"Everybody wants a personal trainer," says fitness expert Matt Basso. "I've developed the closest thing to that." The founder and president of New-York-City-based Iron Lotus Personal Training is referring to DBX3, his comprehensive, step-by-step workout and nutrition regimen delivered in the form of a downloadable package of PDFs, MP3 files, and online videos. Basso's claim – that you'll end up a latter-day Achilles if you strictly follow his plan – is as bold as it is pragmatic. "Anyone can follow the directions," Basso says, "and if you follow the directions, you'll get ripped." It's not a scientific study by any means, but on our month-and-a-half of using his program, we noticed a significant decrease in body fat, an increase in explosive power, and an all-around improvement in muscle endurance. We think it's the real deal.
The benefit of DBX3's downloadable format is that you can pop it onto your iPad, Android tablet, or smartphone and take it with you as a reference during a workout. Obviously, you can print it out as well, which is what we did. We tacked the results tracker chart to our bulletin board and annotated it daily to reveal our progress over the course of the program.
Basso's directions map out an intense, circuit-like program, with enough rest days to ensure maximal recovery. To be sure, DBX3 micromanages your entire workout, spelling out precisely what exercises should be completed each day – all this over a whopping 55-day stretch. They're a blueprint, not a sketch. (Basso, who is also an instrumentalist, even created MP3s of custom beats to regulate the workout sessions, saying "I believe there is an ideal tempo to train to, to maximize performance.")
The regimen also includes a nutrition guide, outlining two different plans for healthy eating: intermittent fasting, which isn't as scary as it sounds, or a system of eating smaller meals more frequently. Both paths rely on a high-protein, low-carb diet, with plenty of water and a mental dedication to portion control. And in what we think is a reassuring expression of his commitment to his product, and, more importantly, to his clients, Basso personally fields fitness and nutrition questions from DBX3 users every week on Facebook
Despite its more body-weight-focused rivals like P90x (of Paul Ryan fame), DBX3 combines weight training and functional exercises so that you not only lean out, but also put on considerable muscle mass. It's worth noting that DBX3 really has to be completed at a gym instead of relying on home equipment, as many of the included exercises, like the Romanian deadlift and the barbell shoulder press, require heavier training machines. For us, the physical results were worth the added effort and expense, but to get there requires a real commitment. The only other thing you'll really need to reap the benefits of Basso's guidance is hard-earned sweat. And lots of it. [$60; dbx3.com]