The Firm: Maximum Cardio Burn + Abs

Maximum Cardio Burn + Abs is part of The Firm’s Body Sculpting System 2. As I mentioned in Aerobic Body Shaping, after doing Body Sculpting Basics led by Susan Harris over and over again, I decided to get more Firm workouts and purchased this system. It came with 3 workouts, the Fanny Lifter, a square step with two levels (6 inch and 8 inch) that fit together so that you also have a 14 inch square step, and a body bar called the Sculpting Stick. The Sculpting Stick weighs 8 pounds and separates into 3 parts–two 2 pound “twigs” and one longer 4 pound bar. I no longer have the Fanny Lifter but I have a High Step with tons of risers and that substitutes for the Fanny Lifter perfectly. I still have my 8 pound Sculpting Stick but the mechanism that makes one end of the 4 pound bar attach to the 2 pound twig broke so I cannot use it as a whole body bar anymore. But that stopped being a problem when The Firm came out with it’s Power Sculpt workout which came with a 9 pound sculpting stick that separates into three 3 pound segments. That one must have been better constructed (or I didn’t break it down as much since I had moved on past Body Sculpting System 2 to newer Firm workouts).  In addition, after doing the Firm so long, I found 8 and 9 pound body bars too light for many of the exercises so I purchased a 15 pound body bar. That is a long-winded way of saying–you don’t need the actual sculpting stick to do this workout. You need a square step with enough risers to go up to 14 inches, a set of light dumbbells (to substitute for the twigs) and a body bar of whatever weight works best for you (or even a barbell bar that is moderately heavy). When I did this workout I used the 9 pound sculpting stick, the 15 pound body bar and a set of 5 pound hand weights. Plus my High Step.

I remember when I first got this system, this workout killed me. I felt like I was dying and having a heart attack a few times. And the plank holds at the end! Impossible for me at that time! I had never done a plank before this workout. Even in the midst of chemo this seems humorous to me. I have no problems holding planks for a long time now (thanks to Cathe) and even now I can do more intense cardio. But I do not want to forget when I first did this workout 15+ years ago–it was hard for me. So if you are a beginner, this will challenge you. I am in a more intermediate level right now (chemo was more than a week ago) and I found this a solid workout but not killer. So it is still a good workout for an intermediate exerciser. It won’t challenge an advanced exerciser.

The best part is I enjoyed it so much. I am loving returning to my old Firm workouts! They always hold a special place in my heart because they are what got me addicted to working out on a daily basis. There is nothing about cancer that is positive. Nothing. But, if I had to find a silver lining somewhere, it is the fact it has brought me back to The Firm. I am loving them so much, I plan to do mainly Firm workouts until they become too easy for me. Then I will get to return to them again after reconstruction.

Though this workout has “cardio burn” in the name, it isn’t all cardio. It is made up of 10 circuits. Only 4 of the 10 circuits are pure cardio. Another 4 are metabolic–using the 14 inch Fanny lifter or the sculpting stick to increase the intensity. Then you have a barre circuit and a core circuit. I found the core circuit challenging (not the plank holds, but the rest of the circuit). The cardio circuits were fun but not complex–easy to follow, and relatively low impact. There is some impact but nothing crazy. And there is always a modifier in Firm workouts.

Allie Del Rio leads this workout and she cues great. She was always my favorite Firm trainer and I still love her.

The Firm: Maximum Cardio Burn + Abs is 53 minutes long; 2 minute intro, 6 minute warm up and 3:30 minute stretch. Equipment: Fanny Lifter and Sculpting Stick. As mentioned above, you can substitute a high square step that has risers up to 14 inches, a body bar (or even a barbell bar that weighs 8 or more pounds) and a set of light dumbbells. Workout begins with 8 inch portion of Fanny Lifter in front of you for the warm up. There is a modifier.

Circuit 1: 8 inch Fanny Lifter + sculpting stick

  1. Squats holding sculpting stick; add chest press; add toe taps to top of step; toe taps w/ back rows (Allie calls it a rhomboid pinch)
  2. Shallow lunge backs; add tricep press downs
  3. Alternate lifting straight legs out to sides; add bicep curls
  4. Plie squats w/ bicep curls
  5. Repeat 1-4 but less reps

Circuit 2: Fanny Lifter at 14 inches + sculpting stick (sculpting step is used for balance only in this circuit)

  1. Step on and off step, using the sculpting stick for balance; add knee raise; add L step off side of step
  2. On floor, lift straight left leg out to side; changes to alternating straight side leg lifts
  3. Squats; add alternating side leg lifts after each squat
  4. Alternate tapping toes to top of step

Circuit 3: No equipment, kickboxing cardio

Circuit 4: 8 inch Fanny Lifter for step cardio

Circuit 5: No equipment cardio

Circuit 6:  8 inch step Fanny Lifter for step cardio

Circuit 7: Fanny Lifter @ 14 inches + sculpting stick (sculpting step is used for balance only in this circuit)

  1. Step on and off step, using the sculpting stick for balance; add knee raise; add L step off side of step
  2. Lift straight right leg out to side; changes to alternating straight side leg lifts
  3. Squats; add alternating side leg lifts after each squat
  4. Alternate tapping toes to top of step

Circuit 8: “twigs” or ends of sculpting stick (twigs are 2 pounds each). I used 5 pound dumbbells.

  1. Plie squats w/ bent arm side raises
  2. Stationary lunges w/ hammer curls
  3. Plie squats w/ straight arm side raises
  4. Stationary lunges w/ bicep curls
  5. Knee pulls w/ tricep kickbacks
  6. Knee pulls w/ back rows (she calls them “rhomboid pinches”)
  7. Alternating bicep curls w/ step taps

Circuit 9: Barre work. Sculpting stick only (you use it both for balance and to add resistance to your leg; I used my 15 pound body bar for balance and my 9 pound sculpting stick for resistance–because for the resistance moves you will be standing on one leg. If you only have one body bar and need something for balance, then use a chair)

  1. Using sculpting stick for balance, pull right knee into chest and push it out to side; changes to kick out to side then tap toe to floor
  2. Kick right foot behind you; changes to pulses behind you
  3. Raise right ankle behind you and cross sculpting stick behind you so the end is laying across right ankle for resistance, raise and lower right ankle; changes to pushing right ankle behind you
  4. Place sculpting stick along left straight leg for resistance, raise and lower left leg to side
  5. Repeat 1-4 on other leg

2:30 minute cool down/stretch using sculpting stick

Circuit 10: mat for core work

  1. Lay on back, legs extended straight to ceiling, hands behind head, do basic crunches; reverse crunch raising hips/feet to ceiling; continue repeating these two crunch variations; do full crunch, raising both upper and lower body; ends w/ isometric holds
  2. Still on back with legs still extended straight to ceiling, alternate lowering and raising straight legs; add holding leg isometrically at bottom
  3. Bicycle legs: add upper body so it is now a full bicycle crunch
  4. Elbow plank hold

5 thoughts on “The Firm: Maximum Cardio Burn + Abs

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