Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Firm Express - 30 Day Challenge Week 2

Week two of the Firm Express is complete!  I've had a good week, as I've gained strength and have seen my endurance increase.  My clothes are getting much looser, so I probably had significant fat loss. The recommendation to bump up my routine late last week was a good one-- I've felt challenged without overdoing it, enough so that on most days I've been able to insert 10-minute add-on workouts as well.  Here's my journal for the week:

Week 2, Day 1 - Wednesday, August 8th

Workout: Kelsie’s 5-minute bonus workout from her Pump, Jump 'N Jab DVD
I had a feeling that doing a cardio video in Cycle 2 would require a bit of a warmup for me today.  I woke up a bit stiff from yesterday’s workout, which is great, but I needed to get my body ready.  This routine is quick and effective, and was a perfect choice to get started.  I’ll probably use it again during this 30-day series.

Equipment: Medium/Heavy weights (I used 6 lbs)

If you'd like to try this total body bonus, it's on Hulu.com below:

Workout: Cycle 2 Accelerate Cardio
While there was a little more jumping than I would have preferred, I still enjoyed this workout.  Don’t make the same mistake I did—watch the video FIRST before trying to do it.  The moves aren’t horribly impossible, but some are quite new and they come on fast!  Between needing occasional water breaks/breathers and just needing to catch up to what was going on in the video, I had to pause and back up the video several times.  There were a few moments when Rebekah would say, “Ready? GO!” in such quick succession, I wouldn’t be ready at all.  But really, I enjoyed this one quite a bit and look forward to doing it again.  I didn’t have to modify a whole lot, but there was plenty of pause button action going on!

Week 2, Day 2 - Thursday, August 9th
Workout: Cycle 2 Accelerate Sculpt
This was a good, solid workout. It wasn’t as fast-paced as others, but it was definitely challenging. I worked up a nice sweat for sure! Probably the hardest move came near the beginning, with a plank/lunge move burst that was hard for me to keep up with. But I did my best and feel good about my effort. Cycle 2 is finished—I certainly haven’t mastered these routines, but I’m definitely on my way!

Equipment:  Light weights (4 lbs. for me), medium weights (6 lb.), and heavy weights (8 lb.)

Workout: Pump It Up
Accelerate-Sculpt was a great video, but I felt up to doing  10 more minutes of work. Pump It Up is still really tough.  As Jennifer says during one of the burst breaks, “I love my twelve seconds!!” There’s plenty of work for me to do in the power lunges (need to get my feet further apart) and the jumping plank move (I’m really slow and my range of motion could be better).  Plenty of sweat was lost this morning, I’m glad it’s over, and I feel great!

Week 2, Day 3 – Friday, August 10th
Kelsie’s 5-minute bonus workout from Pump, Jump ‘n Jab
My energy was a little low, so this was a perfect start. I did a better job on my plank position for the pushups--- getting stronger!

Equipment:  Medium/Heavy weights (6 lbs)

Workout: Cycle 3 Turbocharge Cardio
I really enjoyed this one.  I got nice and sweaty, but there was significantly less high-impact work, so I felt less “beat up” at the end.  Probably the trickiest thing was mastering the new choreography.  It’s not horribly fancy, but there are a few combinations with new elements. I’d recommend watching this one first before you end up pausing the DVD and backing it up frequently.  While this is a cardio routine, Allison uses a light hand weight, incorporating some complementary moves into the workout, like kettlebell swings and rows.  I think the hardest move in the whole 20 minutes came with a one-legged hop burst, jumping side-to-side, using the hand weight on the floor as a guide for lateral movement. Especially on my left leg, I had a hard time getting any movement at all.  I kept the hopping going, but the lateral is going to have to be a goal to work towards.  Overall though, I really liked this routine a lot! If you'd like to give it a try, you can view it on Hulu.com below:

For some reason, this video cues up about halfway through the workout.
After it loads, click to the beginning of the video to enjoy
all 20 minutes of the routine.

Equipment:  One light weight (4 lb for me), optional mat for a few minutes of floor work

Workout: Shortcut to Flat Abs
I felt energetic enough to do another 10 minutes, to StFA again it is! I’m still unsure on my body position on the side bends with vertical arm extension, but I’m just doing my best with it.  Probably my biggest improvement came in the side planks—I was able to do some of them with both legs extended! So little by little, getting stronger!

Equipment: Heavy weight (8 lbs) and floor mat

Week 2, Day 4 – Saturday, August 11th
Workout: Cycle 3 Turbocharge Cardio + Sculpt
This was a challenging one! Allison used heavy weights (8 lbs for me), and it made the routine really tough.  I think if I had to do it all over again, I would have gone with 7 pounds.  Also, I felt a bit uncoordinated a few times—once again, if you have time to watch these videos first before attempting them, you’ll probably perform a lot better.  But it was a great mix of cardio (tire runs!) and strength training (French press with 16 pounds total!).

Equipment: Heavy weight (8 lbs)

Workout: Cardio Dance Club: Dance Your Core Off Bonus Dance
I wanted to add a little something to my routine today, so I thought I’d try this 10-minute core routine. It’s a bonus track on Firm: Cardio Dance Club, but you can also access it on Hulu here. I know the theme of the whole DVD was a dance motif, but this core routine was laughable. The tempo is too slow, the moves seem ineffective and I just felt ridiculous. I’m not afraid to shake my booty while alone in my den, so it was not an inhibition issue.  At most I would maybe consider this as a cool-down period after a tough workout when your muscles are really tight. But other than that, I doubt I’ll be trying this one again.

Week 2, Day 5 – Sunday, August 12th
Rest day!  I enjoyed the last of the Olympics  and took it easy today.

Week 2, Day 6 – Monday,  August 13
Workout: Cycle 3 Turbocharge Sculpt
While this routine wasn’t horribly complex, they do jump right into it.  I would suggest warming up for 5-10 minutes ahead of time, and get ready to move.  This was a great balance of strength training and cardio bursts.  There were plenty of pushups and plank moves, and I felt good about the amount that I was able to do on my toes.  I also noticed a marked improvement in my strength with bicep curls.  There were also a number of “kettlebell” moments, and I always enjoy those.  Great routine!  Yesterday I had something really difficult happen to me personally, and this workout really helped me work through the pain of that situation.  Endorphins are a good thing!

Equipment: Medium weights (6lbs for me) and Heavy weights (8 lbs)

Workout:  Pump It Up
Slowly but surely, I’m getting better at this one!  I paused the video fewer times to catch my breath, and I’m starting to see improvement with my jumping plank moves.   I’m still dripping sweat when it’s over, and I doubt that will ever change.  Great 10 minute add-on!

Week 2, Day 7 – Tuesday, August 14
Kelsie’s 5-minute bonus workout from Pump, Jump ‘n Jab
To tell you the truth, I was nervous about today’s Cycle 4 Cardio workout.  I definitely wanted to be completely warmed up before beginning.  This 5-minute routine is perfect for that.  My pushups are slowly getting better in this mini-workout!

Equipment: Medium weights (6 lbs)

Workout: Cycle 4 Overdrive Cardio
As mentioned, I was nervous about this one, concerned it was really going to be fast paced and almost impossible.  I fully watched the workout ahead of time, so I’d know what to expect and would be ready for the moves as they came at me.  I’m glad I previewed the routine, and I did so much better than I thought I would!  As I write these journal notes I’m dripping with sweat, and I feel really great!  Kelsie incorporated a lot of kickboxing moves into her workout, which I was able to do with some degree of effort, but I was able to keep up just fine. The hardest move for me was the hinge-kick. You have never seen a more pitiful hinge-kick than mine!  But I did my best and moved on.  I really enjoyed this workout and count it among my favorites so far. It’s on the schedule for my Week 4, and I can’t wait to do it again!

Equipment: Light weights (4 lbs)

Workout: Shortcut to Flat Abs
Even though I was pretty sweaty, I felt energized enough to keep going. I took a short breather to write in this journal, catch my breath, grab a bit of water, and then do 10 more minutes.  I performed better on this one today—my form on the plank moves is improving, and I was able to stay off my knees for almost all of them. Now I just need to work on getting my tail downward more, closer to a parallel position from the floor!

End of Week Weigh In – Wednesday August 15 in the A.M.
Well, to my surprise, I lost another 1.8 pounds this week!  I went from 175.8 to 174! I’m usually happy with about 1.4 lost each week (an average of .2 lost a day), so this was great!  I’m seeing a marked difference in my muscle tone, and my clothes are getting more loose.  I don’t know if I’m going to lose 10 pounds in 30 days as the Firm Express plan hopes for me, but I’ll be completely happy with 7 or 8 pounds lost, plus the gain in my fitness abilities.  All that sweating in yesterday’s workout in particular really paid off!  On to Week 3—I’m halfway there!

Check out the other weeks in my 30-Day Challenge!


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