Top 10 Hardest Workout DVDs

This post first appeared on January 3, 2011. Because there are tons of new workout DVDs out there — some of which are SUPER challenging — we’ve decided to update this list of the top 10 hardest workout DVDs!


So you say you want a workout challenge, eh? Well, we have 10 of them—our top 10 list of the hardest workout DVDs we’ve ever tried. Hold on to your fit butts—it’s about to get crazy hawd in here!

Top 10 Hardest Workout DVDs

1. Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones: Jillian always brings the good pain. And this workout DVD gives you a mix of strength and cardio that is uber challenging!

2. Bob Harper Inside Out Method: Bob’s Workout: Oh, Bob, how we love yet hate thee, let us count the workout ways. Even after doing this strength-cardio workout DVD regularly for three months, it still kicks my ass.

3. Personal Training with Jackie: Crunch-Free Xtreme Abs: There’s only one word to describe this crunchless abs DVD: Ouch! And, of course, that’s in a good way. With two quick workouts, your abs will definitely feel the burn and the soreness. Oh, the soreness!

4. Mike Donavanik’s Extreme Burned Ripped: This workout DVD may just have 30-minute workouts on it, but don’t let that fool you. It’s 30 minutes of oh-so challenging work that’ll hit every muscle on your body like a boss. Mike brings the burn, baby, burn!

5. Shaun T’s Insanity: Insanity lives up to its name. Because when you want to work insanely hard and get insane results, Shaun T’s Insanity brings it. Hard. (Second best? T25!)

6. Fitness by Cathe: Cardio+Weights 4-Day Split: Right up there with the fitness greats is Cathe Friedrick. With endless variety, this heavy strength workout DVD challenges and then some.

7. Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred: Jillian makes the list again! We just couldn’t leave this hard-workout DVD standby off the list. With three 25-minute workouts that progress in intensity (read: darn near impossibleness), it’s an oldie but a goodie!

8. P90X: It really doesn’t matter which P90X version you choose (we’ve tried them all!). When it comes to a hard workout DVD system that delivers results, you cannot go wrong with Tony Horton.

9. Brett Hoebel’s 20-Minute Body Trilogy: This challenging workout DVD system isn’t out yet, but we got a sneak peek and it is legit. Filled with HIIT workouts, it’s hard for sure, but the payoff is in results.

10. Jari Love: Get Ripped 1,000: While we’re still not convinced that this hour-long workout DVD will burn 1,000 calories for most women, we still think it’s awesome. And its advanced strength and cardio moves are enough to get the sweat pouring!

Need to take your workouts up a notch? Click here for tips to do just that! And be sure to also check out our top 10 favorite intermediate fitness and beginner workout DVDs! —Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!


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  1. Luna says:

    I don’t know about the other dvd’s but I don’t think 30 day schred is that hard. When I started doing something for my health, 30 day schred was one of those I started with and I was pretty soon doing the 3rd level with no problems and I think I sometimes use to do all 3 parts of it. I mean, I wasn’t anywhere near fit at that point…

  2. love, love, love jillian’s dvds. about to purchase her yoga dvd for some added variety. thanks for the list! more great ones to add to my wishlist 🙂

  3. Sagan says:

    Nice list! Today I tried Leslie Sansone for the first time – not HARD, but a goody. Perfect for days when I don’t want to go outside because it’s too cold! Now I don’t have any excuse not to go for a walk every day 🙂

  4. Jan Hicks says:

    No “hard” list is complete without Beachbody’s P90X and Insanity. I’m a coach, so I’m a tad biased, but I can truly say that I have yet to see a workout video as tough as Insanity. If it doesn’t leave you laying in a pool of your own sweat at the end, it doesn’t compare. 😀

    Here’s to a healthy, happy 2011!

  5. Jessica says:

    I agree I don’t think the Shred is terribly that hard. Jillian’s Shred it with weights, I feel is a bit harder then the original shred.

  6. Ashley says:

    I second the Insanity love. I’m not a BB Coach but I am a total fan of the workouts. If you’re not drenched in sweat by the end of any of them, there’s a problem!

  7. Michelle says:

    Have you ever done Physique57??!! I’m sorry, but Physique57 makes the dvds on this list feel like PLAYTIME…and I’ve done the vast majority of dvds on this list.

  8. Lori Brown says:

    I got the Core Performance medicine ball workout DVD as a gift (I asked for a medicine ball) and the first time i used it i was able to do the non balancing exercises with ease but the lunge and hold for the reps killed my knees and core I was sore for days even doing it every 2 days for a month. I think this is a great work out my husband talks mess during it on how easy it is and that I am just out of shape more than i think. He hasn’t tried it and he works out the old fashioned way…let me just say Venice Beach Ca at the pit in the 80’s and 90’s…LOL

    this one really does work your core

  9. Cheryl says:

    Someone lent me one, yes one of the Insanity dvds and I thought I was going to die. If anyone says DVDs are for wimps, I dare them to do Insanity.

  10. screwdestiny says:

    I can’t believe Insanity didn’t make the list. Those have got to be the hardest workout DVDs out there. I seriously can’t think of any DVD that is harder than any one of those. Another hard one is Bum Bum and High & Tight from the Brazil Butt Lift series. Bum Bum always has me dripping in sweat and gasping for breath and High & Tight has got to be the best butt workout DVD I’ve ever done. All of these are by Beachbody…their stuff works!

  11. HappyHartz says:

    All of Bob Harper’s Inside Out Method dvd’s are hard and they are super awesome! I do not have the kettlebell workouts but I can only imagine how they are.

  12. Sarah says:

    Try Ilaria’s Atletica, the Pit Workout (blackjack series), Insanity, etc.

    Jillian, Jackie, and Pure Barre just don’t compare.

  13. Lucy says:

    Cathe has been one of my favorite instructors. Also missing are Karen Voight and Janis Saffel.

  14. I agree with folks who have mentioned P90X and Insanity. I’d say only the Bob Harper DVD comes close to this intensity. I love Jari Love too. Great suggestions.

  15. lindseylu8 says:

    I like many of the dvds you posted! I think the hardest w/o in my collection is Barrys Bootcamp 5 Day Academy- the whole set is tough, but I think the non-treamill cardio on the Arms & Abs (barrys day 1 dvd) is SO tough!!! Just about kills me time & time again!

  16. Moni says:

    I am surprised that p90x and Insanity did not make the list. I have used 30 day Shred but to me Turbofire is much tougher than 30 day Shred.

  17. Sara says:

    How about Tonique? Sylwia will burn your butt and legs off in all her videos!

  18. Noob Mommy says:

    Agreed on P90x and Insanity. Shred was an awesome intro into serious fitness, but it soon tapered off in difficulty. 90 days of P90x was killer and though I didn’t try Insanity, I’ve seen enough previews to give me a sports-related injury.

  19. Jo says:

    There is no way Jillian’s dvd is more intense than Bob Harpers! First of all Bob was right “You have no idea” and I didn’t. Bob is a full hour of pure hell whereas Jillian is only 20mins. I was so sore the next 3 days after Bob’s cardio dvd I thought I would never recover. Insanity is the hardest workout on dvd period! Cathe she is in a league of her own. She has been tops for so long I have retired her from even being on any list. We already know she always brings the pain. Barry’s 5 day bootcamp has been under rated. This is a intense and fun workout that will get you results! And now for the second hardest workout ever put on dvd – get prepared for Insanity: Asylum! Shawn T is no joke! Believe that!

  20. nina says:

    Thank you for this list. You introduced me to Jillian Michaels and I LOVE THOSE WORKOUT DVDS!!

  21. OwlMoonKLH says:

    Huh? Why isn’t P90X or Insanity listed? Sorry, but I respectfully disagree with this list.

  22. Liz says:

    Turbo Fire and P90X should definitely be on this list. The HIIT workouts in TF are crazy and I’m still feeling my P90X workout (chest & back) 2 days later.

  23. Joelle says:

    I have done both of Jillian’s and Bob’s workouts. They are all great. Bob’s workouts are all the better part of an hour and intense. Jillian makes her workouts shorter (per her podcast) so that those that may not have an hour to commit can get a workout in. I love them both because you are well aware that you have been worked out. Many times I will do 2 of Jillian’s if I have the time to do so.

  24. Gretchen says:

    T-Tapp Total Workout, no matter what fitness level or how long you’ve been doing it, works from the inside out and depending on how much you put into it (like any DVD, really) you’ll be laying in a puddle of sweat by the time it’s over. The best part? The better you get at it, the harder it gets. Built in cardio and strength training to build long, lean muscles. And she works out the lactic acid so you might have that great worked-out feeling but you won’t feel like you’re going to die afterward.

  25. thanks for sharing..only done a few of these..will share with my fitness pals!!
    love your blog!

  26. Jenn says:

    Thanks for all the fab recommendations for new workout DVDs to try! Know that the only reason some of the BeachBody DVDs didn’t make the list was because we hadn’t tried them yet, and we can’t endorse something we haven’t actually sweat it out with. But, we have plans to try them soon! So stay tuned. 😉

    -FBG Jenn

  27. Evie says:

    I think the most difficult Jillian Michaels video is, hands down, her 6 week 6 pack. Every time I finish a set of that my body is absolutely shaking all over. Plus, it’s really effective.

  28. Brittany says:

    I just got the latest Jillian DVD – Ripped in 30! I’m excited to compare this one to her No More Trouble Zones and her Yoga one… I heard it’s killer though 🙂

  29. Amy says:

    Insanity by Shaun T. It is a 60 week program, and doing the workouts in the second month are akin to being in labor. (For an hour.) That is how I describe them to people when they ask. This is my second time through, so I don’t know what to choose now that I have experienced such pain. The first week I started I literally couldn’t lift my feet off the ground. I shuffled.

  30. Jessica says:

    Hello ladies! Love your website! I was reading through the workout dvds you suggest and they all look great; some i’ve even done. But I think one you should know about is TurboFire. I just started doing it about a month ago and LOVE it. It’s challenging and fun; I am always dripping sweat by the end of any of the workouts. 🙂

  31. Stephanie says:

    I definately agree that p90x and insanity should be on this list they are insanely great and jillians’ ripped in 30 is amazing ready to do the six week abs wish me luck!!!!!!!!

  32. MamaP says:

    I think Tracy Anderson’s workout DVDs are the hardest I’ve ever done, and the most effective. Her new metamorphosis series isn’t as good, in my opinion, as her older DVDs. The older ones are done with more focus and take a bit longer but encourage better form. But hands-down, the woman’s Cardio Dance is the hardest cardio workout I’ve ever done! A year after doing it three times a week regularly, it was STILL hard. You just dance for 40 minutes…..straight. No learning the routines. You do that prior to starting the video. If you want to sweat, have fun and tone while you do cardio, it’s literally the absolute best. I need to get back on it. I have before/after pics on my blog, and when I look at those, I know I have to go back to Tracy!

  33. Kait says:

    This list has no hard workouts on it. I’ve done p90x, insanity, asylum and the new p90x2 is what I’m working on now. Those are deffinately the hardest and most effective. I love beachbodys workout. Everyone should deffinately check them out!

  34. nicky says:

    Please do a review on the Pit Workout which is by far the hardest DVD workout I have ever done. Even men would find this dvd series really hard unless they are super super fit. This series is definitely not for the faint hearted. I sweat a bucket load when doing them

  35. pam says:

    Your choices are fair but I found out about Tonique 2 years ago and it is the hardest and the most effective workout if you want to get amazing butt and legs.

  36. mandy says:

    totally agree about other posts on Insanity. Insanity is by far the most difficult series i have ever encountered. the Jillian workouts are good if you are short on time and i have started doing 2 back to back and feel it is a good workout. it is still easier than getting thru the 2nd series of Insanity. P90X is good too but i think Insanity is almost too difficult and really hard on the knees!

  37. Jack says:

    Insanity is by far the hardest.

  38. Diana says:

    I have done Insanity for 2 solid years now…and I absolutely LOVE it! About 2 months ago, I bought Insanity Asylum…and it is just as awesome as Insanity! I do a mix of the 2 now…making sure I get 90 mins. of exercise daily doing one DVD from each. I have always been active and athletic, but at age 33, I believe I am in the best shape of my life…healthy weight, toned, and finally have that 6-pack I’ve always dreamed of…even after having 2 children!!! Shaun T is AWESOME!

  39. Jill says:

    I agree . . . the P90X plyo video and Insanity are the winners!

  40. th says:

    What about Tae bo? Half of these people ripped off that technique. I would say these advanced Tae bo DVD’s will give any of these a run for their money. Not saying that the aforementioned are not good workouts – they’re excellent, but how can one have a list, such as this, and not mention Tae bo?!

  41. Mason says:

    Also check out the Revolt Workout (www.revoltworkout.com). It’s the only custom DVD program, meaning you focus on the things most important to you (and get there quickly).

  42. Dawn T says:

    Ive done most of the above workouts and they are just “fluff” compared to the following workouts. If you want tough-try these: 1. Insanity with Shauna T. 2. P90X with Tony Horton. 3. Any Dvd by Cathe Friedrich. 4. Tabata toolkit with Mindy Mylrea. I haven’t found anything as challenging as these.

  43. Aspen says:

    I have tried a few of these DVD’s, but many more that were not on this list. I have Brazil Butt Lift, TurboJam, Melt It Off, Zumba, P90X, 30 Day Shred… and more. I haven’t tried Insanity (because I already have P90X) and I disagree with this list. Nice compilation, but P90X at the very least shoudl be on it and with the reviews everyone is listing for Insanity, possibly that one, too. Even Brazil Butt Lift was better than 30 Day Shred. Oh, and a very oldie, but goodie, that works the entire body – with cardio and weights – easy on the pocket, also The Firm with Susan Harris.

  44. Maria says:

    What is Jillian Michaels doing here? Her work-outs aren’t hard at ALL and YES I have tried them and eventually gave them up from how BORING and easy they were. You want intensity? You want something insane? Try Shaun T’s INSANITY and INSANITY THE ASYLUM VOL1 AND 2. THAT is insane. THAT is actual intensity that delivers mind-blowing results.

  45. monica says:

    I also agree that P90X and Insanity should have been on the list. They are
    defitely the hardest most challenging DVD out there. The results are amazing!

  46. pam says:


  47. Lynn toomey says:

    Tap Out extreme is harder than P90x.

  48. Kharanet says:

    This list is obviously nonsense as I don’t see Insanity topping it.

  49. Shari says:

    P90X by far and Insanity. Those two are equal, in my mind, personal choice liking one over the other, but both equally ass kickers far beyond other workout dvds.

  50. Jan Marie says:

    Insanity KILLS ME. It is SO HARD. I’m a fitness addict too, I do aerobics every afternoon but insanity kicks my butt each. time. !!!!

  51. Kendra says:

    Lindsay Brin, moms into fitness. Show has some amazing workouts. Pretty fierce weightloss, pf lean out, and pfx series. The are FIERCE!

  52. Mandy says:

    Cathe’s last name is spelled ‘Friedrich’, not ‘Friedrick’. Most of her workouts are advanced enough to push Jillian Michaels’s and Jackie Warner’s off this list (theirs are high-intermediate, at most).

  53. D. says:

    Any of Cathe’s or Tracie Long’s are tougher than all of the above. : )

  54. Laurel says:

    I agree about Tonique. I like Jillian’s workouts but Sylwia’s workouts are much, much harder (think thirty reps, plenty of jumps and no rests) and nothing has ever transformed my body like the tonique. They are not fun. I have to get myself mentally ready every time, but for me it’s the best way to get really super strong but keeping a lean feminine look.