ChaLean Extreme: Lean Circuit

Chalene Johnson
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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This DVD contains 3 separate workouts. A previous reviewer has done a great job breaking down each one. I've really liked this set, and so far the lean circuits are definitely the most challenging phase. I personally liked #1 and #3 the best. #1 really fries the biceps and I just love a good bicep workout. #2 I wasn't really in love with. I felt the compound exercises were really awkward in this one, and found myself doing only the upper body portion much of the time. #3 was the hardest shoulder workout I've done in a long time. (for reference, I'm no P90x'er or STS'er who would probably find this workout easier). OUCH is all I can say, 3 days after doing #3! I really loved the exercises in #3, I felt they fit together well and were effective for both upper and lower body.



Chalean Extreme Lean Circuit

These three circuits make up the third and final phase of the CLX strength program. As with all three phases, there are three workouts (all on one DVD, a separate DVD for each phase) and they are about 45 minutes each, making them the longest, and most challenging, of the three phases. Exactly like the other phases, they all have the same warm up and cool down and they are all synchronized carefully to music. They once again changed the tunes for the warm up and cool down changed from the Burn and Push workouts, so although the moves are exactly the same, it has a new and refreshed feel to it. There is a different tune for the warm up, each exercise, and the cool down. I found the music to be very encouraging and refreshing, with an appropriate tempo for each move. As with the Burn and Push workouts, Chalene works out with four other individuals, in an open gym (again with the “sexy” men and women on the TV screens in the back wall). The timer bar is exactly the same as is the somewhat hard to decipher font. If you follow the rotation as recommended, you will complete the Lean workouts 1, 2, and 3 once each per week for a total of four weeks and 12 workouts, before completing the CLX rotation (there is a “Lean for Life” rotation which can be indefinitely followed after this rotation is completed). This phase had the most creative moves (and LOADS of core engagement) making it the least boredom prone of the three phases. Many on the VF forum (as well as Chalene) said that this is the phase that the inches really melt off, thanks to the core engagement and extra calories burned due to the longer workouts, I assume.

As in the Burn and Push Circuit workouts, there are four background exercisers, one of which demonstrates the exercises with bands, one demonstrates beginner modifications, and one (along with Chalene) demonstrates using SelectTech weights. The production quality of course is the same throughout the series (high quality), as are the Beach Body commercials, which again can be skipped through (four skips to the workout!)

Although I followed Burn and Push very closely and continually increased my poundage, the Lean phase hit me like a brick and I burned out after two weeks (not completing the final two weeks, regrettably). She wanted you to meet your poundage from the Push or at least the Burn phase, and I found this unrealistic. I think that is why I was unable to complete the phase. I do however see how this phase would make you the most cut and lean of the three (definitely appropriately named “Lean”) and I did enjoy the balance and core engagement focus in this phase. The Lean Phase was easily the most challenging of the three phases (as I think would be generally agreed upon), and a logical final phase of the program. This phase returns to compound moves, and Chalene wants you to fail between 12-15 reps. There is also a “Get Extreme” set after EVERY exercise, making it really a 15-18 rep before failure, in my opinion. The variety in exercises here is excellent, very high quality, creative, balance and core challenging, and overall I definitely felt challenged.

Overall I give the CLX Lean Circuit phase an A+ for good music, challenging and interesting exercises, and excellent instruction. However I would advise that you reduce poundage because this is really more of an endurance workout than a slow and heavy workout, like the other two phases. The workouts are so challenging and thorough that even though I did not finish them, I am eager to get back to them (even as a standalone phase without the other CLX workouts) because they were so well designed. Personally I think Circuit #1 (biceps and triceps) was the hardest of the three.

Lean Circuit #1
The first circuit is made up of the following exercises:
1. Warm up
2. Single Calf Raise with Bicep Curl (with nonworking leg raised, a balance challenge!)
3. Tricep Pushups
4. Split Lunge with Pushups
5. Stationary Runners Lunge with Double Triceps Extension
6. Bicep Curl with Hamstring Curl (uses lavender band tied around ankles, really intensifies the move)
7. Plank with Single Tricep Extension
8. Reverse Lunge with Double Bicep Curl
9. Supine Tricep Extension
10. Sumo Squat Calf Raise with Biceps Curl (balance challenge!)
11. Cool down

Lean Circuit #2
The second circuit is made up of the following exercises:
1. Warm up
2. Sumo Squat with Anterior Delt Lift (uses one weight held with both hands)
3. Double Arm Row with Single Leg Lift (uses band around ankles, leg lifts behind as in single leg dead lift, very balance challenging, almost a little awkward to execute)
4. Single Hamstring Curl with Lateral Raise (uses band around ankles)
5. Runners Lunge with Double Arm Row
6. Lateral Raise with Abduction (uses band around ankles, another balance challenge!)
7. Plank with Single Arm Row (I would suggest lighter poundage here)
8. Reverse Lunge with One Arm Lateral Raise (anterior lift)
9. Posterior Deltoid Raise with Leg Lift (in table position with opposite arm and leg working, this really works the core!)
10. Squat with Double Arm Anterior Delt Lift
11. Cool down

Lean Circuit #3
The third circuit is made up of the following exercises:
1. Warm up
2. Squat with Cross Body Chop (single weight held with both hands, start at bottom left and move to top right, repeat on other side)
3. Reverse Lunge and Arnold Press (narrow military press)
4. Chest Fly with Hip Lift (bridge)
5. Kneeling Overhead Press and Center Crunch (great core work here)
6. Push Ups with Side Plank (more great core work)
7. Dead Lift with Frontal Press (core is engaged here as well)
8. Traveling Pushups
9. Chest Fly with Leg Lower (to engage lower abs, uses band wrapped around ankles)
10. Army Crawl (similar to mountain climbers)
11. Cool down

Instructor Comments:
Chalene is motivational, encouraging, and is an excellent cuer. She does however only do a few reps with you (the first couple and the last couple) and the rest of the time she walks around the room critiquing others’ form, pointing out modifications, and having the camera person zoom in on somebody’s particularly well cut muscle. So in that sense she doesn’t really “do” the workout with you, which seems to be a common Beach Body occurrence (and I can see the positives of doing it this way) although I tend to prefer when the instructor works out with you. This was my first experience with Chalene (after her Burn and Lean circuits) and I feel like she is a very good instructor. She is cheerful and chatty but not annoyingly so.

Emily B.