The Masters: Hammer and Chisel – Beauty and the Beast

The Masters: Hammer and Chisel – Beauty and the Beast

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.

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.

What’s the Best Way to Get It?:

This is another program that I think you’ll get the best results out of by taking it with you on a tablet to a fully equipped gym. Unless you’ve got a bench, a full range of weights that will allow you to progress through steadily heavier lifts through the course of the program you’re unlikely to get dramatic results. My vote would be to go for Beachbody On Demand and take this one with you. Either that or be prepared to invest, at the very least, in a set of adjustable dumbbells that your can ratchet up steadily. And while this program does incorporate the use of the portion containers, they’re not critical so long as you’re eating a balanced diet and not overeating. This really isn’t a weight loss program. It’s a strength-building program.

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