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Is the Whole Body Vibration Weight Loss Effect Real?

18th November 2015

For someone who’s not very familiar with vibration machines and their health and fitness benefits, the whole body vibration weight loss effect may sound too good to be true. If one can indeed lose weight by simply standing on a platform that vibrates, for only 10 minutes a day or so, how come there are still overweight people out there?

The WBV weight loss effect is real, but doesn’t happen overnight and is not as miraculous as some people may think. Usually promoted as a replacement for strength training, whole body vibration can support muscle building and fat loss, but there are some factors to consider if you rely only on this form of training for losing the extra pounds.

WBV coupled with a hypocaloric diet supports fat loss

A few years ago, Dutch scientists published a study that showed that mixing aerobic exercise or whole body vibration with a hypocaloric diet can help one lose 5-10% of their body weight, mostly fat mass, after 6 to 12 months of training.

These results were obtained in subjects who trained for 11-15 minutes a day, at frequencies of 30 Hz, 35 Hz, or 40 Hz. The vibration groups performed 10-22 exercises, each lasting for the 30s, 45 s or 60s, with short breaks between repetitions to prevent muscle fatigue. Participants performed various exercises, from push-ups and calf raises to static squats and curl-ups, targeting all major muscle groups.

This study is extremely interesting as it shows that both aerobic and whole body vibration exercises can support fat loss, and one doesn’t have to spend hours on their vibration platform to lose weight. But there is one crucial aspect here: the exercises were combined with a hypocaloric diet (600 kcal/day), to create a caloric deficit.

The conclusions we can draw from this study are as follows:

1. If you want to lose weight by exercising for less than 15 minutes a day, either on a vibration platform or using regular fitness tools, you have to decrease the caloric intake and make sure that by the end of the day you burn more calories than you eat.

2. If you don’t want to change your eating habits and don’t want to follow a restrictive diet to lose fat, you will have to exercise more or at higher intensities. You can still lose weight with vibration training if you eat a normal diet, as we’ll see immediately, but the rules in this case change, and the workouts will have to be longer and more intense.

The study we mentioned showed one more interesting aspect: the fat loss was more significant in the vibration group than in the aerobic group, participants in the WBV group experiencing a noticeable reduction in visceral adipose tissue after 3 months of daily workouts.

This was possible because whole body vibration exercises not only increase energy expenditure by accelerating the metabolic rate but also strengthen the muscles and help in putting on lean mass. This makes one burn more calories even when resting and helps in improving body composition in time.

Whole body vibration supports weight loss in overweight people

Now it would be nice to know whether these results – increased metabolic rate and energy consumption, improved body composition and decreased body fat percentage – can be achieved by someone who has a “normal”, balanced diet, and practices daily whole body vibration workouts.

Italian researchers published a study on the effects of vibration exercises in obese women, focusing on body composition and muscle strength. They showed that 10 weeks of regular WBV workouts can reduce the percentage of body fat and improve body composition even if one practices only two training sessions per week.

In this study, participants were 50 obese women who performed 14 minutes of vibration exercises at frequencies of 40-60 Hz and amplitudes of 2-5mm. Subjects didn’t change their lifestyle habits and results showed that the WBV group experienced more significant changes in body mass index, trunk fat, and total body fat compared to the control group.

Similar results were obtained by Egyptian researchers, who investigated the effects of vibration workouts on bones and fat oxidation in 80 obese women aged 50 to 68 years. In this study, one group performed conventional  resistance exercises, and the other group doing whole body vibration exercises.

Results showed no significant differences between WBV and RT in terms of body composition changes or bone mineral density, both forms of physical activity leading to improvements in these parameters and contributing to a healthier waist-to-hip ratio. We can therefore conclude that in obese and overweight people, with or without changes in one’s diet, whole body vibration can support weight loss.

And now it’s time to see whether this form of training can trigger a fat loss in healthy, adult individuals.

Whole body vibration weight loss in healthy, active adults

In active adults, whole body vibration works just like resistance training: it activates the muscles, causing them to contract faster, and to burn more energy. Vibration exercises strengthen the muscle tissue and stronger muscles means a faster metabolic rate, thus more calories burned during the workout and throughout the entire day.

Then, WBV stimulates circulation which means it improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells. This helps in regulating the appetite, stimulates the elimination of excess fluids from the body and helps in reducing tissue swelling and cellulite. Exercising on a vibration machine helps in decreasing the levels of cortisol, which favors the accumulation of fats around the waist area, and boosts energy levels, contributing to a more active lifestyle.

You can learn more about the weight loss effects of vibration training here. Also, here are some useful studies on WBV for fat loss in active adults:

1. Vibration machine exercises may improve body composition in active adults

2. WBV may increase fat-free mass in active subjects

3. Vibration workouts may improve muscle strength and body composition in young females

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