Athlean XERO vs The Movement Athlete

Athlean XERO vs The Movement Athlete Review 2023

So it’s Athlean XERO vs The Movement Athlete. Which one is better? Or which one is better for you?

I’ve been using both Athlean XERO and The Movement Athlete app for years and I want to share with you my experiences. Both workout programs have their own strengths and weaknesses and are great for different purposes.

Your choice will depend on what previous experience you have, which equipment you have access to, and what your goals are.

I will give you a detailed analysis, so you can make an informed decision. This article will help you decide if the Athlean XERO or The Movement Athlete app is better suited for your needs.

Athlean XERO vs The Movement Athlete Brief Overview

Let’s briefly compare both programs and make a quick verdict about which program is best for what purpose.

Athlean XERO

Athlean XERO

Athlean XERO is a no-equipment calisthenics program you can use wherever you are. It’s a website you can access from whatever device you have.

Core Athlean XERO program is 6 weeks long. It has preset workouts. Here’s the workout schedule of Athlean XERO:

  • Monday: Strength workout 1
  • Tuesday: Endurance workout 1
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Strength workout 2
  • Friday: Endurance workout 2
  • Saturday: Challenge (can be strength, endurance, or combination)
  • Sunday: Rest

You repeat the same schedule for 6 weeks. Workouts will get harder and harder each week.

The great thing about Athlean XERO is the added 1 degree below XERO and 2 degrees below XERO. Those are the 4 weeks preparation programs that will help you prepare your body for the main 6 weeks Athlean XERO program. So if you are starting from scratch, you actually have 14 weeks of workouts ahead of you.

For more details, you can check a complete Athlean XERO review.

The Movement Athlete Academy

The Movement Athlete

The Movement Athlete Academy is a mobile app. You have to install it on your mobile device to be able to use it. I don’t like this because I have bad eyesight. So I can’t really see details on a small mobile phone screen.

But, this app is so versatile and you can tweak it however you like. The Movement Athlete app is the most flexible calisthenics workout program currently available on the market.

This is just a quick overview of what you can adjust on this great app:

  • Equipment profiles – so you can have the app spit out workouts depending on the equipment you currently have available
  • Workout duration – so the app automatically creates the workout depending on the time you have available for your workout
  • Targeting muscle groups – you can have the app create the workout targeting all major muscle groups in your body, or select the body part you want to work on in a workout session
  • Working on specific skills – you can also choose to work on some specific skills if you like

So, you can customize your workouts however you like. This can be great if you know what you are doing.

If you don’t, you may overwork some muscle groups and underdevelop others. This may lead to muscular imbalances if used for longer periods of time. If you do this for a long time, you may get injured.

When you are just starting out this might be dangerous. In this case, let the app create full-body workouts and do them 3 times per week with one day of rest between workouts. Leave the customizations for later.

When you learn how to properly customize your workouts, and you know what you are doing, customizations can be really wonderful thing. You can also check a more in-depth review of The Movement Athlete Academy.

Athlean XERO vs The Movement Athlete Quick Verdict

If you are just starting out, and you are not sure if calisthenics is right for you and you don’t have any equipment, the choice is easy. Athlean XERO will be a better match for your needs than The Movement Athlete Academy. It also costs less.

If you are a calisthenics enthusiast and have at least a pull-up bar and dip bars available, then The Movement Athlete Academy will be a better choice for you. Of course, if you are willing to accept it comes with a higher price.

Key Differentiating Information

Here is a quick side-by-side comparison between Athlean XERO and The Movement Athlete Academy.

Athlean XERO vs The Movement Athlete: Athlean XERO
Score 3.5

Athlean XERO

Athlean XERO is a workout program you can do without any equipment. It’s an excellent choice when you are starting out and don’t have any equipment.

Best For:

Starting out without equipment


$79.95 One-time payment




Beginner – Advanced


No equipment

The Movement Athlete

Calisthenics athletes looking for high quality and the ability to tweak every detail will benefit the most from The Movement Athlete app.

Best For:

Calisthenics enthusiasts looking for customization


$497 Lifetime Access


Android and iOS


Beginner – Advanced


pull-up bar, low bar, dip bars, band, elevated surface, and dumbbells

Athlean XERO Pros & Cons

Let’s examine the Athlean XERO program in more detail. First, we will explore the pros and then the cons. This will give you a more detailed overview of Athlean XERO vs The Movement Athlete app.


PRO – No Equipment Needed

You can start your workouts without any equipment. Jeff Cavalier made his training useful without equipment. To be able to do all the exercises, you may need to use normal household items like:

  • Doorframe
  • Wall

Other than that, you can do it without buying anything than the program itself.

PRO – Newbie Friendly

You can start working out immediately after going through a quick 4 or 8-question quiz. This will help you choose the right starting point. If you are completely new, you will start with the 2 degrees below XERO option.

You start your workouts without needing any expensive equipment. It will be just yourself and this program.

PRO – Ease Of Access

It’s a web-based workout program. You can access it with any device you have. You only need internet access and you are ready to go.

PRO – Meal Plan

If you don’t have experience with proper nutrition that goes hand in hand with regular strength training, a meal plan will help. Jeff prepared for you a 42 days meal plan. You will know exactly what and how much to eat each day. On each day you will have 6 meals:

  • Breakfast
  • Snack
  • Lunch
  • Snack
  • Dinner
  • Snack

If you don’t like any of the meals, Jeff says you should replace it with the meal you like. Just swap the lunch you didn’t like today with the lunch you like from some other day.


CON – Predefined Workouts

You can’t modify the exercises or duration of workouts. All workouts are predefined and should be done as they are prescribed. In my experience, most workouts are doable.

Some challenges might be too hard though. If this happens, Jeff says you should do an entire week of training again and then try the challenge again. I did it a few times. After you go through it, doing the same exercises again and again might become boring.

CON – Cool Down Stretching Routine Missing

All workouts should start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down stretching routine. There is no cool-down stretching routine in this program. If you don’t stretch after a workout, your muscles will shorten. You will also feel stiff. This is something Athlean XERO can improve on.

CON – Warm-Up Session In Your First Workout Only

You can find a warm-up routine as the first part of your first workout session. If you want to use this warm-up routine before each workout, you have to go to the first workout session and do the warm-up. Then you have to switch to the workout session of the current day workout. This is not very practical.

The Movement Athlete Academy Pros & Cons

To get a more detailed view of all ins and outs of The Movement Athlete app, let’s examine its pros and cons.

The Movement Athlete PROS

PRO – Gamified Skill Mastery

Each move you master will get you one step closer to the hardest skill in progression. On each workout, all sets and reps that you do will count as some kind of progress. This progress is noted as a percentage of mastery in each progression you work on.

Let’s say you were able to do 3×10 reps of assisted squats. This will be noted as 2.5% to Squat fundamental mastery.

Athlean XERO vs The Movement Athlete: Gamified Skill Mastery

PRO – Equipment Profiles

You can set various equipment profiles in the app. You can adjust what equipment you have access to and the app will spit out available workouts for you. This is great if you are working out at different locations. You can have one set of equipment available when you are at home, another in a calisthenics park, and another when you travel.

PRO – Adjustable Workout Duration

You can set the default duration of workouts depending on the time you have available. Let’s say, you can spare 1 hour of your time each day for your workouts. Then you set the default workout duration to 1 hour. But you can change it if you have only 30 minutes available on a given day.

PRO – Great Initial Assessment

You will have to go through a comprehensive initial assessment that will help the app to start creating initial workouts for you. It will start with what you are capable of at the beginning and will help you go from where you are at the moment.

PRO – Adaptability To Your Current Capabilities

The app will adapt to your current capabilities on any given day. You may be tired and you can do maybe half of what you are normally capable of. No problem, the app will help you reduce the number of reps, or even do an easier version of the exercise.

But you can also feel like a superhuman on a given day, so you can do much more than usual. The app will allow you to do more reps.

The Movement Athlete CONS

CON – Some Exercises Will Make You Work On Endurance

Mastery levels of some exercises are not set well. You will have to do 20 or 30 reps in 3 sets to be able to move on to the next exercise. This will make you work on endurance instead of strength.

CON – Some Equipment Profiles Will Not Let You Work All Muscles

If you don’t have access to most of the equipment you will not be able to work on all major muscle groups. This will lead to the lagging development of some muscle groups.

Let’s say you don’t have access to a pull-up bar. You can’t work on your upper back muscles and rear delts, while you will be working on your chest and front delts. In the long term, this will lead to rounding shoulders and hunched posture. Something you would definitely want to avoid.

CON – No Detailed Explanation Of Each Move

You will have a short demonstration video for each skill. But there is no detailed explanation of each move. So, you may not do the exercise correctly, because you don’t actually know what you should pay attention to.

Available Alternatives

Those two programs seem nice. But maybe you are looking for something else. A workout program that will suit you better than Athlean XERO or The Movement Athlete.

Here are other available alternatives for you:

  • Calimove Complete Calisthenics
  • Gymnastics Method
  • ThenX

I analyzed the best calisthenics programs available on the market right now, so you don’t have to.

Athlean XERO vs The Movement Athlete – Final Verdict

Now after exploring all ins and outs of Athlean XERO and The Movement Athlete Academy, it’s time for the final verdict. From what we analyzed so far, it’s obvious those two programs are intended for different audiences.

If you are just starting your fitness journey you are still probably not sure if you will stick to the program. When starting out you probably don’t own much or any fitness equipment. So, if you are looking to save some buck, Athlean XERO might be exactly what you are looking for.

On the other hand, if you are hot for calisthenics and you are sure you will stick to it for more than a year, you might be looking for something completely different. You might own or have access to a pull-up bar and dip bars. If you are looking for a high quality highly customizable app that will help you work for years, you may want to consider The Movement Athlete Academy.

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