Vibration machines use various types of motions. The four major types of vibration are Pivotal or Oscillation, Lineal or Vertical, Tri-planner and the Sonic. All of these machine types have the same goal, to work your muscles more effectively than by traditional exercise by applying a stretch-reflex effect that causes your muscles to contract more rapidly. Another words, you get a much more effective workout during your exercise session.
If you are comparing whole body vibration machines of similar quality that use different types of vibratory motion, you will see that they are pretty much created equal. Each person is likely to have a preference for one type of vibration over another. The choice of vibration type should also correspond with your fitness goals and your level of fitness. Going out and spending $20,000 on a machine doesn’t guarantee that it will work better than one that costs one-tenth of that amount.
When you go out to look for your whole body vibration machine, you should already be familiar with how these machines work. Learn the terminology so you can compare the machines correctly, allowing you to ultimately find the machine that is best for you. The more you know, the easier it is to notice inconsistencies in the labeling on machine specifications.
Unfortunately some companies have been less than honest in posting specs that make their machines appear better than a competitor’s model. Studying the following items will help you in your search for your perfect machine.
What is Vibration Frequency?
When used in the world of whole body vibration machines, frequency is defined as the number of rotations a platform makes per second. The posted frequency usually refers to the maximum potential of the frequency possible in a particular machine, if there is no friction or load on that machine. A person using the machine causes friction, since the human body adds weight, or load. So, that number is somewhat fictional. In reality the operating frequency is slightly lower than that posted number. This is not usually an issue unless the motor on the machine is inadequate.
On Pivotal/Oscillation whole body machines, a cycle of movement is defined as the platform making one side to side motion and then returning to the start position. A Lineal, Vertical or Sonic machine’s cycle of movement is when the platform makes one up then own movement and returns to the start. Tri-planar machines are a bit different. Their platforms make one multi-directional movement and then return to start.
On all the whole body vibration machines, the higher the vibration frequency, the faster that machine will vibrate every second. Compare a 3Hz machine, which vibrates three times each second, to a machine rated 50Hz, where each second gives you 50 vibrations.
All About Amplitude
Amplitude is defined as how strong the vibration is on a whole body vibration machine. It measures the highest point a platform travels from the starting point. A few manufacturers list their machines as having considerable frequency range, but do not disclose that the amplitude on those machines is rather low. An effective whole body vibration machine must have the best of both worlds, a wide range of frequency and high amplitude.
It is possible to adjust the frequency on oscillation vibration machines, but not amplitude because of the hardware design. But you can do so by standing on the platform. The center of the platform is the fulcrum. Move your feet farther from the fulcrum and the amplitude increases, move toward the center and it has the opposite effect. The higher the machine’s amplitude, the stronger the vibration. Machines that work this way include T-Zone, Hypervibe, Tectonic, and Vmax.
Looking at other types of machines, whether they are vertical, lineal or tri-planer, there are some models that allow a manual setting of the amplitude before the machine is turned on. Once the machine is in motion, only the frequency may be adjusted. If you decide the amplitude isn’t right, you must turn the machine off, adjust and then start again. This is also attributed to the machine’s design.
When amplitude is adjusted, the motor must be off. There is a gear box attached to the motor’s axle that plays a part in either high or low centrifugal adjustment. As an example, if you choose a high amplitude setting, the offset metal is thrown farther from the motor, creating increased movement, or amplitude. It is this movement that the user feels. Machines that work in this fashion include 3G Cardio, VibaPro, Vmax and Power Plate.
Sonic machines work differently. Most of them are high-end models, allowing adjustments to both frequency and amplitude while the machine is in use. This gives you the most control over the machine’s performance and a greater flexibility of use. These types of machines include the Sonix and the TurboSonic.
Consider Gravitational Load, or G-Force
You may have heard about G-Force being something that high-speed pilots worry about. It also applies to whole body vibration machines. This is the force that causes your muscles to relax and then contract while using one of these machines.
An elevator serves as a good analogy for how this works. If an elevator moves rapidly downward, your body starts to relax, as if you are floating. Then if it suddenly stops, reverses and increases speed, those same muscles will contract as you use your legs to remain upright. What you are fighting is gravity, the Earth’s force that keeps us from floating out into space. In a way, the machine keeps you contracting and relaxing your muscles in order to literally “fight gravity.”
Going back to the elevator scenario, if that switch from freefall to rapid upward acceleration happened at some 15 or 30 times each second, that means your muscles would have to continually contract and relax to keep up. Doing squats on a vibration machine has the same effect. You are moving your body, but at the same time the machine is moving up and down, creating a G-Force, or force of gravity of between 3 and 17. That means you must work all the harder to stay balanced, and why these machines are so effective.
This is why it is so important to tune your machine to the correct amplitude and frequency. If done correctly, the machine will create the proper G-force for your body’s workout. As an example, a vibration machine with amplitude of 0.5 mm, which is really low and a frequency of 100 HZ, you will not get optimal results. Your body just can’t contract and relax 100 times each second. The amplitude creates insufficient movement, therefore not creating a useful G-Force. Always consider both amplitude and frequency when shopping for a whole body vibration machine.
The Life of Your Machine
Whole body vibration machines become less effective over time. It may start requiring more power to operate the motor. If you have one of the less expensive machines that used 10 amps to operate when new may end up using 15 amps to do so after five or six years of use. Less expensive machines tend to use less expensive parts. If you purchase a higher end machine from a trusted dealer, that machine will last longer and run more efficiently, even if you use that machine on a regular basis.
Vibration machine motors can either have a high or low friction design. Low friction models suffer less wear and tear than the high friction models. Either way, after a period of use it is normal for the motor to be a bit noisier. This isn’t usually an issue unless the motor has a severe knock. Buying a Sonic machine is one way to get around this problem. There is no motor.
The vibration created by the machine is absorbed by you, and/or goes into the ground. High end machines allow you to adjust the feet, thus leveling the machine and preventing the machine from shaking the floor. Models without this feature are a problem, especially if the machine is in use in a upstairs location. It can be quite noisy. Extreme vibrations can even cause the machine to appear like it is walking across the floor. The best solution is putting the machine on a hard surface and making sure the feet all touch that surface. If you have carpeting, which works sometimes depending on the type of carpet, you might consider putting the machine on a wooden platform.
If you need some help finding the perfect machine we would be happy to help. Just fill out our short questionnaire or give us a call at our toll free number 1-800-910-8629.