The “Level Up” Workout: The Only Workout Plan That Progresses As You Do

Want the body of an athlete? The Level Up Workout Will Get You There….

Doesn’t it seem like almost all fitness plans are designed the same way?  Week 1 you’re doing this, week 2 you’re doing this, etc.  It’s just a steady stream of exercises and workouts to complete.  There is no real concern for how you’re progressing or in some cases, not progressing.  Let me say, I don’t think workout plans created in this manner are inherently bad.  Personally, I’ve created general fitness plans, plyometric weight loss plans, and a variety of other plans that follow this format.  When attempting to create a workout plan for the masses, this is an effective way to go about doing it.

But after hearing countless stories and frustrations from clients and our online users about their own personal situation, it got my wheels turning.  What if there were a way to create a fitness plan, like the highly successful Total Body Blitz, that was more in tune with each individual and their abilities?  Could it be possible to give direction to tens of thousands of people at one time, but respect the different fitness abilities of each individual?  It took a little while, but I’ve put together what I think is the solution to this problem – The Level Up Workout.

The premise behind The Level Up Workout is simple…

  • Scheduled challenge workouts keep things interesting and always give you something to work towards
  • You only graduate or “level up” to the next phase of the fitness plan once you have passed the challenge workout.

I find introducing periodic challenges is a fantastic motivator for a couple of reasons.  People are generally motivated by a challenge and it helps define the progress you’ve been making.  By formatting a workout plan based on this idea, we’re able to allow people to move on to the next phase at their own pace.  No longer are you thrust into doing something too difficult simply because the plan dictates that you do so.  You only “level up” when you’re physically able to do so..simple as that.

The Level Up Workout

The Level Up Workout is designed as a general fitness plan to help you lose weight, i.e. burn fat, build muscle, and develop an overall athletic physique. This plan uses some of our best workout routines as daily workouts, ensuring each day is unique, effective, and challenging.  If you are able to pass the initial challenge workouts, feel free to start at later weeks.

Week 1/2/3 – Focus on establishing a base of endurance for the workouts ahead.

Week 1/2/3 CHALLENGE WORKOUT: Run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes or less.


Week 4/5/6 – Continues to focus on endurance while bumping strength training aspects by placing greater emphasis on strength/cardio combo workouts.

Week 4/5/6 CHALLENGE WORKOUT: The 1,200 Rep Challenge. Complete in 26 minutes or less.


Week 7/8/9 – We’re going to bump the strength aspect along with our cardio focus during this phase by introducing complex workouts.  Continue to push yourself by using weights that cause muscle fatigue on the last rep or two of the final set.

Week 7/8/9 CHALLENGE WORKOUTThe 500 Challenge (may use pull up assistance if needed).  Complete in 25 minutes.


Week 10/11/12 – Keep doing what you’re doing.  If you’ve made it this far you’ve been totally changing your body and should be making serious progress.  We’re using a lot of HIIT cardio during this phase to increase your fat burn potential and bump your endurance for the challenges ahead.On weight training days, increase the weight as the reps are significantly decreased during this phase; continue to reach fatigue on your last rep of the final set or two.

Week 10/11/12 CHALLENGE WORKOUT: The 300 Workout (For the deadlift and snatch, use the same weight you would use when doing 3 sets of 10.  Use 50% less weight than your deadlift when doing windshield wipers while holding the barbell).  Complete in 31 minutes or less.


Week 13/14/15 – We’re going to hit the almost 4-month mark at the end of this phase.  By now, you should already be seeing huge changes in your strength levels, endurance levels, and overall physique.  Things are intense at this point.  If you aren’t able to keep up, I would suggest going back to the previous phase and focusing on nailing the HIIT cardio workouts.

Week 13/14/15 CHALLENGE WORKOUT: 6.2 mile run, 24.8 mile bike ride, 1 mile swim.  If you don’t have access to a pool, substitute the swim for a 3.1 mile run.  Complete this Olympic Tri workout in under 3 hours.


**If you are unsure how to perform specific exercises just jump over to our YouTube page and check out all of our exercise demo’s!


Photo courtesy of Instinct Magazine

This is the final challenge in The Level Up Workout.  If you are able to complete it in under 3 hours, give yourself a huge congratulations.  If you are simply able to complete it, give yourself a congratulations nonetheless.  You just completed an Olympic distance triathlon.  Bet you didn’t think you could do that when you started all of this, did you?  It’s a huge accomplishment and something to be proud of.

Hopefully by now, a new way of looking at working out and fitness has been instilled in you.  You are now a full-blown lean, mean, athletic machine.  You have what it takes to push yourself harder and further.  But don’t think you’ve made it to the finish line.  Keep working hard.  Sign up for a real triathlon, go for a half-iron man, push yourself to lift heavier weights….The goal is to never stop challenging yourself.  The benefit is going to be continuing to improve your health and creating a body to die for.  Take what you’ve learned from The Level Up Workout over the past 5 months and cement the principles, ideas, and teachings into your life.  You are now that bad-ass in the gym people look up to and wonder how they became what they’ve become.  Congratulations, you made it a long way and are so much better off as a result.


Like This Article?  Want More Awesome Content From Share It Fitness?

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33 thoughts on “The “Level Up” Workout: The Only Workout Plan That Progresses As You Do”

  1. Hi Matt – I’ll be finishing the Insanity program next week and am looking for a program to move onto that will build upon the gains I’ve already made – I don’t want to take any steps back. Do you think this workout would be good or is there another one you would recommend? Thanks!

    1. Hey Beth –

      I do think the Level Up Workout plan would be effective for you. You may want to start on a higher “level” if you’ve already got a good base of fitness however. The key with this plan is about variety. You’ll be performing a lot of different work, which should keep your body guessing (and making steady progress). Since you just did the insanity plan, I’d consider throwing in a heavy lifting day, something your body may not be used to. Check out some of our strength workouts (browse for them in the menu bar on the front page of the blog) and see what works for you. Let me know if you have any questions or need help finding a specific workout.


      1. Thanks Matt! – I was also considering either the Winter Warrior Workout Plan, the Summer Shred, and the Point Workout plan (I’ve already done the Total Body Blitz)…do you think any of these would be more effective than Level Up? Thanks again!!

      2. I haven’t measured myself in about a month, but I’m 5’2, 124 lbs (as of one week ago), and 34.5-27.75-36.75 with approximately 26.5% body fat as of 5 weeks ago. I’m mostly looking to gain muscle, improve my cardiovascular function, and lose fat – ideally in the 20% body fat range.

      3. Gotcha. To tell you the truth, those are all great plans and I’ve seen a lot of people, both online users and in-person friends/clients have great success on them.

        Tell you what though, I’ve got a little time at the moment, I’ll put together a more customized plan for you based on your goals/stats. This should be better tailored to you and what you’re trying to accomplish. Look for it later today!

  2. Hey Matt! I’m a 5’4, 135 lb, 22 year old female looking to loose about fifteen pounds. Do you think this plan is a good way to do it? Also, about how many calories a day do you suggest I aim for?
    Thanks so much!

  3. Why do all these workouts have us running? I have an injured ACL and am not able to run, but I still want to lose weight. Plus, I HATE running! I think it’s absolute torture. Always have. But it seems like that’s all that trainers recommend anymore. There has to be another, safer, form of cardio that can be used.

    1. These workouts have a lot of running because this plan was created with a focus on running. There are plenty of other forms of cardio that can be used in place of running.

      If you check around the blog you’ll see we have dozens of cardio-focused workouts that have little to no running. Use the menu bar at the top of the blog to find the workouts you’re looking for.


  4. Well this looks amazing, but let me tell you about my reservations. First I am very healthy 5’6″ 115 lb 30 yr old Ectomorph body type. I have never really had muscle; I’m perfectly healthy just have no muscle mass to speak of. I’ve never been able to do a push-up, a pull-up, or 30 crunches, let alone 3 sets. Your workout plan starts at an intensity I simply could not manage. I would love to see an ultimate beginners guide added to this. Somewhere for us weaklings to start out.

    1. Hey Jacque – thanks for your comment.

      I did some browsing and found a couple of past articles I think you could stand to benefit from. First, check out this article which details a beginner’s fitness plan:

      Second, take a look at this one which is more focused on strictly building muscle:

      One thing to keep in mind; muscle won’t grow out of thin air. Nor will it grow simply because you are lifting weights. When you’re training to build muscle and increase strength, your diet has to be on point. This means taking in enough calories to give your body the fuel it needs to create new tissue, i.e. muscle. Make sure your getting around .75 gram of protein per pound of body weight…so in your case, roughly 85 grams of protein per day.

      Continually push yourself to increase the weight used as you make progress and never settle for extremely light weights that don’t bring on muscular fatigue.

      If you’ve got any other questions, please feel free to leave another comment – I’m happy to help.


  5. Hey there, this sounds awesome. I don’t have access to a pool though. How does this all work? Do you repeat the days 1-4 over and over for 3 weeks and then take the challenge test? or do you take the challenge test after 4 days.. thank you!

    1. Go for the challenge workout after three weeks – definitely not every 4th day. Feel free to mix in other workouts for one of our other many plans if days 1-4 get a little stale for you. The point is, get yourself doing whatever you need to do, to pass that challenge workout. Once you’ve passed the test, move on, bump the intensity, and focus on the next goal ahead.

      And don’t sweat not having a pool – a lot of people don’t, just substitute another workout for pool days.

      Any other questions, please ask!


  6. ok, im 15, 5’5, and 190 pounds. i want to be 150 by september and am willing to do pretty much anything. i cant do pushups because i have no upper body strength. what do suggest doing to loose 40 pounds over the summer in like 5 months? please help me.

    1. Hey Lauren – thanks for your comment. First and foremost, you’ve got to take a look at your diet. Are you eating a lot of pasta, white breads, etc? You’re going to have you to avoid simple carbs to avoid weight gain. Also, are you drinking fruit juice? Gatorade? Soda? These things will make losing weight very difficult at as well. These are just the basics – there are many more ways to get your diet in check. Once you’ve got that done – a steady and consistent exercise plan is ideal. Following the Level Up workout would be a good start.

      We’ve got a customized fitness plan coming out where you are assigned workouts each day that are designed by us, exactly for your goals. Something that has been cusotmized is almost always going to be more effective – if it sounds intresting, let me know and I’ll add your email address to early-sign up list so you’ll be notified when it launches later this spring.

      Any other questions, please ask!


  7. What if I feel like I am a lot more fit with cardio than I am weights? I know I can run the mile & a half in 12 minutes (I was a runner once upon a time) but doing ANY weights absolutely kills me! I looked at the Intense Cross-Training Circuit & thought it looked really hard. I’ve never been very strong.

    1. Depending on your prior training background and natural abilities, cardio may in fact come easier to you. That said, if you want to make real progress, you’ve got to find a way to get outside of the comfort zone and take on new workouts that really challenge you. My suggestion would be to start with weights on the lighter side, while making the conscious decision to incrementally bump the weight as you progress on the program.

      Developing strength is a lot easier than developing endurance, so just keep your head down, stick to the program, feed yourself properly, and you should see goo muscular gains to complement that nice endurance you already have.


  8. This sounds like a great workout. I just graduated from college and was a four-year D1 varsity athlete. I really want to continue working out in a manner that will help me maintain a healthy body, which seems to align with this workout’s goals of losing weight and gaining muscle. What I am wondering is whether this workout can help me maintain/gain toned, lean muscle. After playing so competitively for so long, I don’t necessarily want bulky muscle anymore, but this workout sounds like it could potentially produce muscle that is on the bulkier side. Thoughts? Also, what would you recommend for a fifth day of working out?

    1. The Level Up Workout has shown that it is quite effective at helping you continue to build muscle while shedding fat. Of course, doing both simultaneously has a LOT to do with your diet. I think the high intensity nature of the cardio sessions in this workout will help reduce some of that “bulk” that pure muscle building plans can sometimes lead to.

      As far as a fifth day of working out, I’d seriously consider yoga and/or flexibility training. Adding this will help elongate your muscles, thereby reducing that “bulk” you’d like to avoid. Check out some of our OnDemand yoga classes on our site, or check out a local studio.

      Any other questions, feel free to give me a shout. Thanks!


  9. Hi Matt. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this awesome challenge. I was able to pass the first challenge in just one week and am currently on weeks 4/5/6. I wanted to do the 1,200 rep challenge tomorrow, except when I click on the link, it says that the site no longer exists. Is there any way you can fix the link or send the workout to me?

    Question: I’m currently 5’4″ and 120 lbs. I’m trying to lose 5-6 more pounds of fat which is proving to be a challenge. Do you have any recommendations for me as far as diet and exercise? Will this Level Up Workout help me reach my goal? I eat pretty healthy, but have a serious sweet tooth. 🙂

  10. Hi Matt! I just wanted to thank you for posting these awesome workouts! I was able to pass the first challenge in the first week and I’m currently on weeks 4/5/6. I wanted to do the 1200 Rep Challenge tomorrow, but when I click on the link, it says that the site no longer exists. Is there any way you can fix the link or send the workout to me?

    1. Sorry about that – here is the link:

      As far as dropping those pounds…try not to think about a specific number you want the scale to read. When you lift weights, you build muscle. Muscle has mass. When you lift weights, your bone density increases, i.e. they become heavier. Worry less about your weight and more about your body composition. After all, if you woke up tomorrow and had lost 10 pounds, but it was all muscle and no fat, you wouldn’t be looking so great.

      Focus on high intensity metabolic conditioning routines, HIIT cardio, and power lifting. These three elements should help you cut body fat and develop more of the body you’re looking for. Search for metcon challenge, hiit workout plan, or “powerlift” on the blog for the corresponding workouts. Hope that helps!


  11. Hi Matt- I love this program but was wondering if you had an alternative exercise for pushups? I broke my lower back a few years ago and when I try to do pushups it seems to hurt that area. I assume this will improve as my core strength increases, but in the meantime I may need an alternative! Any help would be much appreciated as I want to stick to this program as much as possible! Thank you for all your help!!

    1. Agreed – as core strength improves it will will definitely alleviate some of the pain your feeling.

      For now, instead of doing movements that hurt, i.e. push ups, focus on doing core movements. Whenever you see push ups or something that hurts your back, switch to planks (this may hurt, so be careful), bicycle crunches, russian twists, etc. Really focus on building that core. Over time, your back should get back to normal!


  12. Hi, I see the last comments on here are old so I hope this is still active! Would you recommend this program for someone looking to burn fat while maintaining muscle mass? I’ve done the leg program with success but I’m at the point where I am frustrated with my results because of the stubborn fat on my lower body..any advice would be much appreciated!

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