Jillian Michaels Body Revolution

Overview: Body Revolution is a 90 day cardio + strength workout program. It comes with 15 workout DVDs, a fitness guide, a Fat Burning Meal plan, a 7 Day Kick Start, a resistance cable, a 90 day journal and a book mark. You also get 30 days free to the Jillian Michaels online program. The resistance cable is “Level” one—which means not much resistance. So I bought (via Amazon) Levels 2 & 3. Though I will go into more detail about the different elements of the program in the sections below, I want to say in the overview that this was clearly a high quality program from the outset. If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know I am a program junky, so I own a lot of programs. This is packaged beautifully and none of the books or equipment or even the DVD “housing” is cheap. Very nice presentation. However, the program itself is reasonably priced. So it immediately felt like a good purchase. And, of course, being familiar with Jillian Michael’s workouts, books, and podcasts, I knew before even doing them that I would also be getting quality workouts.

Program Structure: Body Revolution is a progressive 90 day fitness and weight loss program. In order to get the best possible results you will need to follow both the fitness and the diet plan. It is set up in 3 phases which correspond to the difficulty of the program; each phase gets more difficult. There are 15 workouts: 12 strength workouts and 3 cardio workouts. Each phase contains 4 strength workouts and 1 cardio workout. Each phase is further broken down into two week blocks. Every two weeks you will do the same 3 workouts. For instance, in Phase 1, the First two weeks you will do Workout 1, Workout 2 and Cardio 1. The second two weeks you will do Workout 3, Workout 4 and Cardio 1. The Cardio workouts correspond to the phases. So in Phase one, you will always do Cardio 1. Phase 2=Cardio 2 and Phase 3=Cardio 3.

Each workout is approx. 30 minutes and you do one workout a day, 6 days a week. You will do 4 strength workouts a week and 2 cardio workouts a week. The strength workouts are set up on the basis of optimized muscle splits. What this means is that you will do strength workouts two days in a row, but you will be working different muscle groups so that the muscles that you worked the day before are able to recover. These strength workouts are set up where one day you work the muscles on the front of your body or the “push” muscles: chest, triceps, shoulders, quads and abs, and the next day you work the back of your body or the “pull” muscles: glutes, hamstrings, back, biceps and abs. You then give the muscle group you worked 72 hours to recover before you work them again. Example: Monday: Push muscles, Tuesday: Pull muscles, Wed.: Cardio, Thursday: Push muscles, Friday: Pull muscles, Sat.: Cardio. The only variance to this is the first week of the program—the “Kick Start” week (which is optional). If you choose to do the Kick Start your food will be tightly restricted and you will add an extra cardio workout to each of your strength days. This is only for the first week of the program.

Each workout is broken down indivdually below, but here is a brief overview of how the workouts are structured. Every workout is set up in “circuit” fashion. The strength workouts are made up of 4 circuits of 4 moves that are repeated. Each circuit features one cardio burst; the cardio burst is not repeated. The cardio workouts are made up of circuits of cardio moves that are repeated 3 times; as the program progresses, the cardio circuits get longer and harder.

**On a personal note, 30 minutes a day, no matter how great the workout, is insufficient for me. I toyed with different ways to do this program—possibly using an add on cardio workout every day to round my workout out to an hour. But in the end I did the majority of the program “doubles” fashion. I did an hour of personal cardio in the morning (one of the hundreds of other workout DVDs I own–Cathe, TurboFire, Insanity, Peak 10/PeakFit to name a few) then after I got home from work I did my Body Revolution workout. So I worked out for approx 1.5 hours a day. There were a few days where I only did the Body Revolution workout due to life getting in the way–but 98% of the program was done doubles-fashion. 

Nutrition/Fitness Guides: The 7 Day Kick Start guide is just a very strict diet plan. The idea behind it is to “detoxify” your diet and “kick start” your metabolism. Certain food groups are cut completely out: fruit, flour, grains and sugar. It gives you approx. 1200 calories a day—3 meals and 1 snack. You have to stick to the food options given. In fact, provided is 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners and 3 snacks. Every day you have to choose one of those 3. And no mixing—your breakfast has to be from the breakfasts in the Kick Start Guide (you cannot decide to have a lunch or snack for breakfast—it has to be one of the three breakfast recipes provided), lunch has to be from the lunches, etc. The 7 Day Kick Start is optional. If you don’t want to do it, then go straight to the Fat Burning Meal Plan.

The Fat Burning Meal Plan is a lovely thick guide full of delicious looking recipes. It is structured the same as the 7 Day Kick Start: approx. 1200 calories a day—3 meals and 1 snack. The only difference is it is much less restrictive. Though the recipes look delicious, they do not look simple to prepare, so it is not something I will use frequently (though I will use it). In addition, I personally cannot exist on 1200 calories a day. (After I wrote that, I actually did attempted it! See Phase 1 and Phase 2 summaries.) Maybe that’s why I can’t ever seem to lose that 5-10 pounds I want to rid myself of? I personally eat 1500-1600 calories a day and then have cheat meals on the weekend (in restaurants, that is—I eat well the rest of the time—restaurant cheat meals are my downfall). If I cut out the cheat meals, I could probably easily drop that 5-10 pounds.

**Coincidentally, the first week I started Body revolution, I listened to Jillian’s 5/12/12 podcast. A caller with only 10 pounds to lose called in and asked if Body Revolution would be a good way for her to drop that last 10 pounds. Jillian’s answer clarified my caloric limit quandary. She stated that Body Revolution, in totality (meal plan AND workouts), was designed for very overweight people and that they should lose 35-50 pounds in 90 days if following it properly. However, people with only “vanity pounds” (Jillian’s term for when you only need to lose 15 or less pounds) to lose should not restrict their diet to 1200 calories. She stated that someone with only 10 pounds to lose should be eating 1600-1800 calories a day and that should help you lose 10 pounds in 90 days. She did say the fitness portion works for everyone no matter their size—it was the meal plan that was designed specifically for fast and massive weight loss. So, it appears that if I stop the restaurant cheat meals I could lose those vanity pounds! (but I knew that)

Anyway—back to the program materials. The Fitness Guide is just an overview of the program. It has an intro and a bio of Jillian. It has a nice section breaking down the science behind the metabolic training she uses in this program and defines/describes all of the components that make up metabolic training. Then it gives an overview of the different phases and each workout, and also contains the calendar/workout schedule, showing how to structure your workout plan. It ends with “Tips and Tricks.”

And finally, there is a 90 Day Journal to record your meals, calories and workouts, and a book mark so you can find your place easily. 

**Each Phase is summerized before the individual workouts in the phase are reviewed. A summary of the entire program is at the very end of this review.

Phase 1 Summary (Weeks 1-4): I really enjoyed Phase 1. The first two weeks were challenging only because I did the modifications to increase intensity and used the heaviest weights I could manage for the move/reps. The second two weeks were definitely more challenging than the first two, and made me nervous about Phase 2 and 3! I did do all of the modifications to increase intensity in Weeks 3 & 4–but the workouts were still harder. During the first half of Phase 1, I ate normally and lost no weight… well, that’s not true. Monday through Friday I would drop a few pounds and gain it back when I ate out at restaurants on the weekend. I made a decision at the middle of Phase 1. The month of June would be my “clean eating” month. I would try to lose the pesky 10 pounds. I would cut way back on the weekend restaurant meals and follow Jillian’s caloric recommendations for rapid weight loss. My husband agreed to cut back on restaurant meals (since he is the main reason we eat out so much–he is a naturally skinny foodie) and if we did eat out it would be at a place that serves appropriate food (egg whites, grilled fish, steamed veggies, etc). 1200 calories however was a bit too restrictive for me–so I ate no more than 1300 calories a day. June 1 was day one of my Clean Eating month. At the end of Phase 1 (and 10 days into my clean eating month), I was down 4 pounds. Results at the end of my Clean Eating/Body Revolution month are in Phase 2 summary. 

Workout #1: 32 minutes; 2 minute warm up, 27 minute training period, 3 minute cool down/stretch. I loved this workout much more than I expected to. Knowing it was a progressive program, I assumed the first phase would probably be too easy for me and was worried it would be a waste of my time. I will admit it was not a difficult or overly challenging workout; however it was solid and it was fun! The real beauty of this workout is that she shows all levels of intensity. She starts at the basic, easiest level, which, had I done that, would have made this workout too easy and pointless; but she also shows various levels of intensity to make it more advanced. And, of course, there is the simple expedient of just using heavier weights to make it more challenging—which I did on all the moves that used dumbbells. Jillian has her own weight set (her brand) that go up to 8 pounds; these “Jillian weights” are used in all of her workouts (not just this program but in her more current stand alone workout DVDs as well). So the maximum weight anyone in the DVD used is 8 pounds (though most exercisers were using 3 and 5 pound dumbbells)—far too light for me.

Circuit 1: squats—to make more difficult place weights on your shoulders or do plyometric jump squats; pushups on knees—on toes to make more difficult; straight arm plank hold; chest fly (I used 20#). The cardio move is towel run. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit 2: sumo squats—to make more difficult place weights on your shoulders or turn it into plyometric jump sumo squats; triceps kick backs (I used 12#); standing hip abduction both sides—to make harder add side crunch. The cardio move is speed bag. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit 3: chair pose with front raise (I used 8#); overhead triceps extension (I used 10#); warrior pose each side—to make it harder hold light hand weights (3#). The cardio move is march in place—to make harder use hand weights. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit 4: balance on one leg and do a leg kick/extension with the other leg; bicycles; balance leg kick/extension other leg, lateral raises (I used 8#). The cardio move is step out wide squats side-to-side—to make it harder hold hand weights. Repeat strength moves.

Workout #2: 36 minutes; 3 minute warm up, 30 minute training period, 3 minute cool down/stretch. Again, I loved it. This one was deceptive, too. It started out seeming harder to intensify than Workout #1—but by the end my back, biceps and glutes were feeling it! The cardio moves were all very low impact and, in my opinion, more difficult to intensify than the cardio moves in Workout #1. However, it was easy to go heavy in this workout for back and bicep work. The only other (correctable) negative to this workout was the resistance cable(s). Level One resistance cable came with the program. The first time we use it (and it’s optional for this move—to intensify and make it more difficult) was one legged bridges. You put it on the foot in the air and hold it stationary so that when you lift your hips, you’re pushing against it and adding resistance. The “resistance” provided by the Level 1 cable was a joke. I immediately moved to Level 2—then Level 3! Level 3 was a more respectable level of resistance—for that particular move at least. Then near the end of the workout, you wrap the cable around your feet twice and pull on the handles to work the back (seated row). I went straight to Level 3 and that was a joke for that particular move! So I went to my other heavy resistance bands (not Jillian Michael’s brand) and they worked my back much better.

Circuit 1: in table hold right arm out straight and left leg out straight (second time you go through circuit you swap arm/leg), one leg hip thrust with leg crossed over other knee or leg straight in the air to make harder or—for advanced move—leg straight in air with resistance band over foot, supermans, one leg hip thrust other leg. Cardio is alternating knee lift/thrusts. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit 2: static lunges with torso rotation—hold dumbbells to make harder (I used 8#), standing wide dumbbell row (I used 17.5#), static lunges with torso rotation—other leg, bicep drags (I used 12#). Cardio is alternating hamstring kickbacks. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit 3: deadlifts with bicep curls (I used 17.5#), donkey kick right leg, basic crunches, donkey kick left leg. Cardio is knee hikes for 30 seconds each side. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit 4: seated rows with resistance band, good mornings—to make more advanced use a weight behind neck (I used 20#) or two weights held at neck, hammer curls (I used 17.5#), dumbbell step ups (I used 8#). Cardio is upper “curls” (punches) in half squat—add light hand weights to intensify (3#). Repeat strength moves.

Cardio #1: 26 minutes; no warm up, 2 minute cool down. Another impressive workout—especially at only 26 minutes! The workout consists of one circuit containing 8 moves. Each move is done for one minute and the circuit is done three times. Moves: march in place, hot feet (basically fast feet), jab punches, running man, jog in place, speed bag, kick-outs with straight arm circles to the side and suicides. You could say the first move in the circuit, march in place, is the warm up as it also serves as a recovery after completing a circuit. It’s definitely a low intensity recovery-type move. Though not an advanced workout, Cardio #1 is still an intense little interval workout. I was surprised and a little nervous—if this is Cardio #1, what will Cardio #3 be like?! The music was great, too—the track with the last circuit really motivated me to move. Jillian kept it fun and interesting by engaging the exercisers with fun challenges. This workout will be an excellent “add on” workout after I finish this program. Not only is it short and intense, but without a warm up it’s perfect to tack on to the end of another shorter workout. In fact, these short cardio workouts would be great to finish off any of Jillian’s 30 minute strength/interval programs both in this program and those available individually on DVD (and she has a lot). One con—program-wise—is that I can see this workout getting boring. It is repetitious and it will be done twice a week for the first month—so a total of 8 times in a month (even more if you do the Fast Track week). You might be sick of it by the end of the phase!

Workout #3: 36 minutes; 3 minute warm up, 30 minute training period and 3 minute cool down. Week 3 begins with Workout #3 in which Jillian takes things up a notch. Not a huge notch, but it is a more challenging workout. I enjoyed it as much as Workouts 1 & 2 and found it a solid workout. The resistance band is needed for this workout. The level 2 band was appropriate for the one move it was used for.

Circuit #1: push ups on toes–no modifications, in downward dog grab opposite calf and hold then switch, backward lunges–to make harder hold hand weights (15#), from standing position walk to plank (with hands) walk back to standing and repeat. Cardio move is jump rope. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: sumo squats with overhead tricep extensions (10#), in camel touch opposite toes, squat with shoulder press (15#), standing chest fly with cable (Level 2). Cardio is front jabs. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #3: plank to cresent to plank to cresent (alternate leg) and so on, tricep dips while in crab–to make harder lift one leg, side crunch on hip–to make harder straighten legs, side crunch on hip other side. Cardio is sumo/plie plyo hops. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #4: lateral raise while in tree pose (8#), high plank/low plank (military crawls), lateral raise while in tree pose other leg, inch worms–to make harder keep hands off ground. Cardio is moguls. Repeat strength moves.

Workout #4: 34 minutes, 3 minute warm up, 28 minute training period and 3 minute cool down. Holy cow! Workout #3 took it up a notch (small notch)–Workout #4 yanks it up a big jump! I will admit it probably had something to do with the fact I used 15 pound weights the majority of the workout (7 pounders for two exercises that required lighter weights). I used the 15 pounders for larger muscle groups, ones that I can generally go heavier than 15 pounds on–but not in this workout! For instance, on a two arm bent over dumbbell row, I can generally do 20-25 pounds depending on the number of reps, but since she had us first do it in a static squat (with lots of reps), then later a bent over row when you’re already fatigued (lots of reps again), I had to stick with 15 pounds. And it was plenty! This was a pretty exhausting workout, though I would say the first half is harder than the second half. There aren’t a lot of modifications to make these harder and Jillian tells you just about every time to go heavy, tho as I have mentioned before, the heaviest weight any of her exercisers use is 8 pounds because they are using her “brand” of weights which only goes up to 8 pounds. This workout would have been much less exhausting had 8 pounds been the heaviest weight I used.

Circuit #1: alternating front lunges–to make harder use weights (15#), static squat with dumbbell row (15#), single leg deadlift to front/upright row (15#), single leg deadlift to upright row–other leg. Cardio: skaters. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: alternating side lunges with bicep curls (15#), bent over wide rows (15#), lower to knees then stand holding weights overhead then lower again and stand again etc. (7#), step ups with weights and plyo hop (7#). Cardio: hop side to side. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #3: lying on side with weight on outer thigh do leg lift (15#), alternating leg lift while in plank, weighted leg lift other side, hollow man. Cardio: fast feet. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #4: weighted terry pulls on right (15#), good mornings with heavy weights (30# total), weighted terry pulls on left, squirms. Cardio: jab, cross, hook, upper cut combo. Repeat strength moves.

Phase 2 Summary (Weeks 5-8): Phase 2 was tough–the second two weeks were the toughest (obviously–they’re supposed to keep getting harder). After workouts 7 & 8 my arms or shoulders or glutes were always aching. I am a little scared for Phase 3! I felt like the second half of Phase 2 was advanced! As for the weight loss–my 30 days of clean eating ended 20 days into Phase 2. I lost a total of 7 pounds in 30 days. I’ll be honest, the last week I didn’t do so well. I ate more than 1300 calories–and one day even had a restaurant cheat meal. I still want to lose 10 pounds total. I have made no progress, however since the 30 days ended. Though I am doing the workouts every day as well as my hour of extra cardio in the mornings, I have not been eating so well! I’m back up to about 1500 a day plus 1-2 restaurant cheat meals a week. I need to be a more strict if I want to lose another 3 pounds by the end of 90 days. We’ll see if I can manage it! The key would be to cut the restaurant meals down to once a week and try to eat clean while at the restaurant.

Workout #5: 37 minutes; warm up 3 minutes, training period 31 minutes and cool down 3 minutes. This workout started differently that the others–the warm up at least. The warm up is yoga. I really liked it. It was Sun Salutations, which I love. Jillian previews the Sun Salutation once, then everyone does it together 4 times; so even though the first time you only do it four times, in future workouts, since you are familiar with it, you’d do it 5 times. I’ve made (rather negative) comments in Phase one about the resistance bands that are ironic now. First, for the strength moves in this workout, the Level 2 cable works perfectly… until you use the cable for a cardio move, then go straight back into strength moves using the resistance cable. At that point, my arms were shaking so badly that I thought I would have to drop down the Level one! This was the first time I did the workout–after that, I used Level 2 for the strength move then transferred to the Level one cable for the cardio move! My arms were still spent when I returned to the Level 2 band for the strength move, but at least I was able to complete the move! 

Circuit #1: pushups (on toes) to side planks, in crescent stance do tricep pulses (8#), jump squats–holding hand weights to make it harder, tricep pulses in crescent other leg. Cardio: plank mountain climbers. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: wood-chops using heavy weights (15#), static sumo squat with wide overhead presses (10#), wood-chops other side, straight leg scissor ab move on back–to make harder lift head/shoulders off ground. Cardio: high knees. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #3: chest fly using cable while in crescent (Level 2), in crab tricep dips one leg raised, cable chest fly in crescent other leg, crab tricep dips other leg raised. Cardio: cable punches while in crescent (Level 1). Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #4: single leg squat raising one dumbbell (held in both hands) ground to overhead (15#), side tricep one arm push up, single leg squat dumbbell raise other leg, side tricep one arm push up other side. Cardio: speed rope (rapid jump rope). Repeat strength moves. 

Workout #6: 33 minutes; 3 minute warm up, 28 minute training time and 2 minute cool down. Though I really liked this workout (and workout 5), there are some similarities between workouts 5 and 6. Two of the moves are very similar and if we are supposed to be working different/opposing muscle groups in each workout–why would the moves be so similar? One of the moves is the wood-chop/lunge. In workout 5 you are basically doing a “static” lunge with a wood-chop and in workout 6 you do a chop into a front lunge. (I put quotation marks around static, because Jillian specifically says it’s not a static lunge and yet… I don’t know what else it could be. You keep your feet in the same position and you rotate/swivel from standing to lunge as you chop.) A static lunge and a front lunge basically work the same muscle groups… as does a wood chop. In addition, both workouts have single leg squats. The arm move that accompanies the single leg squats are different–but nevertheless, a single leg squat is the exact same move, working the exact same lower body muscle group. Maybe I’m missing something here? Other than that, Workout #6 has one move that uses the resistance cable–bicep curls. I had to use one of my much stronger/heavier cables for that move since even Level 3 was insufficient resistance.

Circuit #1: wide bent over row using heavy weights (15#) palms facing forward, alternating front cross lunges with bicep curls (12#), renegade rows (17.5#) and supermans with light dumbbells (3#). Cardio: rock stars (plyo butt-kick jumps). Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: low row in stork (standing on one leg with the other leg held out straight behind you) (15#), reverse plank, low row stork other leg, bicep curls with cable. Cardio: side hops with knee holds. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #3: “Statue of Liberty” (one legged squat with one arm lateral raise/fly) (12#), front lunge with wood-chop (12#), Statue of Liberty other leg, front lunge with wood-chop other leg. Cardio: running man. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #4: lat pull sit up (laying on back holding dumbbells with arms straight over head and do a sit up bringing arms/dumbbells over your head and forward) (8#), lower body crunch with legs straight up and hands/arms off floor, windshield wipers with legs straight, kettlebell swings with a heavy dumbbell (15#). Cardio: zig-zag jumps. Repeat strength moves. 

Cardio #2: 32 minutes; no warm up, 28 minute training time and 4 minute cool down/stretch. I love this workout much more than Cardio #1–which I really enjoyed! So a great little cardio workout. It is definitely more advanced/intense, more varied and interesting–and longer! Once again there is no warm up–you just jump right into the workout. This workout has the same basic structure as Cardio #1; however, rather than a circuit of 8 moves done for 60 seconds each, the circuit consists of 14 moves done for approx. 30 seconds each. You could actually say there are 16 moves because 2 of the moves are done for 30 seconds on each side of the body. Just like Cardio #1, the circuit is done 3 times. The moves are: jump rope, butt kicks, high knees, alternating knee thrusts, jumping jacks, fast feet, skaters, skiers, plie hops, cross jacks, upper cuts, towel run (30 seconds to the right and 30 seconds to the left), hook punches (30 seconds right side, 30 seconds left side) and burpees. I was sweating buckets by the end! 

Workout #7: 36 minutes; 3 minute warm up, 30 minute training time and 3 minute cool down. This workout was definitely different from previous workouts and I really liked it. It focuses a lot on body-weight moves which, if done with proper form, can really hit your muscles hard. For instance, in Circuit #1, if you stay in plank until the moves change to something that’s not done in plank position, you will be challenged. For instance, the first 3 moves are all in plank–so never get out of plank position (that includes time between moves–don’t go to your knees during the transition). The cardio move (squat thrusts) is in plank, so then you go back to the beginning of the circuit–which is in plank; so since you’re already in plank for the cardio move stay in plank from squat thrusts all the way until you get to jack knife crunches. (clear as mud? the short of it–don’t get out of plank unless you have to!) I am hurting when I finish this circuit! I did all the advanced moves (in the entire workout) and I was SORE afterward!

Circuit #1: crow push ups (or oblique push ups), walking planks (literally–walk forward 4 steps and back 4 steps while in plank position), high plank/low planks (what is sometimes called walking planks or military crawls–go from low plank to high plank and keep repeating, one arm at a time), jack knife crunches–to make harder hold hand weights. Cardio: squat thrusts (or in-and-out abs). Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: down dog push ups, tricep kickbacks using cable (I used Level 3 cable), balance on one leg and do W-shoulder press with leg extension (10#), balance on the other leg and do W-shoulder press with leg extension. Cardio: single leg cross hops (after 30 seconds cross hop on other foot). Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #3: squats with cable (I used Level 3) held at shoulder level, tricep extensions with cable (I used Level 2), push up with one leg in the air then switch legs and do more push ups (or maybe you change legs the second time through the circuit? I was confused–I just changed halfway through each time), boat pose. Cardio: star jumps. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #4: on knees with tops of feet flat on ground and butt touching heels hold heavy weights (15#) overhead and slowly raise and lower butt from heels engaging quads, supine chest press (17.5#) with feet off ground–to make harder extend legs out straight and raise and lower legs as you press weights, raise and lower hips in side plank, supine chest fly (17.5#) with feet off ground–to make harder extend legs out straight and raise and lower legs as you fly weights. Cardio: double unders (jump rope but jumping higher)–to make harder use light hand weights or jump double time. Repeat strength moves (do side plank on other side of body). 

Workout#8: 34:30 minutes; 3 minute warm up, 30 minute training time and 1:30 minute cool down. Now this workout was definitely harder! A lot harder! My one complaint about this workout is that the cable is used a lot but the workout moves so quickly that I don’t always have time to get the cable adjusted properly before the exercise has already started! Frustrating!

Circuit #1: row while in static squat (#17.5), bridge with lat pull overs (12#)–to make harder lift one leg, standing upright wide cable row (Level 3 cable), deadlifts with hammer curls (20#). Cardio: butt kicks with hammer curls (5#). Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: pendulum lunges with reverse bicep curls (12#), pelvic thrusts in bridge with one leg in the air and cable wrapped around foot, pendulum lunges/reverse bicep curls other leg, pelvic thrusts in bridge other leg in air. Cardio: jump rope with light weights (3#). Repeat Strength moves.

Circuit #3: rear delt fly in crescent pose (8#) then transition straight into next move, warrior 3 with weights (3#) held straight in front of you, do both moves on other side of body. Cardio: rock star jumps. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #4: get into good morning pose with heavy weight behind neck and just hold position (20#), side lunge to front cross over lunge with weights held in static bicep curl (12#), bicycle crunches with cable wrapped around feet and handles held in static bicep curl (Level 3 cable), side lunge to front cross over lunge other leg. Cardio: suicide runs. Repeat strength moves.

Phase 3 Summary (Weeks 9-12): Phase 3 is definitely the advanced month! It was seriously tough and the month I stopped doing every advanced “option” Jillian threw out there to make a move harder. Most of the moves were hard enough as she presented them, thank you very much! I didn’t do well diet-wise, so in the end I didn’t lose 10 pounds. However, I did maintain the 7 pound loss at least! 

Workout #9: 33:30 minutes; 2 minute warm up, 29 minute training period and 2:30 minute cool down. This was a fast-paced workout. I really liked it. It is harder than Workout #7, but not a huge jump in level. Some of the combo moves in Circuit #4 I would have liked to have used heavier weights, but because you were also working the lower body simultaneously, there was no way for me use heavier weights and still have great form. Still got a great workout. This workout had a lot of creative and interesting moves that I will do my best to explain–but it is a little difficult to describe some of these moves.

Circuit #1: push up jacks, in plank do a one arm lateral raise as high as you can without twisting/turning out of plank position then bringing the weight under you to your other side and back to lateral raise (10#), sumo/plie squat–while in the lowered position raise onto your toes, plank lateral raise other side. Cardio: jumping jacks in chair squat position. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: dive bombers, move from low plank on forearms to high plank using toes to push you onto your palms, starting in down dog raise one leg and bring knee to chest then raise it and bring to opposite elbow (under body) raise it and bring to same elbow (out to side body)–when doing the moves lower your body to plank then come back to down dog, down dog exercises other leg, frog to squat (in a tabletop position get on palms and toes (knees are a few inches off the floor) then jump into a squat and jump back to toe-tabletop). Cardio: side burpees. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #3: single leg squat to the floor and walk out to single leg plank and back to single leg squat and repeat, chair pose, boat to hollow man to boat etc., reverse crunch with legs in the air and cable wrapped around feet so you are pushing against them (Level 3 cable). Cardio: plank moguls. Repeat strength moves–do single leg squat/plank move other leg.

Circuit #4: squat with V-fly (7#), curtsey lunges with lateral raise (7#), tricep dips in crab with weights on hips (8#), side plank crunch. Cardio: rock and roll squats–go from standing, squat and roll onto your back with feet over head and roll back to standing. Done properly, the move is hands-free, but if you need to modify you can use hands to get to your feet. To make advanced, jump when you get to your feet. Repeat strength moves–do side plank crunch other side. 

Workout #10: 34:30 minutes; 3 minute warm up, 28:30 training time and 3 minute cool down. You have entered the realm of the advanced workouts. This workout is no joke! So tough! I knew we were getting into some serious shit when the warm up started with rockstar jumps! My legs were trembling so badly by the end of Circuit #4 I could barely do the final half moon.

Circuit #1: reverse plank with alternating leg raise, jump lunges with hand weights (8#), backward lunges with jump kicks while holding hand weights (8#), backward lunges with jump kicks other leg. Cardio: plank step backs. To do these, get in a deep lunge and, with hands on ground, tap the leg that’s out behind you in and back (ass burners–see Cardio #3)–30 second each side. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: alternating curtsey lunge with chest press/pull using cable (Level #3), front lunge with chop (#15), static squat holding weight isometric in front of you (#15), front lunge with chop other leg. Cardio: dumbbell/kettlebell swing with 3 hops forward and 3 hops back (hop each time you swing) (15#). Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #3: pigeon squat (one legged squat) with bicep curls (#15), squat jump with upright rows (#8), pigeon squat with bicep curls other leg, superman with side flies (#4). Cardio: rockstar jumps with hand weights (4#). Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #4: half-moon pose using a hand weight to stabilize–to make advanced don’t use hand weight, use fingers on ground to stabilize, in deep lunge do single arm row fast and explosive (#12), half-moon other side, lunge/single arm row other side. Cardio: windmills with hand weights (#3). Repeat strength moves.

Cardio #3: 33:30 minutes; just like the other cardio workouts there is no warm up, training time is 31 minutes and cool down/stretch is 2:30. I LOVE this cardio workout. They just keep getting better and better. This one is definitely harder but infinitely more fun and interesting. Just like the others, she introduces a circuit and you do the circuit 3 times. This circuit has 24 moves. Jillian says each move is done for approximately 20 seconds–“approximately” is the operative word. I don’t think any move was done for more than 20 seconds but quite a few were done for less than 20 seconds. But that’s ok! In addition, sometimes the order of the moves is a bit mixed up in circuits 2 & 3 from how it was initially laid out in circuit 1; and, finally, in the second circuit, two moves completely disappear (but reappear in circuit 3)–squat jumps and high knees with rotation. Nevertheless–an awesome little cardio workout. Very tough. I was drenched in sweat and sucking wind at the end. Here are the moves: windmills, jumping front kicks, fast feet, knee thrusts (repeaters), double unders, high front kicks, plank moguls, rockstar jumps, squat jumps, jump lunges, squat jacks, high knees with burpees, long jump forward w/2 small jumps backward, standing mountain climbers, high knees with rotation, cannon balls, ass burners with hands on floor*, crab kicks, squat thrusts (in/out abs), down dog thrusts/jumps, zig-zag jumps, single leg cross hops and plank punches. *I don’t know the official name for this move and Jillian doesn’t give one (she calls them plank step backs in Workout #10). In ChaLean Extreme, Chalene Johnson refers to a similar move as “ass burners,” Shaun T calls them “knee pulls” in Insanity. To do the move you get into runners stretch with hands on ground. The leg that’s back is brought in and out, in and out–your ass will burn, trust me, so ass burner is an appropriate name.

Workout #11: 36 minutes; 3 minute warm up, 30 minute training time and 3 minute cool down. I have a confession to make. Until this workout, I have not modified any of the Body Revolution workouts to make them easier. In fact, until Phase 3, I used all of the advanced modifications. In the first two weeks of Phase 3, I’ll admit that I sometimes didn’t modify to make every move more advanced (most are sufficiently advanced as first presented!)–but I never modified to make a move easier… until Workout #11. In this workout, I modified one move–in Circuit #4, the 3 part push ups. I’ve done every single push up in Body Revolution on my toes until Workout #11, but I had to go to my knees for the 3 part push ups. That is a long drawn out way of saying this workout is HARD. There are a lot of push up variations in this workout–and I am on my toes for all of them except the nasty 3 part pushups. Other than that, you immediately use the band in the warm up–the first warm up move you punch up with the band. I used Level One since it was the first move in the warm up. There are some advanced moves are in the warm up, too–one legged squat thrusts (she calls them one-legged mountain climbers, but since they are done with leg they resemble a squat thrust more than a mountain climber)!

Circuit #1: reverse squat–to make advanced hold weight(s), scorpion push ups, jumping static lunge with shoulder press (5#), jumping static lunge with shoulder press other leg. Cardio: weighted burpees (8#). Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: full dive bomber push ups (diving forward and backward), bear walk, tricep kickbacks in plank (8#), tricep kickbacks in plank other arm. Cardio: crab kickouts. Repeat Strength moves.

Circuit #3: jumping statue of liberty (12#), push ups with cable folded in half (doubled) in hands and wrapped around back for resistance (Level one), jumping statue of liberty other side, hold chaturrunga (tricep hover). Cardio: standing mountain climbers. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #4: lateral raise in dragon (7#) (dragon is basically a deep static curtsey lunge), 3 part push ups (start in push up position but with hands close together; you “jump” with your hands three times, each time you hands get wider and your body gets lower until you are in the lowest position by the third hand “jump” then you jump back in three times until your hands are close together and your body is back in start position height)–to make easier do on knees, weighted Russian twists (in boat pose) (8#), twisting plank. Cardio: power long jump with two hops back. Repeat strength moves and do dragon on other leg. 

Workout #12: 35:30 minutes; 3 minute warm up, 30 minute training period and 2:30 cool down. Another confession–there was a big dread-factor to doing this workout the first time. Through most of the program, the even numbered strength workouts have usually been the hardest (back of the body) and Workout #10 in particular was brutal. So yeah, I was dreading Workout #12. But now that I’ve done it, the dread is gone. Workout #10 and #11 are harder than #12! Don’t misunderstand, it is a challenging workout, with one INSANE move (that I did with no modifications–either to make easier or harder!), but not psycho-painful like I feared. (**the next day, I was sore!) It was a good workout. I really enjoyed it! It has some complicated moves that I will do my best to explain.

Circuit #1: lat pull down while in bridge with one leg in the air lifting and lowering (12#), plank rows (renegade rows) (20#), tuck to hollow man (she calls it “sprawl” the first time through and hollow man the second time), alternating pop ups–to make harder hold hand weights (8#). Cardio: cannon ball jumps. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #2: wheel push ups (Yes! INSANE!)–to make harder lift one leg, alternating dumbbell rows in half squat (15#), one arm reverse fly while in plank (8#), one arm reverse fly while in plank other arm. Cardio: zig zag jumps. Repeat strength moves.

Circuit #3: teasers with cable (basically a hollow man to boat, except you have the band wrapped around your feet and you fly the band as you go back to hollow man) (Level one), wrap cable around one foot (of the stationary leg) hold cable at least at shoulder height and go back into a lunge then up into a glute/leg lift (Level 3)–to make harder hold bands higher above head, power jacks with hand weights held stationary (8#), glute/leg lift with cable other leg. Cardio: speed bag while doing kickouts.

Circuit #4: single leg squat jumps with weights (12#), bicep curls (17.5#), single leg squat jumps other leg, dancing crab (while in crab touch hand to opposite foot and alternate). Cardio: with hand weights (5#) hop side to side and balance briefly on one leg.  

Program Summary: Body Revolution is an impressive program. I have always been impressed with how much torture Jillian Michaels can cram into 30 minutes, but she took it to new levels in Body Revolution. I’m not generally a fan of short workouts, except as “add ons,” but the few days I was forced to do nothing but a Body Revolution workout, I didn’t feel so bad, because she beats the crap out of you in a short amount of time. The program was definitely progressive, as advertised, with the workouts getting more difficult every 2 weeks. Phase 3 was a difficult and advanced month; however, I have to say, Workout #10 was the most difficult workout in the whole series overall. I will admit that #11 and #12 had a few of the most advanced moves, but as a whole (workout-wise) #10 was the most difficult to get through.

I suppose I am not the best example of what this program can do for a person. I don’t do programs with the sole object of losing weight or getting in shape. I’m not over weight (though as I have mentioned before, I’d like to drop a few pounds) and I have exercised daily for more than a decade–so I am already in shape. I do programs to try something new, mix things up, challenge myself and increase my fitness level. Working out is fun to me and a hobby–so that’s why I hoard (and actually do) these programs.

I only “dieted” 30 days out of the 12 weeks I did the program. I did lose 7 pounds during that 30 days and maintained most of that loss through the rest of the program. However, I was also doing an additional hour of cardio every day. Nevertheless, this is an excellent program for all fitness levels. If you’re new to exercise, or coming back to exercise after a long hiatus, then Phase One is right up your alley. You can still progress to the harder phases, just keep your weights light and do Jillian’s modifications to make a move easier. If you’re more advanced–well, then you will probably need to go my route, do additional cardio, go as heavy as you can with the weights and do all of the advanced moves. Speaking of the advanced moves, I did them all in Phases 1 and 2–but Phase 3? I only did the advanced moves about 50% of the time. For all the other moves in Phase 3, the basic move was plenty advanced for me! And in Workout #11 I actually had to modify to make one move easier.

How often will I come back to this program? Due to the structure of it (muscle splits), it isn’t as easy as some of my other programs (like Insanity, TurboFire and Peak Fit) to pick and choose from. I will definitely come back to the cardio workouts to use as add on workouts. As for the strength workouts–I probably won’t come back to them as often, but when I do, I will approach them in two ways. I will either do two workouts together–both a push and a pull workout back to back for a full hour to get a full body workout (for example Workouts 11 & 12 back to back in one session) or I will do a strength workout followed by a 30 minute cardio afterward for a full hour of exercise–either one of the Cardios that came with Body Revolution or one of the million other add on cardios I own. I won’t do it in the 12 week format again, but I will definitely come back to my favorite workouts in the program (and I loved most of them). They do the job, they challenge me and they are all fun.

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20 responses to “Jillian Michaels Body Revolution

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  3. I would like to know what weight cable is the level one cable. I have read negative reviews on her cables may want to try another rand.

    • I don’t know what the weight for the Jillian Michael’s cables are. However, not much. The level one cable that comes with the kit is has very little resistance. I bought the level 2 and the level 3 and they had more resistence, but still, not lots. When doing her program, I had to supplement with my other resistence cables that had heavier resistence.

      Quality-wise, the cables held up just fine. They weren’t cheap, they just weren’t challenging. But that of course depends on your fitness level. I already lift heavy weights, so I am going to need heavier cables. But for someone who is new to strength training or isn’t lifting heavy weights, her cable weights would probably work just fine. But I still think the level on that comes with the program is too light. Even a novice will need more resistence before the end of the program.

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  6. Thanks for such an in depth and awesome review. I’m curious was your 1300 cals net after exercise cals burned? Did you eat back your exercise cals? I’m in wk 4 and have 10 to lose, nothing yet just toning……Thanks a bunch!

  7. Thanks So much for such an awesome, in-depth review! I’m just wondering about your calories of 1300 was that net after exercise? Did you count your exercise calories? Or was it 1300 regardless? Thanks a bunch!

    • Sorry it took me so long to reply to this. I was out of town all week and just now have access to my computer. And no, the 1300 calories I ate all I ate. I did not add/subtract additional calories for exercise.

  8. Just starting this and def fall into the only “vanity pounds” to lose category. What did you eat immediately after the workouts? I usually have protein smoothie or protein-heavy meal after strength workouts but what about the cardio? Should I avoid eating after to maximize calories burned?

    • I didn’t eat anything immediately after doing Body Revolution workouts. I did those after work, so I would have dinner an hour or two afterwards. What I did do is I would make sure I ate a protein rich diet. I still do that. I shoot for 100grams of protein a day. Now, I also workout in the morning. Every morning after I work out I add protein powder to my milk (I drink almond or cashew milk). Depending on how heavy I’m lifting sometimes I’ll add 15g protein via protein powder and sometimes I’ll add as much as 30g. It sounds like you already do that. If you’re doing a cardio workout I don’t think eating soon afterward matters. But if you are doing strength work I think you should eat or drink something protein rich within an hour of working out to maximize muscle recovery.

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  10. Do you think I could do this doubles style without stressing the muscles too much? In her “kickstart” week, she has people do the Cardio 1 workout each day, including on Cardio day – so you’d do the same one twice. (That’s my small pet peeve with the program… it’d be nice to have two Cardio workouts of equal intensity for each phase.

    I was thinking of doing it as Mo/We/Fr Push workout, Tu/Th/Sa Pull workout, with cardio every day. I might sub in one of her other workouts (or a different cardio workout from another program) to avoid doing the same exact Cardio workout over and over.

    • It all depends on your fitness level and how heavy you normally lift. I know when I was first introduced to metabolic weight training (via Cathe workouts) I was very confused. I thought any use of resistence required 48 hours between sessions for muscle recovery. But that is not the case. Cathe explains in on her forum when she is answering a question: MWT post. But what it comes down to is using weights to increase cardio intensity it isn’t really a strength workout. Some actual strength workouts also double as metabolic but others aren’t really hitting the muscles hard enough to be classified as true strength training. That is how I categorize most of Jillian’s workouts–as using weights to increase cardio output.

      So in short, yes, I believe they can be used as doubles (that’s how I use them!). However, if you are also doing heavier, more focused strength work (as I do) be conservative with your weights in Jillian’s workouts. Due to the fast pace of her workouts it is difficult for me to ever lift heavy enough in her workouts to get “real” strength work, so I still try to lift as heavy as I can in order to maximize intensity. But again, everything depends on fitness level and your objective for doing the workouts.

      As for adding on additional cardio to the end of her Push/Pull workouts, that is also a great idea–especially if you are using the Push/Pulls as your strength work. Adding short bouts (20-30 minutes) of intense cardio after strength work is actually a great way to workout. It will not over stress your muscles and will in fact, increase afterburn if you are doing HIIT level cardio.

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  12. I came across your website while googling this program. Wow, thank you for such a detailed review! Then I fell in the rabbit hole and read a bunch of more of your reviews, now I have a bunch in my Amazon wishlist lol. But for now, I’ll be buying this program. Thanks again for your review!

    • You are welcome! And enjoy! Body Revolution is an excellent program. Once you finish it, you might want to try Jillian’s Body Shred which takes it to the next level!

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