The Firm: Cardio Sculpt

Cardio Sculpt is a cardio + strength workout led by trainer Allie Del Rio. It is part of The Firm’s first Body Sculpting System. It is another effective and fun circuit workout that alternates cardio circuits with strength circuits. Allie uses a lot of tempo changes to help burn your muscles out. And like the majority of Firm workouts, the level and intensity of your workout depends on how heavy your weights are. This workout uses The Firm’s 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. I no longer have my Fanny Lifter so I used my high/square step and it works perfectly.

Christa Riley, who led Complete Body Sculpting and was a background exerciser in the Firm Box workouts, is a background exerciser in this workout and she looks so much healthier in this workout. Revisiting this workout I remember my shock at seeing her in this workout. Christa is extremely lean and ropy with muscle in the Firm Box workouts and it wasn’t the best look for her. In this one she looks so healthy and beautiful–and fit, but not the extreme look she has in the Firm Box workouts.

This is a total body strength workout and, if you are using challenging weights, the cardio is much easier than the strength work. I am still building my strength back up and feel kind of frustrated that using 12 pound dumbbells for leg presses is still challenging me. I try 15 pounds every time but I am just not there yet (pre-cancer I always used 15 pound dumbbells for leg presses). The Firm will help me get there tho–lots of leg presses! I don’t know why, but I seem to forget I also own 13 and 14 pound dumbbells. I need to try working my way up instead of trying the 15 pound dumbbells then dropping immediately to the 12s. Next workout I do with leg presses, I will try 13 pound dumbbells.

Cardio Sculpt is 58:30 minutes long; 1:30 minute intro, 6 minute warm up (push ups in warm up) and 4:30 minute stretch. Equipment: Fanny Lifter (or high step) and dumbbells. Allie and crew are using 3, 5 and 8 pound dumbbells. The weights listed below are what I used. There is a beginner modifier.

Circuit 1: Fanny Lifter (or high step) @ 14 inches and dumbbells

  1. Push ups w/ hands on step
  2. Hover squats to various tempos including isometric holds in squat (15# DBs)
  3. Bent over single arm rows w/ one hand on top of step (one 18# DB)
  4. Leg press (12# DBs)
  5. Repeat #3 on other arm
  6. Leg press on other leg (12# DBs)
  7. Seated bicep curls (12# DBs)

Circuit 2: cardio on the floor (no equipment)

Circuit 3: Fanny Lifter (or high step) @ 14 inches and dumbbells

  1. Seated French press (overhead tricep extensions) (one 18# DB)
  2. Hover squats to various tempos including isometric holds in squat (15# DBs)
  3. Seated bent over back row (18# DBs)
  4. Lower step to 6 inches and do alternating forward lunges onto step; add bicep curls when lunging; add two overhead presses when standing; change to 4 count lunges (no arms) (10# DBs)
  5. Plie squats; add bent arm shoulder raises; hold plie squat isometrically and do hammer curls (10# DBs)

Circuit 4: step cardio using 6 inch step

Circuit 5: Fanny Lifter (or high step) @ 14 inches dumbbells. Lunges and squats are done on the floor–no Fanny Lifter.

  1. Reverse lunges (15# DBs)
  2. Squats (15# DBs)
  3. Reverse lunges on other leg (15# DBs)
  4. Squats (15# DBs)
  5. Repeat #1-3
  6. Seated tricep kickbacks (sitting on step) (8# DBs)
  7. Leg press (12# DBs)
  8. Seated French press (overhead tricep extensions) (one 18# DB)
  9. Leg press other leg (12# DBs)

Circuit 6: 4 limb cardio using step @ 6 inches and light dumbbells (I used 6 pound dumbbells)

  1. Tap toes side to side; changes to one tap to the side and one to top of step; add tricep/bicep curls (one arm does a bicep curl while other does a tricep kickback to side)
  2. Alternate tapping toes to step; add bicep curl to overhead press
  3. Repeat #1 on other side of body
  4. Repeat #2
  5. Basic steps on step; add 2 lunges off back of step after the 2 basic steps; add bent arm side raises
  6. Step squat side to side on floor; add hammer curl; add 3 pulses to each squat

Circuit 7: Fanny Lifter (or high step) @ 14 inches and dumbbells

  1. Seated concentration curls (seated on step, legs wide and elbow on inside of thigh) (one 15# DB)
  2. Extend arm just worked straight out to side and place other hand behind head, bend waist to side, touching fingertips to floor then raise back up (oblique work); place both hands behind head, lean torso back and raise one knee, twisting opposite elbow toward knee
  3. Repeat 1 & 2 on other side of body
  4. Lay on back, heels on top of step and do chest flys (18# DBs)

Circuit 8: Fanny Lifter (or high step) @ 14 inches and dumbbells

  1. Lower to knees and lean torso over top of step, extend straight arms out into a V and raise and lower arms/DBs; changes to alternating arms; changes to both arms pulsing up (3# DBs)
  2. Still leaned over step, place one DB behind one knee, lift and lower foot to ceiling; changes to one lift + one crossing working knee behind other calf on floor; just cross working knee behind other calf (one 5# DB)
  3. Lay on side, legs extended straight and holding one DB against outer thigh, raise and lower straight leg; changes to pulling knee to floor in front of you then shooting foot up behind you; combine the two moves; add pulse to knee pull (one 5# DB)
  4. Repeat 2 & 3 on other leg
  5. Lay on back, knees bent, feet on floor and hands behind head, do a basic crunch; crunch continues but with different arm variations; add extending one leg out straight and lifting leg to ceiling as you crunch
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