Types of WBV Machines: What to Know Before You Buy



As an effective exercise or therapeutic modality, Whole Body Vibration or WBV is well supported by over 400 papers worth of scientific research. But not all WBV machines are created equal.

In fact, there are so many types of WBV machines and different manufacturers making each type, that between machine style and brand quality, it can be downright confusing when trying to decide on which WBV machine will work best for your specific needs. Add to that the muddling of definitions in each realm and you have a real recipe for overwhelm.

We did the research so you don’t have to

This is one of the reasons we designed the studio the way we did, with a whole range of styles and price points to fit your particular situation. We spent a lot of time researching and testing machines ourselves, using our over 50 years combined experience as integrative massage therapists to help guide our choices, we came up with a combination of machines that we think provides the best selection of machine quality and efficacy at a price that fits your budget.

A studio is born

So whether you choose to enjoy the comfort and service of our Wellness and WBV Studio (without the worries of maintenance or where to store a machine in your house) or you want the convenience of having your very own WBV machine in the privacy of your own home, we’ve got all the expertise you need to make a decision that’s right for you.

Oscillating/Pivotal WBV Machines:

This is a good basic model for most people, providing a variety of benefits. There’s a reason, it’s the most common type of WBV machine on the market – it works.

Good for:

• Weight loss
• Lymph drainage
• Muscle toning
• Great for mobilizing joints
• Injury recovery (mobilizes with very little impact)

These are not as good for muscle building and bone density. They pivot on a central fulcrum, allowing you to shift the intensity of the vibration by the positioning of your feet on the platform. The closer to the middle you are the less vibration, the further away the more vibration you get.

Lineal or Triplanar WBV Machines:

Though touted as different, these two categories of machines are very similar. Lineal claims to move only in one plane vertically but as evidenced by several studies, including one by engineers in Canada in 2011, lineal machines do, in fact, vibrate in all 3 planes – though depending on the brand this can be to a greater or lesser degree. Feet placement is said not to matter in a lineal machine because the whole platform is moving at the same time. Triplanar plays up the movement in three planes angle but thus far researchers have been unable to substantiate its claims of superiority over lineal, with some brands of lineal machines actually proving to move in all three directions with greater force than triplanar machines.

Good for:

  • Muscle building
  • Muscle Toning
  • Bone density
  • Core Strengthening

The muscle contraction you achieve on these machines is smaller than on the pivotal/oscillating but more intense and is bilateral (since the entire platform moves all at once). These are not recommended for weight loss since the platform tends to move a mere 2 to 4 mm.

Dual Motor WBV Machines:

We consider these some of the worst machines of the bunch and don’t use them in our studio. These machines have dual motors, as you’d expect, that move them in all directions (up, down and side-to-side). Because of this, the machines can feel discordant and rougher than the aforementioned styles of machines. It’s a case of trying to have too much in one product – like how all-in-one shampoo and conditioner products leave your hair neither clean nor conditioned – these machines will give you two things in one but whether those things are beneficial for you at all is up for debate. We don’t like them because they feel way too choppy and there’s no synchronicity of movement. We feel there may be more room for increased injury with these types of machines. (*People sometimes confuse these machines for Spiral machines.)


This is another type of machine we’re just not into. Of those 400+ research papers, not one of them supports the use of “Spiral” vibration. These low-acceleration machines primarily direct their force horizontally, away from the body, which means that technically, though they are vibration machines, they do not work on the principles of legitimate whole body vibration, which produce mainly vertical vibration to increase the gravitational load on the body.

When these spiral machines were tested, they were found to produce only 1G or less in a vertical direction, compared with the 4G pull (gravitational pull – this is what gives you the bang for your buck in a WBV machine!) of true WBV machines. With no evidence to support that these machines are even as good, nonetheless better than traditional models like pivotal and lineal, we just simply cannot recommend these machines.


Sonic vibration machines harness the power of sound, rather than spin motors, to power their vibrations, using a speaker system with magnetic circuits. Able to operate at a much lower frequency than lineal/triplanar machines, these highly customizable machines are said to move in a single plane but unlike all the other machines you can adjust both the amplitude (how high it moves up 0-22mm) and the frequency (how quickly it makes your muscle contract 3 to 50 Hertz) Settings for frequency and amplitude need to be correctly adjusted and the company has preset 12 programs to make it easier to get to know them before you start doing the programming manually.  This advanced level machine requires that you start slowly so you don’t end up pushing your body too hard, too fast.

Slower models are said to be:

  • More effective for activating lymphatic flow
  • More comfortable for those with joint or bone concerns or for those who are overweight

Here in the BQ studio, we require that members work up to this model, learning what works best for their body and their goals before attempting to use this style of machine.

There is a WBV machine to fit nearly every health level and fitness goal there is with all the different types available on the market today. We’re proud to offer our members and home sales customers the unique ability to be able to try the different styles of machines all in one place. Come in to our Portland WBV Studio for your FREE trial today!

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