Review: Jillian Michaels – Lift and Shred

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Overview: Lift and Shred is a weight lifting program consisting of two workouts, each just over 30 minutes in length. Level 1 is aimed at beginners to intermediate-level exercisers, while Level 2 is more for intermediate- to advanced-level exercisers. Both are full-body workouts.

Equipment needed: Set of dumbbells ranging from 8 to 15 pounds (depending on fitness level), mat

Workout times:
Level 1: 32 minutes (including warm-up and cooldown)
Level 2: 33 minutes (including warm-up and cooldown)

Workout structure:

Level 1: 4 circuits, each repeated once

Circuit 1: Squat, alternating rear lunge, high row, shoulder press
Circuit 2: Alternating side lunge, stiff-leg deadlift, alternating bicep curl, goblet squat
Circuit 3: Dumbbell squat and swing, low row, hammer curl/lateral fly, overhead triceps extension
Circuit 4: Lat pull in bridge, chest press/chest fly, weighted crunch, lat angels in bridge

Level 2: 4 circuits, each repeated once

Circuit 1: Pushup with dumbbell rollout, close-grip chest press, side plank with row, Turkish sit-up (aka half get-up)
Circuit 2: Russian twist, burpee rows, sumo squat with high pull, stiff-leg deadlift with alternating rear lunge
Circuit 3: Bent-leg deadlift to jump, good morning, reverse fly, skater with dumbbell pass
Circuit 4: Side lunge to shoulder press, dumbbell snatch, split jerk, goblet squat walk with farmer’s walk

My impressions:

Having done both workouts, I much preferred Level 1, as it focuses on isolation exercises, which I like a heckuva lot more than combination exercises, which are the focus of Level 2. Level 1 starts off with a warm-up of about 4 minutes consisting of cardio and dynamic stretching moves, after which the strength training begins. The training section is composed of 4 circuits of 4 different exercises each (each circuit is done twice). Along with Jillian, Level 1 uses two background exercisers (Kenta and Rocky) who occasionally show modifications. I would have liked to have seen the modifications done more consistently; they were basically shown only on occasion and on the fly.

Jillian talks a lot during Level 1 (as well as during Level 2), but gives a lot of good form pointers throughout, and maintains a good rapport with the background exercisers (including a running joke about Kenta not bringing the 12-pound dumbbells). The workout seemed a bit heavy on the shoulder exercises at the expense of chest work, but good news – no pushups! (Though there are lunges.) The workout ends with a cooldown of about 3 minutes.

As mentioned above, Level 2 focuses more on combinations exercises and well as some power moves, which is why it’s best for intermediate to advanced exercisers. It begins with a warm-up of about 3 ½ minutes, followed by strength training using the same format as in Level 1 (4 circuits of 4 exercises, each done twice). As for the background exercisers, Kenta is back doing the advanced modifications, along with Maddy, who occasionally does some of the easier modifications. As with Level 1, the modifications are not shown consistently.

Level 2 includes several advanced-level power moves, such as the bent-leg deadlift to jump, burpee rows, and split jerk, and some combination moves that are a bit awkward to do (goblet squat walk, anyone?). Kenta occasionally shows how to increase the intensity of the workout by increasing the speed of the moves, but I prefer to just increase the weights. You can of course up the intensity of Level 1 by increasing the weights, as well. The workout concludes with a cooldown of approximately 2 minutes.

The DVD also includes a short workout recommendation to do the workouts up to 4 times per week, starting with Level 1 then moving to Level 2 when ready. There are also links to Jillian’s website and social media channels. There is also an audio setup section, and a More from Jillian section, which includes DVD trailers, and info on her programs and products. So if you’re interested in buying some Lucky Jack coffee or doing some shopping at Thrive Market, you’re in luck!

Summary: Overall Lift and Shred is a good full-body strength training DVD perfect for days you want to do some weight work but don’t have much time. Level 1 gets slightly higher marks from me than Level 2, mainly because of its focus on simple yet effective isolation moves.

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