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Speed Not Enhanced by Whole Body Vibration Training

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In a review of existing studies researchers from the Institute of Sport and Recreation Research, Faculty of Health and Environmental Science and Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand conclude that whole body vibration training does not increase speed for trained athletes. This literature is published in the March 2009 (Volume 23, Number 2) edition of the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

According to the NSCA’s Editorial Mission Statement, “The NSCA publishes brief reviews by scientific experts in the field. The reviews should provide a critical examination of the literature and integrate the results of previous research in an attempt to educate the reader as to the basic and applied aspects of the topic.” The title of this review is “Vibration Training: Could it Enhance the Strength, Power or Speed of Athletes?” Online access to the journal is provided for NSCA members only.

The authors of this paper conducted a review of WBV research. Due to a variety of problems with the current state of WBV research — small sample size, questionable methodology, lack of long-term studies, prominence of studies featuring untrained subjects and the lack of a standard WBV training protocol — there were only six studies that met the author’s criteria for inclusion in this review. All of these six studies were underpowered in terms of subjects.

With regard to improving an athlete’s speed, the authors found only two studies that met their criteria for inclusion in this review. According to the authors, “Both studies observed that WBV training produced non-significant and trivial changes in these speed measures.”

Muscle stiffness has been identified as being beneficial to athletes looking to produce high rates of force development or rapid transmission of force, and athletes who perform short sprints, plyometrics (jumping drills), and power movements will benefit from increased muscle stiffness.

One of these WBV studies measured changes in muscle stiffness over a six-week period and found that squatting on a vibration platform did not change muscle stiffness when compared to the non-vibration group. This serves to counter the theory that vibration training enhances neural potentiation, and that speed and muscle stiffness should improve more than other performance factors as a result of WBV training.

Many WBV proponents have used short-term studies as the basis for their claims that vibration training enhances muscle potentiation. The authors of this review point out that short-term effects do not guarantee a performance improvement over the long-term, and that “vibration training does not seem to enhance muscular potentiation in well-trained athletes.”

The authors — scientific experts in the field — conclude, “The practicality of vibration training also should be taken into account in terms of time, cost, and reduction of other training for what we have observed to be a small benefit.” The words of these researchers from New Zealand are in stark contrast to the hype, “research” and faux-science presented as gospel by WBV hucksters.

Given the high cost of WBV platforms, the inconvenience of use, and the paucity of reliable and legitimate research, it’s clear that vibration training is not ready for prime time.

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About Sal Marinello

  • I have to remove my recommendation of HyperGravity platforms. This is due to massive breakdown of machines both in studio and also of some home machines and lack of communication within the industry to fix these matters and protect the comsumer.

  • If you want to read more about Vibration Training.

    There are articles specifically written for the Comsumer who wants to buy a home machine and for those who want to use a machine in a Studio or simply learn more about Vibration Training and how it can benefit them. There’s a seperate section with articles written for Trainers and Studio or Gym owners.

    Also a forum so that readers can ask questions after reading articles and for those in the industry to use for discussion.

  • I think people get pev’d because Sal does not include the research that shows clear results. He has been asked about the positive research and refuses to answer what must be uncomfortable questions.

    It is identical to what he accuses other of is it not ?.

  • Crazy article Sal, but there is a lot of p’ed off people here, whats up with that?

  • Still, I think the approach is very smart.

    More and more studies dig the issue of how vibration can affect certain aspects of our life, our health, our mind.

    Without these steps – even in case they can carry on with the mistakes – it is impossible to move on in exploring the universe where we live.

  • For all those interested I’ve published in my site a page just for research and abstracts on WBV. By the way I re-read the Wilcock article mentioned by Sal Marinello. I think that a neutral point of view should mention both positives and negatives. Among the positives:
    • Overall, there does not seem to be any detrimental effect on performance with the controlled use of vibration training in athletes.
    • There is some evidence that chronic vibration training by athletes may provide a small benefit to maximal strength and power. Considering that velocity of movement (speed) does not seem to be enhanced with vibration training, the benefit to power may come from an increase in the force production capacity of the muscles (e.g., through mechanisms such as increased hypertrophy or changes in muscle fiber composition).
    • vibration training may be good in that it could provide a different training stimulus, creating variety in an athlete’s training regime when used in conjunction with other traditional training methods.

  • You can read the abstract of the study.

  • Dear Brian,
    For a start, most if not all athletes use specific gym equipment to target weak zones, sometimes they deliberately use machine that do not need balancing or co-ordination so they can overload a primary muscle, not wanting to go engage the smaller secondary balancing muscles. Why?
    With 2/3rds of the energy in a balancing lift being used to stabilize the mass of the weight and your joints using those smaller muscles, this can force a plateau in someone’s training very quickly, and using machines in conjunction with free weights can help overcome this. ALL force being directed at one muscle has its merits.

    A study on stretching? Get real ,with so many factors involved no conclusive proof could be obtained about such a thing, but athletes know from experience if they fail to do ANY kind of warm-up or stretches their injury rate goes up.

    Do you understand the above Brian?

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Any gym offers several peices of equipment that work the same muscles.

    Yet, those machines do not properly train the smaller muscles that help you keep your stability during workouts with free weights. Plus, imho,”resistance” machines are mostly used to get certain look & are not an efficient way to develop or gain strength.

    Anyways, you are right Jon. These arguments are pointless. There is no factual science to back up the claims that WBV proponents make. Just like there isn’t any proof that stretching before exercising will keep you from getting injured. Sure, it might make people feel great but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will improve performance!

    Have fun in Arizona…

  • Brain AKA-Guppy,

    These arguments are pointless. Call Triple Threat Performance in Tempe, Arizona– the number is on the contact us page if you clikc the link to my name.
    They are a training facility with Strength and conditioning coaches from several professional sports teams. They train every one from pro-ball players to olympic gold medalists. They have both a Pnuemex vertical and NitroFit pivotal vibration unit. They use the Pnuemex for warm-up applications becasue the high frequency vibration really helps warm the muscles, stimulate blood flow, and stretch the body. They incorporate the NitroFit into thier resistence and Plyometric workouts in bouts because it really forces rapid muscle contraction and helps the athletes tone and develop muscle endurance. I went by there not to long ago and saw former olypic goldmedalist Dan O’Brien training with it. He stated that he really liked the Pivotal unit and could really feel how helpful it was in his training.

    I’m not saying vibration training is the only tool for training but its still a valid tool. Any gym offers several peices of equipment that work the same muscles. As vibration companies, we are only doing the same thing– Giving customers more options. Its just another training tool–

  • The above article correctly points out these problems with Studies of Whole Body Vibration:

    small sample size, questionable methodology, lack of long-term studies, prominence of studies featuring untrained subjects and the lack of a standard WBV training protocol

    which is exactly why those who are serious about the industry have been, and are, working on standards for vibration machine quality; also a standard training protocol of excellent instruction using a specific safety-first program adhered to by all.

    Sal’s article on the studies is negative and couldn’t be otherwise due to the flaws stated. It’s the disparaging comments against those who are providing a safe, effective training/fitness method that cuts. “WBV Hucksters” he calls us for providing an inexpensive (Sal really needs to research this) option which can work alone or alongside gym and personal training.

    Results? I have not seen or heard of one person who has not gained results from training on a high quality platform with the safety-first, whole body program 10 minutes, 2-3x week. People return to Studios after taking a break (travel, work etc) because, alike with regular training, they become deconditioned.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Di Heap, state the questions again then. I can also assure you that Sal has no control over the questions or comments posted here and those who do have control surely have no vested interest in this discussion.

  • No I saw an invitation on here for the Mag writer to tests a machine and it was taken down. Where did it go?

  • Jim, you are confused. Questions are not being deleted, personal attacks are.

    Furthermore, this isn’t a forum, it’s an online magazine with a healthy comments space.

  • Why do questions keep being deleted. I keep coming back to check. Interested in reading answers.

    No way to run a forum.

  • Sal,

    You’ve written this article expecting a response. It’s been up four days. Now’s the time to come back and respond to the comments.

    If you will, we can arrange a machine for you to do a trial workout. We choose the machine – not Soloflex but a proper workout model.

  • Guppy

    Have you used a Vibration Training Machine? How much have you researched them?

    Are you a Trainer or a serious sports person? Get current.

    Get out and try a sports model for yourself.

    Readers will be interested – which muscle group did you feel the effect in most?

  • Hi Guppy, Nope no personality disorder here, just sleep deprivation right now. I assure you One of me is quite enough! I did reply to Sal, then to you, then lost Internet connection for a time, and now back to Sal, after some discussion with my peers.

    You’re fun Guppy, because you keep proving my point – Real Kettle Balls must be metal – – and Real Vibration Machines must currently also be metal platform – – Same reason = mass.
    You have to move real weight to make a change OR you have to have real weight move you, to make a change.

    Floor Buffer? No, I think you are thinking of one of the lightweight plastic machines that move about when switched on (lack of mass). (I’ve already told you we have some problems in this industry just like many others.) The machines I use weigh around 200Kg (441 lbs). No chance of polishing the floors with them.

    Not bashing America, Just expecting more from the place we are all supposed to look up to. We clean up our own backyard here and expect you to also.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Whoa…Di, Do you have a personality disorder? You(or perhaps there’s more than one of you) have been replying to me not Sal.

    Second, Kettle Balls have been around for centuries and when they were first invented they could only be made with metals(?). So, people understand that a real Kettle Ball has to be metal. Companies have also tried to pass off dumbbells & barbells made with sand in them but to no avail. That’s why weight training is tried and true because there is no glitz or glamour. You have to move real weight to make a change.

    Using your arguments we would not have commercial gyms. They spend thousands on equipment for consumers to use that they could otherwise never afford.

    Yup, marketing schemes aka Machines come and go. You can sometimes see the ones that sit and collect dust at my gym but the free weights are always being used. The only machine I use is a stair master but I also do the stairs at my apartment. When I finally have a house of my own then I will purchase my own free weights but the gym is great for socializing with like minded people and learning new methods.

    You can constantly post all the propaganda you want about your overpriced floor buffer but in time we will see your scam fail! Oh and bashing America won’t gain you any credibility with me!

  • Is it correct Sal that, Lloyd Shaw sent you an entire information pack asking for help to warn the consumer about the very same fake machines those tests were done on?
    Why would someone do that?

  • More about Price of Vibration Machines and cost to use them:

    In New Zealand we don’t charge athletes to use the equipment. They pay nothing, zero,zilch! So your “its too expensive” argument falls flat. For example; The N.Z. basketball team, The Breakers, have requested a unit and will get one FREE next week. They were not offered a unit as a cheap marketing ploy, they asked for one, and still they are getting it for free.

    Sal, it’s not our fault you live in a country where everybody is so greedy they do nothing for free. Greed at all costs, right!

    It is important to point out, it was an AMERICAN marketing company who sold out our industry, and even tried to rip off disabled people. So maybe having a closer look at why your sports/fitness industry seems okay with this and also that it was even promoted by known American fitness companies like AP and CP; that would be a better use of your time.

  • Sal, (You’ve been lucky for a few hours as my internet was down)

    You like Kettle Balls so think about this:

    Imagine how frustrated you would have felt if a marketing campaign had been released right when the Kettle Balls potential was being realized, (and no decent tests had been done yet because they were brand new), by a Company that made replica’s out of plastic, with fancy programs attached, but obviously no chance of them ever working. Someone like you,understands that without “mass” they are useless.

    And then, on top of that Academics were dumb enough to test them , because they “looked” like the real thing.

    On Your continual tirade about price: Using your arguments we would not have commercial gyms. They spend thousands on equipment for consumers to use that they could otherwise never afford.

    And we all know most of the actions that gym equipment replicates could be done with free weights, your own body weight, a medicine ball or sometimes just leaning against a wall – all so much cheaper!

    Are you really suggesting that, that is what we go back to? If so, your joke about you being a caveman running around with rocks is not far off the truth.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Nope… I wasn’t missing the point. I merely stating that strength training has basic scientific evidence to back it up plus if you try it out for yourself you will see the results first hand.

    WBV has neither and “time will tell” that good people like Sal Marinello were right.

  • Guppy,

    you’re missing the point. I have no doubt you could write a thesis on “The benefit of exercises using Basketballs”. That does not invalidate a similar thesis about the benefits of Smith Machines which cost a whole lot more.

    You are right that “time will tell!” As in any industry we have inferior products and ones that do the job correctly.

    Over the next few years this industry will complete the task of “taking out the trash”. Just wait till Full Force Sports Models hit U.S.A. – coming soon to a gym near you!

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    If doing a test you wouldn’t ask them to lift 1kg

    Here’s a test that a trained athlete(even if they can bench 200kg)can perform with 2Lbs that will crush their spirit and prove without $10,000 that strength training works:

    We(USMC)called it “Goin’ Fishing” – Stand with your body flat against a wall and hold the wieght,arm fully extended,in front of you. Feel free to use anything that weighs 2Lbs but hold it for as long as you can…

    I could also show any athlete how to do inertia & balance exercises with a basketball and basketballs don’t cost $10,000. Yet, these exercises can be proven beyond a doubt.

    Your WBV training is a hoax and will be further debunked over the next few years…Good Luck:)

  • I’d say New Zealand consumers (and many worldwide) are a lot more educated in fitness products than some posters on these blogs.

  • Guppy,

    Would you ask Trained Athletes to lift sponge balls? Of course Not! You’d give them appropriate equipment.

    If doing a test you wouldn’t ask them to lift 1kg (oops for you let’s say 2lbs) dumbells because that’s what you were gifted. You’d source correct weights suitable for the test. Well at least I hope you’d be smart enough.

    The tests were flawed. Is that, so hard to understand?

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Great Article Sal!!

    as one would expect researchers to use appropriate equipment not just anything they are gifted.

    So, vibration training can only be proven to work if you spend tens of thousands of dollars on a “training” machine?! I mean strength training can be scientifically proven if I were to use dumbbells or cinder blocks or jugs of milk or moving large stones or even my own body weight.

    Your WBV theory has been debunked! Move on & stop ripping off uneducated consumers!

  • What? Sal, now you’re writing articles on other people’s research on even older research.

    All you’ve done is verify what we already know! We know the New Zealand studies failed – they were doomed to failure!

    Being here, I know what machines were used – Lineal Therapy Devices NOT Training Machines.

    The machines Blew Up! They Failed under load of over 80Kg. This study is old and what exactly the point of the study, I don’t know, as one would expect researchers to use appropriate equipment not just anything they are gifted.

    Nice try, Sal, but you’ll have to come up with something better.

  • Wow, Nice snake in the grass move. Don’t respond to about two years worth of comments on your other blogs, disregard links to published studies and a list of testimony from satisfied customers. Then, out of no where you strike with one study proving another study wrong.

    Two fatal flaws in your blog posting.

    1. You grouped all WBV together without specifying whether the study tested pivotal or vertical vibration.

    2. Telling the general public that they can’t read an article unless they are memebers of the NSCA seems like a marketing tactic for people to join an organization that you are a member of. Why dont you just site the specifics and prove your point rather than leaving it just slightly out of reach so it can’t b picked apart?