Shin Ohtake’s Max Workouts Review

This Max Workouts review is my own opinion, based on authentic long-term use of the program since early 2009. I hope the write-up is useful to you and that it anticipates some of your questions.
- Rob

Update: It’s now 2013 – four years since I started using Max Workouts. Right now I’m doing the Max Workouts “Killer Kettlebell” routine, which is great for added variety and overall conditioning once you’ve done the basic Max Workouts program.

There’s a lot of value in Shin Ohtake’s MAX Workouts program, and it’s gotten progressively better since I first reviewed it in 2009.

Max Workouts Review
Author: Shin Ohtake
Score: 4.7 out of 5
  (scores explained…)
Workout A+
Usability A-
Diet A
What I like:

  • Short, effective workouts.
  • Rapid results for fat loss and fitness.
  • Diet advice that works.
  • Upgrade options that are worth considering.
  • Optional subscription for regular new workouts.

What you might not like:

  • Not a great option for body builders. You’ll develop well-defined muscles, but you won’t be huge.
  • If you’re only really interested in losing weight, but really don’t like exercise, this probably isn’t a good fit for you.

Quick Links:

Quick Links

People seem to click these links most often:

Does Max Workouts work?

My own personal experience is that it works really well:

  • I started feeling considerably fitter after the first two weeks, and began to see visible changes.
  • I also experienced an overall increase in energy and vitality, in addition to shedding flab and building toned muscle.
  • It was also relatively easy to follow. The online videos and Q&A forum were very helpful.

Of the workouts I’ve reviewed on this site, it’s certainly my favorite. Read through my write-up below for more info. You may also want to look at the success stories (i.e. testimonials) on the official site. They seem pretty credible, and are from people at all levels of fitness. They’re definitely not cheesy staged pictures of fitness models.

How Does Max Workouts Work?

Max Workouts uses short, high-intensity workouts to raise your metabolism and create a fat after-burn effect that will continue burning fat after each workout. What’s an intense workout? See “What are the workouts like” below.
The author, Shin Ohtake explains the principle in this video:

Shin Ohtake explaining the fat after-burner effect used in Max Workouts.

What’s Included in Max Workouts?

It’s offered in three versions: Basic, Deluxe, and Premium.

The Basic version has everything you need, while the Deluxe and Premium versions give you a greater variety of workouts, and some useful step-by-step training videos. I can’t decide what’s the best option. It really depends on what’s valuable to you. For details on what’s in each package, take a look at this page (it’s the order page, but you don’t need to buy anything, it’s just the easiest way to see what the different packages are).

Here’s a summary, with my opinion on each component…

Basic: Everything you need

The Basic version of Max Workouts has pretty much everything you need to get into great shape. The workout program in the basic package made a huge difference to my fitness and body shape. In my personal case, it was without a doubt a sound investment.

The Basic version contains:

  • The “Max Workouts 90 Day Fitness Program“. This is the meat of the product and has everything you need to execute the program. This e-book was good back in 2009. It’s since been updated with more photos and other tweaks to make it even better. You can read it on your computer/iPad screen, but it’s worth printing out since you’ll be referring to it a bit until you get used to the max workouts exercises.
  • The “Lean Body Diet: How to Eat for Maximum Fat Loss“: A great e-book. At heart, it’s basically a low-carb diet. But it’s not a “hey eat all the junk you like as long as it has no carbs” diet. It’s all healthy food. Nothing complicated. No starving. No chemicals or supplements. There are also options depending on how much fat-loss you want to achieve.  Be ready to set aside some focused time to work through this. It’s simple in concept, but also very detailed, and has a worksheet to help you figure out how to tailor the diet for yourself (something I appreciated, since it’s one thing to read a diet book, and another thing entirely to take action and apply it to your life).
  • The “Ultimate Muscle Recovery Guide“: This is a short book that goes well beyond the usual “remember to stretch” advice. The book shows how to use a roller to massage and loosen up your muscles. It really works. The only other time I’ve personally received this information is from a physiotherapist. Definitely good value.

Deluxe: Gym-ready mobile videos + Workouts for when you’re away from your gym

I really like the bodyweight workouts in the Deluxe version. They’re very useful for those weeks when you’re away travelling on business or vacation. I’ve used them a number of times, and they’ve been a real lifesaver, especially when the alternative was to drop out of a regular workout routine because there were no gym facilities. For me, the Deluxe version is worth it just for the bodyweight workouts.

The Deluxe version also takes the workout program from the Basic version and adds videos to make it easier to get started. Put the videos on your iPhone so that each day you can just go straight to your workout and watch the video to see what to do. I imagine this is a useful time-saver, saving you from having to keep referring to the manual, read the instructions for each exercise, and make notes before each workout. (Okay, I admit I still do it the old-fashioned non-video way, but that’s just me, I’m used to the jargon).

The Deluxe version has everything from the Basic version, plus:

  • Max Workouts Training Videos“: These are really useful for getting through the initial 90-day program because they save you having to cross-reference between a workout description and the descriptions and photos of each individual exercise in that workout to figure out what to do. You just play the video for the workout you want to do, and Shin shows you exactly what to do for each exercise. You can even put them on your iPhone/iPad/iPod and take them to the gym with you.
  • Bodyweight Workouts 4 Week Fitness Program“: This is a must if you travel much, whether for work or vacations, so you can keep working out while away from your regular gym. I’ve done these workouts in hotel rooms, at holiday campgrounds, and in parks and playgrounds. Four weeks of exercises is more than enough for this sort of usage. You could also just do this program as your regular workout for a month (e.g. do it after you finish the 90-day program), although I haven’t used it for that.

Premium – Do you want to get in the best shape possible?

The Premium version of Max Workouts is a good package if you want to get into the best possible shape. It costs quite a bit more than the Basic version, but when you look at what it contains, it has about twice the value of the Basic package, and contains advanced workouts that will push you even further than the already very challenging workouts Basic version. If your goal is to get into the best shape possible, I think this is a good option for the money.

The Premium version has everything from the Basic and Deluxe versions, plus:

  • Max Workouts Extreme 6-Week Fitness Program“: This is a great add-on to the initial 90-day program, and it’s a better option than just repeating the 90-days. If you do end up getting this, don’t try the extreme program to start with. Do the 90-day program first to condition yourself. And don’t let the “extreme” name intimidate you – these are more challenging than the workouts in the basic package, but if you’ve done the basic program you’ll definitely be able to handle these.
  • Killer Kettlebells 4-week Fitness Program“: Kettle bells are super effective, and this is a great program to add to the mix – it’ll really build your strength up. The only real drawback is that kettle bells aren’t as convenient as dumbbells: not all gyms have them, and if you have a home gym they’re  another piece  of equipment you’ll need to buy (a good investment, but they’re not cheap – I recommend just getting one with a selectable weight, since it takes up less space and is cheaper than a set of individual pieces). So I’d say that if you have access to kettle bells, this program is a good investment, otherwise, well, you be the judge.

What are the workouts like?

(Tip: The free 5-day Lean Body Kick Start has some good examples).

The author, Shin Ohtake, explaining his exercise approach by way of example.Also notice how slim and toned Susan is - using weights makes women slim, not big.

Max Workouts uses two basic types of workout: high intensity weight training, and interval cardio. Each workout is about half an hour-long, including warm-up time. In the initial 90-day program, the two types of workout are done on alternate days for the first five days of the week, followed by active recovery (light exercise) on the sixth day, and a day off on the seventh. (The week starts on whatever day you like). The Max Workouts Extreme program uses a more challenging pattern, since you’ll already be in good shape from the initial 90-day program.

The high intensity weight training workouts are preceded by a 5-10 minute warm-up. The warm ups resemble a very light workout, and I find they’re great for limbering up, shaking off any lethargy or stiffness I may have, and preparing for the main workout. The main workout is around 20 minutes long, and incorporates a several rounds of energetic weight lifting exercises. The Max Workouts exercises themselves are very dynamic and challenge large portions of the body. Here’s one example: rather than straight push ups, hold a dumbbell in each hand, do a push up, and alternately lift each dumb bell to your side (called a “dumbbell push up row”). You’ll feel it in your chest, core, legs, and shoulders as your body stabilises itself through each row. Sound easy? No way. Especially since after that set you’ll immediately move on to the next exercise, without a break, and do however many reps are required, then move to the next exercise, etc. And when you get to the end, it’s back to the beginning of the series to do it all again. If you aren’t struggling by the 5th round of this, then I want to know your secret. There is very little time to rest, and you’re continually working. You will sweat a lot, breathe hard, work your muscles hard, and really get your heart pumping. Honestly, there have been a few times when I’ve really been challenged to complete all the rounds in a workout and it’s a real sense of achievement pushing through to the end.

If you want to, you can follow the main workout with an optional abdominal workout, which generally consists of a handful of really effective core strength exercises (no sit-ups or crunches!) This generally takes about 5 minutes. Honestly, if it took much longer, I’d collapse. Like the main workout, this really makes awesome use of your time.

The interval cardio workouts are about 25 minutes, including warmup, and can be done with any cardio machine, or by running outdoors. My preference is to run at a park or track near my house when I can, and use my indoor exercise bike when the weather’s too nasty outside. These workouts are really challenging. They also scale to your ability, since the instructions tell you not how fast you should go, but rather, how hard you should work.

What about variety?

To give you an idea of the variety in the workouts, the basic training manual includes around 60 pages of exercise descriptions with pictures, that are referred to throughout the workouts. The Basic packages comes with 90 days of workouts, and the workouts change throughout the program. The Deluxe and Premium packages provide even more workouts, so you’ll never get into a rut.

Personally I’m very pleased with the variety of workouts. There’s just enough repetition for me to be able to learn what I’m doing, and easily enough variety for me to stay mentally engaged, and for my body to be continually challenged.

What equipment do you need?

You can do Max Workouts in a gym, or at home. Personally, I prefer to workout at home. Here’s what you need:

  • A few pairs of dumbbells. I have the old-fashioned grey hexagonal kind, and they do fine. You don’ t need a full set – they’re expensive and take a bit of space, and you’ll end up only using three or four pairs. I’d say just get a pair that feels light, another that feels really heavy (but still lift-able), and one or two pairs in between. (If you’re thinking of getting a lot of dumbbells, I’d consider a set of selectable-weights, which will take up much less space and actually cost less.)
  • An interval timer – this is critical. There is absolutely no way you’ll be able to rest for the proper time (i.e. briefly!), or do your cardio intervals at all, without a workout timer/stopwatch that can count off intervals and beep at you. You’ll be way too focused to watch a clock. You can even use an app on your cell phone, or a kitchen timer :)
  • A pull-up bar (or substitute). The kind that hooks onto a door frame is fine. I wanted something sturdier and ended up installing one above the door in my garage (see this post). I’ve also used playground equipment, and you can even just use the top of a door (remember to put a towel over it first so the grip doesn’t hurt). Pull-ups are hard, especially to begin with. You can rest your foot on a chair or bench to help lift your body up, and then just use your arms to lower yourself down.
Optionally, you can also use this equipment:
  • A barbell & rack. This is optional, but if you have one, or want to get one, go ahead. If not, there are dumbbell variants of the bar exercises that work just fine (personally I prefer them, but that’s just me). I don’t actually have a bar & rack. The only exercise that’s a little tricky without one is when you need to hang below a bar and lift yourself up. There’s a simple substitution that I picked up from You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises: just lie below a sturdy table, grab the edge, and pull yourself up.
  • A medicine ball for some of the ab workouts. This isn’t essential either, and it’s pretty easy to improvise a substitute. But nice if you can get it.
  • A workout mat to put on the floor. Something soft and non-slip like a carpet or yoga mat is fine as an alternative.

What do I wish was different?

Overall I’m very happy with the program. When I last reviewed it in 2009, my main criticism was the scant nutritional guidance. However this has been completely addressed with the Lean Body Diet in the basic package.

Similarly, in the 2009 version I found myself wishing the exercise descriptions were more logically arranged, so I don’t have to leaf back and forth looking for a the particular exercises used in today’s routine. Since then, the main instructional book’s been revised and is easier to follow (although I still think it could do with some work, but it’s pretty good). The videos in the Deluxe version really help a lot.

Things you may not like

  • Not a great option for body builders. You’ll develop well-defined muscles, but you won’t be huge.
  • If you really don’t like working out, this probably isn’t the right program for you.
  • If you’re really out of shape you will find it very challenging to begin with, and will need to ease into it (see the Q&A page and click “am I too out of shape”).

The bottom line

Overall, I absolutely love and highly recommend the MAX Workouts program. It’s challenging, engaging, and time-efficient. And it delivers great results in fitness, strength and weight loss. I also like the author’s (Shin Ohtake’s) attitude in the books and on the website – he comes across as a sincere, no-hype guy who really knows his stuff, has a calm and clear instructional demeanor, and practices what he preaches.

More Info

Here are some quick links to specific pages on the Shin Ohtake MAX Workouts site that you may find useful:

  • Lean Body Kick Start - a free 5-day introduction to Max Workouts
  • Success Stories/Testimonials -  Usually I’m turned off by testimonial pages, but these are actually interesting, and as somebody who uses this workout program, I find them very believable

Have a question that you don’t see answered in this Max Workouts review? You can ask it in the comment section below.

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  1. In my experience, after you’re done with the introductory 90-day program, Shin’s website is GREAT for continuing on the path to fitness. In fact, the workouts there, and there are hundreds of them, are all better – if more advanced – than what you get in the introductory 90-day program. I used to subscribe to a few other such websites, but is by far (for me) the best source of info for workouts. I’ve since simplified and dropped all the other sites. Shin keeps uploading videos of workouts, and he makes it really easy to understand. The workouts themselves are NOT easy, but his no-nonsense, no-glitz approach is the best I’ve ever seen. And it WORKS! Short, but NOT easy – yet rewarding in the end. And the best part is, you get hooked. I want to meet this guy! He comes on like a good friend, almost like family. Shin makes it fun. I was just tired of exercise being such a damn drag!

  2. This all sounds great, it seams like everione who said that they got results are people who are comited to working out and have been doing so for a long time. What about those of us who are begeners and have been working out on and of but newer realy comiting for a long period of time and are compleatly out of shape. I dont mean weight wise but energy and strenght wise. Would these work outs be too chalengig to compleate. Honestly now i cant even do one push up going all the way to the ground and up.

    • This is a really good point. The way exercises are presented in pretty much all of these sorts of programs, it would be very difficult for a complete beginner to do some of them – in particular, the ones based on body-weight, such as pushups and pullups. Although fortunately there are easier alternatives you can use while you build your strength up (and in the case of Max Workouts, these details are included in the program).

      The cardio, weights, etc, should be fine for you. Just work to your capacity, e.g. by using really light weights, by walking briskly or jogging rather than running, etc.

      With pushups, the way to start building up your strength is to push off a wall or bench, or the back of a chair, rather than off the floor. The more vertical you get, the easier it will be.

      With pull-ups, the best way is to put your foot on a chair or bench to help support your weight. Use your leg strength to help you pull up, then use your arm strength as much as you can to lower your weight back down again (this is what will build your strength).

      Another good way to do pullups is to not use a bar at all. Instead, lie under a sturdy table, with your shoulders under the table edge. Bend your legs and put your feet flat on the floor. Then grab the table edge and pull your chest up toward the table. Hold yourself up as long as you can and lower yourself down as slowly as you can. You may only be able to do a few of these to begin with, but that’s okay.

    • Actually, there’s another approach you may want to take if you have the same concerns Sara posted above.

      If your primary goal is just to lose weight, and while you’d like to get generally fitter, you couldn’t care less about being more athletic, getting better at pushups, etc., the Body Fat Control program is probably a better option. It does require exercise, but nothing intimidating (i.e. if you can do bike/treadmill/elliptical or whatever cardio you prefer, 3 times a week, that’ll be fine).

      (I’ve updated the review above to include this info)

  3. Baldev Singh says:

    Hi ” Shin i am a guy that weighs 114 kg 5,11 hight 42 years old has. Never trained before ,will your programe work for me allso have a bad back,

    • Hi Baldev,

      Click through to Shin’s Q&A page here.

      In the “Health Concerns” section near the bottom, you’ll find the section on whether you can do Max Workouts with a bad back, and how to go about it.

      Also, given that you haven’t trained before, the very first section on that page (“am I too out of shape”) also has some useful advice for getting started.

      And if you don’t find the info you need, there’s also a link to a contact form at the top of that page. Shin’s a really nice guy and diligent about responding to questions.

      Hope that helps,

      - Rob

  4. Not sure this program is good for me. I am 39 y old, skinny (weight 96 pounds) but flabby, no muscle tone whatsoever, no strength. I haven’t exercise for the last 5 years since I had my first child. Would I be able to complete this program?
    I have an elliptical trainer at home but I don’t use it consistently, mainly because I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t really want to loose weight but I desperately need to to gain muscle tone.

    • Hi Cathy,

      Max Workouts will definitely develop muscle tone (along with other benefits like endurance and energy/agility).

      Given that you haven’t exercised for a while, you’ll probably start out slow, but it’ll still seem pretty tough for the first week or two. That’s okay: you’ll adapt quickly.

      Also, given that you’re starting out with minimal strength, you will find a couple of the exercises are way too hard (e.g. pull-ups). Don’t worry about this: the program lists alternative exercises that are easier, so you can adapt to your own ability. (Also see my comment above about building push-up and pull-up strength, if you’re interested in pursuing that).

      If you’re worried about being too out of shape, you may also want to look at the advice on the official Q&A page (click “am I too out of shape”). Basically, just do the warmups for a week, and a couple of cardio sessions the week after, to get your body used to moving again before you embark on the program.

      – Rob

  5. I used to weigh 330 pounds and I lost 70 pounds in about a year. I finally hit a plateau and been stuck on 260 pounds for the last year and a half. I workout at home with only dumbells, but I want to join a gym. I really want to lose weight but at the same time gain muscle as well. Also I was reading that you have to do pullups which it’s hard for me at this weight. It seems like this program focuses a lot on cardio and less weight training. Like I said I want to lose weight but also built muscle at the same time. Is this the right program for me? Thanks!

    • Hi Sal,

      Wow! 70 lbs is impressive. Great job!

      Given your current weight (and assuming you’re of average height, and the extra weight is from fat), I think you’re probably carrying too much extra weight for Max Workouts to be the right program for you right now. Take a look at the official Max Workouts Q&A page, and scroll down to the bottom. They recommend you lose more weight before starting the program. Yes, you can substitute other exercises for pullups, but the exercises in the program will probably be too strenuous for the extra weight.

      Here’s what I’d do:

      1. Adjust your diet and cardio, if necessary:
      - Make sure your diet includes a reasonable balance of protein, carbs and fat (different proportions of each work better for different people – genetics), and spread it out through the day so that you’re snacking on healthy food. Try to create a calorie deficit, but don’t starve yourself (that just makes your body want to keep its fat). You probably know all this.
      - Do high intensity cardio 2-3 times a week. e.g. get on the treadmill or exercise bike, and go fast for 30 seconds, then slow for 30 seconds. Keep repeating for about 20 minutes. If you’re out of shape, you’ll do much less to begin with, but you’ll gradually build up your strength and endurance. (This also creates an afterburn effect)
      - You may want to take a look at the Body Fat Control program. It has pretty good advice for losing weight, and it’s easy to follow. The exercises are also simpler, so more achievable if you’re overweight or obese.

      2. Supplement that with some simple weight training 2-3 times per week to build your strength up. Try this for starters:
      - One set each of these three exercises: Pushups, squats, rows
      - Pushups will work your chest, shoulders, triceps and core. They can be hard to begin with, so try doing them at an incline, e.g. by putting your hands on a bench. If that’s too difficult, do them from your knees until you build your upper body strength. Incline pushups are preferable because they work your core better.
      - Squats work your lower body (obviously), which is where your biggest muscles (i.e. fat burners) are. Squats can be done with your body weight. If you need more weight, you can hold dumbbells, or use a machine. Or just do more reps.
      - Rows work your back, shoulders and biceps. They can be done with dumbbells or a machine.
      - Do each exercise slowly: four seconds push/contract, hold for 2 seconds, four seconds slowly returning to the start position. This isn’t how they do it in Max Workouts, but it will build your muscle.
      - Repeat each exercise until failure (i.e. you’re trying as hard as you can, but you can’t possibly do another rep), then move onto the next exercise.
      - If you can’t do 6 reps before failure, the exercise is too hard. If you’re using weights, reduce the weight. If you’re doing pushups, increase the incline (or do them from your knees until your upper body strength improves).

      3. Vary things so that you don’t hit a plateau. For example:
      - Don’t do the same exercises for more than 3 weeks. Change your cardio intervals. Use different variants & machines on the weight training exercises. Vary the speed of your reps from week to week.
      - About 1 day in 4, eat a little more than you do on your diet days (but don’t overdo it)
      - Try changing your carb/protien/fat ratio and see if that helps. Some people respond better to low carb, while others respond better to low fat.

      Hope that’s helpful,

      - Rob

      NOTE: Always be cautious starting a new workout program. What I’ve written above is just a suggestion. Talk to your healthcare professional to see what they would advise or whether there would be any issues.

  6. I am 56 years old and have been going to the gym for 10 years, 2 or 3 days a week at 5:30 am. I am starting to get the tiny gut going despite all my efforts in the gym. I ride my bike or do the highest incline on the tread mill for 45 minutes each of the 3 other days I am not doing weights. I am 5’8″ and weight 166 lbs. I like sweets and have a glass of wine for dinner each night. I have read lots of information on MAXWORKOUTS and they make very good sense to me. My question is, if I buy the Basic Program and do it for 90 days, what do I do for the rest of the year. Can I just keep redoing the 90 day plan?



    • Hi Jay,

      Thanks for the question. Yes, you can keep repeating the 90 day program. There’s plenty of variety, and as long as you keep giving it 100% you should be fine.

      I suspect the real challenge will probably be in staying interested in doing the same 12-week workout for the long term. So you may end up eventually buying another program just for variety, but that’ll be sometime in the hazy future.


      - Rob

      P.S. In my case, I redo the basic Max Workouts program occasionally, in between doing other programs. In fact, I’m just finishing up week 11 of the basic program now, and I can tell you I’m definitely feeling it :)

  7. Hi Rob,

    I am a 36-yr-old gal who just gave birth to #3 baby about six months ago. I jog about 12-15 miles (so about four 30-min cardio sessions) per week and lift twice per week circuit training each main body part once per week, including abs. I am a very healthy eater…try to eat almost all whole foods keeping calories between 1400-1600 per day. I currently have seven baby pounds left to lose, which would put me at 120 pounds and 5’5″. I have reached the dreaded plateau in my weight loss and am wondering if this program might help me push through that. I am accustomed to pretty defined muscles in my arms and legs since I work out with a trainer, but my time is more limited now with a young baby. Knowing my current weight and fitness level, I would like your opinion on this program’s benefit to me.



    • Hi Tabitha,

      Congratulations on baby #3! (you’re braver than us – we stopped at #2)

      Thanks for the question. It sounds like you’re already in pretty good shape: you’re doing moderately fast cardio (8-10 minute miles) plus strength training (which will also make your weight loss target fat rather than muscle), and you’re eating a healthy, moderate diet. This isn’t a requirement for Max Workouts, but it should make it relatively easy for you to get started.

      Getting off the plateau can be tricky, but based on what you’ve told me, here are a few simple tweaks I’d try:
      1. Replace the jogging with high-intensity sprint intervals (e.g. like this). This will have more of a metabolic effect than running at a moderate pace. For example, a few years ago I went through a crazy phase of running 12 miles a day (a really dumb example of dangerous over-training, which I paid for later on), but it wasn’t making a dent in my flab . I replaced it with 25 minutes of sprint intervals, three times a week, and hey presto: I started losing flab.
      2. In your circuit training, make sure most of the moves are full-body compound moves (e.g. rather than bench-presses followed by rows, do pushups with dumbbells in each hand, and at the top of each pushup, do a row with each arm; or rather than squats followed by shoulder presses, hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, and do squats, pressing the dumbbells up as you straighten your legs, lowering them as you bend). This will again have more of an effect on your metabolism (and deliver some functional strength benefits that will help with juggling kids and all their stuff).
      3. Completely mix up your routine every few weeks so that your body has to keep adapting.

      Once you’ve done that, you’re essentially following the same formula as Max Workouts.

      Hope that helps,

      - Rob

  8. Great review. Just bought the Max workouts program and going through it to see what I need. I’m planning to do all of it at home. Was looking to get the bowflex
    adjustable dumbells. The 52.5 lb ones seem reasonable price. Do I think I would ever need more for this program. Trying to maximize space. Thanks.

    • Hi Eliot,

      Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad the review was helpful.

      Yes, I suspect that unless you’re particularly strong, 52.5 lbs. should be fine. I typically use 40 lb dumbbells for the heavier parts of this workout. My strength is fairly average for a guy, and there are definitely stronger guys than me who do use heavier weights, and you’ll see in the book that Shin has some ranges that go higher for stronger guys. But given that you’re maintaining high intensity for 20+ minutes, with minimal rests, even a 5lb. increment makes a huge difference to the difficulty.

      BTW, I recently did a survey of currently available adjustable dumbbells. Bowflex are a good dumbbell, and should work fine for Max Workouts, but there are some competitors that are worth looking at, either because they’re more durable and/or less bulky.

      • Thanks. Stair master dumb bells sound impressive. do u think they’re worth the extra $100 over bow flex. They definately seem to be better constructed.

        • Ah, that’s a tough one to answer. $100 isn’t trivial, and Bowflex work fine, despite being a bit clunky in comparison. But Stairmaster have the newer better design that addresses some of the faults with Bowflex. Is this worth an extra $100? Probably, since it’s not much money when spread over the time you’ll use it. On the other hand, because they’re a newer product, we don’t know how durable they’ll be after a few years.

          • Elliott says:

            Just to follow up. Twistlock dumbells arrived last night. Thanks for the advice and recommendation. They definately have the smartest design on the market now. Love the fact that the dumbell is only as long as the current weight. Less weight = shorter length.

          • Cool. Thanks for the update. I was curious to know what you decided in the end. Let me know how you go.


            - Rob

  9. Hey, Rob…GREAT review. Very thorough! I am 5’9″ and gained almost 20 pounds after getting married in 2008 (169). I’ve always been active but after marriage, the eating habits changed (and my activity levels went down). At first, I tried to amp up my workouts. I tried bodyrock, joined a gym, attended classes, did the elliptical and some weight machines/free weights on my own – with no real knowledge on what i was doing.

    I’m going to Hawaii in July so in despertion, I bought the P90X and pulled a muscle in my shoulder in less than two weeks (lol). Plus, it was WAY too intense and I know I would burn out. Then I tried the Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 (which does 3 minutes of compound weights, 2 minutes of cardio, 1 minute of abs) and coupled with a new eating plan of 6 small meals a day (i think that was the key), I have lost 12 pounds. But to be honest, I think the JM workout isn’t intense enough and I have to add onto it after it’s done. Based on your reviews, this sounds like what I may be looking for to get me past that plateau. My question to you is… I like working out at home and does the second option (that has the videos) include videos/workouts using freeweights? I don’t want to use machines at a gym.

    Thanks again for your review! I know I want to do this, just not sure whether to get the basic or 2nd option (i think it’s the deluxe)? Have a great day!

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for the compliment. Glad the review was useful. :)

      To answer your question, no, there are no gym machines involved. It’s all free weights, and works great as a home workout.


      - Rob

      P.S. I haven’t tried Jillian Michaels (yet), so I don’t know how it compares.
      P.P.S. Ouch! A pulled shoulder is no fun. Make sure you’re recovered before doing Max Workouts. (I figure you have already, but just want to put that out there just in case)

  10. Great information. Over the past 6 years I’ve had 4 lower back surgeries including 2 fusions. In that time I’ve gotten pretty out of shape and overweight. I recently joined a gym and have tried a few different weight loss workout programs with little success. These workouts have gotten me back in the workout mode but I want something that will cut the weight more than a couple of pounds here and there. I want my Marine body back!
    My biggest concern about this program is the strain on my back. I was in such misery for so long that I guess I’m just afraid of injuring myself again and having to start that process all over.
    My question is whether or not a program like this one will be too much for my back. I’m 30 y/o 5’10″ and break the scales at 230 lbs.
    Thanks again for the great information.

    • Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for the question. Obviously I can’t give a medical diagnosis or medical advice. But here are some thoughts that may help:

      - You should definitely read the Max Workouts Frequently Asked Questions, which has a section called “Can I do Max Workouts if I have a bad back?”

      - Max Workouts doesn’t involve lifting extremely heavy weights. However, it is vigorous and uses a lot of full-body moves that will engage your back. I suppose that depending on your particular circumstances this could either help you or harm you. But I don’t know.

      - Another option you could take is to just buy the program, take it to your doctor and have him/her review each workout with you, either giving the thumbs-up, suggesting some modifications, or advising you against it. If it turns out that the program is inappropriate, just get a refund (there’s a 90-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee).

      Hope that helps,

      - Rob

  11. I’m a skinny guy about 140 pounds. I’m what is called a hard gainer. Will this program actually work for me or will I end up loosing weight. I want to be defined and nicely cut. Noticablely in shape. Better arms etc etc. I’m just a damn rail.

    • Hi Jay,

      This will certainly improve your overall strength and muscle tone. It’s pretty intense and it employs all your muscle groups, so you’ll definitely get plenty of muscle stimulation. If you lose any weight, it’ll be flab, not muscle. Looking cut is really hard work, because you need to get your body fat way down, so you’ll need to seriously focus on the diet.

      You mention arms. This will give you lean, strong arms, and you’ll get plenty of muscle tone, and you should gain some mass as you build your strength up. There’s plenty of triceps engagement (which is good, since this is the larger muscle group in the arm), and quite a bit of biceps engagement, as well as lots of work for the shoulders. It won’t give you a bodybuilder look, but it will give you an athletic “hey, I see you workout” look.


      - Rob

  12. Thanks for clearing that up. So in regards to the diet, I’m curious as to how it’s planned out? Does it give actual meal plans or just the foods we should be eating? Another question I have is with me being 2montgs away from moving back to university, will I have enough time to workout to get rid of that “lanky” look.

    • With the diet, basically you start by figuring out how much protein you need each day based on your activity level and size, and then plan out your meals accordingly. There are plenty of reference tables, and some sample meals, but you are going to have to do some work to keep it interesting and make it work for you.

      You’re not going to like my next answer. 2 months really isn’t enough time to see dramatic results, no matter what exercise program and diet you use (anybody who tells you otherwise is selling snake oil). After 2 months you’ll certainly start to feel stronger and fitter, but completely replacing lanky with lean & musclebound will honestly take a year or two with a good workout plan and appropriate diet.

  13. Are these stagged comments or is this real?

  14. Hi there –
    I’m a long distance runner, looking to compliment my running schedule. Do you think this is something that can be integrated? I struggle with finding a program I can do a few times a week that won’t take away from completing my weekly mileage.
    Thanks for the review!

    • Hi Joanne,

      There are 3 weight/circuit sessions, alternated with 3 high-intensity cardio interval sessions each week. Depending on how demanding your mileage schedule is, you could just do a subset of these workouts. e.g. just doing the 3 weight/circuit sessions would complement the distance running nicely, and not take up much time.

      Hope that helps.

  15. Nicky Saadat says:

    Hi Rob,

    I’ve been looking into the Max workout a lot and it sounds better than anything else I’ve heard. One thing that bugs me though is that there isn’t a full-length video of each workout so that you can join in and do it with them. I’ve always had a video to follow with someone egging me on to keep me from giving up! It would save you having to time it yourself and learning the moves from just a book too. Or is that what you mean by workout videos in the deluxe version? If not is this method easy to get use to or not?

    • Hi Nicky,

      The videos show how to do each workout, but it’s not like a workout DVD where you follow the instructor for the full duration of the workout. For most workouts, the number of reps you do, and the length of rest periods between, will depend on your fitness & strength, which wouldn’t work well in a DVD-style video workout, where the pacing is constant. Also, there’s usually only a handful of different exercises in any given Max workout session, which you repeat in sets, so once you’ve done the first round of sets and are familiar with the routine, you won’t need the video for the rest of the workout.

      Hope that helps,

      – Rob

  16. Hi, I am 54, male. I’ve been training for 7 years already, not to mention that I’ve been swimming all my life. When I started my fitness I was 245Lb, 36% BF. Within 10 months I went down to 175Lb and 16-18% BF. Then I gained back a bit to 190Lb and kept it for about 2 years. After I had been thru some stress I bounced back to 215Lb and 29% BF. And now I am not able to get to the shape I’d like to be. I still go to the gym. Normally I do 3-4 weihghtbearing workouts, swimming and treadmill on average 3 times a week, one or two days off.
    Over all these years I’ve noticed that I lost a bit of endurance, but gained a bit of strength, I need more time to recover after workouts. I think after certain age hormone system doesn’t work the way it was working before.
    I identify my problems as following:
    1. Age – hormone response is not like to be
    2.Tear in left superspinatius – can’t go heavy on pulls
    3. Left hip or lower back injury (not sure) – can’t go heavy on squats and dead lifts, can’t do lunges
    4. Prefer do heavy weights with longer rest – can’t do HIITs anymore
    5. Overeating – I eat healthy but too much
    6. Night eatings – can’t ged rid of this nasty habit
    7. Bad sleeping habits – wake up in the middle of the night
    8. Too much driving (3500km monthly) – my job related

    I know all fitness and nutritional principals just no motivation or not enough will power.
    Do you think you can help me out to reach my goal – 180Lb and at least 18%BF?

    Thank you in advance.


    • Hi Vik,

      Sorry for my delayed reply. It was a tough week.

      It sounds like you’re getting plenty of exercise, even with your injuries (which I hope you recover from), and you’re doing both weights and cardio. So exercise doesn’t seem to be a problem. And nobody’s yet found a good cure for aging :)

      So that leaves eating and sleeping. Here are some cheap resources that may be worth looking into:

      1. There’s a book called “If I am So Smart Why Can’t I Lose Weight” which has some good techniques for taking control of your eating. Sure there are plenty of diet books out there, but I liked this one because it dealt with rooting out the reasons why we eat, and taking control of them, rather than telling the reader what to eat.

      2. Meditation sessions that specifically address diet and sleep issues may also be helpful. e.g. take a look at (I used the “lose your sweet tooth” recording, and found it quite helpful). They only cost a few dollars and are worth trying for 20 minutes a day for a few weeks and see if it helps.

      3. I’m assuming you’ve heard all the stuff about food diaries before. But just in case I’ll repeat it here. Pick a practical measurable goal that you can say out loud in a sentence. Keep a diary. Say the goal out loud every morning and evening, and write it in your diary at the same time. Record everything you eat in the diary, and also record how you feel physically and emotionally with every meal, as well as how full you feel before and afterwards. It truly is a real nuisance to do, but after a few days it gets slightly less annoying. The point is to raise your self awareness so you can more easily identify what you need to change. For example, if you notice you’re often eating when you’re tired, sleep may be the problem. Or if you notice a lot of your eating is to provide pleasure, then finding an alternative source of pleasure should be the priority. Or if you’re always starving before a meal and stuffed afterwards, you may be going too long between meals, and compensating by eating too much. etc.

      Basically, if you can dig in and identify what physical, emotional or habitual problems are behind your individual reasons for overeating, it gets easier to target, and motivation and willpower will be easier to find.

      Hope that helps,

      - Rob

  17. malika adam says:

    Hi rob, i am 27 year old female, 1.52 and weigh 60 kg. i am of asian/indian origin and reside in south africa. i used to weigh 52 kg but gained weight since i got married 4 years ago and despite many hours of cardio i cannot shift the weight. i am supposed to weigh about 45kg for my height, built and bone structure. i have been diagnosed with insulin resistance (more commonly known as X factor syndrome in the US) and polycystic ovarian syndrome which makes it extremely hard to lose weight. I watch what i eat and try to stay clear of all carbs as much as i can. I stick to low GI vegetables and meat most of the time. I am very ineterested in purchasing the program. However i need your expertise advise if this would be the correct program for me, considering my medical history that i have presented above. I also have another problem. I don’t have a credit card. i only have a debit card and when i tried to purchase the program online, the payment failed to go through and the people authorising the payment did not allow it to go through even though i confirmed the payment personally. How else can i purchase the program. I truly need to purchase it ASAP. Eagerly Awaiting your response

    thanking you in advance
    kind regards
    Malika Adam

    • Hi Malika,

      Very sorry for the slow reply. I’ve been insanely busy this month.

      Unfortunately, since I’m not a doctor or any kind of medical professional, I can’t really comment other than to encourage you to talk to your doctor about whether there are any risks or side-effects of you doing intense exercise.

      Another thing you could do is to contact Shin directly (Shin’s the author of Max Workouts). He’s really good about responding to messages, and a nice guy too. You could ask about the credit card issue too.

      Also, if you decide to try the program and it doesn’t work out for you, there’s a no-hassles refund policy (see towards the bottom of this page).

      Hope that helps,


  18. Hi Rob,
    I am 52, always been fit and very active. This year developing arthritic hip pain and some things suc aqua aerobic and running are agravating it. If i got Max basic programme, could I swap exercycle for running segments with same results? I want to develop strenght and lose 3 kilos.



    • Hi Cindy,

      No problem. The only real requirement is that you pick a type of aerobic exercise that lets you vary between high and low intensity, for which an exercycle should be just fine. In my case, I’ve used my stationary bike for Max Workouts when it’s too cold or wet to run outside, and it works well. Does it deliver the same results as running? I suspect not as quickly, because it’s not engaging as many muscles, but it’s still effective, and certainly preferable to injury.

      You may also want to take a look at Shin’s FAQ about arthritis.


  19. Hi, I’m a 43y/o female 5’2 current weight of 204, I’ve been a paramedic for approx. 21 years. I must say I stumbled across your web page by mistake, but as I got to reading it all made sense to me. I can’t wait to get started. Thank u

  20. Hi Rob,

    I am 36yr old male, 183 cm and weigh 82 kg. I workout regularly, looking to loose fat around the midriff region. Will the 90 day plan yield results? Not expecting wash board abs, just wanting to get rid of the love handles for a start.

    Best regards,


    • Hi Roger,

      If my own experience is anything to go by, you’ll get results – you’ll start to feel it within the first few weeks, and start to see it when you’re about half way through. Then, like anything, it’s just a matter of sticking to it and getting out what you put in until you’re happy with the result, and maintaining it from there.



  21. Hi, I’m a nineteen year old, African-America female, about 5’10.5″ and weigh around 160, though the weight is pretty evenly distributed, and I don’t look very big clothed. I’m really looking to lose weight and get toned and just be truly fit for the first time in my life. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on what I can do and the kind of results I could expect in say, a three month period. I’m willing to work hard, and I have already changed the way I eat, but I’m floundering when it comes to the kind of exercise, the intensity, and the duration. I’m not looking for a short cut but I would like to see a lot of results in the initial 3 months if it’s possible. Also, advice on how to stay fit would be appreciated, as I want to make being fit into a lifestyle rather than just a summer fad.

    • It’ll vary from one person to the next, but what I’ve found is that it’s easier to stick to the course if I do this:
      1. Don’t do long training sessions. They take a lot out of my day and are the first to go when I get busy or bored.
      2. Train with intensity. i.e. always try to do more reps, or go faster, or have less rest, etc, than last time you did the same kind of exercise.
      3. Never do the same kind of exercise 2 days in a row. It’s a waste of time and energy to work the same muscle while it’s still recovering, and won’t get results (but you will get sore and demoralised quickly).
      4. By the same token, muscles are strongest 2-3 days after last exercising them, so this is when I do the same sort of workout again. (e.g. doing interval sprints every 2-3 days seems to be more effective than doing them 3 days in a row or doing them once a week).
      5. Something like Shin’s workout above will do the trick. You’ll be working all your body parts a few times a week, and engaging your core, back, etc, to build good core strength & posture.
      6. If you want something simpler, you can apply the same approach with variants of basic moves like squats, pushups and sprints. Just do as many sets of each as you can, with as many reps in each set, 3 times a week, but never the same kind of exercise 2 days in a row. If you can manage 6 days a week, alternate days between muscle work and cardio. Keep a record of each session and try to do a bit better each time. It’s easy to sustain year round if you want to.

  22. Hey guys! I just purchased this program! I’m excited I also bought the timer. I’m very active I’m 21 years old, I weigh about 147lbs. I play basketball a lot I also run like 3 miles a day. I’m excited to start! I wanna get toned and ripped. I’m skinny but got fat. I wanna know if u guys think this is the right program for me. Give me your opinions and comments thanks!

    • Awesome, Tony :) Yep, you’ll get toned, and even though you’re probably already in good shape from the running and the basketball, this’ll definitely enable you to take it to the next level. As for ripped – it’ll depend on how disciplined you are with diet. Ripped basically means achieving very low body fat. So just stick to it.

      • Sweet! Thanks rob! I’m looking forward to it! I been very good on my diet. I’m looking forward to the changes that come. Thanks for the help man appreciate it thanks!

  23. Just did my first workout session! It was very intense but I’m hooked! :)

  24. Hey guys its me again I’m in day 40! Love the workouts and I’m starting to lose some belly fat :)
    I just read into some intermitten fasting do u guys think that’s a dumb idea while I’m on the program. I eat very healthy breakfast
    Lunch and dinner. No redifined carbs. Ps. I got my big bro doing the workouts!

    • Awesome :) Yeah, the halfway point you really start to notice it.
      Personally, if it were me and I was already making good progress like you are, I’d just keep following the program as-is for a while before experimenting. The second half of the program doesn’t let up, so your body will have plenty to work on :)

      If you do end up trying the intermittent fasting, let us know how it goes.

  25. H Rob,

    I’m 55, do yoga classes five days a week, standard weight training twice a week, lots of walking.

    I’m interested in MaxWorkouts, as I could reduce my fat level (19%).

    I am a bit concerned about doing six days of the program in tandem with the yoga.

    Would all these sessions get in the way of muscle recovery (seems to less efficient after age 50).

    Also, could I replace some running with HIIt on the rowing machine?

    • Hi Alex,

      I think you’ll be fine doing yoga in parallel. You may need to ease up on one or the other if you’re finding it tough, but they’re different sorts of exercise, and Max Workouts is adaptable to whatever your capacity is. You’ll be able to find a good balance. I’d drop the standard weight training though – doing all 3 would be too much.

      You can replace running with the rowing machine. I think it’ll work really well. I’m jealous actually :)

      Good luck!


  26. Hi Rob!

    I’m Neil from Dubai. I’m glad that you have found Max Workouts amazing! (me as well). I started the program 3 weeks ago, and I am doing the workouts and cardio as told by Shin. I work as an ICU nurse and have a slim schedue too, but make to a point to do the workout at least 3x a week. I saw the difference in my body and my strength. My girlfriend loved me more when I was fatter!.. I am looking forward to finnish this 90 days and see a better me in the mirror! :)

    • Hi Neil, glad to hear it’s working. I’ve been amazingly busy over the last year, so I can definitely relate to having a slim schedule. It’s good to have something really effective you can squeeze in without requiring a huge amount of time. Still hard work, but worth the effort and achievable.

  27. I would love to try out Max Workouts, since I joined a gym two months ago and I go five time a week. I do 30 minutes of cardio on a recline bike, elliptical, or treadmill. I do the weight machine circuit, then I go swimming for another 30 minutes. I am also following a 1500 calorie daily diet, but have seen no significant changes in Wight nor body shape. I would love to try this program, but I have a left total knee replacement, and I do not know if this program will me safe for me to do. Help?

    • Hi Magda,

      Definitely worth double checking on your knee. If jumping or any other athletic motion causes pain or problems, I’d try something else (or try this, but request a refund at the first inkling of any issues). Click through to Shin’s Q&A page here. Near the bottom of the page you’ll see the link to the advice on knees.

      Best wishes,


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