The Firm: 500 Calorie Workout

500 Calorie Workout is one of the pink Firm workouts that use thier CardioWeights. It is led by Kelsie Daniels, another one of my favorite Firm trainers. Like Rebekah Sturkie, she didn’t appear until the pinks. The crew in this workout are completely unfamiliar to me. There are quite a few Firm trainers I can label as a “favorites” but Allie Del Rio is always my #1 favorite and Kelsie ranks up there as my second favorite Firm trainer. She has a lot of energy, she is a natural in front of the camera, she cues well and she is beautiful. She has impressive shoulder and arm musculature. When I see trainers like Kelsie, it always makes me wonder–are Firm workouts really the only workouts you do? Don’t get me wrong. With appropriate weights, many Firm strength workouts will work your muscles very well, but either she is genetically gifted or she is doing something else to create such impressive muscles. Firm workouts often seem very scripted which is fine. Most of the trainers do it well and it doesn’t bother me. I am sure Kelsie’s workouts are scripted, too, but she doesn’t deliver them that way. She seems more natural than many of the other trainers.

I remember when I got this workout I was very excited. #1 it is led by Kelsie. #2 it is an hour long cardio + strength workout. #3 it is advertising a 500 calorie burn. But then I did it and I was disappointed. This was pre-Cathe for me, before I had done her Afterburn and discovered the beauty of metabolic weight training. Having done The Firm for so many years I was comfortable with using light weights to increase cardio intensity (The Firm’s “4 limb” cardio is basically metabolic strength work) but back then, in my mind, once you start lifting heavier than 5 pound dumbbells you moved into the realm of strength training, not cardio. The strength circuits in 500 Calorie Workout are nothing like the 4 limb circuits in other Firm workouts. And yet it is very hard to lift heavy dumbbells due to the pace of the exercises and the fact they flow from one exercise to the next with no time to change dumbbells. So for one exercise lighter dumbbells might be appropriate but then you flow immediately into one that requires heavier dumbbells to feel the burn and there just isn’t time to swap dumbbells. So, though I enjoyed this workout, I rarely did it because I felt like I was short-changing myself in the strength department. Many years later, I see the value of metabolic workouts and I know you can use weights heavier than 5 pounds to increase cardio intensity and it still doesn’t count as strength training. Re-visiting this workout this morning, I loved it. I used 7 pound dumbbells for the entire workout except one exercise at the end and guess what? I did burn nearly 500 calories according to my FitBit! So this workout is a metabolic winner. After doing it again, I can see some ways the use heavier weights for certain exercises. It would require having them set up nearby and using a workout card so I know that in certain circuits I will need to swap weights. For example in Circuit 1, #7 you do a one arm renegade row. I will need one heavier dumbbell set up nearby. I can definitely use something heavier than a 7 pound dumbbell for renegade rows and it still not count as strength work.

The takeaway from all of that rambling is that I wouldn’t count the strength circuits in this workout as true strength training. This workout falls in the category of workouts like Afterburn–using dumbbells to increase cardio intensity. (FYI this workout is not advanced like Afterburn, its just the same type of workout.) This is not a low impact workout but neither are there any crazy plyometrics. And if you follow the beginner modifier it can be an entirely low impact workout.

500 Calorie Workout is 64 minutes; 1 minute intro, 4:30 minute warm up and 5:30 minute stretch. Equipment: dumbbells. Kellie and crew only used one set of dumbbells. Since they are CardioWieghts I could tell they were 5 pound dumbbells. I used my CardioWeights set at 7 pounds. I also used 10 pound dumbbells for one exercise at the end of the workout. There is a beginner modifier.

Circuit 1: (dumbbells)

  1. Overhead press
  2. Squat
  3. Squat w/ overhead press; changes to squats w/ bicep curl to overhead press
  4. Alternating overhead press but reaching DB/arm to opposite side w/ toe tap; changes to one punch to side and the other is a twisting overhead press; changes to pivot lunge to side while pushing one DB down the floor and the other is still the twisting overhead press
  5. Stationary lunges
  6. Single arm row (hold both DBs in one hand)
  7. One arm renegade row w/ push up
  8. Repeat 1-7 on other side of body

Circuit 2: shuffle to side + 3 back cross taps w/ punch downs; V steps; knee repeaters; knee-glute-knee; running V step; jumping jacks; “stutter steps” (scissor runs but you hop 2x before changing legs); squat jumps

Circuit 3: (dumbbells)

  1. Stationary alternating side lunges; add alternating back rows, reaching DB down toward opposite foot while lunging; changes to placing DBs on floor then picking them up as you lunge
  2. Plie squats; add a side tap w/ bent arm side raise
  3. Stationary reverse lunges; add a tap to side at top of lunge w/ bent arm side raise
  4. Alternate 2 & 3
  5. Single arm bicep curls (hold both DBs in one hand); add side leg raise
  6. Hinge forward w/ bent knees and do fast alternating rows; add a tap forward and back w/ one foot; add knee pull
  7. Repeat 1-6 on other side of body

Circuit 4: grapevine; V step; mambo; narrow squat w/ a hop; heel digs; “jazz box” (cross over steps); jump ropes; side step outs

Circuit 5: (dumbbells)

  1. Deadlifts; add rear delt fly; add stepping out to side when deadlifting
  2. Tap feet out to side; add alternating tricep kickback out to side
  3. Alternate 1 & 2
  4. Alternating side lunges; add alternating forward scoops; changes to scooping both arms
  5. Bend forward, placing ends of DBs on floor and holding the other ends of the DBs in hands, kick one leg in and out behind you
  6. Repeat 1-5 on other side of body

Circuit 6: squat down and alternate tapping feet back; double jacks; 2 of the tap backs change to kick backs; cross punches; hooks; knee pulls; alternating knee lifts; alternating front kicks; squat jump

Circuit 7: (dumbbells)

  1. Forward lunges on one leg; add alternating hammer curls
  2. Pivot into diagonal lunge (stay on same leg); add alternating hammer curls
  3. Repeat 1 & 2 on other leg
  4. (set DBs on floor) Side lunge and while in side lunge, pivot into a lunge, pivot back to side lunge and return to standing, alternate sides; when you pivot, lower to floor and do 4 push ups, return to lunge, pivot back to side lunge then return to standing, alternate sides
  5. Short front lunges on one leg (back knee and front heel are close to each other when lunging); add back rows, lowering DBs down to front foot when lunging and rowing back when standing
  6. Pivot into diagonal short lunge (stay on same leg); add same row as in #5
  7. Repeat 5 & 6 on other leg
  8. Repeat #4

Circuit 8: hamstring curls; hopping side leg lift; lunge forward, lunge back, squat, squat jump side to side; jump rope; alternating knee raises; high knee runs; side to side lunges pushing arms overhead

Circuit 9: (dumbbells)

  1. Hold DBs at shoulders, reverse lunge, twist toward front knee then stand; changes to reaching one DB (opposite hand) toward front toe while in lunge; add one arm overhead press when standing; add knee lift while doing the overhead press
  2. Squats; add cross rows (press arms down, crossing them between legs at bottom of squat and when you stand, pull DBs back in a row); add knee raise
  3. Wide plie squats; add sweeping one leg across body at top of plie squat; add tricep kickback; add pulsing 3x while in plie squat
  4. Repeat 1-3 on other side of body

Circuit 10: (dumbbells) For this circuit I used 7 pound dumbbells for everything except #6, I used 10 pound dumbbells for that exercise

  1. Holding one DB in both hands in front of chest, alternate raising knees while crunching DB down toward knee; balance on one leg and continue to do knee pull crunches with one leg
  2. Alternating knee raises w/ figure 8/rowing arms (row from hip to hip)
  3. With arms straight, raise DB overhead to side while tapping toe to opposite side, alternate sides; remain on one side and toe tap changes to knee lift and arm movement w/ DB changes to woodchop
  4. Repeat #2
  5. Repeat #3 on other side of body
  6. Lay on back w/ knees bent and feet on floor, do chest fly; goes immediately into skull crushers; changes to alternating one chest fly w/ one skull crusher
  7. Still laying on back, knees bent but feet raised off floor, do reverse crunch; add leg extensions after each reverse crunch; changes to lifting and lowering straight legs; changes to scissoring straight legs; changes to bicycling the legs; add upper body (full bicycle maneuver)

2 thoughts on “The Firm: 500 Calorie Workout

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