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Vibration training was introduced about 10 years ago. It involves standing or leaning on a vibrating platform or plate while performing exercises. The vibrations stimulate stretch receptors within the muscles, which trigger thousands of tiny reflex muscle contractions.
Research on vibration training is limited. British researchers showed that subjects increased knee extension strength and muscle activation when combining vibration with weight training. The subjects trained at submaximal intensities and were relatively untrained, so the results can't be extrapolated to athletes. Vibration training may be useful in people recovering from surgery or injury. Belgian researchers found that muscle activation increased in subjects doing isometric partial, full and one-leg squats while standing on a vibration platform. Italian scientists found that men training on vibration platforms showed increases in blood testosterone and growth hormone. Two new exercise machines- Power Plate and Versaclimber - have incorporated vibration plates into their units to stimulate muscle growth.
While vibration training looks promising, there's little evidence (so far) that it's superior to nonvibration weight training. Vibration training appears valuable as a warm-up and may cause temporary increases in muscle power. It may be valuable for physical therapy, but we have little evidence that it benefits serious bodybuilders or power athletes.