Fit Body by Julia: Full Body Supersets & Tabata HIIT

This is the 3rd Fit by Julia workout I have done. And wow. It was killer. Brutal and grueling but I wasn’t counting the minutes like I was when I did No Equipment Crazy Cardio. This is a workout I could see myself returning to. It is long. 87:30 minutes of non-stop hard work. I have so many thoughts about Julia’s workouts, especially after doing this one. In fact, these type of workouts seem to make up the majority of her workouts. I am not saying workouts exactly like this one, but long and brutal plyometric strength training workouts. At least from the ones I previewed and the ones I plan to do next month.

First, let me give an overview of this workout. There are two parts to this workout and they are woven together. The first part is “Death by Dumbbells” a total body metabolic strength workout created by someone named Scott Herman. It is done in tabata format (20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest). You do 5 exercises, each exercise is done for four 20/10 tabata circuits for a total of 10 minutes. This 10 minute tabata circuit will be revisited 4 times in the course of this workout so that by the end of the workout you will have done 40 minutes total of Death by Dumbbells. Between each tabata you do a superset pairing. And OMG. The first two supersets are brutal and grueling. The last two are challenging  but not nearly as brutal as the first two. But you still have the tabatas to deal with.

I was wiped out by this workout. Wiped. Out. By the halfway mark I was making some modifications. There are a lot of full burpees (so push ups are part of the burpee) and push ups (that are separate from the burpees). A lot. By the halfway mark I had quit doing push ups with my burpees (so I guess I was doing “half” burpees) and I was frequently dropping to my knees with the other push ups. Other modifications–the highest my full step will go is 14 inches. I can get my square high step to go higher, but I am also well aware of how grueling Julia’s workouts are so I set my step at 12 inches. I could have jumped to 14 inches (I have before) but honestly, the superset you use it for (superset #2, exercise #1) is so exhausting that I was afraid I might injure myself by the end of the superset so I kept it at 12 inches to be safe, but if I do this workout again I think I can manage 14 inches. On that same exercise, I also did not do a decline burpee–I did a regular burpee. The last time I attempted to do a version of a decline burpee I threw my back out and it was out for an entire week (Hard Work Conditioning 24/7). I don’t own a sandbag, so for Superset #1, exercise #2 I used dumbbells and for Superset #4, exercise 2, I used a barbell at 35 pounds. And finally, for that same superset (#4), Julia held a 25 pound barbell plate overhead as she did jumping toe taps to the 16 inch plyo box–I just held 10 pound dumbbells. Please observe where this exercise falls in the workout–the final superset is 79 minutes into the course of this workout. So you have already had the sh*t beaten out of you for over an hour. Perhaps if this exercise had fallen earlier in the workout I would have been able to hold a plate or dumbbells overhead when doing it but at that point in the workout all I could think as I watched her hold a twenty-five pound plate overhead while doing jumping toe taps onto a 16 inch plyo box was No f*cking way. I held my dumbbells at my sides and did it on my 12 inch step.

Some other observations about this workout. Yesterday was Black Friday and I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods for my Black Friday shopping (yes, I am that person–but you know you are too or you wouldn’t have read this far into this blog post) and got some new lifting gloves. Very nice–close fitting with thick leather in the palm. You do so many push up versions while holding dumbbells in this workout (lots of weighted burpees and T stand push ups and manmakers) that even with this thick padding on my palms, by 2/3 of the way through this workout, my dumbbells were hurting my palms anyway. Another observation–below, I used the workout breakdown Julia listed below the YouTube version of this workout with some modifications for clarity and formatting; under the tabata breakdown she lists “renegade row.” What she calls a renegade row in the breakdown and in the actual workout is not my understanding of what a renegade row is. I even googled it and I got pictures and videos of plank rows which, in my understanding, is what a renegade row is. But that is not what Julia calls a renegade row. What she calls a renegade row is an alternating bent over row. Just FYI.

Some final thoughts. After doing this workout in particular, as opposed to the other two Fit by Julia workouts I’ve done (HIIT to Boost Metabolism #1 and No Equipment Crazy Cardio), I feel an odd certainty that these types of workouts would change my body. Let me be more specific. I have been working out almost every day for 1-2 hours a day for 15+ years. I have been lifting weights and doing programs (Body Beast, P90X, ChaLean Extreme, STS, Xtrain, MetaShred Extreme, Insanity, and many others–both single workouts and programs) for a long time and fitness follows the law of diminishing returns–the fitter you are the less change you see, even when working out very hard every day. You have to work even harder to see any kind of drastic results. I mention this because I haven’t seen much change in my physical appearance over the years–other than gaining and losing weight at times but that is almost always due to what I eat, not my workouts. However, I strongly feel (but with no actual proof) that Julia’s workouts could change my body–even if I didn’t change my diet. But of course, that means I would have to do her workouts consistently for several months to see these changes and that just isn’t in the cards for me right now. I do plan to do her workouts for 2 solid weeks the end of December but after that I am diving into Cathe, Kelly Coffey-Meyer and Jessica Smith‘s new programs. But after that, I may give my Fit Body by Julia theory a try. The biggest possible problem I can see about that is if I can physically handle it. The two weeks at the end of December will be a trial run. If I don’t run myself into the ground then I will create a rotation and give it a try some time next year.

Full Body Supersets & Tabata HIIT is 87:30 minutes long. No warm up or stretch. I used Cathe‘s Total Body Giant Sets warm up (as my warm up) and STS Extended Stretch to finish it off. Equipment used by Julia: adjustable dumbbells, 16 inch plyo box, sandbag, barbell plates and resistance loop. Equipment I used: dumbbells, barbell plates, step @ 12 inches, 35 pound barbell and resistance loop.

Death by Dumbbells Tabata (Each exercise is done 4x to 20/10 count, do each exercise 4x before moving on to the next exercise, 10 minutes total)

  1. Dumbbell squat (Julia used 24# DBs, I used 25# DBs)
  2. Dumbbell renegade row (actually alternating bent over rows) (15# DBs)
  3. Dumbbell weighted burpee (Julia used 9# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  4. Dumbbell T-stand pushups (Julia used 15# DBs, I used 10# DBs)
  5. Dumbbell cross crunch (Julia used one 9# DB, I used one 6# DB)

SUPERSET 1: repeat 4x

  1. Single arm burpee to single arm clean and press (6 reps per arm) (Julia used one 24# DB, I used one 20# DB)
  2. Deficit curtsy lunges (curtsy lunges off of high step/plyo box) 12 reps per leg (Julia used a sandbag on her shoulders, I used 15# DBs)

Repeat Tabata

SUPERSET 2: repeat 4x

  1. Decline burpee + 180 jump + box jump (12 reps)
  2. ½ manmaker snatches, 6 reps per arm (Julia used one 24# DB, I used one 15# DB)

Repeat Tabata

SUPERSET 3: repeat 4x

  1. Ab weight pass (laying on back, hold BB plate overhead, legs are straight and raised a few inches off floor, bringing knees in and place plate on shins, extend legs straight again (w/ plate on shins) and extend arms overhead then bring knees in again, remove plate and extend arms/plate and legs to starting position), 12 reps (one 10# BB plate)
  2. Halo slams (like an overhead kettlebell swing but with more force and when you bring it up overhead, you bring it up to the side of body), 12 reps per side (Julia used one 24# DB, I used one 15# DB)

Repeat Tabata

SUPERSET 4: repeat 4x

  1. Overhead toe taps (holding BB plate overhead, jump tap toes to top of step/plyo box), 12 reps (2=1) (Julia used one 25# BB plate, I used 10# DBs)
  2. Banded Goodmorning to box squat, 12 reps (loop is around thighs; Julia used sandbag on her shoulders and and I used 35# BB on my shoulders)

For more info on Fit Body by Julia and other (free) streaming workouts I’ve sampled and reviewed, check out my Streaming page.


4 thoughts on “Fit Body by Julia: Full Body Supersets & Tabata HIIT

  1. I´ve been doing Julia´s workouts daily ever since she started, but even after those basically 2 years, I don´t see any change in my body. Yes, I probably got stronger or fitter, but my body looks the same. That´s the “problem” with working out for years (in my case 13+ years of daily workouts, usually 2 hours) and being sort of a fit person – I would have to do something really super insane to make the body change again 🙂 But with that said, I like her workouts, they are challenging and mostly fun (even though I often watch the clock during her workouts and count every minute, unlike during workouts from for example Bodyrock). Btw, Scott Herman wouldn´t be happy to see you called him “someone named…”, he´s quite a famous fitness persona on youtube 🙂


    1. That’s mostly what I noticed with Body Beast and STS–more muscle but not real significant changes. Those changes happened when I first started working out regularly and lifting weights over a decade ago. But when you do it regularly, it becomes mostly maintenance. Julia’s workouts are a very different from what I normally do so I wondered if they would be a shock to my body. It feels like a shock to my body when I do her workouts! But I don’t know that I can sustain that level of workout consistently.

      Although I do YouTube workouts, I am pretty focused on specific trainers–so I am not familiar a large variety of YouTube people. I discover them either because a blog reader points me toward someone or YouTube recommends something to me and I decide to investigate. But looking at Scott Herman’s YouTube page, I have never seen it before. YouTube hasn’t recommended him and you’re the first person to mention him to me. I don’t surf YouTube either, so looking at his offerings, I see mostly advice and opinion videos, which I don’t generally watch unless I am already an avid follower of someone (I watch Linda Woolridge’s coffee talks occasionally). So anyway–it’s nothing personal against him. I am just not someone who spends a lot of time surfing YouTube or even watching YouTube videos–other than to do workouts.


      1. Oh, I didn´t meant anything bad with the Scott Herman comment 🙂 I also don´t follow him, as I follow only channels that post full workouts. But I know he´s been sort of a big fitness youtuber and he quite likes to boast about his achievement. So that´s what I meant.
        I enjoy Michele Lumadue´s workouts and maybe you would like them as well. They are usually long and pretty tough, mostly reps instead of intervals – I find reps workouts more intense.


      2. Wow–I just looked at Michele’s videos and those are some seriously long workouts. Lots of 2 hour ones! I’ll have to give those a try at some point. I listened to her little video about her training philosophy–which is what you are referring to with “reps” I assume? She does higher rep metabolic circuit training. This is how I like to train, too, so I would probably like her workouts.


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