Saturday, December 29, 2012

ChaLEAN Extreme - my review

I'm not gonna like. I've always hated cardio. Heck, I quit playing soccer in middle school because I hated running!

On the other hand, I've always loved lifting weights. I think lean muscle looks amazing on anyone!

When I talking with my coach, Dani, about what program would suit me well, she suggested ChaLEAN Extreme. It's a weight lifting program that also incorporates cardio on 2 of your 5 workout days. It's also nice because you longest workout is 45 minutes long! Talk about being perfect for a busy mom on the go with 2 kids in tow! As I finished the program today, I can say that ChaLEAN Extreme was (and is) my perfect program. I can't call it my soulmate workout because I haven't tried anything else yet, but it really was amazing. Below are pictures of my actual workout sheets. You can easily see my progress :)

The program consists of three distinct phases. First is the Burn Phase. All of the exercises are using two different muscle groups. For example, there's a sumo squat paired with a hip lift, a dead lift paired with a posterior fly, a dead lift paired with a row, and a squat paired with a calf raise. I loved the burn month. The exercises were challenging and man did I sweat.The goal is to completely fatigue your muscles in 10 - 12 reps of each exercise. Then you break the muscle down with an "extreme" set after a 10 second rest. Holy moly - it's intense! I started out with weights ranging from 5 - 10 pounds and by the end of the month my weights went up to 8 - 15 pounds.

The second phase is called the Push Phase. This was my ABSOLUTE favorite phase. We were lifting HEAVY weights and only doing 6 - 8 reps of each move. Each exercise only focused on one specific muscle group. I found it refreshing to be able to focus so hard on one specific area. I started the Push month lifting 10 - 15 pound weights and I ended the month lifting 15 - 30 pound weights. This month was all about pushing yourself to your limit. To be perfectly honest, I did just that! One warning about the Push Phase, you will EAT A TON of food. I was constantly hungry. I just made sure that the food I was eating was clean and nourished my body.

The third and final phase is called the Lean Phase. I'll admit, it was my least favorite. I think it was because all of the exercises are designed to make you really use your core. I felt off balance a lot. It was hard for me to focus on lifting well because I felt like I was going to fall. I pushed through and ended up really liking the workouts by the 5th week.

I did 5 weeks of the push phase because the program is designed to be 90 days. I really liked the set up of the first month which was working out on M, W, R, F, S and rest days on T and Sun. So, instead of changing up my rest days and repeating some of the cardio days, I just did 4 weeks of each phase and then an extra week of the lean phase. It worked out really well for me.

So, as you can see from my workout sheets, there are three days of lifting during each phase. The other two workout days are cardio/abs and cardio/yoga.

The first cardio video is Burn Intervals. In the video, Chalene lifts 5 pound weights the entire time. When she said that's all she was lifting, I thought she was crazy. She's always saying to "go heavy or go home". Well, 5's are about right for this particular workout! It is muscle endurance at its best! I think we did a bazillion bicep curls! There's no way I could have done more than 5 pounds with this workout!

Burn intervals is paired with Ab Burner for the first 6 weeks and then Extreme Abs for the last 6 or 7 weeks. Honestly - they are both really tough. This entire program is about how difficult YOU make it for yourself! I eventually got good at Ab Burner and then Extreme Abs KICKED MY BUTT! It is nuts!

Burn It Off! is the second cardio day. It falls on Saturdays during the Burn Phase. To be very honest, this was not my cup of tea. Well, scratch that, I liked it in the beginning. But this is a workout you do the entire 90 days and I got bored with it. So, I ended up subbing in some TurboFire cardio workouts for it towards the end.

Recharge is a nice and short yoga session. It really stretches your muscles and is kinda the "reward" at the end of the week. I loved it!

All in all, as I finish this program, I have to admit that I love Chalene. She is amazing. She is motivating. She makes me want to workout! Just when I think I can't do it anymore, she says "smile when it hurts" and I smile. She tells me to say "I love it" when doing tricep pushups and guess what I say? Yup you guessed it - "I love it I love it I love it!"

In the end, ChaLEAN Extreme is an awesome program for anyone. Beginners to advanced can do it. I should know. I was an absolute beginner when I started the program. Now as I sit here typing this blog post, I am down 43 pounds and over 20 inches. I know the inches don't look like a lot, but I gained a lot of muscle during the past 90 days. I'm sure that has a lot to do with it :) As of Monday, I am moving on to P90X but I have a feeling that I will be seeing Chalene again in the future. I don't think I can stay away too long :)


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