My Favorite Workout Programs

Happy Friday Eve, everyone - thanks for stopping by! I know I mentioned this the other day, but this week is flying by for me! It's good because I really need a weekend at home (I'm exhausted), but sucks because I have so much to do at work that's not getting done. 

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I didn't get my run in this morning because there was a tornado watch and it was seriously storming outside, so I had to sub another workout in. You can see how I felt about that in my picture (I was tired and meh), but I ended up doing MMX and Core on the Floor from P90X3 and Core de Force and felt pretty good about myself by the time I was done. 

Today I thought I would do a quick review of all of my favorite workout programs. A lot of them are Beachbody workouts - again I'm not a coach, I just really like their programs and have done a lot of them. I also have a few favorites that you can pick-up on Amazon. I love Amazon and buy pretty much anything I can from there, including a lot of my workouts. 

First I will review my favorite Beachbody programs and then I'll go into some of my other favorite workouts/plans/ways to get fit. I do have a subscription to Beachbody on Demand, which I love. It's their online streaming program that allows you access to all of their programs for $100 a year. I like working out at home and don't like the gym so much, so it's perfect and justifiable for me!

I am not a personal trainer or fitness professional and as such, I want to remind you that this is just my opinion and in no way, shape, or form a recommendation as something that you should start doing. As with all workouts programs, check with your doctor before starting anything. 

P90X

P90X after pic

I'm currently in my 3rd or 4th attempt of completing P90X - I talk about this more later in this post and have also discussed in past posts, but I always quit due to gaining weight initially whenever I try P90X. It has happened again this time but not as much; just a couple pounds. However I'm not even worried about it because I know the pounds will come off and then some, just like they did with Chalean Extreme (and I'm going to be so jacked #doyouevenliftbro). 

So far I'm really enjoying P90X this time around. See all the mascara all over my face? Wash your face at night, friends! (I was too tired yesterday). 

P90X Pros & Cons

Pros

  • I know some people think this is a con, but I think Tony Horton is hilarious AF and I love his commentary and ridiculous jokes throughout the workouts. And if you don't like his commentary, you could mute the tv and play music - problem solved. 
  • The workouts change monthly, so you'll never get bored!
  • If you track your workouts and the weights you use (I use a notebook and jot down the weight and reps for each exercise), you will start to see results on a weekly basis. Every single workout I improve on something. Either I do more reps or I increase weight, but it's a trackable improvement and it makes me happy!

Cons

  • I personally think all of the P90X cardio workouts suck and I don't do any of them. I either run, use a HIIT or kickboxing workout from Turbofire, or sub a P90X3 cardio workout (MMX is my fave) on my cardio days.
  • Time commitment. The workouts are all around an hour or more and that's a lot when you have a family and work full-time. This is why I wake up at 5am to complete my workout. Sometimes I sleep through my alarm and then I have to do it in the evenings and it's a huge time commitment. I will say that I'm sure the results are worth it though!

Insanity

I have done three complete rounds of Insanity, one in 2012 which I had my best results with, another the summer of 2014 and then I did a postpartum round in July of last year. I love Insanity, and I love Shaun T. That being said, Insanity is an extremely intense program that I would not recommend for beginners. 

These pictures have never seen the light of day, but I've already showed off how I look right now so I may as well show off how I looked when I was at what I consider to be my peak shape. These pictures are from my round of Insanity in 2012. I didn't lose a ton of weight (only like 4 or 5 pounds), but MAN are those results amazing!

Insanity Pros & Cons:

Pro:

  • Results. Not only will you see some serious physical results in regards to your body composition, but you will also experience some serious results in your athletic performance. I find that whenever I do Insanity my running performance improves exponentially, due to the fact that you seriously improve your cardio conditioning with Insanity. All of that jumping and the back-and-forths and CRAZINESS really help with your slow and fast twitch muscles/response, so my leg turnover during runs is faster which helps me to run faster and more efficiently. I will probably continue to do a round of Insanity every early fall so I'm better prepared for running season (which is fall/winter here in Florida)

Con:

  • This workout is hard AF. I'm talking super intense. So I would not recommend it for beginners. 
  • Very hard on your joints - probably not doable if you have any joint issues (talk to your dr)
  • Lack of strength training. There are some body weight strength moves in some of the workouts, but this is primarily cardio-based. As such, you'll lose some muscle mass. I will probably try to do some short weight workouts the next time I do a round. 

Chalean Extreme

Prior to completing a full round of Chalean Extreme last month, I'd attempted the program probably 3 or 4 times without ever completing it. Why didn't I ever complete the program? I'd always gain a few pounds in the beginning and give up, since I was hyper-focused on wanting to lose weight. Well now I finally know and believe that it's okay to gain some weight in a strength program - your muscles hold onto water whenever they are repairing themselves and when you're doing a crazy workout program with lots of strength training, you'll gain some water weight. It's okay...even if you don't lose a single pound, I promise your body composition will change. You will see muscles and get toned and your clothes will start fitting better. 

Also just to clear things up because this drives me nuts...muscle does not weigh more than fat. A pound of muscle weighs exactly the same as a pound of fat. However, muscle is a lot more dense than fat and as such, takes up less space. So a pound of muscle looks smaller than a pound of fat. When you're adding muscle to your body and losing fat but not losing any actual pounds, do yourself a favor and take progress pictures and measure yourself with measuring tape. This is how I keep myself from getting discouraged when the scale doesn't budge. 

Here are my results from Chalean Extreme that I finished in March. I wasn't initially very happy with them and blogged about this before, but I did have some pretty good results (more proof that you should be happy with the body you're in!!)

Pros & cons of Chalean Extreme

Pros

  • The workouts change every month, so you don't get bored. 
  • I really like Chalene Johnson as a trainer - she's funny and very personable. She also makes me laugh, which is super important to me - Shaun T and Tony Horton also make me laugh on the regs. 
  • You will see results in your body composition as long as you lift heavy weights. Go outside of your comfort zone and really push yourself; you might be surprised with what you are capable of!

Cons

  • Those boots...just no.

Turbofire

I've still never completed a full round of TF, but I do really enjoy the workouts and will often sub either a HIIT or one of the longer workouts on a cardio day when I don't want to run. These workouts are super dancey and I think they're a lot of fun! Plus, there are low-impact options so this is great workout for beginners and if you're pregnant (with your dr's okay). I've shared the picture on the right twice already, but I am super proud of my 6-month preggo kickboxing picture so I'm posting it again! Plus, it's Thursday so I can call this a Throwback Thursday. DEAL WITH IT!!!

Turbofire Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's a lot of fun...once you get the moves down. 
  • Chalean is so positive and uplifting that you are excited to workout with her; she's a great instructor with awesome cues. 
  • I've worn my heart rate monitor while doing a TF workout and I burn almost as many calories as when I run, so they're very effective workouts!
  • Good for beginners and people who need to modify
  • The long stretch workout in the program (it's 40 minutes long) is one of my favorite yoga-ish routines. 

Cons

  • I don't like the strength workouts - they just don't do it for me
  • There is a bit of a learning curve with the workouts since it's super dancey and requires some coordination. Keep trying and I promise you'll get it down!

Now onto some non-beachbody programs

Half Marathon Training

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After doing a round of Insanity and when fall is upon us, I am always ready to start running regularly and seriously training for a half-marathon.

There's something about cooler temps and long-run Sunday that makes me super happy.

The carb loading and beers after my long-runs certainly help with my enthusiasm. 

That being said, running is hard and training for a half-marathon is a serious time commitment. 

Here's the plan I used to PR a couple of years ago. You do need to be an experienced runner before trying this plan - I had ran 3 half marathons before doing this plan. But it worked and I killed my PR by 6 minutes!

(sorry about the shitty picture quality)

Half Marathon Training Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • The accomplishment of finishing the race is such an awesome feeling. And even though you'll swear both during and immediately afterward that you'll never run another distance race again, I can almost bet that you'll sign up for another within a year!
  • Carb loading before and beer after my long runs. So much fun.
  • Having 2 hours to myself to listen to music and just be alone - for whatever reason, I tend to really enjoy my long runs (when I don't feel like I'm going to die)
  • You have to go shopping to buy new stuff. You'll need shoes, clothes, GU, water bottles, hats, socks, etc. I love to run in purple - it makes me run faster...

Cons:

  • Weight gain - I always gain weight during every single training cycle. I do lean out at first, but by the end your body is so beat up and tired that you start packing on some weight (usually around 5 punds for me)
  • So hungry. All the time. See the above. 
  • It's time consuming - you'll be running at least 3 days a week for 30-140 minutes or so depending on your schedule. That's a lot and it can be overwhelming. Just take it one run at a time.

The Butt Bible

One of my friends gave me this and it is a killer. I like to use this during half marathon training for cross training and strength. The only problem with it is you will not be able to sit down to pee for days. Not even kidding. 

Pros: 

  • I like the trainer; she has a lot of great form cues and she's very pleasant.
  • Seriously effective. 
  • The workouts are pretty quick
  • I think the instructor is funny (in a ridiculous way) but a lot of people complain about her. If you don't like her, mute the tv and listen to music. Boom.

Cons:

  • You won't be able to sit down for days the first few times you do this workout. It's seriously effective, but that leads to serious pain.

MTV Pilates Mix

I've had this workout since having Justin and still recommend it. The instructor is obviously very well-trained and knowledgeable and I really enjoy the workouts (but hate them at the same time, because they're hard). 

What I love about Pilates is that it helps me to strengthen my supporting muscles and helps to fix any muscle imbalances I might have. This is especially important when you're a runner, since runners are notoriously weak in random places, which leads to injuries. 

Pilates also puts a lot of emphasis on strengthening your core, not just your abs. This means your back, obliques, and transverse abs get a workout, leading to a stronger core overall. 

And if you're lucky, your cat and dog will do the workout with you, so you have an accountability partner!

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • If you combine the workouts, you get a full body workout in an hour. 
  • Helps strengthen your supporting muscles, which helps to decrease injury

Cons:

  • No cardio or strength training, so you'll have to use this as supporting workout. I used to do it on a shorter strength day while doing P90X3 and counted it for my ab workout as well
  • If you enjoy doing seriously intense workouts all the time you'll probably get bored at first when you try this, but I encourage you to stick it out to the end. The constant core work and small movements will seriously destroy you - in a good way. 

That's all I have for today! Have you tried any of these workouts? Do you have any recommendations for me? I love working out. A lot of people think it's because I'm crazy, but I just really enjoy how I feel when I'm done. If you change your mindset from "uggghhh...I have to workout" to "I get to workout", I promise you'll feel better about it and start to do it more!

Have a great Thursday!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a percentage of the sale if you make a purchase using the links. This does not change the price of the item (at all) and is something I have just decided to start trying since I do make recommendations on a regular basis. The opinions are still 100% my own and not at all influenced by me using the affiliate links.