Any benefits to vibration strength training equipment?

New research may show no additive benefits of vibration strength training equipment. Could vibration training really be something that’s useless to add to a good program, or can we learn something from this study? We are going to go over the recent results of this study and evaluate the positive and negative parts of the vibration research study. Digging deeper will allow us to develop the most effective vibration training programs that will show positive benefits for you.

New vibration research shows no added benefits

A new study in the Scientific World Journal assessed whether the effects of vibration training was able to augment the increase in strength and corticospinal excitability to that of strength training alone. The results were explained as follows:

The purpose of the present study was to quantify the strength improvements and corticospinal adaptations confined to the M1 following 4 wks of identical heavy load strength training either with or without superimposed WBV. There were several important findings. Foremost, this is the first study to assess the effectiveness of superimposing traditional strength training with WBV to elicit superior strength development and neural adaptations. Both groups experienced a significant increase in 1RM strength and corticospinal excitability, as well as a significant reduction in SICI with no corresponding change in muscle thickness following the 4 wk intervention. However, the novel finding of the current study was that 4 wks of WBV training did not offer any appreciable advantage in any outcome measure when compared to identical strength training without superimposed vibration.

The results showed that adding vibration training really didn’t do much for this group. Looking at these type of results, it’s easy to dismiss vibration training as a fad or something that one doesn’t need to include in a strength training program. However, research is often limited in it’s protocols and does not usually relate to real world effects. Just like research in other forms of sports performance techniques, providing a generic protocol will add nothing of value to the study. The research study also made some suggestions on why the results may not be as positive as they had hoped for:

It has been shown that the true frequency or amplitude of WBV imposed on the body can differ from the preset values of the vibration device, particularly when using additional loads/weights. Whilst this was not directly quantified in the current study, Pel et al. reported a 10-fold reduction in transmission of WBV-induced acceleration from the ankle to the knee/hip at a range of frequencies above 20 Hz. Additionally, a recent study investigating the effects of WBV and conventional loaded squat exercises on muscle activation showed no differences in sEMG at various sites of the body, across a number of training loads and vibratory accelerations.

There are several things to take away from the findings in this study. The vibration strength training equipment was used before and after the exercise sets, and not used during the set. We’ve seen some significant changes in strength when vibration machines were used with weight overload, meaning the squat was done while on a vibration platform. For this type of strength training, a significant training stimulus is required in addition to vibration training to see some type of result. The study here also used a platform with 35 Hertz only. This also goes against the principles of training, where we do know in practice that sticking with the same stimulus over time will allow the body to accommodate to it, thereby decreasing its effectiveness. The study would have been much better if the vibration exercise stimulus was increased over the course of training.

The type of program utilized in this study did not take into consideration the effect of different frequencies. Studies by Lamont et al. show that a frequency of 50 hertz showed great promise in increasing strength gains when vibration was used during the rest periods of a strength training program.

To get the most out of your vibration strength training equipment, it’s important to understand that you need to experiment with vibration training to achieve optimal results. You need to understand what your goals are and how you are going to achieve them. Will vibration machines be used as a warm up or cool down? Will you use it between sets of strength training? If so, take a look at Lamont’s research. Or will you use the vibration platform with weights at the same time? If so, you’ll need to be highly proficient and experienced in  performing these vibration exercises in a safe manner. There is a risk of injury if you are not careful in knowing how to progress someone’s vibration training program in a step by step manner. As you can see, proper physiological training principles and the experience of the trainer come into play, just like any other form of training. Instead of dismissing vibration strength training equipment, just remember the great results those in the field are getting every day by using the technology as a tool and integrated appropriately in their strength training program.

About the Author Dr. Jasper Sidhu

Dr. Jasper Sidhu has been using vibration platforms for over 10 years in rehabilitation, sports, fitness and weight loss settings. In addition to hands on treatment of patients and clients in these settings, he has lectured at various universities and medical association meetings on the application of vibration training.  

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1 comment
Lloyd Shaw Vibra-Train says June 20, 2012

I would also like to add, That moving on a low strength platform was a marketing idea ( aka the new term “acceleration training ” it accelerates what you are already doing ” ). With no scientific explanation given at the time.

In my opinion it contradicts the very nature of pure eccentric contraction training. ( Which Vibration Training is by nature ). And this will be proven in time by PROPER research.

The fact is the company responsible had two major problems.

(1) Customer complaints about how weak the new machines were.

(2) They could not trademark Vibration Training.

This idea of moving on the machine was by coincidence promoted by the exact same company that released thousands of machines with fake specifications. Some finding their way into research.

Why researchers follow their advice blindly is beyond my comprehension. .

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