Body Beast Review: Why it DIDN’T WORK for me…but might for you!
SPECIAL NOTE: Beginning May 2, 2016, I am giving Body Beast a SECOND ATTEMPT!
If you would like to read my FIRST review – please read on! This blog was written after my first shot at Body Beast. However, since writing this, many things about the program have been changed, adjusted or “tweaked,” and I look forward to proving this blog to be wrong in the end! Stay tuned for my UPDATED full review of Body Beast, but for now, read the review below so you can see what it feels like when you follow a program that isn’t “adjusted properly for your needs!” 🙂
LONG POST ALERT. This is really long, and I’m sorry. I got going and had to let it all out. Now, please, before you read on, I want you to get something in your head first. Body Beast, though it did not produce the results I wanted for myself, is a great, comprehensive program. But just like every other program, if it doesn’t line up with your goals and your interests, it will not produce for you. I am not blasting this program. I am not discouraging you in ANY WAY from picking up your copy. In fact, I ENCOURAGE you to try it out for yourself if it aligns with your goals! This is my personal Body Beast review. This is a breakdown of MY experience with Body Beast and how it did not work FOR ME in the way that I had hoped. Not every program you try is going to work for you. You’re not going to like everything, and it’s not fair of me to give you only positive reviews “just because it’s a product I represent.” No, that’s not what I do. I’m here to be honest at the same time as inspiring. And again, while I PERSONALLY did not like the Body Beast program, that doesn’t mean that it’s bad, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it, and that doesn’t mean that it won’t work WONDERS for you! There, now with that said, let’s move on.
- What is Body Beast and why did I decide to try it? I suppose before I launch into a full Body Beast review I should explain the “what and why.” Body Beast is a program that came out a few years ago, and it was marketed to people (men) who wanted to add mass and gain strength & size. Well later on, I saw some women who had tried it and had amazing results. I learned there was a “lean” schedule, and with my latest motivation from Olympia athletes like Dana Linn Bailey, Nicole Wilkins, etc., I was ready to try something NEW. I wanted muscle! I wanted a little more size in certain areas! I wanted to be defined and strong! I was ready to try a brand new challenge, even if it was supposed to be “something for the boys.” I’ve always been a barrier pusher, and because it was “for the boys,” that made me want to try it more. So I did! I wanted to prove that women can be strong, powerful and STILL SEXY AS HELL. Body Beast is broken down into three phases: build, bulk and beast. Each one served its own specific purpose. It featured a food guide that was totally different from ways I’ve been feeding myself before, and it was really exciting for me to be trying something so different!
- Phase 1: Build – The Build Phase is what primes you for the rest of the program. You learn the basics. You get your body accustomed to eating the amount of food recommended and you create that muscle memory for the moves you’ll perform throughout the program. It’s the base. The “Build” phase for me, was OK. I was still really excited, so I didn’t think much of how uncomfortable I felt with my own body. I attributed that to my body still adjusting to a “new way of training” that I hadn’t done before. I have a lifting background, but this was very different from what I had done in the past. And then there was the meal plan…TOTAL mind killer. I struggled with that a lot in the beginning, because it’s a LOT of food. I’m a small person. I’m not used to eating in the neighborhood of 2200 calories in a day. My body had a really hard time getting used to that, but I wanted to follow this program to a “t” since that’s what I’ve seen other women do, and their results were KILLER. So combined with the excitement of something new and the “this is just a new way of training for me” justification, I didn’t really mind feeling uncomfortable in the first phase. I felt like I gained strength, I felt like what I was doing would pay off down the road in the program, but the first phase always feels strange when you start something new. After this, we moved on to “Bulk.” That…was different.
- Phase 2: Bulk – The Bulk Phase is exactly what it sounds like…it’s where you’re lifting even heavier than before in order to build mass and “bulk up” your muscles. Now, as a woman, I know that sometimes the word “bulk” is scary, but I know better. I know that in order to create that lean, muscular look, you have to build up your muscles before you can shed that fat and reveal them. I understood the point of this phase, and I embraced it. I was prepared to feel a little “fluffy” during this phase because adding mass does mean a change in the scale and even how your clothes fit. I was mentally prepared for that. So the first week or so, I felt great! I felt strong! My weight lifting was getting better. Form, weight, reps…all of it. But as time went on, eating as much food as was recommended and lifting the way the program was built…I just didn’t enjoy it. I was prepared to feel fluffy; what I wasn’t prepared for was the feeling that all the progress I had made in the last few years looked and felt like it was gone. I not only felt a little “fluffy,” but I felt gross, bloated, heavy, self-conscious, tired and…as much as I hate to say it…fat. It was a daily mental battle to stick with it through this phase. I kept telling myself, “this is what happens when you bulk. You’re not used to it, just ride it out and in the third phase you’ll blow yourself away.” Even my boyfriend, who has major experience with this (personal trainer, former bodybuilder, etc.) kept telling me to just keep going and that what I was feeling was normal. So I pressed on. Through a hand injury and a bad case of the flu, I managed to stay on track.
- Phase 3: Beast – The third phase is supposed to be the “magical phase” where it all comes together, the fat melts off of you and you reveal all of those muscles you just built up. Well, let me tell you, I followed this phase to the LETTER (except for one or two meals) and I felt…nothing. The “fat melting off” for me was more like just a little water weight decided to jump ship. What was supposed to be a magical reveal was more like a giant plateau. At the recommendation of others who had felt the same way, I even added a couple of extra cardio sessions per week. Not enough to burn me out, but enough to add a little oomph. And guess what…I felt awful! I felt worn down, tired, weak, and only a little bit leaner! My weight was now higher than it had been in about 4 years, and my body fat percentage went up as well! I didn’t understand what was happening, and it was really frustrating. I did everything “right,” and nothing was going the right direction. I even extended this phase out a little bit in order to tweak and play with the structure of things to find the right balance for me, and it didn’t work. This “miracle phase” was anything but a miracle. I would have understood if I hadn’t followed the plan, but I did, and my body just did NOT respond.
- What were my final results? By the end of all of this, I felt completely defeated. I felt more out of shape than I had in a long time. My body fat was higher now than it was before I even conquered Focus T25, and that was over a year ago! My self-confidence tanked because I felt like a failure. My weight went up, my measurements went up…and not in a good way…my energy level was down, and I felt completely destroyed. Never had I ever taken on a program and actually felt worse at the end. Sure there have been some where I felt like I fell short, or “had I given more effort I could have actually seen amazing results,” but I have never followed a program as written and felt like a failure. This was incredibly hard for me to accept, and I still have a hard time, because now, here I am, post-Body Beast, and I feel like I am back at day 1. I feel like had I not taken on Body Beast and just stuck with ChaLEAN Extreme for my “weight lifting craving,” I would have seen better results. But, you only learn what works and what doesn’t for your body by giving it a try.
- My reasons for not enjoying this program: Let’s get down to the specifics.
- This program was designed for men: men’s metabolism, men’s marketing, “man bias” and “bro language,” not a single woman in the cast, supplements designed for men, etc. I understand why, because it was marketed as a program to help men add mass, but hey, what about the ladies who wanted to gain some size, shape & strength? And what about the ones who just love to lift? Shouldn’t a company that tries to appeal to all people make programs that market to ALL PEOPLE? It’s one thing to target your marketing, it’s another to COMPLETELY leave out an entire GENDER. I felt like I had walked in to a gym with its own “Bro Code,” and to be honest, the meat-head male domination of MANY gyms in my area is a HUGE reason why I prefer working out at home. Didn’t really vibe with that; I wasn’t in the mood to work out with a bunch of “Meat Head Rob Lowe” dudes (oh god please tell me you’ve seen that commercial…). So right off the bat, the feel of the workout just wasn’t for me.
- The food/calorie recommendations were too high for me. There is no way I, a 5’5″ female with minimal muscle mass, should be eating the same as a male who weighs the same as me. We are not built the same, we have completely different metabolisms. Eating that much for me may have felt ok at first, but after a few days, it was TOO MUCH. The calculations did not take into account whether you were male or female. Did it give you a good baseline as to “where to start,” sure. But I would MUCH prefer a customized approach that included your gender, like most of the other programs do! I definitely was willing to eat more on this program, because building a little mass was necessary to shed the fat and reshape your body. But for me, eating 1800-2000 calories per day, every day…it wasn’t right for my body. I do that on occasion. I do that for a “plateau busting” bump. I do that about once a month as my “off/cheat day.” But eating that much EVERY DAY didn’t feel right to me, it didn’t get me the results it was supposed to, and I strongly suspect (and confirm after doing my OWN calculations) that because it didn’t take into account that I am a WOMAN, the book’s guidelines were pretty far off.
- I almost feel bad for saying this one, but I have to. I’ll just come out and say it…I didn’t care for Sagi on camera. In his writing, his candid appearances, etc…I really like the guy. He’s crazy smart, he knows his stuff, and he’s incredibly motivating outside of this program. I really thought the personality I was used to seeing elsewhere would shine through and keep me motivated! But the scripted stuff, intros, and even during the workouts, he was robotic and came across as annoying to me. I felt like I was watching a bad movie. Seriously, his personality (or really, lack of…) didn’t motivate me at all. Even when he was yelling or screaming “UP!” And that’s really a shame, because like I said, outside of the workouts, I really like the guy!
- The cast. THE CAST. Oh my god, I won’t name names or workouts, but there was one workout I couldn’t even do with the DVD because one of the cast members irritated me so much. I’m just gonna leave it at that. There’s always someone in the cast of every workout that I’ve done that has “not been my favorite,” but in general, it doesn’t bother me enough that I actually can’t do the workout. But when the workout has a total of three people in it, and one you just can’t stand…yeah…
- I don’t feel like I needed the DVDs more than once. Maybe it’s because I have a background in weight training, but I felt like after I followed the lifting DVDs just one time, I didn’t need them anymore. I could have done most, if not all of these exercises without even seeing a DVD and just looking at a description. Like for me, seeing “Incline DB Bench Press,” I didn’t need a DVD. For something like “Sagi Six Way,” though, I guess I did. But after I did a DVD once, I never popped it back in again. I just used my tracker. I suppose you could say this about most “weight training DVDs,” but even with programs like ChaLEAN Extreme, I loved to put in the DVD and workout with it because a) I really liked Chalene as a motivator, and b) it gave me the proper tempo for the lift. These workouts I just didn’t feel that.
- The Body Beast app is a JOKE. Seriously, I know this isn’t technically part of the program, and it’s not going to make or break your results…but it was absolutely a waste. Great idea guys, but it wasn’t so much an “app” as it was described…it was really just a website. A very slow loading, “didn’t I just do this? Now I have to enter all this crap again?!” website. I thought it would be GREAT for me so I could take these workouts on the road when I travel and not worry about carting around my laptop with the tracking sheet or a pen and paper. But, after attempting to use it twice, I deleted it from my phone. If they can actually streamline it into an APP that doesn’t require you to pause your workout for like 2 minutes just to record your reps and sets, great. Otherwise, don’t bother with that thing. It’s more frustrating than it was worth.
- The “Beast Cardio” workout just wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the idea. I like interval workouts, and I love when they throw in weights with your cardio. I loved the idea behind the workout, but this particular workout just didn’t push me. It didn’t feel like cardio! I don’t think it ever got my heart rate into a cardio zone. No matter how hard I pushed, it felt like this workout didn’t do enough for me! Granted, I’m a self-proclaimed “cardio junkie,” and my cardio fitness is really freakin’ good, so I need more to get my heart rate up, but with only one scheduled cardio workout per week for the bulk of the workout, and with it not really “doing it” for me, I found myself either substituting it with some other cardio, or adding another cardio workout to my day on the days that one was on the schedule.
- No real warm up or cool down. Yeah, yeah, I get it, lots of people say you really don’t need an intense warmup. If you’re working legs, a few minutes of warming up your legs, shaking them out, blah blah that’s all you need. Fine, if that works for you, ok great. Sorry, I need more of a warm up than that. I like my muscles to actually be, you know, warm. Especially when I’m doing this workout at 5am sometimes and it’s WINTER. Also, there was hardly a cool down or stretch at the end. It felt rushed, it felt like Sagi didn’t really care about that part. I like a little more of a cool down or stretch. I prefer to keep my muscles somewhat flexible because flexible muscles have greater strength potential. So yeah, did I do extra stretching after the workouts? You bet. Was it annoying that a program that’s supposed to cover all the bases….left out one COMPLETELY? You bet. No flexibility work at all…not at the end of a workout, not in a separate DVD, NOTHING. I get it, “the bros don’t do flexibility.” Whatever.
- The things I did like about Body Beast: It wasn’t ALL BAD! There were plenty of things that I did like! So I want to make sure to bring those to light.
- The recipes! While the food guide may not have hit the mark for me with quantity, those recipes are seriously A++. I still make the Beast Turkey Chili. YUM! Seriously, there are a bunch of recipes in that book that I still turn to for my regular nutrition. It’s a quality guide, even if you’re not following the portions.
- I LOVE lifting. I admit that I have taken some of the workout moves, rearranged them, and inserted them into my actual “I wrote these bad boys myself” workouts. They’re officially part of my travel rotation, when I’m left on my own to work out in a hotel or something. The moves themselves are great!
- That women…other than myself…are actually breaking that “Bros Only” marketing barrier, getting their BEAST on and seeing amazing results. Those women are what kept me motivated to actually DO the whole thing and not give up! I hope their marketing efforts start to at least include women a little bit in the future, but until then, ladies who Beast, you rock!
- The ability to turn the music on/off. This is pretty standard in most Beachbody programs these days, but it’s still a feature that I have to mention from time to time and talk about how much I love it. I don’t know about you, but some days I want to work out to one “mood soundtrack” and others it’s totally different. I like to change it up.
- The length of the workouts. Sometimes, “more” doesn’t always mean “better.” The workouts were quick, but they were EFFECTIVE. The design of the program itself was actually really great. The longer workouts during the first phase, the shorter ones with heavier weights for the second, and then a mix in the third. With everything I’ve learned over the years in terms of program design and stuff, the actual fitness element was put together VERY well. Even though for me I would have wanted more cardio (because my goal WAS to lean out more than build mass…), for the average person looking to gain mass, this hit it on the head. Each person will tweak it based on their goals, but the basic design = great.
- I actually DID feel STRONGER! If my initial goal was just to improve my strength, this workout would have been AMAZING. But that wasn’t my goal. I wanted the “lean” experience. I wanted the ripped, sleek body I was seeing on other women who had taken this program. But even though I didn’t get THAT from Body Beast, I definitely DID increase my strength, power, and I can feel my metabolism burning hot with all of that added muscle. It’s encouraging, and it reignited my love for lifting even more than before.
- How I feel the program could improve: Much like the revamp of Slim in 6 and the change from Power 90 to P90, I would love to see Beachbody redevelop Body Beast one day. With just a few simple changes, I feel like the program can get better without losing its “hardcore” vibe.
- Rethink your marketing. Again, I see what you were going for the first time around, and yes, the program became one of the top infomercials, but I really think that the program, the marketing, infomercials, etc. turn off a lot of women. Yes there are the bold, like me, who want to take on new challenges. Yes there are women who want to actually add mass. But…for many women, they don’t see the advantages for muscle building for fat loss and are incredibly intimidated by a program like Body Beast. While I understand that the PRIMARY purpose for the program is mass building, the lean schedule is still an option, and it should be marketed. Add a few women to your infomercial. Put one in a few of the DVDs…and not just for modification! Showcase STRONG WOMEN. Prove that THE WORLD OF FITNESS IS NOT SEXIST AND HAS NO BARRIERS. Just look at women like Nicole Wilkins or Dana Linn Bailey. They are beautiful, strong and graceful. Don’t you want to appeal to women as well as men?
- The food plan…you HAVE to find a way to accommodate the differences in metabolism for men and women. You have to. Sure, some women can follow it “by the book” and see crazy results. But…out of all the women I did talk to, MOST OF THEM ended up having to basically “figure it out for themselves.” If that’s the case, then why even have the calorie ranges at all? If “based on the calculations” we’re supposed to fall in that 2200 calorie range, but don’t see results until we drop it down to 1800 or so, then why bother calculating? Find a way to take some of the “guess and tweak” out for the women (or even the smaller men!) who are taking on this program instead of “oh, well if your calculations fall below ____ then just go with the lowest calorie level of the program, at 1800.” or “If that seems to be too much/too little, just find what works for you.” That’s kind of a cop out, and for those of us who really NEEDED that help with the “how much to eat” because we’ve never trained this way before, it was incredibly discouraging.
- LET SAGI BE HIMSELF, don’t force him to act. Please. Or if this was him trying to be himself in front of a camera, can we get him some acting classes? Like I said before, every other time I’ve seen him on camera, I’ve really loved his personality. But for some reason, in these workouts, he was such a robot I just couldn’t deal. It didn’t feel genuine, it didn’t feel motivating, it made me miss Shaun T. and Chalene…whose REAL PERSONALITIES shine through with EASE in their programs.
- Turn the “app” into an actual app. I don’t really think I need to explain this. Calling a mobile version of a website an app is just…not cool. Make it an app. One that we don’t need wifi to work, one that doesn’t take forever to load, and one that actually is easy to use. Seriously, this CAN’T be that hard. I’m sure there are PLENTY of people out there who can whip one up for you in 5 minutes, and all you have to do is the branding.
- Why I will still recommend this program to others, even though I didn’t enjoy it: Now here’s the thing. Even after I’ve somewhat ripped the program apart and told you all the things I didn’t like, all the results I didn’t get and all the bad things that happened to me, If someone were to ask me if I recommend the program…I will still say YES. I know, to some of you that makes absolutely no sense. But let me explain. Body Beast is a program that is VERY VERY SPECIFIC in its audience and the people it will serve the best. I wholeheartedly believe in this program IF and ONLY IF it aligns with your goals 100%! If you are NOT looking to build muscle mass (and therefore, gain weight…), if you are looking to “tone up,” (as some of the ladies put it), or if you are just looking to lose some weight, there are a TON of other options, and for you, I do not recommend Body Beast. HOWEVER! If your goals include adding muscle mass, getting bigger, lifting heavy and you need the start to finish direction on how to work out AND eat to put on that mass, I absolutely will recommend this program! Even on the “lean” schedule, you are still going to end up putting on a little bit of mass. As I mentioned, this program’s biggest challenge for me wasn’t in the food or the workouts, it was in my mind. I had a real hard time wrapping my head around my body’s responses to this program and instead of learning to adapt, tweak and adjust, my body went into shut down mode. It just wasn’t the right program for me. Just as I would not recommend 21 Day Fix to someone looking to put on muscle mass, or INSANITY to someone with two bad knees, I’m not going to recommend Body Beast to someone who does not have a goal of adding muscle mass. That’s the bottom line. I tried it because that’s what I thought I wanted to do. But once I got into the heart of the program, I realized that my goal wasn’t so much adding muscle to get ripped, it was more about carving out the muscle I already have. And for that, I should have chosen a different program, like a new, heavier round of ChaLEAN Extreme. Body Beast is an amazing program…if your goals are in line with what the program produces. And that is exactly why, after we talk about your goals, I will ABSOLUTELY recommend Body Beast if I feel that it is a program that fits YOU! Don’t let a silly “Body Beast Review” from a girl who tried it and didn’t get what she wanted keep you from trying it out and letting it transform your body if this is your goal!
- Program grade: As a whole, for what it includes, what it can do, the ease of the program and the results I’ve seen in others, I give the program a solid B-. Good, but not great. Like I said, with a few tweaks, this could be an even better program. But as a program for me, I will give it a D+. There were things I liked, but they were overshadowed by things that I didn’t enjoy. Not every workout is for everyone. Just like running marathons isn’t a workout for me, Body Beast was not a workout that fit my lifestyle, interests, needs or goals. It doesn’t mean it’s “bad,” and it doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. For me, Body Beast just didn’t hit the mark.