Recommended Home Fitness Programs

Each of these programs is one I have personal experience with (as in, I’ve actually done the program, start to finish myself).

In my reviews I will tell you what I like about each, as well as what I didn’t like or struggled with. I will also give you my assessment of who each one might be a good fit for. I’ve listed the programs in the chronological order I did each in.

Latest Update: June 2016


 

P90X

P90X was my first home workout program, and is still my favorite. I’ve done a total of 5 rounds of this program, but I mishandled the first two, so I’ll say I’ve successfully done 3 rounds of P90X to completion.

The Good:

There’s lots of variety so it’s quite hard to get bored with it, even after 90 days or more. The workouts are very challenging, even for an athletic person or someone who has been into fitness for a long time, but they’re not impossible, and it’s relatively easy to modify most moves to work around physical limitations. Because the routines are at least an hour long each you’re doing plenty of work.

There’s no way to complete this program, if you’re also managing your nutrition and rest appropriately, and not see some pretty dramatic results.

The Bad:

The workouts are hard. Really hard. If you make the mistake that many people do and skip the fitness test in the program guide you won’t actually know if you’re ready for P90X or not. It’s crucial that you read the guide and make sure you’re well prepared beforehand. Let me put it to you this way – in a lot of ways P90X is the CrossFit of home fitness programs. Minding your form and not letting your ego get the better of you is crucial to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.

Tony Horton is also an acquired taste for many people. Me, personally, I love him. I could listen to him talk all day, but I know plenty of people who find him highly irritating. If you’re easily annoyed, this might not be the trainer you’re looking for.

What Do You Need:

You need weights, a pull-up bar or someplace you can anchor a resistance band and enough space to move around a bit.


 

Asylum

After I finished my third round of P90X I wanted to try something new. Insanity: The Asylum was just out and I figured if I could do P90X I could do anything. Yikes.

The Good:

If P90X is hardcore, The Asylum is just plain old brutal. If you are an athlete who needs to get in game-shape quickly or improve your agility and speed and you need to do it at home, Asylum is perfect. The program is specifically designed for athletes to challenge their fitness and take it to the next level.

The Bad:

My coach and I both did The Asylum around the same time. We came up with a new name for it – Fork In The Eye. Asylum is so freakin’ tough that it’s hard to motivate yourself to do your daily workout. If you’re not in pretty close to top shape when you start Asylum might just wipe the floor with you.

The workouts also take quite a bit of space to do them properly. There’s a fair amount of speed rope work and most routines involve the use of an agility ladder, which is a cool tool, but to use it properly you need plenty of room to work. One of my challenges with Asylum was trying to do the workouts in my dinky living room. After smacking the sofa with my jump rope one too many times I basically had to give up on the rope drills and do the modified versions. I also found working with the ladder tough in such limited space.

Like P90X, if you’re not ready, physically, for this program you can get hurt. The real problem here is I honestly cannot imagine too many people doing home workouts who would be ready.

What Do You Need:

The program comes with a speed rope and agility ladder. You’ll also need a pull-up bar and plenty of room to do the workouts in.


T25

After my less than pleasant experience with Asylum you’d think I’d be done with Shaun T, and I’ll have to admit I was gun shy, but I had gotten into a rut, gained back some weight and needed a kick in the pants. I joined a Focus T25 challenge group and had a blast. T25 is, to this day, one of my all-time favorite workout programs.

The Good:

As advertised, the workouts are short. Each one is 25 minutes long. Most days I would spend more time thinking about getting ready to do my workout than the time spent doing the actual workout.

This is a very strongly cardio-focused program that you can do with no equipment at all. And unlike Asylum you can make it work in pretty much whatever amount of space you’ve got to work with. As the infomercials say, get in, get out and get done.

The routines are HIIT-based, so while you’re not exercising for much time, you’re burning calories like crazy. For someone who needs to jump start their metabolism, T25 is a great choice.

The Bad:

Shaun T likes to make you hop around… a lot. If you’ve got joint problems in your ankles, knees or hips, or back problems that are structural in nature (as in, herniated disks, or other spinal problems) you might want to give this one a pass. That said, there is a fantastic modifier on every workout who takes almost all the impact out of the routines, so it is possible even with serious physical limitations to do the program without hurting yourself.

What Do You Need:

About five feet of space and a towel. Seriously, you will sweat like crazy doing these routines.


P90X2

Ah Tony.

P90X2 was my next step after T25. Most folks don’t even know this program exists. Even being a big fan of P90X even I missed it when it was introduced. I was beyond stoked when I ordered it, and believe it is a massively well-designed program that really took my own physical abilities way beyond anything I’d ever tried before. It’s not, however, without flaws.

The Good:

Like its predecessor, P90X2 is a 90 day, full-body program with tons of variety. The two things that make it really exceptional though are also the things that have probably kept it from being more popular.

P90X2 focuses on balance and mobility in a big way. Every routine starts with warm up and foam rolling to release facia that can limit range of motion. If all you did was learn the foam rolling from P90X2 and practice it regularly your health and fitness would improve a lot. The focus on balance in all the routines builds core stability that’s really important if you want to be able to perform at your best in the real world.

The Bad:

The workouts are long. Most days you’re spending 20 minutes just warming up and doing foam rolling before you even break a sweat. That can get frustrating, and really won’t work for people who are impatient and want to dive in.

You need plenty of equipment. In addition to needing weights, a pull-up bar (or resistance band you can anchor securely) you also need an appropriately sized inflatable fitness ball and a couple of weighted medicine balls. If you’re working out in your living room this can start to drive you a bit bats.

You need humility. There are quite a few moves in P90X2 that are, frankly, just impossible to do when you start out. I fell on my face so many times during the program I lost count. As you gradually build the core stability and balance you need to do these tough moves you’ll feel awesome about your accomplishment, but in the meantime your ego is going to take a beating.

You also need lots of patience. Results don’t materialize rapidly with X2. If you stick it out for 90 days you’ll see and feel them, but as you move through the program you might feel like you’re stalled.

What Do You Need:

A fitness ball (appropriately sized for your height), a pair of weighted medicine balls, a pull-up bar (or resistance band you can anchor securely) and a selection of dumbbells or adjustable weights. X2 also takes a little bit more space than P90X to be able to get the most out of some of the workouts.


P90X3

P90X3 came out while I was in the middle of X2. I actually ordered the program and had it sitting on the shelf for about 60 days while I honored my commitment to finish the other program, and it drove me crazy.

Where X2 is all about esoteric aspects of fitness that, while super valuable and beneficial, don’t really rock anyone’s world thinking about them, P90X3 cuts right to the chase and picks up the ball right where P90X left it.

The Good:

P90X3 shakes up the formula right away. Gone are the long workouts of P90X and P90X2, replaced with 30 minute routines (the world of P90X veterans heaved a huge sigh of relief to see X3’s yoga routine come in at 1/3 the length of the original P90X Yoga). What’s crazy good about P90X3 is that Tony somehow found a way to incorporate most of the balance and mobility work from X2 into a much more compact package.

Some of the routines in X3 are just plain brilliant. X3 Yoga is not only shorter, but it’s so balanced and flows so well that all the hesitancy folks felt with Tony’s other yoga workouts just disappear. The MMX routine is so much fun that I’ve actually unpacked it to do it as an add-on to other programs and even just for entertainment.

X3 also includes enough modifications that you don’t have to be Tony Horton fit in order to get through 90 days without beating yourself up.

The Bad:

The shorter workouts sacrifice some of the volume in the training in P90X and P90X2, which can make it more challenging to get the kinds of results that were possible with the earlier programs. The trick is to increase intensity by lifting heavier and going harder on each move. That’s not a bad thing, but without a coach to guide you, you probably won’t figure this out on your own.

Space creep has happened again as well too. To get the most out of this program you’ll need room to move. If you’ve got very limited workout space you’ll find this challenging.

What Do You Need:

You’ll need a range of dumbbells that will allow you to progressively lift more (or adjustable weights), a pull-up bar (or resistance band and somewhere safe to secure it to) and a roll of masking tape to use to plot out targets on the floor (this is actually pretty cool) and enough space to move around.


21 Day Fix

21 Day Fix was the first program I used simply to be able to understand it and coach people through it. When it came out, I have to be honest, my level of skepticism was pretty well off the charts, and I was reluctant to recommend it for anyone until I’d put it through its paces.

I didn’t have an issue with the fact that it was an introductory level program. I was very much in agreement that Beachbody needed a program like 21 Day Fix in the catalog for people who need a starting point and aren’t ready for Insanity of P90X- type workouts. Where my radar went off was the portion control container system for nutrition.

These days I don’t hesitate to recommend this system to anyone.

The Good:

The workouts are, again, short. Each one is 30 minutes long, and over the course of 21 days you get a full body workout. Autumn Calabrese’s experience as a personal trainer and fitness competitor really shines through the design of the routines.

The portion system is also, in spite of my initial skepticism, brilliant. Once you have adjusted to working with the containers and planning your meals the system takes care of itself (there’s also a wealth of resources, from printed planners and trackers for sale on Etsy to a free iPhone app from Beachbody).

The real key to what makes the portion system work with 21 Day Fix is that it not only gets you to moderate your total consumption of food, but to broaden the quality of your overall nutrition. Most people will find they are eating quite a bit more fruits and veggies than they’ve ever eaten before. When you improve the quality of your diet in this way your body can’t help but respond positively.

The Bad:

Beyond one or two rounds the workouts can get repetitive, since there are only 7 routines. So for someone looking for a program to do for several months, this one can become a little tedious.

21 Day Fix is also a relatively easy set of routines. If you’re already athletic you’ll get more benefit out of the eating plan than the workouts. If you’re intermediate to advanced in your exercise skills you should probably go for a more difficult program.

The containers can be really difficult for people to embrace. The portion system has to be something you’re willing to trust the process on. If you’re not comfortable with doing at least some advance meal prep and planning the container system can be frustrating.

What You Will Need:

The workouts take a minimum of space and equipment. A resistance band and enough room to do push-ups in and move around a bit is really all you’ll need.


PiYo

At the point when I did PiYo I had a list of pretty intense fitness routines littered behind me. When PiYo was introduced and Chalene Johnson suggested it was perfect for someone who was a bit beaten up from lots of intense exercise, I was in.

PiYo focuses on mobility, flexibility and core strength. Initially I struggled with it because the program moves you so gently into the more difficult routines, taking lots of time to let you learn to do the movements properly, but once I got over my impatience and just trusted the process I had a great time with it and it certainly delivered on rehabbing me from the dings and dents I’d accumulated in the previous year before starting the program.

The Good:

As I mentioned, Chalene eases you into the program, so you have a lot of confidence to be able to execute the moves properly and get the most out of them. There’s also a fantastic modifier in all the routines who shows how to get the workouts done even if you’ve got some limitations that make it difficult for you to hold the poses and do the full blown versions of the moves.

There’s no equipment necessary, so all you need is enough space to lie down in and you’re pretty much good to go. This workout is about you and gravity.

Chalene has said that what led her to create PiYo was her inability personally to tolerate holding poses in a yoga class. You get a lot of the benefits of a yoga workout from PiYo, but you’re always moving, which can be great if you’re not the type who is into quieting your mind.

There is virtually no impact to any of the moves in PiYo, so for people who struggle with higher impact exercises, PiYo is ideal.

The Bad:

PiYo took a lot of getting used to. If you’re accustomed to high intensity sweat-fests, PiYo will take you a while to adapt to. The workouts sneak up on you. You can easily feel like you’re not doing much and then 30 minutes in, you’re sweaty.

Also, if you don’t like being treated like one of the slow kids in the class, Chalene’s style of easing you into the program over the first couple of weeks will bug you.

What Will You Need:

You’ll need yourself, a space to exercise in and a towel. If you’ve got hard floors you’ll need a yoga mat.


Body Beast

After gettin’ all limber and flexible with lots of pink on the screen, I needed to go the other way. ;-)

Body Beast is a program I’d hesitated to do. The picture of Sagi Kalev on the box (see above) scared me. I’ve got no interest in bulking up (or hulking up) and all the marketing just made me intimidated. I love lifting weights, but this one just seemed like a bad fit for me.

When I was at the Beachbody Coach Summit though in the summer of 2014 I met so many people who just raved about Beast, so I had to give it a shot. If you’re looking for an introduction to lifting or you’re an experienced lifter who feels like you need something to keep you progressing with appropriate guidance, Beast is a winner.

If you’re a woman who wants to start lifting, ladies, this is where you need to go.

The Good:

This is a flat out strength training program. You will lift, lift again and then lift some more. Beast will build muscle and burn fat. No two ways about it. With the advent of Beachbody On Demand you can even take this program with you to the gym via your phone or tablet. If you’ve got a gym that isn’t too crowded or can do your workouts at a time of day when you can occupy a bench for a while this is a great way to use Beast.

The Bad:

For whatever reason, the folks at Beachbody didn’t expect women to buy this program, so there’s no women in the cast in any of the videos. What you get are three hulking man beasts, and some culturally tone-deaf typical dude gym insults.

Sagi is also an acquired taste. His accent can be off-putting to some people. I also found the cardio workout included in the program almost comically bad. After a couple of weeks I started substituting MMX from P90X3 and some of my favorite T25 workouts.

Unless you’re going to take this one with you via smartphone or tablet to the gym, you’re going to need a fair amount of gear to make this worthwhile.

What Will You Need:

At minimum you’ll need enough dumbbells with a range of weights to keep you challenged throughout the 60 days of the program (adjustable dumbbells are a good choice) and a stability ball and a pull-up bar (or resistance band you can anchor securely). For best results you will need a weight bench that can be set into an incline and a barbell or EZ-curl bar and some plates.

Like I said above, if you have the option to take Beast with you to a gym where you can get to all the equipment you’ll need that’s perfect.


Insanity Max: 30

I never did the original Insanity workout (still haven’t as of this writing). When Insanity Max: 30 came out I was all over it though because it promised short workouts like T25 with the intensity of Insanity.

What I loved about Max 30 was the ability to measure my progress on a daily basis. Instead of intervals of work and rest, Max 30 just pushes you to go full out straight out of the gate and see how long you can go before you “max out” and have to take a break. What you get is a high intensity endurance workout, with each routine building upon the one that came before it.

The Good:

The best thing about Max 30 is Shaun T. He is relentlessly motivating and inspiring all the way through the program. Prior to each workout you get to listen in on his huddle with the cast and those daily motivational speeches to the people on screen are almost worth the price of admission alone. If you’re in need of a cheerleader to get you motivated in life, Shaun will deliver.

The workouts are, as advertised 30 minutes, so, like T25, you almost spend more time thinking about working out than you do on the routine each day.

There is a feature on Max 30 that allows you to isolate the modifier on the screen so you can follow along if you’re not able to do all the high impact work that’s involved in the program. That puts doing an intense program within reach of people who need to work up to it.

The variety of the workout routines is really good, and 60 days whiz by. With no equipment necessary and the ability to do the moves in very little space this is a workout you can do pretty much anywhere.

The Bad:

Shaun T loves to make you jump and twist, so unless you’re following the modifier Max 30 can be rough on your ankles, knees and back.

What Will You Need:

A towel. Seriously, you will sweat ridiculously doing this program. I did a second round of Max 30 this summer and I thought I was going to melt.


21 Day Fix Extreme

When 21 Day Fix Extreme came out I almost didn’t give it a test run. I figured it was just going to be a slightly more intense version of 21 Day Fix and I knew what that was about. I’m glad I didn’t follow through on that inclination.

Since its release I’ve done two rounds of 21 Day Fix Extreme, and each time I wished it was a longer program. 21DFX is, by far, one of the most well-designed workout programs in the entire Beachbody catalog. It’s a perfect progression for graduates of 21 Day Fix, or for people who want to focus on weight loss who are a bit more advanced in their own fitness.

The Good:

The workouts are, like its predecessor, 30 minutes long. Where it differs from 21 Day Fix is in the use of weights. Autumn has you basically holding a weight or some form of resistance in every workout, even the cardio routine.

Once again you get the container portion system, and there are some refinements to the eating plan, including a Countdown To Competition plan that mimics the type of eating plan Autumn herself follows to prepare for a bikini competition. They brought the “extreme” to the nutrition plan this time as well as the workouts.

The routines allow you to either use weights or resistance bands, so I was able to stay on track with my first round of the program even while traveling on a business trip. I did my workouts in my hotel room without a hiccup.

The Bad:

People who have a hard time planning ahead are still going to struggle with the container system. It’s worth the effort, but can be trying for people who have difficulty with meal prep and planning.

This is still only a 21 day program, so using it for longer can get tedious. I did find that the workouts were compelling and challenging enough though that I didn’t hesitate to do a 2nd round.

The way Autumn has you wrap the resistance band around your feet for the Pilates routine has been frustrating for everyone I know who has done the program to adjust to. I got the hang of it after a couple of times through the routine, but it was annoying up to that point.

What Will You Need:

A set of light and heavy dumbbells and a resistance band. You can do all the routines with a resistance band if necessary.

You won’t need much space to do the workouts in. I had no problem doing all them in the tiny space between a hotel bed and the dresser.


handc

As of this writing I have just finished my first round of The Master’s Hammer & Chisel. I say first round because I will definitely be making time to come back to this one.

What you get with Hammer & Chisel is a very, very solid resistance training program that combines muscle building with sculpting (that’s the whole hammer and chisel thingy the name alludes to). This is not a beginner’s program. I wouldn’t recommend it as the starting point for someone who has never done any weight lifting before, and I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who is fearful or tentative about going all in on resistance training, because for 60 days that is what you get with this one, folks – all in on resistance training.

In terms of the workouts, there’s a lot of variety. In some ways the mix of different approaches reminded me of P90X. If you need to be challenged every day, you’re going to like this one. The workout length varies a lot. You have everything from The Master’s Cardio (which is the bonus workout you get when you order through a coach… like me) that clocks in at about 15 minutes up to a few one hour workouts, with most clocking in around 30 to 35 minutes.

The way they get those compact workout times is through basically injecting no rest periods into the mix. You get a short warm-up and then you’re in it hard.

The Good

As already mentioned, there’s a lot of variety in the workouts and you’ll hit every part of your body. This program also solved the problem of Sagi’s previous program, Body Beast, by putting ladies in the room with him. What you find out is that he’s actually a great trainer who comes across as warm and funny. I found myself looking forward to the Sagi days. I got addicted to my every other day Sagi nuggets of motivation and encouragement.

Along with variety of the workouts themselves, you get to alternate between the trainers. I like Autumn Calabrese, and have a ton of respect for her, but I know plenty of folks (my wife included) who find her abrasive and pushy. With two trainers, alternating throughout the program it’s almost like you’re getting two programs in one box. And if you find yourself seriously just wanting one or the other, there are calendars you can work off of that focus just on one or the other trainer.

The portion system that was an integral part of 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme is also incorporated in Hammer & Chisel, with a whole new set of calculations based upon the ways this program differs from those and the sorts of goals people doing resistance training are typically focused on. That inclusion of a customized nutrition plan is a great feature and if followed throughout will guarantee good results.

One thing I was glad for is the space creep that’s befallen a lot of Beachbody programs in the past few years seems to have retreated. You don’t need a lot of room to do any of these routines.

The Bad

The routines move fast. As I mentioned, there’s very little rest between sets. If you’re using adjustable dumbbells (as I did) that can make changing your weights and getting from one move to the next challenging until you know the routines enough to anticipate and plan ahead a bit. The fast pace can also make getting familiar with the moves and comfortable doing them a challenge. I would recommend to anyone to preview each workout before you do it to know what is expected, and to make note of any lift you’re not familiar with so you can listen to the cueing Autumn and Sagi offer carefully.

I was not a fan of the Hammer Power workout. Personally, power lifting is not something I had ever done before so it took me three passed through that workout before I became confident enough with it to not be tentative. Even then, I could see how someone could quite easily hurt themselves by overestimating the amount of weight they could handle. To be fair, Sagi says as much in his introduction to this routine. Still, not a workout I’d pull off the shelf for fun.

Hammer & Chisel cannot be done without the proper equipment. If you don’t have a range of weights to use to progress up through during the program you will not get as much out of the program as you can. You certainly will not be able to effect the kind of transformations we’ve seen in the early test groups. This is a progressive strength training program, and in order to progress you need to lift progressively heavier weights. There are no routines here where you can do more reps, so if you don’t have access to a range of weights this one isn’t going to deliver much for you. Likewise, if you don’t have access to a bench you will miss out on many of the most beneficial aspects to Hammer & Chisel. It’s not as equipment intensive as P90X2, but it’s at least as necessary to have access to plenty of gear as you find with Body Beast.

My number one critique of Hammer & Chisel is the lack of any mobility work in the program. Now, if you hate yoga and pilates you’ll be thrilled, because there’s none of that in this program. I found I had to insert my own mobility and flexibility work into my Thursday rest day.

What You Will Need

Minimum equipment necessary is a stability ball, some dumbbells and a towel. Ideally, you want to have a pretty broad range of dumbbells that run up to weights that are at the limits of what you can lift for a single rep on the day you start the program, an adjustable weight bench that can be set at an incline, a pull-up bar and a resistance band. This program, like Beast, is a great candidate for taking with you to a gym on your tablet if you don’t have the space and the gear at your house. If you struggle with pull-ups you’ll certainly need a door anchor for your resistance band or a pull-up assist. I’m a pull-up machine, and I found that where the pull-ups were placed in the flow of the workouts in Hammer & Chisel that I needed the pull-up assist for a lot of the pull-ups and chin-ups.

In terms of time, you need to plan for between 30 and 60 minutes to complete your workouts. This is going to vary day to day, but as you progress through the program the shorter workouts show up less often in the schedule, or have additional ab work tacked onto them at the end.

 


22 Minute Hard Corps

Next up, the latest from Tony Horton – 22 Minute Hard Corps. Boot camp-style workouts.

Seriously, it’s hard for me to write an honest review of this one. Why? Because I’m a Tony Horton groupie of the first order. I was so excited to see a new program from Tony coming out I just about squealed like a teenager at a Beatles concert in 1964.

In fact, I was so excited for this program I completely ignored the face that I had had a reoccurrence of an old back problem and probably should have given it a pass until that was resolved. My mistake is your gain though, because I really was able to see some of the potential problems with this program through the fog of my epic fanboydom.

First, let’s get to the nuts and bolts. What is this program about? It’s an 8 week (with optional 9th week – more on that later) boot camp-style workout that incorporates intense traditional cardio workouts and body-weight resistance training.

The Good

It’s Tony Horton, folks. That means you’re getting a highly functional, practical fitness program that will build strength and stamina in ways you can put to use in the real, actual world you live in.

Tony has spent the past several years touring military bases doing group workouts for soldiers and sailors, so the cast of these videos reflects that. Most of the folks you’ll see on screen are actual military vets. Unlike a lot of Tony’s past programs these are synchronized workouts. Instead of a cast of a handful of folks and Tony, each doing the moves at their own level, everyone (except Tony) is doing the moves in unison. There are a couple of modifiers in each video, but their modifications are still synchronized with the overall tempo of the rest of the kids. Why is this a good thing? Because these are short routines – literally 22 minutes each – part of the way you get results is by keeping up with the kids. Is that going to be tough for some folks? Yup. That’s the point. If you can jump in and do these routines easily then this program is likely too easy for you.

Time is definitely one of the selling points of 22 Minute Hard Corps. If you can’t find 22 minutes a day for this program then you can’t find time for any program. You won’t get the same results you’d get from 45 or 60 minutes, but that’s not really the point here. The concept behind these workouts is essentially base on what they call Daily PT (personal training) in the military. If you’re a beginner you’ll definitely see significant results, but where I think this program really excels is as a daily maintenance routine for someone who just wants to keep their body working well.

You get a good mix here, alternating cardio with resistance and taking a dedicated rest day at the end of each week. And if you want to bust your ass and really challenge yourself the program offers a 9th week called Hell Week that doubles up workouts for a full 7 days.

If you’re looking for a program that doesn’t require you to have much equipment, you’ll love 22 Minute Hard Corps. The workouts also don’t need much space. Move the coffee table to the side and you can get it done easily in the space between the sofa and the TV.

And here’s something I don’t mention often – price. I was stunned at the price point for 22MHC. At under $40 this one is a steal for what you get.

The Bad

There are basically no warm-ups built into the workouts. What I found is that if I was doing my workout later in the day after I’d been moving around normally that wasn’t an issue, but if you are attacking these routines first thing in the morning that’s asking for trouble. While these aren’t advanced or super-complex moves, they are demanding, and you’re basically going all out from the first minute, and doing that on a cold morning, first thing after you get up is a bad idea.

There is a Cold Start workout, about 10 minutes long, that you can do as a warm-up, and you should do that if you’re using the program early in the day, or if you know you’re prone to injury, but because you have to choose to do it, and it’s not built into the routines my guess is most people won’t and that’s a design flaw in my opinion, and one driven by marketing. There’s a trend toward shorter and shorter home workout routines dominating the fitness industry, and Beachbody is not immune to competition from free online workouts offered on YouTube and other companies who are pushing shorter and shorter workouts, but, and again, this is my opinion, that’s favoring sales over effectiveness.

The problem here is that someone who buys 22 Minute Hard Corps because they were hooked by the promise of a 22 minute workout is actually not going to want to add the extra 10 minutes of warm-up they really need to be doing every day. My view is the warm-up should be built in. Market based on effectiveness, not the wishful thinking of a world of people who want to get fit only if doing so doesn’t force them to spend 10 minutes less of their lives scrolling on social media.

Along the same lines there’s no mobility work in 22 Minute Hard Corps. If I have to pick out the single biggest flaw in the program, this is it. Maybe Tony and the folks at Beachbody just succumbed to all the bitching and moaning they’ve heard over the years about the Yoga routines in all of Tony’s other programs and just decided to wave the white flag this time. Or maybe it’s just that trying to make yoga fit into the concept of a military-themed program didn’t work. Whatever the reason, the result for people using the program is that it’s diminished in effectiveness.

See, I really do think this is a great fitness maintenance program. If you do one of these workouts every day you’re going to be more durable and more capable. But if you add in yoga once a week, well, then you might just be indestructible. If you’ve got a library of stuff to draw from like I do you can figure that out for yourself. If you don’t, then I suggest getting a good yoga DVD and using that on Sundays.

The other bit of bad in 22MHC is that this program is a poor choice for anyone who is nursing an injury. I knew from previous experience with Tony’s programs this would be the case, and went into 22 Minute Hard Corps nursing a reoccurrence of a chronic back issue I’ve had for about six years, and came out in worse shape than I went in. That’s not a flaw in the program, it’s a flaw in my judgement. However, I mention it here because I want to make sure anyone considering doing 22MHC knows going in that it’s a demanding program, and like all functional fitness it’s not going to give any part of your body a break. If you’re hurting, heal first.

My last, very minor critique really only applies to vets of previous Tony Horton programs – Tony not doing the moves along with the kids is weird and it took some getting used to. I understand the conceptual reasoning behind the choice to have Tony be the drill sergeant here, but it still took a while to adjust to it.

What do you need?

You need almost no gear to do 22 Minute Hard Corps. For the cardio and core routines you need enough floor to lie down in. For the resistance routines you’ll need that and a couple of dumbbells. If you really want to challenge yourself a 10, 15 or 20 pound exercise sandbag (depending on what’s challenging for you) is ideal (in place of the dumbbells for several moves – you’ll still need dumbbells for a couple). The one Beachbody sells is actually very, very good. In fact, it’s designed better than most of the commercially available fitness sandbags I’ve seen in gyms and sporting goods stores.

The sandbag cranks up the workout difficulty because the weight of a sandbag shifts as it moves and that causes you to engage more sets of muscles to maintain your stability. One of the signature moves in 22MHC is the Mountain Squat, and let me just say doing it with a 15 pound sandbag is light years different from doing the move with a 15 pound dumbbell.

The only other piece of gear you’ll need is a towel. An absorbent one.

Overall, 22 Minute Hard Corps is one of my favorite programs I’ve done. I’m still using the cardio routines as a part of my current program and I will do another full round again as soon as my back heals fully. This is a program I’d definitely recommend highly, just know that you should expect to add the 10 minute Cold Start if you need to warm up because you’re coming into this one cold or early in the morning.


 

If you have any questions about selecting a home workout program, or any fitness or nutrition issues, please feel free to leave me a comment or contact me.

Well, what did you think?

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