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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Shake Weight: Product Review

Okay. You have to have seen this thing. A woman with gorgeous, toned arms shaking the daylights out of a small, white dumbbell that obligingly moves up and down in her hands. Once you get over the fact that this looks dirty as all get-out, you begin to wonder if the claims that you can get those buff, toned arms in just 6 minutes a day might be true. After all, $19.95 isn't that much....

Well, here's my professional opinion. Save your $20 and buy some real dumbbells!

First off, the thing weighs 2.5 pounds. That is a weight I might use in training a beginner who is frail and elderly, or someone with an injury that prevents them from lifting heavier weights. Most beginners will start with 3 pound weights in both hands, minimum, and will move up from there quickly. So, to get any results, one would have to use it with one hand, not the two often pictured, and even in one hand you would adapt to the exercise very quickly, getting very little in the way of results.

Second: The minimal range of motion necessitated by the shaking motion trains only a very small portion of the muscles used. Do you want a really buff quarter inch of muscle, or a tight, toned, long and lean upper arm? To get the latter, you must train in a larger range of motion, provided by traditional exercises such as bicep curls and tricep kickbacks.

Third: most women looking to use this type of contraption are looking for one thing: to get rid of their "bat wings" (fat deposits above the triceps area that tend to flap when moved). You can tone the triceps, and that will help. But getting rid of this accumulated fat is not going to happen with strength training alone. It is a continued myth that "spot reduction" is possible. Training a muscle will tone the muscle, not get rid of the fat in that specific area. To get rid of fat we must combine full body strength training with regular cardiovascular exercise and proper diet. Additionally, the loose skin that remains over the triceps may only get worse with fat loss - our skin loses elasticity and the ability to "bounce back" as we age. In some cases the only option to lose this floppy skin is surgery. The Shake Weight will provide minimal tricep toning, but will not provide the kind of tightening that women who buy the product are looking for.

Fourth: the 6 minute claim: yes, studies have shown that short boughts of high intensity exercise for as little as 6 minutes, a few times during the day, can net big results. The key here is high intensity
, using more than one muscle group and getting you sweating and exerting effort. The Shake weight does not fit the bill, and even if it did you'd have to do a few 6-minute sessions a day to get results.

If you don't want to take my word for it, here is another opinion by a trainer who actually went out and bought the thing.

Tight, toned arms are a great goal, but there are MUCH better ways to go about it. Pushups, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and dumbbell rows are just a few of the exercises that will help, and if you have 6 minutes, you'll get much more bang for your buck with these.

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