One of the hit DVD workouts from Beachbody last year was Body Beast, a strength-focused workout regimen from trainer Sagi Kalev. Sagi has an impressive resume in the body building community as both a two-time “Mr. Israeli” and a fitness model for magazines like Muscle & Fitness and Ironman, to name a few. But just how well do mass-gaining workouts translate to the DVD format, especially given the equipment limitations from working out at home? So in this Body Beast review, we’ll take a close look to what to consider when tacking it.
Body Beast Review: CALLING ALL WOMEN
Now let’s be honest, Body Beast is really aimed at men. BUT, women are getting amazing results when they are dedicated to the nutrition. Women fear strength training because they’re afraid they’ll look like a body building woman from one of those magazines. Let me tell you something…those women are “enhanced.” Women don’t have it in their DNA to look like that, hence the enhancement. So while it’s referred to as a “mass gainer,” there are limits to what you women can add to your frames naturally. Women who are dedicated to the nutrition are adding lean muscle mass and loving it. Strong is the new skinny and this program will unquestionably make you stronger.
Body Beast Review: The Workouts and Schedule
Body Beast comes with 12 DVD workouts, which are divided into 3 phases:
- Build Phase: These workouts are designed to lay the foundation for your strength and/or mass gains. Sagi introduces Super Sets and Giant Sets to the progressions.
- Bulk Phase: Next, Sagi brings in Force Sets, Progressive Sets, Combo Sets, and Multi-Sets to build on the size/strength you gained in Phase 1. Now the focus shifts to muscular hypertrophy, the technical term for the muscle cells enlarging, bringing about muscle growth. There is NO cardio during this phase.
- Beast Phase: Finally, in Beast Phase, Sagi reintroduces cardio to the mix, along with a combination of Build and Bulk workouts. These 3 weeks will help burn fat via circuit-training and intense core work and Beast Phase nutrition. The goals will be increasing capacity to lift heavier weights and grow bigger, more defined muscles.
Body Beast has two schedules, Huge Beast and Lean Beast. The primary difference between the schedules is the amount of cardio workouts. Huge Beast was designed for people who are primarily interested in adding mass, whereas Lean Beast helps keep the fat gain that typically accompanies mass gainers at a minimum by incorporating more cardio.Body-Beast-Review-Huge-Beast-Schedule
Body Beast Review: The Moves and Progressions
I’ve been lifting weights for years, so getting back to old-school moves that I was familiar with was a nice break from the craziness of the P90X2 moves that take some getting used to. Not that I knew all the moves, but certainly most of them are familiar to anyone who has spent time lifting weights…various bench presses, shoulder presses, arm curls, tricep extensions, and different versions of rows and squats.
What was new to me were some of the set progressions, what Sagi calls Dynamic Set Training.
Dynamic Set Training is a specific sequence of sets and reps which maximizes the muscle’s time under tension with the goal to exhaust the muscle and to recruit more muscle fiber. Dynamic Set Training is also designed to help enhance your body’s own testosterone production. Testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for developing muscle mass. The more testosterone the body makes, the faster it grows.
So what does this look like practically speaking? Rather than doing something basic like three sets of eight repetitions, you’ll do a Progressive Set of a move where the reps go down as the weight goes up. For example, if you’re used to doing three sets of eight shoulder presses with 25 lb weights, in Body Beast, you’ll do something like 15 reps at 20 pounds, followed by 12 reps at 25 pounds, followed by 8 reps at 30 pounds, take a short rest, then you do the same thing in reverse. After that, your next shoulder exercise might be a Force Set composed of five sets of five reps with minimal breaks in between.
Single Sets: Only one exercise
Super Sets: Any two exercises that are done without any rest between them
Giant Sets: Three exercise movements that are done back-to-back-to-back, all of which target the same muscle group
Multi-Sets: Three exercises that target different muscle groups
Force Sets: Five sets of five reps, with 10 seconds of rest between each set (these are harder than they sound)
Progressive Sets: A pyramid that goes from high reps, lighter weight to low reps, heavier weight, takes a short break, and then goes in reverse, from low reps heavier weight to high reps lighter weights
Combo Sets: Compound exercises, which is any exercise that works more than one muscle group using more than one joint
Circuit Sets: Moving from one exercise to another with very little rest
Tempo Sets: Holds a contraction for a given amount of time. Example: 6 seconds of concentric action (think pushing/pulling), then 6 seconds of eccentric action. These, my friend, are not easy.
The idea is that your body is constantly guessing, which helps keep it from adapting. Furthermore, there’s not a huge amount of wasted time, which gets you sweating, while helping keep the workout to an average of about 40 minutes each (6 days a week).
Where I notice this Dynamic Set Progression the most is on the leg workouts, which are two of the hardest workouts I do… PERIOD (Asylum Volume 1’s Speed and Agility and Vertical Plyo and P90X’s Legs and Back round out the top 5). Let’s just say, I don’t sleep well the night before and I don’t walk well the day after. They’re that hard… but then again, I
have had chicken legs.
Body Beast Review: The Nutrition Guide
As I’ve said a million times, results are 60% nutrition. And Body Beast is no different. How you eat will determine whether you end up with bigger muscles, or just bigger. A common mistake from people trying to get stronger is overeating. Now it’s true, you’ll need a calorie surplus to build muscle. Let’s face it, bulking is more fun cause you get to eat more. The problem is people go overboard and end up with too much bulking and not enough cutting/chiseling. Now they’ve dug a hole for themselves that’s no fun to climb out of.
Fortunately, The Body Beast Nutrition guide will help prevent this. The “How to Eat Like a Beast” eating plan is a rather comprehensive guide that provides a calorie calculator, portion charts, food lists, and suggested supplements to help you bring out your inner Beast. What you’ll notice is that as your phase changes, so does your nutrition plan. This is very purposeful so that when we’re trying to build, we build and when we try to chisel, we chisel. For instance, in the last phase, the lower caloric requirement and the higher amount of cardio will help you burn fat, resulting in having bigger, but defined muscles.
Body Beast Review: A Word about the Supplements
The program recommends several supplements to go along with your primary nutrition. Here’s a breakdown:
Their Claim: “Kick-start your energy and recovery. Have this energy drink before, during, or after a workout to maximize performance.”
My Take: Pre-Workout Formula’s (aka PWOs) are VERY subjective. What works for you may not work for me and vice-versa. So it’s best to try for yourself to see what works for you. I’m not saying Fuel Shot is a bad product, but for me, the king of PWO’s is still Energy & Endurance.
Their Claim: “Maximize new muscle growth, faster. This Base Shake was formulated to help maximize new muscle growth AND reduce muscle breakdown—at the same time.”
My Take: True to it’s name, it’s a versatile flavor and has a solid nutrient profile. I’m partial to MTS Machine Whey but Base Shake is certainly not a bad product.
Their Claim: “Get a healthy dose of power and growth. M.A.X. Creatine gives you a blast of extra strength, and builds muscle with the most proven supplement in the industry.”
My Take: It’s true that creatine is the most tested supplement in the industry and has been proven safe and effective time and time again. How the difference between the brand formulas will play out in real life, it’s hard to test. I used M.A.X. Creatine and found it effective. So unless somebody comes out with something proven to work better, I see no reason not to stick with M.A.X. Creatine.
Their Claim: “Make explosive gains in size and strength. Unleash your body’s own testosterone production and build plenty of lean, hard mass.”
My Take: Hard to say on this one. I used it and I got results, but who is to say I wouldn’t have gotten the same results without it. I’d have to eat identically and do another round of Body Beast without Super Suma and see. But that can’t happen. I’m cautiously optimistic that it does help, but it’s certainly not an essential supplement for Body Beast.
NOTE: The ingredient ecdysterone found in Suma Root can be erroneously detected as a banned synthetic substance. Beachbody advises athletes and anyone subject to banned substances testing to consult their physician and athletic organization before consuming it.
Supplements in a nutshell…
Chances are, when you’re trying to add a fair amount of muscle, you’re gonna need some extra protein outside of what you’re regularly eating. So find a protein powder that works for you. The rest of the supplements are optional and really are dependent on your goals more than anything. If you’re wanting to add significant size (more than 10 pounds), than I’d recommend trying them all, whether they’re Beachbody’s version or another brand. If you’re looking just to add some size, say in the 5-10 pounds range, then drop the Suma since it’s the least researched. Anything under 5 pounds and you’re probably fine with just a solid protein powder (though a good PWO formula for whatever regimen you’re on is always nice).
Body Beast Review: Equipment Needed
- Dumbbells (I’m partial to Selecttech dumbbells myself)
- Adjustable Bench (a stability ball will work but a bench is preferable)
Body Beast Review: Cost
The Body Beast DVD’s by themselves are $39.90. So that’s about $13/month, which is far cheaper than my YMCA membership. Plus you own them for life…so like P90X and all the other Beachbody workouts, the more you use them, the cheaper they get.
Body Beast Challenge Pack Options
Challenge Packs are designed to simplify the nutrition by keeping the supplementation automatically sent to you every 30 days. By choosing this option, you’ll get FREE shipping.
Body Beast Challenge Pack ($170 the first month, $169.80 after): This includes the workouts and a 30-day supply of all the Body Beast supplements, plus a 30-day trial of the Club membership (which gives you access to the exclusive meal planner, celebrity chat rooms, and 10% off future purchases). You’ll also get the Total Body Lucky 7 workout as a bonus for ordering through me.
Ideal User: Anyone who wants to try a variety of supplements to see what works best for them! Someone who wants to add A LOT of mass. Ectomorphs and aspiring body builders, I’m talking to you!
Body Beast Shakeology Challenge Pack ($160 for the first month, $129.95 after): This includes the workouts and a 30-day supply of Shakeology, the healthiest and tastiest meal replacement shake out there. And it too includes a 30-day trial of the Club membership. You too will get the bonus workout Lucky 7 Total Body.
Ideal User: The person who wants to add some strength and muscle, without adding too much mass. Lean Beast users will love this option.
Body Beast Review: My Results and Conclusion
After doing three months of Body Beast (following the Huge Beast schedule and taking all four supplements), I added 10.8 pounds of muscle and 8.1 pounds of fat. To give you some context, Body builders are happy when they can achieve a 1:2 muscle to fat pound ratio. Mine was closer to 1 1/3 pounds of muscle for every 1 pound of fat…in other words, I did QUITE well. And here’s the thing, I could have done even better if I had followed the nutrition guide closer. I enjoyed the bulking a little too much. Here are my “Before | After” measurements:
Chest: 48.5” | 50.75” Shoulders: 47” | 49.75” Biceps: 13.5” | 14.25” Bicep Flexed: 14” | 15.5” Thigh: 20” | 22.25” Calf: 13.25” | 14”
What I was most proud of were my formerly chicken legs…I added 2.25 inches to my thighs and 3/4 an inch to my calves. Doesn’t sound like much but working out at home can present challenges to building stronger legs without the presence of a squat rack, leg press, calf machines, and so on.
The results I was most excited about however wasn’t one that I even saw coming… and that was the strengthening of my lower back, where I have a decent amount of structural issues. The various squats, step ups, deadlifts, and core exercises made a HUGE difference in how strong my lower back got. And I not only felt stronger, I noticed I was sitting up straighter and when it came time for the back/core exercises in Asylum, while my lungs were shot, my back was not. And a key to this gain was really knowing the difference between pain and discomfort. I pushed myself through the discomfort right up before the point of pain, when I would quickly back off.
So in conclusion, who is this program for? It’s for EVERYONE! Ectomorphs who’ve had trouble gaining weight. It’s for women who want to get lean strong muscle. It’s for people who like old school lifting and shorter workouts. And it’s for everyone in between.
Body Beast Review: Order Here & Get Free Coaching
If you purchase a Beachbody home fitness program through a Guru, it comes with free coaching. Why do you need coaching? Because there will inevitably be questions about the moves, progressions, nutrition guide, supplements, rest days, and so on.
Plus it gives you access to exclusive Home Fitness Guru Challenge Groups for additional accountability, support and encouragement.
So what’s holding back? You get a proven in-home strength-focused program with a cutting edge science-based nutrition guide, and the the support of a Home Fitness Guru Challenge Group. The time is now!
Remember, we all have our inner Beast…perhaps it’s time for you to find yours.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Body Beast review. If you have questions or comments, share them below. Or if you’d like to tell your experience with mass gaining or strength building, be it in a program or on your own, we’re all ears!