22 Minute Hard Corps Deluxe Workout from BeachBody – Review

I just got around to trying 22 Minute Hard Corps (link for Deluxe kit) from Beachbody and Tony Horton even though it’s been around for a bit.

And, of course, I wanted to review it here even though I’m a bit late to the party.

During the entire time I have known about this series my question has been – how good can it really be in just 22 minutes?  And maybe that’s part of why I haven’t tried it before.  Okay, a big part.

Certainly for someone out of shape or just beginning to get into better shape 22 minutes of doing anything halfway strenuous is going to be good. 

But I wasn’t sure if this was meant for someone who’s in relatively good physical condition and works out often, and frankly whether it would be something that I would even be interested in either because of the shortness of it or the sameness to other excerise DVD programs.

And yea; I liked many of the P90X3’s which are much shorter than the previous P90X and P90X2 series, around half an hour usually…

But 22 minutes?

Well, you indeed can fit a lot into 22 minutes as I found. 

Firstly, though, I want to say that I am not doing this series in the “official” prescribed sequence nor am I using the included calendar guide, because I do a lot of other things too – biking, running, weight training, Yoga, etc – so I fit each of the 22 minute workouts in this series in when I could. 

So I can only review the individual workouts themselves, and give you an overall impression of them.  What I can’t tell you is the success of the program if you follow it according to the daily outlines shown in the calendar and/or ONLY do this and no other fitness-related things.

But I am guessing that you are going to get fit or fitter than you are, if you work hard at it; even those of us who do work out a lot.  And no matter what order you do them in or whether you do them in the proscribed sequence just as long as you do them they’re going to be a benefit.

The key here is to work at it, like anything – you have to work hard in those 22 minutes and if you don’t or just go through the motions you’re not going to reap the benefits.  Like everything else it is what you put into it.

Some people who are in very good shape and who exercise often have done this and have said that it’s too easy, or too short.  Well, they may have had a bit of a bias against it because of the shortness and not given it their all perhaps.

Anyway, on to the review. 

So with the base kit you get eight workouts on a couple of DVD’s, a quick start guide and training plan, and a nutrition plan.  Take the PT Fit Test so you can keep track of how you are doing.

There’s three cardio workouts, three resistance workouts, and two core workouts as well as a cold start.  It seems some of the basic ones also include the P90X3 workout ‘The Warrior’, which is kind of like a 34-minute long earlier version of the workouts in this series, you might say.  Kind of a prequel version 😉

The deluxe kit also has a 20 pound sand bag (you can fill it to whatever weight you want to, supply your own sand), three extra workouts consisting of cardio, resistance, and core (these three harder workouts are called ‘Special Ops’ – keeping with the quasi-military theme), seven color-coded portion-control containers (kind of like Tupperware containers), and a 26 ounce Shakeology Shaker Cup for mixing up your own recovery drinks.  Some packages seem to possibly have a few other bonuses, and there are also ‘challenge packs’, supplements, free access to online coaches, trial memberships to the BeachBody online club, online support, challenge workout cards, nutrition guides, etc – depending on which package you get and which bonuses.  Look around Amazon and other online retailers for the various packages and more info on them, this review is just about the workouts themselves.

The cardio and resistance series has veterans or possibly active duty people who are demonstrating and doing the workouts.  Unlike the P90X series there are much more people participating than just three.  For some things like the resistance series there are much fewer people doing the present move and others rotate through the various exercises. 

Also, for the Cold Start and Core workouts you will see some familiar faces, like Kit (Tony’s sister), Alice, Ted, Mark Briggs (“Go pick on somebody else”), Traci and a few others mixed in with current and veteran military.  

So the big thing here is that this is a kinda/sorta quasi-military-inspired system supposedly based on things done in boot camps and such, and Tony does his best impression of a military drill instructor at various times – but usually the nice kind you probably won’t see in a military sort of movie.  “Boot Camp Fit” was a quote I saw.  Tony sure is more business-like in this one as he has little time for fun and games and jokes, though he gets in a few here and there. 

I have seen people say that they thought some of the things that Tony says are ‘disrespectful’ of the military people in these videos, but I just don’t see that.  I like Tony but once in awhile some of his comments to some of the vets do seem rather odd, but not disrespectful – just the opposite in fact.  Maybe I am reading too much into it but I believe that he is very much trying to respect them highly, but sometimes it comes off badly perhaps.  I think Tony is always well-meaning.  

Enough of that.

The whole 8-week program alternates between cardio and resistance workouts, with things like core thrown in as needed and of course your Cold Start; again if needed. There’s also a fairly simple nutrition plan which is pretty flexible and provides a good guideline without being too stringent, I think.  Though as I mentioned – this is more about the workouts and I only glanced at the rest.

This is a total body workout program, done all to a military-style cadence (which for me is a benefit, and as Tony says – it can help you concentrate on the moves and help you to properly carry them out).  Modifications are always shown for those who need them.

You may want some extra equipment, or not.  For the resistance workouts you likely want weights like dumbbells, resistance bands with a door attachment, the optional sand bag, or something like that with a little weight to it.  For the cardio (and others) a good set of shoes/sneaks and maybe a good surface (though I do them without shoes on a padded surface – not necessarily recommending this to others as I sometimes have foot issues). 

For the chin-up/pull-up sections if you have a chin-up/pull-up bar you can use that, or one that fits over a door.  If you don’t want to or can’t do chin-ups and are using resistance bands you would need something to attach them to, so even if you are not using a chin-up bar of any kind but have some type available you can use it to hook your resistance bands to as shown in the series.  There are also chin-up/pull-up assist bands, which are also demonstrated.  My wife has one of these and it works well, even for those who can do pull-ups but want to get in the max amount – you can always switch to them at the end if you don’t want to start with them.

If you are on a hard surface definitely get a mat of some sort, like a workout mat or yoga mat or even some nice padded interlocking workout flooring/mats

You can do the series without anything extra if needed; like maybe you don’t have anything extra with you on a trip.  But it’s harder getting anything out of the resistance ones without weights or something weighted of some sort unless you are just starting out, and then your body weight should suffice until you get stronger.

Most of the moves are pretty straight-forward so you’re not learning a lot of new stuff if you are at all familiar with basic workouts of this kind.  If you are new to it just give yourself a little time to learn, as Tony mentions a few times even some of the P90X series graduates have to take some time to master the moves.  I don’t want to discourage anyone, because even if it takes you a bit to learn some, most are pretty straight-forward and everything is demonstrated the first time around on the first workout of each section. 

I think sometimes complex moves can detract from the effort a person can put into something as the person can put that much more effort in when they aren’t thinking about how to carry out that particular move.  On the other hand some people are great at memorization and this may not help.  To each his own I suppose.

There are few breaks (usually 22 seconds or a quick pause while Tony explains something) because there’s plenty being shoe-horned into that 22 minutes.  I didn’t find myself feeling rushed, yet a lot of it was hard and intensive many times.  And of course you can always pause it if needed, but you don’t want to let your heart rate drop out too much so as to get the best benefits (unless your heart rate is REALLY high of course).

Tony threatens to take a few people out during a few of the workouts, and have them march in place when they are getting worn out and sloppy in their moves; and in fact he does this a few times.  So if it is too intense for you and you need to take a break; well, these obviously very-fit military and ex-military and P90X grads sometimes have to also (though I think some of it is as a demonstration by Tony to the people at home doing the workout – showing that it’s okay to take a breather).

Cold Start

So let’s start with the Cold Start.  Even this could conceivably be a little intense for some people just starting out and perhaps not in the best physical condition, I suppose – it’s a full dynamic warm-up for about ten minutes with lots of movement.  I’ll repeat what Tony always says – if you live in Minnesota and it’s a cold day then do this one first.  Here we can easily substitute ‘Northern New York’ for Minnesota in my case, and it is a good dynamic warm-up/stretch sequence that can be done before any of the workouts, and probably should truth be told.

No extra equipment is needed for this one, maybe not even a mat.  It’s a good thing to start with, nothing very intense when it comes to stretching but the movement does a good job at warming up your whole body and giving you those dynamic stretches to help to prevent injury.  Remember – dynamic stretching and warmup before exercise, static after.

Pretty standard stuff and these are actually a damn fine dynamic startup, whether you need a ‘cold start’ or not.  


The cardio ones increase in intensity from workout one to three, and the only thing you really need for them is good sneakers and maybe some padding if you are doing them out on a hard surface.  Some of these involve a lot of up-and-down movements – onto the knees, feet, back, etc so consider whether your workout surface is going to provide enough cushioning or not.

The sequences in the cardios are mostly fairly fast and like most everything; done at a cadence.   Though sometimes Tony slows them down at the end to increase effort. 

Throughout the workouts Tony usually turns the cadence counting over to someone in the group while he continues to explain what needs to be done as well as motivate you and the people doing the demonstration workouts – this is the same throughout the whole series; cardio, resistance, or core.

You’re going to work at these, especially as you progress from one to three.  The moves are probably going to be pretty familiar to you if you have done fitness workout routines before, there are variations but they are fairly simple and easily learned.  So you can keep up with the cadence and put your max effort into them.  And of course there are modifiers for those just starting or with any physical issues.

If you put full effort into these wear that heart rate monitor or HR watch and check out how you’re doing! 

These are all about 22 minutes, with three sets of seven moves, with a very short cool-down.  Alternating moves increase and decrease in intensity.

I found some of the moves of only moderate effort, for me personally – like Mountain Climbers and Cross Climbers.  I can do those all day, or at least it feels like it.  Which means with those I really needed to put some extra effort into them to get the benefits out of it that I wanted. 

And then things that seemed fairly simple at first, like Frog Burpees; and are not real fast – quickly began to really pump up my heart rate.  You’ll ramp up in how you feel doing these in no time.  

Things like this are going to depend on your personal abilities as some things may seem just okay in your personal intensity zone, and you may have to put more effort into them, while others will push you without any extra effort on your part as long as you follow along.


The Resistance series is also one through three and are where you probably should have some weights handy and either chin up bars of some type or a resistance band and door attachment, though you could do it a little less intensely with just the resistance band(s).  There’s not high weights (unless you want to use them) but combining movement with the weights, as you may or may know, very quickly makes it much more intense.  You will feel your heart rate climb on a few of the moves despite these being primarily resistance workouts, at least if you are doing it right. 

And even with lower weights you are going to feel them add up.  Not all moves are done with weights but most are.

Some of these are deceptively hard after a number of reputations, like Mountain Squats.  These involve holding a weight up near your shoulder in one hand, dropping to the deck and lying flat out, pausing, and then getting back up with the help of the opposite hand and then repeating.  Seems simple but for me, at least, it got quickly hard with sweat flying everywhere and me wondering how something so simple-seeming is so hard.  I also made the mistake of trying to jump up without using my hand to help me.  Uhm, no, do it as you are instructed to do it.  Doing these with no weights can even be an effort.

In fact, even with not using any weight(s) on any of these moves may be challenging for some.

These too are about 22 minutes (surprise, surprise) with a few minutes of cooldown.  Five moves in three rounds in each, with each workout harder and the third adding some plyometrics with your strength training.  Good stuff.


The Core 1 and Core 2…  Core stuff for me can be hard, and these were deliciously so.  In fact, I really struggled with the Boda Crunch Twist – a butterfly-legs twisting sit-up, wow, I really need more core work.

These are short, eleven or twelve minutes, and as Tony says – “You’re gonna feel it!”.

Again, these are variations on the standard core routines you have seen before if you have done these sort of things.  Usually they are a bit (or a lot) harder variations.  They follow roughly the same format of cadence counting with Tony handing off the counting to someone else after a bit while he goes around and makes sure everyone is doing them right, makes adjustments, and explains the adjustments and proper form.

Core 1 are a ten-move routine, and Core 2 doubles the reps.

Special Ops

Tony mentions that the Special Ops Core is likely the hardest core routines he has ever made, and this one is almost eight minutes long with ten moves.  It’s hard, especially for me, but not extraordinarily so.  Though there is one move that I can’t seem to perform very well, and it may be my own body geometry involved in it.  But these are all basically; again, variations of general core moves you see elsewhere, just made harder and more intense.  

The Special Ops Cardio and Special Ops Resistance are both still around twenty-two minutes.

Special Ops Resistance is three rounds of five exercises.  I didn’t think that the Special Ops Resistance was particularly harder than the regular Cardio 2 or 3.  More active in many ways, and of course things like that can be subjective so it may be just me. Don’t get me wrong – I was sweating like hell and it is a good workout.

With this one it was a bit more “casual” in a way, with a few more familiar faces from the P90X series and it takes place in the hanger-sort of building seen in the cold start and core workouts.

There’s still using the cadence for the training but Tony, and I think some of those doing the workouts, are a bit more laid back. And Tony gets in a bit of joking around; not much but a bit here.

With the Special Ops Cardio I kind of assumed this would be the hardest of this series and it didn’t disappoint, you’re going to sweat with this one (as if I haven’t said that before) but you can make it if you’ve gotten through the rest.  It’s hard, very hard, wow.

The Workout Series Overall

The workout sets throughout the series are somewhat different in each from what I can tell.  A hanger, outside with military equipment scattered around, and my favorite – on the deck of the USS Iowa.  Everything is military- or faux-military style; the props, backgrounds, 22 Minute Hard Corps promo banners, and the clothes that the actors/workout group wear.

Let me put it to you straight – if you really don’t like the military motif you may become a bit annoyed, or over the top.  But if you work at it you are going to reap the benefits no matter how much you may find the faux military settings tiresome.  

The few negatives I have might be just having to do with Tony’s idiosyncrasies.  I find them amusing and as always I think Tony is just doing what he feels best, and is in trainer mode – sometimes more intensively than other times.  Sometimes maybe overdoing it on channeling the military drill instructor emulation but really it doesn’t bother me like it bothers some people I suppose.

The only other thing I would say is that I would like maybe some sort of longer cooldown routine to add to the end of each one, but that’s something a person can just as easily do on their own.  And I understand the need to keep these short and maintain the brevity of the ’22 Minute’ moniker and theme.

Not having been in the military myself I don’t know how these actually stack up to a real military boot camp but I am guessing they are pale shade of something like that.  I live near a military base and have a few friends and acquaintances who have related to me some of of the grueling training that they have to do, not to mention I see military people training on the local fitness trail carrying fifty pounds of weight in a backpack and running the entire length of a trail in military boots. 

But for those who want to get in better shape, or get in good shape in the first place, or for those of us who are old hands at fitness and want to throw in something new and maybe quicker; I think this is a worthwhile addition, and something new to work hard at.  Something new to mix it up and add some variety. 

I still love P90X, P90X2, and P90X3 as well as a number of other workout programs that I integrated into my fitness, and there’s no substitute for a nice round hour of kicking ass doing a hard fitness workout of some type, or longer for some endurance routines.  But I really liked this series, and it pushed me, and sometimes I felt it the next day.  

For those with physical issues you may need to make a number of modifications at the very least and possibly avoid this series if you have shoulder, knee, hip, or foot issues or injuries as this is particularly hard on these areas.  Consult a physician before trying if you have any issues anyway.

This series has shown me that you can get in some crazy-good workouts in just 22 minutes, as long as you put the effort into it.  In fact, I kept saying to myself that I was going to do two of the harder 22 minute workouts, one right after the other but I never quite could do it (doing the Cold Start first and maybe a Core after one of the Resistance or Cardio workouts was about perfect).

It’s adaptable for those who are just starting out, intense enough for someone who wants to go full force (as long as you put the effort into it), and as a bonus to some people has a military feel to it.






Marc M

I am a web developer and fitness geek, but I have a heck of a lot of differing interests.  Biking, the Internet, technology, movies, fitness, running and walking and hiking, science fiction, photography, graphics, WordPress, flying and aircrafts, pets and animals, history, and much more.  I like to stay very fit but I don’t mind sitting at my computer for work and play either.  I live in upstate New York (that’s far from New York City) in a rural area, yet close to a small city, with my beautiful awesome wife, a bunch of beloved cats and dogs and chickens in a very old multi-century house.

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