Hey bro, what’s that thing you’re shaking?

If one is unfortunate enough to be awake during the wee hours of the morning, they will undoubtedly be pelted with countless TV ads for miracle diet and exercise products.

If one is unfortunate enough to be awake during the wee hours of the morning, they will undoubtedly be pelted with countless TV ads for miracle diet and exercise products. Ridiculous claims like “Get fit in only five minutes a day,” “Lose 10 pounds of fat in five days” or “Gain 10 pounds of muscle in a week” are not uncommon. Never has the old adage “Let the buyer beware” been more appropriate than when it comes to which diet and exercise products one buys.

Of course, loony fitness products are nothing new. In fact, even before the invention of the television people were getting scammed by ads in the back of comic books, magazines and so forth.

When looking back at old Charles Atlas ads and the like from the 1940s, I do have some sympathy for both the salesman and the consumer. After all, there wasn’t a whole lot of legitimate knowledge floating around about how to gain muscle or reduce body fat. Sure, there were some hucksters, but I’d say many of the salesmen back then were actually pioneers in the fitness industry that deserve a lot of credit for their accomplishments and contributions.

That was then, this is now. While some would argue that exercise is still more of an art than a science, there is no excuse for most of the junk we see on late night TV. Let’s take a look at the latest exercise sensation that is all too regrettably taking the nation by storm: the Shake Weight.

“Saturday Night Live” has already made all the obvious jokes about this contraption, so let’s get down to the more serious stuff. First off, hopefully no one believes that the models in the TV spots actually achieved their level of fitness with the use of the Shake Weight. No, these customers are clearly long-time bodybuilders and fitness models. They lift weights for several hours per week, follow meticulous diets and perhaps even have a little chemical assistance. If they weren’t pulling in a paycheck, they probably wouldn’t be caught dead holding the damn thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if all their bodybuilding buddies razz them endlessly for appearing in the ads.

Secondly, how is this thing going to build muscle? I’m not going to say the Shake Weight will accomplish absolutely nothing (just close to nothing), but the most surefire way to gain muscle mass and strength—especially for a beginner—is through progressive loading. Without getting completely fitness geek-y, the principle of overload states that in order for a muscle to adapt (i.e., to grow in size and increase in strength), it must be subjected to greater stimulus than it is accustomed to. For the new or intermediate trainee, the most effective stimulus to manipulate is the amount of weight used. The trainee must progressively challenge themselves with heavier loads as they get bigger and stronger. With the Shake Weight, there’s hardly any load at all, nor can the load be increased. The range of motion is also nearly nonexistent.

Lastly, the claims of “toning” are bogus, because “tone” is really just an appreciable amount of muscular development combined with lower body fat levels. As previously stated, the Shake Weight isn’t effective at building muscle, so that means its “toning” capabilities are next to nil as well. It is possible that there could be some weight loss, but it is doubtful. The Shake Weight workout is only supposed to be six minutes long, but an average trainee is only going to burn about five calories per minute while weight training, so we’re looking at 30 calories burned during the workout itself. Even if the user’s metabolism was slightly elevated following the workout, thanks to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), the overall calorie burn is still negligible.

My suggestion to you, dear reader, is to stay away from the Shake Weight and all other gadgets of its ilk. Instead, spend that money on a weight training guide or the dirt-cheap personal training services offered at the PSU Rec Center. You’ll build more muscle, lose more fat, and perhaps best of all, you won’t have to look like an idiot in the process. ?