Boost Metabolism + Muscle

Boost Metabolism + Muscle is a workout DVD by Jessica Smith that has been on my wishlist for a long time but I couldn’t decide to get it until I discovered Jessica’s YouTube channel JessicaSmithTV. I have done a lot of her free YouTube workouts and I love them–so I finally bought it. This DVD contains three 35 minute workouts: Circuit 1: Upper Focus, Circuit 2: Lower Focus and Circuit 3: Total Focus. We only get Peanut in the intro. The workouts are done by Jessica and her mom, Debbie. Debbie shows the beginner modifications.

The menu lists each Circuit individually or you can choose play all and do all of the workouts for a 1 hour and 45 minute total body workout. These are all strength workouts with a strong metabolic factor. On the back of the DVD it says “Feel free to mix and match these routines into your weekly schedule (we recommend alternating them with your favorite cardio and flexibility routines 2-4 days a week).”

***This DVD is part of Jessica’s Walk Strong 2 fitness program.***

Now that I have the intro out of the way–I am so effing impressed with this DVD. Each workout is excellent and stands on its own. In 35 minutes Jessica does a wonderful job working whatever muscle group(s) she is focusing on well–very well. However, there are several things to keep in mind to make these workouts most effective for you. The title contains the words “Boost Metabolism”–this is not just a side effect from building muscle, it is also the metabolic factor I mentioned above. Though Jessica does not rush through this workout, it is a circuit workout in which one circuit flows into the next with no breaks. About 2/3 of each workout is standing strength work. This is where the metabolic factor is happening. I was working hard and sweating during the standing strength work–my heart rate elevated, so each workout has a cardio element along with your strength training. Then she brings you to the floor for body weight strength work and core work. This is actually a working cool down. You are still working hard but your heart rate lowers so when it is time for the cool down stretch you are probably still sweating but you’re not breathing hard anymore.

This flowing circuit structure may cause some issues with swapping out your dumbbells, so have your dumbbells and weight chart (if you use one like I do) very close by. I know a lot of people come to DVD workouts and think they should only change dumbbells when the trainer changes dumbbells but the weight you are lifting should suit the strength of the muscle group you are working. So an 8 pound dumbbell may be suitable for one exercise but I might need a 15 pound dumbbell for the next exercise. So even if Jessica doesn’t change her weights, if one exercise challenges you and the next one doesn’t, the solution is simple, you need to increase the weight of the dumbbell you are using. Don’t stick with the same weight just because the trainer does. Challenge yourself!

Another related thing you need to consider is the weights you use. In order to get the most out of this workout (and any strength workout you do), use the heaviest dumbbells you can use while still maintaining proper form for all of the reps (except maybe the last 1 or 2–no shame in failing on the final 1 or 2 reps–it just means you did a great job picking a challenging weight). If Jessica and her mother are using the brand of dumbbells I think they are (Spri) then Jessica is using 10 and 5 pound dumbbells (and Jessica does say in one workout that her light dumbbells are 5 pounders) and Jessica’s mom Debbie is using 2 pound dumbbells. Unless you are completely out of shape, which I doubt Debbie is, 2 pounds isn’t going to challenge you. If you are completely new to exercise then yes–be extremely conservative and build your way up. But IMHO, 2 pounds is just unrealistic for a solid strength workout. Jessica’s weights aren’t even very heavy for large muscle groups. Heavier than her mother’s but I know she can lift heavier than that. I have no proof, but she is a fitness trainer. If I can lift heavier than so can she. But, she is leading a workout for home exercisers and if she was working as hard as I was she wouldn’t have been able to instruct so well during the workout.

Finally, I just want to note that Jessica leads workouts so well. I love her presence. I cannot explain it, but something about this woman makes every workout she leads more enjoyable.  The setting is what I assume is Jessica’s home. And it is beautiful. Between this workout, her Gentle Yoga workout and her YouTube workouts, I feel like I have seen a lot of her house and it is quite beautiful. This DVD gives us a different view. Gentle Yoga was beside her pool which you can see through the glass doors behind Jessica and her mother in this DVD. There is a timer in the bottom right hand corner of the screen counting down the 35 minutes. So these workouts are exactly 35 minutes each.

Equipment needed: various dumbbells and a fitness mat.

Circuit 1: Upper Focus is 35 minutes long; 4 minute warm up (warm up consists of walking and marching in place, side steps, pulsing squats, all with various unweighted arm movements to warm up upper body) and 3:30 minute stretch. Wow. This was an impressive workout. In only 35 minutes Jessica managed to work my upper body very well. I do have to note that my chest was already very sore from an upper body workout done earlier this week, but I still really felt this workout (in other muscle groups, too). I was working hard and sweating–the first part of it was very metabolic. I did all of the exercises at Jessica’s level and did push ups on my toes (rather than knees as Jessica does them) and I used heavier dumbbells than both Jessica and her mother. The point is–this workout can grow with you! Start easy at Debbie’s modified level, work your way up to Jessica’s level, then start increasing your dumbbell weight. The weights listed below are what I used.

  1. Squat w/ overhead press using one DB held in both hands (one 20# DB)
  2. Static lunge w/ one arm overhead press (with legs split, reach DB down to ankle level while lowering into a lunge, row DB as you raise out of lunge and push DB overhead) (15# DB)
  3. Repeat 1 & 2 (#2 on other side of body)
  4. Place feet into a warrior 2 stance, one arm is hanging down in front of bent leg and the other is at your shoulder (each hand is holding a DB)–do a side lateral raise w/ arm hanging near bent leg; add extending other DB toward ceiling and holding while continuing to do lateral raise (8# DBs)
  5. One arm does an overhead press while the other does a bicep curl (10# DBs)
  6. Repeat 4 & 5 on other side of body
  7. Wide back row while pulsing in squat (8# DBs)
  8. Alternating  rear lunge while pressing DBs in front of you at shoulder height (5# DBs)
  9. Repeat 7 & 8
  10. Rotating tricep kickback while pulsing in narrow squat (8# DBs)
  11. Side squat w/ straight arm front raise at top of squat (8# DBs)
  12. Repeat 10 & 11
  13. Deadlift w/ rotating back row (row starts w/ palms facing floor and twists so palms face ceiling when at side of body) (15# DB)
  14. Chest press bridge (raising and lowering hips while doing chest press) (20# DBs)
  15. Bird dogs (on all 4s, extend one leg and opposite hand then bring them together underneath body tapping elbow to knee)
  16. Push ups
  17. In elbow plank, pike hips up (dolphin pose) then return to plank
  18. Repeat 15-17
  19. Lay on back, knees bent and raised, head raised and palms pressing against thighs–pulse thighs into hands
  20. Bicycle legs while reaching arms overhead then bringing elbow to opposite knee
  21. Pilates hundred
  22. Lay on stomach, arms out straight to sides of body (arms in “T”), thumbs pointed to ceiling–raise and lower arms and chest
  23. Extend arms along sides, raise chest and pulse up
  24. Arms in goal pose, chest raised–press arms overhead then return to goal post

Circuit 2: Lower Focus is 35 minutes long; 4 minute warm up (#1-3 is the warm up) and 2 minute stretch. This was more intense than I expected. A surprisingly excellent lower body workout for only 35 minutes. I love Jessica’s very controlled pace. This is a fairly high rep workout so she really burns out the muscle groups you are working with her rep pace. It also has a lot to do with your weights. I lifted heavier than both Jessica and her mother, so I am sure I felt it more. With the weights I used, I found this an excellent lower body workout. I was working very hard and feeling it. There is a lot of balance work in this workout which I had to modify because of my bum heels, but I still got an excellent workout even with the modifications. The dumbbell weights listed below are what I used for this workout.

  1. Side steps in a shallow squat; changes to alternating high marches
  2. Balance moves: Lift and lower one leg in front of you; changes to bending and lifting leg then pushing it down in front of you; changes to circling leg front and back
  3. Squat and pulse 3 times, do a cha-cha-cha step then pulse squat to other side; changes to single squats w/ cha-cha-cha step
  4. Balancing squat: squat w/ knee raise (15# DBs)
  5. Side lunge, sweeping lunging leg across body when standing (15# DBs)
  6. Repeat #5 & 6 (#6 on other leg)
  7. Split stance deadlift (single leg deadlift) (20# DBs)
  8. Come into lunge, lunge deep into runners lunge, lowering DBs to foot, and when you come up,(still in lunge but higher) an do a row at top (15# DBs)
  9. Alternating side leg lifts
  10. Repeat 8 & 9 on other leg
  11. Heel raises (15# DBs)
  12. Alternating toe raises
  13. Hinge torso/DBs forward while raising one leg straight behind you then bend and straighten supporting leg (15# DBs)
  14. Heel raises (15# DBs) & alternating toe taps
  15. Step one foot back into plie squat w/ bicep curl; alternate sides (15# DBs)
  16. Squats tapping DBs to shins and thighs (Jessica says it is a squat and deadlift combined) (15# DBs)
  17. Arabesque balance (standing on one leg, bring on knee forward then lift it behind you)
  18. Repeat #16 & 17

Floor work:

  1. Lay on back, knees bent and one foot cross over other knee–cross-over crunch (bringing elbow up toward opposite knee)
  2. Single leg bridge (still in same position as #1, raise and lower hips)
  3. Half-pigeon crunch (same position as 1 & 2, lift foot off floor and crunch knee in toward chest)
  4. Repeat #1-3 on other side of body
  5. Lay on side and lift top leg then tap to ground in front of you; changes to circling leg
  6. Lay on stomach and lift one leg–micro-bend and straighten lifted leg; repeat on other leg
  7. Repeat #5 on other leg
  8. Repeat #6

Circuit 3: Total Focus is 35 minutes long; 3:30 minute warm up and 3 minute stretch. The warm up previews some of the moves in the workout. Wow. Another intense and incredible workout. This might be the most intense of the 3 workouts. According to my Fitbit I burned the most calories! As usual, it all depends on the weights you use. I did make an observation during this one. I was dripping sweat during this workout and had to briskly mop the sweat out of my eyes several times. I noticed that the mat beneath Jessica had quite a bit of sweat on it and she was gleaming with sweat. Her mother? No sweat. Her mom was doing the beginner modifications and using extremely light weights–and didn’t appear to even be taxed by the workout. Like I mentioned above. I don’t think Debbie is a beginner–she is just showing modifications that I think are clearly below the level of what she is capable of (but that’s ok–it is obviously her purpose in this workout, to show an easier way to do the workout so it is assessable to all fitness levels. These are just observations I made.).

  1. Ski swing (squat while swinging DBs behind you and up to shoulder level) (15# DBs)
  2. Alternating reverse lunges (hinge forward when lunging, bringing DBs down near ankles) (15# DBs)
  3. Repeat 1 & 2
  4. 4 plie squat walks forward + 2 overhead press, 4 plie squat walk back + 2 overhead press (15# DB)
  5. Pulsing static lunges w/ alternating bicep curls (15# DBs)
  6. Repeat 4 & 5
  7. One leg squat w/ one arm row (one 20# DB)
  8. Lower into plie squat and hold while pressing one DB held in both hands forward and back (one 15# DB)
  9. Repeat 7 on other side of body
  10. Repeat #8 but this time push DB higher
  11. Side lunge w/ wood chop (one 10# DB)
  12. Overhead tricep extensions w/ side leg raise (one 20# DB)
  13. Repeat #11 & 12 on other side of body
  14. Standing chest fly while raising and lowering one knee (5# DBs)
  15. Rear delt fly while kicking one leg out behind you (8# DBs)
  16. Repeat #14 & 15 on other side of body
  17. Cross-over step w/ hammer curl (10# DBs)
  18. Static pulsing curtsy lunge w/ tricep kickbacks (10# DBs)
  19. Repeat #17 but w/ traditional bicep curls
  20. Repeat #18 on other side of body
  21. Chest fly w/ knees raised and feet of floor (push feet in and out as you fly) (20# DBs)
  22. Lay flat on back, one knee raise, same side arm raised to ceiling–do a full sit up in this position
  23. Get on hands and knees, one leg extended straight behind you and opposite arm extended straight in front of you–reach around around while bending knee and touching hand to heel
  24. Lay on stomach and hover in a modified partial plank and hold (on knees, lowered halfway down)
  25. Repeat 21-24 (if t was done on one side of the body, do it on the other)
  26. Lay on back w/ knees bent and feet on floor, raise hips and hold while marching legs






26 thoughts on “Boost Metabolism + Muscle

  1. Jen: I am interested in Jessica’s workouts after reading this review, it sounds like my kind of workout. What would you compare each workout to in Cathe’s DVD library? Also, how is the music? Thanks,

    (maddiesmum on


    1. Hi Clare, I don’t really know what I would compare these workouts to Cathe-wise. I find Jessica’s workouts very different from Cathe’s workouts. Her style, her very smooth and controlled pace, the fact most of her exercises are compound exercises that workout the upper and lower body at the same time. Other than her workouts being metabolic strength workouts (which Cathe does a lot of) nothing about them really reminds me of a Cathe workout. Maybe ICE: Metabolic Total Body? But even tho that is the same kind of workout, it is very different from the way Jessica leads a workout.

      As for the music–I liked it. Nothing about it stands out but it has a driving beat that fuels the workout. Jessica usually picks good and appropriate music for her workouts that drive the workouts but don’t stand out either.


      1. Fair enough! Thanks for your reply. Seems like it’s one of those cases where I’ll just have to order, try it and see for myself! You maintain such a spiffy blog here, a work of art and entertainment. I wonder how much time everyone else spends perusing it: I know I am often here late at night, reading, making notes, following links, viewing clips and pondering! Thanks Jen, catch up with you later! Clare


      2. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. I really feel Jessica is different from other trainers. At least ones I am familiar with. That is what I love about her workouts–what she brings to them. They are usually excellent workouts, but she is probably one of the best trainers (at least leading a video workout) that I’ve encountered. Her personality and presence.

        I am glad my blog is so useful! I actually refer to it constantly myself to create my own rotations. If I haven’t done a work recently, I can’t remember what I thought of it. And it is worse with all of these YouTube workouts–some of them I cannot even remember whether I did or not. Once I view them I remember, but the names of many of them are so similar it is impossible to differentiate them w/out either viewing them or referring to this blog!


      3. I am another big fan of Jen’s blog. I’m usually reading something from it every day, either new posts or reviewing Cathe Live posts. Yes, I’m addicted to Cathe Live! Jen, are you stockpiling new Live workouts? You haven’t posted about one in a while.


      4. Hi Jodi! I haven’t been subscribed to Cathe Live since May, I think. I will eventually re-subscribe, but for now I am obsessed with Barlates and Jessica Smith. I am still doing Cathe workouts, but not as frequently as I used to. This month (October) I am doing a KCM/Barlates/Jessica Smith rotation. In November or December I may sign up for Cathe Live again. But I have a long list of new workouts I want to get through this month and I am using KCM to balance them out this month.

        I have actually been putting some thought into changing the way I workout, to be honest. I would never stop doing Cathe workouts because I love them but I have always preferred intense but lower impact workouts–and very metabolic strength work, too. So I may be doing primarily Cathe’s strength and low impact workouts for a while–as well as KCM, Jessica and Barlates–they tend to be lower impact but still pretty intense. but who knows? I may change my mind at some point. But my feet aren’t getting any better and they aren’t handling the impact of Cathe’s HIIT workouts as well as they used to. But my feet have zero problems with Jessica, Barlates and KCM. Plus, sometimes I look at my vast DVD library, as well as all that is available for free on YouTube and wonder why I keep spending money.

        Anyway–sorry to go on so long. Right now I am looking at re-subscribing in the December time-frame. But no promises! Fit Split will be arriving sometime in December and that might change my mind!


      5. Hey, it’s always good to change things up now and then! Right now, I’m content with Live and JSTV, but that may change. I don’t have any of Jessica’s programs. I would need to research them more before purchasing. I’m worried the only cardio in them would be walking. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE her walking workouts, but I don’t want them as my main cardio. I use them to meet my daily step goals. I am tempted by all her DVDs , but again, I would need to thoroughly look into them. There is a Facebook group called Jessica Smith Junkies which has some posts about her different programs. You might find some of that info helpful.


      6. I haven’t done any of her walking workouts. That’s actually what kept from buying her workouts in the past. But I read up on this one (Boost Metabolism + Muscle) and it had no “walking” so I tried it and loved it. I read the reviews of her Walk Strong and they say the same thing–these are not walking workings, despite the title. The reviewers suggest buying Jessica’s earlier walking workouts if that’s what you are looking for because Walk Strong is different. And I love JSTV, too. She has so many free workouts, I don’t know why I am even looking! What is wrong with me?


      7. LOL! It’s just the desire to try something different! I think that’s why I’m loving Live so much right now. I came late to the game so it’s like having a new workout every day. At this point I’ve done most of them at least once, but now I can go back through them all to ‘perfect’ them. Well, I will have to check out Walk Strong now. Is her Cardio Abs DVD on your wish list? I love it!


      8. I think that’s definitely it. I still love my Cathe workouts and always enjoy doing them, lately when I think about them (not when I actually do them, but when I am putting together my rotatiions for the days ahead), I want to do something different. I think it’s because even tho with Cathe’s DVDs + Live she has 300+ workouts (and I’ve done nearly all of them multiple times)–so lots and lots of variety, after 5 years of doing primarily Cathe workouts, I am really wanting more variety. And Jessica (and Barlates) is giving me that variety. I find myself really looking forward to her workouts more than anything else I do lately.

        And no I have not–but I just added Cardio Abs to my wish list!


      9. Cardio Abs has three segments, each just under 30 minutes. There’s a kickboxing-influenced cardio section, a compound weight work segment, and a focused ab segment. I do the ab segment the least only because I don’t like working abs for that long (I know you don’t either!), but it is so good so sometimes I’ll do it and fast forward when she repeats moves. That cuts it down to about 15 minutes. Looking forward to more of your reviews for both Jessica and Barlates!


  2. The total body focus workout is amazing, even though the heaviest weight I use for this workout is 15 lbs (on a good day), I end up drenched in sweat and nice and sore. Everything you’ve said is so true. I always go as heavy as I can. And I always pull out multiple sets of weights ranging from 5-20lbs. I switch weights to challenge myself. And by the way, I’m blown away by how heavy you can lift. So impressed! Goals!!! (fangirl over here) 🙂


    1. They are such awesome workouts. I am contemplating doing all 3 of them, on right after the other, for a weekend workout but I am not sure I can handle it. It might be too much!


  3. This one sounds good! I might have to get it, too! It’s funny what you sad about Debbie not sweating. Jessica has mentioned a few times in some of her walking workouts that her mother does not like to sweat. Haha! So maybe she just helps out Jessica by showing an easier version where she doesn’t have to put too much effort into it.


    1. I’m sure that is the case with most of people who do the beginner modifications in workout DVDs–not that they don’t like to sweat but that they are capable of doing much more than the beginner level. And there is nothing wrong with that, of course. Some one has to demonstrate those easier modifications to make the workout accessible to more people, but for some reason I was really noticing in these workouts that Debbie did not seem challenged at all with the workouts whereas Jessica (and me!) were actually getting a good workout.


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