Ever had those weeks that are simply so brutal you don’t even have the usual Sunday anxiety? Well, if you actually train incredibly hard, this is what happens.
Sagi, a pro bodybuilder, has apparently created a plan that you can follow for a day or for as long as you like – is it any good? Let’s find out.
About the Creator – Dr. Sagi Kalev
Sagi is one hell of a coach.
Sagi is originally from Israel, where he was always interested in fitness and bodybuilding – even from a young age. This led to him (surprise) becoming quite fit as a child, and he went on to join the Israeli army.
After spending some time in the army, he decided to pursue bodybuilding as a sport and soon won not one but two Mr. Israel titles. This jumpstarted his career, and he moved to the mecca of bodybuilding – America – back in 1993.
He started working as a personal trainer while growing his own career to new heights.
He studied and was soon a Certified Pro Personal Trainer with PROPTA. He also became a clinical nutritionist and alternative medicine doctor.
As a bodybuilder and a fitness model, he is also incredibly successful and has landed himself a host of deals over the years:
- He is the Senior Director of PROPTA, Professional Personal Trainers Association, a Professional institute for Fitness and Nutrition Certifications
- Contracted with Impact Nutrition and Lifewave
- Appeared on the cover of Muscle & Fitness four times
- Developed the Body Beast program for Beachbody, which is extremely popular
Sagi has (done it all) also become a pretty good bodybuilding coach, and has created the very popular Hammer & Chisel program on Beachbody On Demand. Bodybuilding coaching is actually a fairly serious matter, seeing as simply one gram of extra salt might be the difference between winning and losing a show.
It’s very cool and all to have a lot to your name and to have online programs. It’s another thing completely to have good online programs.
Let’s open the hood on the Hard Labor program to see what’s underneath.
A Week of Hard Labor Overview
Sometimes, designing your own program for building muscles can be a daunting task. Not only is it quite daunting, but it’s also extremely hard.
See, you have to balance quite a few different things…
- Volume: Volume refers to the amount of work you do in a set or across a week. That said, you could go down a rabbit hole and say it is the total amount of hard work you did. This can be very complicated, and people argue for hours about how much volume is needed.
- Load: Load is simple. How much weight is on the bar? A lot? High load. Not a lot? You should probably add more…
- Intensity: Intensity is referring to how difficult a set or session is. Higher load or super high volume usually equates to high intensity.
Overall, building a program is hard – especially one that you cannot alter as time goes by. This is why the idea of one being designed once-off is very intriguing.
- Fitness level: Intermediate
- Duration: 1 Week +
- Workouts per week: 5 Workouts per week
- Average workout duration: 30 – 45 Minutes
- Equipment needed: Minimal equipment
- Goal: Build muscle
A Week of Hard Labor is trying to be this, a plan that you can follow for weeks on end to build some serious lean mass. Whether it will succeed at this depends on the quality of workouts and the nutrition guides given with this plan.
The weekly schedule is split into 5 lifting days that are body part focused, meaning you will be training one or two muscle groups per day. This is a very stereotypical bodybuilding split, but Sagi does create his own swing on this classic.
As with every other Beachbody program, there are videos to take you through the entire week, detailing every session. This can make things a bit uncomfortable seeing as you have to watch the video to keep up – unless you write out the workout prior to the sessions.
A Week of Hard Labor Details
A Week of Hard Labor is focused on building lean contractile tissue and has no real interest in helping you lose weight. So, you better prepare for some high-intensity and heavy weights.
Just a Week’s Worth of Training?…
This confused me at first as well, but the plan is actually meant to be either used for just a week or to be repeated again and again.
To see how the days are split, let’s see what every day consists of:
- Day 1: Chest and Back
- Day 2: Legs
- Day 3: Core
- Day 4: Shoulders and Arms
- Day 5: Total Body
The very first thing to know about A Week of Hard Labor is that there is no schedule.
This is somewhat disappointing, and anyone who trains even remotely hard will know that training legs after back simply means you aren’t training your back hard enough. The back is extremely involved in leg training, and you should not be able to train legs optimally after a leg day.
Thus, we would utilize rest days to get ample rest time between the hardest sessions. You can do this in multiple ways, but this is how I would recommend them:
|Monday||Day 1: Chest and Back||Day 2: Legs|
|Tuesday||Day 4: Shoulders and Arms||Day 4: Shoulders and Arms|
|Wednesday||Off||Day 3: Core|
|Thursday||Day 2: Legs||Off|
|Friday||Off||Day 1: Chest and Back|
|Saturday||Day 5: Total Body||Day 5: Total Body|
|Sunday||Day 3: Core||Off|
Your individual recovery will depend on factors in your control, such as diet and rest. It is a big bummer that there is no schedule in this plan, but I certainly would not be training 5 days in a row. That is a surefire way to zero recoveries.
The training sessions are all similarly structured, in the sense that they are all super sets one after the other. While this is applicable to some extent, the reality is that the biggest and strongest people on earth simply do not train like this.
Muscle growth is actually a massive luxury in the sense that we simply don’t need that much muscle anymore. If you have ever seen a bodybuilder take food with them in public, that’s because the amount of food you need to eat to grow is massive.
Similar to the food, the training also needs to be pretty intense. While this style of training might be intense on the lungs, you ain’t trying to stimulate those, are you…?
You’re trying to grow guns and buns!
The plan is okay, and while it can grow you some muscle, especially as a beginner, it is not the best program out there to grow contractile tissue.
Do I Get a Diet, At Least?
First off, I have to give credit where credit is due, and Beachbody has provided a nutritional guide that would be enough for most people. Included in this guide are:
- Food lists
- Recipe ideas
- Calorie and macro “advice”
Oh, they got so close… See, they only give some advice on the dieting part, and they so nearly hit the mark. Again, the given information is ample for most beginners, but it isn’t strictly scientific.
We can look at studies to see how much of each nutrient we need. They all play a role, and we need certain amounts – there’s math to the madness.
Sagi does not mention this math anywhere.
Calories are given off a weight scale (regardless of how much muscle you have), and the macros are based on portions of certain foods…
It can work, sure, but you run the risk of misinforming someone. Not only that, but the first few months of training can be vital for muscle growth, and you should maximize those!
These are called newbie gains, and they are big, dramatic, and plentiful. Combining those with a good nutrition plan is the fastest way to move up to a larger shirt. It is also the easiest way to move to a larger grocery bill which means you can train more, which means more groceries …
Yeah. It’s all a loop. Once you start, you can’t stop.
2 A Week of Hard Labor Pros
- Perfect for beginners: This plan does have some pretty big flaws when you compare it to a larger bodybuilding program, but as a plan for a beginner, this is pretty solid. It does not overload the user with too much information. And the fact that Sagi is there with you doing the workouts makes it a lot better for a beginner
- Some nutrition guidance: The nutrition guide given is just enough to get you in the ballpark of what is needed for muscle growth. They could have expanded massively on macros and calories, but they chose not to.
3 A Week of Hard Labor Cons
- No schedule: The problem with just giving five workouts is that most people cannot recover from resistance training for five days in a row. There is no mention of rest days or even rest advice in general. This is a pretty big letdown, as beginners usually rest way too much or way too little
- Marketing: There is an abundance of marketing for products most people don’t need. Let’s take the Intra workout shake they advise you to buy. Yes, carbs combined with essential amino acids could lead to greater gains if consumed when training, but if they fail to even give you proper guidance on calories… why supplement?
- It’s not a whole plan: Much like the other plans from Beachbody, it’s simply not a whole plan. It’s a collection of workouts you can steal ideas from, but do not think you’re getting a full-blown program
A Week of Hard Labor – Final Thoughts
I, myself, am a bodybuilder and a bodybuilder coach. I make a living by teaching people how to build more muscle than they ever thought they could. This plan is not up to par with industry standards at all.
There are elements of it that are plucked from the same garden as a really good plan, and to their credit, they did give the following:
- An effective resistance training plan
- A coach to follow and lead the sessions
- Some nutrition information
That said, that is really the bare minimum. There is so much that is missing from this to make it a whole program, and you could be (channel your inner Athlean X) KILLING your gains.
To be a relatively good program, the following is essential:
- Some form of progressive overload from week to week
- Ample rest days and enough rest between sets (I’m trying to build muscle, not get fit)
- Calories based on weight and training schedule
- Macros based on weight and training style
There are quite a few things missing from Sagi Kalev’s A Week of Hard Labor program if we’re being honest. This means that while you could get some gains from this plan, they will soon stop coming.
There is no progression and probably no way I would recommend this to anyone who has more than 1 year of lifting experience.
It feels like I’m being incredibly hard. To be honest, Sagi is a very experienced bodybuilder, and to be frank, he should’ve known better. No professional bodybuilder or athlete only trains with super sets, and I think they missed their mark by a large margin.
Rating: 2.0 out of 5