#1 Cute girls do fitness
17-year-old Hibiki Sakura has a dire problem. She absolutely loves food, particularly meat and streetfood that is high in calories. The consequences of her appetite are now beginning to catch up with her, starting at her waistline. Hoping to quickly regain her ideal beach body, Sakura decides to sign up with a local gym. Only to quickly learn that losing weight takes more than a few sets of lifting dumbbells.
Once at the gym, it doesn’t take long for Sakura to make new friends that all have their own fitness goals in mind. Most notable of them being Akemi Soryuin, the ultra-popular, super-rich, hyper-intelligent student council president of Sakura’s school. Despite appearing like a refined lady on the outside, Akemi is completely enamored with muscles. She is good at exercising, sure, but she makes no secret of how much she likes to ogle at the local muscle bros.
The cast is further rounded out by Sakura’s athletic friend Ayaka, Russian exchange student Gina, and the easily-embarrassed teacher Satomi. Together the girls work towards their individual goals, endure romantic struggles, and participate in all kinds of silly events in and around their gym.
It’s a weight loss journey filled with hilarity, as well as plenty of lewdness.
#2 Genuine fitness advice
The girls are guided by their personal trainer Machio. A bodybuilding guru admired both for his massive bulk, as well as his skills at instructing others. His lessons are easy-to-follow and—according to a knowledgeable friend of mine—very accurate. Something that I appreciated a lot, given that I have been trying to get in shape myself.
How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? manages to condense a lot of information into small chunks. Machio’s instructions are concise and accompanied with visuals of the girls performing the exercises. You can watch a segment and then give it a try yourself, no problem. Some exercises of course revolve around machines at the gym, but there are also plenty you can do with inexpensive equipment or none at all.
Even between the exercises, the anime crams in a lot of useful information. Anytime the characters eat something, a quick note pops up referencing how many calories are in it. Something that makes Sakura’s eating habits all the more frightening. The girls often share dieting tips or correct each other when they make mistakes, all of which is information that’s very easy to absorb.
It’s not easy to make a show that is both very informative as well as reliably funny, as evidenced by anime like Cells at Work. I am happy to say that How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is an example of educational anime done right.
#3 Absurd comedy
Though its information is accurate, this is most certainly not a “realistic” anime. How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is still a comedy show and it likes to tap into some absurd material for that purpose.
A lot of it revolves around an almost religious attitude towards bodybuilding. Machio and other male characters are all hulking beasts; always ready to tear off their clothes and let those muscles shine. Everything is about muscles. There is muscle shrine with a matching God of Muscles, there is Muscle Island, muscles that can foretell impending danger, a Muscle King. It’s ridiculous in all the right ways.
Later storylines double down on weird concepts. There is an arc where the girls try to become fitness-themed idols, for example. Or how about an entire storyline revolving around an ultra-muscular, American movie star.