Thursday, June 25, 2015

Beachbody Body Beast Review

What is Body Beast?

Body Beast is a Beachbody workout program that is all about old school weight lifting. It uses Dynamic Set Training to help you build muscle. The program is geared towards men, but plenty of women are doing it and getting great results. This is a 12 week program broken down into three different phases. There are 12 Body Beast workouts that come with the program. You also get a Bonus Workout from P90X3, and if you buy the program from a Beachbody Coach, you get a free workout. You can purchase two additional workouts as well. You can read about my full 84 day experience with Body Beast by checking out my daily blog posts, but keep in mind that one of the things that annoyed me about the program has been resolved with a later release. It drove me batty that I had to switch the DVD nearly every single day. I thought someone could have grouped them together a bit better. Apparently, I wasn't the only one because when I purchased the program, the DVDs were grouped together much more efficiently and there will be far less swapping DVDs the next time I do Body Beast. 

Equipment Needed

Body Beast is a weight lifting workout. You can modify things so you don't need a lot of equipment, but you will need weights. There's no way around that. Resistance bands will help you modify the Pull Ups and Chin Ups, but there is no resistance band modifier in the workout for anything else. I used the Bowflex adjustable weights. We've got the bigger set that goes from 10 to 90 pounds in 5 pound increments. The smaller weights that go from 5 to 52.5 in 2.5 pound increments would have been better for me, but we got the bigger set for hubby. I also had a set of 2 pound weighted balls from my Walk Away the Pounds days and 5 and 10 pound dumbbells. I had my bar from Pump, but I didn't have an EZ Bar. We also have a weight bench, but you can use a stability ball. Be careful with the ball and make sure that the ball can handle your weight plus the weight of whatever you're lifting. It would be pretty ugly for that thing to pop while you're on there with weights over your head. 

The Workouts

There are two different versions of the calendar. One is for losing weight and one is for building muscle. The main difference between the two is the amount of times you do Cardio. There is only one Cardio workout. In the Lean Plan, you do that same cardio workout once a week for the full 12 weeks. There are weeks where you have the option of doing it twice by skipping Total Body and doing Cardio. 

The workouts are broken down into Build, Bulk and Beast. The Build series is where you start. These workouts are 40 to 50 minutes, but I had to pause the DVD for the Build Legs, so it was longer for me. You workout six days a week and have one rest day. During the Build series, your rest day rotates since there are only five workouts in the rotation. This phase lasts three weeks.  

After that, you move to the Bulk Phase which lasts five weeks. You still workout six days a week and have one rest day in this phase, but your rest day is the same day every week since there are six workouts in the rotation. 

The third phase lasts 4 weeks and it's called the Beast Phase. The Beast Phase is a mix of the Build and Bulk workouts. It's basically alternating weeks of Bulk and Build except you do the opposite leg day. For example, week 1 is all Build workouts, except Leg day is Bulk Legs. The other difference is the addition of the Beast Total Body workout. Your rest day stays the same and that's made possible by adding an extra workout to the Build weeks. It's the Beast Total Body. 

I found the plan terminology a little confusing at first since the DVDs are broken up into Build, Bulk and Beast and the workout phases are Build, Bulk and Beast, but the Beast phase is made up of Build, Bulk and Beast DVDs instead of just Beast DVDs. I initially thought I would have three unique sets of lifting DVDs instead of just two. It worked out well though. For the most part, I really enjoyed the DVDs.  

Build: Chest/Tris

This is an awesome Chest and Tricep workout! It includes Dumbbell Chest Presses, Incline Dumbbell Fly, Incline Dumbbell Press, Close Grip Press, Partial Chest Fly, Decline Push Up, Tricep Extensions, Single Arm Tricep Kickbacks, Dips on the Bench, and In and Outs (It's an ab move.). It uses Single Sets, Super Sets and Giant Sets, The first few times I did this, I was pretty sore the next day. Over time, I got stronger and was less sore, but it was still a great workout even if I didn't feel it the next day. 

Build Back/Bis

I loved this workout. I've always loved back and bicep day! This one had Pull Ups, but I didn't have a pull up bar so I used the door attachment for a resistance band. In this workout, they have the band up high, but in the Total Body workout, the band is down low. I actually preferred it down low so I started doing these with it down low during the final phase. When you have it down low, you're doing more of a lat pull down motion which is a good simulation of a pull up, but when you have it up high, it almost turns into a row which doesn't feel the same. This workout has Deadlifts, Dumbbell Pull Over, Pull Ups, EZ Bar Row, One Arm Row, Reverse Fly, Close Grip Chin Ups (I used the band), Seated Bicep Curls, 1 1 2 Hammer Curl, Natural EZ Bar Curl and Airplane Cobra. It used Single Sets, Super Sets and Giant Sets. 

Build Legs

This was another workout where I had to pause the DVD. This thing was intense. I hurt for days after doing it the first time and I hurt for days after doing it for the final time! During my first phase, I used the same 10 pound weights for mot of the moves instead of going up with the weight and down with the reps. During the final phase when I did this again, I did go up with the weight as we went down with the reps. This had Sumo Squats, Alternating Lunges, Step up to Reverse Lunge, Parallel Squat, Bulgarian Squat, Straight Leg Deadlift, Single Leg Calf Raise, Seated Calf Raise and In and Outs (It's an ab move.) It used Single Sets, Super Sets and Giant Sets. I liked this workout even though the lunges were hard because I was so slow at them. My balance just sucks. I really need to do Tai Cheng!

Build Shoulders

This was the last workout of the first week. I was kind of dreading doing it because I have the wimpiest shoulders on the planet. A five year old could probably lift more than I can when it comes to shoulder stuff. I was surprised that I was able to get through this one as well as I did. I was also surprised that I never really got DOMS in my shoulders. I could feel that I had worked out the day before, but I thought I wouldn't be able to move without excruciating pain, but it didn't happen. At the end of the workout, it was a challenge to lift my hand over my head to wash my hair, but the next day, I didn't hurt. Weird! The workout included Shoulder Press, Lateral Raise, Upright Row, EZ Bar Underhand Press, 1 1 2 Front Raise, Rear Delt Raise, Standing Dumbbell Shrug, Dumbbell Scap Trap, Sagi Six Way, and Tuck and Roll. This used Single Sets, Super Sets and Giant Sets. The Sagi Six Way is HARD! OMG! 

Bulk Chest

I really loved this workout. There were days where I didn't want to workout, but I did it because I knew it was Bulk Chest day. It was great because during the rest periods, I could just lay on the bench! I've never been a huge fan of Chest Day because I have such a wimpy chest, triceps and shoulders, but this one really grew on me. I got stronger and was able to lift heavier weights and feel less wimpy. This included Incline Fly, Incline Press, Chest Press with Rotation, Incline Press, Close Grip Press to Fly, Decline Push Ups, Cobra to Airplane and Russian Twists. It used Super Sets, Force Sets, Progressive Sets, Combo Sets and Multi Sets.  

Bulk Arms

This was another workout that I really liked. I've got pretty strong biceps in my opinion. I'm not lifting the kind of weight the people in the videos lift, but I still feel strong! This included Standing Curls, Tricep Extensions, Wide EZ Bar Curls, Skull Crushers, Hammer Curls(They were Concentration Hammer Curls and not the standard Hammer Curls), Tricep Kickbacks and Weighted Crunches. It used Progressive Sets, Single Sets, and Force Sets. I liked that it alternated between biceps and triceps so we weren't working the same thing two moves in a row. It made it easier to get through the workout. There were times when I had to pause the workout because I couldn't keep up because I was using weights that were too heavy. I wish I had gotten 8 pound weights. Some of these moves would have gone better if I had 2/5/8 or 5/8/10 depending on which move I was doing. 

Bulk Legs

This workout is intense! The first time I do a workout, I'm usually sore the next day, but I was sore the day after each and every Bulk Legs workout! This has moves such as Front to Rear Lunges, Squats, Full to 1/2 Sumo Squats, Split Squats with EZ  Bar, Stiff Leg Deadlift, Alternating Side Squats, Calf Raises and Beast Abs. It uses Single Sets, Progressive Sets, Force Sets and Super Sets. It works every part of your legs. I had to pause the DVD for the Front to Back Lunges for every workout. I started out pausing during the Alternating Side Squats, but at the end, I was able to keep up.

Bulk Back

This was honestly one of my favorite workouts in the entire series. I've always loved back day. I have a strong back! At some point though, I realized that this workout is very similar to Build Back and Bis, but without the bicep stuff added at the end. It's still a great workout though. It included Pull overs, Pull Ups, Reverse Grip Rows, One Arm Rows, Deadlifts, Reverse Fly, and Plank Rotation. It used Super Sets, Progressive Sets, Force Sets and Single Sets. 

Bulk Shoulders

My shoulders are the wimpiest thing on my body, but Body Beast made them stronger. I'm starting to feel muscle on there! This workout was so hard for me in the beginning, but at some point, I realized that I was doing way more reps on one of the moves than I should have been doing. Oopsy. This one includes Lateral Raises, Arnold Presses, Upright Rows, Alternating Front Raises, Plate Twist-Twist, Reverse Fly, Superman Stretch and Plank Twist-Twist. It uses Super Sets and Progressive Sets. 

Beast Cardio

This was the only Cardio workout in the mix. If you're a cardio junkie, you probably won't like this workout. I'm not a cardio junkie, but I wasn't in love with this workout. I actually thought about swapping it out for a different one just to get something more intense, but I thought I should do the entire program as it was laid out for me and just deal with the fact that I wasn't a fan of this workout. My BodyMedia device thought that I got about 12 minutes of activity during a 30 minute cardio workout. About two to three of those were vigorous minutes. I'm used to cardio workouts that give me at least 25 minutes of activity for a 30 minute workout and most of those are vigorous. If you look at my 30 minute workouts from Less Mills Combat or the Cardio workouts from 21 Day Fix, that's what I'm used to. This incorporated weights and cardio together. Some of the moves include doing squats for 20 seconds and then holding the squat for 10 seconds. This was supposed to help build our muscles. I found it difficult to get through because my legs were already sore from Leg Day and holding the squat was really hard for me! The moves in this workout lasted anywhere from 60 seconds to a minute and a half. The longer ones were the ones where you did a move for 20 seconds and then held it for 10 seconds. The shorter ones were the ones that were more traditional cardio moves like the squat jacks and the toe taps on the bench. There was a lot of resting in this workout. There was one move where the move lasted 60 seconds and the rest period lasted about 90 seconds.

Beast Abs

This workout was supposed to be done every time we did Beast Cardio and I think every time we did Beast Total Body, but I have to admit that I only did this workout a few times. I just couldn't motivate myself to get moving in enough time and then I just gave up on this one. The first time I did it, I remember thinking that it wasn't really that intense and I should just do the 21 Day Fix ab workout, but I never got around to doing it. However, the last time I did this workout, I found it much more intense than I had remembered from the first time. I'm not really sure if my abs just got weaker from not doing an ab routine or if it really was just intense. There was some Pilates type stuff in here which I found interesting that he was getting these buff guys to do Pilates!  

Beast Total Body

This was an interesting workout. It had a different format than the others. There were four different circuits. Each circuit had four moves. Each move had 15 reps and we did the full circuit twice. He said that we could go up with the weights or leave it the same. This workout was only in the program a few times and only came into play in the final phase. It did give me something to look forward to since I like doing new workouts and knowing I have one coming up makes me want to keep getting up and working out. I had to pause this one a few times because I was slow. This had Pull Ups, Push Ups, Squats, Crunches, Incline Press, Bent Over Row, Reverse Alternating Lunge, Plank Twist-Twist, 1 1 2 Military Press, Post Delt Raise, Stiff Leg Deadlift, Russian Twist, Bicep Curp Up Hammer Down, Tricep Extension Kickback, Calf Raise Weighted at Shoulder, and side Forearm Plank.  

Lucky 7's (Free workout if you buy the program through a coach)

This one was totally different than the rest of the program. It was only 22 minutes and it's not part of the calendar. I kind of wish it had been though because I really liked it. I had to pause the DVD a lot though because I was slow. Part of that was because it was my first time doing the workout and I didn't know what I was doing. So there were seven different combo moves and each one had seven circuits done in a reverse pyramid. The first move was a split position push up and then you come up and clean and then squat. So the first circuit has you do the split position push up once on each side (Left arm forward right arm back once and then right arm forward left arm back once) then you come up and clean and squat. Then without a break, you go down and do two push ups each side and then come up and clean and do two squats. You build like that until you've done seven reps. It was a nice full body workout in 22 minutes! Well, it would have been 22 minutes if I had been able to keep up. 

Bonus Workout P90X3 CVX

This was a bonus workout that came with the program. I hadn't really planned on doing it. Why would a 275 pound woman have any thoughts of doing P90X3! That's like one of the most intense programs that Beachbody has. I pushed play to see what it was all about because I thought I should write about all of the workouts. I didn't really think I'd be able to do it, but I did. I had to modify some stuff, but I got through it. The workout is intense! It's cardio and weights at the same time. 

Dynamic Set Training

When I had a trainer, they pretty much just had me doing Single Sets and Super Sets. There was one trainer who had me do something that they called a 5x5 where I had five different weights. I did five reps of the heavy and then went down doing 5 reps of each weight until I got through them all. It was pretty crazy how the last set felt heavier than the first set. Other than that though, it was pretty much just grab one set of weights, do 12 reps, take a break, do 12 more, take a break and do 12 more. Body Beast shakes things up with every set! It was awesome. I really felt the difference between doing this Dynamic Set Training and what I used to do with my expensive trainer! 

Single Sets

You do on exercise. There are three sets. You start out with 15 reps. There is a short break and then you go to 12 reps and increase the weight. There is another short break and then you go to 8 reps and increase the weight again. Sometimes a Single Set also has a drop set. 

Drop Sets

These can be in Single Sets, Super Sets or Giant Sets. After the last 8 reps, you immediately drop to a lighter set of weights and do another 8 reps. 

Super Sets

You do two exercises. So if it's Squats and Lunges, you do 15 Squats and then 15 lunges. Then you get a short break and increase the weight and do 12 reps of each. Then you get another short break and go to 8 reps with heavier weight.

Giant Sets

This is just like a Super Set, but there are three or more exercises. 

Force Sets

There are five sets of five reps. You keep the same weight the whole time, and you can't drop it between sets. 

Multi Sets

This is when you do multiple sets, but you don't necessarily do the same exercises. An example might be doing 15 push ups and then doing 15 sits ups. The second set is 12 push ups and 12 Russian Twists.

Combo Sets

This is when you have a combo move such as a chest press with rotation.

Progressive Sets

These are fun! Okay, fun might not be the right word. These are HARD! You start out with 15 reps and then increase the weight and move to 12 reps without resting in the middle. Then you go up with the weight again and go to 8 reps without rest. Then you get about 90 seconds of rest and you do it backwards. You start out with 8 reps and the heavier weight. Then without rest, you move down with the weight and move to 12 reps. Then without rest again, you move down with the weight and move to 15 reps. I have a love/hate relationship with these. They are super hard, but they are super effective.

My Results

I went into this program to gain muscle so it would be easier to lose the fat later. However, I thought I would lose some weight during this program. I've read a lot of blog posts about people who have had wonderful success with weight loss in this program. I was not one of them, but it was my own fault. I must admit that I did not follow the nutrition plan. I honestly couldn't even figure out the nutrition plan. Food is hard for me. If I spend too much time trying to figure out what I'm going to eat, I ended up eating way too much food because I'm constantly hungry. I went into this program so very close to so many milestone moments. After my first few days on the program, my nutrition went out the window. I was soooooooooo crazy hungry. I was trying to stay on Weight Watchers with the app that I had, but it just wasn't working. I would get home wanting to eat an entire cow and cooking was optional at that point. I pretty much just said to heck with the nutrition. I'm going to eat if I'm hungry, but I'll keep with healthy food. The healthy food didn't last long. I ended up getting sick a couple weeks into Body Beast. I managed to get back on track with the workouts, but I couldn't get my nutrition under control. Then we had some family issues to deal with and more missed workouts. I was eating out a lot and I wasn't eating salads! I ended up gaining 20 pounds during the program. I know some of it had to be muscle though because I didn't have to go up a size in my pants. My pants were definitely tighter though. I was so bummed because I had been so close to going down a size and I ended up pretty close to going up a size. 

With that said, I wouldn't go back and change things by not doing Body Beast. I got a lot stronger doing this program and I truly feel that it is one of the main reasons that I am able to do Couch to 5K right now. It doesn't seem like Body Beast would help with running, but I don't think my legs were strong enough to get me around a track before Body Beast. I'm looking forward to trying Body Beast again, but having better nutrition while doing it! 

On a side note, as soon as I stopped Body Beast, I stopped being crazy hungry. My nutrition is much better right now. We're still eating out once or twice a week, but I'm not buying cookies, cakes and ice cream. 

Want to learn more? Watch the video!

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