general ramblings from a wannabe triathlete, confirmed foodie, and nutrition nerd

The 30 Day Shred

on June 14, 2012

The 30 Day Shred, if you’ve not heard about it, is a home workout craze currently (or less currently, I don’t know. It’s only recently come to my attention, so therefore – for me – it’s current) sweeping the nation.

If you don’t know what it is, where have you been?!

Probably the same place as me until about ten days ago, when shredding was something you did to confidential paperwork or perhaps lettuce.


The 30 Day Shred is a workout DVD, master-minded by one of the trainers from the American tv show The Biggest Loser. She’s an ‘expert’ – the DVD cover says so.

The 30 Day Shred

Jillian Michaels is known for being a tough, no-nonsense, do-what-I-say kind of personal trainer. No softly-softly approach for her! She’ll yell in your sweaty face and make you keep going until you vomit. I know this because I’ve seen it on tv, and therefore it must be true.

The online reviews – often accompanied by before and after photos – are actually (no sarcasm here) inspiring. Side-on views of bulging bellies are replaced with flatter tums, and face-on photos of the delightfully name ‘muffin-top’ are followed by after-shots of nipped in waists. And all, apparently, in 30 days.

The scientist in me wants to dig deeper into what the reviewers actually did. Just this DVD in addition to their normal diet and activity? Or did they make other changes that contributed toward the weight/inch loss?

The premise is this: three levels of workout, each lasting approximately 20 minutes. Just 20 minutes a day? Easy! Everyone has time for that! The trade-off in time however is an increase in intensity. You want results in just 20 minutes? Then be prepared for an intense workout. No rest breaks, no time to catch your breath – this is a non-stop, high intensity mix of cardio, resistance and mat work. Three minutes of cardio (jumping jacks, butt kicks, punching – the air, not Jillian), two minutes of resistance (hand weights are a must) and one minute down on the mat doing sit-ups, push ups and other such delights. That’s it. A five-minute circuit repeated for the duration of the workout, top and tailed with a very brief warm-up and cool down/stretch.

I’m always up for a bit of self-experimentation, and I wanted to see if the claims were true. So I bought the DVD.

Yesterday was Day One.

I started enthusiastically. Rolled out of bed and into sports kit (high intensity jiggling about dictates that those boobies be kept under control unless you want premature sagging. Fact.) and I was ready to roll.

The DVD started and Jillian introduced us (or me, you weren’t actually there) to her two ‘helpers’. One would demonstrate the full range of motion, the second would show the slightly easier option for those not quite up to Olympic standards.

Now I’m fairly fit. I’m never going to win gold in anything (unless there’s a chocolate eating championship I’m unaware of?) but I’ve got decent strength and stamina, and have been regularly active for years. So I decided to go with the full-on version of the exercises. Deeper squats and lunges, higher jumps – that sort of thing.

The next twenty minutes went something like this.

Jumping jack, butt kick, skip. Squats and bicep curls, lunge and punch. Sit up, press up. Repeat.

Is that sweat on my brow?

Jumping jacks, punch. Squat and lunge…

Blimey, it’s a bit hot in here!

Punch, butt kick, press up…

Urgh, I should have used lighter weights!

And then it was over. Only 20 minutes. Just long enough to be sweating like a pig (do pigs really sweat enough for that to be a distinguishing characteristic?) but not so long that you can’t push through the burn of lactic acid in your muscles.

Not bad, I thought. Not bad at all.

My legs ached far more yesterday than they do after a sixty-minute steady-state workout. But I felt good. Good enough to go to the gym for an hour yesterday evening.

This morning however.


And that’ s not something I say lightly. In fact, it’s probably the first time I’ve ever said it. At least in that format.

My thighs. Either that workout was tougher than it had felt, or I’d been abducted by aliens in the night – aliens with the sole aim of  replacing my quads with cement. Cement and pain.

Needless to say, day two has been postponed. I can barely walk, let alone manage repeated circuits of jumping jacks. Stairs are my nemesis.

Now I have to say that I am slightly puzzled by the state of my legs. I’m not new to high intensity interval training (or HIIT), so why this level of soreness?

My conclusion is this – the warm up is insufficient. Two minutes of hip rotation and wind-milling arms does not a warm up make. Especially if you do the DVD immediately upon clambering out of bed.  So mutual blame for me and Jillian there. The warm up is too short, but I should have known better than to think my muscles were in optimal condition for an interval session after eight hours nestled under a duvet.

Next time – and there will be a next time: maybe not today (definitely not today!) and maybe not tomorrow (quite possibly tomorrow, but this is a thigh-dependent decision), but soon… I will precede  the 30 Day Shred DVD with a proper warm-up. And I’ll do a more thorough cool down.

I can say one thing at this early stage though – like limp lettuce, I do feel shredded. Now where’s that ibuprofen?


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