By Dr. Mercola
A type of exercise that doesn't get much attention, but can provide truly impressive health benefits, is Whole Body Vibrational Training (WBVT), also known as Acceleration Training.
The exercise is done using a platform that vibrates in three-dimensions, or three planes: vertical, horizontal and sagittal (front to back).
The vibrations force your muscles to accommodate, resulting in dramatic improvement in strength, power, flexibility, balance, tone and leanness.
Other health benefits of whole body vibration training include:
- Increased weight loss
- Increased circulation
- Increased lymphatic drainage
- Cellulite reduction
- Increased hormone secretion: IGF-1, testosterone, and HGH (human growth hormone)
Can You "Shake Off" Excess Weight?
While it may sound like wishful thinking, research has shown that whole body vibrational training is remarkably effective when it comes to shedding excess weight. One study, published in the journal Maturitas in 2009i, found that vibrational training in conjunction with resistance training altered the body composition of postmenopausal women by successfully decreasing body fat.
Another study at the University of Antwerp in Belgiumii, published two years ago, found that the vibrational training was 54 percent more effective than traditional aerobics and strength training in producing visceral fat loss—the type of fat that tends to accumulate around your internal organs, associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Furthermore, those who used vibrational training were far less likely to gain the weight back. The study included 79 obese adults (61 of whom completed the full trial). The study consisted of six months of intervention, plus a follow up at the 12-month mark to see if the weight loss had been sustained. The participants were randomly divided into four groups:
- Group 1 received a low-calorie diet only program
- Group 2 received a low-calorie diet plus conventional fitness program of cardio and weights exercises
- Group 3 received a low-calorie diet and progressive whole body vibrational training program
- Group 4—the control group—made no changes to their lifestyle
Those using a combination of vibration training and a low calorie diet lost twice as much visceral fat in six months as those following a low calorie diet with traditional cardio and weight training. Interestingly, the fat loss they achieved remained steady in the vibration group after 12 months, whereas the other diet and exercise groups returned to their normal baseline levels once the intervention ceased.
The researchers suggested that the maintenance of visceral fat loss in the Acceleration Training group might be related to hormonal changes—specifically, increased production of human growth hormone (HGH). As I've explained in previous articles, HGH is a synergistic, foundational biochemical underpinning that promotes muscle and effectively burns excessive fat. It also plays an important part in promoting overall health and longevity.
Overall, this study suggests that Acceleration Training holds great promise for helping you achieve and sustain long-term weight loss and reduce potentially dangerous visceral fat. In conclusion, the authors stated:
"Combining aerobic exercise or whole body vibration (WBV) training with caloric restriction can help to achieve a sustained long-term weight loss of 5-10 percent. These preliminary data show that WBV training may have the potential to reduce visceral adipose tissue more than aerobic exercise in obese adults, possibly making it a meaningful addition to future weight loss programs."
Banish Unsightly Cellulite with Vibrational Training
Cellulite is a common problem for women of all ages. Here too, vibrational training has been shown to be effective. In a German six-month long research project into the effects of Acceleration Training on celluliteiii, 55 subjects were divided into two groups:
- One group did Whole Body Vibrational Training for 8-13 minutes, two to three times a week
- The second group performed the identical vibrational exercise, plus another 24-48 minutes of cardio training, two to three times a week
Baseline measurements were collected at the beginning of the study, and repeated six months later. The data collected included:
- Skin condition (the measure of cellulite or evaluation of the deposits of dimpled fat under the skin).
- Circumference of calf muscles, buttocks, and upper thigh.
- Body composition: body fat percentage, lean mass percentage.
After six months, the Whole Body Vibrational training group only had a cellulite reduction of just below 26 percent, while the WBV plus cardio group had a cellulite reduction of just over 32 percent. The authors concluded:
"This study proves that easy, simple and efficient whole body vibration training can defeat cellulite; it can accelerate and enhance collagen remodeling, improve circulation, increase lean tissue, help people to lose fat and reduce the size of buttocks, thighs and calves."
Other Health Benefits of Whole Body Vibration Exercise
Two additional health benefits I want to address here are:
- Improved blood flow and circulation, and
- Increased HGH production
The former plays a key role in tissue healing, making it a particularly helpful adjunct when you're recovering from an injury. A 2007 study published in the Medical Science Monitoriv found that just three minutes of massage on a Whole Body Vibrational machine doubles the mean circulation for a minimum of 10 minutes. According to the authors:
"The emerging therapeutic modality of Whole Body Vibration as a passive intervention appears to increase circulation in individuals with healthy microcirculation."
Perhaps one of the most important health benefits of Acceleration Training though is its beneficial impact on your hormonal secretions, including human growth hormone (HGH), aka "the fitness hormone." The higher your HGH serum level, the healthier, leaner and stronger you will be, and the vibrations of the acceleration machine activate the fast and super-fast muscle fibers throughout your body, which promotes the release of exercise-induced growth hormones at levels that actually mimic taking HGH injections!
HGH declines rapidly after age 21, and once you reach 30, you start to enter into what's called somatopause when your metabolism really starts to slow down. The amount of HGH you secrete also depends on how much lean body mass and belly fat you have. The more belly fat you have, the less HGH your body produces. Therefore, one major goal of any fitness program should be getting your body to pump up its HGH production, either through high-intensity interval training, such as Peak Fitness, or Acceleration Training.
What's truly exceptional about Acceleration Training technology is, it engages up to 98 percent of your muscle fibers—including the fast and super-fast muscle fibers. So, with Whole Body Vibrational training, you get greater rewards and shorter workouts because you're working muscle fibers every second. So, how exactly does Acceleration Training work? Read on...
The Mechanics of Acceleration Training
As it relates to your workout, you can think of force as the amount of work done. In order to benefit from your workout, you must increase the forces on your body by increasing one of the two variables, mass or acceleration: To understand how Acceleration Training works your body, you need to familiarize yourself with Newton's simple but powerful Second Lawv:
F = M x A
The force (F) on an object is a function of its mass (M) and its acceleration (F).
- When you lift weights, you're increasing mass (the mass of your body plus any weights you use).
- Acceleration Training increases acceleration. The vibrations are actually very rapid small movements of the platform–mainly up and down. The changes of directions of the platform result in strong acceleration and decelerating forces, 25 to 50 times per second. The mass is simply your body, and vibration is the acceleration.
By increasing either (or both) of these variables, you increase the amount of force on your body, which is what puts the "work" into your workout. Gravity is another form of acceleration. It causes your muscles to develop in response to the effects of gravity, so that you can move. (If Earth had no gravity, you wouldn't develop muscles. That's why astronauts lose significant muscle mass in space.). Vibration adds more GRAVITY to your body, effectively increasing "G forces."
A high quality Acceleration Training machine can generate forces from two to six Gs depending on the frequency and amplitude settings used. Combinations of these frequencies and amplitudes make it possible for six force/intensity settings, which effectively apply between 1.0 G and 6.4 G forces to your body. So, even at the lowest setting, you are almost doubling your body weight in terms of applied forces:
- Frequency settings typically range from 25 Hertz to 50 Hertz (cycles per second).
- Amplitude refers to how far the plate moves during each cycle, which typically ranges from 1 mm (low) to 2 mm (high).
As mentioned at the beginning, high quality Acceleration Training machines vibrate in three planes: vertical, horizontal and front to back. When you stand on the vibrating platform, each muscle in your body reacts in a continuous flow of micro adjustments, contracting reflexively. The up-and-down movement improves your muscle tone. The left-to-right, and front-to-back movements improve your balance and coordination. The net result is a dramatic improvement in strength and power, flexibility, balance, tone and leanness.
Consider this: If you apply 30 Hertz (30 cycles per second) for 30 seconds, you are triggering/stimulating your neuromuscular system a total of 900 times in just half a minute. This means you can train to athlete status with about 12-25 minutes of Acceleration Training, three days a week.
No wonder the results are so impressive!
Buyer Beware: Not All Acceleration Equipment are Created Equal...
There are many cheap machines out there so please understand that not all machines will provide identical benefits. In fact, cheap machines using faulty construction could cause harm. In my opinion, here's what you want to look for when shopping for Acceleration (or Whole Body Vibration) Training equipment:
- Solid steel construction. Avoid plastic platforms as they can and do break. Watch for sturdiness as you watch their demo video.
- Optional vibration settings and the convenience of automatic programs. You may want to challenge your body and increase the vibration setting.
- Adequate weight limit. If it can't handle your weight, it can break or strain to run at a lower intensity level.
- Who is selling the equipment? Know the company and their reputation.
- How loud is it? Many machines are excessively noisy which can contribute to psychological stress.
- Does the company provide a detailed guide and user manual? A video demonstration can be very helpful to learn recommended exercise positions.
- A good warranty and customer service in case you have questions. How long has the company been around? Will they be around long enough to honor their warranty?
- Beware of fake ratings. For example, it appears that the "Koehler Rating" may be fabricated. Don't fall for this type of marketing gimmick.
Be sure to take your time and check the fine print when shopping for Acceleration Training equipment. In my opinion, a reliable, well-built machine is truly a great investment that you'll appreciate for many years to come. Try to demo the machine you're interested. Notice how you feel when you step off. If you don't feel good afterwards, that's a red flag that the machine's vibrations may not be in tune with your body's natural frequencies.
Some foreign-made vibrating equipment is particularly poor with faulty electronics, buttons, cheap bearings and shoddy welds that commonly break. Beware of skinny support posts, unstable units, too small-sized plates, weak motors and units with insufficient power to support the vibration capacity.
With some Whole Body Vibration machines, you may experience a side-to-side type of motion – a "wobble board" effect. Avoid such machines, and look for two motor systems that provide a genuine 3-D workout.
Acceleration Training is Ideal for Virtually Everyone
Whole Body Vibrational training, along with Peak Exercises, proves that exercise doesn't have to be difficult and time consuming to pay off. The near-total muscle fiber recruitment of Whole Body Vibrational training translates into a great high-intensity workout that can be completed in as little as 10 minutes, two to three times a week.
I truly believe Acceleration Training technology represents a revolution in fitness science that can benefit virtually everyone, regardless of age or fitness status.
Obviously, if you have health challenges such as heart disease or high blood pressure, you will want to consult with your health care provider before starting a new fitness program, but overall, Acceleration Training is so gentle that even the most frail can tolerate it, making it ideal even for the elderly and disabled.