Mark Lauren On Demand (MLOD) is a subscription-based bodyweight workout website and app.
I have subscribed to MLOD for a little over two years now and this is my long-term review.
What you get
For $89.99 a year or $14.99 a month you get access to instructor-led bodyweight workouts (by Mark Lauren), an online community, and instructor Q&A.
The workouts are organized into an eight month progression of increasingly difficult 8-12 week programs, such as “Bodyweight 2.0”, and “The 90-Day Challenge”.
More usefully, after a couple programs you’ll have learned enough new exercises to do a much better job designing your own workouts.
MLOD adds new workouts regularly and one or two entirely new programs each year.
You can watch the workouts online or on their mobile app, and the app allows you to download the videos. The production quality for all MLOD’s content is very high
Why I subscribed
I subscribed because I didn’t have regular access to a gym and I was curious about bodyweight training. I thought (correctly) that having a program to follow would make me workout more regularly.
At the time, I was also traveling for work and wanted to have a workout regimen I could do in a hotel room.
In total, I estimate I’ve completed between 100-200 MLOD workouts.
Learning the pacing
When I started, the workouts felt slow and easy. For example, Lauren emphasizes elementary transitions between exercises and few movements incorporate any sort of real speed.
Far from the workouts being easy, I wasn’t doing them correctly. Not grasping Lauren’s emphasis on good form and using a slower speed to challenge stabilizing muscles, I did the exercises imprecisely and too fast.
As a result, I relied on muscles that were already relatively strong instead of developing those that were weaker.
Since realizing that correct form makes Lauren’s workouts more challenging, I’ve gotten a lot more out of them.
First, when I signed up, the number of workouts per week wasn’t enough for me in the Bodyweight 2.0 and 90-Day Challenge programs. The schedules max out at four workouts per week.
If I want to exercise six times a week I needed to supplement the program with other workouts or pull forward sessions from future weeks in the schedule. This wasn’t a big deal, especially since MLOD provides program schedules you record your workouts on. Since then new programs, such as the Daily Workout, have been added that do have six days of workouts.
Second, MLOD warm-ups don’t get my blood pumping, which I want since I usually do these workouts soon after waking up.
Except for the 9-minute workouts, MLOD sessions always start with a fairly involved warm-up that focuses on ranges of movement relevant for that day’s workout. However, the warm-up could be presented as a cool-down and I’m not sure you would notice anything amiss.
There’s an easy fix, of course, by doing a couple minutes of your favorite calisthenics beforehand.
What makes MLOD unique
MLOD emphasizes a lot of floor and floor-to-standing movements that I don’t typically see in casual bodyweight workout videos or blogs.
These movements culminate, in a sense, in the “scorpion kick to table” – evocative of the first phase of a Turkish get-up. It’s an involved movement you build up to over a few weeks and requires strength, coordination and stamina to make it through all the sets.
MLOD is also distinct, in my opinion, by its lack of pull-ups. Pull-ups are a staple for most bodyweight workout programs I’m heard of. Instead, Lauren incorporates “let-me-ins” and the more advanced “let-me-ups”.
I don’t know if this is because these are more accessible exercises, both in the sense that you don’t need special equipment to do them and in the sense that doing a single one is easier for most people than doing their first pull-up.
When I felt like it, I did some pull-ups instead. The let-me-ups were plenty hard, though, especially when you start using a single leg.
You need minimal equipment for MLOD. You should have a yoga mat or some other sort of padding. Due to how many floor-based exercises there are, if you’re working out outside or on a hard surface like concrete or brick, I would recommend doubling up and using two yoga mats.
I had a cheap doorway pull-up bar, which was useful for let-me-ups. I used some nylon webbing from my packrafting kit to make a DIY TRX-style system. Those made let-me-ups harder than they would have been with a table edge or barbell since I needed to contend with the flexibility of the straps.
As you get more advanced, you can choose to add some light weights to the exercises. I found ankle weights useful for making single-leg RDLs more difficult; folding the yoga mats in half so the ground underfoot was squishy also made them more challenging.
Where I’d like to see MLOD expand
New content is added regularly, which is great and makes the decision to continue subscribing an easy one for me.
I would like to see more of a focus on education. One of the greatest benefits I received from the program was a better understanding of my own biomechanics. Not in an academic sense, but in a practical one.
I would love dedicated content about various muscle groups, joints, and what is involved in certain complex movements. For example, breaking down the transition from kneeling to standing – what muscles are doing the work? If you feel pain in a certain spot, what might be causing that discomfort?
Additionally, having more of an explanation about why certain exercises are combined into a single workout would be great.
If you’re considering MLOD I’d say give it a shot. It’s got a seven day free trial and costs just $14.99 per month after that. You can cancel at any time.
That said, it’s going to be best for people who:
- Exercise regularly but also travel a lot and want to have more structure in their workouts on the road.
- Have a demanding job or family commitments and want something quick that requires no setup or planning.
- Don’t work out but are generally active and want a gentle way to start getting stronger.
- Would like to start weightlifting but either don’t yet have the baseline fitness required or don’t have access to a gym.
It’s going to disappoint people who:
- Want a cardio- or HIIT-centric workout.
- Are looking for a Peloton-like party atmosphere. Lauren’s persona in the videos is that of a machine, for better and worse — I’ve seen ancient Greek sculptures with fewer muscles but more personality 🙂
I enjoy MLOD and get a lot of value from the subscription. The team clearly puts a ton of effort into making high quality videos and crafting coherent months-long programs.
There might come a day when I’m done with MLOD, but I don’t see that happening for quite a while.
Let me know if you give MLOD a try or if there are any other on-demand fitness programs you’d like me to review.