Repeat after me: “Muscle Burns Fat”. Chalene Johnson will pound this mantra into your head during this program. That’s the basis for the entire ChaLEAN Extreme plan.
Miss Chalene has to know by now that her fans will likely buy any workout program she puts out. So, I think this effect is coming to pass for her most recent effort, ChaLEAN Extreme. It worked on me! I was a Turbo Jam junkie, and loved every minute of it. The second I saw the CE teaser clips, I knew I’d like it.
After the first week doing the program, my opinion hasn’t changed!
I’ve blogged before about my newly resurrected obsession with weight training and how I’ve been intrigued by programs that emphasize muscle fatigue and confusion. I get both of those things with CE, along with an instructor whom I absolutely adore. Some people don’t like the chatty, bubbly personalities leading workouts. I do! Chalene’s really good at pointing out proper form, motivating you, explaining her system, and cracking you up at the same time! She has an exerciser named Toni, in her Burn Intervals workout, who has had 7 children, and she had me rolling talking about how working out was probably a welcome escape for that mom!
So, basically what I’m saying is that I really enjoy Chalene’s personality. She’s like someone you’d be friends with in real life who is also encouraging you along with your fitness plan. Win-win, right? That’s what I like most in a instructor. I’m not saying I can’t get down with someone who’s no-nonsense. Remember, I absolutely loved Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred! Jillian does not mess around, but she had her moments that made me laugh too; especially when she poked fun at her flexibility.
I saw quite a few similarities between 30 Day Shred’s cardio intervals and the exercises in ChaLEAN’s Burn Intervals and Burn It Off workouts. They’re high intensity for a short period, aimed to get your heart rate up. In 30 Day Shred, the short 2 minute cardio bursts were sandwiched in between strength training moves and core work, with no rest. In CE’s Burn Intervals, there was a little bit of the same action going on. After you were out of breath, Chalene has you recover with strength training moves that feature a lot of reps with a lighter weight. In Burn It Off, the cardio bits were one after the other — for about 5 minutes — followed by a 60 second break to catch your breath before doing another round with different exercises.
Both of the cardio offerings were great. I thought they were challenging, from an aerobic perspective, and I’m certain it will improve my endurance, just like the 30 Day Shred did. I will be closely monitoring my progress from Week 1 through Week 4 of the Burn phase.
Onto the actual strength training workouts: Burn Circuit 1, Burn Circuit 2, and Burn Circuit 3. I enjoyed them and they were easy to follow. I also liked that they were shorter workouts, at about 37 minutes each. The key is to lift heavy and have muscle failure by the 10th to 12th rep of each exercise. Therefore, the workout doesn’t need to be so long. It’s a good length that you can fit into your day with ease! And given the short length of this workout, I can definitely see myself adding additional cardio (e.g. running or Turbo Jam) workouts onto the lifting only days. But that will not be in the first month. I probably won’t do that until the Push or Lean phases of the program. Maybe I’ll be ready for my 5k after all!
Another tool I thought was great was the Weight/Rep trackers. I keep it, and a pen, handy during workouts and can easily mark down what weights I used as well as how many reps I did. The way the pages are set up will make it easy to gauge my progress from Week 1 to 4. I’m using a range of 5 lb (warm-up and cardio workouts only) to 15 lb right now. I definitely want to get a pair of 20 lb dumbells. I’ve been considering it for a while, and I think by Week 3, it would be a necessity to my progress. So, I’m going to start shopping around for those. Dumbells are getting expensive these days!
During exercises, Chalene tells you why you’re feeling a certain way or where you should be feeling it. That’s extremely helpful. It helps you figure out if you’re doing the move properly. In particular, I like the mention of doing exercises as if you’re “up against a wall”. That really helps keep your form in check, IMO. I also appreciate seeing her fellow exercisers reaching failure and seeing their muscles shake. Chalene will routinely point out that if a certain body part is shaking, that means you’re close to failure, are using a heavy enough weight, and doing everything right. I love that!
Towards the end of the strength training workouts, Chalene will instruct you to “get extreme”. What that means is that you’re going to do 3 more reps of the previous exercise at a very slow pace. Concentrate of form and “flexing” the targeted muscle for best results. I definitely was shaking during these final reps!
Doing a different DVD every day is great. I love doing something different each day! Now, I realize that I will repeat this week for a month, but it was always the day-to-day workouts that my body got used to, not the week-long rotations.
I love the emphasis on push-ups. I pretty much suck at those. I got a lot better while doing 30 Day Shred. Chalene says that if you don’t like push-up’s, it’s because you don’t do them! You know, I have a sneaky suspicion that she’s right. A few years back, I use to skip them in my Firm workouts. Not the case anymore. I do them now, and not always modified ones either! I can always eek out a few real ones! I can’t do the full set just yet, but I can’t wait until I can! I blame my really long arms for my issues with push-ups. I have farther to go to reach the ground, damnit! But I know I’ll get stronger and then I’ll love them. In one of the January 2009 issue of SELF.com, it was revealed that singer Rihanna aims to do 8 push-ups a day. It may not seem like much, but doing a smaller number of them — but with perfect form — is much better than trying to do a ton, but with not-so-great form. That’s definitely an attainable goal for women and, I mean, look at Rihanna! Homegirl looks great!
My favorite part of completing Week 1 was that every day I’d wake up and a different group of muscles would be sore. I love that feeling after lifting weights, as it’s not the “bad” kind of sore, but the good kind that indicates that your muscles are doing something different than what they’re used to.
So far, ChaLEAN Extreme, is everything I hoped it’d be. I really don’t have any complaints. I know there is a sizable group of people who have done P90x, who have complaints, but seeing as how I haven’t done any 90 workout programs before, I’m not in that pool. Also, I’ve always felt that P90x was just a tad too intense for me at this point in time. I could probably do it, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. P90x is definitely a challenge I want to take on, but I felt that doing Chalene’s program would be a great starting point. I will probably give P90x a go this fall, after my summer running season.
It’s just really nice to have a workout that I’m excited about doing. Not that I was dreading anything else, but with new challenges, comes much-needed excitement! I love, love, love coming back to my room and putting that big ‘X’ through the day’s workout I just completed! What a feeling!
Tonight I capped my week with the Recharge workout (after doing Burn It Off) and it was a perfect end to a week of newness. It was about 20 minutes of long stretching that felt amazing! All week my hamstrings had been pretty tight. I found myself doing some stretches during the day to help. But Recharge really helped and they aren’t tight any more. Perfect going into an off day!
It was definitely “different” to do that first workout, then immediately have a day off, but I’ll just go with it. Chalene knows what she’s doing!
I will probably check in again after week #2, but it won’t be as long because I’ve already explained my thoughts of the workouts. It will probably be a short post pointing out any improvements in fitness, increase in weights, weight loss, and things like that! I’m not really looking for any weight loss. I’m pretty tall and thin — and always have been — so weight loss is not why I’m doing ChaLEAN Extreme. I’m looking for tone and to “lean” out my physique a little more. If I lost much weight, I’d probably be underweight. Definitely not something I’m shooting for here!
If you actually read this entire post, which has topped 1600 characters, then you must be considering (or doing) ChaLEAN Extreme too. Please chime in with your thoughts. I’d love to hear what others are thinking!