Athlean-X is one of the most well-known and polarizing fitness brands on the planet.
But with dozens of training programs to choose from and a few flops mixed into the line-up, choosing the right routine becomes a gamble.
Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know — and a few things you probably could’ve gone without knowing — about Athlean-X and its best-selling programs.
This is what we call the ULTIMATE Athlean-X Review!
Before We Get Started, Let Me Say This…
Hey, I’m Kyle. (the founder of Noob Gains)
Nice to meet you 🙂
I’m jumping in here at the beginning to drop a bomb on you. Figuratively speaking.
For guys that want to build a lean and muscular body with the least amount of effort…
I typically don’t recommend following Athlean-X. *Gasp*
Here me out. If you want to get shredded with noticeable muscle definition…
Without working out more than 3 days per week…
Without forcing down 5 or more tiny, “bodybuilder-style” meals every day…
And without giving up your favorite foods…
You should also consider Superhero X12 by Fit Mole.
Build a Superhero Body Without Training Like One
Getting in shape isn't easy. But this program gives you a real-life approach to building a leaner, more muscular body without obsessing over fitness 24/7.
First of all, Athlean-X makes you buy a new program for every fitness goal you have.
Do you want to get shredded? Buy a program.
Ready to bulk up? Buy another program.
Oh, you’re an intermediate and you want to take things to the next level? Buy ANOTHER program.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get everything you need in just ONE program?
With Superhero X12, you’ll save money because it has all the resources you need to tackle multiple goals at different experience levels.
With SX12, you have the tools to:
- Gain muscle
- Build strength
- Improve muscle density
- Build definition
- Get completely shredded
- Take a more AGGRESSIVE shredding approach
- Or maintain the abs you already have
|Fitness Levels||Multiple||1 per|
|Fitness Goals||Multiple||1 per|
|5x or more|
|2-Day Workout Option|
You don’t have to buy multiple programs (or pay a monthly subscription) because Superhero X12 has specific workouts, diets, and strategies to help you do it all.
Second, Athlean-X programs typically eat up a lot of free time and make you practically LIVE in the gym.
Do you like the idea of working out 5 or 6 days per week?
Well, that’ll be your life if you sign up.
Nowadays, we’re all busy as hell and we try our best to not let the few precious minutes of free time that we have slip through our fingers like grains of sand.
Personally, I’d rather hit my workouts hard, in fewer visits, and then spend more time kicking my feet up watching Netflix.
And with Superhero X12, you can do just that.
Superhero X12 gives you a complete blueprint to build muscle in just 3 workouts per week.
That’s right. If you can commit to 3 hours of training each week, you can transform your body.
This program is backed by scientific research and is designed to fit into your schedule and train your muscles efficiently so you don’t waste hours grinding in the gym with nothing to show for it.
Plus, there’s even a bonus 2-day workout option that let’s you train EVEN LESS and STILL build muscle!
Finally, the diet plans for Athlean-X are pretty restrictive.
For example, do you like ice cream? Yea, me too!
How about birthday cake? Mmmm. Sounds tasty!
Well, if you follow Athlean-X, you can’t have any sweets.
Why? Because that’s not how professional athletes eat n’ stuff.
I mean, I get it. Jeff Cavaliere is trying to sculpt your body in the image of some of the most elite physiques in professional sports.
Does that mean I’m doomed to carry my own tupperware containers full of “healthy food” to the next Thanksgiving dinner?
On the other hand, Superhero X12 shows you how you can eat your favorite foods EVERY DAY… and still improve your body.
Real people are getting killer results on this program because it’s more enjoyable to follow over the long term.
Think about it…
How long can you stick to a diet that you hate? Probably not that long.
How long can you stick to a diet that you LIKE? Longer.
With Superhero X12, you can design an eating plan that works for you and include almost any foods you want!
These are the reasons I recommend Superhero X12 instead of most Athlean-X programs:
- You’ll save money since all fitness goals and experience levels are included
- You’ll save time and energy by only working out 3 days per week
- You’ll enjoy your diet when you get to eat your favorite foods every day
Not bad, huh?
But let’s be real. You don’t have to listen to me.
I’m just a stranger on the internet.
Check out Superhero X12 for yourself see if it’s as great as I say it is.
Now, let’s move onto the review…
About the Creator – Jeff Cavaliere
Jeff Cavaliere is one of the most talked-about fitness pundits in America, with diehard fans and staunch enemies on just about every bodybuilding forum in existence.
So who is the guy behind the relentless internet chatter?
Before launching Athlean-X in 2009, Jeff Cavaliere was slowly climbing the ladder in the fitness industry. He eventually built up his resume to include:
- A Bachelor’s Degree in Physioneurobiology & Pre-Medicine
- A Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy
- NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
- Assistant strength coach & head physical therapist with the ‘06, ‘07, and ‘08 New York Mets
- Author of Major League Insider Training Manual
- A slew of celebrity supporters like Sylvester Stallone and David Wright
He was later dubbed the “brains behind the brawn” for his unique approach to training: a shift away from bro splits and training fads and toward science-backed, safe, and efficient.
This later evolved into his fitness brand, Athlean-X, which now has more 2.2 million Instagram followers and over 1,000 free YouTube videos spreading the bodybuilding gospel.
But the founder’s inevitable fall from grace struck in summer 2020.
That’s when YouTube rival Scott Herman pushed a conspiracy theory that the brains behind Athlean-X — a 5’10” and 180-pound Cavaliere — wasn’t deadlifting 495 pounds in his videos at the Sports Performance Factory.
(We can’t confirm or deny the fake weight theory. But, hey, at least this debate doesn’t make us question the fate of humanity like the Flat Earth Society.)
Who are Athlean-X Programs For?
Athlean-X programs are designed for those ready to unleash their body’s maximum potential and train like an athlete to achieve noticeable aesthetics (the inspiration behind the “ath” and “lean” in the brand name).
Beyond that, each workout program is best for those who:
Want to Get Ripped
Each Athlean-X program puts its own spin on training and dieting. However, virtually every training program shares the same end goal: sculpting a more muscular body and an aesthetic physique.
And one thing the brand often expresses is that in order to look like a professional athlete, you need to train like one.
Best-selling fitness programs like AX-1, AX-2, Ultimate Arms, and Wolverine tackle that from two distinct angles — lose body fat and build muscle mass — better known as “body recomposition.”
Max Size, Total Beast, Old School Iron, and Monster Maker really dig into the mass aspect, making them popular for hard-gainers and day-one newbies.
Meanwhile, Max Shred and Core 4 target the opposite extreme of fat loss for those who’ve packed on the Freshman Fifteen or want to end their skinny-fat phase.
(Don’t forget that your results are 100% dependent on how much you’re willing to commit to the strict diet and training protocols. You can’t blame Cavaliere or a personal trainer if you putz around for 90 days!)
Have Access to Gym Equipment
Except for the bodyweight-only Xero, the average Jeff Cavaliere program requires the same equipment you’ll find in a commercial gym. For that you’ll need one of two things — a gym membership or home gym with:
- Adjustable dumbbells
- A barbell
- Weight plates
- A pull-up bar
- An exercise ball
- A jump rope
- An adjustable bench
- A squat rack
- Resistance bands (or a cable machine)
The home gym path is the luxury route and is more compatible with Athlean-X’s finer details (i.e., supersets or drop sets). Of course, a $20 gym membership is the more affordable choice.
Are Stuck In a Plateau or Disappointed With Other Programs
Athlean-X is popular for beginners, but even more so for intermediates either disappointed with their results from other muscle-building programs or stuck in a training plateau.
Cavaliere leaned into his physical therapy and personal training background to design science-backed programs that nurture consistent growth and progress.
He’s a strong advocate for “muscle confusion” and unpredictable routines. On top of pulling users out of plateaus, Athlean-X’s distinct phases and training protocols can prevent them.
Athlean-X Program Reviews
Now more than a decade since Athlean-X’s ‘09 roll-out, the platform is home to over a dozen programs targeting just about every fitness goal imaginable:
- Muscle growth
- Fat loss
- Build muscle mass and burn fat
- Core strength
You could easily spend an entire weekend weighing the pros and cons of all 17+ if that’s your idea of a “fun time.” Or stay tuned as we explore 11 of Athlean-X’s top-rated programs below.
AX-1 Training Camp
The AX-1 Training Camp workout program hops on the same bandwagon that Sean Nal and Jeff Nippard have gladly hitched their trailers to the body recomposition craze. This 12-week, bulk, and cut-free routine is a blend of 120 exercises and three phases designed to gain strength, lose weight, and build lean muscle mass.
All. At. Once. But this best-selling Athlean-X training system is far from cliche, and not a second will go by where the thought doesn’t cross your mind, “Hmm, what’s next?”
From a noob-friendly push/pull to a cardio-heavy metabolic overdrive to a HIIT tsunami in Athlean Super 2’s, Jeff’s program is a great workout program for beginners interested in training like an athlete.
- Every phase has a new goal and training style (PPL, full-body, etc.)
- The whole “training camp” bit makes total sense
- It’s body recomposition to a T (… or an X)
- The equipment requirements are a bit unclear
- Some of the testimonials are mediocre at best
If AX-1 isn’t challenging enough, AX-2 is basically version 2.0 with even more “xtreme-ness” baked in.
You’ll be on the edge of your seat for 84 days as Cavaliere teaches 12 unique phases, 200 exercises and 60 workouts with 11 willpower-testing daily challenges.
AX2 is the more advanced version of “X-treme”. It takes an edgier spin on its more conventional counterpart and it’s backed by “true muscle science.”
The 4+ 20–45-minute workouts per week will help endomorphs torch fat & build lean mass through high intensity burst training, mesomorphs continue making gains and overcoming plateaus, and ectomorphs get huge with a gains-friendly diet and compound exercises.
- Lots of variety to prevent boredom
- Includes the customizable X-Factor meal plan
- Has less conditioning work than AX-1
- No refunds
- Workouts can seem random and inconsistent
- Requires some equipment hogging
Xero is one of the few Athlean-X programs described as “100% bodyweight training” and proves that the $696 you waste a year on a gym membership is better spent on literally anything else.
The next 45 days will change your opinion on bodyweight exercises forever — for better or for worse. This beginner program features more than 150 callisthenic moves, a specialized training program to sculpt your abs, and the choice to “lower the temperature” if your last real push-up was at a kegger in college.
Armed with just body weight exercises, you’ll long for a barbell or rusty weight plate by the end of the Xero program. But with challenges like the-totally-not-named-after-drugs Grinder and Lactic Acid Trip Challenge, exhausting Athlean Burst training cardio sessions, and A/B strength combos, the Dear John letters can wait for now.
- All you need is a body (yours, preferably)
- Workouts aren’t repetitive
- Exercise modifications level the playing field for newbies
- The diet plan is etched in stone
- The “training to failure” theme is a poor way to stimulate muscle growth
Jacked Dumbbell Training Program
Jacked is the first Athlean-X program to offer a customizable dumbbell workout that’s 100% designed for you and your own personal equipment stash.
The main concept is to start with an “Ignitor” set and select a weight that you can get 8-12 reps before failing. After that depends on what you can actually do.
Jeff Cavaliere then tweaks the rep totals, exercise, and even manipulates rest times based on the Ignitor set. Either way, Jacked is still based on the principles of hypertrophy to force muscle growth in just 12 weeks.
While this is all well and good for someone with a little experience, this could cause initial confusion for a complete noob.
- All you need are some dumbbells and an adjustable bench
- Most things in the program can be modified
- It’s pretty consistent but…
- There are unique surprises in each month to battle boredom
- For beginners, it seems complicated out of the gate
- Longer workouts
- Many agree that progress levels off in month two
Old School Iron
Bodybuilding legends like Frank Zane and the undercover detective from Kindergarten Cop turned the Golden Era of Bodybuilding into today’s version of traditional old-school training.
But while Cavaliere advertises Old School Iron as a Yates/Platz/Arnold fusion, it’s the “little bit o’ everything” vibe that draws the masses.
The alternating full-body and classic corrective workouts, color-coded meal plan, and legend training routines will keep you on your toes in a permanent calf raise. We can’t believe the elites were able to build muscle and sculpt Mr. Universe physiques with just this diet and workout alone (( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)).
- “Old school” doesn’t always mean outdated
- It can iron out muscular body imbalances (pun fully intended)
- Hallelujah, there’s a meal plan!
- Days 28 and beyond are hidden under a veil of secrecy
- The PowerPoint lectures are as riveting as you’d imagine
All American Muscle
All American Muscle is ideal for people who want to build muscle, but also work on their agility and athleticism.
With a focus on athletic performance and aesthetic training, the 4-phase program created by Cavaliere is redefining what it means to be in shape.
Speed, agility and stamina training are just as important to a player’s success on the gridiron as muscle growth. This “all-inclusive” workout regimen focuses on increasing your speed for burst passes or long runs with improved strength for power and explosiveness.
One of the main drawbacks is the meal plan (like others) is light on details and might be confusing for beginners.
- It’s designed to make you well-rounded in athleticism
- You have more control of your physique due to Shred and Size Swaps
- Lots of variation to fight boredom
- Good for intermediates
- Vague diet plan details could hinder results
- Requires a gym membership with extra room for sprints, agility drills, and jump rope
- Month three is lack-luster
Inferno Max Size
They’re not mincing words on this one. If you want to build muscle by getting absolutely jacked with a high-volume, mildly German routine, Athlean-X’s Inferno Max Size is a … hot choice.
This 12-week Athlean-X program is Planet Fitness’s worst nightmare. With a four-day split, “pro-pain finisher” 4 ½-minute burnout sets, supersets, 30-minute high intensity workouts, and self-esteem-busting challenges, Max Size cooks up a 12-week serving of regret (in a good way).
Cavaliere’s fitness program is a helicopter rescue for those caught atop plateaus for your lower and upper body.
But, be warned: while noobs attempt Max Size every day, only those with enough drive will outlast the next 12 weeks and achieve real muscle building.
- The training variety almost guarantees gainz (yes, with a Z)
- Its slow progression narrowly escapes burnout
- Hard-gainers can choose “size swaps”
- It’s once-weekly training for the first 57 days
- Phase three is nothing short of self-torture
Inferno Max Shred
We thought we saw it all with Tony Horton’s relentless military references in 22-Minute Hard Corps. But the Inferno Max Shred program miraculously have him beat.
Athlean-X describes this training program as a fat incinerator designed to lose body fat during 12 brutal weeks of cardio-centered training. Each workout features four intensity levels — or “alarms” — to guarantee a calorie-shredding workout that doesn’t force you to tap out.
Between the Heatwave Challenges, sessions to develop strength, speed-focused Burn-Up sessions, and women just generally yelling at you (yeah), Max Shred can burn fat like a hot furnace.
It’s one of the platform’s best-laid-out programs and recommends Shred Swaps, depending on your current body fat. So Max Shred is doable if you have the fire inside (see, we can do it too).
- Every workout is like the prize at the bottom of a box of Cracker Jacks — a surprise!
- The program has a noob-friendly, easy-follow layout
- You’ll slowly tiptoe toward “inferno”
- It features a lifetime worth of cardio
- The maxed-out leaderboard will taunt you
Wolverine Beastmode is a new Athlean-X fitness program and yet another opportunity for Jeff Cavaliere to exploit a theme until it’s unfunny.
This semi-X-Men-style program is a shortie — lasting 28 days — and designed to improve your body composition and maximize lean muscle mass in a month.
Cavaliere is typically hot-and-cold about bro splits, though Beastmode’s six-day split pays homage to the Swoly Bible, with workouts dedicated to the biceps and triceps.
Beast mode follows three condensed phases as you hunt down the scent of lean mass. From 90% 1RM reps in Animal Strength to slow ISO reps in Stalking to choppy reps in Ruthless Aggression, Wolverine Beastmode is a month-long hard gainer’s dream (without a meal plan).
- Isometric holds and negatives keep things spicy
- It’s just like your first high school relationship — over in four weeks
- Boredom is unlikely
- Don’t expect anything silly like a meal plan
- It’s ridiculously lax on frequency
Athlean-X’s obsession with adding X’s to their program titles is cringe-worthy at best. But we can look past Total Beaxst’s flat-out ridiculous title because, well, this program is a real doozy.
Total Beaxst busts the long-held myth that full-body workouts are either too tame for muscle building or only suitable for a YMCA senior fitness class. In reality, this 12-week program’s modes — Base, Beast, and Total Beast — adjust how “beastly” the Athlean-X workouts are based on your experience and overall fitness goal.
Whether it’s a standard total body workout (with compound exercises), corrective exercises in Beast Regeneration, pure power workouts, or challenges, Total Beaxst lives up to its name.
- Three intensity levels cater to all athletes
- You’ll end a more well-rounded athlete
- It’s the polar opposite of a bro-split
- There’s a risk of overtraining or quick burnout
Athlean-X’s Monster Maker program takes the ol’ throw-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-at-it approach to building a lean and savage physique.
This 12-week program leans on just about every training style known to man — powerlifting, bodybuilding, the whole nine yards — while also helping your hard-gainers pick up the slack. Your “monster maker” will be your #1 focus from here on out (unless it’s your calves or abs).
The whole program is pieced together like Frankenstein: an odd jumble of spare parts. So workouts designed to build muscle include 400-rep challenges, ladder sets, dynamic training, and classic circuits to push you to your breaking point.
- Size and shred swaps overshadow the cookie-cutter diet
- Lagging muscle groups become your “Monster Maker”
- Challenge days turn up the heat for a more competitive edge
- Training to failure and ridiculous rep counts are wasted reps
Athlean-X’s Ultimate Arms is an ode to our two favorite muscle groups — the biceps and triceps — with a little forearm action for the hell of it. The next six weeks are about building Popeye arms via high-volume training, including 18 arm sets in 24 minutes and five rounds of circuits.
(So FYI – it’s not for a complete beginner.)
But while strictly arm training for more than a month is heaven to your ears, that’s not this program. Each week also calls for push, pull, and leg workouts for true full-body hypertrophy.
If you’re a loud and proud ego-lifter with baggy-ass shirts, Ultimate Arms will give your biceps and triceps a run for their money and attempt to put on as much muscle as possible in those areas.
- It targets hard-gaining arms in roundabout ways
- Other muscles aren’t completely ignored
- It targets stubborn forearm muscles
- Non-arm muscles are an afterthought
- Where are the food substitutions?
Jeff Cavaliere’s TNT program is the bomb.com (couldn’t resist, sorry) is like calling 9-1-1 for your non-responsive muscles. Your “TNT” is a muscle of choice that you want to “blow up” during the next few weeks of training: Chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, or back.
This single-workout program — yes, you read that right — calls in reinforcements to explode growth, including supersets, pyramiding, rapid-fire sets, and more.
While a doable standalone workout, Cavaliere designed TNT as an AX-1 plugin. So if AX-1 uncovered stubborn-growers, these workouts would do the trick (unless it’s your legs).
- It picks up where AX-1 might leave off
- You don’t have to buy AX-1 too
- The TNT choice is up to you
- You can beat the gym crowds with the “home” option
- Each TNT is a separate purchase (training total body is expensive)
- It’s a rip-off for one lone workout
- There aren’t any leg TNTs
- Same-muscle supersets are … a choice
Core4 is an Athlean-X favorite that takes the anatomical, physiological, and biomechanical approach to sculpting six-pack abs ripped enough to serve margaritas while tanning.
This 12-week ab-only program divides your core into four sections: lumbar, obliques, upper/mid, and lower. Jeff Cavaliere will be your long-distance best friend by the end of Core4, with 4–6 workouts a week, <15 minutes a day, and bizarre exercises that make you say, “huh?”
If your current ab routine is a plank or hoping deadlifts leave you with a Zeus-like six-pack, Core4 will blow your mind and develop muscles you didn’t know existed.
- It features an in-module timer
- You can pair it with other Athlean-X programs
- All four zones of the core receive some TLC
- It’s beginner, intermediate, and advanced-friendly
- Good luck in the gym crowd!
- The instruc- — sorry — instruxions are bare
- The program is essentially six straight minutes of core work
The psychological impact of hitting a plateau can be devastating.
When your training breakthroughs stop, you hit an invisible wall that feels like it’ll never go away—and then wondering if this is just another plateaus or have I reached my genetic potential?
The anxiety is real!
But if you’re looking to break through those plateaus and finally take your body to the next level, Athlean-X’s Breakout muscle-growth plateau-busting 12-week routine might be what you need.
- You should see gains in the four major lifts
- There’s no cardio, speed, agility, or anything like that
- Every meal is laid out for the next 90 days
- Shows you how to target the weakest part of each lift
- Volume is just enough to boost progress
- Requires an extra $20 for lifetime program access
- You can’t open months two and three until you finish month one
- It’s a general plateau buster and doesn’t target specific plateaus
Athlean-X Resistance Bands
It wouldn’t be an Athlean-X product without a random “X” jammed somewhere in the name, and Cavaliere’s Elast-X Resistance Bands don’t disappoint (at least it’s better than “Beaxst”).
More than a decade ago, the fitness giant launched these elastic bands to raving fanfare that only skyrocketed during the pandemic. Athlean-X’s full-loop fitness bands come in three varieties: X-Treme (45–90 pounds), Classic “X” (5–40 pounds), and Hip Burner (5–10 pounds).
Are you only paying for the name? That’s debatable.
Reports of these bands snapping or wearing thin are far and few between. Even better, the extra resistance without doubling up on bands adds a more simplistic touch to at-home workouts and exercises like squats, triceps kickbacks, and shoulder thrusters.
- The bands are still flying off shelves ten years later
- The X-Treme Band supplies 90 pounds of resistance
- Getting a refund is easier said than done
- There aren’t any handles or attachments
Which Athlean-X Program is Best?
AX-1 Training Camp is a great program for revolutionizing your physique in 90 days. The transitions from doughy, skinny fat, or “out of shape” to aesthetic are impossible to deny.
But in this Athlean-X review, we don’t call this the best program lightly.
It’s the entire package that makes it the best (or since this is Athlean-X we’re talking about — the BEXST). AX-1 is the best in the line-up because:
- The phase one strength training emphasis will pull you in from day one.
- The three distinct phases keep training exciting and can help you dodge plateaus.
- While you can’t escape cardio entirely, the Max Metabolic Overdrive phase will assist with burning fat as efficiently as possible.
- The Athlean-X-wide challenges bring a sense of competition (optional).
- It’s as beginner-friendly as Athlean-X programs come.
- AX-1 doesn’t require any elaborate equipment — just basic gym gear!
- The meal plan has “Shred” and “Size” swaps to help you better reach your goals.
- Cardio days are self-paced, and your weight selection during weight training depends on your 1RMs.
- The program is intense enough to produce results and tamed down enough to experience success.
- Once you survive this 90-day program, you’ll function more like an athlete and be ready to tackle just about any other program in the Athlean-X franchise.
Of course, there’s no real “correct program”. It depends on your goals.
If you love calisthenics, Xero is your answer, and Core4 might be your top choice if you want carved-out abs.
Customer Service User Reviews
As newbies, we learn best from trial and error. But one mistake we almost always learn the hard way is taking the word of fitness “legends” as the Holy Gospel.
What do you do if you think Athlean-X system you bought isn’t a great program. Or, a nagging injury from high school could make its dreaded comeback, or you realize too late, “I don’t have a squat rack!”
What do Athlean-X users have to say about the platform’s customer service department? We dug knee-deep into the Athlean-X customer service reviews to decide on pros and cons.
- If you accidentally buy a program twice, Athlean-X will gladly refund you. Why they wouldn’t warn you before the purchase is somewhat baffling.
- Customer service is a decent help for technical issues. They may even offer a refund if your browser is incompatible with the portal and videos.
- The entire team will go out of its way to answer your questions and help you feel comfortable in the portal and following Cavaliere’s programs.
- Athlean-X sometimes transfers purchases to other programs if the program you do buy is out of your league.
- If you read program reviews (like this guide), choose the right program, and verify you have the right equipment, you’ll never interact with customer service!
- The only real complaints about dealing with customer service is from customers who’ve tried to request refunds simply because they didn’t enjoy the program ….
- Don’t expect a refund no matter how polite your “cancel” email is or how upsetting your sob story is. But since the programs are 100% digital, we can’t blame ‘em. What’s stopping users from screenshotting and then begging for their money back?
- It’s a little unclear about when users are eligible for refunds.
Really, this is not a program you can just “try out” to burn some excess fat before requesting a refund.
Athlean-X vs P90X vs SX12
Athlean-X and P90X hit the airwaves in the mid-2000s and proved that fine wine wasn’t the only thing in life that ages gracefully. Jeff Cavaliere and Tony Horton are still among the most well-respected names in the craft and have since recruited millions of ripped groupies.
But what happens when you pit Athlean-X vs P90X? And, if you toss a third program into the octagon — Superhero X12 — which one reigns victorious?
Wonder no longer! We compared the pros and cons of each program to decide once and for all which X-rated routine (wait, not like that!) is best for noob gains.
Read the full comparison here.
Athlean-X vs V Shred
There’s a deep online divide between Athlean-X and V Shred advocates and naysayers.
Those in the “support” corner rely on the programs’ results, with many dropping 15–20 pounds in 90 days and packing on well-defined lean mass. The haters claim both fitness gurus are phonies — Cavaliere for his “fake weights” and Sant for not knowing a lick of anything.
But how do Athlean-X and V Shred compare when head-to-head? Both V Shred and Athlean-X offer per-program rates, dozens of programs, and detailed diet and training schedules.
Yet, they’re also vastly different. Newbies and intermediates alike dub Athlean-X sustainable and impressive, while V-Shred kick-starts weight loss and helps you escape plateaus (for now).
Sample Athlean-X Meal Plan
In 2019, Jeff Cavaliere finally revealed the top-secret nutrition plan behind his ripped, 5.8% body fat physique that puts him in the same fitness tier as professional athletes.
The answer is three meals (plus dessert) a day, choosing not to count calories, and a never-satisfied appetite.
Cavaliere explains the Athlean-X Meal Plan as much more than a fat-burning, mass-gaining machine. Instead, this 3,000-calorie, nutrient-rich guide will walk you through the body transformation of an athlete — that apparently includes a s***-ton of whipped cream.
From an 850-calorie breakfast to a stuffed grilled chicken wrap for lunch to a cup of fat-free ice cream every night, the Athlean-X diet plan already sounds better than a lot of other diets out there.
- It’s sustainable, with plenty of food variety
- The plan doesn’t side-step carbs and fats
- The full day of eating racks up 3,000+ calories
- You need to sacrifice cheap, good, or fast
- Could be more flexible
Check out the meal plan for yourself: Is The Athlean X Meal Plan Legit? (Full Day Of Eating Review)
Athlean-X Doesn’t Promote Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is only the latest dietary trend to tear the scientific and fitness communities in half.
On the one hand, IF shows plenty of promise, with the results of 27 trials proving that losing up to 13% body weight is possible. Even Mike Matthews, author of Bigger Leaner Stronger admits that IF can be a useful fat-loss tool.
But IF opponents suggest that the regimen is no different than standard calorie restrictions or even fad diets like juicing.
Athlean-X’s stance against intermittent fasting caught plenty by surprise in 2012. Then, Jeff Cavaliere doubled down on his opinion again in 2014 with his clickbait-y video, “Does Intermittent Fasting KILL MUSCLE?”
In a nutshell, Cavaliere speaks against intermittent fasting because he believes it’s unsustainable to lose fat over the long term.
Promoting diets that can be followed for the rest of your life puts Cavaliere’s mindset in the right place, but saying IF is unsustainable?
Tell that to our founder, Kyle, who’s been skipping breakfast for the last decade with no problems.
Sample Core Workout
Jeff Cavaliere’s physique proves that dad bods aren’t inevitable after 30 or 40. So when fans begged Cavaliere for a FREE core workout, the legend — with abs sharp enough to double as a cheese grater — sure as hell delivered.
The so-called “PERFECT Abs Workout” defies the typical core regimen. Instead of thousands of reps and elbow-killin’ planks, Cavaliere simplifies it: seven exercises stuffed into <15 minutes to gain muscle.
This fast-paced sample core puts no-muscle-left-behind in action with its bottom-up pattern. You’ll crank out 30–60 seconds’ worth of quality reps per exercise before calling it quits!
- It targets every forgotten core muscle
- The bottom-up progression prevents early workout fatigue
- Cavaliere designed it with biomechanics in mind
- The workout disregards set and rep goals
Typical Athlean-X Results
Athlean-X has quite the hot-cold reputation in the fitness community. The near 50-50 strangely passionate divider includes two types of people:
- Newbies who think Jeff Cavaliere is the second coming of Jesus himself
- Amateur bodybuilders with a bone to pick on bodybuilding forums who label Cavaliere a greedy, fake-weight-lifting, B.S.-spewing quack who doesn’t come close to selling the best program for beginners
If you have a free Friday night and a bottle of Jack, watching these keyboard warriors fight to the death offers the same cringe factor as watching The Big Bang Theory without a laugh track.
(It’s self-torture, but it hurts so good.)
Yet, it’s tough to argue with the results and progress picture that Athlean-X users share online. Some of the most impressive success stories we’ve seen include:
- Gaining eight pounds of lean mass and shedding 4% body fat in six months
- Adding 1” to the biceps and 1 ½” to the chest during one round of Beast
- Dropping 6.7 pounds of fat while gaining 7.9 pounds of muscle in three 90 days
- Twenty pounds of weight loss by the end of X-1 plus more defined core muscles
Of course, you’ll also stumble across users expressing disappointing results or regretting their program choice. We’ll put it this way: if you choose the right program, you’ll see results.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Most Athlean-X programs are self-explanatory or figureoutable (not a real word, yet … but it will be one day) if you click around enough. But if you don’t want to dig for answers, here you go:
Does Athlean-X Work?
If you scroll through Athlean-X’s reviews and testimonials page, the dad-bod-to-ripped transformations will look nothing short of unbelievable!
Some of Athlean-X’s success stories include elite athletes like New York Mets’ player David Wright, users who’ve dropped 60 pounds and chiseled a six-pack, and former hard-gainers.
Then again, it’d be silly to advertise before-and-after pictures where there aren’t any major differences. Or worse — the before shot is more aesthetic than the second (the ‘ol switcheroo).
So does Athlean-X really work? Given its high-intensity and intermediate-friendly design, Athlean-X does work if you:
- Commit to the training and diet plans (if applicable)
- Set your sights on progressive overload with good form
- Fuel your body with a proper calorie and macronutrient breakdown to encourage muscle growth and fat-burning
- Use scientifically backed supplements like creatine and whey protein
Whether your physique 90 days from now resembles those in the testimonials depends on your starting point and your personal effort.
Heck, even if the best program can’t change a lazy dud.
So it could take several rounds of Athlean-X programs to get truly lean or ripped.
How Long are Athlean-X Workouts?
Athlean-X workouts are about middle-of-the-road as far as length goes.
Most strength and resistance-training workouts last just 15–40 minutes. But some might eclipse the hour mark if you extend your rest periods or take your sweet time reloading weights.
Some workouts in the franchise are naturally long. For example, a few rogue Beaxst, Monster Maker, and Max Size sessions are closer to 60 minutes or more.
But, generally, you should expect to spend 30–45 minutes with the free weights each day.
Since Cavaliere isn’t a fan of steady-state cardio, aerobic training is a very different story. The occasional cardio session on your schedule will be high-intensity “burst-style” training instead.
These sessions usually last no longer than 15–20 minutes at a time.
Now, how long do the programs themselves last?
The most popular programs — like AX-1 and Total Beast — sit at 12 weeks. Xero is half that (45 days), Wolverine: Beastmode is 30 days, and TNT lasts as long as you’re still seeing results.
How Much Do Programs Cost?
An aesthetic physique is an investment, and, boy, does Jeff Cavaliere drive that point home.
Similar to Kinobody, many of Athlean-X’s best-selling programs come with a one-time $97 fee or three monthly payments of $39.99 for lifetime access.
So don’t be surprised when the cost of the program hits your card.
Shorter, specialized programs like Wolverine: Beastmode run closer to $49.99*.
(* = All prices are subject to change.)
The real question is, how do Athlean-X prices compare to other fitness alternatives, like a standard gym membership or Beachbody On Demand?
|Platform/Method||Estimated Cost||Offers Access To|
|Standard Gym||$58/month (or $696/year)||Unlimited gym equipment & free or discounted fitness classes|
|Planet Fitness||$10/month + $39 annual fee (or $159/year)||Unlimited gym equipment & free or discounted fitness classes|
|Beachbody (12-Month Membership)||$99/year||Beachbody’s entire program line-up, including P90X and Insanity|
|Athlean-X (One 90-Day Program)||$97/year||One purchased program|
|Athlean-X (Four 90-Day Programs)||$388/year||Four purchased program|
If cost is an issue, a Planet Fitness membership or Beachbody On Demand subscription will offer more bang for your buck than Athlean-X.
Does Athlean-X Offer Refunds?
Unfortunately, Athlean-X doesn’t offer refunds or returns on digital program downloads unless you accidentally buy the same program twice. You can file a request to refund one here.
Yet, the platform may accept returns within 30 days for its physical products, such as Athlean-X resistance bands.
So how do you avoid flushing $97 down the toilet on a program that doesn’t fit your needs?
- Check out the official Athlean-X subreddit (r/athleanx). If you want some perspective from those who’ve completed the programs, Reddit is your answer. Ask members whether a program is doable with a pre-existing injury, no training experience, or combined with another program.
- Read honest program reviews. The official Athlean-X website and groupies on Reddit may not offer the no-holds-barred, brutally honest information needed to guide your decision. Honest reviews — like those above — reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Does Athlean-X Have an App?
Athlean-X does not have a full-platform app as of November 2021, though it’s one of the most requested upgrades from fans on Reddit, YouTube, and Facebook.
However, Jeff Cavaliere does have an app called “6 Pack Promise” available for free on both the App Store (Apple) and Google Play Store (Android).
This mostly free app features:
- An eating plan with three meals plus one snack a day and a shuffle option (though, it’s not entirely clear whether this is for maintenance, cutting, or bulking)
- Eight weeks of five-days-a-week ab workouts for building muscle
- Videos and voice-overs explaining how to perform each exercise with good form
- A brief description of why each exercise deserves a spot in the workout (i.e., lower abs)
- A “Learn” section highlighting other training tips
- The option to “shuffle” a workout with different equipment and fitness levels in mind
It wouldn’t be a modern app without a “pro” version to buy. So if you’re willing to splurge, you’ll gain access to 105 exercises, a 90-day program, workout shuffles, and a 90-day meal plan.
Athlean-X Review – The Verdict
Athlean-X is a popular fitness brand with a library of digital workout programs and supplements designed to help you gain muscle and get leaner like a professional athlete.
Most programs appear to deliver expected results as long as the workouts and meal plans are followed without too much cheating.
Overall, the Athlean-X brand uses extreme athleticism as its main selling point. The programs should work and they are reasonably-priced.
Rating: 8.0 out of 10
But There’s a Another Option
Athlean-X has you spending 5 days+ per week in the gym, asks you to pull out your credit card for every new fitness goal you want to tackle, and then slaps the cake and cookies out of your hand when you’re sick of “eating clean”.
Want a different solution that molds to your current lifestyle?
We think Superhero X12 is a good option.
Superhero X12 saves you money since all the tools you need to reach multiple fitness goals at different experience levels are all in one program.
|Fitness Levels||Multiple||1 per|
|Fitness Goals||Multiple||1 per|
|5x or more|
|2-Day Workout Option|
Superhero X12 gives you back your free time by starting you with just 3 workouts per week that are efficient and effective.
Finally, Superhero X12 let’s you eat your favorite foods every day so you can lose body fat and build muscle following a diet that you LOVE!
So if you want a complete system that shows you how to build a lean and muscular body without turning fitness into a chore, check out Superhero X12 today.
Build a Superhero Body Without Training Like One
Getting in shape isn't easy. But this program gives you a real-life approach to building a leaner, more muscular body without obsessing over fitness 24/7.