The Firm/Zip Trainer: Firm & Cardio

Firm & Cardio are the deluxe add on workouts available at the time the Zip Trainer program came out (see that review for more info on what a Zip Trainer is). This deluxe add on came with a 7 pound core ball but the core ball is no longer available, only the DVDs. Firm & Cardio includes 2 DVDs. One DVD has a 12 minute cardio workout and a 12 minute lower body workout, plus a warm up and cool down. The other DVD contains a 12 minute upper body workout and a different 12 minute cardio workout plus a different warm up and cool down. You have the option of playing each workout by itself (with the warm up and cool down automatically added) for 20 minute workouts or choose play all and play both workouts on the DVD back to back (with warm up and cool down automatically added) for a 30 minute workout.

The Lower Body workouts are led by Allie Del Rio and the Upper Body workouts are led by Emily Welsh. Just like in the other Zip Trainer workouts there are two other exercisers present. One doing beginner modifications and one doing more advanced versions of the exercises. Equipment needed: Zip Trainer plus 3 pound and 7 pound core balls and dumbbells. Even though you cannot get the 7 pound core ball with the DVD, as I mentioned in the Zip Trainer review, you can buy core balls of various weights that will fit inside the Zip Trainer’s hollow. I haven’t purchased heavier core balls for this purpose yet though I do already own 4 pound core balls that are the same size as the 3 pound core ball that came with the Zip Trainer. I used my 4 pound ball when loading the Zip Trainer. for the Lower Body workout. For the exercises that used the core ball only, I used the 8 pound sculpting ball that came with another Firm workout: Fat Burning Sculpting Ball Workout, and that worked very well. Unfortunately, that sculpting ball is too large to fit into the Zip Trainer’s hollow, so if I want to make my Zip Trainer heavier, I will have to purchase heavier sculpting balls.

These workouts all contain the “Short Burst Training” just like the workouts in the main Zip Trainer Program. Short Burst Training is 30 second HIITs. I will review these workouts using the “Play All” option but know that you can do the strength and cardio segments separately, and they both use the same warm up and cool down.

This review got derailed by my cancer treatment. I actually did the Lower Body DVD after chemo and at the beginning of radiation when I still felt functional. Then radiation hit me hard with some nasty side effects and even Firm workouts were too much for me for a few months. But I am back and getting strong again, so I am finally finishing this review by doing the Upper Body workouts.

Lower Body is 33 minutes; 1 minute intro, 3 minute warm up and 3 minute stretch. (If you just do the cardio it is 20 minutes; if you just do the lower body it is 21 minutes). I really enjoyed this workout. It was not as advanced as I expected. Since it was a “deluxe” add on using a heavier core ball I expected it to be more advanced and intense, but it wasn’t. I still really enjoyed it. This is definitely an intermediate level workout. One way to increase the intensity of the cardio would be to load the Zip Trainer with one of the core balls. I also really liked how they mixed things up in this Deluxe add on by isolating the lower body. In Lower Body Circuit 1 a heavier core ball is definitely needed (loaded inside of the Zip Trainer). My 4 pound core ball loaded inside the Zip Trainer only brought it up to 9 pounds total and that just isn’t heavy enough for single leg deadlifts (for me at least), so I will probably invest in a heavier sculpting ball. I like this workout enough that I will return to it. Allie is working very hard in this workout–I don’t think I have ever seen her sweat so much in any of her other workouts!

Equipment: Zip Trainer, core ball and dumbbells. I used 15 pound dumbbells for all of the weighted exercises. I loaded my Zip Trainer with my 4 pound core ball (wasn’t heavy enough, but that is the heaviest core ball I own that will fit inside of the Zip Trainer right now), and my 8 pound sculpting ball.


Circuit 1: Zip Trainer is unloaded but zipped up on the mat in front of you

  1. Toe taps to zip trainer
  2. Step touch
  3. Side lunge while picking up and putting down zip trainer with each lunge
  4. Step squat side to side, rolling ball from hand to hand
  5. Repeat 1 & 2
  6. Repeat #3 on other side of body, except this time you will raise ball overhead when you pick it up
  7. V steps w/ knee pull straddling the Zip Trainer; knee pull changes to 3 knee repeater; 3 knee repeater changes to one knee + 2 side kicks

Short Burst 1: Fast straddle steps w/ knee pulls and a hop

Circuit 2: Move your Zip Trainer to the side and grab 3 or 7 pound core ball

  1. Step squat to side while wood chopping core ball
  2. Stationary lunges w/ overhead tricep extensions
  3. Step side to side while raising ball from thighs to overhead
  4. Repeat 1 & 2 on other side of body
  5. Repeat 3
  6. Repeat 1-5
  7. Wide plie squats pulling core ball to hip each time you squat, alternate sides

Short Burst 2: 8 high knee runs + 4 jacks w/ hands on Zip Trainer

Circuit 3: Unzip Zip Trainer and lay horizontally in front of you dome sides up and grab 3 or 7 pound core ball; you are using the Zip Trainer domes like a step

  1. V step on and off domes while doing an upright row w/ core ball
  2. Step knees w/ bicep curls
  3. 3 knee repeaters; changes to knee + hesitations
  4. Step w/ glute lift while wrapping ball to hip, alternate sides
  5. Step on dome, do knee pull, step off dome and tap floor on outside of dome while doing bicep curls w/ ball

Short Burst 3: (Zip Trainer still open, domes up, but change so it is vertical) straddle open Zip Trainer and do fast hamstring curls

Lower Body Sculpt: This workout starts where Cardio ends, with the Zip Trainer open (domes up) on the mat in front of you, but Allie immediately has you load it with one of your core balls and zip it closed.

Circuit 1:

  1. Holding the loaded Zip Trainer at your chest, lunge forward and twist torso/Zip Trainer toward front leg, do a rear lunge with a glute lift then do 2 single leg deadlifts, alternate legs

Short Burst 1: high knee run holding arms extended straight out to side; you will raise arms overhead and lower them back to side on Allie’s cue

Circuit 2: Unzip Zip Trainer and remove core ball, open Zip Trainer domes side up horizontally in front of you. You will also need dumbbells. I used 15 pound dumbbells for this entire circuit.

  1. One leg squat (one leg on the floor, the toe of other foot on one dome), hold squat isometrically for 3 counts; changes to single count reps
  2. Stand beside one of the domes and do side lunge w/ foot landing on dome and hold isometrically for 3 counts
  3. Single leg deadlift w/ one toe on one of the domes
  4. Start standing w/ both feet on one dome, step off dome w/ one foot into plie squat and hold isometrically for 3 counts; changes to singles
  5. One foot on dome and the other on floor behind you, do calf lifts

Short Burst 2: (hold 3 or 7 pound core ball in both hands) Wide lateral puddle jumps while scooping ball in front of you

Circuit 3: Repeat Circuit 2 on other leg

Short Burst 3: Repeat Short Burst 2

Upper Body is 31:30 minutes; 1 minute intro, 3:30 minute warm up and 3:30 minute stretch. (If you just do the Cardio it is 20 minutes and if you just do the Upper Body it is 20 minutes.) I did not like this as much as I liked Lower Body. It is a solid workout but I felt some of the moves were awkward and, for me, very difficult because they relied on balance and that is always a challenge for me due to having plates and screws in both of my heels. I also felt the strength exercises moved too quickly, which forced me to use lighter dumbbells. I probably will not return to this workout.

Equipment: Zip Trainer, core ball and dumbbells. I used both the 3 pound core ball and my 8 pound sculpting ball; when loading the Zip Trainer I used my 3 pound core ball.

Cardio: The workout starts with the Zip Trainer zipped up and unloaded for the warm up.

Circuit 1: Unzip Zip Trainer and open, laying horizontally in front of you dome side up. Grab your 3 or 7 pound core ball. You will be using the open Zip Trainer like a step. I used my 8 pound sculpting ball.

  1. Step knee raise, step back; add raising ball overhead when raising knee; after knee raise, step over dome, landing in a lunge w/ back foot still on dome, reverse the motion to return to start (you are pushing ball overhead the entire time)
  2. On floor, do a step knee, step tap to side; add hops to your steps and bicep curls
  3. Repeat #1 on other leg
  4. Repeat #2
  5. Bear walk (straddle open zip trainer and take small steps forward while swinging the core ball like a kettlebell); steps change to jumps

Short Burst 1: 4 hopscotch skips + 8 high knee runs (you are holding core ball)

Circuit 2: Zip Trainer is still open but turn vertically. You use the 3 pound core ball.

  1. Step touch side to side w/ tap backs; add various arm movements w/ core ball
  2. Step hamstring curls forward straddling the domes while also pulling core ball hip to hip
  3. Step tap on top of the dome while figure 8ing the ball
  4. V step forward straddling the domes while raising ball overhead
  5. Wide alternating knee raises, pulling ball down to each knee when raising it
  6. Straddling the domes and angled to one side w/ core ball raised overhead, do knee pulls while pulling ball down to knee; add punching ball down to dome after knee pull
  7. Still straddling domes, holding ball in both hands, ball is pressed down on top of dome, alternate stepping feet back then in; changed to jumping feet in wide mountain climbers
  8. Repeat #7 on other side of body

Short Burst 2: Wide mountain climbers while straddling domes, holding ball in both hands, ball is pressed down on top of dome

Circuit 3: Load Zip Trainer w/ 3 or 7 pound core ball and zip closed.

  1. Holding the loaded Zip Trainer, shuffle side to side w/ a tap back
  2. Squat, lowering zip trainer when squatting and raising overhead when standing
  3. Place Zip Trainer on floor with hands on top and jump feet 4x then squat jump over Zip Trainer, run back around behind zip trainer and slap hands back on top of Zip Trainer
  4. With hands on ball, step one foot back into low lunge then back in and stand, raising arms overhead, alternate legs; changes to walking both feet out to plank then back in; changes to jumping feet out and in

Short Burst 3: 8 mountain climbers w/ hands on Zip Trainer then stand and jump

Upper Body Sculpt: At the end of the Cardio portion, Emily has you unzip your Zip Trainer and lay it dome side up horizontally in front of you while holding the 3 or 7 pound core ball and that is how this workout begins. The weights listed in the breakdown below are what I used.

Circuit 1:

  1. Standing with a foot on each dome, swing core ball in kettlebell fashion; add a knee raise every time you swing ball overhead; hold with knee raised (balance move) and push ball overhead, alternate sides (8# ball)
  2. Grab DBs and stand with one foot on each dome again, squat and do concentration curls w/ tricep against inner thigh (11# DBs)
  3. Stand and do hammer curls (11# DBs)
  4. Repeat 2 & 3
  5. Stand w/ right foot on right dome and left foot on floor behind you, double arm back row; row faster while tapping back foot to dome and back (15# DBs)
  6. Repeat 2-4 on other arm
  7. Repeat 5 w/ left foot on left dome and right foot on floor behind you

Short Burst 1: Zip Trainer is still open, dome sides up and horizontal in front of you. Place 3 or 7 pound core ball on floor right in front of zip trainer between domes. Place hands on domes and jump feet out to plank, jump feet back in, grab the core ball and do a one arm row, pass to other hand and do another one arm row. I used my 8# sculpting ball.

Circuit 2: Zip Trainer and core ball are in the same position as in Short Burst 1. Place one dumbbell in front of one dome (beside core ball).

  1. Kneel with one knee on each dome, hold core ball in one hand and do overhead tricep extension with ball (8# ball)
  2. Tricep push ups w/ core ball under one hand, other hand on floor, one knee on one dome and the other leg extended w/ toe on floor
  3. Get into a lunge over Zip Trainer, do a single arm tricep kickbacks, lowering back knee to dome every time you lower DB (one 10# DB)
  4. Repeat 1-3 on other side of body
  5. Lay on domes, head on one dome and back on the other, do narrow chest press + chest fly (18# DBs)

Short Burst #2: With hands on domes, do knee push up then child’s pose (fast); halfway through, raise onto your toes for the pushup and and do not lower knees to floor during child’s pose

Circuit 3: Load 3 or 7 pound ball into Zip Trainer and zip it closed

  1. Get into a straight arm plank with shins on ball; roll ball in underneath you, bringing knees into chest then roll back out
  2. Unzip Zip Trainer and remove core ball, lay open Zip Trainer on mat horizontally in front of you, dome side up, sit on mat and lean back so small of back is against dome, knees bent and feet on floor, place core ball between knees and squeeze isometrically (8# ball)
  3. Same position as #2 but holding core ball in both hands now, crunch up, pushing ball overhead and lowering to chest at bottom of crunch (8# ball)

Short Burst #3: You are doing the same move as Circuit 3 #3 but at bottom of crunch pull core ball back to hip, alternate sides (8# ball)

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