The Shake Weight has gained a lot of notoriety -- not for its effectiveness, but for its suggestive infomercial. It's sparked countless YouTube spoofs and TV parodies, including a demonstration on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Even some favorable reviewers say it can be embarrassing to use in front of others.
Essentially, the Shake Weight is a 2.5-pound handheld dumbbell with springs at each end. Originally marketed to women, it's supposed to tone arms and shoulders. (There is also a Shake Weight for Men -- identical except for a 5-pound weight.) According to its manufacturer, the Shake Weight is based on a concept known as dynamic inertia, which means shaking a weight is more effective at toning muscles than lifting. The Shake Weight includes an instructional DVD that features a guided, six-minute workout.
The main question, though, is whether the Shake Weight workout is effective. Press releases cite results from two studies -- one by a commercial laboratory, the other by a San Diego State University researcher -- that claim Shake Weight burns more calories and engages the arm muscles better than free weights do. However, these studies probably should be taken with a grain of salt because they are being used for commercial purposes, rather than appearing in a non-commercial, peer-reviewed academic journal. What's more, the studies seem to be comparing the Shake Weight with the use of a standard 2.5-pound free weight. A traditional weightlifting regimen for toning arms would gradually increase the weight well beyond 2.5 pounds.
Quite a few reviewers criticize the Shake Weight's effectiveness as limited, instead recommending traditional weightlifting with a full range of dumbbells to build and strengthen muscle -- including reviews at WalletPop.com and Wired. Claims that the Shake Weight creates lean arms also come in for criticism, since "lean" implies fat loss. The Shake Weight is not a total weight-loss solution. We also found a few complaints at RipOffReport.com and WorldOfDiets.com about poor customer service when buying the Shake Weight online -- including refusal to refund shipping charges for a damaged product.
Some do find the Shake Weight to be convenient, however, and it earns a positive rating from a fitness expert at ABC'S "Good Morning America." She recommends leaving it in a convenient location so you can use it often throughout the day. Overall, using the Shake Weight is certainly better than not exercising your arms at all. The main caveat is not to expect too much from it.
1. Good Morning America
The Shake Weight is one of five fitness products evaluated in this segment of ABC'S "Good Morning America." Tester Becky Worley gives the Shake Weight a grade of B-plus, saying that though you wouldn't want your kids to watch you using it (apparently because of the sexual innuendoes), the device does exercise the shoulder and entire arm and is convenient to use in your spare time.
Review: Grading Infomercial Exercise Products, Becky Worley, Jan. 21, 2010
Certified personal trainer Sal Marinello points out that just because you can feel something -- fatigue, soreness or muscle burn -- doesn't mean you're performing an effective exercise. He also notes that the studies that supposedly support the Shake Weight's claims are not available for scrutiny.
Review: The Healthy Skeptic: The Shake Weight Gets a "Do Not Buy" Recommendation, Sal Marinello, June 26, 2010
Tester Lisa Kaplan Gordon reports that the Shake Weight hurt her neck and was awkward to hold and use. Ultimately, the Shake Weight fails to wow her and it gets WalletPop.com's lowest Buy-O-Meter rating.
Review: Shake Weight Review: As Seen on TV Flop, Lisa Kaplan Gordon, Aug. 12, 2010
Although they poke plenty of fun, Wired editors take this evaluation of the Shake Weight seriously. However, reviewer Steven Leckert says it doesn't raise the heart rate much compared to regular weight lifting and did not produce any muscle soreness.
Review: The Shake Weight Review: Hilarious But Useless, Steven Leckert, Aug. 26, 2010
5. KIDK (Idaho Falls, Id.)
Reporter Tommy Noel interviews a body builder, Kendall Cameron, who tries the full set of Shake Weight exercises and judges the device useless: "There's no tension on the muscle whatsoever." Other body builders at the gym agree that for serious muscle strengthening, the Shake Weight is not a good solution.
Review: Does it Really Work? -- Shake Weight, Tommy Noel, Feb. 11, 2010
A Canadian doctoral candidate studying the effects of exercise on obesity criticizes the Shake Weight as based on ineffective "vibration training." He also probes the credentials of the experts cited in the Shake Weight infomercial, finding them quite unimpressive. (We checked out the credentials of the studies cited on the Shake Weight website, however, and they're valid.)
Review: The Shake Weight: Spot Reducing Arm Fat Through the Science of Dynamic Inertia!, Peter Janiszewski, Ph.D., Aug. 5, 2009
Over a hundred reviews of the Shake Weight at Amazon.com result in a mediocre average rating, with as many 1- and 2-star scores as 5-star raves. Some of the negative reviews warn of neck injury from doing the exercises on the included DVD.
Review: Shake Weight Dumbbell, Contributors to Amazon.com
This user-written review acknowledges the limitations and hilarious aspects of the Shake Weight, but does recommend it as likely to get rid of "triceps wiggle" and accomplish some toning. Another user comments on this site that the two triceps exercises on the DVD are important to do in order to get results.
Review: As Seen on TV Shake Weight Reviews, Contributors to Viewspoints.com
This balanced review notes that the Shake Weight is convenient and doesn't require much space to use. The author is skeptical about the effectiveness of a large number of rapid contractions, however, compared with the tried and true method of gradually increasing the weight lifted.
Review: Essential Shake Weight vs. Dumbbell Exercises -- Which is Better?, Editors of ExerciseBallAbs.com, Jan. 5, 2010
10. Ripoff Report.com
This owner-written review reports that the company didn't honor its promise to refund shipping charges or pay return shipping for a Shake Weight that arrived damaged.
Review: Report: Shake Weight, "UNT Momma", Jan. 8, 2010
Over 200 comments here cover the gamut from enthusiasm to skepticism. Several people report serious customer service problems with ordering the Shake Weight online.
Review: Shake Weight Reviews (For Men and For Women), Contributors to WorldOfDiets.com
This reviewer criticizes the Shake Weight commercial for implying that it's possible to spot-reduce fat and for claiming that significant results can be achieved in only six minutes a day. However, it should be noted that the reviewer is also promoting his own book on losing fat.
Review: The Shake Weight, "Alan", Jan. 25, 2010
This press release reports that computer modeling of the Shake Weight by a commercial lab finds that it uses more energy than exercising with a regular 2.5-pound weight. For example, an average woman would burn 150 calories in a six-minute session with a Shake Weight, compared with 26.4 calories with a free weight.
Review: Leading Research Company Lifemodeler, Inc. Releases Study Proving Effectiveness of Shake Weight, Life Modeler, Feb. 12, 2010