Burning Calories With Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred

Intense, Short Workouts

Get Physical With Jillian Michaels
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With the "Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred," a brief workout of just under a half hour really counts. Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels works you hard in this series of three workouts, each including three circuits of increasingly difficult strength, cardio, and ab moves. It's not for the faint of heart (or knee), but if you do it right, it works.

Michaels designed and demonstrates the workouts, with two helpers. One assistant performs modified movements that have lower impact and lower intensity.

How Many Calories Will "30-Day Shred" Burn?

Your calorie burn with "30-Day Shred" will depend on your weight and fitness level. You can find out for sure by using a heart rate monitor that also tracks calorie burn. But a person of average fitness, weighing 150 pounds, can expend over 200 calories in one of these 28-minute workouts.

This level of calorie burn is because the workout is pretty intense and includes plyometric exercises. In these, muscles have to move quickly from stretched to shortened and back, as in jumping or throwing a ball. Since this is taxing, it burns more calories. But it's also risky. To make plyometrics safer, start with lower-impact and lower-intensity exercise until you have built up some muscle strength. Warm up before you do any plyo work, and start by using both legs or arms at the same time. The video provides progressive intensity, so follow along carefully.

Video Pros and Cons

Here are the basics of what the video provides.


  • Short; easy to fit into a busy schedule
  • Requires little equipment (mat and hand weights)
  • Good variety of movements and muscles worked
  • Good for men or women
  • Movements are easy to follow and understand


  • Post-workout cool-down may be insufficient
  • Demonstrator of advanced moves doesn't always have great form
  • Promise of "20 pounds in 30 days" is overly optimistic
  • Can be hard on knees and shins unless you modify some moves 

In-Depth Review of "Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred" DVD

Workout videos aren't for everyone, and neither is brash, no-excuses trainer Jillian Michaels. But if you want a workout that works, and doesn't take hours of your day, try her "30-Day Shred" DVD. In less than 30 minutes, including a brief warm-up and cool-down, Michaels takes you through a butt-kicking series of strength, cardio, and ab moves. In each of the three workouts, you'll complete three circuits. Each circuit consists of three minutes of strength moves, two minutes of cardio, one minute of crunches, and other moves targeting the abdominal muscles.

The idea is to do 10 days of level 1, then move up to level 2, and so on. The levels build upon each other. For example, in level 1 you'll do ordinary pushups. In level 2, things get a little tougher with walking pushups, in which you stand up, then walk out to a pushup position on your hands, do the pushup, and walk back up to standing. In level 3, it's time for traveling pushups, in which you stay down on the ground in pushup position, but move your hands to a different position in between each rep.

The workout is efficient. Every minute counts and, Michaels argues, replaces "hours of phoning it in at the gym." If you have the self-discipline to follow the moves without cheating, you will see some good results.

Many of the movements are intense and high-impact (especially the plyometrics in level 3). You'll need to pay close attention to your form and do the lower-impact modifications if you are less physically fit or prone to injury. Also, the demonstrator who shows the advanced modifications of the movements (Natalie) doesn't always have excellent form, so you need to listen to Michaels' instructions carefully. Finally, the cooldown stretches are perfunctory. Consider holding them for a longer time or adding additional stretches to better care for your muscles and joints.

In Michaels' patter, there is a lot of emphasis on weight loss as a motivator. While that's why many people work out or would buy the video, it would be better to have fewer appeals to vanity and more to health and strength. These comments also might make the video less attractive to men, which is a shame; this is a workout that's suitable for anyone, male or female.

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