Tonique is a unique series of workouts created by Sylwia Wiesenberg. These workouts were recommended to me as advanced workouts, so I, of course, quickly ordered one to check it out for myself. I found the descriptions of the workouts a little odd; they didn’t really give me the information I am looking for when deciding whether or not to purchase a workout. The customer reviews, however, are glowing. But one theme kept surfacing in the reviews–repetition, as in lots of reps. Now, I actually like high rep workouts, like Jari Love‘s and Cathe‘s super tough high rep workouts. After doing Tonique 2, however, I realize Tonique is a completely different animal. This is not simply high rep. This is ultra high rep. And she never stops. No rest or recovery. So… you do a zillion reps of one exercise, then a zillion of a different exercise–on the same leg. Then a zillion more. Then maybe you’ll change legs or do some kind of plyometric on your completely burned out leg. A “zillion” is obviously an exaggeration. I did count sometimes tho and the reps were generally at least 30 and sometimes 40+ reps.
At the time of this writing (I started this post on 3/11/14), I still don’t know what to think. The jury is still out. But I will have formed an opinion by the time I post this. I purchased Tonique 2 which actually contains 2 workouts. This morning (3/11/14) I did the first one. Next week (3/18/14) I will do the second one. By that time I should have made a decision on how I feel about these workouts. I will say at this point that it is very challenging and my lower body aches. Was it fun? Hell no. Were the exercises difficult to do (as in complicated)? No–but after 10,000 reps it starts to feel pretty @#$&* difficult! I had to take my own breaks several times.
After doing the first workout I am split. On the one hand I respect any workout that intense that I feel so quickly. I got some excellent cardio and sculpting–all in one workout that clocks in at about 50 minutes. Also, it is very different from anything else I’ve ever done; so a great way to shake things up. On the other hand… the almost total lack of fun factor means that eventually there will be a dread factor. We’ll see if I feel the same way after workout 2. I will say that after the first workout I expected serious DOMS. I had none. None. Now, my lower body did ache for a few hours after the workout, but after that wore off? Nothing. The next day, normal, no DOMS. So, now I’m not so sure this workout was actually hitting my lower body in new ways as I originally thought.
It is 3/18/14, I’ve now done Workout #2 and I still don’t have a firm opinion about these workouts. I liked workout #2 better than #1. Still tons of reps, but either I am becoming more accustomed to these mega rep workouts (from recently doing workout #1 and Dream Body, another super high rep workout) or Workout 2 is just a funner workout (funner–is that a word? A more fun workout.). However, even though my legs did burn out a few times during workout #2, then didn’t burn out as bad as they did in workout #1 and I am not feeling it hours afterward as I did in workout #1. At least, not my lower body. My shoulders are feeling it tho!
Overall, I like the workouts and I think they are effective, but how effective? What is the benefit of these mega rep workouts over an endurance workout with moderate weights? I do know there is science behind these kinds of workouts. In fact, when Cathe created her Xtrain program she added 100 Rep Challenges. What these super high rep challenges do is increase neural pathways from your brain to your muscles. I don’t know all the science, or if Tonique workouts qualify but just having done these workouts makes me want to find out more. Because if Tonique workouts do qualify, then they are an excellent way to incorporate more of that type of training.
In addition, I am discovering there is more to Tonique than these high rep cardio sculpting workouts. She also does some pretty intense and high rep mat workouts. So I feel like, before I can form a good, overall opinion of Tonique, I will need to get one of the mat workouts to try out, too.
Workout 1 is 51 minutes long. It is broken down into 4 chapters. The names of two of the chapters don’t exactly correspond to what is going in the chapter. It kind of does and it kind of doesn’t. Let me explain. The chapters are Cool Down/Stretch (8 minutes), Pure Cardio (9 minutes), Sculpt (squat & lunge) (18 minutes), and Cardio (squat & lunge) (16 minutes). If you hit “play all,” it plays them in that order. Which means you end the workout breathing hard–no cool down/stretch, unless you go the chapters and choose the cool down/stretch again. Or you can just go right to the chapter selections and start with Pure Cardio and end with Cool Down/Stretch. The Cool Down/Stretch is the same on both workouts. And it is weird. Sylwia gives no vocal cues, just music and and Sylwia is dressed… odd. Not traditional workout gear. A bathing suit? Or lingerie? Plus, it was unlike any warm up/cool down/stretch I have ever seen. Very flowing and the way the parts of it are edited together is odd. I did however get me warmed up and stretched out–so it accomplished the goal!
Then you move into the Pure cardio chapter. Sylwia is now wearing more traditional workout wear (though still pretty skimpy) and gives verbal cues. She is Polish and has a pretty strong accent, but I had no problem understanding her. She is beautiful, btw, and if her physique (glutes and thighs especially) are a testament to the effectiveness of Tonique, well, I am definitely interested in giving it a chance! I want glutes like that! Pure Cardio is just basic cardio moves that you would do in high school gym class. Jumping jacks, butt kicks, knee lifts, high knee runs. It definitely gets the heart rate up, but nothing interesting or fun.
Cardio Sculpt (sculpt squat & lunge): For this you need light dumbbells. Sylwia has 2 pound dumbbells, which I found almost humorous at first. But I read the reviews–high reps–so I grabbed my 3 pound dumbbells. Wow. For most of the exercises, I seriously would not go heavier. So very many reps. This (as well as the next section) can be classified as metabolic strength training. It got the heart pumping. You will be doing a lot of reps of various upper and lower body exercises. The exercises are: basic squat, squat with side leg extension, butterfly, squat w/ side leg extension–push weights overhead, squat with diagonal lunge–still pushing weights overhead, squat side step with bicep curls, side to side lunge, side lunge with arm extension and side lunge with kick.
Cardio Squat and Lunge: Cardio Sculpt flows seamlessly into this chapter. And it is more of the same with lots of reps. Keep the light dumbbells but hold them both in one hand: arm extension, squat w/ arm and leg extension, pulse squat, squat front kick, squat jumps, squat w/ leg swoosh/straight leg, jumping jack squat (air jacks), squat knee up, long lunge, single leg lunge, diagonal lunge (curtsey), squat jump, single leg lunge pull, and squat jump. And then it just ends. No cool down or stretch. So either stretch yourself out (which is what I did the first time through) or in the future add the Cool Down/Stretch to the end of it. Since the workout total is 51 minutes long, that would just make it an even hour. And that is fine as long as you don’t mind repeating the same warm up as your cool down. After all, this workout is all about repetition–so why not?
Workout 2 is 53 minutes. I won’t go into as much detail with this review as I did with Workout #1 because the concept is the same. If you hit “play all” the chapters flow seamlessly one into the next. Chapters: Cool Down/Stretch (8 minutes), Cardio (Squat & Lunge) (20 minutes), Cardio (lunge) (15 minutes) and Lower/Upper (body sculpt) (10 minutes). The Cool Down/Stretch is the same as the one on Workout 1 and, just like in Workout 1, if you choose play all, it plays them all from Cool Down/Stretch to the final one, Upper/Lower (body sculpt) without a break. Again, it ends abruptly without a cool down or stretch but in Workout 2 this works better because the final section is focusing on upper body work so you are cooling down anyway. I liked Workout #2 better than Workout #1; it seemed more fun and to go by faster. It had a lot of curtsey lunges and boxing moves. For this workout I used primarily 5 pound dumbbells, but a few times I had to pyramid down to 3 pounders because–you guessed it–she repped me out. Btw–a “diagonal” lunge is just a curtsey lunge–she does a lot of both front and back curtsey lunges, as well as plyo curtsey lunges.
Cardio (Squat & Lunge): side to side punch, diagonal knee lift to chest, front punches (various punches–hooks, jabs, etc.), side kicks and squats, diagonal lunge with half squat, side lunge with front curtsey lunge, Half Moon–front and back curtsey lunges, lunge sweep (static pulsing curtsey lunge with arm sweeps).
Cardio (lunge): squat jump w/ arm punch, lunge drill, jump demi cross lunges (jump curtsey lunges), basic squat, (grab weights) lunge/squat combo–kick working leg, arm extension while doing side demi squat, tricep extensions, forward curtsey lunge with leg extension (raising arms to sides).
Lower/Upper (body sculpt): cross lunge jump (alternating curtsey lunge jumps), arm extensions, arm circles, squat w/ overhead press (side to side), butterfly, arm opening extensions. And it ends there.