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June 01, 2023
Fitness equipment continues to evolve and has even started to integrate technology into it more than ever. Unfortunately, some of those advances have brought on gimmicky products, such as the shake weight and fat-loss ab belts.
The question with these products always seems to be, "Do they actually work?" And while vibration plates certainly don't fit into the same gimmicky category as shake weights, they are a newer product that has faced the same question since their inception.
So, do vibration plates work? If so, how, and what results can you expect?
Don't worry! This article will teach you everything you need to know about vibration plates and, more importantly, whether they work.
Table of Contents:
A vibration plate, or vibration platform machine, is a unique piece of exercise equipment with a wide range of benefits.
Vibration machines attach vibration plates to a flat platform where you can stand, sit, or do other exercises. As the plates vibrate, they cause muscles to contract, mimicking what happens during exercise.
You can stand in place and let the machine do all the work or perform exercises while on the machine. Regardless of how you use the vibration plate, benefits include increased muscle mass, fat loss, energy levels, and flexibility.
While the concept of vibration plates is enticing, does it work, or is it a scam? The answer is yes, vibration plates do work in specific settings.
One study sought the effectiveness of whole-body vibration training, or doing exercises while atop the vibration plates, on muscle strength and physical performance in older adults compared to conventional resistance weight training.
After twelve 50-minute sessions, both groups showed gains in muscle strength, but the whole-body vibration training group significantly increased mean peak torque. The vibration plate group also improved physical performance, measured by a short physical performance battery of lower extremity functioning1.
While these results were not overwhelmingly in favor of vibration plates, it does conclude that it is effective at increasing muscle strength and physical performance.
A separate study sought the metabolic effect of a 20-minute session using vibration plate machines.
When twenty-two young, active males did different exercises with and without the vibration stimulus, whole-body vibration increased oxygen consumption by 22% and energy expenditure by 20% compared to the control group. The presence of the vibrations causes the body to use more oxygen, working the muscles to a greater extent.
Previous studies show similar results, concluding that whole-body vibration significantly increases energy expenditure and oxygen consumption. Over time, these results improved physical performance and showed increased blood flow following a high-intensity workout2.
Studies aside, looking at real-life users' experiences are also good. And, overall, vibration plate users seem pretty happy with their results.
"I love mine and it makes a normal workout or just squats or leg lifts more challenging and it’s just fun. If I really crank on it and literally just stand on it in squat position for 10-15 mins I’ll definitely feel it the next day so for me that’s more than enough to love it. Found mine on Amazon for $130 and it’s super!" (source)
Another user promoted its weight loss and muscle-building benefits, saying:
"I have (had) one since like March and have used it on and off since I got it, and I’ve definitely had results. I didn’t even do full workouts on ti just did the full power for 30-40 min and did lose workouts and squats and my quads are HUGE and defined and hard as hell, my thighs too have more defined muscle and when I did it continuously I lost 20 pounds of course while eating healthier but not even watching calories. I put on 10 pounds since I stopped it after starting a hell semester that but now I’ve started it again. When you get off you feel your muscles, they’re all warm from contracting so much and even your hips hurt a little. I got the life pro which is $400 but I’d say worth it, also has replaced my coffee early mornings as just standing on it for 10 minutes wakes me up fully and prepared my body for moving without grogginess. I can only imagine where I’d be if I had kept at it from the beginning, but I started it again so it will be amazing to see." (source)
Vibration plates produce high-frequency vibrations while you are on the machine, sending a signal to the brain telling your muscles to contract.
The vibrations cause your muscles to contract 50 times per second, while regular exercise has around two to four contractions per second. These rapid contractions, called myotatic reflexes or stretch reflexes, stimulate a much-heavier workload than regular exercise at a fraction of the energy.
Once your vibration plate is set up, stand on top with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can choose your workout position from here, depending on your experience and fitness level.
Most vibration plates will have an option to set vibration duration and frequency. Start with sets of around 10-20 seconds at a time. For vibration frequency, begin on the lower end of the range, usually between 5-40 Hz.
For the most basic workout, stand with your knees slightly bent and maintain this position, controlling your body weight for the allotted time. Once you get comfortable using the machine, you can increase the frequency and duration to increase results.
Workouts should be between 10 and 30 minutes in total, ideally three to four times a week.
Check out these 7 Best Vibration Plate Exercises & Workouts for some excellent routines!
One of the top reasons people use vibration plates is to aid weight loss or lower their body fat percentage.
Vibration plates can attack weight loss in multiple ways. For one, they can speed up metabolism through increased muscle, which helps the body burn calories faster. They can also enhanced oxygen supply, which makes it easier to use fat for energy.
To check the validity of vibration plates for weight loss, researchers conducted a systematic review of 18 trials that tested whole-body vibration in obese people between 2010-2017. Results confirmed that six to twelve weeks of whole-body vibration "generally reduced fat mass and cardiovascular improvements."
While results varied, with some having less success than others, the average weight loss in the whole body vibration group was between 5% and 10%. They concluded that the groups lost body fat due to three significant factors3.
This combination helps to lose weight, improve body composition, and increase muscle toning.
While vibration plates will work if you simply stand on them, it is best to perform exercises on the plate to maximize weight loss efforts.
Some of the best exercises to do while on the vibration include:
Once you gain experience and strength with body weight alone, you can progress to exercises with dumbbells on the vibration plate.
The same systematic review we mentioned above also found that 30-40 Hz is the ideal frequency to burn fat3. You'll burn the most calories in the first ten minutes as your heart rate elevates in response to the shock, but your body will slowly adjust. Therefore, the best vibration plate workout plan should include 20-30 minute sessions at least three or four times a week.
As mentioned earlier, a study found that vibration therapy increases energy expenditure, or calories burned, by roughly 20%. So, if you usually burn 200 calories in 20 minutes, you would burn 240 on a vibration plate2.
That said, vibration plates should only be part of your workout routine, not the entire thing. Following a healthy diet, like this meal plan for weight loss, and regularly performing conventional exercises is vital to increase weight loss further.
One unique benefit of using whole-body vibration therapy that conventional exercise can not do is to help remove cellulite.
Studies have confirmed that using a vibration plate can help improve cellulite by improving blood circulation, helping with lymphatic draining, and killing fat cells.
One study treated ten young women with cellulite with just 20 whole-body vibration workout sessions. Over four weeks, each girl did vibration therapy five times a week for 60 minutes.
Results showed total cellulite removal in 40%, while the other 60% also experienced reductions in cellulite.
The vibration treatment also increased skin temperature in the affected areas in 80% of the women. This temperature elevation indicates more blood flow to the area, which helps with the removal of fat tissue4.
Whole-body vibration therapy helps the body in several ways that conventional exercise can't. For instance, the micro-muscular contractions caused by the vibrations help increase blood flow and deliver oxygen, aiding post-workout muscle recovery and boosting metabolism.
Even if you aren't necessarily looking to gain muscle or burn fat, vibration plates can improve your health in multiple ways, from improving cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure to increasing bone density and boosting immunity.
For example, one study from 2012 using middle-aged obese women found that six weeks of whole-body vibration therapy caused a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure5.
As such, they are often used in rehabilitation settings to improve blood circulation, increase bone density, improve posture, reduce back pain, and more.
Studies have shown that vibration therapy can even boost the immune system by helping with lymphatic drainage and eliminating toxins through improved blood flow6. Vibration plates are also commonly used for rehabilitation, as they can help recover from injury, reduce pain, and increase muscle strength.
Let's dive into more of the specific benefits you can get from a vibration plate.
Studies have shown that vibration therapy increases testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). Muscle contractions stimulate growth similarly to weight-lifting but at a higher efficiency1. Imagine the muscle building potential if you combine vibration plates and weight training!
The workout from a vibration plate increases your metabolism and energy expenditure, which leads to fat loss. It also helps control insulin levels, vital for controlling fat levels3.
Heading to the gym to workout can take over an hour when you factor in travel, warmups, etc. However, with a vibration plate at home, you can complete an entire workout in only 15 or 20 minutes.
Several studies have confirmed that vibration therapy improves circulation by increasing blood flow. Better circulation is vital to improving health, as nutrients, joint lubrication, and disease-fighting cells travel through your blood.
A literary review of 24 articles confirmed that whole-body vibration improves flexibility and joint health. One study found an increase of 5.3% in trunk flexion at a frequency of 26 Hz7.
Vibration therapy helps the body recover faster by increasing muscle oxygen and blood flow.
One study found that vibration plates significantly reduced delayed-onset muscle soreness by improving oxygen delivery and removing toxins. It also showed the participants experienced less muscle damage during the workout8.
While they don't know exactly how it works, several studies have found that vibration training reduces bone loss and increases bone mineral density. This is another benefit likely attributed to improved circulation, as better circulation helps lower the risk of bone loss and regeneration9.
One of the lesser-known benefits, vibration plates improve blood flow for a better oxygen supply, which helps the brain.
It also increases serotonin and dopamine, our happy hormones, while decreasing our stress hormone cortisol. Lastly, it increases testosterone, which also leads to improved mental clarity.
Want to dig into vibration plate benefits further? Check out our article on the top benefits of vibration plates.
Vibration plates can be used safely without side effects by most healthy people. People who should avoid using vibration plates include those with epilepsy, people with a history of blood clots, pregnant women, and anyone who suffers from a medical disorder.
In addition, long-term use can potentially cause pain in the neck, back, hands, shoulders, and hips, although this happens in very few people. There's a need for more research here to really understand any other side effects of long-term use.
The great part about vibration plates is that they produce results with minimal experience or effort, so exercisers of all levels can use them. Regardless, lifting experience will dictate how you use a vibration plate.
Experienced lifters can do several exercises on the plate, while beginners can simply sit or stand. In latter cases, vibration machines work especially well for older adults, postmenopausal women, and people with limited mobility.
Vibration plates are expensive and should be considered a long-term investment, so choosing the right machine is crucial.
One key consideration is size. Some have a large vibrating platform for a full-body workout, while others are smaller and more easily transportable. So make sure to measure both your room and your stance to get the right fit.
Also note the material quality, as better products use steel or something with similar stability. Additionally, the range of vibration speed settings and type of vibration are important considerations, as you want the flexibility to individualize workouts.
Finally, as we mentioned, this is an investment, so price might be the most significant factor.
Models can range from $100 to over $4,000, so your choice of vibration plate depends largely on your budget. If you can, find a product with a warranty to protect your investment and guarantee it will last long-term.
One of our favorite vibration plates is the LifePro Rumblex 4D Vibration Plate Exercise Machine. Voted the best overall vibration plate machine, it offers three program settings and seven different training modes. It can range from 4-40 Hz and create oscillations of one to 12 millimeters.
Factor in the anti-slip rubber, wearable remote, and adjustable straps, and it's customizable to just about every need!
Looking for more great product recommendations? Check out our article on the 10 Best Vibration Plates!
Still want to learn more? Here are some of the more frequently asked questions.
Vibration plates increase how many calories you burn by 20%. For example, you usually burn around seven calories per minute doing push-ups, which is 70 calories for 10 minutes. A vibration plate can increase this number to roughly 84 calories in 10 minutes of push-ups. Many experts say 10 minutes can burn roughly 40-60 calories.
Yes, vibration machines work if you just stand on them, although you'll see sub-optimal results regarding body composition. Best results come from doing actual exercises, like squats, push-ups, and more on the plate.
Ten minutes on a vibration plate is roughly equal to roughly 30 minutes of traditional exercise or weight-lifting.
Yes, vibration plates help lose weight and burn belly fat by increasing metabolism and body temperature and attacking fat cells.
Yes, vibration plates are very good for your health. Their many benefits mentioned above can improve your life mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Yes, vibration plates are great for improving circulation. The vibrations improve blood flow and circulation through the body.
As you can see, vibration plates might appear to be a scam at first glance, but research shows they have numerous health benefits.
Whether you aim to gain strength, burn fat, or recover from an injury, vibration plates combine technology with conventional exercises to take your workout to the next level. They are also excellent for rehabilitation from injury or even general health.
Fitness equipment continues to progress with technology, helping to make your workouts more efficient, and vibration plates are no exception.
Now that you know vibration plates work, use our article on the 10 Best Vibration Plates to find the perfect fit for you!
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