Muscle Tone, Strength & Power (Fitness)

Resistance training is used as the training stimulus for skeletal muscle remodification. Repeated regular exercises are employed. The same principle is applied with VT. Sufficient rest is essential between exercise sessions for improving muscle tone, strength and size.


Vibration Training (VT) takes advantage of the effect gravity has on us. By vibrating from side to side over a short period of time, an acceleration co-efficient is employed and a gravity like force is exerted on the targeted muscle group. This is the same physiological principle used when training with weights. The difference with VT is, the extra gravity that is employed is in the form of short sharp movements not in the form of the extra pull/gravity that is imposed by carrying a heavy load in the form of weights. An everyday example of the extra gravity that is used in VT is when travelling up and down a fast elevator: there is a sensation of being heavier and lighter respectively.

With VT this is done up to 60 times a second soliciting muscle contraction at the same time as applying a gravitational load. The result is increase muscle tone, strength and power.


This increase in gravitational pull employed in VT is the process by which musculoskeletal (neurological and myogenic) and osteogenic changes can take place. So instead of doing for example squats in conventional training with VT you stand in the squat position and perform isometric/static contractions or dynamic movements or for advanced trainee‟s: add weight for even greater results.


The process to gain muscle tone, strength and power is sequential. Neural adaptations must occur first before muscular adaptation. VT improves the neural efficiency of the neural muscular system, resulting in improved muscle performance measured clinically to be more than double baseline values: measured electromyographically

(EMG)(13, 14, 15). With VT neural adaptations improve impulse synchronisation, synergist co-contraction, antagonist inhibition and recruit more motor units and motor unit types. This then stimulates muscular adaptation. VT is credited with establishing this faster and more efficiently, in a manner not utilised with conventional training methods, which may seem archaic in comparison.


Strong evidence suggests that VT achieves a superior excitation of the motorneurons compared to exercising without VT (1). VT activates almost all muscle fibres within the exercised muscle. This leads to fatigue of the muscle motor units. It is precisely this fatigue that leads to gains in muscle tone, strength and power (2).


VT stimulates the Tonic Vibration Reflex (TVR) which is the term used to describe the reflex contraction stimulated by vibrations greater than 10Hz (vibrations per second). This stimulates the stretch reflex: Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC). SSC‟s main muscle fibre that is activated is muscle spindle Ia (muscle spindle: specialised muscle fibres innervated by sensory neurons. Stretching the muscle causes the neuron to fire. The muscle spindle thus functions as a stretch receptor). Polysynaptic pathways are used in this process (3, 4).


VT stimulates vibration waves to propagate from the distal links to muscles located proximally and triggers a larger number of muscle spindles. This activation triggers a vast area of the motor pool activating many previously dormant motor units into contraction (5). This means that VT optimises the stimulation of higher recruitment threshold motor units and muscle tissue with each workout compared to conventional workout methods (6, 7).


During VT there is a recordered inhibition of tendon reflexes that allows not only better activation of the muscles targeted but essential muscle fatigue to take place without which gains in muscle tone, strength and power cannot take place (8).


An explanation of vibration training as a hypertrophic stimulus is that vibrations result in larger stretch/tension on the contractile muscle fibres either directly through the TVR itself or by increased capacity to lift heavier loads via the TVR. Stretch tension seems to be the essential stimulus (9, 10, 11). Significant gains in maximum strength and power that lead to increased muscle tone are even seen in resistance-trained men (6). Both slow (type I) and fast twitch (type II) muscle fibres have been demonstrated to be activated and enlarged by VT (12).


Even though when using VT you are working hard, there is a clinically recorded perception that even when performing maximal dynamic weight bearing contractions there is a decreased level of effort compared to doing the same weight bearing movement without VT. There is a feeling that you aren‟t working as hard! The authors explanation is an increase in the activity of muscle spindle Ia reducing the central feedforward element making it feel like there is less force being used than when performing the weight bearing contraction without VT (16, 17).

Scientist have clinically measured an increase in EMG/power during vibration recordered to be double to triple with VT than without (16). All data points to a longterm training effect on strength, power and subsequently muscle tone (17).


This is all done in a short time as vibration induced muscles firing at 10-60 times a second in various directions stimulates both slow and fast muscle fibres. It is the fast twitch muscle fibres that are essential in the anaebolic muscle response. It is the fast twitch muscle fibres that can respond most efficiently to high rates of induced contraction that are VT induced.


The body‟s muscles are even more susceptible to the sensory effects of VT when the muscle is pretensed or tensed during VT (18). This enhances the TVR. Another author also documented the same enhancement when the target muscle has been trained prior to VT (19). The trainee will thus get better more intense activation of more muscle fibres when the muscle being trained is tensed. You enhance the training results by employing this information.


The improvement in neuromuscular efficiency in the above-mentioned mechanisms has resulted in authors claiming that non-weight bearing VT is equal in results to explosive weight training (20, 21). This makes easy sense since the speed of the acceleration of the side-to-side movement is greater in gravitational pull/force than in conventional explosive weight training. This training effect is accentuated in weight bearing VT. When weights are applied the

normal VT activation of muscle fibres which are switched on by „creating a need for more motor control‟ (from the oscillation/vibration) is many times greater. Dynamic movements employ more motor control than isometric/static movements. This means more muscle fibres are activated that work harder than with dynamic VT as opposed to isometric VT (5, 22, 24). One author found a 46% improvement in strength/power in the group that employed weights while on a VT machine versus a 16% improvement in the weights only group after only 3 weeks (5).


It is well documented that the stretch reflex that is involved in VT (Ia afferents) has a low fatigue threshold and thus prolonged vibration causes the muscle to fatigue. The result is a decrease in the force and power of all the vibration induced contractions (19, 23). The solution when isolating muscle groups is very short repeated sessions of 1 to 2 minutes on frequency/ speed/ Hz of >20 and 3-4 minutes on 13-15 vibrations per second at high amplitude. As mentioned above the training effect is accentuated when weight is added as well as dynamic movements. A combination of both has the greatest training effect and subsequently causes the greatest/quickest muscle fatigue (26,27).


The aim of the average person using VT is to improve physical and structural fitness i.e. to look good and feel good. VT does this by increasing muscle tone/size, strength, power and structural posture. To solicitate these desired results the trainee „must‟ follow a program that will allow enough rest between VT sessions. This is

„essential‟ to the recovery of the trained body parts. Otherwise intramuscular fatigue occurs and the muscle tissue does not have enough time to go through its normal cycle. When a body part is trained the muscle stretches and grows a fraction bigger and stronger by first tearing slightly in order to accommodate its increase in size then it heals itself and re-establishing structural form. If this process is not given enough time intramuscular fatigue occurs: muscle tone, strength and power is lost.


When beginning VT it is first recommended that the trainee trains only twice a week for the first two weeks before progressing to 3 then 4 times a week (when every body part is targeted). It is not recommended that you train more than 5 times a week if you are training every body part every time you train. The trainee should do no more than training 3 days on before taking 1 day of (when training 5 times a week). If you are adding weight while you are on the vibration platform you should train no more than 2 days on and 1 day off. If the trainee is training half their muscles on one day and the other half on the alternate day a maximum 4 on 1 off should be applied especially when the trainee adds weights while on the vibration platform. Following these recommendations will enable the trainee to make optimum gains.


Thus in VT isometric/static positions are employed in the first 2 months followed by dynamic movements or a combination of both in months 3 to 6. Finally weight-bearing vibration is added. Each increment in weight added increases metabolic power/consumption significantly. Weight added to the waist does the same and the highest metabolic power/consumption occurs with the weight added to the shoulders (25).


Training sessions of individual muscle groups depending on the vibration capability of the machine and can start at 30 and go to 120 seconds with 15 second increments on >20 Hz or 1 minute and go to 5 minutes on 13-15 Hz in 30 second increments. Increasing the frequency increases metabolic power/consumption significantly. This increases more proportionally with increases in amplitude (25).


The rest period between training sessions can start at 60 seconds and go down to 30 seconds, in 10-second increments.




  1. RITTWEGWER, J., M. MUTSCHELKNEAUSS, D. FELESENBERG. Acute changes in neuromuscular excitability and exhaustive whole body vibration exercise as compared to exhaustion squatting exercise. Clin. Physiol. Func. Im. 23:81-86. 2003.

  2. SALE, D.G. Neural adaptation to resistance training. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 20:S135-145. 1988.

  3. CARROLL, T.J., S. RIEK, R.G. CARSON. Neural adaptations to resistance training: Implications to movement control. Sports Med. 31:829-840. 2001.

  4. DELECLUSE, C., M. ROELANTS, S. VERSCHUEREN. Strength increase after whole body vibration

    compared with resistance training. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 35:1033-1041. 2003.

  5. ISSURIN, V.B., G. TENENBAUM. Effect of vibratory stimulation training on maximal force and flexibility. J. Sports Sci. 12:561-566. 1994.

  6. NEWTON, R.U., W.J. KRAMER. Developing muscular explosive power: Implications for a mixed methods training strategy. J. Strength Cond. Res. 16:20-31. 1994.

  7. RONNESTAD, B.R. Comparing the performance-enhancing effects of squats on a vibration platform with conventional squats in recreationally resistance-trained men. J. Strength Cond. Res. 18(4), 839-845. 2004.

  8. BONGIOVANNI. L., HAGBARTH. K., STJENBERG. L. Prolonged muscle vibration reducing motor output in maximal voluntary contractions in man. J. Physiol. 423:15-23. 1990.

  9. GOLDBERG, A.L., J.D. ETLINGER, D.F. GOLDSPINK, C. JABLECKI. Mechanism of work-induced hypertrophy of skeletal muscle. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 7:248-261. 1975.

  10. LEIVSETH, G., J. THORSTENSSON, O. REIKERAS. Effect of passive muscle stretching in osteoarthritis of the hip. Clin. Sci. 76:113-117. 1989.

  11. VANDENBURG, H.H. Motion into mass: how does tension stimulate muscle growth? Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 19:S142-149. 1987

  12. NECKING, L.E., M.R. LUNDSRO, G. LUNDBORG, L.E. THORNELL, J. FRIDEN. Skeletal muscle changes after short term vibration. Scand. J. Plast. Reconstr. Hand. Surg. 30:99-103. 1996.

  13. BOSCO, C., M. CARDINALE, O. TSARPLEA. The influence of whole-body vibrations on jumping performance. Biol. Sports 15:157-164. 1998.

  14. BOSCO, C., R. COLLI, E. INTROINI, M. CARDINALE, O TSARPELA, A. MADELLA, J. TIHANYI, A. VIRU. Adaptive responses of human skeletal muscle to vibration exposure. Clinic. Physiol. 19:183-187. 1999.

  15. BOSCO, C., R. COLLI, E. INTROINI, M. CARDINALE, O TSARPELA, A. MADELLA, J. TIHANYI, A. VIRU. Hormonal responses to whole-body vibration in men. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 81:449-454. 2000.

  16. CAFARELLI, E. Peripheral contributions to the perception of effort. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 14:382-389. 1982.

  17. CAFARELLI, E. Force sensation in fresh and fatigued human skeletal muscle. In: Exercise Sports Science Review (vol. 16). K.B. Pandolf, ed. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1988. Pg. 139-168.

  18. DE GAIL, P., J. LANCE, P. NEILSON. Differential effects on tonic and phase reflex mechanisms produced by vibration of muscles in man. J Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry. 29:1-11. 1966.

  19. BONGIOVANNI, L., K. HAGBARTH, L. STJENBERG. Prolonged muscle vibration reducing motor output in maximal voluntary contractions in man. J. Physiol. 423:15-23. 1990.

  20. BOSCO, C., R. COLLI, E. INTROINI, M. CARDINALE, O. TSARPELA, A. MADELLA, J. TIHANYI, A. VIRU. Adaptive responses of human skeletal muscle to vibration exposure. Clin. Physiol. 19:183-7. 1999.

  21. BOSCO, C., M. CARDINALE, R. COLLI, J. TIHANYI, S.P. VON DUVILLARD, A. VIRU. The influence of whole body vibration on the mechanical behaviour of skeletal muscle. Clin. Physiol. 19: 183-187. 1999.

  22. ISSURIN, V.B., G. TENENBAUM. Acute and residual effects of vibratory stimulation on explosive force in elite and amateur athletes. J Sports Sci. 17:177-82. 1999.

  23. BONGIOVANNI, L.G., K.E. HAGBARTH. TVR elicited during fatigue from maximal voluntary contractions in man. J Physiol. (Lond) 423: 1-14. 1990.

  24. MESTER, J., SPITZENFEIL. P, J. SCHWARZER, F. SEIFRIZ. Biological reaction to vibration implications for sport. J. Sci. Med. Sport. 211-226. 1999.

  25. RITTWEGWER, J., J. EHRIG, K. JUST, M. MUTSCHELKNEAUSS, D. FELESENBERG. Oxygen uptake in whole-body vibration exercise: influence of vibration frequency, amplitude, and external load. Int. J. Sports Med. 23(6): 428-432. 2002.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.