Athlean X’s All American Muscle (Full Review)

Each year, America’s top-ranked college athletes earn the distinguished title of “All American.” Considered the peak of amateur sports success, these athletes have the strength, power, speed, and endurance to remain at the top of their game and walk off the field champions. Their intense training regimens are proof that their cut physiques and brilliant
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Each year, America’s top-ranked college athletes earn the distinguished title of “All American.”

Considered the peak of amateur sports success, these athletes have the strength, power, speed, and endurance to remain at the top of their game and walk off the field champions.

Their intense training regimens are proof that their cut physiques and brilliant on-field prowess do not come easy.

Athlean X’s All American Muscle is the wannabe (or retired) athlete’s four-month guide to building lean muscle and dominating like an All-American on the field, turf, or track.

This is All American Muscle.

About the Creator – Jeff Cavaliere

(Totally irrelevant, but if you want to roast marshmallows on the “Does Jeff Cavaliere use fake weights?” dumpster fire, Sean Nal, Greg Doucette, and Scott Herman have great takes.)

With more than 12.3 million YouTube subscribers and over two billion views, Jeff Cavaliere isn’t just the face of Athlean X. He’s also the undisputed “hero” of the YouTube fitness community.

Before launching the Athlean X dynasty, Cavaliere earned his Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy and became a CSCS with the NSCA.

His passion for biomechanics and injury prevention led him to Shea Stadium as a strength & conditioning coach and physical therapist with the then-league champion New York Mets.

Athlean X is still a leading force in the fitness industry. The platform now has more than a dozen programs, a sports supplement line (RX), and Elast-X resistance bands.

Learn more about the other Athlean X programs in our Ultimate Athlean-X Review (All Best-Selling Programs).

What Is Athlean X’s All American Muscle?

All American Muscle is an Athlean-X program that’s two parts “Ath” (athleticism), one part “Lean” (muscle mass), and zero parts “X” (because we don’t know what it stands for).

Borrowing inspiration from the greatest athletes in American history, Cavaliere’s 4-phase program redefines “aesthetic” training.

All American Muscle is a mix of hypertrophy (muscle growth), strength, explosive power, speed, agility, and stamina training to sharpen on-field success while also building lean muscle with:

  • An upper-lower antagonistic split
  • Raw strength exercises (3 x 5)
  • Hypertrophy-style resistance training (3–4 x 8–12)
  • “Power restoration” (2–4 x 5)
  • “Iron Will” drills (3-minute rest-pause sets with punishments)
  • Jump and SAQ “Combine Days” (agility, speed, and power)
  • A “Challenge” to land you on the coveted Athlean X leaderboard

… and that’s just phase one.

From adult league running backs and Little League dropouts to CrossFit athletes and weekend warriors, AAM brings the weighted and calisthenic exercises you need to absolutely dominate.

All it takes is 5–6 workouts per week and full-gym access.

All American Muscle Program Details & Features

(Disclaimer: If you’re looking for an Athlean X bodybuilding program, you’re better off with a mass routine like MAX Size or Monster Maker. No equipment? Try Athlean Xero instead.)

Here’s a peek at what’s inside Athlean X’s latest program — All American Muscle:

What Equipment Do You Need?

Unless you have a home gym worthy of an MTV Cribs episode, you have two options for All American Muscle: 1) get a gym membership*, or 2) try equipment modifications.

This is the official All American Muscle equipment list:

  • Dumbbells (ideally an adjustable set for quick weight changes)
  • A barbell
  • A squat rack
  • A cable machine (or a resistance band set)
  • An adjustable bench
  • A pull-up bar
  • A jump rope

* We love to snark on Planet Fitness, but AAM is possible at PF with a few modifications. You’ll just need to bring bands and swap out regular barbell exercises for dumbbell or Smith versions.

It’s also doable at home with all of the equipment above (minus the cable machine!).

The Four Phases

All American Muscle has four phases, each lasting four weeks:

Athlean X all american muscle phases table

We’ll tell you all about phase #1 in the next section of this review … but only because that’s the only month of AAM we can access. Really, that’s it.

Cavaliere is at it again, blocking content and hOlDiNg Us AcCoUnTaBlE. In fact, he’s so committed to the bit that you can’t just mark all 23 workouts as “complete” to skip ahead.

A Closer Look at Phase #1: Build Raw Muscle

Once you’ve selected All American Muscle as your “active program,” click “Calendar” in the top toolbar and open the day’s workout. There, you’ll find the standard AX set-up, which includes:

  • A walkthrough video with an Emmy-contending short of Jeff Cavaliere standing in front of a really zoomed-out Excel worksheet explaining the workout or phase (sarcasm)
  • Instruxions for the workout (Nope, we didn’t spell that wrong. Any chance Cavaliere has to swap in an “X” where it doesn’t belong, he will.)
  • A link to the day’s meal plan if you click the easy-to-miss knife & fork symbol
  • Video demonstrations for each individual exercise
  • A tracking feature to record your weight, reps, or time for each exercise
  • History to view when you last performed that particular exercise
  • Mark Complete” to log the day’s workout plus an option for a Core4 workout

The training module itself is relatively easy to master within the first week of AAM.

However, it’s absolutely bonkers that a hit platform like Athlean X doesn’t have a smartphone app. Though many users claim the website isn’t a pain in the ass to use on iPhone or Android.

The Schedule

Cavaliere knocks you into a routine from day one of All American Muscle. The first three weeks follow the same exact pattern:

  1. Lower
  2. Upper
  3. Combine Day – SAQ
  4. Lower
  5. Upper
  6. Combine Day – Jump
  7. Rest

Week four is the standout. AAM kicks the Combine Days to the curb, forcing you to repeat Lower, Upper, Rest twice in preparation for the Iron Will 400 Challenge to end phase one.

(More on that later.)

Types of Exercises

All American athletes aren’t one-trick ponies who only lift, run, or train agility. As you progress through this Athlean X program, your workouts will include exercises like:

  • Barbell row
  • Clapping plyo push-up
  • Barbell dip
  • Rocking pulldown
  • Banded good morning
  • Split squat switch
  • Cyclone ninja box jump
  • Rocket jump
  • Ali shuffle
  • 200-yard shuttle run

AAM is one of those no-holds-barred programs where you learn to expect the unexpected pretty early on. The trick is being ready for anything, whether it’s big lifts, agility drills, or power moves.

Lower & Upper

Phase one includes four workouts each for lower and upper-body days (so eight in total). These workouts are also the closest you’ll get to ego-lifting and weight training … at least in this phase.

These little-bit-of-everything workouts follow the same general pattern:

  • Warm-up primers: 2–3 sets of a banded or bodyweight exercise
  • Raw strength: 3 x 5 at 70–85% of your 1RM on a traditional lift
  • Power restoration – after shock: 2–4 x 5 of a dynamic or jumping exercise to recover that explosiveness
  • Hypertrophy: 3–4 x 8–12, stopping just short of form failure
  • “Iron Will” drills – grit: 3-minute rest/pause sets with built-in punishments — like inverted rows — at the end for every rest period you take

The Upper and Lower workouts train in both strength and hypertrophy rep zones, infuse a bit of power, and end with pure stamina training. All in all, these workouts are the real deal.

Combine Day – SAQ (Speed, Agility, & Quickness) & Jump

(Side note: Cavaliere suggests that you can skip AAM’s Combine Days if you don’t want that athletic edge. But, then again, why choose a program built almost entirely around that concept?)

The Combine Days are where All American Muscle puts your athleticism and grit to the test.

After a few primers, you’ll complete all-out power exercises (like plyo step-ups), speed work (such as half-ratchet 30s), and agility training (including 5-10-5s).

Rest periods vary from 1:3, 1:5, and 1:10.

Rest & Recovery

All American Muscle’s rest days are all about recovery.

As a former physical therapist, Jeff Cavaliere is an advocate for using a foam roller to loosen up stiff muscles and relieve “knots” … with proper technique.

Or just take it easy for a day.

Iron Will 400 Challenge

The Iron Will 400 Challenge is absolute mayhem. The goal is to complete 100 reps each for four exercises — push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and inverted rows.

But it wouldn’t be an Athlean X program without a “catch.”

You can complete the exercises in any rep increments and in any order. However, when you return to an exercise again, you’ll need to complete a 20-second isometric hold first.

Record your workout time for your shot on the Athlean X All American Muscle leaderboard.

The All American Muscle Meal Plan

(If you’re an Athlean X veteran, the All American Muscle meal plan will look — and taste — familiar. That’s because it’s practically the same plan as other Athlean X hits, such as AX1.)

A program like All American Muscle has three overall goals that weave into the diet plan: build muscle, maintain or lose body fat, and enhance athleticism (speed, agility, power, stamina).

Although the complete lack of serving sizes, calories, and macros are red flags #1–3, we’ll ignore ‘em for a hot second. Here’s what to expect on the All American Muscle meal plan:

X-Factor Meal Plan Rules

Cavaliere props his X-Factor meal plan upon ten axioms (or shall we say AXioms?). These rules both explain the gaps in the meal plan and (somewhat) justify the questionable bits.

If we had to pick just three must-know rules: swap in meals from other days if you don’t like what’s on the menu, avoid sweets, and drink half your body weight of water in ounces per day.

Other than that, follow the meal plan exactly as Cavaliere drew it up.

Customize Your Plan

Each day includes the three core meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — with a snack wedged between each and a night-time snack to end the day.

Cavaliere also color-coded each major ingredient to categorize it as either a protein, starchy carb, fat, or fibrous carb to give you a better idea of what you’re eating and why.

However, there is some room for customization in the All American Muscle meal plan with Shred and Size swaps for each major meal:

Athlean x all american muscle meal plan swaps table

For example, choosing the Shred Swap for lunch will remove boiled potatoes and olive oil from a grilled tuna & mixed greens meal. The Size Swap will add avocado and whole-wheat toast.

6 Pros of the All American Muscle Program

  1. A well-rounded athlete excels in all 11 components of fitness. So if your end goal is to give yourself an athletic edge in organized sports or even pick-up games in your neighborhood, All American Muscle will hammer down most of them.
  2. The Shred and Size Swaps allow you more control of your aesthetic physique, whether you want to get ripped or shredded or pack on 5–15 pounds of pure lean mass.
  3. With a biomechanics genius like Cavaliere as the mastermind behind this program, it’s no surprise that everything “lines up.” The set, rep, and intensity recommendations match the guidelines set by the ACSM and ACE.
  4. All American Muscle is a solid alternative for those who routinely quit routines due to boredom or don’t enjoy just one training style. Phase one alone has enough variety to hook you in and convince you to hold out — at least until your first challenge.
  5. Whether you’re an off-season athlete or simply looking to escape your training comfort zone, AAM delivers noticeable improvements to your physique, stamina, strength, and more. It’s a great option if “general fitness” matters most to you.
  6. AAM is best as an intermediate or advanced program, but it’s somewhat adaptable for beginners. Just make sure you calculate your %1RM correctly (Cavaliere actually linked a calculator in), push yourself through each workout, and don’t be afraid to repeat phase one if there’s still room for improvement.

4 Cons of Athlean X’s All American Muscle Program

  1. Despite Cavaliere’s “justifications,” the details missing from the meal plan are actually the most important ones. The vague ingredients are a recipe for disaster (pun fully intended), especially in a country where serving sizes and portions are completely misunderstood. Not including the macros and calories also corners you into following the AX meals exactly or completely winging it on your own.
  2. Cavaliere’s indoor gym-turf-fusion is badass. But for the rest of us plebs, following All American Muscle means having a gym membership and a large enough space outdoors to run sprints, practice agility drills, and jump rope.
  3. Aesthetic goals take a backseat to the athletic focus. You’ll still burn fat and build muscle, although the pace might be slower than expected. It’s not the best program if size is your #1 goal.
  4. The general consensus is that months one and two are amazing. Unfortunately, month three evolves into a once-a-week PPL, two explosive training days, and a significantly lower training volume.

Wrapping Up This Athlean X’s All American Muscle Review

All American Muscle isn’t the typical type of program we review here at Noob Gains. (We prefer routines for all parts of the aesthetic spectrum — bulking, cutting, and body composition.)

That said, Athlean X’s All American Muscle is one of our favorites if your goal is to transform your physique and (keyword here!) become a better all-around athlete.

This four-month program is full of training variety, customizable to your unique aesthetic goals, and backed by the principles of exercise science.

The only deal-breaking downsides are that the meal plan is a little light on key details (like calories), it’s not exactly compatible with home gyms, and month three is a letdown.

Give ‘er a go if your goal is to build muscle and absolutely dominate in your sport.

Rating: 8.8/10

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