Looking for an in-depth Body Beast review from a non-Beachbody coach? Read on!
First off, I’m NOT a Beachbody coach; I review things because I love them. And Body Beast is one of those things that I love dearly.
Why I Chose Body Beast
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since I started the program. I was looking for something with less cardio and more focus on building muscle. Although I love P90X, I was looking for something that worked well with limited equipment and limited time availability. I already integrate a lot of running and yoga into my day, so I really needed a program that would help define and shape my body into what I wanted it to be.
Body Beast: Program basics
Body Beast breaks down the program into three phases, or blocks:
- Build – this three week phase helps create a good foundation for gaining mass and volume by building up and strengthening base muscle groups: chest, triceps, back, biceps, legs and shoulders. Nutrition during this period is roughly 50% carbs, 25% protein and 25% fat.
- Bulk – the next phase is six weeks long; this is where you’ll gain incredible strength and mass. You’ll work on the same base muscle groups that you encountered in the Build phase, but you’re lifting heavier, lifting longer, and focusing in on particular muscle groups. You’ll learn to love progressive sets and force sets; they’ll push you to the point of failure. Nutrition for this phase remains at 50% carbs, 25% protein and 25% fat.
- Beast – this is the third and final phase of the program. By this point you should be lifting bigger weights and focused intently on maintaining your form even as you near the point of failure. This is a hybrid phase based on workouts from the Build and Bulk phases. In this phase, your nutrition profile changes to 40% protein, 30 % carbs and 30% fat. It’s not a huge change in your nutrition, but it has the effect of stripping fat from the body and showing of the muscles you’ve worked so hard to build.
This phase is optional; it’s most useful in the three weeks before you hit the beach or if you’re heading into competition (or if you want to take the perfect selfie for your profile pic. We be ‘mirin!). If you don’t want to enter a fat-burning phase, simply head back for a second Bulk Phase.
Body Beast: Equipment
A yoga mat and some stretch bands won’t really cut it on Body Beast. You’re going to have to invest in a little bit of equipment. But the good news is that it comes fairly cheaply.
I started my program with the following used equipment I picked up locally for $100:
- Basic York inclining weight bench
- Two dumbbell bars with collars
- One straight bar with collars
- 180 lbs worth of York concrete weights (4 x 25lb, 4 x 10lb, 6 x 5 lb, 4 x 2.5lb)
I already had a chin-up bar from my bodyweight workouts, but if you don’t have one you can pick one up used for about $20 on Craigslist or similar. I also bought some quick-release clamps for the bars for about $6 a pair.
The weight bench is optional – you can use a large exercise ball instead and the videos show how to adapt the workout to use the ball instead of a bench. However, I strongly recommend a bench; it provides a lot more support when you’re lifting large weights, and there’s less chance of hurting your back or abs from trying to use your core to keep your balance on the ball while lifting. You can get used benches for around $40 online if you keep your eyes open – and sometimes I see people giving them away for free just because they’re clunky and in the way.
That equipment worked well enough so that I could get a real taste of Body Beast; once I knew I was invested in the program I started hunting around for a decent dumbbell stack. I found a great deal on a CAP dumbbell 200-pound stack, very similar to this one offered on Amazon.com. It contained pairs of 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30-lb hex rubber-coated dumbbells. I fleshed out the set with a pair of 5-lb hex dumbbells purchased new for $6 each.
The new dumbbell stack was worth far more than I paid for it; I save time by not swapping weights on and off the bars which is a HUGE pain in the ass, I save my floors from getting all scuffed since the weights are encased in rubber and the hex shape means I can place them on the floor without them rolling away. I also find that I can safely grip the sides of the hex dumbbells for moves like skull crushers and tricep extensions.
I also invested in this EZ curl bar from CAP; some time ago I injured my left wrist and I really appreciate that I can adjust my grip accordingly when doing barbell curls to reduce the strain on my wrists. Plus shifting your grip slightly reduces fatigue and helps you crank out those last few reps when you feel yourself starting to flag.
It’s a bit of an investment, but I know this equipment will last me a lifetime; I could easily pass it all down to my kids if they ever show an interest in lifting.
Body Beast: Eating like a Beast
Hey peeps: the Body Beast Calorie Calculator has changed since December of 2014. Click the image above to get a PDF with the new calorie calculations!
For comparison purposes, I calculated my daily calorie target using the 21-Day Fix methodology and arrived at the following number:
If I calculate my daily caloric needs for the Build and Bulk phases of Body Beast, I come up with the following number:
That’s a difference of over 600 calories a day. That’s because this program is designed to build serious muscle and burn fat like crazy. You need to eat to lose. Without proper nutrition, you won’t have enough stamina to survive these kick-ass workouts, and if you don’t finish the workouts, you aren’t going to see the results you were hoping for. Eat!
Although my base calorie target was around 2200 calories/day, there were days where I ate over 3500 calories because I was kicking my workouts into overdrive and incorporating additional cardio and weight sessions into my day which burned (according to my heart rate monitor) over 800 calories per hour. I needed tons of extra nutrition on those days, and I knew if I didn’t eat I was going to suffer. I also find that keeping myself from getting too hungry helps diminish the effect of delayed onset muscle soreness – which kept me in good form for my next workout.
Body Beast: Weight loss
This program is not about weight loss – but you can definitely still lose weight on it. I did – and I ate like a beast as I showed above. In fact, I lost over 13 lbs in 14 weeks. That’s what you should be shooting for – a good, steady loss.
Need proof of my accomplishment? Here’s my tracking chart from our most recent weight-loss challenge at the office, posted for all to see:
I didn’t quite stay below the line, but I came damn close – and that was enough for me. I lost a few bucks on the challenge, but that’s how it goes in life. You can’t be perfect all the time.
The key here is that you will boost your metabolic rate as you build muscle. Stronger muscles need more nutrition than weaker ones. You’re essentially training your body to burn calories more effectively, which is great if you’re sick of calorie-reduction diets that leave you hungry all the time. I’d rather eat what I want and boost my metabolism through weightlifting than starve myself on a calorie reduction diet and depend solely on cardio to burn my extra calories.
Body Beast: Supplementation
Okay, here’s the big question – do you need to take a bunch of crazy supplements on this program?
If you check the nutrition plan included in the Body Beast book, you’ll see that it includes an entry for post-workout nutrition which is simply shorthand for “protein shake”. But not all protein shakes are created equal, so here’s the detailed breakdown of what supplements Body Beast recommends – and how you can achieve the same nutrition results much more cheaply.
There are four components to the Body Beast supplementation program; the Suma is pretty much useless but the other three have definite benefits for your muscle-building goals. Here they are in order of importance:
Beachbody Hardcore Base Shake
This is a basic protein shake. Here’s the nutritional fact sheet:
The important pieces of nutritional information are as follows: 120 calories, 1g fat, 18g protein, and 11g carbs. Right now I can order this from Beachbody.com for about $60 for 30 servings.
How does this stack up against my favorite protein powder of all time – Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard?
The same serving size of this shake gives you 120 calories, 1g of fat, 24g of protein, and 3g of carbs. That’s 33% more protein in a single shake – protein you’re going to need to repair your muscles after these killer workouts.
Right now I can get this from Bodybuilding.com for about $0.75/serving, which already saves me about $1.25 over the Beachbody version.
But what about the carbs, you ask? The Beachbody Hardcore Base Shake has 11g of protein versus 3g in the Optimum Nutrition version; and it’s true that you need extra carbs post-workout. Before I introduce you to one of my favorite secret ingredients for workout nutrition, you should take a look at the next Beachbody supplement in the Body Beast stack.
Beachbody Fuel Shot
First, you should understand why this supplement is required in the first place.
Your body stores carbs in your liver and muscles as glycogen, which is basically long chains of glucose. Glucose, also known as dextrose, should be consumed post-workout for two reasons: one, your body needs to replenish that glycogen or it’s going to crash; and two, consuming glucose post-workout creates an insulin spike that helps your body pull the amino acids into the muscles it needs to rebuild.
The Body Beast nutrition plan recommends
two one scoop of this in your post-workout shake. (Note that older copies of the Book of Beast are incorrect – the correct dose is one scoop of Fuel Shot!) But take a closer look at the nutritional information to see what you’re getting:
Here’s what you get in one serving of Beachbody Fuel Shot: 210 calories, 47g carbs, and 5g protein.
Multiply that by two scoops and you have 410 calories, 94g carbs and 10g protein. Note: BeachBody updated the Book of Beast late 2012 to show the correct amount of Fuel Shot per shake: ONE scoop (55g).
Right now I can buy this from Beachbody.com for a staggering $50 per 25 servings. I’m really stunned how much this costs.
I’d like to introduce my favorite secret weapon for post-workout nutrition: pure dextrose. It’s nothing complex or out-of-this-world; it’s simply sugar derived from corn. That’s it – it’s not a crazy chemical created by mad scientists. I buy this stuff in bulk for pennies per pound at my local bulk food store. Here’s a look at the nutritional information for the same size serving:
The same serving size of dextrose gives you
400 calories, 100g of pure carbs, and 0g protein 200 calories, 50g of pure carbs, and 0g protein – and I can get this at Bodybuilding.com for about $0.50/serving – one quarter the price of what Beachbody is selling it for.
I don’t worry too much about the lack of protein – the fact is I’m making up most of that protein in my main shake. And the side benefit is that the sweet taste of dextrose makes my chocolate shake taste even better than it already does!
Beachbody MAX Creatine
I won’t bore you with the usual prelude to creatine with the fact that it’s the “safest and most studied fitness supplement on the market today”. The hard fact is that creatine works in several ways to boost your muscle-building goals, through cell voluminization through water uptake, satellite cell growth and increased production of insulin-like growth factor I or IGF-I. This supplement is found in animal-based protein such as red meat and fish, so your body is no stranger to creatine.
Beachbody promotes their MAX Creatine product, which retails for $29.95 for a 30-day supply. What are you getting in that daily serving? Let’s take a closer look:
For about $1.00 per serving, you get a full 10g of creatine monohydrate. But what if I told you that I could get it for you FIVE TIMES cheaper?
Take a look at the following comparable product from Bobybuilding.com:
The exact same product costs me $0.20/serving – that’s right, TWENTY CENTS per serving at Bodybuilding.com. You’d be a nut to go anywhere else to buy this stuff.
If you’re on the fence about creatine, I can only offer my experience. It’s only affected me in positive ways; I can crank out a few more reps, lift a few more pounds, and the size of my muscles at the end of the workout is noticeable. It won’t turn you into Superman or Superwoman overnight, but I noticed about a 5-10% increase in my lifting abilities when I started to incorporate creatine into my daily workout post-recovery shakes.
The bottom line on Body Beast supplements
I’m incredibly suspicious about putting anything in my body, even Tylenol. But after a year of being on Body Beast I’m fully convinced of the benefits of supplemental protein, dextrose, and creatine. I just couldn’t have achieved my current fitness goals without them. But I’ll be honest – you don’t need to buy them from Beachbody. You can save a lot of money by following my recommendations and buying them online.
If you need further proof, let me break down the cost of building up a month’s supplement stack with Beachbody.com:
Beachbody Base Shake: $59.95
Beachbody Fuel Shot: $49.95
Beachbody MAX Creatine: $29.95
Beachbody stack total: >>>$139.85<<<
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that much money to spend on supplements every month. For that price, I might as well be drinking Shakeology; you can read about my Shakeology analysis here.
I’m a hardworking parent with two kids to feed; I can’t justify spending that much on supplements for a month. That’s why I always rely on Bodybuilding.com to provide me with clean supplements without the crazy cost.
Here’s the breakdown of the SAME monthly stack, but I’m going to check out my latest receipt and show you how to do it a hell of a lot cheaper. What Beachbody doesn’t tell you upfront is that the product they send you is only a 25-day supply, as they assume you’ll not be taking these products on your rest days. It pays to be informed:
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey, 30-day supply: $24.30
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder, 30-day supply: $6.00
NOW Dextrose, 30-day supply: $15.13
My money-saving stack total: >>>$45.43<<<
That’s saving me $94.42/month. How the heck can you argue with that?
I’ve provided the direct links to the products listed on Bodybuilding.com below; click these links to get the absolute best deals on the above supplements.
Body Beast: The bottom line.
Do I recommend Body Beast?
YES! I heartily recommend Body Beast as it is a solid workout program that helped me lose weight, build muscle and gain a physique which I’m slowly coming to appreciate. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is my physique. But Body Beast has gotten me further than I’d ever though possible with my fitness goals.
Is Body Beast good for women?
I get this question a lot. YES, it’s also good for women. My wife loves it; it’s her favorite workout program of all time. For those women who wonder if they’ll get all bulky on the program, let me show you something. Here are two of the top finishers at the 2014 IFBB Europa bodybuilding competition, Jason Poston on the left and Sarah LeBlanc on the right:
Notice anything about them? Look at the muscle definition that Jason achieved with a year of dedication. Now look at the physique that Sarah achieved with the same level of devotion and hard work. Is she bulky? Is she all sinewy? HELL NO, she’s incredibly sexy and toned. Women, your bodies will NOT respond the same way that men’s bodies do to weight training. SO STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT AND START WORKING OUT ALREADY!
So here’s the bottom line:
- Get the Body Beast program.
- Find some inexpensive, basic equipment to start with
- Get the supplements as advised above from my links to save you big bucks.
Beast Up – and come back here to tell me how you’ve done on the program!
Do you have comments or questions on Body Beast? I’d love to hear about them below!
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