Best Fitness Programs
Health and fitness are a major concern for most people, however, it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the best workout programs. No two are exactly alike, and it's important to choose one that fits your lifestyle, your goals, and your budget.
Exercise routines often get pushed aside when your fast paced life gets in the way. However, there are many workout programs that are designed to fit into a typical day-to-day schedule. I've put together a list of reviews of the best home workout programs so that you can make an informed decision on the right one for you.
Benefits of the Best Fitness Programs
We all know that working out and eating a balanced diet are the keys to a longer, healthier life. Sometimes, though, it's helpful to see the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle laid out in black and white. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), just 2.5 hours of exercise per week can:
- Decrease your chances of cardiovascular diseases - the top two causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease and stroke.
- Reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes - due to fat loss and lowering of blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
- Enhance your mood - regular exercise, including a balance of cardio and strength training, helps you sleep better and increases cognitive ability.
I hope that seeing how much good you're doing for your body keeps you motivated and inspired!
Best Workout Programs: What to Consider
Everyone and everybody is different, so not all workout programs will be ideal for every person. If you are looking for a workout routine that is right for you, there are a few factors you should think about first:
- Get a physical before starting a workout program. It is important to know your body's limits. Someone with a heart condition will need to work out in a way that is safe for him or her. Plus, getting a physical can help shape your workout goals.
- Set workout goals. If you want to be thinner you need a workout plan that focuses on weight loss, if you want to be stronger you need a plan that focuses on strength training and if you want to be faster you need a plan designed around speed training.
- Consider your lifestyle. If you work in an office and you are sitting down for most of the day you will want a workout that gets you up and moving. If your job demands physical labor you may want a plan that stretches and relaxes you to avoid injury.
- Get a consultation with a professional. Some gyms offer a one-time free consultation where an instructor will work out with you one day and then help you make a plan that is right for you.
Next, I'll go a little more in-depth regarding ways to decide on the best at home workout program for you.
How to Choose the Best Home Workout Program
Busy Americans are always looking for effective ways to get fit at home, on their own time and in a way that allows them to meet their goals. The fact that, according to Business Insider, exercise DVDs are a $300 million a year industry bears testament to this fact. But with all of the different options on the market today, how can you tell which one is going to work for you?
In addition to the above considerations, there are a few things to take into account in order to make sure you're getting one of the best fitness programs for your specific needs and goals:
- Be realistic - if you're just starting out, don't go gangbusters with the most difficult, intense program available. Choose one that meets you where you are fitness-wise, yet pushes you just enough that you make steady progress.
- Consider your goals - if you simply want to lose some weight, pick a cardio-heavy product. Conversely, if muscle definition is your holy grail, choose from one of the best home fitness programs for shredding and contouring.
- Don't forget equipment - some of the top rated workout programs come with the necessary equipment, some require you to purchase it separately, and some require only your own body. Work these considerations into your budget before making a final decision.
Just because everyone else is doing a certain program doesn't mean it's the most appropriate one for you. Don't pigeonhole yourself into what you think you "should" be doing. Be honest with yourself about your ability to commit to the plan before making a determination on where to spend your money.
The Best Home Workout Programs
- Produces fast, dramatic results
- Includes bonuses like a calendar and meal plan
- Energetic, inspiring instructor
- Good variety keeps the workouts interesting
- 24/7 customer support
- Not suitable for those with heart conditions or joint or back issues
- Focuses on cardio and lacks flexibility or strength training
Insanity is a high-intensity workout program offered by the creators of Beachbody. It has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most difficult of the top rated workout programs available today. The reason for this is because Insanity uses an approach that is the opposite of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Rather than working out at a normal pace interspersed with short bouts of fast-paced movement, you perform up to five minutes of intense exercise with 30-second slowdowns in between. Instructor Shaun T. calls this technique Maximum Interval Training.
The program comes on DVDs and consists of 60 days of workouts, at 30-60 minutes each, six days per week. The exercises are cardio-heavy, using your body weight as resistance. No equipment is required for Insanity. There are five workouts for the first month, and four – more difficult and extreme – ones for the second month.
As for results, few argue that Insanity produces, as long as you stick to the prescribed schedule. When you buy the DVDs you also get a calendar to track your progress and a number of other bonuses, such as a nutrition plan and recipes. Customer support is always available if you need help or motivation, and there's a forum for users as well.
Insanity costs about $120, which can be broken up into three payments. I found the shipping to be a bit steep, at $24.95. If you have any health conditions such as heart disease or you have joint pain or issues, you'll want to choose a different exercise program. If you're in good basic health, however, this is one of the best fitness plans for taking your routine to the next level.
- Requires only 30 minutes a day
- Three pricing tiers to choose from
- Can be adapted to various fitness levels
- Includes nutritional plan
- Provides toning and flexibility in addition to cardio
- Can get pricey for a home fitness plan
- Equipment not crucial but highly recommended
P90X3 is an intensive set of exercises designed to produce effective results over a period of three months. It's one of the top rated workout programs and is led by experienced trainer Tony Horton. It is the third incarnation of the fitness guru's popular P90X series.
One of the main benefits of P90X3 is that it can be adjusted to meet a wide range of fitness levels. Whether you're a beginner or you want a doubly intense challenge, this program can work for you. In addition there are three different packages from which to choose, from Base at three payments of $39.95 each to Ultimate for three payments of $109.85 each. Base comes with one resistance band, while the other two packages include a variety of extras like additional resistance bands, extra workouts, and a chin-up bar (in the Ultimate).
Another aspect users like is that P90X3 combines a nutrition plan with the exercise component, and even includes a guide for vegans. The DVD set contains 16 different workouts with a diverse focus range - from cardio to yoga and even mixed martial arts. This makes P90X3 one of the best home workout programs for avoiding monotony and boredom. You also get plenty of support via the web, and a mobile app for tracking your progress.
P90X3 easily makes my list of the best fitness programs due to its modest time commitment, variety of workout types, balanced approach to exercise and nutrition, and adjustability for people of virtually any level.
10 Minute Trainer
- Low time commitment
- Competitively priced
- Diverse exercises to work the whole body
- Flexible exercise regimen
- Suitable for many fitness levels
- Results not as quick or drastic as some programs
- Diet plan viewed by some users as restrictive
10-Minute Trainer is another of the top rated workout programs brought to you by the makers of Beachbody and hosted by Tony Horton. What's unique about this exercise routine is that each session is just 10 minutes long, giving you the flexibility to fit a workout in whenever you have even a little bit of free time.
There are eight workouts, ranging from full-body to cardio to yoga. You can choose your level of commitment by opting to do between one and three 10-minute sessions per day. This makes it incredibly easy to adjust your regimen to your available time. Not everyone has a solid 30-60 minute block of time to work out every day, free of other obligations. The ability to get into shape by utilizing small chunks of time is a great advantage with 10-Minute Trainer.
Other factors that make this product one of the best fitness plans include the healthy eating guide, and calendar which tells you exactly what to do on which day. At about $80, some people feel the price is a bit high for what you get, but it's definitely in line with most other complete workout plans. You won't get insanely ripped as with the more intense, time-consuming options, however 10-Minute Trainer gets my stamp of approval because it's well rounded, and doable for a wide range of fitness levels.
21 Day Fix Extreme Review
- Fast, definitive results
- Meal plan included
- Portion control containers to simplify eating
- Targeted exercises for maximum efficiency
- 24/7 online support
- Very strict eating guidelines
- Designed for those who are already in good shape
21 Day Fix Extreme is the next step up from the first 21 Day Fix. Instructor Autumn Calabrese leads you through seven ultra-intensified 30-minute workouts with the goal of eliminating every extra inch in just a three-week period.
Beachbody, the company behind 21 Day Fix Extreme, makes no bones about the fact that this fitness program is engineered for those who are already in shape but need to tighten up in very short order. This makes it a good option if you have a bodybuilding event coming up, or simply want to add muscle definition without a long, drawn out exercise regimen.
You'll pay $60 for this product, which includes two DVDs, an eating plan, seven portion control containers, and a Shakeology shaker. The schedule is laid out for you in a straightforward manner, making it simple (although not easy by any means) to follow as long as you're committed. You will need to buy a resistance band, and an exercise mat is also recommended.
21 Day Fix Extreme serves a specific purpose, and is an effective choice for those for whom it was designed, giving it a spot on my list of the best home workout programs.
Body Beast Review
- Targeted focus on muscle building
- Three pricing tiers
- Reasonable time commitment
- 24/7 online support
- Money-back guarantee
- Light on cardio content
- Equipment not included
Body Beast is a decidedly focused fitness plan, with an emphasis on cutting fat and building and contouring muscle. This program is led by bodybuilder Sagi Kaley, and is appropriate whether you're looking for the best workout plan for men or the best workout plan for women. If your goal is to tone up and create more muscle definition, Body Beast may be perfect for you.
This offering from Beachbody is made up of 45-minute sessions which you do for a total of 90 days. It is split up into three blocks and covers exercises for all the main muscle groups plus abs and cardio. You will need some equipment like barbells and resistance bands, so you'll want to consider those costs when budgeting for this program.
While there are three different kits to choose from, the Base is probably the best value for the money. This tier includes the DVDs, eating plan, and other support materials, for a price of around $40. The Deluxe kit includes a month's supply of pre-workout supplement for an additional $50, while the Ultimate comes in at $150 and comes with everything in the lower two kits plus a month of post-workout supplement.
If you're hoping to increase lean muscle mass and enhance definition, Body Beast is an effective tool for doing so.
Eating for the Best Exercise Program
It's common knowledge that you should eat healthily while trying to get in shape, even if you're doing the best workout program out there. It can be confusing, however, to sort out exactly what and how much you should eat in order to provide your body with the needed energy for your increased activity level, while still allowing for weight loss. Here are a few tips for keeping a good balance between diet and exercise.
Keep nutrition and exercise separate
This may sound counterintuitive but think of it this way - if you mentally tie your improved eating to the act of undertaking one of the top workout programs, you may be programming yourself to go back to bad habits once you've finished the exercise plan.
Instead, change your mindset to a permanent lifestyle change rather than a finite period of time during which you're going to do the work. Lasting weight loss and fitness require a complete shift in how you view food and activity. Research bears this out - in a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, scientists found that long-term weight loss maintenance is directly tied to key behavioral changes.
Don't skimp on protein
Whether you're in the midst of a demanding DVD series, or simply trying to watch what you eat and stay active, protein is a crucial element. Particularly if your regimen is heavy on muscle building and toning, you need to make sure you get enough protein, as it is the building block of muscle tissue. This is important to your fitness goals because muscle burns more calories than fat. This means that it's not so much the increased exercise that improves your resting metabolism, it's the increased ratio of muscle to fat.
In addition to helping you burn more calories, research shows that protein can actually help you avoid taking in too many calories in the form of carbs. Most of the products on my list of the best home workout programs include some type of dietary guide. If you have concerns about these plans meeting your nutritional needs, consult your healthcare professional to make sure you're getting everything you should be.
Don't deprive yourself - or beat yourself up
Unless you're stringently sticking to one of the ultra-condensed shredding routines, cut yourself a little slack on occasion. Being too restrictive can lead to getting off track and binging when you make one "mistake". Forgive yourself when you choose that cookie over a bowl of frozen yogurt, and get right back on the bandwagon. A treat now and then will not undo all of the hard work you're doing and good choices you're making over the long haul.
4 Ways to Make the Best Fitness Plan Work for You
Once you've chosen from among the top workout programs, you're probably ready to dive right in. Before you do that, however, make sure you're truly creating a plan that encourages follow-through.
1. Take your health limitations seriously
If you have joint problems or other chronic pain issues, don't hesitate to modify the moves to your ability level to compensate for these challenges. You want to set yourself up for success, not get discouraged by worsened pain.
2. Use a multidimensional approach
High-intensity workout programs are great for boosting weight loss and developing tone. In order to avoid getting bored or burned out, consider adding something gentler such as yoga or tai chi on your off days.
3. Create an accountability system
Whether it's working out with your spouse or simply making sure that you regularly update a friend on your progress, teaming up is a proven method of increasing your motivation. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, a Stanford University study showed that simply receiving a phone call from a real person every so often increased the amount of exercise that participants did by 78%.
4. Treat it like an appointment
You know how it goes, you say to yourself "I'll exercise when I have time." If you commit to specific days and times, you'll soon get into the habit of including your workout in your normal routine.
No matter what method you use to keep yourself on track, the important thing is to mentally commit to your goal and make sure that you've done everything you can to ensure success.
Best Workout Programs Recap
Everyone is different, so it is important to find a fitness plan that works for you. Look closely at your options and decide which will help you work out most consistently. Some people find that having a defined nutrition plan with personal support can help in their journey to get in better shape.