The Firm Express

The Firm Express is a 30 day fitness program that contains 12 twenty minute workouts and 2 bonus 10 minute workouts. The workouts in this program are based on a specific HIIT protocol of 8 seconds of high intensity work followed by 12 seconds of recovery, repeated 4 times. The 8:12 HIIT protocol is supposed to be one of the most efficient HIIT protocols out there. In this program the 8:12 HIITs are called “bursts.” Every time you do a burst you get a red timer in the lower right hand corner, counting down the 8 seconds and for the 12 second recovery you get a big blue “R” that changes to “Get Ready” when the next Burst is getting ready to start. Every workout in this program (except the 10 minute core workout) has four 8:12 Burst cycles (so 4 different Burst Cycles and within each cycle you do the 8:12 move 4x).

The workouts in this program are led by 5 different Firm trainers. Emily Welsh, Rebekah Sturkie, Alison Davis, Kelsie Daniels and Jennifer Ray. The program comes with a 4 day Kickstart plan that contains a 4 day menu (1000 calories a day) and a 4 day workout schedule in which you do 2 of the 20 minute workouts each day plus one of the 10 minute bonuses. It also comes with a Fitness Guide that includes the rotation calendar. The rest of the time you do 3 workouts a week–Week 1 all of the Ignite workouts, Week 2 all of the Accelerate workouts, Week 3 all of the TurboCharge workouts and Week 4 all of the Overdrive workouts. The Fitness Guide also includes a more reasonable meal plan with snacks and recipes. You estimate your calorie intake by how much you weigh when starting. For example, someone who weighs 150 would eat 1500 calories a day. There are also tips and tricks and it talks about the science behind the 8:12 bursts described above. The 8:12 HIIT protocol was designed by an Australian named Dr. Gail Trapp. Here is a scholarly article about her research if you are interested in that kind of scintillating reading: High Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss. And here’s a little abstract for people with shorter attention spans: The Effects of High Intensity Exercise Training on Fat Loss. And finally, here is a more readable article about it: How to burn more fat with less effort.

When doing these workouts back when I first got them and now when I am returning to them, I did not follow the rotation calendar. Back then I did them as doubles workouts (second workout of the day after I got home from work). Currently I am using them either as add ons (to finish off a 30-40 minute workout) or on my yoga Sunday–I use one of these to warm myself up then move into my yoga workout.

All of the workouts are structured the same. Like most Firm workouts they are circuit workouts. In the Cardio workouts you are alternating cardio circuits with bursts. In the Sculpt workouts you are alternating strength training circuits with bursts. And in the Cardio + Sculpt workouts you will alternate all 3–circuits of cardio, circuits of strength and bursts. Every Burst is done the same–meaning you always repeat every 8:12 cycle 4 times. Most of the workouts end with a short core circuit.

I think these are all intermediate level workouts, though the level varies. Some are lower intermediate and others higher intermediate. And as always, the one of the ways to increase intensity is to use heavy enough dumbbells. Finally, all of the workouts have a beginner modifier.

Summary: Time has not diminished how wonderful and useful these workouts are. I still adore them and cannot believe I have not touched them in years. I am so glad I have finally written this review. It will make it easier for me to use them in the future. There are so many ways to use these workouts! I have so many ideas! They are perfect for add ons/finishers, but also combining these workouts together will give you an awesome workout. There are so many ways to do that. Within the same phase (so do all of the Ignite workouts for an hour long cardio + strength workout). For something different, combine workouts from different phases. So 3 of the Cardio workouts (from 3 different phases) will give you an hour long cardio workout. 3 of the Sculpt workouts will give you an excellent hour long total body strength workout that is also metabolic due to the Bursts. Or combine 3 of the Cardio + Sculpt workouts for an hour long metabolic strength workout. And there are other ways to combine them as well. There isn’t a single one of these workouts that I didn’t like and some I love. Of course, Kelsie’s workouts were my favorites followed by Rebekah’s and Emily’s. I did like Allison’s but I think they were my least favorite. And I love, love, love Jennifer’s 10 minute Pump it up! Bonus. That little workout is one of the best parts of this entire system. How could have forgotten what a gem that is?

Ignite is led by trainer Emily Welsh. These are all great intermediate level workouts. None of them were ever HIIT level for me but everything is dependent on your fitness level. They could be HIIT for someone else. However, I did find them intense and I liked them all. As mentioned in the reviews/breakdowns below, I did find two of warm ups in this phase awkward but the remainder of the workouts were solid, fun and easy to follow. I think these are all perfect add on/finishers to other workouts. Or combine two or all 3 together for a longer, more complete total body cardio + strength workout.

Cardio is 21 minutes; 1:30 minute warm up and 2 minute cool down/stretch. This is a great little add on cardio workout. Not super intense but not low intensity either. I used it to finish off The Firm’s Calorie Killer workout and together they gave me an excellent hour long cardio workout. Between the two of them I burned 500+ calories. This was a fun workout and overall easy to follow. I did have some issues with her warm up choreography but the rest of the workout I had no problem following.

Interval 1: knee pulls, front kicks, squats, reverse lunges, hitch kicks (jump kicks), add power (hops) to squats and lunges. Burst: runners lunge touching hand to floor, stand and hop w/ knee lift

Interval 2: step touch, add hops and punches, wide step knee pull, squats, wide high knee runs. Burst: wide high knee run

Interval 3: jab-cross, knee pulls, knee-kick-knee, squat jump + 2 hops. Burst: fast step squat side to side, never raising out of squat; changes to squat jacks

Interval 4: step touch, knee pulls w/ punches, lateral skaters, step squat side to side–add a hop between each squat. Burst: squat jump side to side w/ hop between each squat and touching floor when squatting

Interval 5: Repeat all of the intervals in a long low impact combo–but no Bursts, just the cardio portions without any of the higher impact moves.

Sculpt is 20:30 minutes; 2:30 minute warm up and 1 minute cool down/stretch. Equipment: dumbbells. The dumbbells listed below are what I used. Another great workout from Emily. She packs a lot into only 20 minutes. Like Cardio (above) I had some issues with her warm up choreography but otherwise was able to follow everything else without issue. I used this to finish off another workout. This morning I did Body Sculpt which wore me out–it is a challenging total body strength workout. So I was not coming to this workout fresh. I found this workout easier than Body Sculpt, though it did still challenge me so it works great to finish off another total body strength workout.

Burst 1: Fast side to side plie squats; recovery is squats; plie squat jumps; recovery is squats; repeat plie squat jumps and squat recovery 2 more times, but this time jump higher and try to tap heels together

Strength: I used 12 pound dumbbells for this entire circuit

  1. Squat to side and stand + overhead press; add a front kick when doing overhead press
  2. Hinge forward and do back row and when you stand, push the DBs forward
  3. Repeat #1 on other side of body
  4. Repeat #2

Burst 2: fast forward lunge; recovery is tapping feet in front of you; do this 2x on each leg

Strength: I used 12 pound dumbbells for this entire circuit

  1. Plie squat, pivot to side and lunge, pivot back into plie squat and stand, alternate sides; add an upright row to plie squat between lunges
  2. Push ups
  3. Sit on bottom w/ knees bent and feet on floor and one hand on floor behind hip, push hips up into crab/reverse table while reaching other arm across opposite side of body
  4. Push up and at top of push up, tap hand to floor in front of opposite hand; alternate sides
  5. Repeat #3 on other side of body
  6. Lay on back w/ knees bent and feet raised off floor, do chest flys; add 2 skill crushers while extending legs then bringing knees back in to chest between each chest fly

Burst 3: Baby mountain climber (in straight arm plank, alternate knees to floor fast); recovery is sitting on knees doing shoulder rolls; next 3 bursts are full mountain climbers, same recovery

Strength:

  1. Reverse lunge w/ bicep curl (8# DBs)
  2. In deep lunge, do one arm back row (holding both DBs in one hand) (8# DBs)
  3. Holding one DB in both hands, side lunge and twist torso/DB to side, return to standing and press DB overhead; twist changes to wood chop and when you press DB overhead, do a French press (overhead tricep extension) (one 12# DB)
  4. Repeat 1-3 on other side of body

Burst 4: fast side lunges, alternate sides; recovery is tapping toes in front of you; repeat 3 more times

Core:

  1. Sit on bottom, hands on floor behind hips, raise bent legs off floor and hold; push legs out straight then pull them in to chest; add crossing hands over chest; add twisting elbow toward opposite knee when pulling knees in to chest
  2. Lay on belly and alternate raising chest then raising legs

Cardio + Sculpt is 20:30 minutes; 2 minute warm up and 1 minute stretch that incorporates side plank holds. Equipment: dumbbells. Another great little metabolic cardio + strength workout. Not the hardest I’ve ever done but I wouldn’t call it beginner either. Solid intermediate if you are following Emily. This one I did come to fresh rather than as an add on/finisher workout but it would work great for that, too. I did it on my yoga day as my warm up.

Cardio: jog in place while punching arms overhead; jog forward then jack legs back; lunge side to side w/ overhead reaches; jumping jacks w/ circle arms; double jacks

Burst 1: low jacks w/ circle arms; recover w/ toe taps; jumping jacks w/ circle arms; recover w/ toe taps; plyo air jacks; recovery toe taps; repeat air jacks

Strength:

  1. Alternating front lunges; add a back row then lift leg behind you (glute raise); add bicep curl between each lunge combo (12# DBs)
  2. Alternating reverse lunges; add bent arm side raises when lunging (6# DBs)
  3. Wide plie squat and pivot to side into narrow squat, alternate sides; add tricep kickback during narrow squats (6# DBs)
  4. Squat and stand, squat, jump feet back to plank, do a push up then jump feet back in and stand (12# DBs)

Burst 2: Squat, place hands on floor and bring one leg back, bring leg back in and stand; recovery is tapping toes in front of you; repeat burst on other leg; recovery is tapping toes; burpees w/ jump at top plus toe tapping recovery 2 times.

Strength: this circuit moves so fast that on #1-5 there isn’t time to swap out dumbbells

  1. Stationary lunge to side w/ one arm row, pivot to front and place both DBs in other hand and do a stationary lunge w/ one arm row on other leg, keep alternating (holding both DBs in one hand–two 8# DBs)
  2. Squat and do a concentration curl while holding deep/wide static squat (holding both DBs in one hand–two 8# DBs)
  3. Hammer curls (8# DBs)
  4. Repeat #2 on other arm
  5. Repeat #3
  6. Push ups + renegade rows (one 15# DB)
  7. Side lying tricep push ups
  8. Repeat #6 on other arm
  9. Repeat #7 on other arm

Burst 3: fast squats, staying low and only raising heels when coming up partially; recovery is toe taps; small squat jumps; recovery is toe taps; big squat jumps plus toe tap recovery two more times.

Cardio: alternating front lunges; changes to pendulum lunge; step squat side to side w/ muscle arms; high knee run

Burst 4: fast feet; recovery is toe taps; repeat 3 more times

Standing core: plie squat w/ knee raise to side while circling arms overhead and bringing them down to knee that you are raising, alternate legs; side knee raises on one side with arms pulling down from overhead to raised knee

Accelerate is led by trainer Rebekah Sturkie. The Accelerate workouts kick the intensity up from the Ignite workouts. In these workouts I was sometimes in my peak heart rate (according to my FitBit) so for me, they were sometimes HIIT level. I know I was working hard in every one of them. At this point on my fitness journey, combining two of them would give me an excellent and intense workout but not sure I could handle all 3 of them in one workout session. But someone with a high fitness level could get an excellent and intense workout from doing all 3 back to back–total body cardio + strength and a major calorie burn!

Cardio is 20 minutes 2 minute warm up and 1:30 minute stretch. Wow! This was a jump in intensity from the Ignite Cardio workout. It was primarily high impact, some plyo moves and the Bursts were more intense. I felt like I was HIITing it but according to my FitBit I only hit my Peak heart rate once though I was very high in the cardio range. Keep in mind–I am not at the same fitness level I was 6 months ago, but for where I am now, this was intense. I got an excellent and intense non-stop 20 minute cardio workout. There were no complicated moves or choreography, not even in the warm up. I used it to finish off a pure strength workout and it definitely finished me off!

Interval 1: March-march-knee raise; changes to fast fee to side w/ knee raise; jack feet w/ various arm combos. Burst: fast 1-2-3 step to side w/ knee raise

Interval 2: Squat w/ tap back and front punch; tap back changes to back kick; skater run; alternating jump lunges. Burst: squat jumps; repeat; quarter turn jump squats; repeat

Interval 3: Walk forward and kick and walk back and kick; squat jump feet out to plank, kick leg under body to opposite side while in plank. Burst: in plank, kick legs under body to opposite side, alternate sides

Interval 4: V step to front and back; wide hop forward and back (w/ double hop between); alternating wide knee raise w/ punch down; wide high knee runs w/ punch down. Burst: fast jacks forward and back

Interval 5: toe tap behind other foot side to side; 4 way lunge (front lunge, side lunge, rear lunge and diagonal lunge). No burst.

Sculpt is 20:30 minutes; 2 minute warm up (push ups in warm up) and 1 minute stretch. Equipment: dumbbells. The dumbbell weights listed below are what I used. Another great mini workout. I am loving these Express workouts and remembering why I loved them so much when I purchased this program many years ago. I used this as an add on after doing a longer cardio workout and this gave me a much more intense workout than the cardio workout did! In fact, my heart rate was in it’s peak zone several times during this workout yet never touched my peak zone during the cardio workout. This is primarily a strength workout, and the strength work is good, too, but you do not have a lot of time between exercises, so if you want to change dumbbells then you need to have them set up nearby. In the final strength circuit you do deadlifts. You only do 8 reps, so heavy up on them! I am still building my strength back up after chemo but I grabbed 30 pound dumbbells and managed.

Burst 1: lateral skaters

Strength:

  1. 2 single leg squats + 2 reverse lunges; changes to 1 single leg squat + 1 reverse lunge (15# DBs)
  2. Bent over back rows in wide squat (20# DBs)
  3. Repeat #1 on other leg
  4. Repeat #2

Burst 2: plank lunge (wide mountain climber but you tap feet rather than jumping them)

Strength:

  1. Static lunge holding DBs at shoulders; hold in static lunge and do overhead presses; changes to hammer curls (12# DBs)
  2. Static lunge on other leg holding DBs at sides; hold in static lunge and do upright rows; changes to bicep curls (12# DBs)
  3. Step out to side and do 2 wide plie squats+ 2 curtsy lunges, alternate legs; changes to singles (1 wide plie squat + 1 curtsy lunge) (15# DBs)

Burst 3: alternating jump lunges holding one light DB (5# DB)

Strength: (for #1, make sure you have lighter dumbbells nearby in case you want to go lighter for tricep kickbacks like I did; same with #4–she goes directly into hammer curls after deadlifts)

  1. Static side lunge (15# DBs); hold in side lunge and do tricep kickbacks (8# DBs)
  2. Repeat #1 on other leg
  3. Deadlifts, 8 reps (30# DBs)
  4. Hammer curls; changes to alternating hammer curls (12# DBs)

Burst 4: power alternating side lunges (lunge side to side w/ a little hop, holding light DBs and punching DBs down w/ each lunge) (8# DBs)

Core

  1.  In wide plie squat, raise one DB overhead (held in both hands), bend to side, raise back to center and wood chop DB down to same side you just bent, alternate sides (one 8# DB)

Cardio + Sculpt is 21 minutes; 2 minute warm up and 1 minute stretch. Another great workout. Probably not as intense as Rebekah’s other two Accelerate workouts but still an excellent add on. The cardio circuits seemed lower intensity than her other two, same with the blasts. Though the strength work was good, I didn’t like it as much as the strength work in her Sculpt workout. But it was still a great workout. I did a total body strength workout prior to this (Body Sculpt Blaster) and used this as an add on. Body Sculpt Blaster worked me hard and this really finished me off. I was pushing through this one–especially with the tall kneeling to standing exercise (#3 in first strength circuit).

Cardio: step w/ sweep/cross body kick, squat + reverse lunge, shallow/narrow lunge walks, V steps, V hop forward then hop back

Burst 1: jack forward and back

Strength:

  1. diagonal lunge w/ back row + plie squat w/ hammer curls, alternate sides (12# DBs)
  2. Push ups; add tricep kickbacks after each push up (10# DBs)
  3. From kneeling, step one foot forward and stand (not using hands) then return to kneeling; add bicep curl when standing and overhead press at top of move (10# DBs)

Burst 2: jump in stationary lunge, fingers reach for the floor then over head when jumping

Strength:

  1. In wide plie squat, scoop arms/DBs in front of you and pull DBs back (6# DBs)
  2. Deadlift w/ row; add upright row w/ side leg lift after each deadlift (12# DBs)
  3. Wide plie squats; add French press (overhead tricep extensions) (one 18# DB)

Burst 3: plie squat jumps w/ scoop arms

Cardio: alternating diagonal lunges; add lifting back leg and reaching clasped hands forward when lunging; hop w/ reaching overhead between each lunge; step squat side to side; add double hops between each squat

Burst 4: speed squat shuffle side to side, reaching to opposite foot

Core:

  1. Diagonal lunge to back/side; add knee raise while twisting straight arms toward knee
  2. Alternating knee raise while pulling elbows down to knee
  3. Repeat #1 on other side of body
  4. Repeat #2

TurboCharge is led by Alison Davis. I enjoyed all of these workouts. They were all solid workouts. I found them intense but not as intense as Rebekah’s Accelerate workouts. Just like all of the phases in this program, you can combine 2 or all 3 of the 20 minute workouts to get a more thorough and intense workout. Two of these workouts had the same warm up issue that Emily’s Ignite workouts had–awkward warm up moves that are sometimes hard to follow. But the workouts themselves had no exercises that were difficult to follow.

Cardio is 21:30 minutes; 2 minute warm up and 1 minute stretch. Equipment: one dumbbell. I used one 8 pound dumbbell. This was a great little cardio workout. I used it as an add on after doing Alison’s Ultimate Fat Burning Workout and between the two of them I burned over 500 calories. I feel like this one isn’t as intense as Rebekah’s Accelerate Cardio but it is still an intense little cardio workout. No complicated choreography; I was able to catch onto everything quickly and I really liked using the dumbbell to increase intensity.

Interval 1: rock step right then left; add a pivot and lunge; lunge changes to alternating jump lunges; step + kick; 3 knee repeaters; changes to knee, twist w/ a hop, knee. Burst: squat kick, alternate legs (small hop when squatting)

Interval 2: grab light DB and hold in both hands at chest level, alternating side lunges; add passing DB under knee w/ each lunge; scissor run + jack; single arm kettlebell swing (w/ DB); add stepping forward and back w/ each swing; step touch side to side; add one arm row (opposite hip to same side shoulder); slow lateral skaters + fast lateral skaters. Burst: fast lateral skaters

Interval 3: (still holding DB) single arm kettlebell swing (w/ DB)–other arm; add stepping forward and back w/ each swing; step touch side to side; add one arm row (opposite hip to same side shoulder)–other arm; slow lateral skaters + fast lateral skaters. Burst: place DB on floor in front of you, hop side to side on one leg (hop from one side of DB to the other–but behind DB), alternate legs w/ each burst

Interval 4: turn to side and march; gallop to side and reach w/ a lunge then gallop then back w/ knee pull; wide side taps, reaching hand to floor. Burst: wide side to side tap downs w/ a hop, touching floor w/ hand each time you tap foot to side

Core: Lay on hip, bottom leg extended, leaning on bottom elbow, other arm reaching overhead, bend top knee and bring knee to top elbow then extend leg out straight; changes to pulling both knees in to elbow; add a hip rotation to back after you pull knees in

Sculpt is 20:30 minutes; 2 minute warm up (push ups in warm up) and 1 minute stretch. Another excellent strength workout! I think my favorites in Firm Express are the Sculpt workouts. This workout does a great job hitting every muscle group and working them well in only 20 minutes. Since I find the Cardio+ Sculpt workout somewhat lacking (though still a great workout in the metabolic sense), combining Sculpt w/ Cardio + Sculpt is a great way to work the muscles more thoroughly and get even more cardio. I had a few minor issues with the warm up–getting confused with the moves because they are combo moves and move fast without lots of repetition but I did catch on and had zero problem following the remainder of the workout. The weights listed below are what I used. I also used a kettlebell for the final burst.

Burst 1: alternating jump lunges

Strength:

  1. Bent over one arm row, alternate arms; add step side to side with each row (one 20# DB)
  2. Pivot lunge (alternating diagonal lunges); add arms: bent arm side raise + bicep curl + bent arm side raise, all while holding lunge then another bicep curl in the middle before repeating on other leg; add pulses when holding the lunge (8# DBs)
  3. Alternating renegade row; hold plank and alternate bringing foot up beside/outside of hand on same side (20# DBs)

Burst 2: plank jacks

Strength:

  1. Double arm tricep kickbacks; add tapping one foot back w/ each kickback; hold leg back and do a double arm back row; add raising back leg (10# DBs)
  2. Place ends of both DBs on the floor and hold other end w/ hands, kick back leg out then tap floor (10# DBs)
  3. Push ups; raise one leg while continuing to do push ups
  4. Repeat #1 & 2 on other leg
  5. Repeat #3, raising other leg this time

Burst 3: Start in a deep lunge, one hand reaching for the floor, come forward and jump, raising knee then return to lunge

Strength:

  1. Step squats to same side holding one DB in one hand between legs; add pulling DB back to shoulder when standing (one 15# DB)
  2. Concentration curls while in squat (one 15# DB)
  3. Repeat 1 & 2 on other side of body
  4. Plie step squat side to side holding a DB in each hand between thighs; add front raises w/ each squat (8# DBs)

Burst 4: kettlebell swing using one DB (25# KB)

Core:

  1. Legs wide, toes turned out, hold one DB in both hands overhead, bring one elbow down toward side of hip, alternate sides; add a plie squat (one 15# DB)
  2. High to low planks

Cardio + Sculpt is 20:30 minutes; 2 minute warm up and 1:30 minute stretch. This was a great little cardio + strength workout. I would never count this as a complete strength workout but as a finisher it complements and finishes off whatever other strength workout you did before it. Plus you get the intense cardio blasts. On the topic of the cardio, not the most intense cardio I’ve done in this program so far but some of the blasts did get my heart rate up in my peak range (according to my FitBit). Just like in some of Emily’s warm ups, I found a few of the moves in this warm up awkward and since she is moving so fast (which does make sense–super short workout so the warm up will be quick and to the point), I had a hard time catching on to a few of the warm up moves. I didn’t have any problem with the rest of the workout. Alison and crew only had one set of dumbbells. I needed to change my dumbbells frequently so the weights listed below are what I used. This was also a minor issue. Make sure your dumbbells are set up close by if you want to change weights because Alison moves quickly between strength exercises.

Cardio: hamstring curls; add a step back after 2 hamstring curls; step knee, alternating sides; lateral skaters

Burst 1: lateral skaters, reaching hand to floor

Strength:

  1. Squat w/ side leg raise; add alternating shoulder press (10# DBs)
  2. Alternating side lunges; add front raise as you are lunging (6# DBs)
  3. Wide plie squats; add overhead tricep extensions (10# Des)
  4. Stand w/ legs wide and place a DB in front of each foot, pivot into lunge, pick up DB and do a one arm row, alternate sides; changes to 2 rows (15# DBs)

Burst 2: wide high knee runs

Strength:

  1. Hinge forward and do single arm row 3x (holding 2 DBs in one hand); add rear kicks when rowing (10# DBs)
  2. Bicep curl while standing on one leg; add single leg squat; add front kick after each squat (10# DBs)
  3. Curtsy lunge side to side; add bent arm side raise (6# DBs)
  4. Repeat #1 & 2 on other side of body

Burst 3: front back lunges, staying low the entire time and tapping floor w/ fingertips w/ each lunge

Cardio: shuffle side to side; a curtsy lunge after each shuffle to side; curtsy lunge changes to curtsy lunge, jump, curtsy lunge; V step; high knee tire runs; squat jump forward and back

Burst 4: high knee tire run forward and back

Strength/core: push ups then in straight arm plank, pull knee under body to opposite elbow

Overdrive is led by Kelsie Daniels. Since Kelsie is my second favorite Firm instructor I knew I would love her Express workouts and I was right! In returning to them, I find them my favorite workouts in the entire program. Every single workout in this program is effective and fun, but Kelsie’s (IMHO) are the best and most fun of them all (with Jennifer Ray’s Pump it Up! following close behind). And Kelsie is such a natural and so motivating!

Cardio is 21 minutes; 2 minute warm up and 1 minute stretch. Equipment: dumbbells. I used 4 pound dumbbells and wore weighted gloves. This is a kickboxing workout. I loved this workout! This is my favorite of all of the Express Cardio workouts. It is lots of fun, intense but not killer. None of the Bursts seemed like HIITs to me, but my heart rate did elevate into my peak heart rate zone (according to my FitBit), so maybe I was having so much fun it didn’t seem like such hard work. And as usual, Kelsie does a great job leading the workout. She is so warm and encouraging and, as always, looks fabulous.

Interval 1: jab-jab-cross; add knee pull + front kick; side kick + squat; squat hops; repeat everything on other side of body

Burst 1: hitch kicks (jump kicks)–do twice on each leg

Interval 2: side lunges; add knee lift + side kick; add one arm extension when side kicking; alternating reverse lunges; repeat everything on other side of body; when you run through everything again, the alternating reverse lunges change to alternating jump lunges (4# DBs)

Burst 2: side kick + tap down, punching to side when kicking and punching down when tapping down–do twice each leg (4# DBs)

Interval 3: shuffle to side + 3 cross punches; add side kick + front kick + side kick + front knee (4# DBs)

Burst 3: alternating front kicks, repeat 4x (4# DBs)

Interval 4: jab-cross-hook punch; add a squat; add back kick + front kick; jumping jacks; repeat everything on other side of body

Burst 4: front kick + back kick, do twice on each side of the body

Standing core: reach arms overhead and clasp fingers, lean arms and upper body to side while crunching hips up toward arms, alternate sides; changes to crunching forward while tilting hips in; changes to crunching to side, center, other side

Sculpt is 20 minutes; 2 minute warm up and 1 minute stretch. Another excellent workout from Kelsie. This is my favorite Sculpt workout in the collection. The Bursts in this workout are different (IMHO) than the Bursts in the rest of the program. First they are all low impact and second, all but the first Burst continues burning out whatever muscle you happened to be working in the strength circuit it follows. It was intense and I loved it. I had to change weights frequently to get the best possible workout, but Kelsie moves fast, so I had have my weights set up close by. The weights listed below are what I used.

Burst 1: lunge back, touching hand to floor then front kick–repeat twice each leg

Strength:

  1. Deadlifts (25# DBs)
  2. Bicep curls (15# DBs)
  3. Repeat 1 & 2; changes to 1 deadlift + 2 bicep curls: add raising one knee and balancing during bicep curls (15# DBs)
  4. Double arm back row; changes to alternating rows (20# DBs)

Burst 2: alternating tap backs with fast back rows (8# DBs)

Strength:

  1. Squat holding DBs at shoulders (15# DBs)
  2. Overhead press (15# DBs)
  3. Repeat 1 & 2; changes to 1 squat + 1 overhead press (15# DBs)
  4. Push ups; changes to walking push ups (plank walk to side, do one push up, plank walk back the other way, do one push up)
  5. Overhead tricep extension while kneeling on floor, one knee forward the other on the floor (3 tricep extensions then change which leg is forward, keep alternating every 3 reps) (one 20# DB)
  6. Lay on floor and do chest press (20# DB)
  7. Still laying on back, hold one DB in both hands overhead and raise and lower hips; leave hips down and do skull crushers; add a narrow chest press (one skull crusher + one narrow chest press) (one 20# DB)

Burst 3: lower into a squat and do fast alternating taps to side while also doing alternating tricep kickbacks but out to side of body (6# DBs)

Strength:

  1. Side lunge (15# DBs)
  2. Hammer curls; add back row (2 hammer curls + 2 back rows) (15# DBs)
  3. Repeat #1 on other leg
  4. Kneel then stand, not using hands (called Up Downs); add bent arm side raises (5# DBs)

Burst 4: alternating knee raises while doing fast overhead presses (5# DBs)

Core:

  1. Straight arm plank hold
  2. Lower to elbows then raise back to hands, tuck hips in 2x lowering knees almost to floor
  3. Elbow plank hold

Cardio + Sculpt is 20:30 minutes; 2 minute warm up and 1 minute stretch. This is a great and intense metabolic workout. Though there is strength work, I wouldn’t count this as a strength workout, though it is a great add on to any strength or cardio workout. All of the strength moves were complex combos that Kelsie built and by the end of the move, I could not use a heavy weight. I did use 12 pound dumbbells for the first strength circuit but by the end I was struggling during the lunge portion of the burpee. In the future I will use 10 pounds for the whole circuit since there is no time to swap out weights. But for that purpose (metabolic cardio), this is an excellent workout/add on. And you get tuck jumps!

Cardio: hamstring curls; jumping jacks; double skier shuffles; squat side to side; hamstring curl changes to lateral skaters; skiershuffles changes to jump lunges; squats turn to jump squats

Burst 1: step leap to side w/ knee raise–do twice on each leg

Strength: 

  1. Squats; add lowering DBs to floor and walking feet out to plank and back in and stand; changes to jumping feet out and back in; add a push up while in plank and an overhead press when you stand; add a reverse lunge when doing overhead press; ends with just overhead presses while standing (12# DBs, but will lower to 10# DBs in the future)

Burst 2: tuck jumps

Strength:

  1. 4 count curtsy lunge; add 2 back rows while lunging; add a tricep kickback after first row while also hinging forward and straightening front leg (single leg deadlift w/ a tricep kickback) (10# DBs)
  2. Tricep kickbacks (10# DBs)
  3. Wide squats; add hammer curls; hold isometrically in squat while continuing to hammer curl 3x (10# DBs)
  4. Repeat #1 on other leg

Burst 3: plyo jumps while in stationary lunge–do once each leg then it changes to plyo jumps while in stationary curtsy lunge–do twice each leg

Cardio: shuffle to side, rock back then step touch; add a side kick; side lunge + curtsy lunge; cardio lunge side to side

Burst 4: side lunge + curtsy (fast)–do twice each leg

Core:

  1. Sit on bottom, hands on floor behind you, lean torso back and extend legs straight but raised off floor and hold; bring knees in to chest then push them back out and hold; add raising arms to side while legs are holding
  2. Still sitting on bottom, knees bent and feet on the floor, raise arms straight overhead, do a sit up in this position (roll down and then back up, keeping arms extended overhead); add raising one leg at top of sit up and tapping opposite hand to insole; continue this move but faster

 Bonus workouts are led by Jennifer Ray. These are the only workouts the Firm has put out (that I am aware of) that are led by Jennifer Ray. She is an excellent instructor and I wish she had done more. Both of her 10 minute bonuses are thorough and intense little workouts that she leads at a brisk but controlled pace. Along with all of Kelsie’s Overdrive workouts, Jennifer’s Pump it Up! is my favorite workout in this entire program.

Pump it Up! is 10:30 minutes; 1 minute warm up and 1 minute stretch. You will use dumbbells for everything in this workout (including the Bursts) except the 3rd Burst, the warm up and the stretch. Jennifer and crew used the same set of dumbbells for everything. I swapped mine out because I needed something lighter for the Bursts. The dumbbells listed below are what I used. I remember this workout fondly from my Firm Express days. This is one of the most effective short 10 minute total body metabolic workouts I have ever encountered. Jennifer packs so much intensity into 10 minutes. I also used this workout more than any of the others in this program–primarily because of the length but I also loved it. When I used the Express workouts as doubles workouts (second workout of the day after work), I would tack this onto the end of whichever one I was doing to round out my workouts to 30 minutes. But this would work excellent to finish off anything. I can’t believe I had forgotten about this workout for so long. This workout is high intermediate–possibly even advanced if you use heavier weights.

  1. Squat w/ bicep curl to overhead press; add a side leg raise at top when doing overhead press, alternate legs (10# DBs)
  2. Burst: squat jumps w/ DBs at shoulders; step touch to recover; repeat burst and recovery; add overhead pump with each squat jump; same recovery; repeat squat jump w/ overhead pump and recovery (5# DBs)
  3. Alternating reverse lunges; add bicep curls (10# DBs)
  4. Burst: alternating jump lunges w/ DBs at shoulders; low alternating front kicks to recover; repeat burst and recovery; add alternating hammer curls to alternating jump lunges; same recovery; repeat jump lunges w/ hammer curls and recovery (5# DBs)
  5. Alternating renegade rows + 2 push ups (10# DBs)
  6. Burst: In plank, jump feet side-middle-side; recover on knees; repeat burst and recovery; add jumping feet together up near one hand, jump back to plank, alternate sides; same recovery; repeat jumping feet up near hands and recovery
  7. Alternating side lunges; add tricep kickbacks; changes to reaching one DB toward opposite foot when lunging while kicking back the other arm (8# DBs)
  8. Burst: lateral skaters; step touch to recover; repeat burst and recovery; add alternating reach w/ DBs; same recovery; repeat skaters w/ reaches and recovery (5# DBs)

Shortcut to Flat Abs is 10 minutes; no warm up and 1 minute stretch. You need one dumbbell. I used one 8 pound dumbbell. This was another excellent mini workout from Jennifer. She packs a lot into 10 minutes and hits every muscle in your core, including your lower back. And since I love weighted standing core work, I love the how this workout begins.

  1. Alternating knee lift w/ crunch (hold one DB in both hands in front of you at chest level); add overhead press; step squat to side and wood chop DB; rotating DB to other side after wood chop; add raising DB overhead when rotating to other side
  2. Windmills holding DB overhead w/ one hand
  3. Lay on back, knees bent and feet raised off floor, start w/ arms overhead, holding DB in both hands, do a basic crunch, reaching DB up over shins; add reverse crunch
  4. Clasp DB bar in both hands and hold it above you, arms straight, knees still bent and feet raised, rotate knees/legs side to side (windshield wiper); add single arm chest fly, alternating arms (passing DB from hand to hand)
  5. Place DB on hips and raise and lower hips (hip bridges); keep hips raised isometrically and march feet, raising feet to ceiling
  6. Extend legs straight and hold DB with straight arms over chest, do sit ups bringing chest to DB; changes to raising DB overhead when you sit up
  7. Remain sitting up w/ legs extended and row DB side to side
  8. Start in forearm plank and rotate side to side into side plank w/ arm raised to ceiling; hold in side plank and raise and lower hips; elbow plank hold
  9. Lay on belly w/ arms and legs extended into Vs (so your body is in X formation), raise and lower arms and legs
  10. Still on stomach, extend arms to sides, bend one leg and bring it over to other side of body, tapping toe to floor, rotating hips open to side, alternate sides (scorpion move)
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4 responses to “The Firm Express

  1. Pingback: The Firm: Total Body Time Crunch | 2 Lazy 4 the Gym·

  2. Pingback: The Firm: Calorie Killer | 2 Lazy 4 the Gym·

  3. Pingback: The Firm: Body Sculpt Blaster | 2 Lazy 4 the Gym·

  4. Pingback: The Firm: Ultimate Fat Burning Workout | 2 Lazy 4 the Gym·

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