Slo-Mo Strength Challenge is 3 tough and advanced strength workouts by Amy Bento. These are the first workouts I’ve tried by Amy and I really like them. This collection is set up as a split series–3 workouts that each focus on different muscle groups so that if you do all 3 (plus the core workout) each week you will have worked every muscle group in your body. They are very challenging. As far as I can tell, Slo-Mo and Drop Sets are Amy’s only two pure strength workouts. I am also doing Drop Sets this week, so that review will be going up soon. I actually look at her limited selection of strength workouts as a good thing because I really like these workouts. Very effective–she really burns the muscles out and works them in unique ways. She puts a different twist on familiar moves to hit muscle groups in new ways. I do not need to start hoarding yet another trainer. I don’t have a lot of interest in her kickboxing or step workouts. The reviews all seem to indicate complex choreography for those workouts and that never interests me. She does however have some kettlebell workouts as well as some bootcamp/metabolic style workouts which I may try.
The idea of Slo-Mo Strength Challenge is to perform strength training exercises in a slow, controlled and concentrated manner for maximum strength gains. This falls in the same category as Cathe’s Slow & Heavy and Body Beast’s Tempo workouts. In fact, you could create a unique rotation using these slow tempo strength workouts and alternating them with high rep endurance style workouts such as Les Mill’s Pump and Cathe’s High Reps, Muscle Endurance, Maximum Intensity Strength and Power Hour and pretty much anything by Jari Love. For example, one week of slow tempo strength, one week of high rep/endurance strength then keep alternating weeks. I really like the idea of that and will probably do it at some point.
Slo-Mo Strength Challenge contains 3 split series workouts: Back & Shoulders, Chest, Biceps, & Triceps, and Legs. There is also a Core segment. She has lots of premixes so you can mix and match muscle groups in different ways, you can do total body workouts of various lengths and you can also do timesaver workouts–working the muscle groups as laid out, but she shortens them by cutting out sets or whole exercises. In addition, it is chaptered so you can just work a single muscle group if that is your choice. So it is a very functional DVD! The first time I did it, I did it as laid out.
5/14/15 Update: I just finished going through all of these workouts a second time this week and I did not find them any easier. Still excellent. Having now been through Slo-Mo twice and Drop Set once, I have a few things to note here. First, Legs is probably the hardest lower body workout I have ever done. Insanely painful. The other note is I find Amy’s back work to be weak, both in Slo-Mo and in Drop Set. I think, in the future when I do these workouts I will substitute something else for her back segment. Either a Cathe back segment (because she chapters so well, it would be easy to just go in and do the back work) or I’ll do a Body Beast Back workout. Amy hits every other muscle group excellently and in painful and unique ways, but not the back. She does try to be unique, but IMHO, she should just stick with tried and true for the back because her moves are mostly ineffective.
Legs is 60 minutes, with a 4:30 minute warm up and a 4 minute stretch. Equipment needed: step at 8 inches + 2 extra risers, stability ball, dumbbells, barbell. Wow. This might be the most brutal lower body workout I have ever done. I did it this morning at 4:30am and 7 hours later my muscles are still screaming–and worse than I have ever experienced before. I hate Jefferson Squats. OMG. So painful. So neverending. Amy tells you what weight she is using before each exercise and I matched her weight. For most of the exercises it was the perfect weight for me, but the last exercise I can probably go a little heavier in the future. Overall, each exercise is done for 3 sets of 8 reps. However, there are variations which I note in the exercise description. As the title of this collection suggests, you do each rep slowly and to various tempos.
1. Sumo squat with barbell, 3 sets
2. Jefferson Squat with 1 heavy dumbbell (legs wide, squat lowering dumbbell toward opposite foot; do this to slow tempo 4 times, then squat down and hold, rotating feet in and out 4 times–do this last variation 4 times for a total of 8 reps), 3 sets each side
3. Side lunge with barbell (2 sets each side)
4. Hack squats (set two step risers on floor side by side; stand in front of them with heels on bottom lip of risers; 4 squats while doing bicep curls until elbows touch thighs at bottom of move; for the last 4 reps bring dumbbells to outside of feet at bottom of squat, hold squat while “wobbling” dumbbells–rotating them to inside of ankles and back to outside of ankles 4 times–one squat/hover w/ 4 wobbles is one rep) 3 sets
5. Hammy rocker (elevate on foot on step behind you; do a lunge that turns into a deadlift then returns to lunge–that’s one rep) 3 sets each leg
6. Glute wrap (hold barbell vertically in one hand and wrap calf around it with same side leg, raising leg that’s hold barbell behind you; raise and lower leg) 3 sets each leg
7. One leg squat with stability ball and dumbbell (sit on stability ball, one foot flat on the ground and holding dumbbell in same side hand, on other side have foot raised off floor and finger tips on stability ball; 8 fast squats then 4 more reps where you hover in one leg squat for 3 counts) 3 reps each leg
Back & Shoulders is 48:30 minutes, with a 3:30 warm up and a 3 minute stretch. Equipment needed is stability ball, a dynaband, dumbbells and a barbell. Every exercise in this workout is done for 8 reps and you will do 3 sets of each exercise. However, for each set the slow tempos used will vary. This workout really burned my muscles out; my shoulders most especially, but my back, too. If you choose your weights right, you will get an awesome strength workout. **Second time through I didn’t find the back work nearly as challenging. My shoulders were still burned out though!
1. Row on stability ball (like a renegade row but torso on stability ball)
2. One arm lat pullover on stability ball (lay on back on ball)
3. Seated back rows w/ dynaband and barbell (wrap dynaband around one end of barbell then, while holding on to the ends of the dynaband, come to the other end of the BB and sit down, bottom of feet against BB plates and legs straight; do back rows with the band in this position)
4. Shrugs (just like it sounds while holding a barbell)
5. Overhead shoulder press with barbell while sitting on stability ball
6. Cuban Press (start holding dumbbells with palms facing top of thighs; bring arms up into goal post arms then slowly lower back down)
7. Incline front raise on stability ball (lay on back on ball and raise dumbbells)
8. Rear delt fly with external rotation (bent over delt fly; start with palms facing each other but at top of fly rotate pinkies toward ceiling)
Chest, Bi’s & Tri’s is 51 minutes, with a 3 minute warm up and 3 minute stretch. Equipment: step w/ 3 risers, mat, dynaband, towel, barbell and dumbbells. Holy cow this workout was challenging! My muscles were trembling violently throughout this workout. Very advanced! Just like in Back & Shoulders every set has 8 reps; however you don’t do 3 sets of every exercise so I have noted how many sets you do in the exercise descriptions. Amy does vary the tempos between and even within sets. And boy does she burn your muscles out! The Around the World for the chest and the Bicep Bonfire for the biceps were killer! Incredible workout!
1. Around the world (lay on step and start with dumbbells on thighs, palms facing ceiling; circle dumbbells wide until overhead, when overhead palms face each other, then bring dumbbells back to thighs) 2 sets
2. Decline chest press (move risers so there are 4 on one side and 2 on the other then lay on bench so head is at low end; chest presses with barbell) 3 sets
3. Incline fly with external rotation (lay on bench so head is at high end; do chest flys but at top of fly twist hands so palms are facing the direction of your head) 3 sets
4. Stagger push up (push ups with one had in front of you and one hand to the side of body) 2 sets in each hand position
5. Concentration curls with barbell; 3 sets (these aren’t really concentration curls, at least not as I am familiar with them but slow bicep curls)
6. Bicep Bonfire (lay on bench with head at high end; start holding dumbbells at thighs then bring arms out to sides of body, elbows off the step and low, do a bicep curl in this position and at bottom of move, bring back to thighs so elbows tap step) 3 sets
7. Incline bicep curl with dynaband (lay on bench with head at high end; band is under feet, which are spread straight and wide, and you are holding an end of the band in each hand) 3 sets
8. French curl (these are actually skull crushers; lay on bench with head at high end and hold one heavy dumbbell in both hands; bring overhead with arms straight and bend elbows, bringing dumbbell to forehead) 3 sets
9. Push down kickbacks (fold towel over center of dynaband then put towel at back of neck and hold band in each hand as close to towel as possible; lean forward slightly and do kickbacks) 3 sets
10. Decline tricep push ups/dips (sit on floor with calves/heels on high end of step; raise your hips, supporting yourself on your hands and do tricep dips) 3 sets
Core is 14:30 minutes long. Equipment needed: two 8 pound dumbbells, 6 inch step, mat, and barbell
Every exercise is done for 8 reps. This is a very unique and different core workout. You will not do a single crunch and I like that. Got my heart pumping too by the end!
1. Using 8 pound dumbbell, circle dumbbell overhead while balancing on 1 foot, other leg out straight to side, then twist dumbbell toward raised leg while bringing knee in (1 set)
2. Clamshell crunch; holding 8 pound dumbbell, stand on one foot with other leg bent and raised; bring dumbbell to side with raised leg, then lean upper body toward bent/raised leg while raising bent leg in a small crunch (1 set)
3. Both 8pound dumbbells; stand with legs wide, a dumbbell placed outside of each foot; grab one dumbbell with opposite hand and circle it overhead, setting on the ground next to same side foot, grab other db and do the same thing (1 set)
4. Barbell rollouts (keep legs straight and use core to roll yourself in and out) (2 sets)
5. The run around (get into plank with hands on step; while remaining in plank, do 4 step touch-type runs around the bench until you are back where you started then lower to elbows and back to high plank) (1 set total; 4 reps each way)
6. Sit on bottom on floor behind step with heels on step and hands next to hips; raise bottom/hips and bring to top of step then bring them back between hands; never lower bottom to ground) (2 sets)
7. Plank jump (put hands on step and kneel so feet are on floor next to step and knees are on step; jump out into wide plank and jump back in, knees barely tapping step) (3 sets)
Premixes (called NRG Mixes):
Total Body Challenge #1 47 minutes
Total Body Challenge #2 66 minutes
Total Body Challenge #3 74 minutes
Short on Time Legs & Core 45 minutes
Short on Time Total Upper Body Mix 30 minutes
Split It Up NRG 1 Back & Chest 44 minutes
Split It Up NRG 1 Shoulders, Bi’s and Tri’s 48 minutes
2 Set Leg NRG 45 minutes