22 Minute Hard Corps – Boot Camp Fitness in Your Living Room

22 Minute Hard Corps – Boot Camp Fitness in Your Living Room

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.

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.

What’s the Best Way To Get It?:

This is a tough call. Yes, it’s available via the Beachbody On Demand All-Access deal, but the DVDs themselves are really inexpensive, so if you’re trying to save some dough, get the DVDs and upgrade to on demand if you feel like you need more variety and access to more programs. You can use this as a traveling program, but be conscious of the need to jump, so be courteous to your neighbors in that hotel and don’t do this at 5 am.

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