Types of Vibration Plates
You may have come across the term 'vertical' and 'oscillating' to describe the type of vibration a particular model delivers. If the whole science surrounding the strange and wonderful world of power plates isn't enough, why should the method of vibration matter?
Vertical verses Oscillating
Actually, it could make a difference to the results you achieve, but unfortunately, it's difficult to get an unbiased opinion on which is best. This is because many manufacturers' and brands have nailed their colours to one or the other, and will therefore claim their method is best to get the sale.
We'll come back to this question in a moment. But firstly, let's look at what the terms actually mean.
Think back to your physics lessons for a moment, you may remember learning about oscillating objects - but let's not go there! Basically, this type of plate, vibrates on a pivotal point - see diagram below.
These means, as one side raises, the other side drops, so if you're standing with your feet apart on the platform, your body will be 'jiggled'. The theory being, that your muscles and reflexes have to deal with the changes and trigger contractions and releases rapidly.
For more on the theory of vibration training, please click here.
When looking at models using this sort of vibration, you may see 'amplitude' mentioned in the technical specification. Whilst technically 'displacement' is the correct measure, both mean the difference between the highest and lowest point of the plate. This may range from 1mm up to 10mm or even more. When choosing a plate, and if your budget can stretch to it, go for a model that allows you to alter the displacement. This will give you more variation in your workouts, and if you're a beginner, it's advisable to start at the lower settings.
Oscillating platforms do seem to be popular in salons for weight loss - although the research has yet to be done to prove whether this type of vibration is better for losing weight than vertical - see below.
The technology to deliver vertical vibration is more complex, requires more dampening to prevent the unpleasant sensation, and is therefore more expensive to produce. Vertical means just that, i.e., the plate goes up and down, as opposed to the 'jiggle' of an oscillating surface.
In the technical blurb, you'll again see amplitude mentioned in terms of millimetres. As with oscillation, this refers to the distance between the top and bottom of the vibration. Most machines, if not all, will have the function to select amplitude - this is even more important with this method for beginners as vertical vibrations deliver a much tougher workout in our view.
So Which Is Best?
The full research has yet to be done. Manufacturers using vertical vibration in their models, claim it delivers a more intense workout, recruiting more muscle fibres, more vigorously - it's worth noting, that the top players in this field, all choose to use vertical platforms. They argue the wobble of an oscillating plate, places strain on ligaments and works the body in a way that's 'unnatural'.
Not surprisingly, devotees of oscillation, claim the vertical action is also 'unnatural'. But unless you live in an earthquake zone, you're unlikely to find 'natural' vibrations!
In our humble opinion, and several year's experience of using many different models, our vote goes to... vertical.
We believe it can deliver a more powerful, intense workout, and produce quicker results. But beware, don't be tempted to go for the high settings straight away - you really do need to build up your stamina first.
This doesn't mean we dislike oscillating plates - there are some very good machines at very reasonable prices that will deliver great results (see our reviews) - but if you have the budget, we believe it's better to go for vertical.