Fast Track Your Fitness

with Whole Body Vibration

Build Muscle (Or...At Least, Stop Losing It)!

Did you know that you lose as much as 5% of your muscle mass every 10 years beyond age 30? 

It’s quite common for men to lose one-third of their muscle mass over the course of their lifetimes. [1]  This loss of muscle mass, known as “sarcopenia”, is not to be taken lightly. By definition, sarcopenia is associated with loss of physical functionality. That means not being able to do the things you love to do and in more advanced cases, not being able to do the basic things you need to do to take care of yourself. Sarcopenia is primarily a disease of the elderly but, with a modern society that more sedentary than at any time in the history of our species, younger people too are now at risk.

Age-related sarcopenia has been directly linked in the scientific literature to host of problems including, but not limited to: 

  • Posture Prolapse Syndrome
  • Physical Limitations
  • Chronic Pain
  • Disability
  • Loss of Independence
  • Increased Risk of Falling
  • Increased Risk of Fracture
  • Increased Morbidity
  • Increased Mortality [2]

Whole Body Vibration (WBV) has emerged as a very promising tool for rapidly increasing muscle size, strength and power – especially in populations that are unwilling or unable to participate in traditional forms of resistance training. In one study, researchers took a group of elderly people and had them perform strength training using WBV for 10 weeks. In this group of people in their late 70’s and early 80’s, they documented:

  • As much as 38.8% increase in maximal strength
  • As much as 15.5% increase in muscle mass of the thighs
  • As well as 9% increase in mobility (keep in mind, that this was just a nice side effect from a strength training program utilizing WBV) [3]

A 2007 study put WBV training up against a traditional strength training and documented similar results in men over the age of 60. One year of training with WBV produced increased isometric and explosive knee extension strength as well as increased muscle mass of the upper leg. The increase was on par with and, in some cases, exceeded what was produced with traditional training.[4] The researchers concluded:  

“WBV training has potential to prevent or reverse the age-related loss in skeletal muscle mass (sarcopenia).” [4]

Fall Prevention

Falls are a massive problem in the United States where about 33% of older adults fall at least once a year. [5]  According to the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society, the US spends about $50 billion each year on medical costs related to non-fatal fall injuries in adults over age 65. [6]

Fatal falls among older adults account for another $754 million in spending. 

  • Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency room visits among the elderly in the US.
  • Falls are also the primary cause of accidental deaths in persons over the age of 65 years.[7]

Fall prevention is another area where Whole Body Vibration (WBV) can be of massive benefit. Of course,  the very best way to deal with falls is to never have them in the first place.

A 2012 study on people training with WBV demonstrated huge improvements (over 65%) in balance and stability after just 12 weeks of training. [9]

Now, measuring a person’s ability to stand on one foot or their weight distribution on a pressure plate is one thing, but WBV has been shown to produce meaningful results in the real world. One long-term study showed that training with Whole Body Vibration just 2 times per week led to a 50% reduction in the number of falls over an 18 month period. [8]

Eliminate Chronic Pain

There are 1.5 billion people worldwide suffering with chronic pain. Due to relentless nature & severity of their pain, associated physical limitations and often depression, the thought of beginning a traditional exercise program is downright terrifying for many of these people. And again, this is an area where WBV really shines. Because while many of these people are not able to walk around the block or lift weights, they can stand on a WBV platform.    
  • Results suggest that a 6-week traditional exercise program combined with WBV safely reduces pain and fatigue in women suffering with Fibromyalgia. [10]
  • A 2010 study found that women with Fibromyalgia derive additional health benefits by using WBV as part of a 6-week traditional exercise program. [11]
  • A 2019 meta-analysis pooled the data from 16 different studies on use of WBV for chronic pain and concluded that WBV has a positive effect on chronic pain & that “long durations of WBV could be especially beneficial.” [12] 

Why would spending more time on the platform lead to greater benefits? Because the more time you spend on the vibration platform, the more Kinetic Flow you deliver to your brain and the more you drive down subconscious pain signaling in the body.

Multiple studies have demonstrated significant reductions in stiffness, improvements in mobility & ability to perform activities of daily living, decreased feelings of depression and anxiety as well as improvements in sleep quality all as a result of training with Whole Body Vibration (WBV). [13,14] 

In many cases these training effects carried over many months after people stopped the training. [13]

Increase Bone Density

As of 2018, there were over 2 million adults in the US with osteoporosis, and there were 43.4 million people with low bone mineral density. The literal translation of Osteoporosis “porous bone”.  With Osteoporosis your bones become progressively more thin and as this happens they become much more weak.

You can see in this image, healthy bone on top with its dense fibrous structure and the osteoportoic “porous bone” on the bottom with its more brittle appearance that kind of  resembles a snowflake.

Decreased bone density of this kind means the bones are much more likely to fracture when placed under stress. 

  • In 2015, people on Medicare (generally age 65+ in the US) suffered 2.3 million osteoporotic fractures.
  • Within 12 months of experiencing a new osteoporotic fracture, approximately 15% of patients suffered one or more subsequent fractures and nearly 20% died.
  • Mortality was highest in those with hip fracture, with 30% dying within 12 months. [15]

Multiple long-term studies have demonstrated that WBV training leads to significant increases in bone mineral density. [16,17,18,19] This should come as no surprise considering that this technology was developed specifically to prepare astronauts bodies for the rigors of being in space.  

Healthy Hormone Boost

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a substance that our body’s produce naturally. This hormone plays a big part in stimulating cell reproduction, growth, healing, repair and regeneration. When you’re young we make lots of HGH because you’re still growing. As we age, we make less and less. You’ve probably heard of professional athletes getting busted for injecting HGH into their bodies.  

One of the main benefits of resistance training is that is naturally elevates HGH levels in your body. 

This natural hormonal boost helps you to repair damaged cells and to maintain metabolism & body composition. Low HGH levels have linked to everything from decreased quality of life to increased fat mass and increased risk of disease. [20]

Extreme, heavy-duty, Olympic weight lifting has been shown to increase growth hormone levels by over 600%. More conventional types of resistance training have been shown to increase growth hormone levels by 220%. [21]

Multiple studies have demonstrated that training with WBV can increase growth hormone levels in the body by an astounding 435%-2,600%!! [22,23,24]

The MOST EFFECTIVE Protocol For WBV

As with exercise, there is no universal prescription that is most effective for every person.  Determining the best protocol for you will depend on a number of highly-individualized factors including:

  • Your Age
  • Your Goal
  • Your Fitness Level
  • Your Health Status
  • Any Physical Limitations  

However, we can (and should) look to the research to help us identify what protocols have been tested and shown to be effective for specific outcomes.  

Training For Balance & Fall Prevention

Vibration platforms that use Triplanar Vibration have been shown to produce superior results in less time with regard to improvements in  balance. This makes perfect sense given that this type of vibration stimulus challenges the body in multiple directions simultaneously and demands a more icomplex response from the body – which seems to translate better to real world situations. 

Studies that show improvement in balance and decreased falls using triplanar WBV have utilized very consistent protocols. 

Frequency: ranged from 30–40 Hz 

Amplitude: typically progressed from 2 to 5 mm. 

Protocol: People performed 1–3  repetitions of 8 lower-body exercises lasting 30–60 seconds 

Recovery Periods: matched the set lengths of 30-60 seconds (Recovery periods were reduced in two studies as people became more adapted). 

Training Frequency: 2–3 times per week

Special Notes: Balance-specific training seems to respond better to lower frequencies than strength training.

Balance also appears to more favorably to longer exposure (set length) times (45–80 seconds)

Training For Bone Density

Studies that show improvement in bone mineral density of the lumbar spine and neck of the femur have also used fairly consistent protocols. 

Frequency:  35 Hz

Amplitude: 1.7 mm

Protocol: training consisted of 5 static & dynamic lower-body exercises including: squats, heel raises, leg raises – both to the front and to the side

Training Frequency: Three 15-minute sessions per week

Special Notes: Bone density appears to respond more favorably to multiple cycles of shorter duration (15-minute sessions; approximately 40 cycles) to retain sensitivity to the vibratory stimulus.

Machines that provide stimulus is multiple directions (Triplanar) should be utilized for best results when training bone density

 

Training For Muscle Strength & Power

Training for increased muscle size, strength and power is a bit of a mixed bag. Many different protocols have been shown to be effective for accomplishing these goals. That’s actually very exciting because that means using the machine regularly will produce results. One thing that’s consistent however, is that Triplanar machine seem to produce the best results.  

Frequency: ranged from 30-50 Hz

Amplitude: ranged from 2 to 8 mm

Protocol:  Multiple Sets with lot of Isometric Squats – Although I suspect any compound exercise performed isometrically would produce results

Recovery Period: This variable can be manipulated to ensure continued success by progressively reducing recovery time between sets as you become more fit. Studies reducing recovery times to as little as 15 seconds have shown improvements in lean body mass.

Training Frequency: 2-4 times per week.

Special Notes:  Being able to add external load, as you would with traditional strength training, opens up all kinds of possibilities for more targeted WBV training. 

General Guidelines for WBV Training

The following are some basic guidelines that appear to be appropriate no matter what your goal is or what type of vibration stimulus you’re using. 

  • Multiple sets of exercises are more effective than one long, drawn-out single set

  • Durations of 30–60 seconds appear most effective when using Triplanar machines

  • Longer durations of 1-4 minutes seem to be needed to achieve the desired effect on centrally pivoting machines

  • A 1:1 ratio of the duration of each set : recovery period (this is equivalent to one “cycle”) appears to be the most effective programming

  • Multiple shorter duration sessions spread throughout the week (3–4 times per week) appear to be more effective than long single sessions

  • Just as with any training, intensity (frequency and displacement) and duration should gradually increase across the training period

References: 

1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/preserve-your-muscle-mass

2. Suey S.Y. Yeung, Esmee M. Reijnierse, Vivien K. Pham, M.C. Trappenburg, W. Kwang Lim, Carel G.M. Meskers & A.B. Maier. Sarcopenia and its association with falls and fractures in older adults: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2019 Jun; 10(3): 485–500.

3. MachadoD. García-LópezJ. González-GallegoN. Garatachea. Whole-body vibration training increases muscle strength and mass in older women: a randomized-controlled trial. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Apr;20(2):200-7.

4. BogaertsC. DelecluseA.L. ClaessensW. CoudyzerS. BoonenS.M.P. Verschueren. Impact of whole-body vibration training versus fitness training on muscle strength and muscle mass in older men: a 1-year randomized controlled trial. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2007 Jun;62(6):630-5. 

5. Morrison A, Fan T, Sen SS, Weisenfluh L. Epidemiology of falls and osteoporotic fractures: a systematic review. Clinicoecon Outcomes Res 2013;5:9–18.

6. Florence CS, Bergen G, Atherly A, Burns ER, Stevens JA, Drake C. Medical Costs of Fatal and Nonfatal Falls in Older Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2018 March

7. Fuller, G.F. Falls in the Elderly. Amer Fam Physician. 2000 April 1;61(7) :2159-68.

8. Von Stengel, S. et al. Effects of whole body vibration on bone mineral density and falls: Results of the randomized controlled ELVIS study with postmenopausal women. March 2010 Osteoporosis Inter.22(1):317-25

9. J C Adsuar, B Del Pozo-Cruz, J A Parraca, P R Olivares, N Gusi. Whole body vibration improves the single-leg stance static balance in women with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2012 Feb;52(1):85-91.

10. E. Alentorn-Geli PadillaG. MorasC. Lázaro HaroJ. Fernández-Solà. Six weeks of whole-body vibration exercise improves pain and fatigue in women with fibromyalgia. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Oct;14(8):975-81.

11. SañudoM. de HoyoL. CarrascoJ.G. McVeighJ. CorralR. CabezaC. RodríguezA. Oliva. The effect of 6-week exercise programme and whole body vibration on strength and quality of life in women with fibromyalgia: a randomised study. Clin Exp Rheumatol. Nov-Dec 2010;28(6 Suppl 63):S40-5.

12. Dong, W. Wang, J. Zheng, S. Chen, J. Qiao, X. Wang. Whole Body Vibration Exercise for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (2019)

13. A. Alp et al. Effects of whole body vibration therapy in pain, function and depression of the patients with fibromyalgia. June 2017 Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 28

14. Alentorn-Geli E, Padilla J, Moras G, Lázaro Haro C, Fernández-Solà J. Four weeks of whole-body vibration exercise improves pain and fatigue in women with fibromyalgia. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Oct;14(8):975-81.

15. https://www.medscape.com/answers/330598-82984/what-is-the-prevalence-of-osteoporosis-in-the-us

16. Von StengelW. KemmlerM. BebenekK. EngelkeW.A., Kalender. Effects of whole-body vibration training on different devices on bone mineral density. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Jun;43(6):1071-9.

17. Marín-Cascales, PE. AlcarazDJ. Ramos-Campo, A. Martinez-Rodriguez, LH. Chung, & JÁ. Rubio-Arias. Whole-body vibration training and bone health in postmenopausal women – A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore).2018 Aug; 97(34): e11918.

18. Lai CL, Tseng SY, Chen CN, et al. Effect of 6 months of whole body vibration on lumbar spine bone density in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Interv Aging. 2013; 8:1603–9.

19. Verschueren SM, Roelants M, Delecluse C, et al. Effect of 6-month whole body vibration training on hip density, muscle strength, and postural control in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled pilot studyJ Bone Miner Res. 2004;19(3):352–9.

20. P V Carroll , E R ChristB A BengtssonL CarlssonJ S ChristiansenD ClemmonsR HintzK HoZ LaronP SizonenkoP H SönksenT TanakaM Thorne. Growth hormone deficiency in adulthood and the effects of growth hormone replacement: a review. Growth Hormone Research Society Scientific Committee. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Feb;83(2):382-95.

21. Signorile, Joseph. (2011). Whole body vibration: What’s the most effective protocol?. Journal of Active Aging. 10. 66-73. 

22. DiLoreto, C. Ranchelli, A. Lucidi, P. Murdolo, G. Parlanti, N. DeCicco, A.Tsarpela, O. Annino, G. Bosco, C. Santeusanio, F. Bolli, G. and DeFeo, P. Effects of whole-body vibration exercise on the endocrine system of healthy men. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation. 2004; 27 (4):323-7.

23. Sartorio, A. Lafortuna, C. Maffiuletti, N. Agosti, F. Marazzi, N. Rastelli, F. Rigamonti, A. Muller, E. GH responses to two consecutive bouts of whole body vibration, maximal voluntary contractions or vibration alternated with maximal voluntary contractions administered at 2-h intervals in healthy adults. Growth Hormone & IGF Research. 2010;20: 416–421.

24. GiuntaM. CardinaleF. AgostiA. PatriziE. CompriA. E RigamontiA. Sartorio. Growth hormone-releasing effects of whole body vibration alone or combined with squatting plus external load in severely obese female subjects. Obes Facts. 2012;5(4):567-74.