Whatever Happened To The Shake Weight?

If you watched television in the late 2000s, you saw the Shake Weight ads. And if you've watched parody comedy any time since then, you've probably seen someone lampoon the item's rather memorable advertising and unique design (via YouTube). A design that, more than ten years after the product's release, has made it almost infamous.

Despite the product's comedy potential, Shake Weights sold like hotcakes during their initial release. In 2010 CNBC reported that Shake Weight made $40 million worth of sales in its first year. That equated to about 500,000 units, though the company's founder, Johann Verheem, told CNBC that they were hoping to reach 10 million units before the product's popularity tapered off.

It's hard to find any recent sales numbers, largely because few people are buying Shake Weights anymore. While they were the must-have item of 2010 — though whether that was for comedy or fitness isn't clear — they've since gone by the wayside, it seems. And when you take a look at the science around the Shake Weight, it's easy to see why. Put simply, the product was less effective than traditional arm workouts.

The science

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is one of the country's leading authorities on exercise and fitness. As such they consider themselves a kind of watchdog when it comes to fitness fads. So when the Shake Weight came on the scene and claimed to deliver 300% more energy burn to the arm muscle groups compared to traditional weights, the ACE commissioned a study on the product.

Despite the product's infomercial claim that "independent researchers" had proven the Shake Weight's unbelievable effects, the ACE's study found that the product only caused 66% more energy burn to specific muscles, not 300. This might still sound like a good reason to use the Shake Weight, until you consider the actual weights being compared. Shake Weights for women weigh only 2.5 pounds, while the men's version weighs only 5. Few people use weights smaller than 5 pounds when working out, and those who do quickly progress past this weight, as stated by the ACE. 

Yahoo reported another study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine that found even less impressive results. The ACE study compared the effects of following the Shake Weight's included workout DVD with traditional exercises that worked the same muscle group. The second study had participants use regular weights in the same way they used Shake Weights. Ultimately there was no difference between using the Shake Weight and pumping a regular weight up and down in a limited range isometric fashion.