ChaLEAN Extreme Review: Burn Phase - no air humping

I'm getting a lot of hits from people searching reviews of this program. If you find my review helpful in anyway, please leave me a comment or ask me more questions if you have them and go here if you'd like for me to respond. Thanks!

Here's my Push Phase Review.
Here's my Lean Phase Review (includes final results).
Here's my Turbo Jam Review.

This workout series is NOT for the faint of heart. It's an ass kicker.

After 5 weeks of the Turbo Jam workouts which are mostly all cardio I decided I needed to add some weight training to my regimen. My body was responding well to the TJ routines in as much as I had become pain free, but I wasn't losing any weight (that could also be due to my diet, but that's another topic for another day) and I know from my past as an athlete that I respond really well to resistance training.

Enter another lazy Sunday afternoon and another well placed infomercial. (I've never bought anything off the TV before all this. I'm beginning to feel like a royal sucker.)


The whole ChaLEAN Extreme system is big. It comes with 7 discs (learning DVDs including weight training, band training, and kitchen makeover, 5 workout DVDs, and a motivational CD), a training book ("Muscle Burns Fat (tm) Guidebook"), and a diet book ("Fat Burning Food Guide"). And when I say "book," I mean a book with glossy pages, photos, no typos, and thick. It also comes with calipers to measure your body fat. Also included is a resistance band (which is NOT intended for anything but added resistance for lower body work).

:: One of the things I am enjoying most about this system is that it lays out my workouts for the next three months (90 days), so I never have to wonder what happens after that first month (like I did with Turbo Jam). There's also a guide for maintaining your results.

Also, the Guidebook gives you a place to mark your weights and number of reps so you can keep track as you progress. WoWY.com also has a .pdf file you can download to track your weights/reps, as well.

Chalene's broken down the three months into three phases: Burn, Push, and Lean.

In the Burn Phase your goal is to "fail" in 10-12 reps and you work both upper and lower body in combo exercises. The Push Phase you attempt to fail in 6-8 reps and only one body part at a time is focused on. And last, the Lean Phase combines upper and lower body work with core work. The claim is the Lean Phase is where dramatic fat loss is witnessed. Lean for Life shows you how to maintain all your hard ass work.

:: Some people have complained that Chalene's "cheerleader" like enthusiasm in her Turbo Jam workouts was a turn off, but rest assured that in her ChaLEAN Extreme routines she's far more "down to business." She does a great job in educating you about your position and what not to do. She also sets a great tone to keep your motivation up.

:: TIME ::

workouts are approximately 30 minutes each and are the meat of the system. The Burn Intervals & Ab Burner/Extreme Abs workouts total about an hour, as do the Burn it Off! & Recharge combo. Burn Intervals is a combination strength- and cardio- training that alternates bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. Ab Burner & Extreme Abs are 10 minute workouts that uses weights to work your middle. Burn it Off! is high intensity with light weights and approximately 30 minutes long and Recharge is a yoga-esque streching routing that lasts 20 minutes.

  1. Buy weights. It wasn't clear to me what kind of equipment I needed right off. In the Muscle Burns Fat (tm) Guidebook there are some guidelines for weights (you can either get bands or free-weights), but the bottom line is buying weights/resistance bands is another investment. You can go weightless for a time, but I'd assume only if you're at the very lowest of your strength levels. Currently I have 3 lbs, 8 lbs, 12 lbs, and 15 lbs weights and I consider myself at above a beginner level, not quite fully intermediate. As I get stronger I will have to fill in the gaps with the 5 lbs, 10 lbs and + 15 lbs weights, which sucks for the pocket book, but I guess I'm willing to do it. It's cheaper than a gym membership.
  2. Watch the Burn Basics DVD.
  3. Get a pen and your Guidebook or rep sheet.
  4. Grab a towel and some water.
  5. Pop in Burn Circuit 1 DVD and go!
A typical week in the Burn Phase looks like this:
  • Day 1 - Burn Circuit 1
  • Day 2 - Rest (this is critical because of the intensive weight training of Circuits 1 & 2 - you can add a cardio here, but don't do back-to-back Circuits)
  • Day 3 - Burn Circuit 2
  • Day 4 - Burn Intervals & Ab Burner
  • Day 5 - Burn Circuit 3
  • Day 6 - Burn it Off! & Recharge
  • Day 7 - Rest
(The Push and Lean Phases are identical in schedule.)


:: I find the weekly schedule to be challenging, but also doable. I really like how each Circuit (hard weight training) is broken up by either a rest day or a different kind of workout. And the like I said before, it's an ass kicker.

:: I find the Burn Interval workout to be the toughest and the Recharge a welcome recovery. During anything that uses a weight I usually find myself laughing at the end of a set because I really can't move my legs or my arms. And because of this, I don't suspect that just anybody could do this workout. I'm about 20-25 lbs overweight, but I consider myself fairly strong and I seriously struggle to do many of the exercises. If I were +75 lbs overweight I don't know that I could safely do the routines without risk of serious injury. But I could be wrong. I'm not a trainer, it's just my own thought on it. So, if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, you might want to start with her Turbo Jam series to lose a few pounds and gain some core strength, then graduate to this program.

I just completed Week 1 and I feel great. I experienced some really intense soreness after the first couple of days, but I expect this week to be a little less sore in general. I'll update again at the end of the Burn Phase.


6/28/09 Update: After completing the Burn Phase I am totally pain free. I am considerably stronger and I feel tighter. Week 1 was by far the most painful soreness-wise. After Week 1, I experienced soreness, but it was manageable. By Week 4, I had increased all of my weights and was able to do certain exercises (like the "Free Throws") to completion, whereas in the beginning I could get to about 17 and then had to stop. I was also able to add a "on my toes" push-up each week each time we had push-ups, but was never able to do all of them in that position.

And here's what you really want to know: I've gained 10 lbs over the last month (not something I usually do - I'm a 1-2lb kind of girl). And nothing in my life has happened other than this workout. I'm eating the same, stress isn't bad, health is tip top (I just had a physical), so I have to assume that it's muscle. I have to PRAY that it's muscle under my fat! I can see more definition in my thighs and my arms, I just can't see any other muscle due to my fat sticking around.

My clothes are actually fitting a little tighter, too, so it's not just the scale. My mom and husband have both commented that I seem "curvier," which is fine, but it'd be nice to be slimming down, too. But, like I've said before, I'm going to be VERY patient and just wait for the end of the 90 days. I've done a lot of research online and lots and lots of women have had the same experience: no weight loss, then it melts away in the Lean Phase.

It's important to note that in Week 3 I started watching what I ate more closely, eating every 2-3 hours if I could, but I wasn't all that consistent with it, and I was also drinking wine regularly. I should be eating 1400-1600 calories a day, but I was probably averaging closer to 1600-2000. My eating habits may have contributed to not losing any weight. We'll see as I progress and shape up my diet in the coming weeks.

[Ed. note (5.6.10): For those of you curious about how this all ended up, go to my Lean Phase Review for results. Also, I started it all over again and am currently in my second week of Push, and still loving it! This time around I have NOT gained 10 lbs, due mostly (I think ) to really watching what I eat. No significant weight loss, however, just amazing muscle tone in my arms and feeling firmer all over. I can do push-ups like nobody's business this time around. I'll post a re-cap post in 7 weeks or so when I complete the Lean Phase again.]


  1. I watched this infomercial once and was tempted by it also. It reminded me of p90x, but maybe a tad easier to do (i was a sucker and got p90x-what they dont tell you in the infomercial is that you already have to be in kickass shape BEFORE you begin!) Curious to see how it goes for you- I may get it as well!

  2. Yeah, that's what it looked like to me, too (re: the P90x).

    So far the Extreme stuff is totally for peeps like you and me. I will definitely keep you posted!

  3. Wow, good job Jessica! I am going to start the shred tonight. I have to. I need to work out ASAP! Keep us updated!

  4. You can do p90x if you aren't in great shape to start. It certainly helps but if you just do your best in each exercise and push yourself to your own limits you will see results. Real serious results, best program I have ever seen, Tony Horton is amazing. If you listen to Jillian Michaels radio show, even she recommends Tony's stuff and she has her own out!

  5. Hi Jessica: I have a two year old and was just wondering how much time each morning the workouts take?



  6. The Circuits take about 35 minutes each. The two other days of workouts take almost an hour. I have an almost 2 yo and I can fit in my workouts during nap times with no problem.

  7. I did ChaLEAN Extreme about two months from baby and lost 20 lbs in 90 days. Chalene is awesome!

  8. I have p90x and like it but was looking for something with shorter workouts. this info is helpful as i already like chaleans stuff from TJ. thanks.

  9. I started Chalean in June 2009, had to stop a couple times during the Burn phase due to illness and problems with knees. I decided to go to Push phase and not re-start burn. I was following the eating plan in the first couple weeks and saw no difference. I eat according to how hungry I am and I have neither gained nor lose any significant weight. I do see slight definition in my arms and shoulders and my legs overall is sliming down. I hope its not all in my head. Sticking with it as its the only program that keeps me motivated. Still in Push so hoping I will see more results by the time I start the lean phase

  10. Great writeup on the program Jessica! ChaLEAN Extreme is such an incredible program, I actually think it's better than P90X...

  11. Jessica! Thanks SO much for this info. My husband bought P90X even though I told him we should start with something like Power 90 or something like that since we aren't in fabulous shape right now. He went with P90X because his buddy is a coach and blah, blah, blah.
    I tried the first workout tonight and HOLY COW. A LOT of different kinds of push ups and chin ups and full on sit ups. (I've never been able to do a full sit up-even as a child, even when I was in my peak physical condition.)
    Here's my question for you...How does Chalean Extreme compare to that? Is it a crap load of push up and full on sit ups and "mountain/leg climbers"? How about jumping? I messed my knees up running in my 20's and I have a hard time with things like kickboxing that incorporate a lot of jumping.
    I was checking Chalean Extreme out, but I was scared it was just another P90X and I'm feelign VERY discouraged w/ that program. I feel like "SURE, I did my best, but if I can only keep up with 1/4th of the video, I'm wasting my times and need to find something I can hang with!"

  12. Any updates? Did the weight melt away in the lean phase??

  13. I have been doing Chalene "Extreme" for 3.5 months now. I have been following the 1,200 calorie diet also. You must follow the diet and really, no alchohol. I also do kettlebells on the days that I don't do Chalene's muscle curcuits. I consider myself in the top 10
    % of the population in relation to be being fit.
    I started CE fit. CE was so successful for my bodytype that I quit the gym and do all my exercising at home. I find the cardio portions too easy, so that is why I put in my kettlebells. I highly recommend this program for women. I think highly of Tony H. but there is something about Chalene that is so motivating and engaging. I just love her and the family of exercisers behind her. Ladies, this is a fabulous program. But remember, you are what you eat. Be honest and keep a food log. I am 47 and I dropped from a size 8 to a 4. Strangers ask me what I do for such fabulous arms. I can actually see my quads! I have to be carefull and eat a little more now that I am out of the 90 day phase. You should eat more. Blessings to all and this was truly a blessing to my life.
    Kerry, Phoenix

  14. I love this program! I've just started the 2nd week of the Lean Phase. I've lost 13 pounds so far. The first 10 in the Burn Phase, nothing in the Push Phase, and 3 pounds this week in the Lean Phase. But the Push Phase definitely started redefining my shoulders and legs. I've done 3 rounds of P90X and hubby also has P90X plus (which I can't do!) I was getting a little tired of the hour workouts even though I have the time for them. I decided to try Chalean but was afraid I would lose muscle gained through P90X. ABSOLUTELY NOT! I use the same or heavier weights than Chalean, but continue to push myself each week and add at least a pound to previous weeks. Having each workout be 40-45 minutes at most is awesome. It's over before you know it. The warmups and cooldowns are wimpy (especially when you are used to 7 minutes of stretching with Tony but you can do your own). I'm loving it and will try the Lean for Life Phase next.

    I also eat very clean (1100-1200 cals/day) and record all of my meals in my iPod using a free program called Lose It! Highly recommended and easy to show Dr. I record all of my exercise in there too. I run/walk a 25 minute HIIT treadmill program each morning before breakfast, incorporate some kettlebell work each week, and sometimes throw in a longer yoga session on the weekends in addition to the Chalean Extreme Program (or in exchange for Burn It Off/Recharge).

    Oh! One other thing...I HATED Leg day in P90X. I love that leg exercises are done with upper body consecutively in CE. Many are balance exercises, so you are working your core as well. Many a morning I have awakened to ab soreness without ever getting on the floor! (Although her ab DVD is great too - my kids enjoy it) Don't hesitate to try Ch Extreme, it's been a positive in my exercise regime.

    P.S. For those with bad knees, Chalean's modified burpees are great! I have messed up knees and can not do some of the moves in P90X Plyo as others have stated. One of my fixes for that, I used a mini trampoline. It eases the landing for the joints but provides all of the cardio necessary for the move. Works wonders!

  15. I am now a veteran turbo jammer - I have lost over 25 pounds and countless inches since starting turbo jam in April 09. All of my clothes are huge now - down from a size 12/14 to an 8/10, and still going. I have always been a healthy eater, so diet was not my issue - consistent exercise was and is my salvation. I just bought a used set of CE DVD's off Ebay, and wanted to get some feedback before I begin. I love turbo jam, but it's no longer a challenge, and I feel I need more lean muscle at this stage of the game. I am 49 years old, and probably in better shape now than in my 30's. Thanks for the info! Paula - Fort Worth TX

  16. Thanks everyone, your comments have been very helpful. i have been watching the beach body infommercials and did not know whether to order CE or P90X or the Insanity workout. I have a 9month old and am ready to shed the baby weight. I think i will start with CE and work myway up to the others. Tiffany - Bethlehem PA

  17. As a new mother I was so ready to get my pre-baby body back. I'd been an athelete all my life and played college volleyball so I was familiar with training. I tried P90X and honestly, within 1.5 months my body was looking pretty good. By week 12 I had a better body than I had in college. The workouts are long & I kept my daily calorie count between 1200-1500. I go back to this workout whenever I need to get bikini body ready. I've also tried Chaleane Extreme and do like it but feel P90X is an absolute no fail program. Chaleane's interval training is a great workout to use with P90X to accelerate your progress.

  18. Thank you for all your information. I have been trying to decide on CE or Turbo Jam. I am in good shape but want to drop my last 5 to 7 lbs. I have to change up my workout videos often or I get bored quick. I am looking for some serious cardio as well.

  19. I am soooooooo confused. I am 58, female, and FLABBY. I'm 5'9" and weigh 160. I feel better at 152, and I have joined Weight Watchers to help me wih the weight loss.

    I am trying to lose the flab and tone and firm -do I do Turbo Jam, ChaLEAN or P90X.

  20. This is me again - the one above - age 58 - that can't decide between Turbo Jam, ChaLEAN or P90X. I forgot to tell you that I wear a size 12 (their a little tight), have a very small waist - 27", but big hips and thights (very flabby) and flabby arms.

  21. I completed the Burn Phase too and I felt my arms and legs had a little more definition and I did feel tighter in the abs but I don't think I look any different just yet. I had to take a few days off but I will be starting the push phase tomorrow. Any idea if Jessica finished the 90 days? She hasn't posted anything. I'm wondering if it's true that the lean phase gets you lean.

  22. Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

    A little more about me: I do ALL my workouts during naptime since I have a 2 1/2 year old and have never had a problem fitting it in. Sometimes, if I'm really on the ball, I'll do it in the morning.

    I also have two bulging discs in my lower back and I'm still able to do ChaLEAN Extreme with no pain. I modify some of the bent over exercises (particularly in the Burn Phase), but that's about it. If you have knee issues, she's always reminding you to stay back on your heels and push your rear end out so as to protect your form.

    I truly believe that this is the program that should be BEFORE P90x (based on everything I've read). It gets you in shape for a more serious physical program.

    Lastly, there are only some push-ups in this program. No pull-ups (ever) or sit ups (except on ab days and it's not all that bad). It's very "woman-friendly," but also still very challenging for men. My husband never could really hang!

  23. I saw the infomercial and I am considering on purchasing ChaLEAN Extreme. I am assuming that dumbbells are not included... does anyone have any feedback on what sizes of dumbbells I should purchase? For the entire 90 days; beginning, middle, and end?

  24. I have bad knees, so that means I can't do jumping jacks, lunges, squats and running or jogging. Should I not order Chalean Extreme?

  25. Have anyone seen a big difference in their ab area. I am funny shaped I have a big stomach and no hips or chest. I really need to lose my abs.

  26. I have done some p90x and just started CE. If you are a beginner I would start with CE. P90X is harder and not for the faint of heart. I actually like the CE abs workouts better, less hip flexor strain. If you have completed CE and want more challenge, move on to P90X. Tony Horton is amazing. They are both good programs but if you are just starting out, do CE first.

  27. ladies i borrowed this workout from a friend and i don't have the fat burning food guide. Can anyone tell me where i can get it. Can i even get it through the net. Please e-mail me @ericaphill@aol.com


  28. hey, i just wanted to say that, as someone who's about 75+ lbs overweight (5'4" and 215lbs), CE isn't too hard if you're in okay shape. i'm not running a mile or anything, but i run up stairs, walk 5+ miles, and stand at work for 8+ hours without being winded. those of us who are larger just have to be positive that we're using perfect form, listening to our bodies, and eating properly so that muscles rebuild themselves.

    i use a combo of CE and turbo jam, and i'm sore as hell but i already feel stronger and healthier.

  29. Any help...trying to decide between Chalene Extreme and TurboFire...have TurboJam, like it, but need another change...also do FIRM workouts (old ones, not the new "wave" ones...looks cheesy!), weights and running...am expecting 6th child, always workout throughout my pregnancies, in descent shape all my life, athletic, never dieted or been overweight...just want some more variety...any insighst would be greatly appreciated!!

  30. Jessica, I also have two herniated discs in my lower back. I haven't started Chalene Extreme yet and have been hesitant to do so because of my back. What do you do to modify the exercises to not hurt your back?

  31. Yay for Chalean Extreme! I absolutely love this program. It is doable, the plan is laid out clearly. All you need is a good range of dumbell weights as far as equipment and you can do this at home. I am finishing week 4 of the Burn phase and I have noticied a significant change in my body. Clothes are fitting great, and I am getting lots of compliments. I followed the plan whole-heartedly, and it is paying off. If you are thinking of trying it, stop thinking about and just do it. You will thank yourself later:)

  32. After reading all of your posts, I am even more excited to start!!! I am waiting to get my CE box in the mail!! I have always done tons of cardio and very light weights...will I be completely wrecked after my first week? :)

  33. I am 60 years old and I am have done the Turbo Jam before but needed something else. I have been on CE for 3 weeks and loving it. The Food Guide (cookbook) has absolutely delicious recipes--so far everything I have tried is excellent. I also like that the cookbook tells you which phase to eat it and what to add for another phase. Super program!

  34. Thanks for this post. I am interested in purchasing this set but couldn't find any reviews on it. I am definately getting this. Thanks again for the post and good luck:)

  35. I have lost 39 lbs with Turbo Jam in 11 months. I wasn't eating the greatest but it worked out to 3-5 lbs per month. B/c I love TJ I had to buy CHALEAN. And I must say I love it. My first week done and I have lost 4 lbs. I am hoping to lose 35 lbs by the end of the 3 months in FEB 2011. It's realistic.

    But I must say if you don't want to gain a lot of muscle mass, then perhaps lower your weight amount and instead of completing 10 - 12 reps slowly, speed up the reps and get about 20 reps in. Instead of the hypertrophy phase (size) then get in an aerobic - endurance phase - 15-20 reps for fat loss. Just a thought. But the workout is great. Not all programs work for everyone and that is when you have to modify it to fit your lifestyle and goals. The great thing about it is it is not boring!
    But Good Luck to you all. Hopefully I get my results as well.

  36. I tried p90x and not only were some of the workouts too tiring for a newbie (i still did them ) but i was quite bored by the long warmup and long lengths of the dvds. so i am now tryin CE. i am just finishing week 3 in the burn phase (1st time around). I have lost 7 pounds so far and i have def noticed muscle. Not an extreme amount but it is noticeable. The workouts, to me , are not boring at all. rather they are short, simple and to the point. I have already increased the weight dramatically from week 1, other than 1 exercise, and that is due to a previously injured shoulder, which has improved some on the weight. I never thought that would happen. I am super excited to start the next phase. If ur gonna start CE, the best advise i have is keep ur guidesheet updated. if u feel discouraged, u can look and see on paper that ur doing better.Also, Like she says, go heavy or go home. The best thing is i have seen results already and may become a lil sore but i feel good also, not beat up, which i did with some of the p90x. good luck to all who try/trying it and def a thumbs up so far :)

  37. i just started this workout, and its been a week. ive tried eating a little less and tried cutting down on my snacking. im currently 153lbs, and im 5"7', im hoping by the end of this workout i can at least be around 140. i feel pretty sore, but nothing i cant handle, my friend is doing it with me, and shes bigger than i am, and shes feeling more pain than i am, but were both not sure how its all gonna pan out. a week is too soon to tell, but were too impatient to see results! haha, well i guess we will have to. I just wanted opinions from real people who have seen results. & im NOT a person who will go on a strict diet, i just eat in small portions, is that alright for this workout?

  38. I just started the burn phase (into week 2) after doing Power 90. This program can be tough. I don't think I could have gotten through it without having done Power 90 first. In other ways it feels like less than Power 90. The burn workouts are only about 30-35 minutes long and TWO Days of rest! I feel like I'm cheating! I kinda miss doing 21 push ups and some of the consistent (but easier) cardio I did in Power 90. I also think the ab workout was way more intense in Power 90 but I've only done the Ab workout in the beginner part of this program. I've been having a hard time with some of the cardio but that may have to do with my thyroid meds running out. You really need to eat healthy and on time and have the thyroid in full working condition to handle some of these workouts. I haven't dropped a lot of weight between Power 90 and starting Chalean Extreme but I wasn't extremely overweight to begin with--just out of shape. I'm 49 years old so that makes it tough too. I just have been looking around for reviews on this workout to see if it's worthwhile.

  39. Chalene johnson's workouts are my favorite, i dont feel overly exhausted after, and i have only just completed my first full week of CE and i feel great and very pleased, i did it on and off for the last 3 weeks and i can feel a difference in my biceps muscle wise already. im excited to see my results at the end of the lean phase. I'm looking for loose about 15 inches in total, as ive seen with most results of CE theresb not too much of a point of looking at a scale since your building muscle and its heavier than fat, i say go with the measuring tape!

  40. Awesome reviews!! I am definitely going to have to try it for myself. I've used Beachbody's px90 and saw really amazing results and I know they are a reputable company.