blood sugar level control similar to real physical exercise.
WBV Training Benefits
Increase muscle mass
Improve muscle performance
Increase bone density
Reduce body fat
Reduce symptoms of type II diabetes
WBV Increases Energy Expenditure
Energy expenditure is the amount of energy, (in the form of calories) that a person needs to perform a given physical exercise. For example, you might expend 500 calories running for 30 minutes. There are obviously a lot of variables to this.
A 2018 study by the Department of Neurosciences, at the University of Verona published research which concluded that using whole body vibration machines increased oxygen consumption by 22% and energy expenditure by 20% compared to a control group. A simple and effective study which took 22 healthy and physically fit males and had them exercise on a vibrating platform performing the same 6 exercises for 20 minutes compared to a control group with no vibration. The results stated a significant effect on the metabolic cost of exercise.
Whole Body Vibration: Inflammation, Crohn’s disease, and bowel disease
There is also relevant new research from 2019 that found using WBV increased gut bacterium by 17 fold which plays a crucial role in inflammation. The bacterium in question ‘Alistipes’ has a key role in lowering inflammation in the gut. Research previously conducted has revealed that low levels of Alistipes in the gut is linked to people with Crohn’s disease as well as inflammatory bowel disease.
Essentially, this study looked at whole body vibration before and after results using laboratory rats, where one group were using WBV for 20 minutes a day for 4 weeks at 30 Hz compared to a control group. Granted there are limitations linking rodent results to humans, however there were strong results which concluded that WBV’s ability to decrease the inflammatory response can reverse many symptoms of type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM), such as polydipsia and polyuria.
So you want to know how to use the whole body vibration machine. There are a lot of great exercises to start and build up to with a whole body vibration plate. Dave Asprey, the founder and maker of BulletProof Coffee has a great video on beginner exercises you can try (@02:38)
For more advanced users of the WBV plate, try these exercises. For each one try to hold these positions:
Grab extra weight: a kettle bell/dumbbell for muscle growth
Deep squat for hip, knee & lower back mobility
One leg standing position for balance
Plank position on your elbows for a core workout
Standing calf raise for balance and calf definition
Tricep dips for bigger arms
Deep push-up for targeting chest and triceps
So, Should You Be Using WBV?
There are definite upsides to using WBV with meaningful studies that can back it up. But how practical is it in your exercise routine? Firstly, do you or your gym own a whole body vibration machine? Secondly, could you adapt your current workout routine to do it on a WBV machine?
This may be better for people who are trying to improve their health, reduce symptoms of type 2 diabetes, and other diseases, perhaps older people who can’t physically exert themselves but would benefit from the forced muscle contractions.
For most people, if the option is available – it would be effective to tie this into a warm up as part of your workout, priming and activating your muscles and tendons before working out.