There's a reason exercise is called "working" out : It's downright drudgery for a lot of people. Oftentimes it can feel like a part-time job that doesn't leave a lot of time for the things you really want to be doing — like eating nachos and, um, hanging out with friends.
Beachbody's newest program LIIFT4 was designed with this in mind. Host and co-creator of the program Joel Freeman wanted to give people a program they would actually stick to without having to spend hours a day every day working out or following a restrictive diet.
"The thought that went into this program was creating something that was flexible and realistic in nature. I'm always very realistic when it comes to working out," Freeman says.
"This is really the first program in a long time that actually molds around people's lives," says Freeman. "Everyone's stressed to the max as it is, so I wanted to design something that would help relieve some of that stress, not stress them out more."
But just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy. There's a lot packed into each session, and the program is guaranteed to kick your butt — and get you results.
Read more: 5 Myths About HIIT Debunked
What Is LIIFT4?
Getting back to basics, LIIFT4 is an eight-week program that involves four short sessions a week combining strength training and cardio. There are no complicated exercises, minimal equipment and a basic nutrition guide. You can do that, no sweat. (But there will definitely be sweat involved.)
What Freeman and his co-creators at Beachbody have aimed to do is condense the normal 90-minute gym workout into a manageable 30- to 40-minute workout.
"With LIIFT4 I figured it was time to take it back to basics, so we got rid of all the extra stuff," Freeman says. "Basic planes of movement, nothing's super complex, there's no curtsy lunge into a biceps curl into a squat into a shoulder press — we just got rid of all that crap."
What Are LIIFT4 Workouts Like?
Sessions follow a typical four-day split, with each day focused on one or two body parts. "In terms of the week breakdown, it goes pretty old-school. On chest and triceps day, that is all we're doing," Freeman says. "Basic chest moves, basic triceps moves, and that's it." Three sets of 10 reps of each exercise followed by a 30-second rest, and then repeat. It all takes just 20 minutes.
After that is a brief high-intensity interval, or HIIT, workout. This part is designed to burn out your muscles and get your heart rate up. HIIT is so effective that you only need to do short sessions to get big benefits. It's just as effective as doing a longer steady-state workout (treadmill, yuck!), according to Micah Zuhl, Ph.D., and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico.
Freeman keeps the chitchat to a minimum, and the transitions from exercise to exercise are snappy. "There's not a lot of downtime. There's no time to check your email or your Instagram while you're working out," says Freeman. "Just get in, get it done and then move on with your day."
You'll also have three rest days a week. (Hallelujah!) And you'll want to take full advantage of them. Your days off from weightlifting are crucial for allowing your body time to rest and recover. And if you're doing it right, you're going to need them. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do anything_._ "Just stay away from weightlifting those days, but still stay active. Swim, bike, run — get out and enjoy your life," Freeman says.
What’s the LIIFT4 Nutrition Plan Like?
The informal name of the accompanying nutrition plan is, aptly, "Cut the Crap." Six days a week, participants are encouraged to eat clean and balance their calories and macros, consuming 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbs and 30 percent fats.
The provided plan tells you how many portions to eat of each food category based on your weight. It's not an exact science, and you don't need to count calories or cut out certain foods — just keep it healthy_._ There's even a vegan nutrition plan.
There's also one "cheat" day each week too. "Not my favorite word. I wish we could have called it something different," Freeman says, "but that seventh day we basically say, look, just loosen the reins. If you've really been wanting a beer or a glass of wine or a pizza, go have it. And then come back."
Read more: What Size Dumbbells Should I Use?
Can Anyone Do LIIFT4 Workouts?
The basic, straightforward nature of LIIFT4 makes it great for beginners. Even though it moves quickly, Freeman gives a lot of explanation and guidance on proper technique. While he urges participants to challenge themselves, he also emphasizes the importance of good form.
"As every Beachbody program does, there's a modifier in every single workout," says Freeman. If you can't do regular push-ups yet, Freeman will show you how to do them on your knees. If you have an injury that's exacerbated by impact, he'll give direction for low-impact versions of the HIIT exercises.
"The great thing about weightlifting is that it's you versus you," says Freeman. "You start wherever you need to — even if it's two soup cans, that's your weight."
On the flip side, if you've already been working out a while, you're not going to be disappointed. You'll be encouraged to up your weight and increase your intensity. If mountain climbers at normal speed are not enough for you, you always have the option to do double-time.
Does LIIFT4 Get You Results?
The number-one question Freeman has been asked about the program is if you can really get results from working out for just 30 to 40 minutes four days a week. "The resounding answer is absolutely," he says. If you do the workouts and challenge yourself, you're going to burn fat and build muscle.
"People get fixated on how many calories they've burned, but they're not taking into account what they did to their muscles. We're talking about EPOC and increasing your metabolic rate," Freeman says.
EPOC, by the way, stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption and refers to the calories your body continues to burn in the periods after intense exercise. According to researchers Lance C. Dalleck, Ph.D., and Samuel S. Van De Velde, this period of increased metabolism can last up to 48 hours after your workout.
LIIFT4 isn't about becoming a hardbody with bulging biceps and chiseled abs (although that's not off the table). "If you just change a couple things you're going to see results," says Freeman. "If you want the six-pack, well, we all know what we have to do nowadays — there's no more mystery about that. But it's more about feeling better, fitter and happier."
What Equipment Do You Need for LIIFT4?
Getting started with LIIFT4 is pretty easy. All you need are a few pairs of dumbbells, access to Beachbody on Demand and a device for streaming (computer, tablet, phone or smart TV).
Freeman recommends starting with at least one light, one medium and one heavy pair of dumbbells. "It doesn't matter if you're a guy or a girl, but if you're newer to weightlifting a good range is to have between five- and 20-pound dumbbells," says Freeman. If you've been weightlifting for a while, you can go up from there.
Most importantly, don't be intimidated. If you're brand-new to lifting, it will be awkward at first. "The everyday person walking around doesn't always have the best kinesthetic awareness (aka awareness of your own movements), especially if it's something brand-new," says Freeman. "That's all of us. If you're right-handed and you have to start writing left-handed, it's going to look horrible."
Freeman gives this parting advice: "Go in and try to stick with it the best you can, and don't overthink it. Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be."