BTBS's Review of Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred
Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred

It's the fitness DVD that almost every woman trying to lose a lot of weight has tried. It's tough, mean and promises a lot in a relatively short space of time. It's exactly what you would expect from Jillian Michaels, the tough-as-nails trainer from the USA's The Biggest Loser. 

Perhaps you're one of the few that haven't tried it yet and wonder what the hype is about before you purchase it (read:dedicate the next 30 days of your life to it). So what's it really like? Does everyone get the results that it promises?

Equipment Required:

Light (1lb or 2lb) hand weights and an exercise mat. You can increase the weight of your hand weights as you progress if you find this weight too easy so it might be worth investing in a range of sizes. If you want to track your calorie burn, you can use a Heart Rate Monitor.

The Program Structure:
There are three levels to the 30 day program. The idea according to the fitness community is that you spend 10 days on each level. To me, it's ambiguous as to whether you are supposed to have rest days or not. If you were to fit this workout into a 30 day slot, then there would be no room for rest days, but you could also interpret it as meaning the program is 30 days worth of workout spread over say, 40 days. 

Though it does say on the DVD itself under 'recommendations' that you move up a level when you're ready to progress, so I threw away the '30 day' deadline and opted for rest days when I needed them, as my muscles hurt after the workouts at every level of the program, especially so as I was at my heaviest (196lb) and very weak and new to fitness at this point. 

The Workout:
Each daily workout is 20 minutes long and each 20 minute workout is made up of three 6 minute circuits. The workout starts a 2 minute warm up and finishes with a 2 minute cool down. 
The circuits are built around a '3-2-1 interval system' which translates into 3 minutes of strength training, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs.  

The Types of Exercises:
When I first bought the DVD I sat and watched it all the way through first to see what to expect.I've saved you that time buy listing below some of the exercises you'll encounter. On the other hand, some of you may like a surprise... or fear that knowing what to expect will send them running away from the TV, in either case, skip the next little bit if you want to keep it a mystery. 

Natalie, Jillian and Anita
Level 1: The warm up is made up of arm crosses, windmills, hip circles and the worst: jumping jacks. If you're not much good at jumping jacks right now, this DVD will soon change that! Here's where I learnt the virtues of a well-fitted sports bra. The strength element is comprised of push ups, squats and presses with your hand weights. Jillian also throws in some bicep curls combined with lunges, dumbbell rows, side lunges with raises and chest flies on the mat. 

The cardio sections are stuffed with horrid jumping jacks, which although I have a hatred for them, they really do get your heart pumping. There's also some more jumping around with an imaginary jump rope and butt-kicks. My personal favourite cardio exercise of Level 1 was the less intense one: punches

The  abs sections consist of sit ups, reverse crunches and bicycle crunches, you'll be sure to feel a burn across your tummy, but it's a kinda satisfying burn. I'd say these were my favourite exercises of the whole of level 1.  

Level 1 workouts finish with a cool down comprised of lots of stretching on the mat and balancing around flamingo-style on one leg.

Level 2: The warm up and cool down are pretty much the same as level 1 (Phew!). The strength sections however, chucks us a curve ball immediately with walking push ups. I can assure you, many expletives were uttered at the TV screen at this point. There's some squat rows, lunges with rows again, leg extensions, chair squats (I wish there was a chair to sit on at this point)and the somewhat technical sounding 'pendulum lunges with hammer curls' which is easier than it sounds, thankfully. 

Cardio is compressed of high knees, squat thrusts (yes, also a cause to shout censored insults at the TV, even the modified version is tough) lateral jumps with crosses, called 'skaters', and jump & twists which are actually pretty fun, even if it is more jumping around (what's with Jillian and jumping?!). There's also plank jacks. Yes, like jumping jacks, but in a plank position. She really is a cruel, cruel woman, isn't she? Jillian sums up her intentions well when she says "I want you guys to feel like you're about to die" Well, mission accomplished Jillian!
The cool down: that moment when you marvel at how
 well you've survived the previous 19 minutes

Abs isn't too bad, some leg raises and crunches. Your hand weights and mat is put to good use with these sections and boy are you grateful for a mat workout after the previous sections or the circuits! The only ab exercise I really didn't like where plank twists, but I still can't question their effectiveness. 

Level 3: 

The warm up kicks it up a notch but is still passable, I wish I could say I felt the same about the rest of the workout. Strength sections throw us some walking planks, Supermans on the mat (which I nicknamed the flapping fish). There's also some 'clean and presses' and 'jumping lunges' (read: hell on earth).There's more travelling push ups

Cardio sees lots of mountain climbers (urrghh) and some strange squat hop type exercise, I felt daft doing them but this was quickly replaced by the burn in my legs! There's some more butt kicks, but with weights this time and the return of my favourite - shadow boxing, also with weights this time! Unfortunately, jumping jacks also return with a vengeance.. yep, these have had a hand weight upgrade too. 

Abs sections see the return of plenty of crunches and leg raises and much like the previous two levels, this section plays the role of your 'recovery' section to let your heart rate drop before you kick it back up in the strength and cardio sections. I hope you've got used to sit-ups by this point as these turn into full blown sit ups (where you actually sit up, like your high school gym class teacher made you do, rather than simply pulse).

Overall thoughts:

The Good:

There's no doubt about it, this DVD certainly lives up to it's promise of a tough workout in a short space of time. If your a busy person with very little time, this style of workout is ideal.

"Feel free to join in when you're ready Jillian.
Feel our pain!"
It's a good introduction to circuit/interval style training and also ply-metrics (jump training). For this reason, you can expect a very good calorie burn for just a 20 minute workout. 

The Bad: 

Throughout the three levels, I was getting increasingly annoyed at Jillian for strutting around the studio instead of working her butt off with me, Natalie and Anita. then she has the nerve to be standing there telling us that she knows how we're feeling. I think this demonstrates perfectly that she's more of a boot-camp trainer than instructor, which is a style of teaching I personally disagree with. My gym  class instructors do the workouts with us and for that I respect them and listen to what they have to say. 

My other bug-bear is the repetitiveness, though I don't suppose this can be helped with a DVD as only a certain amount of filming with fit on the DVD, certainly not enough to mix it up every day anyway. It just means that you have to hear to same banter over and over for 10 days. It starts of as amusing and becomes rather annoying very rapidly. 

Did it work for me?

I certainly did feel fitter and stronger afterwards and jumping was far easier. In terms of weight loss, it's difficult to say whether my half a stone loss was down to this workout or my dietary changes. It's highly likely that it was a combination of both. Whilst it wasn't the '20lb in 30 days' that the DVD cover promises, it was still a good loss for someone with 60lb to lose. I imagine anyone with more than this to lose would quite easily drop a lot of weight with this program providing they also made dietary changes. 

Want to ry it out for yourself? You can buy 30 Day Shred from

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