Let me take you back to August 2019.
I’d just finished a killer 12-week workout program and was more fit than I’ve ever been in my life.
Do you know those days where you spend a little extra time flexing in the mirror? When your loved ones tell you to calm down because you keep advertising the number of tickets you have for the perpetual gun show?
Yeah, well, that was me.
I could even see a vein in my hip.
I was on top of the world. Plus, my birthday was coming up. My family started asking me what sort of cake I wanted. Proud and boastful, I asked for two cakes. A few days later it was my wife’s birthday, so we had a third cake. And then it was my sister’s birthday, so we had another cake. Also, there was another cake somewhere in the middle.
But, yeah. Breaking down the numbers, I had five cakes in three weeks.
I felt like I’d lost all my progress.
Do you know the feeling?
Well, you and I both know dwelling on our mistakes doesn’t help.
So I reached out to the folks at Musclebox to see if they could help me get that hip vein going again. They were kind enough to set me up with two monthly boxes and a Protein Box on the side.
Check out what I thought below and see if Musclebox is right for you.
What Is Musclebox?
If you want a peek at Musclebox’s philosophy, you have to watch this video.
Did you see the part where he squats with the dog on his back?
Musclebox is for guys who are so hellbent on lifting, they’ll grab anything near them and just start squatting. And that includes dogs.
Want to up the weight? Just throw a couple of pugs on top of that German Shepherd and see if you hit failure at your tenth rep.
Musclebox was founded in 2014 after a few guys in the Reddit fitness and lifting forums were fed up with boring bodybuilding subscription services.
While some boxes back then featured supplements, none embraced the lifting lifestyle.
Well, they wanted to change that and give their online buddies something to look forward to every month. Musclebox was born.
Every month is different, but the subscription service has variations on a theme: a workout plan, protein snacks, and apparel.
Musclebox is for bodybuilders more than it is for general fitness. If you’re looking to get into weightlifting and want something to push you along every month, Musclebox breaks down the science behind their workouts with each monthly plan.
So if you don’t already know what ‘hypertrophy’ is, you will by the time your first month is done.
My Hands-On Review
The packaging for Musclebox is a basic black box. At their price point, I didn’t expect anything spectacular. I like that there isn’t a lot of extra room in the box—just enough to fit everything.
The apparel all comes individually wrapped, which is good in case of a snack disaster. But I didn’t have to face that scenario, so I’m grateful.
August 2019 Musclebox
Musclebox sent me one of their favorite past boxes (which is still available for a one-off purchase if you want to get a feel for them before subscribing). The August box featured a t-shirt, a chest workout plan, and a bunch of protein goodies.
Inside the box was an olive green Muscle Nation t-shirt. I ordered a large even though I’m right between sizes. I figured with workout shirts, you might as well size up. Even if it’s only for bulking aspirations.
I love the fit and feel of this shirt. It’s soft, thick, and stretchy. It’s built with a narrower torso, chest, and sleeves so it will show off a chiseled physique.
I wouldn’t call what I have going on a chiseled physique, but the shirt definitely made my shoulders and chest look good.
The most important factor for a good workout is mindset and confidence. If wearing gym clothes that fit and accentuate your favorite features makes you feel great, I can say that Muscle Nation does the job.
The workout plan for August is “Chest Day 2.0.” I’m surprised at how much information they pack into this pamphlet.
To be upfront, I’ve always gone to the gym, but I’m more of a general fitness guy. I like how exercise sharpens my mind. I’ve never taken a deep dive into the science of muscle growth and fat loss the way bodybuilders do.
So for me, it was really interesting to read about “occlusion training,” and get into the discussion of its pros and cons.
“Chest Day 2.0” is all about turning Mondays into your favorite day. It’s a single workout meant to be repeated every week.
And it’s intense.
As I said, I’m no bodybuilder. So 16 different exercises all focused on building the chest is a lot.
And I loved it.
You know how you go to a restaurant and you order spicy, but what comes out is mild and lame?
But your favorite restaurant really knows how to crank up the heat.
Well, this workout plan is like the second restaurant. They don’t mess around with general workout tips, or a routine that could apply to anyone.
They’ve created a plan for bodybuilders.
Yes, it might alienate some, but for those who want to build muscle, you can trust that Musclebox’s plan will push you to your limit.
The August box also came with a pack of 15 SINFIT on-the-go bars, a MusclePharm Crisp Protein bar, a Pure Protein bar, and a Reign energy drink.
I don’t usually eat too many protein bars—I’d rather get my protein supplements in a shake. But these have been good to have around as a small snack. For someone who’s into more general fitness, it’s hard to justify a 200 calorie bar, but for someone who’s bulking up, these snacks do the trick.
I’m also not a fan of energy drinks, so the Razzle Berry Reign drink was lost on me. The rim of the can was also looking beat up, and it looks like it was packed that way.
The drink itself is fine, and this would be a cool addition if you hit energy drinks before the gym. I find them far too processed and probably do more harm than good in my opinion.
October 2019 Musclebox
I also picked up the current box of the month for October. This came with a navy blue Muscle Nation shirt and a tan a-frame Muscle Nation snapback hat.
A-frame hats are interesting—they have a point at the crown where two seams come together. I think these look great on super-buff guys, but I’m not super buff. I personally think it looks a little dorky on me, at least when I wear it forwards.
I like the hat backward and I wear it for my afternoon run twice a week. It’s a good hat for sweating in and the longer brim keeps the sun off my neck.
Just like the olive shirt from Muscle Nation, the navy shirt was another winner. The slim fit through the chest and torso really shows off your upper body. The sleeves are slim-cut too so you can really flex those bi’s.
Both the shirts from the August and October boxes are my go-to Monday and Tuesday workout shirts. Wednesday through Friday I have to wear inferior workout shirts (like from when I was a high school dodgeball coach) unless I want to do laundry.
October was all about old school bodybuilding—and the “h” word: hypertrophy.
Hypertrophy is more about building the size of the muscle rather than the strength. The Musclebox plan breaks down a 5-day program with the exact exercises you should be doing for size, plus some insight behind why it works.
Same as the August plan, the October plan is geared toward bodybuilders. I took a one-week break from my current workout plan (an extremely popular online series that focuses on athletic strength-building led by one of the biggest YouTubers in the fitness arena—can you guess which?).
These workouts were roughly an hour-long, and they definitely blasted each intended muscle group. I enjoyed my week exploration into the world of hypertrophy, though I find that the extended rest periods of three minutes are so long that I don’t end up raising my heart-rate to the level I enjoy.
For those who are into body-building and sizing up, this program is solid.
Packaged in with the hat and shirt were also two SINFIT protein cookies, two SINFIT protein snack bars, and a Grenade Carb Killa bar.
The protein cookies are gross. I wish there was a softer way of putting it. I ate one and had to take a nap.
I get the idea behind these protein snacks, but I enjoy food too much to really buy-in. Of all the bars packed into my three boxes, I like the SINFIT snack bars the best. They’re small and pack a small protein punch, but you’re getting a limited dose of processed sugars and oils.
I know that protein bars are good for on-the-go, but I’d still rather just pack protein powder and chug it down for a daily dose.
If you love protein bars as a muscle-building snack, the Protein Box is a great add-on to your monthly Musclebox.
I picked up a Protein Box to arrive with my October shipment and it came with three SINFIT snack bars, a Pure Protein bar, a Quest Bar, and Eat Me Guilt Free brownie, a Grenade Carb Killa white chocolate protein spread, crunchy broad beans, and sriracha chicken bites.
You know by now my thoughts on protein bars, so I’ll spare you. But I loved the Paleo Cave Man sriracha chicken bites. The ingredient list was all familiar and the flavor was fantastic. I wouldn’t have picked this up on my own, but discovering the brand was a good find.
I feel the same way with the Enlightened Bada Bean Bada Boom crunchy broad beans. These are a tasty, crunchy snack that pack a fair amount of protein.
The Protein Box also features a card for you to write down your monthly health and fitness goals. Mindset is the key for all exercise, so I appreciate that Musclebox is trying to keep your head in the game, even with the Protein Box.
With the sheer amount of subscription boxes we’ve checked out over the years, we’ve seen it all. I like that Musclebox has a “cancel your subscription” button easily accessible from your user profile page.
Some subscription services make it difficult to cancel, and that’s a big red flag for me. Musclebox knows they’re bringing value, so they don’t need to try and hide or overcomplicate the cancellation process.
It may seem strange, but that’s always the first thing I look for when reviewing a new subscription box.
Musclebox also does clothing exchanges if you get the wrong size. Just reach out to them via email and they’re happy to swap out for something that fits. Many brands won’t do that because it’s a headache, so I like that MB is going the extra mile to make sure its customers get what works for them.
My Overall Thoughts
What I Like
Musclebox plays to their niche. It’s a great subscription for bodybuilders. They could have tried to appeal to a wider fitness and health audience, but it just wouldn’t be the same.
The workout routines were intense, and I loved reading the science behind the method.
The shirts all fit really well. They accentuate the chest, shoulders, and arms.
Managing your subscription is super easy.
What I Don’t Like
The Reign energy drink was pretty beat up, and I don’t think the damage occurred in shipping as the boxes were unharmed.
Their niche-specific range is a strength in my eyes, but this may not be the best box for general fitness. The focus is on bodybuilding and protein snacks, less on holistic health. Not a bad thing if you know what you’re getting into. (November 2019 update: Musclebox will be releasing a General Fitness forward box in the New Year)
Musclebox is a great motivator. It’s like an accountability partner for your monthly workout routine.
I love that Musclebox is unafraid to go all-in on the bodybuilding crowd. While I’ve always been more interested in general fitness and its effects on my mood and mental clarity, I enjoyed my few weeks as a faux-bodybuilder.
The workouts featured in each monthly box are intense and will no doubt get results. Plus, you’ll look good pumping iron, too. The shirts fit well and were built specifically for accentuating your muscles.
If you’re looking for some sound advice on your monthly exercise routine, cool apparel, and a dose of supplement snacks, Musclebox is a great choice.
Musclebox’s monthly delivery of clothes, protein snacks, and workout plans is a killer way for bodybuilders to stay motivated---though if you’re looking for general fitness, the brand’s focus on high protein, high calorie snacks may not be the right fit for you.