Individuals vary in how they select a fitness program. Some go what their friends recommend. Others follow what their favorite celebrities promote. Then, there are those who think that choosing a fitness program is not a simple decision.
After all, a program usually requires months of commitment. It will impact daily routine and lifestyle. Diet requirements could be difficult to adhere to, maybe harder than the exercises themselves. The program must deliver good results, else the time and sacrifices made may not be worth it.
After scouting the internet, one that caught my attention was Body Beast. It’s a 90-day weightlifting and diet program which is said to benefit both men and women. Let me share how it can be a great fitness solution for you and me.
DIY fitness, will it work?
It’s a lot easier to get fit in my younger years. I started as a not fat nor skinny nerd in my teen years. I was quite inactive but I don’t mind. I felt the need to shape up when I get to hang out with physically active people. From a non-swimmer, I can do a mile worth of laps in a pool in a couple of months.
I can feel the results in mere weeks into a gym program. These are accomplished despite once or twice a week visits to a pool or gym. Then comes the next decade. From an active student, I transformed into a dedicated office worker. I was fat and I hate my body.
I can’t even sustain a jog for a few minutes. I was hoping to regain what I had and I thought I could easily do it again. I signed up for a gym membership as it was the most convenient exercise option in the middle of the city.
Weeks and months later, there was no noticeable improvement to speak of. I had to hire a personal trainer and nutritionist so I can at least have minimum results.
To respond to the question above, my short answer is NO if I am to base it on my personal experience. My basic fitness knowledge wasn’t enough to get me close to where I want to be.
This is despite opting for a premium gym. I didn’t know my breaks were too long, my sets lacked variety, and my meal plan was terrible. Of course, I learned all of this after I consulted professionals.
I am not here to discourage you from learning on your own. On the contrary, I suggest that you try different fitness routines and see what works well for you. The main frustration in my case was I had a specific goal and timeframe in my DIY but I was nowhere near accomplishing it.
What is Body Beast?
Body Beast is a 90-day weight training program designed to provide a ripped and chiseled look. The program is the product of collaboration between BeachBody and Sagi Kalev. The workouts are 25-50 minutes long, six days a week.
The needed equipment is relatively simple, similar to other home-workout programs. The key component of the exercises is Dynamic Set Training. This is done by having pre-fatigue sets of lighter weights before the set with heavier weight is done.
To illustrate, an exercise starts with a set of 15 using light weights. This is followed by medium weights on 12 sets. Then 8 sets with heavy weights to complete. After 90 seconds of rest, the process is reversed. The program contains variations of these on different muscle groups.
Who is Sagi Kalev?
Let us now check the man behind Body Beast. His name is Sagi Kalev, known in the USA as an all-natural muscle growth expert. He was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. Before moving to the US, he won Mr. Israel twice.
He then added NPC Southwest USA and NPC Lone Star to the list of competitions won. His online profile states that he graced about 50 international fitness magazines. This includes being the cover photo twice for Muscle & Fitness magazine.
He has a degree in Sports Science and Nutrition from the University of Central Florida. His LinkedIn page also lists the following:
- Master Professional Personal Trainer, IFBB Pro
- Member of the IFBB Propta Hall of Fame
- Certified Nutrition Specialist
- Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist
As a multi-awarded bodybuilder, professional trainer, and nutrition expert, I am pretty confident that we can trust his recommendations.
What are the equipment needed for Body Beast?
The equipment required are basic: dumbbells 10 to 60lbs, a weight bench, and a chin-up bar. The following are good additions to help you get started fast or for more effective workouts.
- EZ bar
EZ bar is optional but workouts are better if this is in hand.
- Resistance bands
Get the bands that can provide up to 100 lbs of resistance. This can serve as an alternative to dumbbells to get started right away. However, investing in dumbbells is still necessary to achieve great results. Resistance bands with door attachment can serve as an alternative to chin-up bars.
- Stability ball
A stability ball serves the same purpose as the weight bench but gives an extra workout to stabilizers and core. However, this is NOT SAFE with heavier weights.
- Chin up max
Get chin-up max if you are not yet ready to lift your entire body weight.
- Jump mat
Jump mats provide shock resistance to joints when jumping. It will support the spine during core work. It is also helpful while doing cardio workouts.
What are the benefits of weight training?
Weight training often gives us a picture of bulked-up men. This is true to some extent as resistance training is needed to achieve that muscular well-defined body. However, this is not the complete picture as weights can be used to lose unwanted pounds plus many other benefits.
- Stronger and healthier bones
We create more bones than our body breaks down when we are young. Total bone density peaks at around 35 years of age. After that, we break down bones faster than what we can create.
Studies indicate that the rate of bone loss is slowed down by proper weight training. The density is even increased in some cases where weight lifting participants took vitamin D and calcium supplements.
- Defense against chronic illnesses
Cardio workouts are often cited as the defense against many illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes. It reduces bad cholesterol and blood pressure while improving good cholesterol and insulin sensitivity.
These benefits should not exclusively be attributed to an aerobics-based fitness regimen but to a stronger body overall. Weight training has a lot to contribute to increasing the body’s total strength.
- Better metabolism and fat loss
Cardio is a great way to lose the belly. No doubt about it. But when at rest, fat reduction goes south too. You’ll have to crank it up again to resume burning those calories.
Weight lifting builds more muscles than cardio exercises alone. Muscles burn more calories compared to fat when at rest. This means that if you’re the more muscular guy (or gal), you get to eat more than a person with a similar weight but has a higher fat percentage.
- Type 2 Diabetes management
Recent studies indicate that lifting weights is more beneficial than cardiovascular exercises in managing Type 2 Diabetes. Here are the reasons why:
– directly burns blood sugar
– trained muscles can store more blood glucose resulting to easier glucose management
– targets abdominal fat that inhibits effective use of insulin
– improves blood flow reducing risks of complications
These gains are on top of other benefits associated with proper exercise such as
- Improves fitness, strength, and endurance
- Improves posture and sleep
- Prevents injury and better balance especially for older people
- Elevated energy levels
- Better body composition
- Improves mood and boosts confidence
I have Type 2 Diabetes. Can I start the Body Beast program?
Hold your horses here. Body Beast can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes by lowering blood sugar. It is also true that weight training helps people with the said disease. However, sufficient recovery is needed between workouts of people with Type 2 Diabetes.
The general recommendation is to have a day or two of rest. Strictly following the Body Beast regimen will not give the break needed. There are many other considerations such as joint pains, potential eye problems, even inability to sufficiently feel the feet. Consult with health professionals on what programs you can still do.
Body Beast vs P90x, which should I choose?
Body Beast workout is being compared to P90x because they are two famous programs of BodyBeach. They were released in 2012 and 2003 respectively. These two programs both take 90 days to complete.
P90x by Tony Horton focuses on functional fitness, making everyday tasks easier. The activities are combinations of weightlifting for strength, cardio for endurance, and yoga for flexibility. The equipment needed are dumbbells, a yoga mat, and a pull-up bar. The workouts range from 45 to 60 minutes but yoga sessions are about 90 minutes.
Body Beast by Sagi Kalev focuses on resistance training with minor cardio workouts. The program is marketed towards men who want to bulk up and be the big man in the room. The session lengths range from 25 to 65 minutes, but the longest is only seen in the Tempo Edition. The basic equipment is similar to P90x, just replace the yoga mat with a weight bench.
The first impression is that they seem to be very different. But with a closer look at what they can do, similarities appear. Recent studies indicate that many benefits of cardio workouts can also be achieved with resistance training. A stronger heart, better blood circulation, improved mood, and confidence are some of the many overlaps.
P90x promotes flexibility which is not a key benefit expected in Body Beast. Critics argue that hour-and-a-half yoga sessions are not popular among end-users. The tendency is to skip yoga days or do other workouts instead.
Yoga exercises do wonders to the body, but it is simply not appealing to many. The people behind the program are aware of this and released P90X3 in 2013. The main improvement of this later version is sessions are limited to 30 minutes, reducing the reasons to skip sessions.
Body Beast features big muscular men in the promotional materials. That result is optional. You can still follow the workout and get the lean, toned look you may be aiming for. The big size is achieved by taking in the calories on top of lifting heavier weights, and not by simply following the routines.
The name Body Beast may sound intimidating. It even looks intimidating (judging by pictures of Sagi Kalev). However, it’s not designed exclusively for hardcore bodybuilders. Beginners can follow it similar to P90X.
Can women benefit from Body Beast?
Absolutely. Many women believe that weightlifting is not for them. Well, who can blame them? The banging sounds of metal, the stale look of plates, and bulked-up photos of gym rats are intimidati ng.
Some may prefer the cosmetic route to get the slim look they want. Some may opt for cardio workouts alone. While these alone are not bad, they will be missing the many benefits of resistance training. As discussed earlier, we all suffer bone density reduction as we age.
However, women lose it earlier than men. Decreased levels of estrogen in the early days of menopause accelerate the process. Men lose testosterone but it happens gradually and without similar triggers women experience. So ladies do need to lift those weights to delay or avoid osteoporosis.
There’s still the concern of bulking and many women don’t like it. Maybe it will help to know that young women have around 10% of the testosterone that men have. Strength training will just tone the muscles and unlikely to bulk them up. BeachBody shared stories of women who went through the Body Beast program, and you will not see any of them bigger.
And when you ladies decide to follow the Body Beast program, don’t focus on the scales. Look at the change in strength and appearance rather than weight. Muscle is heavier than fat. It’s not impossible to gain some pounds yet still look slimmer.
Don’t worry about trying on heavier weights. Without putting in the extra calories, there will be no extra muscle mass.
What results can I expect from Body Beast?
We know what the workout is. We know how it can help us. It’s now time for us to review the results.
Body Beast states that up to 20 pounds of muscle mass can be gained in the three months duration. That means you get to burn an extra 600 to 1000 calories a day without doing anything. Of course, don’t trade this with pizza or beer. Better follow the nutrition guide so as not to waste your effort.
Starting condition and effort of individuals following the program affect the end results. Featured participants give numbers that are not that far off the potential 20 pounds. As reviewers noted, the best results you can see on the internet are those that have completed the course at least two or three times.
BeachBody featured Stephane to showcase what the program can do. He was fit while in his 20s but as time passed, health was moved back in the list of priorities. Responsibilities and chores eat up available time. Before the program, he was always out of breath in any physical activity.
Pretty much my story too. After 3 rounds on the Body Beast program, he lost 82 pounds in 9 months. He developed a lean body, muscular arms and legs, and the sought-after six-pack. On top of the looks, he became alert, energized, and confident to get back on the dating game.
Another featured participant is Zane who at 54 was able to shed 57 pounds in 90 days. The more impressive mark is how he brought down his body fat to just, from dangerously high 30% to healthy 13%. This was achieved without any major life event, just by sheer desire to have a healthier body.
Achieving fitness goals are not achieved by the workout alone. It needs the nutritional and mental component too. To summarize, let’s quote Sagi Kalev himself.
“If you want to be a beast, you gotta train like one, eat like one, and believe like one.”