It’s a flab-busting breakthrough! It’s got the power of 240 muscle contractions per minute! It’s sexually suggestive! And for just $19.95 it promises “firm, fabulous arms and shoulders in just six minutes a day!” The Shake Weight is no stranger to chuckles, but does the product that’s seen over $40 million in sales really work?


A few weeks back, The Greatist Team had a conversation about putting potentially nutty, “As-Seen-On TV” fitness tools to the test. The Shake Weight came up, and I let everyone know how one of my old roommates swore by the muscle-toning tool. He loved it so much he even toted it halfway across the world for a five-month study abroad in Australia.

The Shake Weight has been the butt of some obvious jokes involving the back and forth… um…“action” needed to manipulate the tool. There are videos of people using the Shake Weight to pull public pranks, and Saturday Night Live even weighed in with a Kristen Wiig parody. Sure it’s all laughs, but does the Shake Weight actually deliver results? Three weeks ago, I agreed to test the Shake Weight Pro for myself, following the recommended routine as diligently as I would any other workout regime. I was committed to learning if, jokes aside, the Shake Weight was everything my roommate made it out to be. With the help of the Greatist editing team, I formulated parameters for what we dubbed the “#shakesperiment.” I would be limited to six minutes a day of upper body exercise — no free weights, no push-ups, no resistance bands, and no arm bars on the elliptical.

It was a little freaky. Would gyrating a 2.5-pound weight maintain the strong arms and chest I’ve spent a solid amount of time to attain? Either way, I figured four weeks couldn’t be too much of a set back.

Measuring Results

Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft

Before I got to shaking, I picked a few ways to gauge the Shake Weight’s effectiveness — a push up test, a few measurements, and an (awkward) photo shoot. I hopped on the scale with Greatist expert Dan Trink, who used skin calipers to measure body fat in four spots — biceps, triceps, suprailliac (lovehandles), and umbilical (you guessed it! Near the bellybutton). Then he measured the diameter of my biceps (guns if you will) both flexed and relaxed.

Trink was already a little skeptical. He said the reason it feels like the Shake Weight is working is because of “localized fatigue.” Basically, doing a bajillion reps of a small movement makes us tired and sore but doesn’t really make us stronger in the long run. The Shake Weight peeps refer to the movement as dynamic inertia, which they say can increase muscle activity nearly 300 percent compared to a standard dumbbell. Trink said the daily exercise might help if I wanted a career in jackhammering, but not much else. I think he was joking.

The #Shakesperiment Begins

I shoved the weight in my bag and hopped the subway to legitimize (or not) “The revolutionary way to shape and tone your arms, shoulders, and chest.”

Once home, I popped in the included DVD. Determined to take the challenge seriously, I watched the video through once before I tried it out. By the end, I was drenched in sweat. I felt like I was slapped in the face by the Shake Weight Gods for making fun of it. [Disclaimer: I sweat from just thinking too hard, so that wasn’t much of a surprise.] However, it was a pretty tough few minutes, and I actually had to take a few breaks.

Three weeks in, I’ve been a Shake Weight-ing machine. It’s definitely become a cinch to finish the video, and I don’t have to slink into a side room. Now I shamelessly shake in the living room next to my roommates. The Shake Weight has traveled with me by subway, train, and car (and even to a bar once). Just one week remains in my life-altering journey.

And the Verdict?

Next week, we’ll have all the stats and measurements to determine if the Shake Weight was a flop or if I’ve become a SW convert. Stay tuned for the weigh-in — and keep shaking.

Can the Shake Weight actually produce results? Have you tried the Shake Weight? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet Nicole @nicmcdermott.