Workout Program Showdown: ChaLean Extreme vs. T25

16 Jul

The showdown begins!  What showdown?  The big decision: now that I can’t do Insanity, which program will I do?  The opponents?  ChaLean Extreme and T25.  Both of these programs are by Beachbody (the makers of P90X and Insanity), which is a company I really like, and have found success with lately.  Why do I like their programs so much?  Well, frankly, I am kind of lazy.  I enjoy the pre-packaged style of these programs.  They normally are for a set length of time (2 or 3 months) and include a diet plan as well.  Essentially all I have to do is follow the recipe to success!  I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  For me, this system works great as I really enjoy structure.  I like making and meeting milestones, and seeing progress.  Both of these programs will allow for structure, direction, and motivation.  Personally, without a set plan I tend not have quite as much success with fitness.  I will definitely remain active on my own, but having the structure is the little oomph I need (especially with all the weddings coming up – no pressure or anything :)).

Thanks to Beachbody’s satisfaction guarantee,  I actually was able to return Insanity and will now buy a lower impact program due to my knees.  What a win!  I’m so excited to select my next program and get going.  I have not done either ChaLean Extreme or T25 before, so they will be a completely new experience to me.

Wedding Fitness Goals

With 90 days until my brother’s wedding and 186 until my own, let’s just say my desire for fitness might be taking on a slightly more vain approach than usual.  Well, to be perfectly honest, I just don’t want to have to pay to get either dress altered (haha just call me el cheapo).  My bridesmaid dress for my brother’s wedding barely zips.  I’m talking barely.


It zipped…thank goodness!

My own wedding dress fits snugly, but I don’t want any anxiety about either fitting.  I’m looking for a program that will help me tone and lose just a few pounds.  I also don’t want to lose too much weight – that means alterations as well!  Thanks to P90X I’m pretty close to where I’d like to be, so I’m also not looking for anything crazy extreme.

Detailed Personal Fitness Goals:
  • Trim and tone – looking for a lean look (think of all the pictures!!)
  • Working out up to 1 hour per day.  Ideally 5 days a week. (I like making fitness a priority, but want to also have a life :))
  • Low impact.  I can’t do anything that would mess up my knees.  My doctor said any exercises with heavy squats or angles on my knees are a no-go.
  • Enjoyable.  I tend to work out in the morning and I hate the morning (it’s a problem).  I want something I can look forward to.
  • Variety!  I love programs that have different workouts every day and give a lot of variety in the type of workout.
  • Easy to follow – make it simple for me.  I don’t want to think (remember, I’m lazy).
  • Lifting component.  I feel like I’m losing my strength from P90X – okay I’m definitely losing my strength.  I miss weight training.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these programs.  First up… ChaLean Extreme.

ChaLean Extreme


From Beachbody’s website:

Get ready to burn fat, boost your metabolism, and get lean with ChaLEAN Extreme®. Trainer Chalene Johnson will help you build toned muscles so you can lose up to 60 percent of your body fat in just 3 months. ChaLEAN Extreme is designed to give you visible results in only 30 days.

Chalene’s Lean Phasing® technique shifts your body’s fat-burning focus from cardio to resistance training. By using weights or resistance bands, you’ll build lean muscle and ramp up your metabolism. When you have more muscle, you’ll burn fat long after your workout.

The details:

  • 90 day program
  • All days are under an hour, with the shortest around 35 minutes.
  • 6 days a week.
  • Nutrition guide included (Recipes though, which I stink at)
  • 15 workouts included
  • Variety of strength-training, cardio, and abs
  • Focus on lifting – similar to P90X in this sense.
  • Very positive reviews on Team Beachbody
  • Low impact and modifications shown in the DVDs

And on the other side of the ring, Focus T25, the brand new program from Beachbody.

 Focus T25


From Beachbody’s website:


The only thing standing between you and the results you want is TIME.

Shaun T experimented for the last year to design a program that delivers the same kind of results you’d expect from an hour-long program, in under 30 minutes. He’s pulled out the rest to give you everything you need, nothing you don’t.

The result is FOCUS T25—and the name implies the intent: If you focus your intensity for 25 minutes, and you do it 5 days a week, you WILL get results.

The details:

  • 25 minutes a day
  • 5 days a week
  • Nutrition plan included
  • No reviews yet on Team Beachbody – it’s too new!
  • A little concerned it could be too high impact, though I’ve been told it’s not. Also seems that there are low impact modifications.
  • 10 week program
  • No equipment needed
  • 11 workouts
  • Variety of workouts
  • Simple movements and straight-forward instruction.

The Decision

Such a tough choice!  It seems like I’ll be in great shape (no pun intended, though it is a clever one ;)) with either option.  I may eventually do both of them, it’s just a matter of which one first!  I’m leaning toward ChaLean Extreme first to give my knees more time to recover…but I like the idea of T25 first because it might be more cardio focused and requires less time…remember the tiny Bridesmaid dress, yeah I need that to fit.  Will all the lifting in ChaLean Extreme cause me and my ginormous muscles to be busting out of the dress?  I’ve been thinking over the decision a lot lately and still can’t quite make up my mind.  Any ideas from those of you that have done either of these programs?

Until the decision is made… Happy Tuesday!


Have you done ChaLean Extreme or T-25?  What do you think is better? 

(Note: I do not work for Beachbody, coach, or have family/close friends that do, additionally I will be purchasing either program using my own money).

18 Responses to “Workout Program Showdown: ChaLean Extreme vs. T25”

  1. hkzwart July 16, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    Of course you know I’ll comment on this one! :) First off, I’m absolutely right with you on the “packaged programs.” I love having a plan and working it, too. One of my latest FB posts said, “Ok, time to fess up. I do NOT like to exercise…. For me, it’s a discipline. I do it because I know it’s good for me.” Finding the RIGHT program though helps build the discipline so that it BECOMES fun. Since I AM a Beachbody coach :), I love helping others find the right programs, too… so here goes. You will find ChaLEAN Extreme to be very similar to P90X but a little less intense. I sometimes talk about it being “P90X for women.” Since you’ve already done P90X you will likely find it a slight step down in intensity. There are a lot of squats, though some are modifiable. Chalene is the highlight! She’s my favorite Beachbody trainer, so I like anything she does. I’m currently 3 weeks into T25 and it’s the most intense Beachbody workout I’ve done. I, too, returned Insanity (4 years ago) due to a chronic knee issue. I haven’t had any tweaking on my knee with T25 so far and haven’t used the modifications. If you follow the modifier, you will have options for eliminating some squats, lunges, and jumping. One of my current Challenge Group participants has had two knee surgeries and into week 2 he’s doing fine with the modified program (and is down 6.5 pounds!). As long as you’re smart, you’ll be okay. And, whew, burning 350-400 calories in 25 minutes is amazing. It’s a sweat-fest! No weights involved until the “Gamma” phase if you choose to add it after the first two phases (5 weeks each). Hope that gives you a little more insight! :)

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

      This is awesome! THANK YOU so much for your thoughts!! You actually have me leaning a bit more towards T25! I’m actually going to be moving in with my future inlaws in 3 months and I’m thinking that Adam’s mom might like ChaLean Extreme… so I might wait until November to do that one with her. I’ve heard Chalene is just amazing. I definitely want to give it a go at some point. T25 seems like it might help me fit into my super tight bridesmaid dress in October! :) And I’m surprised to hear that it isn’t giving you any knee issues, that’s really encouraging! Thank you thank you for the insight!! I’ll let you know what I end up going with!

      • hkzwart July 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

        You are so welcome! I like the idea of you doing ChaLEAN Extreme with your mother-in-law to be. That will likely be a better fit than T25 for her! Friday’s are “double days,” meaning for optimal results, there are two 25 minute programs. It’s optional though (you can just do one or spread it out to a 6th day). Week #1 doubles was a bit tweaky on my knee (without modifications), but week #2 was fine. Every week the 5 workouts change rotation, so the doubles is always a different combo. I’d highly suspect you’ll fit into that dress in October!! Seriously though, how are you not a coach yet?? :)

        • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 17, 2013 at 8:05 am #

          Sounds good, yeah I’m thinking T25 might be the right thing for now! :) And I know…I’ve thought about coaching but honestly I like having an unbiased opinion…even though I like beachbody so I am biased in that sense ;) thanks again for all the help!

          • hkzwart July 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

            Thought about you today while doing T25 Lower Body. That’s a tough one to modify. Lots of squats and lunges. Not high impact, but still lots of knee strain. You’ll have to see if you can manage that one or need to find an alternative when that one comes up in the rotation. When/if the timing is right for coaching, you’ll know it. In the meantime, enjoy your “unbiased” status! :)

  2. crazyfitfun July 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Hi, I’ve been doing T25 for 9 days now. I’m still in the Alpha phase. I can tell you my experience so far with it. I am not a Beachbody coach either. But I also had success with their programs and have done research about different programs. I agree with hkzwart that I heard that ChaLEAN Extreme was like P90X but less intense. I think this would be a good program to tone up your body. T25 has a lot of cardio and it is a very sweaty workout. Alpha phase has 5 different workouts. Cardio, Speed 1.0, Total Body Circuit, Ab Intervals, and Lower Body Focus.
    The good thing about T25 is that it has a modifier. There is Tonya doing lower impact modifications the whole way through. And even if the modifier is doing something that you can quite do you can try to find a way that it is comfortable to you. I did that a couple of times.
    Cardio: It has things like running in place, jumping jacks, some lunges and squats.
    Speed 1.0: It was bursts of fast cardio and then stretches.
    Total Body Circuit: Lots of planks, pushups, walking pushups, some lunges, and squats.
    Ab intervals: Ab work on the floor, planks, don’t remember much only did it once so far.
    Lower Body: Squats and lunges lots of reps. But remember there is the modifier. That might help take the impact away from the knee.
    Fridays are double days but you can do one of them on Saturday instead and Sunday there is a stretch routine.
    I haven’t done Beta phase or Gamma phase but Beta seems like the same idea and rotation but different and more advanced routines. I heard Gamma ads strength and weights so if you want the whole deal of leaning and toning buying the package with Gamma might be a good option.

    I hope this information was useful. I have a couple of videos up of Cardio and Total Body Circuit so you can have some idea of how it looks like. Skip the parts I’m talking Day 1 Cardio starts at :13 and Day 3 Total Body starts at :44. Both videos are up on my blog.

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 17, 2013 at 8:03 am #

      Wow this is incredibly helpful!! It definitely seems like I would be able to modify and make it work for me knees. I’m definitely leaning toward T25 now. Many thanks again!!

  3. Brittany July 16, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    I haven’t tried any of these programs..I REALLY want to do P90X though!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 17, 2013 at 8:02 am #

      Yeah I’m excited to give them a try. You know me- I’d definitely recommend giving P90X a try- I loved it!

    • hkzwart July 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

      Hi Brittany! As both a P90X graduate and now a P90X Qualified Beachbody Coach, I’d highly recommend it. It was my entry program into Beachbody 4+ years ago and based on the results I’ve always gotten with their programs, I couldn’t help but become a coach. I was just like Kelly… a huge Beachbody fan and customer first. I’d love to help you get started if you’re ready. Send me a note on my blog or msg me at We can see if this program truly is the right one for you!

  4. Reba- Not So Perfect Life July 17, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    I loved Insanity, I am definitely trying out the T25 workout just because I love Shawn T, I love his positive attitude. I have not heard of the other program though. I like that it involved weights.

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 18, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Yeah I’ll be curious – I never did Insanity so this will be my first experience with Shawn T if I go for it. I do like using weights – so I will miss that with T25.

  5. MegBek July 17, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I loved p90x and I think I’m going to work some of the videos into my weekly routine pretty soon. Although, I’m with you on the knees thing and I really can’t do the Plyo video to often or I have to do the modifications at the very least. I don’t know much about the other two but, just based on your post, I would say go with the ChaLean. I love that dress!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 18, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      I know – what the heck… why won’t our knees let us do things?? So sad. I’m still really on the fence with my decision. I think either way I’ll be in good shape. And most importantly, glad you like the dress! :)

  6. fitnessfatale July 18, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    My parents just bought T25! I’ll let you know what they think. I think both of the above programs sound good but if T25 is anything like Insanity I’d guess it’s high impact. I’m not sure though. Personally I think more strength training is always better if you’re trying to create more muscle tone – just pair it with a lower calorie, clean diet and you’ll lose the weight. Cardio burns calories but doesn’t always add tone. So I’d say based on the above and what I know, go for ChaLean!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings July 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

      Oh that’s awesome! Yes, definitely let me know how they like it. I’ve decided to go with ChaLean – thanks for the vote! I agree that i tend to prefer strength training…or at least I had such success with it and P90X that I really trust it. I’m thinking I might look at T25 next though… we’ll see. Hopefully at that point there will be more reviews out there.


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