Training plateaus are like a**holes; everyone has one. Hell, some of us have two (or more)! Wait, no, that’s not right. Scratch that.
Plateaus are a normal part of training at any experience level.
But when you crash into that wall where the PRs won’t budge, and you’re psyching yourself out with the “is this another plateau … or have I hit my genetic potential?” thoughts, what comes next?
If you’re an Athlean-X die-hard, you naturally fall into the Athlean-X Breakout muscle-growth plateau-busting 12-week routine (because Jeff Cavaliere is your fitness god).
Keep scrolling to read our completely Athlean-X Breakout review.
About the Creator – Jeff Cavaliere
Jeff Cavaliere is a former physical therapist and strength coach for the New York Mets, founder of the fitness dynasty Athlean-X, and trainer to a few unnamed elite-level athletes.
His science-backed approach to training inspired an online fandom with over two billion YouTube views (as of March 2022) and an Instagram following of over two million.
Besides this one, Athlean-X also has more than a dozen training programs to choose from.
What is Athlean-X Breakout?
Athlean-X Breakout is a 12-week program for those with at least a year of consistent training experience caught in a seemingly inescapable size and strength rut (or plateau).
Through Breakout’s Breakdown (weeks 1–4), Burnout (5–8), and Break Loose (9–12) phases, you’ll zero in on the three “methods of hypertrophy” to shatter PRs, reignite growth, and finish as a beast:
Breakout also includes two purchase options (120 days vs. lifetime access for $20 more) and a revamped XFactor Meal Plan 2.0 to maximize lean growth and fat loss.
You should break free from those stubborn plateau chains and return to those strength and size gains by the end of the program.
Athlean-X Breakout Features & Details
Here’s everything you need to know before buying Athlean-X Breakout:
Confucious says, “The biggest deterrent to progress is looking ahead, so I’ve included an accountability factor in Athlean-X breakout.” (Oh, wait, maybe that was Jeff Cavaliere.)
The logic is there. But charging somebody $77+ for a program, only allowing them access to one-third of it, and then putting in countermeasures to prevent them from marking workouts as “complete” to access months two and three sends those red flags a-flyin’.
Keep in mind: Athlean-X also has a firm no-refund policy. So it’s not like Cavaliere’s paranoid you’ll buy the Breakout program, download the workouts, and request your money back.
What Equipment Do You Need?
To follow along with the Athlean-X Breakout program, you’ll need the basic Athlean-X equipment, which includes:
- Adjustable dumbbells (regular dumbbells of various weights can also work)
- Adjustable bench
- Squat rack
- Cable machine
- Pull-up bar
- Jump rope
- Resistance bands
This list may change come week five and beyond. But if you have all of this equipment on day one, you’re set for at least the next four weeks.
Types of Workouts
Athlean-X programs are notoriously random (if you compare them to a traditional program that repeats workouts from week to week).
So don’t forget to tune into the weekly Game Plan video every Sunday to learn about the week’s upcoming changes and their logic.
Here’s a look at the types of workouts you’ll encounter in phase one — Breakdown:
Break-In is your first official Breakout workout and a way to record your baseline on the four major compound lifts: front squat, dumbbell bench press, deadlift, and underhand barbell row.
The Break-In workout begins with a three-set warm-up protocol — light warm-up set, ½ weight x 15, ¾ weight x 6 — before rolling into your 4–8 reps test set.
You’ll also log your performance in the “Touch-Up Calculator,” which will auto-calculate the weights you’ll use for these exercises later on in the program.
The Break-Up Combos in Breakout’s phase one come in two forms:
- A once-a-week Eccentric workout to encourage muscle damage through a break-up and reinforcement sets. The Eccentric sessions target weak spots in your range of motion that are pushing you into plateaus. Exercises include 3 x 10 plate raise squats and 2 x 10–12RM to failure dumbbell jump squats.
- Twice-a-week Metabolic workouts to shake up the focus and technique while breaking the major lifts into thirds or quarters. Cavaliere designed the Metabolic sessions to dodge the subconscious habit of cheating through higher rep ranges, constant tension, and limiting pause. Exercises include 4 x 15–25RM stiff-legged deadlifts and 3 x failure band pull-aparts.
Being Jeff Cavaliere, the fitness legend also works in some accessory training to focus on the often-forgotten muscles (like the rhomboids) while maximizing muscle activation.
Phase one has two Breakthrough workouts: one on day 12 and another on day 19. If this workout looks familiar to your day one Break-In workout, that’s no coincidence!
This time around, you’ll repeat the same four exercises with fewer reps per set — 50% BI* weight x 3, 75% x 3, 100% x 3 fewer reps, touch-up sets, and a performance set to failure.
Bump up the weight next time if you can power through eight reps on your performance set.
* = Break-In Weight
Day 26’s Breakout workout is a repeat of the Break-In workout to track your strength gains in the four core exercises.
Rest & Recovery
Rest & Recovery days ask you to do straight-up nothing.
The Breakout Meal Plan
The Breakout Meal Plan is (or at least almost exactly) the same as nearly every other Athlean-X program — a clearly defined meal plan describing what to eat every day for 12 weeks.
Size & Shred Swaps
Along with each standard meal, Cavaliere gives two alternative options for the three core meals — Size Swaps to maximize muscle mass and Shred Swaps to zero in on fat loss.
A regular meal may include apple spice oatmeal, 1–2% milk, and high-grade omega-3s.
The Shred Swap would remove the oats and walnuts while shifting to skim milk, while the Size Swap would add protein powder, a banana, and granola and swap in whole milk.
Although if your goal is to maximize size and strength, there’s little sense in even trying the Shred Swaps. Stick to the standard meals and Size Swaps whenever possible.
Color Code Legend
Cavaliere also uses the XFactor meal plan as a teachable movement (love those). Red means protein, purple is starchy carbs, fats are gold, and fibrous carbs are green.
But — as is the norm with Jeff Cavaliere — the XFactor meal plan essentially ignores calories, macros, and serving sizes.
- Those who’ve followed the Breakout program through month three saw considerable gains in the four major lifts.
- Cavaliere doesn’t include cardio, speed, agility, or any of that nonsense. Your only focus for the next three or so months is beefing up your PRs and breaking out of plateaus.
- The XFactor Meal Plan lays out literally every meal for the next 90 days.
- It breaks free from the classic “just change your program & exercises” approach to breaking through plateaus.
- Breakout targets the weakest areas of your lifts that are holding you back.
- The volume is reasonably low and just enough to boost progress.
- Many Athlean-X users rate it the best program in the entire franchise.
- When adding weight to the bar isn’t the answer, breaking down the lift is.
- The 120-day expiration countdown clock begins as soon as you buy the program — unless you dump another $20 into it for lifetime access. The loophole (that Cavaliere reveals himself) is the option to download and print all Breakout workouts.
- Accountability is good. Restricting access to months two and three — at least until you legitimately finish month one — on a program that essentially expires in 120 days is not.
- The new-and-improved XFactor Meal Plan 2.0 is the spitting image of the meal plan paired with every other Athlean-X program. It completely ignores macros, calories, serving sizes, and all that.
- Athlean-X Breakout is a general plateau-breaker without the option to target specific plateaus (like quad growth or the bench press).
Wrapping Up This Athlean-X Breakout Review
All in all, Athlean-X Breakout is one of the best programs in the franchise, especially if you have a single training goal — breaking through plateaus.
The focus on the four major lifts brings back memories of StrongLifts 5×5, while the exercise variation along the way focuses on building upon the weaker areas of each compound lift.
If you follow Athlean-X Breakout all the way through, you should end the program bigger, stronger, and less defeated than you began.