Four weeks have come and gone. Our staff writer Nicole McDermott shook her way through a one month Shake Weight test to see if the infomercial fitness gadget lived up to its claims. Catch up on the initial weigh-in here!
It’s over. No longer must I drag the cumbersome Shake Weight down five flights of stairs, a mile along city streets, or on the subway, train, cars, and bars (just once) in fear it will slip out of my bag and roll in front of a cab. (In reality, I only took it home twice and on our Team retreat. It was quite the conversation piece.)
Over my one month Shake Weight test, my goal was to find out if shaking the 2.5-pound dumbbell for 6 minutes a day would “work.” (The premise is that muscle activity is increased nearly 300 percent compared to a standard dumbbell, due to the movement Shake Weight refers to as “dynamic inertia.”) At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what would determine the Shake Weight’s effectiveness. After a month of shaking, would I be able to open unruly jars of pasta sauce with ease? Would I have Michelle Obama’s guns? Would I be able to crush beer cans on my forehead? With all of these very important concerns on the table, I settled on a handful of more quantifiable points of reference (with the help of the editing team and Greatist Expert Dan Trink). The factors: A push-up test, some body measurements (both with a skin caliper and tape measure), and a few before and after pictures to get extra infomercial-ly.
Before I break down my thoughts on the challenge, here’s what happened. I dropped two pounds, lost body fat, and completed the same number of push-ups as I did four weeks prior. Sounds nice and all, but there are some caveats. The weight shed is nearly insignificant (could’ve had a monsterous breakfast before my first weigh-in), and though I lost body fat in the suprailliac (lovehandles) and umbilical (near the bellybutton) measurements, along with a slight bit in the triceps, it wasn’t as exciting as I thought.
I didn’t notice much of a change in my arms when I looked in the mirror. If anything, maybe my forearms toned up a bit, and same with my chest. But the Shake Weight came up short on its claim to tone arms and shoulders. The biggest surprise came when Trink wrapped a fancy tape measure around my arms. I stretched them out perpendicularly to my body, and he measured the circumference of each bicep relaxed and then flexed. Before I started the test, there was a greater difference between the two. Trink reasoned that because my flexed arms weren’t as big the second time, I lost some muscle mass mostly in my biceps. Even though the changes weren’t too extreme, it’s pretty crazy that I lost muscle in just a month — especially when I was “exercising” with the Shake Weight every day. I got a solid reality check when I hit the gym the day after my month was over. The night after my last shaking sesh, I was genuinely psyched to get my hands on a set of dumbbells that weighed more than the 2.5-pound Shake Weight. I wanted to feel sore in my arms again. That happened. After a 15-minute jog, I headed over to the dumbbell rack and went straight for the 20-pounders. Mistake. Pre-Shake Weight challenge, it was reasonable for me to complete two or three sets of bicep curls for eight reps with that weight. One month later, I managed seven for the first set, and I’ll admit the seventh was pretty shoddy. I switched to shoulders and cut the weight in half, but when I returned for a second set of curls I couldn’t even complete one clean rep with the 20s. I’m fairly certain the weights moved no more than 4 inches from the sides of my legs. I was disappointed, but more shocked how quickly my arms lost their strength.
When I discussed my results with the rest of The Greatist Team, nearly everyone asked, “Do you think it would have worked for someone who doesn’t work out?” I’m not positive, but I do work out my upper body on a pretty regular basis — and with far more weight than 2.5 pounds. It would be interesting for an untrained person to try this one-month test, and I don’t doubt there would be a greater change. It’s important to note, though, that six minutes a day of Shake-Weighting is not a comprehensive exercise plan. I may not have been the best guinea pig for the trial because I usually make it to the gym five days a week and (try to) lead a generally healthy lifestyle. As far as the slight loss of body fat in my torso measurements, my reasoning is that once I dropped the dumbbells for a month, I spent more time than normal targeting my core and hitting cardio machines. After four weeks of toting the Shake Weight around, I do not in fact have Michelle Obama arms. And I haven’t tried yet, but it’s unclear whether or not I can crush cans on my forehead. Somehow I doubt it.
Have you tried the Shake Weight? What did you think? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet Nicole at @nicmcdermott.