August 15, 2012 posted by

To Beast Or Not To Beast

Body Beast, Beachbody’s new bodybuilding program, can be an effective part of a training program for people with many different goals. This is an excerpt from an article I’m working on for the Beachbody newsletter, which will cover all considerations for those who want to use Body Beast but don’t have an end goal of becoming a bodybuilder. Today’s post is to point out the major differences in Beast vs our other exercise programs so you’ll have a clearer idea of how to work it into your training. I’m posting this now to create some discussion about what you’d like to see covered in the larger article so it becomes go-to reference point for everything Beast.

Make Beast Its Own Training Block

The best way to use Beast is alone, as a phase targeting hypertrophy (muscle growth), in the scope of your larger program. You can also mix it in with workouts from other programs but this will end up diluting both Beast and the other program’s effectiveness. Here’s an explanation of why.

“Power and endurance. Ne’er the twain shall meet.” – Dr. Fred Hatfield, powerlifting champion and fitness trainer

What Dr. Hatfield is talking about is periodization. Physical components should be trained separately for best results when that is possible. There are many good reasons to combine them, mostly time efficiency, which is why almost every Beachbody program does it, but every time you mix a training style with another it detracts from the effect you could get by training one thing at a time. That compromise is acceptable for most of us, most of the time, but if gaining muscle is your priority you’ll be best served by utilizing the specificity Beast offers.

Beast is a mass program. By contrast P90X targets all areas of performance: anaerobic endurance, muscle cell motor unit recruitment, proprioceptive awareness, static strength, functional strength, stability, balance, aerobic efficiency, mobility as well as hypertrophy.

this is not insanity

While some of those other physiological components will likely improve during Beast as a by-product of daily exercise, it’s not the focus of the program. In P90X, as you know, you can gain muscle mass. But all that other training puts a limit on it. Beast’s more targeted schedule eliminates those “distractions” to hypertrophy, making it a better program for muscle building.

Therefore, when you want to gain some muscle size you’re best option is to do a phase or two of Beast by itself, targeting muscle growth, and then use your favorite program to bring the rest of your physiological parameters back up to speed…


  • I'm not sure what other discussion you'd like Steve. It seems to me that in laymen's terms you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. I'm assuming you may expand on more of the science of hypertrophy or periodization. But, it makes perfect sense.

  • Hey Steve, great article! I have a question not pertaining to Beast. Iv been trying out intermittent fasting while doing X2 now for about 3 weeks. I fast for about 18 hours and eat all my 1800 cals during a 6 hour window. I just want to know your thoughts on this topic. Do you think it's safe and maybe even somewhat better than 6 small meals a day? Iv read a lot or research backing this up. Thanks!

  • this is exactly what i have been looking for: an explanation on how this program is different than P90X and why.i'd love to see your thoughts on whether its necessary to supplement with body beast or if muscle growth can be accomplished with just shakeology and results and recovery formula.thanks for bringing clarity!

  • Steve, can Body Beast be effective with a caloric deficit or does it generally need to coincide with a surplus? I am currently doing Body Beast but my primary goal isn't all out mass (just yet). I still would like to lose some body fat. I'm doing Body Beast Lean, but at a 20% calorie deficit.

  • Hey Steve! This article caught my attention because I was hoping you would expand upon how folks with different body types (ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph) can tackle The Beast. From this layman's point of view, it appears Body Beast material along with the calorie calculator is geared for skinny guys trying to gain muscle. But I have learned recently that I have a endomorph body type. I look at a donut and gain two pounds of fat. I researched this as by the end of week one I gained 6 pounds and my body fat went up 1%. It didn't feel right and I don't like carrying the extra fat. So I found out about the body types, found calculators that took those characteristics along with age and sex into considerations and found my magic number was 500 calories below the Beast calculation. I also replaced the 2 scoops of fuel shot in the post work out drink with 1 scoop and 1/2 scoop Shakeology. So going into week 6 and gained 8 pounds and did not increase my body fat. But my lean muscle mass growth took a hit. So looking for any help us endomorphs can take to optimize The Beast! Oh and for the record…mesomorphs….I hate you.

  • Hi Steve, what is considered a phase or two of Beast? It might be good to post how long the program is or what a phase is in the article.Will you be touching on the nutrition portion of Beast. Maybe include why all the supplements (even if most people understand why).

  • I'll answer some of these questions here when I have time but every question asked will get covered in the article for sure. Thanks!

  • I've been looking for this article for a while too! I guess what I would like to know is, why would targeting hypertrophy be advantageous for sports. It may seem like an obvious question, but something like BEAST might be better for certain sports than others. It would be nice to have a comparison of these programs as training regimens for different athletic endeavors. Body Beast is good for this X, while P90X and X2 are good for Y, Insanity and Asylum is best for Z… etc. Obviously nothing is a complete substitute for sports specific training, but that might be helpful. Other than that, I suppose I'd want to know which program would make me look the "best" in a swim-suit. HA! But I suppose that's totally subjective. Thanks Steve!

  • My question is concerning women doing Body Beast. I would love to know what kind of results women can expect from it. I want definition and slim sleek muscles. I want to be muscular and defined yet still feminine. Can you tell me if this is something recommended for women if these are my goals?

  • I would like to see a hybrid program that had Body Beast in it.

  • Steve – when you say to do Body Beast as a "phase" do you mean do the entire 90 day Body Beast program and then do 90 days of something else like P90X – OR – do you mean do one 30 day phase of Body Beast (such as the BUILD series) and then do another phase of something else (like Asylum)?

  • I would like to see a hybrid program that tells me exactly how to mine the stoke.-Uncle Blorkp.s. Blast it!

  • Get the Log ready.

  • I know this wasn't a topic in the article, but since Rodney brought it up, I would also like to get your thoughts on intermittent fasting and bulking. Or just IF in general. Thanks

  • Can you include in your article what kind of equipment we should have? What is required to have and what we can get by with. Will the dumb bells I have from P90x and P90x2 be good enough of do I need more?Thanks

  • Thanks Steve! This is a market un-tapped for BB and needed. So many guys want to build, and women too. I can't wait to see what this program has to offer and the meal plans.

  • I would love to know your thoughts on the specific leg routines as they compare between the vanilla P90X and Beast routines. The exercises in Body Beast Bulk Legs have been both more demanding than X1 or X2 on my body. I've had trauma in my left leg and due to years of atrophy, gaining symmetry in my lower body will be a major achievement. Body Beast has given me renewed hope that I will achieve it without the large, expensive equipment. My quads and hammies are waking up in ways I had forgotten, even after 3 rounds of X, Insanity, Asylum, X2 and a spattering of individual exercises along with some BBL. My measurements are fueling my motivation. No cardio here in Bulk block, coupled with fast paced and intensely targeting legs is just pure awesome. I would LOVE to know your thoughts on this Steve. I've been following you for years and yes, I did follow your X1 mass gaining schedule. I learn so much from you. Thanks for all you do!

  • Great info, Mr. Edwards!I plan to do the exercise routine, but am not interested in becoming enormous from it, just a bit bigger and stronger. So, I'm not going to consume all the calories recommended, and I'd like to get your thoughts on the likely impact of this. FYI, if I consume the calories the program suggests, I would be consuming about 3,400 which is a bit much. I'm going to go more like 2,700.Thanks!

  • Steve,Big fan and love your blog. Been doing Body Beast and love it. Someone asked a question on calorie restriction and Body Beast. Would love to see that answered as I am an Intermittent Fasting fan.Also, my wife is pregnant and due in October. What Beachbody program would be best for starting her back when she is able to workout again? I would like to mix in some Beast with her program eventually since it's so good at building muscle.

  • Steve,I am glad you mentioned these two things that people should keep in mind:—"Beast’s more targeted schedule eliminates those 'distractions' to hypertrophy, making it a better program for muscle building." —"…when you want to gain some muscle size you’re best option is to do a phase or two of Beast by itself…"I am seeing lots of people who buy into the mass-building premise, start a round of Beast, but quickly find themselves unable to trust the program and release their attachment to cardio. More simply, lots of people are tossing in 2-3 days of Insanity/Asylum/insert-cardio-routine-here and creating a caloric deficit while doing Body Beast.Moreover, a growing share of these very comments substantiate my claims. :)I think everyone who bought the Beast with the goal of adding mass should just trust the program, eat big, get big, then go back to your insane amounts of cardio while maintaining strength gains.I am < 6% BF myself and have no problems with that rising up to 10-14% for 2 months, as I know the program calls for a caloric deficit in the final phase, not to mention that I can toss in 30 days of Asylum shortly thereafter and be right back where I was when I started…only bigger, stronger, leaner and meaner. :)…but I digress. I am glad you made those two statements – follow the program alone and eliminate all these distractions.

  • Steve: Thank you for this honest perspective: I supports my difficult decision to ramp down the cardio. That's a tough one after 7 years of nonstop cardio and 2 years of P90x/2)My deal:. I've tracked my P90x numbers for 2 years and have his a plateaued at a very fit 6 3 175 and wondered: Is this it? I figure "Beast" is a way to figure out if I can ever be a really 185 and/or ever to a one handed push up. My plan is to I'll do Beast to maximize mass, and the follow it with a mix of X2 and a whole lot of Nordic skiing Dec-March and see where I end up. I will be happy to share images with BB when I'm done if they are any better than the first time I did P90x; got great results from that but am wondering if I can take it to the next level.Looking forward to your article on this subject: when it's done will you please post a link here so I don't miss it? ThanksForager

  • I wanted to ask this question regarding the 1800 calorie plan for Phase III. I know P90X had women at the 1800 calorie limit–in general. We didn't lose much at that level. My Phase III Beast calculations say to eat 1600 calories. I will conclude that we should adjust to that for an average of one (1) pound of weight loss per week? I know there was a thread for P120X–I feel like we should have Beast120 as well for women. Thoughts?

  • Hello all, i also think this program is good even if you dont necessarily want to gain weight, as i have just completed block 1 of beast (3 weeks) and have lost about 2 lbs along with about 1.5% body fat. A loss in weight and body fat means this is really shedding the fat off, of course this pis probably because i do not partake in the supplements (as to adhere to a deficit) but still take in the rest of the whole foods( which in part i use for my recovery meal) This program is trulygreat for a variety of goals

  • I might also add that i am doing intermittent fasting

  • I have not done any beachbody programs yet, and im wondering what to do. im 6’0″ and 130 pounds and im an ectomorph. i wanted to gain some mucle mass really. i was thinking at first maybe i should just do p90x classic and then your very own p90x mass schedule. then i started thinking that maybe i should do body beast as it may be faster and more effective for my goals. what do you think? is body beast too hard for a reasonibly fit beginner? btw i have no intentions of becoming a body builder, i was thinking maybe 2 rounds of body beast and then lean out/get more functional nicey with ayslum, and then do hybrids… anyways i love your blog steve! and can’t wait for your response!

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