Does LIIFT4 Build Muscle For Beginners? (Workout Review)


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Lift. HIIT. Rest. Repeat. (X4)

Joel Freeman released the LIIFT4 program back in 2018, hoping to latch onto the success of his other wildly popular Beachbody program — Core de Force — which launched a year earlier.

After only two years, LIIFT4 raked in over 25 million views.

But popularity contests aside, does this self-proclaimed “body transformation” routine actually build muscle for beginners? Will you end the program with a slimmer, more aesthetic build?

Well, that’s exactly what we’re about to find out.

About the Creator – Joel Freeman

Fitness trainer Joel Freeman entered the Beachbody world in 2005, joining elites like Shaun T, Tony Horton (of P90X fame), and Sagi Kalev.

But before launching two of the most popular BOD programs ever (LIIFT4 and 10 Rounds), Freeman was a small-town fitness trainer hoping to break into the industry.

Over the last 17 or so years, Joel Freeman’s impressive success story includes:

  • Drawing among the largest group fitness crowds in the nation
  • Working for the Washington State Department of Health in corporate wellness
  • Launching his first-ever Beachbody collaboration in 2005 (Les Mill Pump)
  • Becoming the Group Exercise Director at Gold’s Gym SoCal
  • Achieving the rank of Beachbody “Super Trainer” by 2016
  • Releasing a stream of wildly successful programs (Core de Force, 10 Rounds, LIIFT4)

While Joel Freeman never graced the stage at an IFBB Pro event or earned a degree in exercise science or physiology, he’s a highly respected and praised figure in the fitness community.

(Also, his boxing-themed program, 10 Rounds, lured in over five million views in a span of just a few months. So the guy definitely knows how to draw a crowd and create a digital buzz!)

What is LIIFT4?

LIIFT4 combines two popular training styles — classic weightlifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — to ensure a total body transformation.

This eight-week program is a rarity of sorts. And, by that, we mean that Joel Freeman’s own training style inspired this mass-building, strength-enhancing, weight-shedding routine!

The philosophy behind LIIFT4 includes:

  • Lifting first, HIITing second (pouring all of your energy into lifting and using whatever’s left in the tank to break a sweat and shred calories)
  • Targeting each muscle group just once a week to avoid overtraining
  • Modifying exercises with resistance bands if you’re training on the go
  • Allowing your muscles three days a week to recover and rebuild stronger than before

Over two months, you should be able to pack on lean mass, burn stubborn fat, improve your endurance, and ramp up your strength PRs.

All with just two hours of exercise every week!

(We’ll admit, that sounds “too good to be true.” Could it have really been that easy all along?)

LIIFT4 Details & Features

Joel Freeman’s LIIFT4 routine earns rave reviews from some BOD fanatics. Meanwhile, others express skepticism or sheer disappointment before they can even finish the full program.

But which is it?

Before you take any anonymous poster’s word for it, let’s discuss LIIFT4 in more detail.

We’ll also compare it to some of Beachbody On Demand’s other programs to help you pick the one that most closely matches your fitness goals!

What to Expect On the LIIFT4 Platform

DVD sales have been on a downward trend since the economic collapse in 2008, plunging more than 86% in the last 13 or so years as streaming platforms like Netflix continue to outpace them.

So your LIIFT4 journey will almost always be on Beachbody’s online platform. (It also guarantees the best deal, offering nearly unlimited access to every program ever — including P90X.)

Here’s what to expect on the LIIFT4 platform:

“Start Here”

Beachbody On Demand calls it the “Start Here” tab as if you had any choice where you’d end up when you type LIIFT4 in the search bar.

This tab is a quick overview of everything LIIFT4, including a few two-minute introduction videos (featuring none other than Joel Freeman) and links to the Program Materials & Workouts tabs.

If you scroll a bit further, you’ll encounter classic Beachbody On Demand. And, if you’ve read any of our previous BOD program reviews, you know that means:

  • A link to the Nutrition Center: This link is always misleading, especially for newbies who haven’t learned this lesson the hard way. While helpful if you’re simply looking to revamp your diet, neither of BOD’s two diet plans match with LIIFT4’s.
  • Impressive before-and-after snapshots: You guessed it — the fine print either says “XYZ is a Beachbody employee” or “XYZ is an Independent Beachbody Coach.” Neither makes the results less impressive, but it might put doubt in your mind about whether these results are realistic for the average person.
  • Joel Freeman’s social media handles: If you want some fitness inspiration on your Insta or Twitter feeds, give ‘em a follow. Otherwise, everything you need to know about the guy is in our “About the Creator” section.

Spoiler alert: Each workout lasts about 30–40 minutes. From the offset, it seems remarkably realistic for even the busiest folks: two days on, one day off, two days on, two days off.

Red flag count so far — a resounding zero (… but there’s still time for that).


We’ve researched our fair share of Beachbody On Demand programs, and we must admit: the LIIFT4 workout videos are far more in-depth than we expected.

It’s not the same four workouts replayed every week, as we’ve seen with other routines.

In this tab, you’ll find an expansive video gallery that includes:

Section How Many Videos?
Week 1: Build It 4
Week 2: Build It 4
Week 3: Build It 4
Week 4: Build It 4
Week 5: Build It 4
Week 6: Build It 4
Week 7: Shred It 4
Week 8: Shred It 4
Recovery Workouts 2
Total 38

The sheer amount of videos is one of this program’s clear perks.

By that, we mean, even if you survive all eight weeks and wind up disliking the program, at least you didn’t spend two months on a bland, repetitive routine jam-packed with cheesy one-liners.

Just load up the video, gather the right gear, and let Joel Freeman surprise you!


This is the first time we’ve seen an Episodes tab on the Beachbody platform, so we’re assuming this is a special LIIFT4 feature.

But is it a tab worth exploring?

Well, not exactly.

These short, two-minute videos likely made sense in the old-school LIIFT4 DVD collection. But torn apart from the start of each workout video, they seem out of place.

Each of them follows the same awkward format: a clip of Joel Freeman sitting in a circle with his crew asking their opinions on their week’s workouts. You’ll probably wonder, “Okay, who cares?”

Our advice: just skip it!

Program Materials

The Program Materials section explains everything the videos don’t. In this tab, you’ll find a handful of PDF files that include:

  • LIIFT4 Get Started Guide: This six-page guide describes how to jump into the program without reading an entire ebook. The crash course PDF explains the program’s key principles, how to maximize your results, and ways to track your progress.
  • LIIFT4 Calendar: The workout calendar is just that: a workout calendar. Workout styles alternate between LIIFT 50/50 and circuit each week, so pay attention to the fine print!
  • LIIFT4 Weight Progression Tracker: While it’s a shame this is a print-out sheet (BodyFit allows you to log progress via an app, but that’s beside the point), it will remind you about the principle of progressive overload. Just log the weight you lift with each exercise to see how much progress you make by the end of week eight (for bragging rights, of course!).
  • LIIFT4 Program & Nutrition Guide: This 18-page guide is already better than most other BOD guides because it doesn’t dance around the point (like 80+ pages of fluff). Here, you’ll learn which meal plan best matches your current weight, how to use supplements like creatine to amplify your results, and which foods to eat. (There’s also an absurd number of ads.)
  • LIIFT4 Vegan Nutrition Plan: The problem with most fitness programs is that meat comes standard in the diet plans. If you’re not a fan or simply prefer a plant-based diet, this 15-page guide explains the proper vegan swaps to ensure results.
  • Music Playlist: Joel Freeman also links a different Spotify playlist for each workout (five in total). It’s your classic lifter’s soundtrack — Fozzy, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, AC/DC, etc. If you’ve mastered the perfect form, mute the video and pump those tunes loud.
  • Program Material Translations: If you’re a native French or Spanish speaker, you’ll also find all of these program materials translated into both languages.

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Disclaimer: The LIIFT4 Program & Nutrition Guide is nowhere to be found in the Program Materials section. That requires a separate search for “LIIFT4” in the BOD search bar.

(We won’t dock ’em too much for that one. Of course, it could just be a tech glitch.)

LIIFT4 Calendar

The LIIFT4 calendar might look a little bare if you currently exercise 6–7 days a week. However, just because it’s a four-day-a-week program, that doesn’t mean it’s for day one newbies.

Throughout the next eight weeks, your schedule will look like this:

  • Monday: Chest & triceps (circuit or LIIFT 50/50)
  • Tuesday: Back & biceps (circuit or LIIFT 50/50)
  • Wednesday: Recovery
  • Thursday: Shoulders (LIIFT intervals)
  • Friday: Legs (LIIFT 50/50 or HIIT)
  • Saturday: Recovery
  • Sunday: Recovery

Of course, there are no fitness police (and if you’re taking on that role willingly at the gym by commenting on somebody else’s routine, we can assure you that you’re only making enemies).

If every other day fits your schedule better, there’s your answer. If you can only get to the gym four days per week, then save workouts for those days; just make it work for you!

LIIFT4 Workouts: What Are They Like?

LIIFT4 revolves around one concept: body transformation.

The program emphasizes heavy lifting (for strength and muscle mass) and cardio (for endurance and weight loss) as you hustle toward a more aesthetic physique.

Equipment-wise, all you need are dumbbells (heavy, medium, and light), and you have the choice to use a workout mat for those ground exercises.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Version 2

Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds. Rapidly switch from one exercise to the next. You don’t need multiple dumbbells cluttering up your home gym.

But what are the LIIFT4 workouts like?

Before you tap “play” on any 30-or-so-minute video, here’s what you need to know:

Circuit Workouts

The LIIFT4 circuit workouts are 100% pure lifting.

So you’ll bounce between heavy, medium, and light dumbbells as you crush through sets of ten reps at a slow, controlled pace.

There’s no cardio in this one, so feel free to give your all with every rep!

HIIT Workouts

The HIIT workouts are essentially the opposite of the circuit workouts. During these sessions, you’ll do four exercises back-to-back with 15-second breaks in between.

The first exercise will be relatively easy and last for 60 seconds. Then, as you progress to the next exercises, they’ll become slightly more challenging and last 15 seconds fewer.

So that’s 60, 45, 30, and then 15 seconds.

Make sure you have a sweat towel and a bottle of water on-hand, as you’ll definitely be dripping sweat and breathing heavily within a few short minutes.

LIIFT 50/50 Workouts

The LIIFT 50/50 workouts are a combination of the two previous workout styles. These sessions will begin with lifting and end with a ruthless HIIT session to drain you of your energy.

The lifting portion condenses everything into two-exercise supersets, divided into three blocks of work and repeated three times each.

And, the HIIT sessions follow the 60, 45, 30 format with 15 seconds of rest in between.

You’ll feel absolutely drained by the end of these!

LIIFT4 Results

There’s no doubt that Beachbody On Demand has a badass advertising and marketing team. As such, the LIIFT4 results page — loaded with before-and-after snaps — is quite convincing.

But is it reliable?

That’s questionable at best.

While the changes in the photos are easier to point out than those “spot the difference” kids’ games, there’s a glaring problem here: they’re all Beachbody employees.

So we did a little extra digging to discover results from real people. Here’s the sort of results we found in our searches:

  • After six weeks, noticeable improvements in size, strength, and definition
  • Doubling weights used for leg and chest exercises (true beginners)
  • Losing 8.5” inches after just seven weeks
  • Improvements in weightlifting form (Joel offers great tips in every video)
  • The lifting/HIIT combo definitely helps build lean mass while torching fat

The consensus?

LIIFT4 is a decent starter program for anyone looking to kickstart weight loss and build some muscle. But the results aren’t as extreme as programs like P90X or Sagi Kalev’s Body Beast.

LIIFT4 vs Insanity Max 30

Insanity Max 30 is an even more challenging version of Shaun T’s original Insanity workouts, describing the program as “the hardest 30-minute workout of your life.”

LIIFT4 is more for all-around body transformation. It requires nothing more than a set of dumbbells and four short workouts per week as you improve your cardio, weight, and strength.

Meanwhile, Insanity Max 30 is an equipment-free, five-day-a-week weight loss and cardio program. Shaun T walks you through Tabata and interval-style workouts until you “max out.”

LIIFT4 vs P90X

Without question, P90X is a classic home Beachbody routine rolled out in 2005 by none other than Tony Horton. But how does it compare to LIIFT4?

P90X is a good choice if you want to drop 5–15 pounds per month, crave more variety in your workouts (cardio, yoga, lifting, etc.), and have hour-long gaps in your schedule to exercise.

LIIFT4 is far better if you want a high-paced workout, live a busier lifestyle, and want to generally “get in shape.”

LIIFT4 vs The Work

The Work is a Beachbody On Demand program led by celebrity fitness trainer Amoila Cesar. If you’re deciding between LIIFT4 and The Work, here’s how to decide.

LIIFT4 is a remarkable choice for beginners looking to get in shape with just two hours of exercise per week. If you hope to improve your physique all-around, LIIFT4 can do just that.

The Work is an in-depth six-week program focusing on general fitness: agility, power, strength, etc. If you want a fast-paced and intense workout to build muscle and shed fat, it’s worth a try!

9 Undeniable Benefits of LIIFT4

  1. The routine is extremely realistic. With only four 30-minute workouts a week (two hours total every week), there’s no “I’m too busy” excuse with this one! Plus, since it’s a combination of weightlifting and cardio, it can help you meet the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week.
  2. All 32 workouts ahead of you are unique. And, when 80% of people ditch their New Year’s resolutions by February, boredom or a lack of commitment is often the root cause. The daily variety will keep workouts fresh without feeling repetitive.
  3. HIIT delivers two key benefits: improving your cardiovascular health in shorter spans and shedding fat mass up to 28.5% more than regular ‘ol cardio (2019). If you’re eyeing weight loss with LIIFT4, it’s certainly a real possibility.
  4. It doesn’t require much equipment. All you need is a few sets of dumbbells: heavy, medium, and light. While you can use adjustable dumbbells, it will pose somewhat of a challenge when you’re doing supersets and need to transition quickly.
  5. You can track your weight used for every exercise during the program. By the end of eight weeks, you’ll see how much progress you’ve made in the resistance training department.
  6. There’s a vegan nutrition plan available if you’d prefer to go the plant-based route. Assuming you follow a nutrient-dense, high-protein diet, research suggests that vegans will have similar muscle mass and endurance to their meat-eating counterparts (2020).
  7. The lifting sessions focus on ten reps at a slow, controlled pace to maximize time under tension. Since the ACSM recommends 8–12 reps for maximal hypertrophy and more tension does the very same, this routine can certainly help boost mass.
  8. Freeman tailors the program to almost every viewer imaginable. Someone on the crew is always doing a modification (in case exercises are too challenging), and he provides form tips for every single exercise.
  9. The exercises are those you already know and love. That includes reverse flyes, triceps kickbacks, side lunges, and calf raises.

3 Negatives of LIIFT4

  1. The results aren’t as earth-shattering as other Beachbody On Demand programs. So while you might lose 6” by the end of the program, it falls short of P90X’s 30 pounds of weight loss or gaining six pounds of lean mass on Body Beast.
  2. If you have some training experience under your belt, there’s definitely a concern that this program seems a little bare. And, since you’re only hitting each muscle group once per week, you’re missing the hypertrophy potential of a twice-a-week routine (2016)
  3. The program & nutrition guide is nowhere to be found in the LIIFT4 module. While the food list and portion sections are informative, the rest of the guide is bleak. Your meal plan depends on your current weight (which completely bypasses more accurate calculations like TDEE or BMR), and every supplement recommendation is an ad in disguise.

Wrapping Up This LIIFT4 Review

Overall, LIIFT4 is a decent routine for anyone looking to get into shape but not expecting to end the program 30 pounds slimmer or with record-setting PRs.

It deserves praise for its HIIT/weightlifting combo, lack of necessary equipment, frequent tips and tricks during videos, and variety.

But if you’re already relatively in shape, the program might not seem like enough. And, if you’re a beginner, 30 minutes of HIIT and lifting might be a little too tough.

It’s a great choice for intermediates or those returning to the gym after a long time away!

Just be warned that the results won’t be all that dramatic.

Rating: 8.4/10



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