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Do Vibration Plates Really Work?

Feb 13, 2010

Vibration Plates are becoming increasingly popular in gyms around the nation. Praised by celebrities and even tested by NASA, the idea behind vibration plates is that you can tone and define muscles faster by using vibration. NASA has studied vibration plates as a possible antidote to the muscle atrophy and bone loss that astronauts suffer while in space. Advocates of vibration plates also love them because they claim to reduce workout time by two thirds, a welcome concept to folks who struggle to fit workouts into already-busy days. But is all this just hype? Do vibration plates really work?

What Is a Vibration Plate?

Power Plate, one brand of vibration plate, vibrates in 3 directions, 20 to 50 times per second. It increases G-forces on the body, and its manufacturer claims that its use increases the effectiveness of exercises performed while standing on it.

Vibration plate workouts are not aerobic. They are similar to weightlifting without using weights.

Study Says: Yes

A 2009 study by the University of Antwerp in Belgium and Artesis University College seems to show that vibration plates do work. In the study, obese women who followed a healthy diet and exercised using vibration plates lost more weight long-term, including more hard-to-lose belly fat, than women who followed a healthy diet and conventional exercise.

The group who used vibration plates performed basic moves such as squats, push-ups, calf rises, lunges and ab crunches on the machines. They performed each type of 10 exercises for 30 seconds each, and gradually built up to 60 seconds each.

They followed this program for 6 months. The group using vibration plates lost an average of 11% of their body weight, compared with a 7% body weight loss for the group using conventional exercise methods. The group using vibration plates also lost the most belly fat. Additionally, the group using vibration plates maintained their weight loss 6 months after the initial 6-month study ended.

Supervision Needed

After reading these results, you may be ready to try out vibration plates. However, Dirk Vissers, who helped run the study, cautions that for maximum effectiveness, the vibration plate machines must be used properly. "If it's easy, you're not doing it correctly," he says.

Lesson: if you decide to use vibration plates, work with a trainer in the beginning so that you can utilize proper techniques.

Vibration Plates: Not a Sure Bet?

Despite the 2009 study results, not all researchers are sold on vibration plate machines. Injuries ranging from back pain and cartilage damage to possible brain damage from the shaking have been reported and warned of. Some scientists feel that more research is necessary before the machines can be safely recommended.

Additionally, vibration plates aren't a panacea. You still need to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly in order to achieve and maintain weight loss, regardless of the exercise method you choose.

Discuss using vibration plates with your trainer and/or physician so you can make an informed decision. Regardless of whether or not you decide to use vibration plates, continue to eat well and exercise, and you won't go wrong.

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