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Workout Review: Chalean Extreme

If you think weightlifting isn't for women... Think again. Resistance training (i.e., lifting weights) builds muscle, which in turn lowers our risk of illnesses such as diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's and dementia, and more.

So many women are afraid of "bulking up," but this really doesn't happen as long as you don't take steroids! Instead what happens when you add a bit of muscle to your frame is that everything looks a bit firmer, tighter, and more lifted. Muscle boosts our metabolism, so our bodies will be more forgiving if we overeat once in awhile (ahem, not every single day).

I honestly love feeling strong, and I love the sense of accomplishment that comes along with lifting heavier weights week after week in a resistance training program like the one I just finished, Chalean Extreme.

Chalean Extreme is a 90-day program, and it's name after its creator, Chalene Johnson (get it? tee hee). It's divided into three month-long phases: the Burn Phase, the Push Phase, and the Lean Phase.

In the Burn Phse, you're getting used to resistance training and starting to build fat-burning muscle in your body. In the Push Phase, you lift heavier weights and do simpler movements and fewer repetitions of each. In the Lean Phase, you return to complex movements (i.e., usually doing something with the arms and something different with the legs at the same time, such as an overhead press combined with a lunge); the goal is sculpting your body while continuing to build strength.

The really cool thing about this program, in my opinion, is that it's suitable for anyone. The intensity of the moves comes from the heaviness of your weights—so if you're just starting your fitness journey, you can do the same moves with lighter weights. If you're a fitness veteran looking for a challenge, select heavier weights—the choice is yours.

As far as equipment needed for the program, I recommend a set of adjustable weights (such as SelectTech). I don't own these... Instead what I own is an assortment of hand weights, in sizes from 3 lbs up to 30!! I've invested a lot of money in these, they take up a lot of space in my workout room, and frankly I wish I'd just gone with the adjustable ones in the first place. You also can use resistance bands, and the videos include a modifier demonstrating how to use the resistance bands for each and every move. (You'll still want an assortment of resistance levels for easier and harder moves, and moves that work big strong muscles in your body versus smaller muscles that can't lift as much.) Other than that, the only equipment you'll need is a sculpting band (also called thigh toner), which goes around your ankles for some of the sculpting moves such as leg lifts.

The program consists of three lifting sessions per week and two rest days per week. The program also comes with two cardio workouts, two ab workouts, and an active stretching session; you receive a workout calendar showing you how to allocate these sessions each week. (If you have access to the program through Beachbody on Demand, you also have access to the deluxe kit, which includes four additional cardio workouts, two additional ab workouts, and a yoga session. One of these workouts uses a stability ball for every move and it's super fun—so you may want to invest in that piece of equipment too!)

The lifting sessions of this program are completely low-impact. Some of the cardio sessions include some jumping, but a low-impact modification is always shown. In my opinion, this program is a great option for people with physical limitations, and when you work with me as your coach, I will help you figure out how to modify the moves when necessary.

Chalean Extreme also comes with a complete nutrition plan, including recipes for three meals a day plus snacks. The amount of food increases throughout the phases of the program, since you will be gaining additional muscle that burns calories. ('This was definitely true for me... I gained 10 pounds in three months even though my measurements didn't change!) I personally didn't follow the nutrition plan; I've been following the 21 Day Fix and have gotten really used to cooking and eating that way, and was doing Chalean Extreme at a busy time when it really wasn't feasible for me to learn all new recipes. But the recipes honestly look delicious so I may go back and try this plan with one of my challenge groups in the future!

To try out Chalean Extreme with me as your coach, you can choose from the following packages:

  • challenge pack of Chalean Extreme DVDs and Shakeology, plus 30 days streaming access and my coaching services

  • challenge pack of Beachbody on Demand and Shakeology, with streaming access to Chalean Extreme and two dozen other programs (but no DVD hard copy), plus my coaching services

If you think Chalean Extreme may be right for you but have questions, please send me an email (you'll find my address in the footer) and let's talk! I'd be happy to answer any questions you have!

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