Vibration Training Shakes Away Your Liver Fat - 9% Liver Fat, 7% Visceral Fat & 26.4% Intra-Muscular Fat Loss + Reduced Inflammation Without Extra Dietary Intervention

If you actually work out on the vibration plate (instead of just standing there) it may in fact be an effective adjunct to regular exercise for must of us.
I have to admit that I am regularly laughing about the women on the vibration plates in my fitness studio. Now that I have read the latest paper from the Department of Medical Sciences at the University of Tsukuba, however, I will probably see them standing on the "wacker plates" with different eyes. In said study which was conducted by Sechang Oh et al. (2014) the scientists tried to elucidate the effects of what they call "acceleration training" (this is in fact what we know as vibration training) on the physical function, body composition, hepatic and metabolic function, fat contents in the liver and skeletal muscles of overweight subjects (BMI = 28 kg/m²) with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
For the lean NAFLD sufferers I'd suggest HIIT instead of a vibrator ;-)

Never Train To Burn Calories!

Tabata = 14.2kcal /min ≠ Fat Loss

30s Intervals + 2:1 Work/Rec.

Making HIIT a Hit Part I/II

Making HIIT a Hit Part II/II

No Time? 1 Min is Enough
The 18 participants (4 men and 14 women) took part in the vibration program twice a week for 12 weeks. Participants performed upper and lower body exercises on a vertical vibration machine (Power Plate Pro6, Badhoevendorp, the Netherlands). The protocol itself consisted of three sessions (movement preparation, strength and power, and massage) and had a total duration of 40 minutes - including a rest interval of 30 seconds after each movement.
A movement preparation session included hamstring stretch, calf stretch, side stretch, and hip joint stretch (frequency, 30 Hz; amplitude, low; time, 30 seconds; set, 2). A strength and power session included deep squat, wide stance squat, lunge, push up, triceps dips, crunch, front plank, and pelvic bridge (frequency, 30–35 Hz; amplitude, low; time, 30 seconds; set, 2). A fial session consisted of massage of the calf, hamstring, lower back, shoulder, and face (frequency, 40 Hz; amplitude, high; time, 60 seconds; set, 2). Trained staff supervised all training sessions to ensure correct execution (Figure S1 provides details on the AT program used in this study)."
What is important to point out is the fact that the subjects did not receive any lifestyle counseling, and did not decrease their habitual energy intake or increase their regular physical activity.
In practice, the energy intake of the subjects actually increased (by 246kcal/day, i.e. 13%) and the physical activity - probably to "compensate" for the "exhausting" vibration training *irony* - was reduced so that their total daily energy expenditure on non-exercise days ended up being 320kcal lower (-14%). Since there were large inter-individual differences, these changes didn't reach statistical significance, though.
The surprisingly pronounced effects you can see in Figure 1 have thus been triggered by the often laughed at "exercise" regimen.
Figure 1: Changes in body composition in response to 12x2 vibration training sessions in the absence of lifestyle interventions, diet or additional exercise (Oh. 2014)
I see you are impressed. 6% lower body fat, increased muscle mass, 7% reduced visceral fat... that's impressive, right? Well, I was similarly flabbergast, when I saw the results of this peer-reviewed study. One thing we should keep in mind, though, is the fact that the subjects were not fit, but fat.
When it's propely designed, add. vibration training can increase athletic performance in fem. athletes (Fagnani. 2006).
So this can't be useful for athletes, right? Wrong. Totally wrong. While vibration training will probably never replace athletic training, it "is a suitable training method to improve knee extension maximal strength, counter-movement jump, and flexibility" at least in young female athletes, but only "if it is properly designed" (Fagnani. 2006). Only if a subject-specific, previously determined and professionally monitored optimal frequency, amplitude, and g-force is used (something a regular gym probably doesn't offer) and the muscle activation measured the beneficial effects will show (Fagnani. 2006).
The same type of exercise that will be hardly challenging for someone who is working out regularly will thus be pretty intense for them - and (!) the higher body weight makes the exercises on the vibration plates extra intense.
Figure 2: Pre- vs. post-changes in selected markers of metabolic health (Oh. 2014)
As Figure 2 reveals, these changes in body composition went hand in hand with a plethora of improvements in several markers of metabolic health of which yet only the decrease in gamma-GT, AST, free fatty acids (FFA) and total cholesterol reached statistical significance. The marginal decrease in insulin sensitivity, on the other hand, was not statistically significant.
Figure 3: Quadriceps strength and circumference, as well as intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) before and after the intervention (Oh. 2014)
What was statistically significant were the size and strength gains in the quadricreps and the reduction of intramyocellular (in the muscle) fat, which has previously been associated with muscular insulin resistance in obese individuals (depletion of the intramuscular fat can in fact restore muscular insulin sensitivity | Greco. 2002).
Your liver will thank you for working out on a full-body vibrator ;-) Even if you are not willing to give up the rest of your obesogenic lifestyle - which is obviously not suggested.
Bottom line: If we also take into consideration that all these beneficial changes went hand in hand with reductions in leptin, TNF-alpha, IL-6 and significant reductions in hepatic steatosis, i.e. the amount of fat that clogged up the liver of the subjects and liver stiffness, the results of the study at hand clearly indicate that "passive" exercise is much better than none exercise, when it comes to the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

What's most impressive, though, is that this works without dietary intervention and / or significant weight loss, solely by changes in body composition and site-specific fat loss | Comment on this article on Facebook!
  • Fagnani, Federica, et al. "The effects of a whole-body vibration program on muscle performance and flexibility in female athletes." American journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation 85.12 (2006): 956-962.
  • Greco, Aldo V., et al. "Insulin resistance in morbid obesity reversal with intramyocellular fat depletion." Diabetes 51.1 (2002): 144-151.
  • Oh, Sechang, et al. "Acceleration training for managing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot study." Therapeutics and clinical risk management 10 (2014): 925.
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