30 Minutes to Fitness: Shape Up

shapeupI LOVE this workout! This is the third workout I have done by Kelly Coffey-Meyer and yet another winner! I don’t even know where to begin with all I love about her workouts and Shape Up is a perfect example of all of those reasons. First, I adore the 30 minute format. Shape Up is part of her 30 Minutes to Fitness series. From what I can gather (from the many DVDs in her series I have already purchased) each DVD in the series contains two 30 minute workouts. These are perfect for me to do as my doubles workouts (“doubles” are just my second workout of the day and I like it to be about 30 minutes). Second, the intensity is variable. I have found (so far) that the main workouts are generally intermediate level with options to increase (or decrease) intensity. However, she includes premixes that can take the workouts up to advanced level while still keeping the workouts approx 30 minutes! And third, if you love these workouts so much you want to include them as a main workout (as in my morning workout, which is approx an hour)? She has premixes that add both workouts together giving you a workout that is approx an hour long! And fourth, I really like Kelly! She is a great and motivating trainer. Her workouts are fun and challenging. I just can’t stop buying them. She is becoming an addiction like Cathe (whom I hoarded until I now own everything Cathe has created on DVD); I must own them all!

Shape Up workouts are tabata workouts. However, they are no Tabatacise or Breathless Body #1 (both of which are advanced tabata workouts). They are still intense with options to become even more intense/advanced. But we will get to that. Tabata is a form of HIIT. You do 20 seconds of all out intensity and 10 seconds of recovery. You do this 20/10 interval 8 times for one tabata circuit. Kelly does things a little differently in this workout. She does use the 20/10 interval 8 times, but she alternates cardio tabatas with strength tabatas. So you do one full cardio tabata, then you use the 20/10 format for a strength training move. Since I am currently in the middle of STS, I am using Shape Up as cardio doubles, so my plan was to go lighter on the weights and make this metabolic weight training. However, if you go heavy enough, this does have the potential to be a genuine upper body strength workout. I actually upped my weights and really felt the burn. I am actually pretty excited to do the hour long premix. I love strength training that alternates cardio and strength circuits, and this format can get pretty intense–especially if it is an hour long!

My first thought was, if these were straight cardio tabatas, there might be a bit of a problem because Kelly gives you almost no recovery between tabatas. But because you are alternating cardio and strength, the strength tabatas actually serve as an active recovery from the cardio. So I tried the cardio only premix, assuming that it would be really killer with no real recoveries between tabatas, but I was surprised to find that it wasn’t killer. Tabatacise and Breathless Body #1 still have it beat by far. Nevertheless, the cardio only premix is an intense little cardio workout and I loved it. The reason the cardio only premix (and the workouts themselves actually) aren’t as intense as you would expect, is because there is a safety net built into the workouts. In fact, lets talk a little more about the cardio tabatas. Overall I really liked the cardio tabata drills. In the majority of the drills, both cardio and strength, she varied the exercise. This had two results. One, it keeps the 8 HIITs in each tabata from getting boring. But it also varied the intensity. So sometimes the drill was very intense, other times not so much. If you are not an advanced exerciser (or you are just needing something intense but not kill you intense) this might be good since those less intense drills will give you little bit of  recovery. However, the idea of a HIIT is that you go all out during the interval. So, taking it easy kind of defeats the purpose. But no one says you have to do exactly what Kelly does every time. You know what the most intense version of the exercise is as soon as she shows it–so do it every single time if you are looking for a true tabata workout.

For these workouts Kelly is by herself, no crew. The intro breaks down tabata structure. She says you can do the workouts two different ways: use lighter weights and get in as many reps as possible during the 20 second intervals or go heavier with less reps. She uses 10 and 8 pounds dumbbells and an 8 inch step. She also states that a step is not needed. Not using the step is another way to lower the intensity of these workouts if you find it too intense/advanced. There is no counter for these tabatas, but instead the music does the count down. It’s very cool and appears to have been created specifically for tabata workouts. It tells you what interval you’re on and when to rest. It also does a little count down at the end of the 10 second recovery, warning before you have to start the next interval. There is only one warm up that is used in both workouts, but they have different cool down/stretches.

***4/14/14 Update: I finally did the combined premix this morning using heavier dumbbells and got a great upper body strength workout (though she doesn’t really hit the biceps–but she hits the back, shoulders, triceps and chest very well). Two notes on this combo premix–first, she lists it as 54 minutes on the menu; it is actually 53 minutes. And second, it contains all of the strength tabatas, but one of the cardio tabatas is missing–the very first tabata in Workout #1 is absent. So the combined premix has 6 strength tabatas and 5 cardio tabatas. Go heavy and get an excellent upper body strength + cardio workout!

Workout 1 is 32 minutes long; warm up is 3:30 minutes, training time is 25 minutes and cool down is 3:30 minutes. 1. tap (or step) on top of step then one lateral skater; you do this four times then the last four intervals you just do lateral skaters. 2. grab heavy weights (Kelly grabs 10#, I used 12#); get in split stance–do a one arm row and double reverse fly; for each interval, change stance and arm that rows. 3. jump on and off step, varying between narrow and wide legs. 4. grab light weights (8#) and do overhead press, varying between double arm and alternating arms. 5. with one foot on the step, squat, lunge, squat, lunge, etc.; for each interval alternate sides. 6. grab heavy weights (Kelly grabs 10#, I used 12#); laying on step do chest flies and skull crushers; you alternate tempo for each interval.

Workout 2 is 32 minutes long; warm up is 3:30 minutes, training time is 25:30 minutes and cool down is 3 minutes. 1. mountain climbers. 2. grab heavy weights (Kelly grabs 10#, I used 15#); bent over rows; alternate between double arm row and alternating row. 3. straddle the step; reach overhead, squat down, touching the step with your fingertips then jump, lifting your heels high (she calls it a heel click). 4. grab light weights (Kelly grabbed 8#, I used 10#) and do lateral raises into tricep kickbacks. 5. put one foot on the step and do power knee runs. 6. grab heavy weights (Kelly grabs 10#, I used 15#) and lay on the step; do chest press (feet on ground or step) and alternate with alternating chest press/scissor legs.

Premixes: Weights only (both workouts) 31 minutes, Cardio only (both workouts) 32 minutes, Combined workouts 53 minutes, Mix it up #1 32 minutes, Mix it up #2 and 32 minutes. For the premixes she varies the sequence between the workouts. For instance, in the Cardio only premix, you do Workout 1 cardio tabata 1, then Workout 2 cardio tabata 1, then Workout 1 cardio tabata 2, then Workout 2 cardio tabata 2, and so on until you’ve done a total of 6 tabatas.


10 thoughts on “30 Minutes to Fitness: Shape Up

  1. This is my favorite one of Kelly’s! This one and trim down I think is what it is called? She has an Aqua colored top on?
    These are my go to when I do t feel like exercising that day but I need to start the day right anyway lol I will do workout 1 and if I am feeling better and most of the times I am I will Go on with workout 2 Skipping the warm up of two and cool down of 1. And it really gets me going. Thank you for all you do!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes–I love this workout too. I haven’t done it in a while but it was also one of my favorite KCM workouts. This one and Trim Down came out at the same time and Trim Down is one of my all time favorite KCM workouts.


  2. When you did the combined workouts premix, what weights did you use? Have you revisited this workout since posting this review and have you changed your poundage for the moves?


    1. Hi Liz! Yes, I have revisited this workout, several times. Most recently in December using weights but just a few weeks ago I did the cardio only premix for a doubles workout. I just updated the review with the weights I used last time I did it.


  3. On your rotation page, when you suggest 3 days of “Total Body Strength,” which Cathe videos would you recommend? Thanks again for all of your time. It is much appreciated!


    1. Hi Marcie! If I were to do Cathe only total body strength workouts the #1 workout I would chose is STS Total Body. And if I could only chose 3 then the other two would probably be Muscle Max and High Step Training. High Step Challenge is actually my favorite of the two high step workouts, but for the best results, High Step Training is the better of the two. Not more fun–but more comprehensive.

      Now, I have to add that if time isn’t an issue then the second best after STS Total Body would be 4 Day Spilt. You only get total body via premixes but it has some awesome strength training and cardio in one package along with a plethora of premixes. However, the total body premix is very long.


  4. Thank you for your reply. You are so kind and knowledgeable. I’m going to reread several times through and take notes on my “workout list.” I’ve been looking at your list of categories as well as Cathes. I searched on her forums today but didn’t find what I needed; I’m impressed that you found the included link so quickly. Much appreciated. I currently have Afterburn in my “Hiit” category b/c of how much it wipes me out. I did Afterburn last night and Xtrain Supercuts (I said “supersets” above … sorry) this morning. Xtrain Supercuts does not leave me near as exhausted. I only got 50 of the 100 hip thrusts though. Darn it.


  5. Hello. Question regarding “Metabolic Weight Training” and “Cardio + Strength” and “Total Body Strength” … “Cardio” what’s the differnce? I’m trying to make a Word document with headings (hiit, strength, yoga, etc) and DVD titles under the headings so when I plan my week, I just choose from my lists. My goal: lose some pounds, about 7, get definition in hamstrings, tone down my thighs (pants too big in waist and tight in thighs). According to your Rotation schedule, you recommend 3 days of “Total Body Strength Training” and two days of Cardio/Hiit. I’m struggling with which category to put things in. Afterburn keeps my heart rate up but has some toning. Supersets seems not as intense cardio. Flextrain seems more like just strength. 30 Day shred? Ripped in 30? Metabolic Total Body? KCM Shape up? XTrain Cardio Leg Blast?


    1. Hi Marcie–many of the categories overlap. For instance, Cardio + Strength is also metabolic weight training. But metabolic weight training that is used as cardio (like Afterburn and Cardio Supersets) in which dumbbells are used to increase intensity and get your heart rate into peak/anaerobic zone is not the same as cardio + strength.

      Before I go any further, what I’m telling you is a combination of the way *I* classify workouts and information I’ve learned from Cathe (when she used to respond more frequently and consistently to questions people asked on her forum). Now, classifying a workout as strength is sometimes dependent on your fitness level. If you feel like Afterburn is giving you real strength work then maybe it is cardio + strength for you. But that isn’t the way Cathe intended it when she created it. For real strength work, I have to be lifting a heavy enough weight to do real muscle damage since the recovery period is when you are actually building muscle (i.e. repairing the damage). And for me, using 10 and 12 pound dumbbells for bicep curls or overhead presses will not do that so my muscles do not need 48 hours of recovery before I work my biceps and shoulders again.

      Now, cardio + strength can be total body, or a split session. As long as you are doing cardio and strength in the same workout, and the strength is heavy enough that you are “damaging” your muscles sufficiently that they will need recovery before working them again.

      Afterburn for me is intense HIIT level cardio. Supersets is more steady state cardio. Flex Train is strength when you use heavy enough dumbbells. I use 30 Day Shred as metabolic weight training of the cardio variety due to the fact that with most Jillian Michaels workouts it’s difficult to lift heavy enough to get real strength training. I did her entire Body Shred program as cardio. And you can see that in the way Jillian structures her workout rotations. She will have you doing her workouts that contain dumbbells every single day. So she knows you are not lifting heavy enough in her workouts to do real muscle damage.

      Metabolic Total Body can be done either way, I think. Lift heavy enough weights and it could be strength. Lift lighter weights and it would be cardio (still metabolic weight training, but you aren’t damaging the muscles). KCM Shape Up can be used either way as well–same concept. Go heavy and you are getting Cardio + Strength. Xtrain Cardio Leg Blast is Cardio + Strength.

      I hope my reply isn’t confusing you even more. I agree it can be confusing at first and it took me a while to figure things out for myself. Here is one of Cathe’s forum replies that might help clarify things better. Heavy and light weights is relative to your fitness level. As I mentioned above, 10 and 12 pound dumbbells is not heavy for me when it comes to moves like overhead presses and bicep curls so they are appropriate for metabolic/cardio workouts (for me), but they might be too heavy for someone else who is new to weight lifting, and therefore it would become a strength workout.

      If you have any more questions (or need me to try to clarify) please ask and I’ll do my best.


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