Sure, calisthenics work. But when was the last time a push-up made you laugh so hard, you actually got in a decent ab workout? Say hello to the infamous Shake Weight, a device that’s been spoofed so rampantly (see SNL’s faux commercial) that most people probably don’t realize this thing’s actually a real product. But whether it’s a legitimate alternative to weightlifting or traditional calisthenics remains to be seen.
The company claims “six minutes with a Shake Weight burns as much muscle energy as 42 with a standard dumbbell.” How it works: “dynamic inertia,” whereby shaking the oversized plastic dumbbell with short, rapid movements force your muscles to tighten (submaximal isometric contraction). Holding the weight with one or two hands, or engaging in different motions targets the biceps, chest or triceps.
Needless to say, we were skeptical of the ultimate wonder weight. After familiarizing ourselves with the fine print — i.e., “Keep the Shake Weight at least 6 inches away from your face” — it was time for the instructional DVD. On its own, the 6-minute routine demo starring a glistening, shirtless personal trainer was almost amusing enough to warrant the weight’s hefty price tag.
In practice, however, the “workout” wasn’t terribly satisfying. We’ll admit you do feel reasonable tension in your muscles. However, jerking this 5-pounder only got our max heart rate up to 114, which pales in comparison to a standard weightlifting session, let alone back-to-back sets of push-ups. More importantly, after a few days of use, our muscles didn’t feel nearly as sore as they do from weightlifting. And, as everyone knows: no pain, no gain.