How to improve your fitness with whole-body vibration
Dan Fivey reviews whole-body vibration training
The idea of increasing the benefits of strength training through what is now called whole-body vibration, or WBV, is gaining attention from researchers, and it has appeared in training programs from the Australian Football League teams to NASA's. Now WBV is showing up in gyms and in personal training centres with the promise of increasing your strength, balance, and bone density.
Is it as good as it sounds?
Research is backing up those claims, and it also shows that you could lose weight or body fat from all that shaking. One small University study (conducted in Belgium) found that participants increased their quad strength by 8% and their hamstring strength by 6% after just 6 minutes on the WBV platform. Also, the Belgian researchers found that women who underwent WBV training gained just as much muscle strength (up to about 24%) as those who did a combination of cardio and strength training. There are more studies on WBV in progress, including ones being conducted at Edith Cowan University (Perth) and UQ (Brisbane) and these may be published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. For now, though, some experts recommend using WBV training as a supplement to your current workout program, not in place of it. But some of these studies are suggesting it could replace traditional training.
Here's how it works
First, you stand on what looks like a small vibrating platform with a set of handlebars attached to it. Then, you either mini squat or do some other strength-training exercises (bicep curl, push up, lunge, abdominal curl). At the same time, the machine vibrates your body, causing your muscle fibres to contract like they do when you are lifting weights, but at a much higher rate. These machines also are challenging your balance to help target core muscles. The goal is not to set your whole-body quivering; it is better to bend your knees slightly to keep the vibrations in your lower half, where they are most beneficial.
Who is it for?
Gym-goers can use the VibroGym, sports players, MS sufferers, Parkinson's sufferers, elderly (who have osteoporosis) or wheelchair users. It is being used in Australia by some AFL teams, Commonwealth Skiers, an A-League Soccer team and a Rugby League team. If your gym does not have a WBV unit yet, there is a good chance it will soon. When it does, limit your WBV sessions to less than 20 minutes a couple of times a week.
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About the Author
Dan Fivey is a Personal trainer with ten years of experience who has travelled the world, promoting Whole Body Vibration (WBV). He has worked with athletes in a variety of sports, the general public, disabled and rehab patients with WBV with excellent results.