4 Reasons Why Training on Vibration Plates is a Waste of Time
Training on vibration plates is one of the most popular trends of the last decade. I´m continuously asked what I think of them.
The short answer is:
If training on vibration plates would lead to great results, I would have one in my gym. And I don’t have one in my gym.
The long answer is:
1. Lack of Resistance
The main factor that determines the training effect is the tension on the muscle during exercise. Tension is generated by resistance. The resistance with bodyweight exercises is low and has small potential for progression – unless you put a 1kg lean mass on every single week. For this reason, external resistance such as bars and dumbbells are indispensable for fast training progress. Tension – in volume and height (intensity) – is the crucial variable that influences neural adaptation, hypertrophy, maximal and explosive strength and increases fat loss.
Conclusion: Without tension there´s no maximum training effect.
2. Instability that can´t be stabilized
One of the base concepts to train stability on an unstable surfaces is the ability to stabilize the unstable surface. Dr. Dietmar Schmidtbleicher from The University of Frankfurt has done excellent research on this topic, which has shown that the frequency of commercially available vibration plates, is too fast for the human nervous system. The nervous system and thus the muscles are not able to respond to the vibration stimulus and to stabilize the unstable base. Thus, the training effect is void. The University of Frankfurt has also published a study on professional football, which showed that rehabilitation of an injury increased threefold the risk of reinjury if rehabilitation training was done on unstable surfaces.
3. The training of relevant stability
Stability in daily life and sports is crucial to prevent injuries and to maximize exercise performance. The higher the stability, the higher the power output – you cannot fire a cannon from a canoe – and the less wear and tear on fascia and muscles.
Basically stability is divided into two categories: Stability at low loads and stability at high loads. Standing on one leg on a vibrating plate or unstable surface, trains stability with a light load, the body weight. If you start sprinting away, decelerate from full speed or just go for a run (the load per leg per step is about 4-6 times the body weight) very high forces/loads are acting on the body. To be able to stabilize the knee while standing on one foot, has nothing to do with stabilizing high forces like sprinting, running, decelerating and changing direction. That’s like if Porsche tests the brakes of a GT3 at walking speed in order to predict how much breaking power they will produce; if the car has to be slowed down on the track before a curve in 3s from 180km/h to 50km/h, that test is not relevant.
Conclusion: Stability at high loads must be trained with high loads. Classic strength training with bars and dumbbells and progressive resistance is the most efficient and safe method.
4. Lack of potential for progression
In training you progress by increasing the load. The base of successful strength training is progressive overload – primarily by resistance. Bars and dumbbells are excellent training equipment to allow for progressive resistance. We have weight plates ranging from 0.5kg to 25kg, an ideal tool to ensure that even the smallest steps are possible. Example: If you only pack on 1kg more per week on the barbell, you move 52kg more at the end of the year. That´s quite some progress.
The first stories of strength training with progressive resistance come from the ancient times, from the most successful olympic athlete at this time, Milo of Croton
“Milo took a newborn calf in his arms and carried it around the family farm several times. Although initially it took a lot of effort for him, he kept up with it and repeated these “run-arounds” daily. Over time the calf grew and Milo grew with it, so that after a year of progressively increasing the resistance he was strong enough to carry a full-grown ox around the estate of his parents.”
Conclusion: Training on vibration plates is a trend – and like most trends a waste of time.
Solution: Success-oriented strength training with progressive resistance is a much smarter and successful solution for maximum progress in the training of stability, muscle growth, maximal and explosive strength as well as fat loss – than training on vibration plates.
Coach Wolfgang Unsöld/Strength Sensei