My Two Cents: Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution

As I am now two days away from finishing this program, I thought I’d give you an idea of what it is and what it does. Almost everyone knows of Jillian Michaels by now. She has been a celebrity trainer on several seasons of “The Biggest Loser” and has her own collection of cookbooks and workout DVDs. Her motivational style is often described as “drill sergeant”, so if getting yelled at by someone on your tv screen, Jillian might not be the trainer for you. Personally, I tend to yell back and that gets me through most workouts.

Body Revolution is, in my opinion, Jillian’s answer to all those two- and three-month workout programs BeachBody has been cranking out, and as such, it stands up fairly well to the behemoth. You get twelve strength workouts and three cardio workouts, divided up over three phases, each phase lasting four weeks. Each phase is subdivided into two two-week mini phases. Confused? Here’s what month 1 looks like:

Weeks 1 and 2:

WO 1, WO 2, Cardio 1, WO 1, WO 2, Cardio 1, off

Weeks 3 and 4:

WO 3, WO 4, Cardio 1, WO 3, WO 4, Cardio 1, off

The strength workouts consist of four circuits interspersed with four minutes of cardio exercise. The cardio programs consist of circuits of varying numbers of individual exercises that are repeated three times. The entire program is progressive, incorporating more and more plyometric (jumping) moves as you go along.

Basically, you’ll only be doing each single strength workout four times before switching to the next level. The cardio workout stays the same for the entire four weeks. This allows you to build up strength while at the same time providing new stimulation for your muscles so they continue to be challenged ( the principle of muscle confusion). As you likely won’t be using very heavy weights, this will keep you and your body stimulated. How heavy should you go? Jillian and crew use three sets of weights, 3, 5 and 8 pounds. You will find that for some exercises you can go heavier, so if you do have extra weights at home, keep them nearby. You will also need an exercise mat and a cable. If you order Body Revolution from Jillian’s site, you will get one of her cables included. If you order from Amazon, you will not. I used some of the tubing we have from our BeachBody programs, and that worked fine. As your strength increases, you may need cables or tubing of varying resistance.

Before I go on, I should tell you a bit about me as an exerciser. I love strength exercises and prefer heavier weights than the ones used here. However, as a rule, Jillian will ask you to go through most exercises fairly speedily to give you an aerobic effect and burn extra calories. I also have huge problems with balance, so especially in the later phases, I modified. A lot. Do not be afraid to! Finally, I have joint issues that prevent me from being able to, as instructors like to say, land softly on my feet. This stresses my knees. Again, I did the best I could and modified where I couldn’t. So that’s me.

Overall, I had a good time and found the program effective. Since I don’t weigh myself, I can’t say if and how much weight I lost, but I’ve definitely toned up nicely and improved my overall strength. What I really didn’t like was the increasing appearance of plyo during the cardio intervals. Cardio 1 and 2 each included a couple of moves I wasn’t very good at, but as the month progressed, so did I . Cardio 3 felt terrible from the get-go, and after three tries, I gave it up and added running to my routine, instead. Normally, even if a routine is difficult, I plod through it and end up pleasantly exhausted. Cardio 3 frustrated me to the point where I’d actually come out of is aggressive. Dropping it helped. I also modified the cardio intervals during the last two weeks in the strength routines. For example, instead of cannonball jumps, I’d run in place or do buttkicks.

Is this program for everyone? No. And I’ve never said that about a program before! If you have knee, back, spinal or wrist problems, it is imperative you discuss this routine with your doctor first. You will spend a lot of time doing variations on planks, squats and lunges and pushups! Also, in WO 12 there is a -in my opinion- rather pointless move called Wheel Pushups which, when done incorrectly, can lead to serious injury. If you are not able to do a wheel (see yoga), please don’t. I simply left it out but you could substitute a different exercise instead, like a reverse plank. If you are a beginner, don’t be afraid to try this. Modify if you have to. Go slowly. Don’t be afraid to drop your weights if they are too heavy. Pay attention to form first and foremost and worry about reps later.

Some reviewers on Amazon complained that they didn’t feel challenged enough. If you are a fitness competitor, you should probably not waste your time and money on this program (but you wouldn’t anyway, would you). As a regular intermediate or advanced exerciser, take advantage of the “up button” moves: do more, go heavier, go faster, modify up.

I hope I’ve touched on the important points. If you have questions, leave me a comment.



3 thoughts on “My Two Cents: Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution

    • Excellent question, Erin. If you really enjoyed the program, you could do it over and follow the more advanced options. You could switch to one of Jillian’s other programs. Or you could move on to something different entirely.

      I found Phase 3 so frustrating that I didn’t even finish it. Instead, I took a break, did some yoga and then moved on. I’ve since done TurboJam, PiYo (which left me unimpressed), and some other stuff but my favorite workout program is Les Mills’ Body Combat which I’m doing for the second time now. Les Mills and BeachBody have parted ways since the program came out, which might actually be good news for me: Les Mills programs now have their own website ( and can be purchased via an on-demand subscription. I may try this later on this year.

      Meanwhile, I’m also having fun with Shaun T’s Cize, which is a dance-y kind of program created to last four weeks. If I have time before I go to Australia in April, I may give DDP Yoga a try. Yes, we own a LOT of workout DVDs! 😀

      If you feel like mixing things up but don’t want to spend a lot of money, try the DVD section of your local library or check a charity shop in your area for cheap, used DVDs.

    • Fitness Blender on You Tube has a variety of free workouts. You provide your own music (as that is where the cost lies). They have a range of difficulty, and tons of workouts.

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