Sagi Kalev is Beachbody’s bodybuilding ace.
The trainer is a two-time Mr. Israel victor and world-renowned bodybuilder known for his corny Sagi-isms and no-nonsense routines.
He also created two of Beachbody On Demand’s hottest weightlifting programs.
Kalev single-handedly launched Body Beast back in 2012 and later released Hammer & Chisel in 2015 — a tag-team effort alongside trainer Autumn Calabrese.
But between Body Beast and Hammer & Chisel, which Sagi Kalev program is best?
Table of Contents
What is Body Beast?
Body Beast is an intermediate 90-day “bro split” designed by Sagi Kalev to leverage cut cycles (through Lean Beast) and maximize muscle mass (via Huge Beast).
This 12-week aesthetic routine features 19 weightlifting-style workouts divided into three distinct categories and phases:
- Build (three weeks): Chest/Tris, Shoulders, Legs, & Back/Bis
- Bulk (six weeks): Chest, Back, Legs, Shoulders, & Arms
- Beast (three weeks): Abs, Abs Classic, Cardio, & Total Body
When building Body Beast, Kalev combined new-school and old-school training tactics to create what he calls “Dynamic Set Training.” So that means no two Body Beast workouts are the same.
Some call for force sets and giant sets, while others require supersets and circuits.
But no matter which workout you’re attempting, you’ll encounter traditional hypertrophy training principles: 3–4 sets per exercise, 8+ reps per set, <1-minute rest, and compound movements.
Body Beast’s upbeat workouts typically last about 35 minutes, require little more than dumbbells and a weight bench, and target mass-building and definition.
The table below lays out the “need to know” information surrounding Body Beast:
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5 Benefits of Body Beast
- It abides by the ACSM’s hypertrophy-based training principles. If muscle mass is your top training goal, Body Beast is the better of the two. The ~3 sets per exercise and ~8–12 reps per set align with the ACSM’s hypertrophy standards, and a 2009 study defined 30–60 seconds of rest between sets as “ideal” for growth hormone release.
2. Kalev includes a few Program Materials “extras.” One of the biggest perks of Body Beast is that the Program Materials section offers a few bonuses. That consists of a Spotify playlist, easy-to-follow calendars, and a simplistic tally sheet for diet tracking.
3. There’s no shortage of success stories. Beachbody users flock to Body Beast when they want to transform their physiques from head to toe. Although many touted success stories belong to independent Beachbody trainers, it’s still impressive to drop 30–60 pounds in 90-ish days.
4. Body Beast requires minimal equipment. Body Beast doesn’t require a fancy home gym set-up or even a $10/month Planet Fitness membership. Kalev only requires an adjustable dumbbell set and an adjustable weight bench, though a chin-up bar, resistance bands, and EZ curl bar couldn’t hurt.
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5. Cardio takes the backseat. The workouts will make you sweat more than a nun in a strip club. But aside from the occasional Beast: Cardio session and high-intensity circuits, Body Beast doesn’t require all that much cardio.
4 Reasons Against Body Beast
- The ridiculous set variations don’t necessarily cause “muscle confusion.” Kalev’s Dynamic Set Training adds a touch of excitement to Body Beast’s sometimes repetitive weightlifting workouts. But there’s little evidence that pyramid sets, drop sets, and other set variations improve training results. Of course, they do shorten and liven up workouts!
- Kalev’s non-stop chatter makes the program mute-worthy. Sagi Kalev demonstrates exercises well and will make you envious of his ripped physique. Yet, the constant “bro talk” and forced conversations with the crew will make you cringe to the core.
- It requires more of a time commitment. Body Beast workouts are typically about five minutes longer than Hammer & Chisel, which is still relatively doable with a busy schedule. However, some workouts extend past the 40 and 50-minute marks.
- It’s not exactly ideal for newbies. Any bit of resistance training will help newbies build mass. But compound-lift-focused routines like StrongLifts are better for beginners building foundational strength and noob gains. Bro splits — like the one in Body Beast — are best for intermediates prepared for isolation and unilateral training.
What is Hammer & Chisel?
Hammer & Chisel is a 60-day intermediate training program starring Beachbody trainers Sagi Kalev and Autumn Calabrese.
The original program alternates between Hammer (muscle, strength, and power) and Chisel (endurance and definition) workouts during six weekly sessions.
After eight weeks, you have a choice: follow the 30-day Hammer schedule to continue building mass or choose the month-long Chisel route to reveal the extra definition.
Hammer & Chisel strikes a balance between classic weightlifting and other training styles. This aesthetic-focused routine divides exercises into “rounds” and includes training variety targeting:
- Isometric training
These workouts usually last 30 minutes, require basic gym equipment (minus the machines), and experiment with variety (i.e., set intensity, pyramid sets, slow reps, ISO training).
Check out the table below to learn more about the Hammer & Chisel program.
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5 Benefits of Hammer & Chisel
- Hammer & Chisel’s supplemental materials are more detailed than other BOD programs. Some Beachbody programs are ridiculously disorganized, but not Hammer & Chisel. The highly detailed program and nutrition guide, rep-logging sheet, and calendars make this Kalev & Calabrese brainchild simple to follow.
- Each workout delivers that “success” sensation. Even though muscle soreness doesn’t indicate workout quality, according to a 2002 study, it’s impossible to end a brutal Hammer & Chisel workout without a sense of pride.
- The two-trainer approach is a plus. Sagi Kalev’s quips — “Let’s get pumped!” — can become quite exhausting and seem more like an audition tape for Jersey Shore. The sporadic Autumn Calabrese cameos will give you a much-needed break from the star.
- It offers high-intensity training in a shorter stretch of time. Hammer & Chisel is a much better option if you want to squeeze a high-intensity training session into about 30 minutes a day. In half an hour, you can enhance your muscle mass and strength while also meeting the CDC’s recommendation for 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week.
- There’s plenty of training variety. There’s more to an aesthetic and athletic physique than lean mass. Hammer & Chisel will help you sculpt a Greek God physique through more than just classic weightlifting, adding twists like balance, endurance, and core.
4 Reasons Against Hammer & Chisel
- Some of the training principles seem randomly spliced together. The mix of pyramid sets, fast and slow reps, and isometric training keeps Hammer & Chisel workouts exciting. But Kalev offers very little explanation for the random yet trendy assortment of exercises, set types, and rep ranges.
- Almost every workout is a challenging, full-body workout. Hammer & Chisel is technically a full-body workout six straight days a week. Although the intensity may be subdued compared to a split routine, most experts recommend 48–72 hours of rest before targeting that muscle group again (for maximum performance).
- Leg training is too extreme, while arm work is almost non-existent. Kalev’s program features more leg training than the typical aesthetic routine, one of its strong suits. But Hammer & Chisel’s leg training is daily and concerningly intense. Meanwhile, the triceps and biceps get almost no attention.
- There’s cardio, and lots of it (‘nuff said). Most satisfied users end the program with a more aesthetic physique featuring more muscle mass and definition and less fat. Rather than heavy lifting six days a week, there’s a load of cardio in almost every workout.
Body Beast vs Hammer & Chisel Conclusion
Both Body Beast and Hammer & Chisel require six weekly workouts, prioritize a leaner look, have semi-reasonable workout lengths (30–35 minutes), and bring a sense of variety.
But Body Beast will almost always be a better choice than Hammer & Chisel, especially if you’re a beginner or intermediate looking to sculpt a more aesthetic physique.
We recommend Body Beast if you …
- Have limited access to fitness equipment.
- Enjoy hypertrophy-focused resistance training.
- Dislike routines that infuse cardio.
- Previously completed a newbie strength and mass-building routine, like StrongLifts.
Otherwise, Hammer & Chisel could be a better option if you …
- Can’t tolerate another 60–90 days with Sagi Kalev alone.
- Want to build an all-around aesthetic physique with plenty of lean mass and low fat.
- Don’t have much time in your schedule to train.
- Would rather follow a program with variety, not simply weightlifting.
If you’re a day-one newbie looking to simply “get in shape” with Beachbody, 10 Rounds by Joel Freeman will be a better program to match your goals and experience level.