When looking to shed body fat and preserve muscle mass, the most important factor is to be in a slight caloric deficit, avoid crash dieting, increase protein intake, increase calorie expenditure, and continue to lift weights.
The Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program was designed with those principles in mind, and could be a good option for some individuals depending on their long-term goals, experience, and abilities.
So what is the Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred Program?
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred Program offers beginner and intermediate gym enthusiasts a high-intensity, endurance-driven training regimen and diet plan to increase fitness while losing body fat. The program consists of three, 4-week phases that take you through challenging high-intensity body-weight and weight training workouts.
My first impressions were that Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program could work for beginners or individuals who are looking to use bodyweight training, calisthenics, and lighter weight resistance training to perform high volume, high intensity fast-paced workouts.
It also offers a complete 90-day nutrition program that does not require calorie or macro tracking, along with exercise demonstration videos to further enhance your experience and results.
That said, I did find some flaws in Athlean-X’s Inferno Max Shred Program that are worth discussing more in-depth:
- The program relies too heavily on bodyweight movements and calisthenics
- The program is primarily cardio based, even when using weights to “build muscle”
- The program is very high impact and high intensity, which could be an issue for individuals who have bad knees, lower back issues, or cannot push their bodies extremely hard.
- The program relies heavily the lifter’s ability to maintain good technique when pushing to near or complete muscle failure.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is a good workout option for lifters who are ready to commit to an intense training cyle, are disciplined enough to maintain proper form and technique during tough workouts, and stay disciplined with their diets for a 90-day period.
However, let me further dig into the reasons why another program may be beneficial to consider.
Why This May Not Be the Best Program for You
1. This Program May Be TOO Intense for Some
This program, like the Athlean-X Max Size Program, is intense.
That is not to try to convince lifters to not do it, but more as a general word of caution. Despite what people may think, losing body fat and maintaining muscle doesn’t mean you need to slave away 5 days a week in the gym. Most of the hard work comes by way of eating properly.
By focusing on hard training every day, people may find themselves starving for food, banged up, tired, and run down; all of which can impact energy levels and will power to stick to a diet.
Additionally, if you are under-eating (which is necessary to be in a calorie deficit) and training extremely hard, for weeks on end, you may end up running yourself into the ground.
In most fat loss programs, diet is key, followed by making sure to lift with weights (moderate and heavy loads) in order to maintain strength and muscle mass.
As the diet progresses and you continue to eat less and less food, you also need to make sure to not continue to increase workout intensity too much, or you could wind up really run down.
This program has you eating less and less, but also training harder as the program goes on.
If you are someone who is unsure about your ability to maintain proper form in a high-intensity training setting, you could try the Fitbod app (click to get 3 free workouts).
Fitbod will base your workouts on your performance in the gym. The app takes into consideration several data points that learns how you should be progressing based on your logged training history.
2. Too Much Emphasis on Cardio and Calisthenics
This program is heavy on cardio circuits, timed intervals, and bodyweight training.
The entire first month is done with no weights, and all body weight. Movements like plyometrics, burpees, and pushup variations make up the vast majority of the movements.
In the second and third phases, more advanced lifters can integrate more weights and compound lifts.
Athlean-X uses the first month to “prime” the body for fat loss, however spending ⅓ of the workout program not lifting a weight may not be something you would like if you are someone who has been lifting and enjoys that part of the process.
Not lifting weights and doing more cardio is NOT shown to be any more effective at burning fat. In fact, not lifting weights, for more advanced lifters, will most likely result in decreased strength and muscle mass, especially during a period where you are eating less food.
3. Might Be Too High Impact for Some
This program incorporates a good amount of high impact exercise like jumping rope, burpees, plyometrics, and split squat jumps (just to name a few).
For lifters who have had issues in the past with bad knees, hips, lower back, shoulders, and wrists, this could be a pretty intense program to do for 90 days.
And again, those movements are not more effective for weight loss than using lower impact exercises and cardio options, like incline walking.
Related Article: HITT vs LISS Cardio: Pros, Cons, Differences
4. High Fatiguing Sets May Result in Form Breakdowns and Injury
Training to near or complete muscle failure in a timed workout can be a great way to push yourself and progress; however, it can also be a good way to sacrifice form and control for “more reps”.
While this program does offer video tutorials to demonstrate how to do things properly, it can lend itself to having lifters try to compete with one another (workout leaderboards), which for some people may lead them down the path of quantity reps over quality reps.
Add in doing that for 3 months with similar movement patterns, under-eating, and often poor recovery (training almost every day) and you may find yourself broken down or injured.
To recap, this is why I feel you should go with the Fitbod app instead of Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program:
- Allows for lifters of all levels and abilities to find challenging programs that integrate drive muscle growth with exercises that match the lifters abilities and experience levels
- Provides you with in-app videos on proper lifting technique and form (with no leaderboard)
- Modifies your workouts weekly to adjust to your individual performance week to week, to allow for better recovery and progress
Need a workout program? Get 3 free workouts on Fitbod right now.
Now, let’s dive into the full review of Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program.
Program Review – Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred Program
Below you will find my full program review of Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program.
About the Creator – Jeff Cavaliere
Athlean-X is built on the philosophy of delivering safe and effective workouts that get undeniable results.
Jeff Cavaliere, founder of Athlean-X, received his Masters Degree in Physical Therapy and Bachelor of Science in Psychoneurobiology / Premedicine from the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT.
Off the field, Cavaliere is a much sought after author and lecturer, speaking on the topics of baseball injury prevention and sport specific conditioning and has appeared numerous times in print media writing (including many of the top Fitness Magazines) on the topics of sports training, injury rehabilitation and prevention
Jeff has also served as both the Head Physical Therapist and Assistant Strength Coach for the New York Mets during the National League East Championship 2006, 2007 and 2008 seasons and coached some of the game’s most accomplished players. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
What is Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred Program
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is 12-week (three, four week training phases) geared primarily for lifters looking to lose bodyfat, build muscle and improve their basic athleticism with a wide variety of bodyweight movements, plyometrics, and resistance training.
This training program consists of five workouts per week. Each workout is roughly 30-60 minutes in length.
The first phase sets a good foundation for volume and higher intensity work. It uses plyometrics, bodyweight exercises, and calisthenics exclusively. The second and third phases are higher in volume, and include dumbbell and barbell training.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred Program
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is delivered to you in a robust package, one that includes:
- A personalized online portal to view your program, diet plan, exercise videos, and FAQ section
- 33-page workout program and planner (downloadable PFD)
- 90-Day meal plan calendar
The program itself is broken down into three, four-week phases, each designed to prepare you for increased training volume and intensity to help you burn more bodyfat as the weeks and phases progress.
In the below sections, we will discuss the key training variables that every lifter should be aware of when looking to gain muscle and strength, and how Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program addresses each one.
Related Article: Science-Based Six Pack Abs Review: Should You Do It?
This program does not follow a traditional periodization model in which lifters would try to linearly increase loads or reps week to week.
This is a limitation of this program in that it does not specifically address strength increases in a progressive manner, however that is also not the goal of the program (this program is geared towards fat and weight loss).
Additionally, you are not doing the same workout week to week, so progressions and structured progressions are limited, other than exercise progressions and/or doing more reps in a following week.
That said, there are some progressions that can be made throughout the program mainly through advancing through the “Alarm Stage Levels”. By increasing this level, you can increase the total reps you need to do in a time frame, or advance the exercise or movement into a more challenging variation.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program follows a 2 days on, 1 day off, 3 days on, 1 day off workout split.
All workouts are total body; however, depending on the phase some of the total body workouts are more muscle building focuses — so either bodyweight exercises or dumbbells and barbells in later phases), or they are total body high intensity cardio workouts that include things like jumping rope, calisthenics, etc.
- Day 1 – Total Body
- Day 2 – Total Body
- Day 3 – Rest
- Day 4 – Total Body
- Day 5 – Total Body
- Day 6 – Total Body
- Day 7 – Rest
For the majority of the program, you will train with weights (except the first month) three times per week.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program places high emphasis on high-intensity workouts with a large emphasis on bodyweight exercise, calisthenics, and increasing muscle endurance.
The movements themselves are specific to the muscles they are intended to target, but this isn’t a sport performance program where the exercises are trying to achieve a broader goal outside the gym.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is high in training volume, which can be expected when training five days per week in a program that is made to transform your body in 90 days.
With that said, most lifters should have no issues with recovery if they adhere to proper training intensities and do not sacrifice form for more reps.
Beginners who are not used to this amount of training volume will most certainly be sore.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program progressively overloads throughout most of this program via increased training volume, increasing loads (allowing self selection of weights to be used), and pushing to failure further with more reps.
Additionally, the lifter is able to progress themselves through “Alarm Phases 1-4” which brings along different movement progressions.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is a balanced program in terms of recovery, however, it could be a shock to beginners who have not worked out consistently.
If the individual understands how important sleep, nutrition, and how to safely and effectively train to near or complete failure during a workout, they will be able to best monitor their recovery and progress accordingly week to week.
It is important to point out that the success rate of this program is highly dependent on the individual’s ability to adhere to the strict diet plan, which will place them in a caloric deficit from week to week.
The program gets more intense as you go, which could increase fatigue and decrease recovery when paired with the fact that the individual is eating less calories week to week.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is a templated program that is marketed towards offering people a safe and effective way to lose fat at any level (beginner to advanced athletes and lifters).
Individual concerns like previous injuries, access to equipment, and training schedules can be an issue for some, but this would be the case for most templated training programs.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program does not have many exercise swaps (in case you do not have the required equipment) when compared to other templated training programs as compared to working remotely or using a more personalized training app program like the Fitbod app.
Additionally, if you are someone who has issues or limitations performing high intensity, high impact exercises (like plyometrics, squat jumps, etc), or has had issues getting injured with high intensity, time-based style workouts, this could be something to watch out for.
4 Benefits of Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred Program
Below are four benefits of Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program.
1. Scalable to All Levels
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is a scalable program, one that a beginner or advanced lifters can use. The program itself can be completed at 4 different levels (Alarm Level 1-4).
By having various levels to choose from, you are able to match the movements, rep ranges, and offer a scalable program that can be repeated in the future as you progress over time.
If you find you overestimated your fitness level, you can also quickly regress the movements or rep ranges to match your abilities.
You can determine your “Alarm Level” by seeing how many push ups you can do unbroken.
Below are the level breakdowns:
- Alarm 1 – Cannot do 20 push ups
- Alarm 2 – Can do 20 push ups, but cannot perform another set of 20 push ups afterwards
- Alarm 3 – Can do multiple sets of 20 push ups
- Alarm 4 – Can do multiple sets of 20 push ups, AND have done one of Athlean-X’s programs before
2. New High-Intensity, Challenging Workouts Every Week
Athlean-X inferno Max Shred program challenges you every single week with new workouts that set out to push you to your limits.
Each workout includes some sort of new movement, rep scheme, or workout structure. This can be great for keeping you engaged and motivated, especially towards the end of the program when you may be feeling tired or hungry (and your motivation may be fading).
3. Offers Exercise Technique Videos for All Movements
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program offers a full exercise library with demonstrations and instructions on how to properly perform each movements in the program.
These videos are viewable within the Max Shred online portal.
4. 90-Day Nutrition Plan
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program can be viewed in the portal or downloaded and printed out (PDFs).
The program itself does not require you to count macronutrient or track calories. Instead, it has you focus on eating frequently throughout the day, fulling up on fruits and vegetables, eating lean protein, and getting fats from nuts and seeds.
It also has you eating carbs, but around your workouts.
The 90-Day meal plan lays out specific meals you can make, and when to eat them, along with a supplement calendar to help you make sure you are getting the nutrients you need (always an issue when people are dieting, as they tend to eat less food and can omit food groups).
The meals themselves aren’t the most flexible, however they will often result in you eating more fruits, vegetables, protein, and cutting down on eating foods higher in sugars, fats, and processed carbs.
3 Negatives of Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred Program
Below are three negatives of Athlean-X’s Inferno Max Shred program.
1. Very Intense
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is intense, and while that isn’t a bad thing, it is something to be aware of if you are:
(1) starting out and are a complete beginner,
(2) are returning to the gym after a long period of time not training consistently; or
(3) are recovering from injury or nagging chronic joint/muscle injuries or cannot do high intensity, high impact movements.
If you are one of the above individuals, you may find this program to push the envelope too much too soon, which could do more harm than good.
That said, understand that you can lose weight and body fat specifically by simply adhering to the diet plan and keeping the workouts at a lower intensity and lower impact level.
2. Requires Experience Training to Failure, for Best Results
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program requires you to know the difference between training to failure with good technique to ensure muscle failure, and training to complete failure while sacrificing technique and protielalt injuring yourself.
If you are someone who has not developed this ability to differentiate between muscle failure and losing form but pushing through more reps, you may wind up injuring yourself.
It is important to note that this is not an issue only with this program, but with any program that pushes high intensity workouts with the goal on doing more and more work, for the sake of completing more reps.
This is always a great motivator, but for individuals who have a tough time stopping themselves from wrecking themselves, especially when using weights and dieting (under-eating can cause under recovery), this can be a big issue.
3. Minimal Emphasis on Strength Retention
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is not a program geared to develop strength, or even help you retain it during a fat loss phase.
If you are a beginner, you will find you will be able to improve strength and muscle, however for more advanced lifters and athletes, this workout program focuses mainly on cardio circuits and high-intensity weight training circuits, which could decrease your strength over the course of the 90 days.
While strength is expected to fall during a long term fat loss phase (for intermediate and advanced lifters, because again, beginners can do just about anything and get results), you can incorporate basic strength training with rest periods to minimize this loss in strength (which this program does not include)
Who is Athlean-X’s InfernoMax Shred Program For?
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is a solid option for beginner and intermediate lifters looking to lean out and use their bodyweight or lighter weights in a fast-paced workout system, and are not entirely concerned with potentially losing strength (more an issue for intermediate and advanced lifters).
This 12-week program focuses on bodyweight exercises, calisthenics, and compound exercises like the squat, the deadlift, and the press using both barbells and dumbbells.
But, before you jump on the program, make sure you consider the drawbacks listed above.
My main concerns for the program is:
(1) Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program is very cardio driven, and may place too much emphasis on cardio circuits (more of an issue for intermediate to advanced lifters who have long term goals of gaining size and strength).
(2) Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred program, like the Max Size program, requires lifters to understand how to properly train to failure without allowing form to breakdown. This is a big issue with injury prevention.
(3) Athlean-X inferno Max Shred program spends little time to address maintaining muscle size and shape. This program has you performing a ton of reps in a fast paced environment, however all are done with little emphasis on the muscle contraction or control, which could lead to just unnecessary volume and reps that do not actually contribute to significant muscle growth retention during the weight loss phase.
Athlean-X Inferno Max Shred Program – Final Recommendation
This program is a good option for beginner lifters or individuals who want a fun, easy to follow, minimal equipment based program to get them into shape.
While I do not think this is the best program for most advanced individuals who have long term goals of maximal muscle growth and strength (and want to also be lean), I do see how this program will help beginners and people who have a tough time staying motivated (and again, are not concerned as much with muscle growth and strength in the long run).
The biggest factor in any fat loss program is diet. Therefore, if you can adhere to a diet program, you can then use your training to match your goals. This may mean for most lifters who do not want to lose muscle mass and strength (for example the first month of this program is cardio and bodyweight training) that they could find a better program.
But, for lifters who want a beginner friendly program they can do at home, with minimal weights, to kickstart their fitness training, this could be a good option (but to be clear again, the workout program is no more effective than any other at fat loss… rather, to lose fat you need to eat less, that’s the key).
Final Program Review Score…
7.4 out of 10
For those reasons, I really think this program misses the mark for most lifters, outside of complete beginners or individuals who may be OK with sacrificing long term strength and muscle mass gain.
For me, I find that there are much better ways to lose bodyfat than to beat yourself up with cardio circuits. The main thing that must occur when looking to lose body fat is to be in a calorie deficit.
Once you achieve that, you can train in lower volumes yet still with moderate to heavy loads and retain most of the muscle mass and strength you accumulated in the mass gaining phase. For that reason, I find this program to not be very effective for lifters with long term goals and visions of being as strong, muscular, and lean as possible in the long term.
For those who are concerned with maximal strength and muscle gain in the long term, yet want to look for a program that will match their specific dieting needs (training when in a calorie deficit needs to be different than a massing plan, specifically lower in volume), I recommend you check out the Fitbod App.
It allows you to choose programs based on your level, training schedules, and goals, and customizes your workouts weekly to adapt to your previous performances to improve your results every week.
Check Out Our Other Program Reviews
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- Jeff Nippard’s High Frequency Full Body Program REVIEW
- Jeff Nippard Legs Push Pull Program REVIEW
- Jeff Nippard’s UPPER LOWER Size and Strength Program REVIEW
- Athlean-X Max Size Program Review: Is It Worth It?
- Bony To Bombshell Program Review: Is It Worth It?
About The Author
Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.