Athlean-X die-hards bow down to “fitness god” Jeff Cavaliere for his science-backed approach to lean gains, plateau breakthroughs, and on-field athletic prowess.
Kinobody addicts swear by “the real Bruce Wayne” Greg O’Gallagher’s aesthetic programs for a movie star, warrior, or Greek god physique.
Each fitness brand has its fair share of groupies and haters.
But which brand should you follow — Athlean-X or Kinobody?
What is Athlean-X?
Jeff Cavaliere’s Athlean-X brand evolved from a YouTube channel sharing basic athletic advice to an entire dynasty of videos, blog posts, and fitness programs.
Often compared with Beachbody’s P90X, Athlean-X’s dozen-plus programs focus on men looking to move and look like top-tier athletes.
Whether you’re a hard-gainer, skinny guy, former athletic stand-out, D1 athlete, plateauing gym-goer, or overweight dude, there’s an Athlean-X program to bring your goals to life.
8 Athlean-X Pros
- Jeff Cavaliere is a modern-day fitness legend. The Athlean-X creator isn’t some Joe Schmo who claims to know the secrets of athletic and aesthetic training. He’s a former physical therapist and strength coach for the NY Mets who leans on his educational background to design programs with biomechanics and injury prevention in mind.
- Athlean-X has over a dozen programs, each with a unique edge. The primary goals of Athlean-X are in the name — ATHleticism and LEAN (as in an aesthetic physique). But each program also targets a more specific goal, whether that’s fat loss, getting ripped, building muscle, overcoming plateaus, sculpting a six-pack, or becoming an all-around better athlete.
- The legend offers plenty of usable, free advice. Jeff Cavaliere doesn’t hide all of his advice behind a paywall. Honestly, there are more than enough blog posts and YouTube videos explaining the best arm explosion exercises, the most dangerous exercises, and even full-blown core workouts to piece together your own DIY routine.
- The X Factor Meal Plan lays out the next 30, 60, 90, or 120 days. The official Athlean-X meal plan breaks down every single meal for the duration of your program. That typically includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks. Some versions also come with Size and Shred Swap meal options to better zero in on your goals.
- Each program has a unique twist to strengthen your weaknesses. Each Athlean-X program is its own beast (or “beaxst?”). Breakout focuses on each part of the major lifts to bust you through a plateau, AX1 blends 120+ exercises to improve athleticism, All-American Muscle mixes speed and agility drills with power exercises, and Max Shred torches calories with its “Alarm” intensity levels.
- Most Athlean-X programs are huge hits. Jeff Cavaliere and Athlean-X are far from one-hit wonders. Max Size, Max Shred, Monster Maker, and Total Beaxst are just a few of the top-ranked Athlean-X programs. Only one program we’ve seen — AX2 — leaves many Athlean-X users bewildered and disappointed.
- There’s little risk of repetitiveness or boredom. If you’re extremely particular about progress-tracking and consistency, ready those pitchforks. Otherwise, Athlean-X programs are as unique as they come. It’s actually rare to see the same workout twice, let alone repeat the same dozen exercises for 90-or-so days.
- Athlean-X targets aesthetics, athletics, or a mix of the two. There’s no doubting the logic behind 95% of hit Athlean-X programs. 50-yard sprints build speed, ladders improve agility, 5×3 enhances power, 6–12 reps increase size, and failure training targets endurance. Pair those with a clean diet, and you’re bound to become a better athlete and more impressed with your own physique.
8 Athlean-X Cons
- Most Athlean-X programs are $70+ apiece. The Athlean-X fan club can quickly become an unsustainable, expensive habit. Cavaliere typically charges about $70–$100 per 90-day program, which could end up costing you upwards of $280 per year if you’re too uppity to repeat a program.
- Some of the routines seem randomly generated. We can assure you they’re not. But if you’re used to a standard 5×5, PPL, or drop-set routine, Athlean-X’s oddball exercise selection, unique training styles, and agility and speed work will certainly feel random.
- Are we really revoking access after 120-or-some-odd days? We’ve reviewed at least three Athlean-X programs — AX1, AX2, and Breakout — that are like ticking time bombs for your $70+ investment. Cornering users into a near-$100 purchase for lifetime access or revoking access to a 90-day program after 120 days is flat-out uncool.
- It’s not always realistic in a home gym or a real crowded gym. Xero is the only true home-gym-friendly Athlean-X program and the TNT “home workout” option. However, the occasional superset, bizarre exercise choices, and sometimes random speed and agility work may not be compatible with a regular gym at rush hour.
- There’s no refund policy for digital programs — whatsoever. Athlean-X has a firm no-refund policy across its entire program line-up. If you’re unsure about an Athlean-X program, we recommend reading reviews first before keying in your card information.
- The X Factor Meal Plan ignores macros, serving sizes, and calories. Cavaliere lays out the meal-by-meal ingredients decently well. But with absolutely no mention of macros, serving sizes, or calories, the X-Factor Meal Plan disregards your nutritional needs linked to your height, weight, activity level, and more. A hard-gaining, 6’0” 175-pound guy with 6% body fat shouldn’t be eating the same as an overweight 5’5” 250-pound dude with 30% body fat.
- It strays ridiculously far from the major compound lifts. Regular-old bench presses, deadlifts, squats, military presses, and rows are quite rare in the Athlean-X universe. The exercise choice does target the same muscle groups for all-around progress, but not everyone will enjoy plyo push-ups, creeping pull-ups, or 3D crossovers.
- Athlean-X sometimes over-complicates basic fitness or physique goals. For genuine newbies who’d likely gain muscle and strength with any bit of consistent training, Athlean-X can feel over the top. You don’t have to experiment with various rep goals, unusual exercises, weekly challenges, or failure training to trick your body into growth. A simple beginner program like Fierce Five can do the same thing.
What is Kinobody?
Greg O’Gallagher’s Kinobody also transformed from a YouTube sensation to an advice-dealing fitness platform.
Inspired by other letdown programs that failed to produce results, O’Gallagher developed a workout series to sculpt a “Hollywood physique.”
If you dream of muscle density, 8–10 extra pounds of muscle, or 4–5 fewer pounds of body fat, Kinobody’s aesthetic approach to training and diet (intermittent fasting) will surely fill those gaps.
8 Kinobody Pros
- Kinobody leans on user-friendly educational modules. O’Gallagher presents each “course” through an online learning platform called Kajabi. Breaking each program into individual lessons or chapters is a solid way to walk newbies through the program’s concepts and explain them in greater detail.
- It boasts seven or so programs targeting various aesthetic goals. The overarching goal of Kinobody programs is looking like a multi-million-dollar athlete on the big screen. But what it takes to get there, exactly, depends on the Kinobody program. The Greek God program focuses on wide lats and dense biceps, while Warrior Shredding fuses fat-loss and muscle-building into a single program.
- O’Gallagher leaves very few stones left unturned. Kinobody programs — for the most part — paint the entire picture. For instance, in the Movie Star Body program, O’Gallagher includes full-blown calorie and macro calculators, detailed exercise tutorials, written descriptions for each workout, and an answer to any question you may have.
- These programs are at a similar price, with lifetime access by default. The average Kinobody program costs about $97, with the option to bundle six programs into one for just over $400. Kinobody purchases don’t expire, giving you unlimited access to every program you buy.
- The intermittent fasting (IF) craze can — and does — work (to an extent). Like reverse pyramid training, nearly every Kinobody program calls for intermittent fasting. Restricting your eating to 6–8 hours a day while fasting for the remaining 16–18 can be effective for weight loss (2019 study) and drain the body’s fat stores to use as energy.
- If nothing else, Kinobody is simply easy to follow. We’re not sure if it’s the Kajabi platform, O’Gallagher’s attention to detail in certain Kinobody programs, or a blend of the two. Still, the programs are effortless to follow as intended. Newbies will appreciate the basic 2–3 workouts per week and definitive nutritional advice.
- Kinobody offers a 30-day refund. If you’re not satisfied with your Kinobody purchase, the platform’s refund policy allows you 30 days to request a full refund. However, Kinobody will reject refund requests from what it dubs “serial refunders.”
- O’Gallagher also posts tons of YouTube videos uncovering free fitness tips. Like Athlean-X, O’Gallagher shares his training wisdom via his Kinobody blog and YouTube channel. Here, the fitness sensation covers why he’s pissed off right now, his latest training feats, leg and trap workouts, and much more.
8 Kinobody Cons
- Did Greg O’Gallagher really lean on these programs to build his physique? Many Kinobody users agree that there’s no shot in hell Greg O’Gallagher used these wildly simple, low-volume routines to sculpt a physique like that. But even if he did, you won’t have a “Hollywood physique” in 12–32 weeks unless you’re at least halfway there.
- Some beta programs are half-assed. The Kino Athlete program (BETA) was a complete and utter failure. Phase one was jam-packed with educational videos and easy-to-follow directions. But phases two and three and the included IF diet plan were pathetically light and hard to follow.
- O’Gallagher reveals exactly how many users each program has. There’s no shame in bragging (though others might think you’re a tool). But based on the programs page, Kinobody isn’t actually as popular as you may think. For example, the Bodyweight Mastery program only has 6,000+ users, while Superhero Bulking is just over 11,000.
- It’s almost obsessively reverse pyramid training (RPT). Non-traditional training styles like RPT can help you bust through plateaus like the Kool-Aid Man through a brick wall. But research from 2017 shows that RPT isn’t any better than traditional sets or drop sets for 1RMs or hypertrophy.
- Kinobody is drowning in filler content. Somebody, please tell Greg O’Gallagher that he doesn’t have to stuff his programs with worthless thousand-plus-word ramblings to justify the Kinobody price tag. Explain the program and how to use it and get to the damn point already! (Hey, he’s still not as bad as Vince Sant from V Shred.)
- The strength standards can be ego-killers. Strength standards — in theory — aren’t completely useless. However, a vague goal (like rising to “Greek God” ranks if you can incline your bench 1.4x your body weight) ignores Kinobody users who are unusually tall, have weak joints, or otherwise can’t ever hit these goals.
- Kinobody’s volume is notoriously low. The most common complaint amongst Kinobody users is the extremely low weekly training volume. Two or three low-volume sessions per week can be useful for beginners, but three weekly sets of biceps and triceps exercises in Kino Athlete is really, really low for gains.
- Would Kinobody have been a breakout hit without luck? This is pure speculation, but O’Gallagher was born into money and quit college because he dubbed it a waste of time. Although he denies earning his inheritance until his 30th birthday, it’s hard to believe he somehow shot into stardom without at least using his connections.
Athlean-X vs Kinobody Conclusion
Athlean-X and Kinobody are both decent training platforms for men looking to build a more aesthetic physique, improve athleticism, and feel more confident in and out of the gym.
But in the battle between Athlean-X and Kinobody, we have to give it to Jeff Cavaliere and his wildly popular Athlean-X brand.
Cavaliere’s scientific approach to training and variety will hook you in from day one, whether you’re a newbie ready to bulk or an advanced athlete looking for on-field performance boosts.
Despite the meh-ness of the X-Factor meal plan, it will walk you through a generally healthy diet that’ll complement your training program and either increase size or fat-burning.
Just make sure you research the program before you buy it, prepare yourself for less traditional training, and save up your dimes.