Focus On: Chalean Extreme

Hey guys,
This Focus Post is pretty exciting to me because it’s a workout that I’ve been wanting to try for quite a while. I couldn’t find it in myself to purchase a set of weights -it seems unnecessary when you move often and have a gym membership. It may be something I could try with resistance bands, though… 
Anyway, this workout is taught by one of my all-time favorites (and girl crush) Chalene. 
Here’s Ali with the details:
Hello all you lovely Fitnessistas!!
It is Ali here, comin’ at cha from my little space in the interweb  I have been a loyal reader of dear Gina for the last year and a half, and I am proud (embarrassed?) to say that I have never missed a post, and I am sofantasticallyuberexcited to be here!  
While Gina and I may have some pretty drastically differing views when it comes to food, she likes her proteins and fats, where I am a dedicated fruit muncher, there is one thing we most certainly see eye to eye on, and that is that fitness is so important for your physical and mental health, and that Chalene Jonhson is our workout hero.
Which leads me to my reason for being here.  I want to tell you all about Chalene Johnson’s  Chalean Extreme program!
You may know Chalene for her “Turbo” programs like TurboJam and TurboFire.  These programs are focused primarily on cardiovascular exercise, with little attention given to weight training.  Chalean Extreme on the other hand, focuses almost exclusively on weight training.  This is due to the concept that muscle burns fat, increases your metabolism and makes you look leaner.
The program is broken down into three one-month sections.
Month one is called the “Burn Phase”  During these workouts Chalene encourages you to lift weights that are heavy enough that you reach muscle fatigue by your 10-12th repetition. (Meaning you really could not do another rep after that last rep) All these phases come with a guide book so that you can track your weight progress as you get stronger.  She will then mix it up every third or fourth exercise by adding in an “extreme set” where she will give you a ten second rest, and then have you do three more repetitions of the exercise you just completed.  There are three “Burn phase” routines, and you do each one once a week, on non-consecutive days.
In the second month you are in the “Push Phase.”  The set up is almost the same as month one, only in this month Chalean pushes you to lift weights that are heavy enough for you to reach failure on the 8-10th rep.  I was doing 80 pounds squats in this month, just to give you an idea.  She still throws in those “extreme sets” every couple of exercise here, and boy, oh boy do you feel the burn!
In month three, called the “Lean Phase,” you are back to using weights that get you to muscle failure by rep 10-12.  The challenge this month is that she adds an “extreme set” after every move.  You.will.beg.for.mercy.
She also has videos to add a fourth day of working out, which she calls “fat burner” workouts.  These consist of 1-2 minutes of high intensity cardiovascular training, followed by 1-2 minutes of muscle endurance work.  Here she will have you lift very light weights for many repetitions.
So what are the pros and cons?
1)Short work outs – most are 35-45 mins
2) Most moves are compound movements, meaning you are working more than one muscle group at a time.  This is awesome because it means that you are burning more calories with each movement, building more muscle with each movement, and it cuts your workout time way down.
3) Chalene gives awesome cues and is uber motivating.  I always wanted to push myself.
4) She dispels the myth that women should lift light weights to avoid bulking up.  The truth is that woman have far too little testosterone to bulk up the way that men do.  You are either lifting heavy enough to build muscle, which is what you want, or you are not.  Simple as pie.
5) Lifting heavy weights makes you feel powerful!  It really does something wonderful for your brain, like you can do anything you want!
1) It can be costly to buy enough weights to have varied enough resistance for upper and lower body, as well as getting enough weights to keep you challenged as you increase strength.  I suggest getting resistance bands for this (she offers resistance band modifications for every move.)  They are less costly and can be used for longer before you need to up the ante, so to speak.
2) There is risk of hurting yourself, because she is really pushing you to push yourself and lift heavy.  Make sure that you are really paying attention to her form cues, as well as looking at yourself in the mirror every once in a while to make sure you are staying on point.
I hope you are inspired to check out this work out program.  She has had some AMAZING results among her workout devotees, and I am a firm believer myself in adding muscle to your body!  You will burn more calories in a day, even at rest, as well as just feeling and looking awesome!
Thanks again Gina, and I hope yo see all you lovely people again soon!
More Beachbody reviews:
Thank you again, Ali, for the awesome Focus On post!
Would you try any of the Beachbody programs? Which ones have caught your eye? 
Head’s up: I’m only going to mention once or twice, but exciting things (literally) to come next week 😉 

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  1. Erica @ Love the Leap on May 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Great post! I am a huge Turbo/Chalene fan and have been considering Chalean Extreme for a while now– actually debating between this and p90x. I feel like Chalene is so motivating and upbeat that she could make strength training fun for me. Thanks for the awesome review!

    • Geralyn on May 31, 2012 at 2:27 am

      I enjoyed Chalean X much more than P90x. I think it’s more efficient and easier to stick to. I got better results from CX. You are totally right that she makes it fun!

      • Ali on May 31, 2012 at 10:47 am

        BUT You have to love Tony?!

        • Shaina Anderson on May 31, 2012 at 9:38 pm

          Ah! After a month I can’t take Tony anymore haha.

  2. Annette @ FitnessPerks on May 30, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I’ve never tried her workouts b/c I mostly go to the gym, but it does sound like she busts out some good stuff on those videos! 🙂 Great post!

  3. Liz on May 30, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    I’m a big fan of turbofire … I love the booty shakin’ sweaty workouts!

  4. Courtney on May 30, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Way to go Chalene – I love anything that encourages women to get under the bar!

  5. Donna on May 30, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Chalene is a great inspiration to me, I think more women should do weight training. The sooner you realise you wont look like Arnold Schwarzenegger the sooner you can experience just how good the results of weight training are for women!

    • Fitnessista on May 30, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      as soon as i started weight training, it changed my body! i finally got the kind of results i had been wanting with only cardio

  6. Elizabeth @ reads recipes runs on May 30, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    I have ChaLEAN Extreme and love it!! After consistently doing this plan I was brushing my hair one morning and was like HEY! There’s muscle there! The one think I’m not a fan of is the number of lunges in the combo moves they do. I hate lunges WITH A PASSION and I hate hate hate doing them so try aren’t my favorite. Ali is totally right, it’s hard to reach the same level of fatigue with the weights you have at home but I suggest watching the resistance band DVD, it really shows you how to make moves harder 🙂

  7. Jessica on May 31, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Wow! ChaLEAN Extreme looks awesome! As does TurboFire! I am just finishing up a hybrid of P90X & Insanity and think I’m going to do 100% Insanity this next time around. But after that, I’m definitely going to try either TurboFire or ChaLEAN Extreme. Thanks for the overview of the program!

  8. Julie on May 31, 2012 at 1:50 am

    This is one of the workouts I’ve always wanted to try!

  9. Natalie (willrunforveggies) on May 31, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I have been thinking of doing workout DVDs rather than paying for my expensive gym membership… this is right up there as one I want to try. I ijust wonder how much I would have to modify it given how small my apartment is (we’re talking 4 feet of space between the TV and couch. I also would have to find a place to store weights… hmmm.

    • Brynne on November 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      If you can afford them, the selecttech weights that Chalene uses in the videos are absolutely worth the investment! I even use them for the Sculpt/Tone workouts from TurboFire! They don’t take up much space and when people ask about them you can tell them all about how amazing Chalene is! I cancelled my gym membership cause I found Beachbody!

  10. Angie on May 31, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I’m a huge fan of Chalene! When I finished up 90 days of P90X I was looking for another weight lifting program I could try at home while my husband was deployed. I stumbled across Chalean Extreme (CLX) and thought I’d give it a try. I’m now on day 81 of CLX/Insanity hybrid, and I personally LOVE CLX! It’s a great workout and I’m seeing good results. I like that they are short, but yet your muscles still shake afterwards. 🙂

  11. Nina on May 31, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Chalean Extreme! I’ve owned it for about 3 years now and recommend it to many of my friends. I can’t wait to go through the program again after I have my baby. I definitely notice the results so quickly. I had bought it instead of P90X because the workouts seems to be more manageable – so it would be easier to stick with it! This post got me excited to do the DVDs soon!

  12. Ronda on May 31, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I am at the end of the first week of CLX. I absolutely L-O-V-E it! I look forward to doing it each night. I’ve done TurboJam and TurboFire, but never stuck to the schedule provided. CLX will be the first program that I complete all 90 days as laid out in the program. I started with 5, 8 and 10 lb weights. This weekend I’m going to buy a set of 12 and 15 lb weights as I’m not reaching failure by the 12th rep when working some of the stronger muscle groups. But as others mentioned, you could definitely use the band (included), I just prefer actual weights.

  13. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 31, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I love Turbo Fire and I think that Chalene is great, I would love to try Chalean Extreme!

  14. Ali @ Around the VeggieTable on May 31, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Interesting! I have always wanted to try Turbo Fire and I’m actually doing Insanity right now. I have gained a little weight since starting, but I think it’s muscle because I can actually see a difference (my arms look awesome already!) and I’m especially happy with how my endurance has improved in such a short time!

  15. S. on May 31, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I did this last summer and really did notice improvements in strength. Like, I could not do more than 2 push-ups before I started, and could do about 20 solid push-ups by the end. Great program!

    That being said, it really is super-important that you go slowly as to avoid injury. I sort of disregarded using perfect form initially, and injured myself. After researching each move and practicing slowly before doing the following workouts, I was able to get through the rest of it without a problem.

  16. Emily @ Munchies 'n' Marvels on May 31, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for the Chalene “Focus On”! You may have competition on that girl crush …
    I started TurboFire a few weeks ago, and I LOVE IT. I am not doing the full program as I fit it in around work and baby schedule, but I definately am seeing a difference in my fitness and strength.

    OooOOoo! Exciting things to come? I am tingling in anticipation 🙂

  17. Natasha on May 31, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Hi! I read your blog everyday and I absolutely love it. I have tried P90x and Insanity. I think Chalene’s workouts sound very interesting. I love lifting but not so much cardio. So I try to do total body workout intervals so I can get in my cardio and strength training all at once. Then I have to force myself to do cardio on my off days. It sounds like her workouts are more total body and if this is the case I definitely want to try them out.

  18. kara on May 31, 2012 at 10:52 am

    i LOVE Lean Extreme! it has made me feel stronger than ever and i have definitely seen changes in my body since doing it. i got through one round of Extreme and now i’m doing a second round as a combo with Turbo.. so intense!!

    • kara on May 31, 2012 at 10:57 am

      ALSO. adjustable weights have been a lifesaver for me. i shopped around and found some not terribly expensive ones that adjust from 3 to 25 lbs and they are perfect. i’d definitely recommend investing in some.

  19. Lisa @ Jogging on Coffee on May 31, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I love Chalean Extreme! I avoided strength training for years because I found it boring but my sister-in-law got me hooked with these DVDs 🙂

  20. Stefanie @TheNewHealthy on May 31, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Chalene is my absolute favorite! I love Turbofire and I’ve always wanted to try the Chalean Extreme DVDs. This may be the extra push I need! Great review. 🙂

  21. Beverly on May 31, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I <3ChaLEAN Extreme!!! The hubs and I do this workout in the mornings together before work and then mix in cardio via group fitness classes throughout the week. We actually bit the bullet and bought the SelecTech weights that Chalene uses in the videos. They're pricey and little more awkward than a standard dumbbell, but at least our living room no longer looks like Gold's Gym with every size weight strewn out on the floor!

  22. Danielle on May 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I LOVE her! I actually love all the Beachbody programs so I became a coach. Motivating people and helping them change their life keeps me going every day. It’s amazing the connections you get with people when they go through such a transformation!

  23. alicia on May 31, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I have this program and it is awesome!!! It’s so cool to track your progress and see how much stronger you become! Love Chalene!! Great post!!

  24. Melissa on May 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I’ve done the CE series twice and I loved each time. (This was before I joined a gym). I would recommend it to anyone. I never got tired of the DVDs and the cardio ones (they come in the deluxe set) were really good too!

  25. Sam @ Fit for My Fork on May 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I finished Chalean Extreme about three weeks ago and I LOVED IT. I love Chalene and the program was fun and challenging. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good program with workouts that aren’t too long!

  26. Shaina Anderson on May 31, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Umm…. Sold. I’m excited to get back into running in 3 weeks after my checkup so that will be my cardio but these short workouts will be awesome for when Tripp is napping. Done and done. Come on June 21st!

  27. Jennifer @veganpcosgoddess on May 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    LOVE this program! Just did Burn Intervals and Ab Burner tonight and I felt so empowered and amazing. Can’t wait to meet Chalene in a few weeks at the Beachbody Coach Summit in Las Vegas! 🙂

  28. Tia on June 1, 2012 at 1:55 am

    I’m really digging Turbofire, Do you think that doing both Turbofire and Chalean Extreme together is to much? I need the cardio to lose the extra tummy area weight but also want to tone up in the process. Besides it being time consuming, do you think it’s to much?

    • Michelle on June 1, 2012 at 4:06 am

      I started with TurboFire initially, and shed alot of fat, but then I started to worry that my muscles were going to be flabby, so I ordered Chalean Extreme and started following the hybrid schedule, and I LOVE it. It really is the best of both worlds. You get fun cardio with TurboFire and serious muscle building with CXT. And with all the variety, you will never get bored.

  29. Michelle on June 1, 2012 at 4:00 am

    I’ve been doing the TurboFire/Chalene Extreme Hybyrid and am just starting the final phase (Lean Phase). My muscles have never been so sore, as they were after doing the first Lean Circuit 1 DVD. I LOVE that soreness because you know you got a great workout. I can’t recommend both programs enough. I think they are a great investment and can see myself incoporating them into my workouts for the rest of my life. Everything can be done with resistance bands, but if you prefer to use actual weights, like I do, and you can afford to, I would recommend investing in a set of adjustable weights, preferably ones that adjust to at least 40 pounds each. Just as Ali mentioned in her post, I worked up to doing 80 lb. squats pretty quickly (40 lbs. each side) and was glad to have the adjustable weights, as I probably would never go buy a set of 40 lb. dumbbells. But I was lucky enough to marry a man who owned a set of adjustable weights so I was set. 🙂

    I think Beachbody DVD sets are a great way to go because they make it simple for the regular person to successfully get in shape. Not only do you get a variety of workout DVD’s, but you also get workbooks to track your progress, sample meal plans to give you an idea of how to fuel your body correctly, and most importantly, a calender that tells you which workouts to do on what days. So you don’t even have to think about it. This has made all the difference for me, because no matter what good intentions I always seemed to have in the past, I just couldn’t figure out what to do when, and for how long, etc. and quickly gave up because it was too hard to try to figure it all out. But with these programs, everything is already figured out for you. And on a side note, Beachbody has sooo many different programs to choose from too. There really is something for everyone. I think Chalene does a great job in Chalean Extreme in instructing you how to lift weights properly for each move. There is a separate instructional DVD that explains the proper form for each of the basic moves, and then within each workout, she is consantly reminding you the correct way to lift. And not only is it easier for me to be able to workout at home instead of going to the gym, I like being able to just check the TV screen to see how she’s performing the move, so I can make sure I’m doing it correctly too. Whereas if I were to go the the gym, I could hire a personal trainer for a few times, to show me the proper form, but I’m probably not going to remember everything they said. However, with CXT, Chalene is constantly reminding you to “lead with your elbows, or lead with you pinkies, don’t let your knees go past your ankles, etc.” so you can make sure you are doing it correctly. Chalene is constantly saying that lifting weights won’t bulk you up, but just make you leaner, smaller, and tighter. I can honestly say this is so true. Just being 2/3rd’s of the way through the program, I have noticed great results and I am much leaner, smaller, and tighter. And even without all the pounds and inches I’ve already lost, just the mental toughness I have achieved by doing her programs, is worth it all. I have suffered from depression most of my adult life, and this past year I have been going through some of the toughest things I’ve ever had to deal with, but I have never felt physically stronger, and better emotionally than I do now, and I credit it all to working out doing TurboFire and Chalean Extreme. Endorphins are a magical thing! Chalene is such a positive person and working out with her first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day. If you have been on the fence as whether to try her workouts, don’t wait any longer. As Nike says, “Just Do It”. You will be glad you did.

  30. Tia on June 1, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks SO much for the Info Michelle, will definitely transition into the Hybrid, or just do the Chalean Extreme in addition to TurboFire, I do have the time. I just won’t do any of the cardio that the Extreme program has, if any.

  31. Tiffini on June 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I absolutely LOVE Chalean!! I am a certified Turbo Kick instructor and getting certified in Hip Hop Hustle this weekend!! These are 2 of the 3 other formats that are LIVE classes from Chalean. I am also a Beachbody coach and would definitely recommend going to to find classes near you. If you’re like me working out with people always helps to keep you accountable.

  32. Brittany on June 7, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    I just ordered this DVD series. Does anyone know in which order to do the DVDs? Insanity came with a calendar that says which DVD to do but this one didn’t.

  33. Tiffany on June 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I love Chalene Johnson. I started with Turbo Jam, then onto TurboFire. I agree that TurboFire is more cardio and I love building muscle so Chalene Extreme is definitely on my to do list. Thanks for this review!!! Makes it even easier to decide to purchase the program.

  34. Joe on October 19, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Let me give everyone a guy’s perspective on Chalene Extreme.
    It ain’t no joke!
    If you use heavy enough dumbells/resistance and fail at the suggested rep ranges, you will get the benefits.
    And I also agree that is is easier to stick to than P90X, also leaving some “gas in the tank” for those who do sports or Martial Arts to be able to do a seprate workout 2-3 days weekly in those other endevors.
    What I have done is purchsed two sets of cheap vynil dumbells with a total of 100lbs.
    Set those up heavy, and one light for warmups/muscle endurance sets.
    I have some resistance bands that I wrap around the heavy dumbells to intensify the resistance(same as adding weight, doesn’t take up space).
    Gained muscle, and have maintained the same level of strength as when I did hard core heavy lifting in the gym.
    This is a solid workout program that you can follow indefinately.

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