Athlean-X AX1 Workout Program Review (Worth the Price?)

We all have goals of getting fit and making strides toward our ideal physiques. That’s precisely why we scour the internet for the “perfect” muscle-building program, cut fast food and empty calories, and load up our diets with insane amounts of protein. And this usually leads you to the bulk/cut cycle camp. But does anybody
The post Athlean-X AX1 Workout Program Review (Worth the Price?) appeared first on NOOB GAINS.

Athlean x ax1 review image

We all have goals of getting fit and making strides toward our ideal physiques.

That’s precisely why we scour the internet for the “perfect” muscle-building program, cut fast food and empty calories, and load up our diets with insane amounts of protein.

And this usually leads you to the bulk/cut cycle camp.

But does anybody really like the constant bouncing between bulking and cutting, rapid switching between being lean and being big, and crazy diets that are impossible to maintain?

Absolutely not!

After you read this, you might be ready to push the “norms” aside and work to shred fat and build muscle all at once. Maybe the Athlean-X AX1 Workout Program is your solution for body recomposition.

Let’s find out if this Athlean-X program is worth the investment.

Before We Get Started, Let Me Say This…

Hey, it’s Kyle. I’m the founder of Noob Gains.

Nice to meet you! 🙂

I wanted to pop in here at the beginning to let you know that our opinion on Athlean-X’s AX1 program has changed a little since we first published this review.

Now don’t get me wrong. AX1 is still a killer program.

However, it’s not our top recommendation for noobs that want to improve their body with the least amount of effort.

If you want to get leaner and build more muscle to draw attention…

Without working out more than 3 days per week…

Without forcing dumping your favorite foods in the trash because they don’t fit with your “meal plan”…

And without gouging your wallet…

You should consider Superhero X12 by FitMole before your dive into AX1.

Here’s why:

First, AX1 is a foundational program designed just for beginners, but that’s all it does.

And I can hear you asking… “But I’m a beginner. So this program is a good pick for me, right?”

But what are you going to do 3-6 months from now when you’re done with this program?

Are you gonna head back to the Athlean-X website, dig out your credit card again, and let them pull another hundred bucks from your bank account so you can start another program?

Wouldn’t you rather have rather have all the fitness lessons you need from the start?

I know I would.

Superhero X12 is different because it covers ALL fitness goals. It’s not just a foundational strength program. This program teaches you everything you need to…

  • Gain muscle
  • Build strength
  • Improve muscle density
  • Build definition
  • Get completely shredded 
  • Take a more AGGRESSIVE shredding approach
  • Or maintain the abs you already have
  • And it has workouts for both beginners and intermediates!

Feature Superhero X12 AX1
Beginner Green Check Icon Green Check Icon
Intermediate Green Check Icon
Workouts 3x/week 5x/week
Flexible Dieting Green Check Icon
Cardio Optional Green Check Icon

You don’t have to waste money buying multiple programs because SX12 has specific workouts, diets, and strategies to help you do it all.

Second, according to Athlean-X AX1, you need to train almost all of your exercises to failure to see muscle growth… which is wrong.

When you go into the AX1 portal and click through to the workout program, you’ll see things like this:

  • Inverted Row: 4 sets x reps TO FAILURE
  • Standing DB Row: 3 sets x 12 rep max (TO FAILURE)
  • DB Hammer Curls: 3 sets x 10 rep max (TO FAILURE)

First of all, beginners should never be using their rep maxes in general work sets of a program. That’s a plan for disaster.

And second, according to scientific literature, there are no notable benefits to training to failure versus training to a set number of goal reps.

In AX1, you could be burning yourself out on almost every exercise to the point of hating yourself.

That sure doesn’t sound very motivating to keep working out now does it?

Well, Superhero X12 shows you how to get a great body with the least amount of effort. 

This program uses the 80/20 principle to hone in on the most effective methods with the least psychological resistance to build a bigger, more muscular body that meshes easily with your current daily routine.

We don’t believe that building muscle only comes after you’ve pushed yourself to the breaking pout. You just have to push it enough to make progress and SX12 shows you how to do that.

Third, as with the other Athlean-X programs, there are diet rules in AX1 that are restrictive and make it difficult to follow over the long term.

For example, you can’t eat sugar.

That’s right. If you like ice cream and cake, you better make peace with your food gods because you’re not allowed to put those in your mouth again.

Oh and another thing… you have to eat every 2 1/2 to 3 hours now.

Isn’t that fun? Now you can spend a few hours every week packing 35+ meals in those plastic tupperware containers to make sure you don’t lose all your gains.

Oh, and you have to buy stacks of tupperware containers. More fun!

On the other hand, Superhero X12 let’s you eat as many meals as you want, and you get to include your favorite foods every day.

Real people are getting great results on this program because it’s easy to follow over the long term.

You don’t have to force down, bland, tasteless meals 5 times per day. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner like everyone else.

You don’t have to throw away your sweets either. Have a piece of cake if you want.

I cover more of these details in my Superhero X12 review

…but these are the reasons I recommend Superhero X12 instead of AX1 for beginners.

Superhero x12 mobile product image
  • You don’t have to waste your money on multiple programs because every fitness goal and experience level is covered in a single program
  • You can use the least amount of effort to build an awesome body because the program adapts to your lifestyle
  • And you can keep eating your favorite foods every day and still gain muscle

But don’t take my word for it. I’m just a random guy on the internet.

Check out Superhero X12 for yourself and see if it makes sense to you and your goals.

Sound good?

Now here’s the review of Athlean-X’s AX1…

About the Creator – Athlean-X & Jeff Cavaliere

To truly understand the Athlean-X brand and all it has to offer, you need to look at the guy currently at the helm of this global fitness giant.

Jeff Cavaliere isn’t just the brains behind Athlean-X.

He’s also a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the NSCA, spent time as a trainer and strength coach for the New York Mets, and has his Master’s in physical therapy.

But he’s also not your average trainer.

Jeff Cavaliere emphasizes the importance of science, biomechanics, and injury prevention when working with clients and crafting workout programs like Total Beast and Ultimate Arms.

Today, Cavaliere has nearly 11 million loyal YouTube subscribers who rely on his frequent videos for tips and strategies for building strength, sculpting muscles, and shredding fat.

His company, Athlean-X, is a reliable reflection of years of success in the fitness industry.

Athlean-X now offers more than a dozen workout programs for any fitness goal you could imagine and even sells supplements and stacks to take your gains one step further.

What is the Athlean-X AX1 Workout Program?

The Athlean-X AX1 Workout Program is a body recomposition workout and meal plan combo. Sometimes it’s even referred to as a “training camp”.

If you adhere to all guidelines of both, you should end the comprehensive 90-day program with more muscle mass, less body fat, and an overall “shredded” physique.

No more cutting and bulking cycles that leave you tired and feeling lousy.

Many lifters notice gains within a week of trying this program, likely due to the strategic combo of conditioning workouts, compound and isolation exercises, and a clearly laid out meal plan.

And you don’t have to be a gym rat already to achieve these results!

Program Details & Features

The Athlean-X AX1 Workout Program, which infuses over 120 different exercises and offers unlimited ab workouts, sure sounds like it’s worth the price from an outsider’s perspective.

But is it really?

Let’s take a closer look at this program’s unique details and features to find out!

A General Look at the Program

This Jeff Cavaliere’s program will have you in the gym (or at home, depending on your equipment availability) five days a week for up to 45 minutes at a time.

For the best results, you’ll need access to the following gear:

The program is broken into three unique four-week phases, each of which gradually increases in intensity and shifts fitness priorities between conditioning, core, and strength training.

Now, we’re going to discuss what the three phases entail briefly.

Phase 1 – Push/Pull Performance

Phase one is undoubtedly strength-heavy, consisting of three strength workouts (I, II, & III) and two conditioning workouts (I & II) for the first three weeks of the program.

Let’s be honest: the first phase is a real monster maker and you need to step through this fire before you can move on to more advanced training.

The strength days are essentially a push/pull/legs (PPL) split.

  • Push: Chest, triceps, shoulders
  • Pull: Back, biceps, abs
  • Legs: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs

For the majority of exercises, you’ll be doing sets to failure (10-12 RM).

It’s also worth noting that these aren’t your run-of-the-mill exercises from standard routines. You’ll add unique exercises like renegade rows, starfish crunches, and fielder curls.

Your conditioning workouts are about getting active and burning calories. Expect to do several rounds of sprints, agility line drills, cone activities, and punching (shadow boxing) workouts.

Week four introduces a brand new workout style: Hard core training.

You’ll crank through 10+ sets of a handful of ab exercises that go several steps further than the typical crunch-heavy ab workout.

Phase 2 – Max Metabolic Overdrive

After phase 1, the routine takes on a brand new fitness goal: Burning body fat.

With this phase, you’ll swap out that PPL routine from phase one and opt for two total-body strength training workouts each week instead.

These strength training workouts consist of:

  • Compound exercises (like inverted rows, hip bucks, and chest presses)
  • Short rest periods (30-45 seconds)
  • Various rep ranges (to failure or 10-20 reps)

Given the goal of burning fat during this phase, Jeff Cavaliere will push you through conditioning workouts twice per week—jogging, box jumps, burpees, and timed bodyweight workouts.

Nestled between your conditioning workouts each week is a hard core training session.

During these hard core workouts, you’ll practice several variations of planks, crunches, and other ab exercises at high rep ranges for max fat burning and endurance.

Phase 3 – Athlean Super 2’s

Phase three is your final encounter with this program. In this phase, your focus is now on heavy supersets (great for building max size) and an emphasis on endurance and strength training.

We’re back to three strength training exercises per week and two conditioning workouts. The only difference is that your strength days are upper/lower splits (and one total-body “confusion”).

The conditioning days are now either once or twice a week.

Instead of single laps around the track and short-term endurance exercises, you’ll now be doing things like HIIT sprints, ten rounds of footwork or 100 jumps on the jump rope.

Hard core training sessions re-emerge by the final week of the program.


If you’re in the camp that loves challenges, then you’re in luck.

These challenges will either have you timing how long it takes to complete multiple rounds or 400 reps spread across several bodyweight exercises.

Total up your score, add it to the leaderboard, and see how you do against other users. These challenges can also help you know how you’re progressing from phase to phase!

4 Benefits of the Athlean-X Training System

Fast-Track Your Goals With Meal Swaps

Your diet can make or break your journey toward your fitness goals.

This AX1 program comes with a meal plan (detailed enough to include ingredients), so you can be sure your calories and macros are up to par.

While you won’t find any progressive diet protocols like intermittent fasting in this program, size and shred swaps are also available if one goal is more important to you than the other.

New Goals For Each Phase (Avoid Plateaus)

In addition to unique workouts, you’ll also adjust course after each phase of this routine.

That means switching from PPL training to full-body workouts, adding in a bit more cardio, and focusing on your abs.

This great variation from one phase to the next virtually ensures plateau avoidance (similar to P90X).

Granted, you could just opt for a new program like Wolverine or Inferno Max Shred to switch up your training, but AX1 does a decent job of finding new ways to stimulate your muscles on its own.

Realistic Routine Regardless Of Experience

What’s great about this program is that it’s not reserved for the trained folks.

During strength training workouts, you’ll choose a weight based on your 10-12 RM usually, and on cardio days, you can proceed at your own pace.

Beginner, intermediate, or advanced, this program has it all!

Achieve Multiple Goals At Once

There’s no need to bounce back and forth between cutting and bulking with a routine like this.

Not only are you targeting conditioning (fat loss) and strength training (muscle building), but you’ll also face workouts that target power and agility.

So your “before and after” photo should look impressive.

You may not zero in on a specific muscle group like Core 4 or the TNT program, but you’re more likely to leave this program bigger, leaner, and a far better athlete than before.

2 Negatives of the Program

No Refund Policy

When the charge for this program hits your card, don’t expect to get it back if, for any reason, you’re unhappy with the routine and what it offers.

There’s no refund policy whatsoever.

Though there’s a very slim chance you won’t be satisfied with this program, it may make you second guess handing your money over to Cavaliere.

Athlean AX1 Equipment Confusion

To put it directly: The Athlean AX1 equipment requirements on the website and within the online module don’t line up all that well.

You don’t just need dumbbells, a bench, and a resistance band.

You also need a barbell (for exercises like inverted rows), cones, ladders, and other equipment the site doesn’t exactly mention.

In essence, you may buy this program only to realize you don’t have the right gear.

So you might want to have a gym membership with all sorts of equipment available to you before you sign up.

If you’re in the camp where you need a program that uses little to no equipment, you might want to check out Athlean Xero instead.

AX1 Results & Testimonials Vary

While it’s easy to get carried away in the slick marketing and high-quality videos created by Athlean-X, there’s a lot of inconsistency in the results that AX1 appears to produce.

Like most fitness program creators, the best before and after transformations are front and center to sing the praises of the program, but if you click through to the second or third page of testimonials, you’ll find a few lackluster results that leave you uninspired.

Sure, there’s no arguing that AX1’s fitness plan COULD produce good results in beginners, but this does make you wonder if the plan is maybe TOO MUCH for the average guy who’s never stepped in the gym to finish?


Is Athlean X AX1 Good? Does It Really Work?

Overall, AX1 by Athlean-X is a good program if you want to ignite your gains as a beginner, but be prepared to work for it. Jeff Cavaliere designs all of his programs following the same mantra, “to look like an athlete, you need to train like one” and AX1 uses a multi-phase approach to make it happen.

How Much Does Athlean-X’s AX1 Cost?

At the time of writing this, AX1 costs $77 to rent the program. Yes, you read that correctly. If you pay $77 you only get 120 day access to AX1, but if you pay $97, you get lifetime access to the program.

Is This the Best Athlean-X Program?

It’s difficult to say which of the Athlean-X programs is “the best” out of the whole catalog presented on the website, but AX1 appears to be the most accessible and have the most sound strategy for beginners as opposed to Total Beaxst or Wolverine.

AX1 vs AX2

Athlean-X considers AX1 to be the best program for beginners to start getting fit. AX2 (appropriately-named) is an intermediate program and the next logical step in the process. AX2 actually recaps the lessons in AX1 during the first week and then expands into new strategies and routines.

AX1 vs Max Shred

If your primary goal is to lose body fat, is the Max Shred program a better alternative? Not if you’re a complete beginner. AX1 establishes a strong strength and endurance foundation that might take longer to attain with Max Shred since the program is less predictable. If you’ve been training seriously for less than 12 months, start with AX1.

Athlean X Review: Conclusion

To wrap up our review of Athlean-X, AX1 program is undoubtedly a decent workout program to stimulate muscle hypertrophy and decrease body fat. If it weren’t, this program wouldn’t be a best-seller among the dozen or more Athlean-X programs created by Jeff Cavaliere.

It’s a great program to start your Athlean-X venture with.

There’s a meal plan to maximize your results (fat loss or muscle building), weaves through several distinctive phases, is a great program for everyone, and fast-tracks your ideal physique.

But there are negatives worth noting.

Not only is your purchase final (no refunds allowed!), but you might also need additional pieces of equipment that the Athlean-X website isn’t forthright about.

Rating: 9.3/10

But I Think There’s a Better Option…

Hey, it’s Kyle again from the beginning of this review.

Even though AX1 is a great program, I still think that Superhero X12 is a better choice for beginners who want to build an impressive-looking body with the least amount of effort.

Remember, AX1 is a foundation program for complete beginners, but you won’t find anymore resources after your noob gains are gone.

Superhero X12 is for both beginners and intermediates and it can help you reach a whole mess of difference fitness goals. SX12 is like having 3 programs in one so you don’t have to pay for additional programs.

Feature Superhero X12 AX1
Beginner Green Check Icon Green Check Icon
Intermediate Green Check Icon
Workouts 3x/week 5x/week
Flexible Dieting Green Check Icon
Cardio Optional Green Check Icon

Second, for being a beginner program, AX1 is completely exhausting and makes you train to failure over and over again. Hey, this is how Jeff Cavaliere intentionally designed it.

Which doesn’t have any major muscle-growth benefits I might add.

On the other hand, Superhero X12 shows you how to build muscle and lose body fat with the least amount of effort. Just check out my review for the details.

Finally, AX1 is based on restrictive diet rules that tell you WHEN you should eat and what you’re NOT ALLOWED to eat.

Superhero X12 is flexible and let’s you eat your favorite foods. This way you’re more motivated to stick to the program for a long time.

So if you want to build noticeable muscle definition using a program designed for beginners (without turning your life into a dumpster fire), check out Superhero X12.

Superhero x12 mobile product image

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