A NEW Online Fitness Program!
Oh hello! It’s your friendly fitness geek, Lillie, here to give you another exceedingly detailed Beachbody workout review — this time discussing the brand new program, #mbf: “Muscle Burns Fat” with trainer Megan Davies.
What is #mbf “Muscle Burns Fat” Like?
Before we dive into deep analysis about this new program, here is a broad summary overview. “Muscle Burns Fat” is a 21-day (3 week) Beachbody on Demand exercise program which runs about 30 minutes a day for 7 days a week, alternating types of workouts between weightlifting strength training, and cardio/core work, then ending each week with a flexibility workout.
The key gimmick of the #mbf program (and I use the word “gimmick” with love) is that it heavily incorporates a cordless jump rope. This gives a playful, bouncy feel to the whole shebang. Another unique characteristic of #mbf is that it features weightlifting in high-volume reps that alternate between asymmetric and symmetric moves. Finally, it features a cast that is all working out at home via Zoom.
Is #mbfa “Muscle Burns Fat Advanced” Different?
In fact, #mbf is supposed to be followed immediately by #mbfa “Muscle Burns Fat ADVANCED,” which is an additional three weeks of slightly longer (closer to 40 minute) workouts which build on the first three weeks in terms of difficulty. After some math, we see that the entire program is therefore actually 6 weeks, when you add #mbf and #mbfa together.
This review will focus on #mbf only, with a separate review of “Muscle Burns Fat Advanced” #mbfa here (which contains photos of my end results from the two programs together). Why? This two-section structure is similar to Beachbody’s other two-part program, “21 Day Fix” and “21DF Extreme,” and the two halves are different enough that they also merit separate write-ups. Subscribe if you want monthly email alerts of my newest reviews as they come. Now let’s hop to it!
Why Should You Trust This Review?
I am not a Beachbody coach or employee. I am merely a muscular middle school English teacher and mother of two who finds that exercise is a mighty good way to manage stress (and, um… there’s been a lot of stress lately). I truly did every single minute of every single workout in #mbf, including the bonus workouts.
Before getting on the at-home workout boat, I was a Division I college high jumper, meaning I have a solid base of exercise knowledge, and can speak from hard-earned experience about injury prevention by modifications. I also founded and run an 800-person fitness motivation group in Boston, because helping people embrace the joy of healthy bodies is my thing!
This article contains some affiliate links (ex: the jump ropes in the “equipment” section), which means that if you choose to buy through them, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. On to the review!
Is #mbf a Good Workout?
Overall, I really enjoyed #mbf and would highly recommended it to everyone, from advanced beginner to strong athlete, with some caveats. If you’re just starting out with Beachbody (get your free trial here), I actually think #mbf is a perfect first program to try, as long as you have a foundational base of fitness already. Here’s why.
What I Loved About #mbf
1. The music!
What immediately catapults #mbf to the top of the “Best Beachbody Workout Programs” list is that it’s one of the few to be set to music — and wow, is that music ever fun and motivating!
Now, to be clear, all the music is original and non-famous, but it has some serious similarities to certain Beyonce and Jay-Z songs, so you may find yourself almost singing along to a tune before you realize that it’s just a knockoff — hehe.
The music is perfectly timed to get you pumped right before a set, then match the pace of the reps, and to come to a crescendo for a clear finish to each block. Not only does this get you jazzed to work out, but it also keeps you on track with the beat, so you don’t always need to stare at the screen to know which rep comes when. More musical Beachbody programs, please!
2. Exciting and fun exercise moves, in a sequence that effectively works the whole body.
What immediately turns me on or off a program is whether it effectively works every part of the body, and does it with a mix of strength and cardio, and asymmetrical and symmetrical. Thankfully, #mbf does all that and more!
I’ve done a lot of exercises in my life, but #mbf program still felt exciting and fresh because of the innovative ways it combines familiar moves with new versions. For example, I’ve never before done workouts with such high rep volume (versus slow, heavy lifting), and I found them exhilarating!
3. The playfulness of the BOD Rope.
Speaking of fun workouts, the cordless jump rope is featured in almost every episode, and is a hoppin’ good time! Even when I was in a sour mood, my spirits were lifted by the bouncy movement and the mental gymnastics of trying not to smack myself in the bicep with those whirling balls.
Though the BOD Rope took several days to get used to (including having the end fly off because it wasn’t screwed on fully), it turned out to be shockingly satisfying to get the hang of the movements. Our brain thrives on learning new things, and adding that mental and balance piece in with the workout takes it to the next level.
4. Totally doable time frame and duration, with zero wasted minutes.
THANK YOU, Megan, for making a program which respects the busy schedule of a working mama like me! 30 minutes a day for 3 weeks is doable as heck, and the program flew by.
Further, there is not a wasted minute in #mbf, which makes me almost weepy with gratitude. I just finished a certain program which had so much empty monologue time that I spent more time clicking “fast forward” than working out, it seemed. In contrast, #mbf gets right to the workout with no interruptions, and that’s a giant point in its favor.
5. A diverse and delightful cast.
Though “6 Weeks of the Work” was my all-time favorite cast, I deeply enjoyed getting to know the #mbf cast. They all seem like such joyful, fun, positive people! My favorite was Lacee, the modifier, who I have since tracked down on Instagram.
The diversity of body type, race, age, and — since we were seeing the cast Zoom in remotely from home — living spaces was a real perk of #mbf. More than any other program I’ve seen, the people felt real. I loved how you could always hear them cheering in the background like: “We got this! Come on!”
6. Gems like the outfits and puppy.
Megan’s workout outfits were fire!!! And they just seem to get cooler and cooler as the program goes on. At one point, her light blue sneakers were so cute, a cast member yelled through the screen to compliment them. I also really appreciate Ms. Davies’s biceps. Goals!
Other on-screen gems are the items cast members hold up to the screen from their homes. Watch closely at the end of the Day 17 episode for the cutest doggy! All of this leads to…
7. Positive, happy energy.
“Muscle Burns Fat” is a decidedly lovely program. It is good-spirited, G-rated, friendly, and — despite its name — not focused on weight loss, so much as feeling healthy and good. I like all those things! I always finished each day’s workout in a much better mood than I’d started.
Problems with #mbf “Muscle Burns Fat”
A. Not quite long enough, yet not enough rest days.
This gripe may not apply to you if you have different workout preferences, but in my world, I prefer 40-60 minute workouts, 5 days a week. Given this, the #mbf structure of 30 minutes a day, every day of the week, was both too little, and too often. (Now that I’ve started #mbfa which is 40 minutes a day, I can confirm that 40 minutes feels better to me than 30.)
Though I think there’s merit in doing SOMETHING for exercise every single day, I prefer 1-2 rest days a week from programs to take long walks outside. Since #mbf doesn’t provide any days off, I ended up inserting them myself, meaning the program took me almost 4 weeks instead of 3, which is fine. You gotta listen to your body!
B. Lots of lunges and jumping need modification if you have knee issues.
As a former high jumper and extremely tall human, I have knee issues. Therefore, the numerous lunges and jumping moves in #mbf needed lots of modifications on my end — even more than Lacee, the official modifier, could provide.
If you also suffer from knee annoying-ness, use caution with all the lunges and squats, using less range of motion, or going more slowly than the beat. For the jumping moves (something that I can’t do well since pregnancy), just follow Lacee to take the jump out. I’m happy to report that these modifications worked, and I completed #mbf with zero injuries.
C. AMRAPs are weirdly choppy.
During the Core Circuit workouts (more on these later), there is always an AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible) challenge at the end. My issue with this was that the four moves in the series were so short that I spent more time writing rep numbers down than actually working out.
Instead of the required four “skier jumps,” for example, I would have preferred ten, so I could actually get a groove going. When my husband tried this episode, he had the same critique. Both of us ended up adding extra numbers in so we could keep our heart rates up.
D. Wish I could hear and see the cast better.
Because I so enjoyed the cast members’ personalities, I really wanted them to have more screen time so I could get to know them. In “The Work” and “645” for example, Amoila really got deep with the cast, asking questions about their lives, and what was motivating them each day.
In #mbf, however, Zoom makes it harder to hear answers, and cutting between squares is disorienting. Hopefully after the Zoom era, some of the “Muscle Burns Fat” stars can return in person for us to get a good look at them!
E. More on-screen countdown timers, please!
I am extremely motivated by on-screen timers that tell me exactly how many seconds I have left to do any given move, and #mbf only used them 5% of the time. Beachbody, the more timers, the better! They help me push to the max because I know exactly when I can collapse after the move — hehe.
F. Cueing and weight suggestions are sometimes off.
I always appreciate knowing what weight the trainer is using and suggests, but Megan’s number was often way higher than I could lift — especially at the start of the program — or she wouldn’t suggest a weight at all. I also noticed that she sometimes added a cue to remind about form or method slightly too late into the exercise.
G. Repeated use of the phrase: “You guys.”
Your view on this issue may vary, but as a female-identified person, I don’t want to be referred to over and over as “you guys.” In the school where I teach, we no longer use this phrase — opting instead for gender-neutral lines words like “everyone” or “folks” — and students have expressed appreciation. I’m hoping Beachbody will also get on this inclusiveness train.
H. Where are the WOC trainers?
Speaking of inclusiveness, it is high time for Beachbody to hire some Women of Color (WOC) as lead trainers! Megan is a great fitness instructor (and even won the contest THE 20s), but there are sooooo many other skilled instructors out there from different backgrounds who the world would love to learn from on that screen!
Equipment Needed for #mbf
1. A cordless jump rope (“BOD Rope”).
The star piece of equipment of “#mbf” is the “BOD Rope” — a cordless jump rope. I baought this cordless jump rope online for cheap, and it’s really great as long as you make sure the top and bottom are screwed on tight before each use. I chose not to buy directly from Beachbody because they were having major shipping delays.
If you don’t want to spend the $15 on a cordless jump rope, you could just move your hands, or makeshift one from items around your house, but I will say that I found it exciting and worthwhile to have the actual rope and learn to use it. It really does work your muscles and balance!
2. Dumbbells (ideally at least two sets).
You will definitely need at least one set of dumbbells for #mbf, and in a perfect world you’d have three or four. If you’re just starting, 5 and/or 10 pound sets could work. In my more muscular world, I did all of #mbf with 10s, 15s, and 20s. Because there is such a high volume of reps in this program, you don’t need as heavy weights as you’d usually pick.
What about adjustable dumbbells? They’re what I currently use, but they have pros and cons. On the plus side, you get a whole lot more weight options packed in a small space. The problem, however, is that they’re not great for certain #mbf moves like “Swing to Rack.” (See my detailed review of MX55 adjustable weights here.) If you do go the adjustable route, I’d also get a set of regular 10 pound dumbbells that are rubber covered and durable.
3. A thick exercise mat or two.
A thick, soft exercise mat like this one is key for floor moves in the core components, and to save your feet if you work out barefoot like I do! I also use a larger, thinner mat like these puzzle piece workout floor tiles, but do find that the pieces come apart if I move too quickly on certain moves. Putting one of those grippy under-carpet mat layers beneath it can help.
4. Fitness clothing like compression socks.
If you’re a woman and do #mbf, a sports bra will be key because of all the jumping! My secret is I layer two on top of each other. Moving on to leg comfort, I highly recommend compression socks for vein health, and I like this brand and this brand. You may also want weightlifting gloves to prevent callouses.
Like my outfits photographed in this article? The red one is by Rochelle Porter, an amazing Black female designer. The Blue outfits are by Wanderbabe, an ethical, woman-owned company.
Analysis of Each #mbf Workout Type
On the fence about whether or not to do #mbf? This sample workout was what got me hooked! I loved it so much, I even paid the extra money to get “VIP Access” to it a month before the general public. Darn it, Megan — you’re good!
Monday: Lower Body Burn
This weightlifting workout is fantastic. Though it changes slightly each week, it alternates two asymmetrical leg moves (two sets) with two symmetrical ones (three sets), with BOD Rope in between.
Pacing shifts between fast and slower moves, but in general, I’ve never done so many fast squats back-to-back in my life. The music definitely helped me motivate, because I felt like I was dancing in a music video with all that rump work!
Tues. and Thursday: Core Circuit
These workouts don’t use weights, and alternate cardio moves, BOD Rope, and core exercises. They end with an AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible), which you can see from my critique above, I found to be weirdly paced.
I liked these Core Circuit workouts so-so. They got the job done and were pretty fun and effective, but — sheesh — there are are lot of repeated “mountain climber” style core moves in plank position! I suppose my 6-pack says thank you.
Wednesday: Upper Body Burn
The structure of this workout is like Monday’s Lower Body Burn, and I adored it. Really keep in mind for both Monday and Wednesday to go lower in weight than you normally would for your “heavy” dumbbell. That volume of reps is more than anything I’ve ever done!
Friday: Full Body Burn
My notes for this day (because I geekily took notes after every episode of the program) read: “LOVE this one. Creative and fun with balance and brain.” It’s a good one.
Saturday: Power Ignite
Surprise: This workout is only 25 minutes! I adored it. “Short and sweaty,” says Megan. Power Ignite is an EMOM: Every Minute on the Minute, where you get to really dive into the zone of going full out on one exercise (like “inchworm to pushup”) for 40 straight seconds, then repeat 5 times before moving to the next block. I always left this one in a good mood, feeling accomplished.
Sunday: Dynamic Recovery
This workout drove me crazy. It’s probably very good for me because it focuses on mobility and posture correction moves for the shoulders and back (among other body parts) that get cramped up at a desk… but it just seemed soooo slow. This gal prefers her wild weightlifting!
On the bright side, I found the trick to enjoying this workout: It’s perfect to do alongside a child! My 5-year-old daughter ended up loving all the moves, and sometimes doing them better than me. (“Mama, you’re doing it WRONG. Put your hand up there!”)
Bonus Workouts (3)
The three extra “On the Go” workouts at the end of #mbf are well worth your time. “Bonus Core” is 10 minutes that I wished I’d added in at least once a week during the program, but I didn’t try it until the end.
“On the Go Full Body Burn” was the best! It’s almost like a dance workout, and got my heart rate up better than any other workout I did in #mbf. It doesn’t even need a BOD Rope. “On the Go Cardio Core” was a solid workout, but had too much lunge action for me.
Comparing #mbf to Other Beachbody on Demand Programs
Beachbody on Demand has a MASSIVE workout library, so it can be daunting to decide which program to begin with or do next. Here is my analysis of how #mbf “Muscle Burns Fat” compares with the other most popular BOD programs, to help you pick.
“80 Day Obsession” vs. #mbf
This program battle is a tough call. It really depends on your aims and your life structure. Let’s break it down.
In the end, I truly loved “80 Day Obsession,” (click to see my full review) even though I complained about it most of the time I was actually doing it! No other program so completely transformed my body shape and strength. “80DO” is about an hour a day for 6 days a week, so it becomes a way of life, and really sucks you in. Therefore, in terms of emotional impact and results, I’d give “80DO” the edge over #mbf.
HOWEVER, there are number of realms in which #mbf beats out “80DO” as the better program. The first way is that most humans don’t have an hour of free time lying around every day, meaning #mbf has a more realistic and doable time frame. It is more likely that a person who starts #mbf will actually finish it. 3 weeks of 30 minutes a day ain’t long!
Second, #mbf is more efficient, and has music, which makes it more fun and jolly. “80 Day Obsession” has zero music, lots of talking, and many inefficient pauses — especially at the end of month 3 when Autumn gets totally exhausted. “80DO” also has much weirder moves, and potentially a higher risk of injury due to them.
The easiest answer to this #mbf vs. “80DO” query is that you should start with #mbf and #mbfa, then if you make it through those, head over to “80DO.” The moves and styles are VERY different, so that will keep things fresh, and keep the gains progressing. Just be prepared for an eerie silence when you move from the music of #mbf to the background silence of “80 Day Obsession!” (For a comparison between “Muscle Burns Fat” and Autumn’s new program, “9 Week Control Freak,” click that link for my review.)
“LIIFT4” vs. #mbf
This one is an easy call: I strongly recommend doing #mbf instead of “LIIFT4,” especially if you’re a woman who wants a balanced shape. Though I found “LIIFT4” fun and engaging, I have a serious problem with its upper-body focus. Yes, I love my big biceps, but I got furious at the lack of leg-building moves of the program!
Further, “LIIFT4” is far too symmetrical in its moves, meaning you don’t get the injury-preventing asymmetric moves which #mbf does so well. “LIIFT4” is also only 4 days a week, which is not enough for me. Simple choice here!
“6 Weeks of The Work” vs. #mbf
Sheesh — back to a tough battle. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED “The Work” (my review is at that link). The program is absolutely hilarious in its banter and swearing, and turning it on every episode was like watching a great TV show. Amoila Cesar is my favorite Beachbody trainer of all time, and if we are judging a program by its trainer alone, “The Work” wins, hands down.
That said, “The Work” has an emphasis on shoulder building through push-ups and pull-ups that I didn’t love. In contrast, #mbf is more balanced in body part focus. “The Work” also is rightly rated “Advanced,” while #mbf is “Intermediate.”
I’m going to solve this tie in the same way as I did for “80DO” The answer is: Start with #mbf and #mbfa, and if you finish well, move on to “The Prep” and “The Work.” If you do, say hi to Amoila for me, and tell him I miss him!
“21 Day Fix” vs. #mbf
Though I haven’t done “21DF” yet, my friend who’s done it said it is easier than #mbf, meaning that it could be a good place to start if you’re feeling nervous about #mbf. “21 Day Fix Real Time” is one of Beachbody’s most beloved and famous programs for a reason — it’s effective but doable. I will say, though, that if you want music, #mbf is the winner.
Any Other Beachbody Program vs. #mbf
The Beachbody on Demand programs above (besides “21DF”) are the ones I’ve finished in their entirety, but I’ve sampled many other BOD programs (see ALL my Beachbody reviews here)… and my vote is that #mbf is better than almost all the others.
The only reason I’d start with a different program would be if there’s a specific style you really want to do (ex: boxing with “10 Rounds”), or if you’re truly a beginner and want a much easier workout, like “Country Heat.”
Results of #mbf “Muscle Burns Fat”
It’s hard to quantify results of a program that’s only 3 weeks long, when you’re already in solid shape. (I just finished doing “The Work” and “80 Day Obsession” in quick succession, so my fitness base is on point.
That said, there ARE results to #mbf, even before doing #mbfa. Do my abs look more ripped and defined? Yup. Is my coordination better in complex moves like BOD Rope jumping? Yes ma’am. Was I able to lift heavier weights by the end of the three weeks? Affirmative. Am I newly excited about working out due to this cool new program? Indeed!
I would wager that if you are new to working out 7 days a week, you will see clear results after the three weeks of #mbf, and amazing transformation after completing #mbfa. It’s an effective and engaging program for sure, and well worth half an hour a day.
Tips and Fun Facts About #mbf
I’ve learned a lot of fun tidbits of information about #mbf “Muscle Burns Fat” from social media and chatting with other Beachbody on Demand fans. One fact — found on Megan Davies’s Instagram — is that every episode was filmed in just one take! That’s extremely impressive, given how complex they are.
Another detail I love, that made me like Megan even more: When she was a model, a person in charge of the photoshoot once said to her, “Your muscles are looking a little large. Could you put them away?”
She responded with sass, “Where would you like me to put them?!” This embracing of female strength and bulging biceps is an aspect of #mbf that kept me coming back for more.
Is #mbf or #mbfa Better?
After completing both programs, it’s clear: you MUST start with #mbf, no matter what your current fitness level, because “Muscle Burns Fat Advanced” is SO HARD — even though it’s only 7 minutes longer per day.
Though the programs have similarities, they actually work very different muscle groups, and thus you can’t have the second without the base of the first. Click through to my full #mbfa Beachbody review and results article for the full explanation, along with my final photos (in armor leggings no less)!
This #mbf Review in Sum:
Well now… I appear to have written over 4,000 words in this article, but it all boils down to this summary: #mbf “Muscle Burns Fat” is one of the best programs on Beachbody on Demand, and is well worth your time. It can be modified to fit most levels above high beginner, and is fun and effective.
So what’s YOUR opinion? If you haven’t tried #mbf yet, does it seem like it’s for you? If you have, what did you think of it? Do share!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!