If you could completely transform your body in 80 days, would you do it?
With more than 200,000 people sweating it out daily, more than 550,000 followers on Facebook and countless success stories, 80 Day Obsession is the latest buzz in the at-home fitness industry. And if you're not part of this massive movement, you might be wondering what it is that these people know that the rest of us don't.
LIVESTRONG.COM talked with celebrity fitness trainer and program creator Autumn Calabrese to get the lowdown on how the program works, who it's designed for and how to get the most out of the workouts.
What Is 80 Day Obsession?
Beachbody (the company that brought you P90X) launched the program in January 2018, and the results and reviews are rolling in. Armed with dumbbells, resistance loops and sliders, Calabrese is motivating and inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to change their lives.
"It's a total-body transformation program that has a very specific emphasis on glutes and core," she says. And who doesn't want that? However, Calabrese says there's a much more scientific reason behind the focus on these two areas than just looking good.
"Our core and glutes are the two major muscle groups that really support us throughout the day and our life," she says. "Having a strong core helps your body sit up tall, improves your posture and helps prevent issues with your spine later in life."
And having strong glutes is also really important. "So many people lack the strength in these areas because we sit on our butt all day or we're in our car all day," says Calabrese. "All of those things deactivate your core and glutes, which is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to develop this program."
There's also a meal-planning component to the program that focuses on timed nutrition, so that you're feeding your body just the right macronutrients to fuel you before, during and after your workouts (see below for more).
What Are 80 Day Obsession Workouts Like?
The program moves through three different phases, with workouts that range from 30 to 60 minutes (though most are about 45 to 60 minutes long). You work out six days a week with one rest day. The workouts require weights (light, medium and heavy), resistance loops, strength sliders (think upside-down Frisbee discs you move around on) and a mat.
Phase one is designed to build basic strength, learn to activate your muscles and gain stability. Calabrese says this helps you have the strength, endurance and balance to handle a slightly more complicated movement patterns in phase two, which is geared toward building lean muscle. And phase three is a shred phrase.
Each phase has six workouts that include total-body core, leg day, a booty workout, cardio core, triple A (arms, abs, ass) and cardio flow. Even though you repeat these six workouts, each day is different.
For example, day one (phase one) you do total-body core for two sets of 15 reps. On day eight of phase two, you do total-body core again, but this time you will do three sets of 10 reps. And since each workout was filmed live, each workout is fresh — just like you're going to a class at your gym.
An example of a weekly schedule looks like this:
- Monday: Total-Body Core
- Tuesday: Booty
- Wednesday: Cardio Core
- Thursday: AAA
- Friday: Legs
- Saturday: Cardio Flow
- Sunday: Rest
The main point of designing the program this way, says Calabrese, is so you never get bored. Including six workouts that change in intensity during each phase helps you avoid the dreaded fitness plateau that comes with so many other types of workouts.
But Does 80 Day Obsession Work?
"The 80 Day Obsession program was unlike any workout program I've ever done," says registered dietician Stephanie Ferrari. "This program took my fitness game to an entirely new level and showed me that I am physically and mentally capable of so much more than I thought," she says. Ferrari also says there's just something about Autumn. "Her cues are on point, and she motivated me even on days when I felt exhausted."
Rachel Grice, a contributing editor for LIVESTRONG.COM, says she felt stronger and more toned in just two weeks, especially in her glutes. Plus, she loves that it feels like you're going to a group class at a gym (or even a live online workout), which makes it more relatable.
"Even as someone who works out fairly consistently, I was sore through the first two weeks," Grice says. She says it's a good program to build foundational strength, focus on form and reset your commitment to fitness.
However, Grice did say that one of the downsides of the program is the need for a lot of equipment. "Because you're progressing your weights, you need almost a full rack of weights or access to a gym, perhaps."
For example, to really do this program right, Grice says she'd need 8-, 10-, 12-, 15-, 20- and 25-pound dumbbells, plus resistance loops and sliders. "That's a lot if you're not fully committed to working out yet or you're on a tight budget."
And, of course, no program will work unless you do. So while there are plenty of before and after photos out there that show you just what the program can help you accomplish, ultimately, if you're not putting in the effort during workouts and meal prep, don't expect dramatic results.
Is There Anyone Who Shouldn’t Do the Workouts?
The program definitely isn't easy. Calabrese says the workouts are geared toward intermediate to advanced fitness levels, and Grice agrees. "I wouldn't recommend the program for beginners (unless you're a very adventurous beginner)," she says.
"There are six pretty intense workouts each week, which can be intimidating for someone just trying to figure out how to fit all the workouts into their weekly routine, not to mention learning all these new moves and dealing with muscle soreness," Grice says.
That said, Calabrese does believe that anybody can do the workouts, as long as you come in with a positive attitude. She points out, though, that you may not be doing exactly what she's doing. That's why she includes one of her cast members whose job it is to show modifications for all of the moves.
Tips to Make the Most of the Workouts
Ready to jump in? Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you get started (or even if you're in the middle of it) to help you reap the maximum benefits from the program.
1. Follow the Nutrition Plan
Since Calabrese designed the program to train your body like an athlete, you also need to fuel your body like an athlete. (And, no, you don't have to be an athlete to do this program.)
The nutrition component that comes with the program explains your calorie and macronutrient needs and helps you design a daily program based on Calabrese's color-coded potion containers. The plan centers around the 40-30-30 split, with 40 percent of your daily calories coming from healthy carbs, 30 percent from lean protein and 30 percent from healthy fats.
As a dietician, Ferrari says she always has a skeptical eye on nutrition programs, but says this one is the real deal, and it works. "If you're new to the program, don't skip the nutrition part — it's key to maximizing your results," she says. The nutrition focuses on portion and timing. So you're eating a specific ratio of macronutrients aimed at maximizing your workouts and results.
2. Modify If You Need To
All of the workouts include modifications, so use them if you need to. Calabrese says that following the modifier when you need to is a critical part of the program, especially if you're not advanced.
And even if you've been working out consistently for years, you may find that modifying certain exercises you're fully capable of doing can help you lift heavier or target the same muscles in a different way. So don't be afraid to experiment!
3. Know That It’s OK to Struggle
Knowing and accepting that it's OK to struggle is the foundation of this program. Calabrese is quick to point out that this is where people often give up and quit. The program isn't meant to be easy. If it were, there wouldn't be progress.
That said, you need to accept that it's going to be challenging and allow yourself to lean on your support system to get you through. Which brings us to…
4. Reach Out for Support
Calabrese encourages users to join one of the online communities, which helps with the support piece of the program. We're meant to go through things together, so having someone to connect with who understands the program helps you get through the ups and downs that come with any fitness and nutrition plan.
5. Celebrate Your Victories Along the Way
Celebrating the small victories helps you stay on track with your fitness goals. "We're not going to just track the number on the scale," says Calabrese. "Once you weigh yourself for the first time, don't get back on the scale for another 30 days."
Calabrese wants people to understand that there are so many other ways to determine your success. Did you do more reps this week? Did you lift a little heavier weight? Were you able to skip the modifier and do the full version? Calabrese says these are all milestones you should be celebrating.
6. Take the Next Step
After you wrap up 80 Day Obsession, why not round out the experience by getting A Little More Obsessed? The week-long follow-up program is similar to the original, but the workouts are shorter and more intense.
It launched to upgraded subscribers in October 2018 and will be available to all Beachbody on Demand subscribers in January 2019. Just in time for all those New Year's Resolutions.