In this ChaLEAN Extreme review, you’ll see that I wasn’t always so fitness-minded. I took care of myself, but it wasn’t the priority it is today. Certainly strength training wasn’t something that got me excited. No, first, it was something I didn’t see coming…
ChaLEAN Extreme Review: Before ChaLEAN Extreme
About 5 years ago I caught the running bug. I was a girl who walked and I liked it. I walked all four of my babies in their strollers everywhere. Around the neighborhood, to the grocery, around the mall, at the park, to the lake, you name it. This was my primary form of exercise. Then one day, my sister-in-law Kim, an avid runner, said to me, “You should try running! I think you’d really love it!” I immediately said, “I will NEVER run. I hate it!”
However, shortly after that conversation I was walking on the treadmill as my 1-year-old daughter napped. A thought snuck in my brain, “I’ll try running for a few minutes to get my heart rate up a little and then go back to walking”. I ran for a bit and to my shock, I didn’t hate it! In fact, after a brief walk break, I did it for ANOTHER few minutes! It wasn’t so bad! As the days and weeks went on, I gradually started increasing my running minutes and decreasing my walking minutes. Not because I didn’t like walking anymore, but because I was really starting to LOVE running! I kept at it and soon signed up for my very first 5K race. Training for this was fun. A completely new challenge and one I was excited to experience.
Unfortunately, about a month before the race, “tragedy” struck. As I was out for a run, I felt a twinge in my inner left thigh. At that point in my running “career,” I was inexperienced. Had I known better, I would have stopped immediately and walked back home, nursing my leg back to health. I didn’t do that though. Instead, I ran through the pain. Bad idea. This led to a severe hamstring tendon injury that took months to heal. No more running until I had a clean bill of health.
I was upset, to say the least. Lots of training and work down the drain and I had to skip my very first race. Not to mention I was frustrated about how I was going to stay in shape while trying to heal. Enter ChaLEAN Extreme.
ChaLEAN Extreme Review: My Introduction
Matthew, my brother-in-law and founder of Gurus, was a long-time fitness fanatic and an Independent coach for Beachbody. He told me that Beachbody had programs available that might work for me while I was recovering from my injury. I needed something that was NOT high impact because I didn’t want to cause further damage to my hamstring. Yet I didn’t mind high intensity as I was wanting to still improve on my overall fitness level. I also had heard a lot of positive things about how good strength training is for women.
As I was looking at all of the Beachbody programs, ChaLEAN Extreme stood out to me. ChaLEAN Extreme focused on building lean muscle and burning fat. That sounded great to me… who doesn’t like to burn fat?!
Toning up? That’s always a good thing!
My question was, “What do the workouts look like and can I actually DO them with this injury of mine?”
Matthew is fond of saying, “Your goals determine your program.” Well, of all the programs I researched before buying, ChaLEAN Extreme seemed to be the best for my goals at the time. I was hoping for something that would whip me into shape while still allowing me to heal. I also really wanted to get back to my true love, running. So I took the plunge and ordered it. I was NOT disappointed.
ChaLEAN Extreme Review: What Is It?
ChaLEAN Extreme is a 90-day program (available on DVD and Beachbody On Demand) designed for at-home use. The trainer for this program is Charlene Johnson, of TuroboFire and PiYo fame. I can honestly say that after doing this program, I wanted to be friends with her! (Don’t worry…there was no stalking involved) She is one of the most encouraging, uplifting, motivating, and happy people that I’ve seen in the fitness world. She offered up great information and guidance throughout the entire program. When I completed it, I was actually sad when it was over. THAT’S saying something! No doubt that I would be doing it again.
ChaLEAN Extreme Review: Why the Science Works
The idea behind ChaLEAN Extreme is that “muscle burns fat”. This basically means that the more muscle you have, the more energy (ie calories) your body uses. It’s estimated that muscle burns 3-5 times more calories than fat. So, even at rest, your muscles are burning calories. So your metabolism increases and your fat burning increases, in part, because of the muscles you are building.
One common fear, mostly among women, is that they will “bulk up” on a strength program such as ChaLEAN Extreme. I can tell you that this is not the case! You don’t need to worry about it.
First of all, muscle takes up less space in your body than fat does. In fact, it takes up 20% less space than fat. So over the course of exchanging muscle for fat, you’ll get smaller, not bigger. That’s partly why building muscle gives most people the lean and toned look they want.
Another reason you won’t look bulky is that having definition lengthens your look visually. Think about it. When you have muscle “lines” on your body, it gives the perception of something being longer. Leaner.
Finally, you won’t bulk up because it’s not in your DNA. Women do not naturally have the amount of testosterone in their bodies that men do. So while men tend to build bulk with weight lifting, women tend to get lean and toned. That’s why we Gurus are always saying, “More muscle, less fat!”
ChaLEAN Extreme Review: The Workouts
As I mentioned, ChaLEAN Extreme is a 90-day program. It is broken down into 3 phases: “Burn”, “Push”, and “Lean.” Each phase has you doing strength training for 3 days a week (with free weights or a resistance band that’s included), and 2 days of cardio workouts (“Burn Intervals” and “Burn It Off”). Also included is a short yoga/stretching (“ReCharge”) plus an additional ab session (“Ab Burner” or “Extreme Abs”) that you do once a week.
CheaLEAN Extreme Review Phase 1: Burn Phase
DESCRIPTION: The “Burn Phase” will have you burning fat and jump starting your metabolism.
INTENSITY LEVEL: It’s moderate in weight, not too heavy, not too light.
HOW YOU’RE WORKED: You will work your upper body and then your lower body.
“Burn Circuit 1” (36 mins)
“Burn Circuit 2” (38 mins)
“Burn Circuit 3” (32 mins).
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: In this phase “breakdown sets” are the name of the game. You’ll also add 3 more concentrated, slow reps at the end of a set here and there to further maximize muscle growth.
CheaLEAN Extreme Review Phase 2: Push Phase
DESCRIPTION: Resistance training is hard and the tendency is to stop too soon. So phase two, the “Push Phase” is designed to push you a little harder, beyond what you think you can do.
INTENSITY LEVEL: This phase focuses on intense, heavy lifting. You want to lift as heavy as you possibly can, without breaking good form.
HOW YOU’RE WORKED: In each set, you will work either your upper body or lower body in “singular muscle-group” moves.
“Push Circuit 1” (33 mins)
“Push Circuit 2” (34 mins)
“Push Circuit 3” (35 mins)
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: The “breakdown sets” continue throughout this phase as well.
CheaLEAN Extreme Review Phase 3: Lean Phase
DESCRIPTION: The “Lean Phase” works on getting you lean as you work hard to see great changes in your body.
HOW YOU’RE WORKED: You’ll work your upper and lower body at the same time. You will also work your core.
“Lean Circuit 1” (44 mins)
“Lean Circuit 2” (39 mins)
“Lean Circuit 3” (39 mins)
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: You’ll be performing “breakdown sets” after every single move to really get your progress going in full swing. You’ll really start to see those results you were looking for in this phase!
ChaLEAN Extreme Review: The Nutrition
If you’ve ever done a fitness program, you already know that good results REQUIRE good nutrition. Without the right foods in the right quantities, you’re going to be disappointed with the results. ChaLEAN Extreme helps makes this easier with a fantastic nutrition guide. It has meals with recipes and snack ideas specific to each of the three phases. This will help you know what to do and not do as far as your diet goes. You will determine your calorie needs before you begin and tailor your meals to fit in with that goal in mind.
In the Burn Phase of the nutrition plan, you’ll be focusing on eating foods that are lower in carbs, higher in lean protein, and veggies.
In the Push Phase of the nutrition plan, you will be allowed a tad more calories, mostly in the form of protein. You will also be able to add a few more carbs into your monthly menu.
Finally, in the Lean Phase of the nutrition plan, you’ll be increasing your portions a bit more. Here you can mix and match meals from the different phases in the guide.
Help with my nutrition went a long way for me in seeing results. Not only did it boost my progress, it helped me during my workouts. Being properly fueled gave me the energy I needed to exercise to the best of my ability. Of course, giving 100% in my workouts also helped with my results.
ChaLEAN Extreme Review: Bonus Benefits
Another nice thing, there are modifiers in each of the cardio workouts. These are perfect if you are a beginner (or have an injury, as I did). Age is of no concern, as one of the women in the program is almost 60 years old! I’d LOVE to look like her when I’m 60!
ChaLEAN Extreme Review: My Results
The results after completing ChaLEAN Extreme are the real deal! After finishing the three months’ of workouts and following the nutrition guide, I saw fantastic progress. I saw muscle definition in my arms, shoulders, back and legs. I shed fat in my thighs and my belly, which I had wanted to do for YEARS. I was stronger than I had ever been. My energy levels were up and I felt great physically AND emotionally. Plus, I was able to start running again! Even though I was working hard through the program, ChaLEAN Extreme allowed my injury to heal. I finished the 90 days stronger and more lean than I had been in years.
How do you know a program is good? By how many times you go back to it. And I have completed ChaLEAN Extreme four times since. I’ve even mixed in my running schedule within the program. It’s an easy at home program to hybrid with, adding other kinds of workouts to meet your goals and needs.
So there you have my ChaLEAN Extreme review. As you can tell, I’m a fan. I can’t say that about every program (I don’t like Insanity or Brazil Butt Lift. I know some people do but I’m not one of them). ChaLEAN Extreme, however, is a winning program that you’ll return to time and time again. I recommend it wholeheartedly and look forward to completing it a 5th time.
Time to get LEAN!