Does the Shake Weight Really Work?

Karen Frazier
Smiling woman with toned arms

You've probably seen advertisements for the Shake Weight on television. Promising to tone arms in no time, the Shake Weight television ads show fit women holding a weight in front of them and shaking it with all of their might. Advertising aside, the question remains for many, "Does the Shake Weight really work?"

The Shake Weight

In order to determine whether the shake weight really works, it is important to look at the promises the manufacturer's advertising make. When you purchase or order a shake weight, for $19.94, you will receive:

  • A 2.5-pound dumbbell-style weight that has a mechanism allowing you to shake it back and forth
  • A quick reference card
  • An instructional DVD

A similar Shake Weight for men exists, using a 5-pound dumbbell.

The Claims

According to manufacturer advertising, by using the Shake Weight for just six minutes each day, you will gain toned upper arms, chest, and shoulders. The triceps region remains a difficult area for many women, and the prospect of toning that flabby area under their arms makes the Shake Weight particularly enticing. This is especially tempting since the manufacturer also claims it designed the weight with women in mind, and that its results are scientifically proven. According to the manufacturer, the product works better than standard dumbbells because of a process known as "dynamic inertia." Both the men's and women's products promise to burn more calories than traditional weightlifting, and lead to an increase in muscle size and strength.

Analysis

With Shake Weight's claims, it is possible to perform a point-by-point analysis as to their veracity.

  1. Scientific Proof: Regardless of the claims of scientific proof, Shake Weight does not include information about the sources or studies leading to that proof in their literature. With lack of transparency about the source of any claims of scientific proof, it is difficult to ascertain exactly how the company can make such a claim. Further digging unearthed this manufacturer-commissioned report, which used digital human modeling simulations (not real humans) to determine the efficacy of the product.
  2. Dynamic Inertia: No standardized definition appears for the term "dynamic inertia." In fact, it appears to be a term made up to market the Shake Weight. No studies exist that show dynamic inertia to be an established and tested model for improved fitness.
  3. Burns Extra Calories: The more muscle groups you involve in a movement, the more calories you burn. Likewise, utilizing larger muscle groups burns more calories than using smaller muscle groups. Workout intensity also factors into the number of calories burned. The Shake Weight utilizes mostly the shoulders and triceps, with some biceps and chest involvement as well. These are some of the smaller muscle groups in your body, and the intensity of the workout is relatively light. It is unlikely, based on these factors, that using the Shake Weight will burn more calories than other types of activity.
  4. Increase Muscle Size and Strength: You increase the size and strength of your muscles by performing activities that place micro-tears in them. As they repair those tears with new tissue, the muscles grow stronger. In order to continue to gain size and strength, you need to progressively work with more resistance (heavier weights), or your progress will stop. A single 2.5-pound weight for women or a 5-pound weight for men may provide a slight increase in strength initially if you are very sedentary; however, it is unlikely to provide ongoing strength and size gains for people who are fit.

Does the Shake Weight Really Work?

Based on the above, it is unlikely that the Shake Weight works as promised. While some may notice slight gains in strength or tone, the chances of improving your level of fitness using this product are relatively slight. The Shake Weight may work well for extremely sedentary people, or for those who are only able to pursue upper body activities.

Other Options

The best way to get fit and burn calories is through a combination of diet, strength training activities, stretching, and aerobic activity. No miracle products exist that speed up this process. Consider working with resistance bands if cost is an issue.

While it may seem as if using "miracle" fitness products like the Shake Weight will help you gain strength, it is important to thoroughly research claims made by manufacturers of such products. In many cases, those manufacturers make grand promises based on loose or non-independent research. If in doubt about a product like the Shake Weight, talk with a health or fitness professional.

Does the Shake Weight Really Work?