What a nice surprise! I really didn't expect much from this tape, but I am extremely happy with it. Happy enough to have also acquired another tape in the series (which is even better!), and now I'm looking for the third.
This tape is all lower body. She does 2 sets of 15 reps of each exercise. There are your standard squats and lunges, plus a few unusual exercises. My favorite is one she says is for your lower back (I think she calls it "good morning"), but I turn it into a deadlift, and work both lower back and hamstrings. Believe me, I really feel it the next day!
For each exercise, Cory does the "home" version using either dumbbells or a barbell, and two other exercisers use different types of gym equipment. So if you're fortunate to have gym equipment at home, you can make use of this tape with it.
I really like this workout. In about 40 minutes, you get a great lower body workout, without being bored or doing the same things over and over. And it's one you can definitely grow with -- all you have to do is use heavier weights.
There is no floor work in this tape. I wouldn't mind having an additional 10 minutes of floor work for inner and outer thighs to round things off. But that's my only criticism.
Instructor comments: Cory is not "corny" in this video like she is in some of her others. I actually kinda like her corniness, but I know it bugs others. In this tape, she's very down-to-earth. Also, she gives excellent instruction.
Excellent routine - lacks only a choreographed warm-up. Cory does 2 sets of 15 reps per exercise, with a rest and stretch between each set, while her friends demonstrate the "gym" versions. The "home" exercises are: squats, leg extensions (with ankleweights), rear lunges, standing leg curls (with ankleweights), sissy squats, step-ups, calf raises, good mornings, and crunches. Increasing resistance and/or number of sets makes this challenging for advanced as well.
Instructor comments: Pipsqueak voice, but not too irritating.
Don't get discouraged when you first look at the video and see Cory warming up on machines. When you start the first exercise, you will see her using a barbell and dumbells for us "at-home exercisers." It's a great 32 minute lower body workout. Here are the exercises (all are two sets of 15): squats, leg extensions with ankle weights, back lunges, standing leg curls with ankle weights, sissy squats (no weights needed), leg presses, standing work for the calves, hyper-extensions with barbell, ab work (forget it, only three sets of 25 crunches - no obliques or lower abs). What a bargain: $5.45 through 800.com. Cory gives short rests between sets so you heavyweights can load up on the weights. Great workout, great price. Thank you VFers for recommending 800.com.
Another terrific tape in the Body Sculpting Basics series. I hate working my legs, but this tape makes it a little less hideous for me. Part of the reason is that the tape isn't too hideously long. Part of it is that the squats and lunges (the two exercises that I hate the most, even though I know that they're two of the best for legs) come early in the workout, so that everything else seems downright pleasant.
The tape is primarily composed of solid legwork, with one back exercise and some ab work thrown in at the end. Except for the ab work (three sets of 25 crunches), you'll do two sets of fifteen reps for each exercise. Cory starts us right off with squats (ugh), then goes on to leg extensions, lunges (double ugh), and leg curls. She and her team do three different versions of each exercise, so you can pick the one you want, or the one that you can do at home or at the gym. The next exercise gives you the choice of a hack squat, sissy squat, or leg press, depending on your equipment. These are followed by step-ups, calf raises, and one back exercise, the good morning. Cory explains the inclusion of the good morning by pointing out that the lower back is often involved in leg work, so working the lower back at this time makes sense. As in the other tapes in the series, Cory has you stretch after each set, and I love the stretches after the good morning.
I'm really impressed with the results that I've gotten from this tape, but I think that a good deal of the reason for those results is that the tape is short enough that I actually do it when it comes up in my rotation. When I lifted without a video, I would often come up with a reason to skip my legs (I used one routine that had all the leg exercises at the end, and I would often just skip the legs with the excuse that I'd worked them well with step aerobics). Hips Thighs Calves is short enough that I finish it every time. Of course, I've never felt the slightest desire to pause the tape to add a third set!
Cory has worked out a rotation (included with the video) that has an advanced exerciser lifting five times per week. The fact that I'm lifting five days per week instead of three or four is certainly one reason that I've been getting good results. The videos in this series are all short enough that, even if you have to change plates on dumbbells or the notches on your Soloflex, you'll finish in 45 minutes. The strength training itself is about half an hour long.
Cory also recommends that you log your workouts, and a "workout card" appears on the screen between exercises.
The only negative about this tape is that, as others have pointed out, there's no warmup, but I usually use another video for that. Cory does have a warmup period at the beginning of the tape, and she uses that to give some weightlifting basics, but you really don't need to hear that more than once.
This tape is one of the most economical in terms of time and money (it's a comparative cheapie-I priced Joyce Vedral's tapes and Cathe Friedrich's tapes before choosing these). But it gives some of the greatest returns on your investment.
Instructor comments: I like Cory, and I certainly find the sight of her legs in this video to be quite inspiring. I think that what I like best is that she wants us to think lifting is fun as well as good for us. She is also a stickler for form.
Basic Sculpting System
This is a 3-tape set: Hips/Calves/Thighs, Abs/Back/Biceps and Chest/Shoulders/Triceps. Each tape is about 30 minutes long, and follow the same format: following a full ten minutes of advertising and prefatory comments (during which we are supposed to be warming up on our own), Cory and two other exercisers run through about 12 exercises for the body parts on question. Cory generally shows a "home" version, while the two others experiment with various machines which are sometimes, but not always visible depending on the camera angles. In between each exercise, a "workout card" appears on screen with completed exercises checked off. This was a fabulous feature: you always know what you've done and what's still to come.
The hips/calves/thighs tape is the least intense of the three. Each move gets two sets of 15 reps, performed at a slow, even pace. There's some equipment switching here that slows things down a bit: Cory will do an exercise with no ankle weights, then put them on for one, then take them off again, only to pick them up later. I found this a bit irritating. Once I have them on, I would rather do ALL exercises that involve them while they are handy. She also pulls out a step at one point, and I had to pause the tape to go find mine. It might have been helpful to warn us at the beginning that we would be needing one. I felt the slow pace was a bit of a detriment in this tape: it just did not feel THAT intense. I kept reminding myself that we had done two sets, so that had to be worth something, but overall, I felt this tape was a little slow for me.
The two upper body tapes were much better. The order of exercises seemed much less random here: each body part was clearly grouped, and got about 4 exercises each. The lifting pace was slow and controlled, and the two-set system allowed for pyramiding (although Cory did not explain that at any point). Biceps all got THREE sets instead if 2, which threw me off a little, but knowing this now, I can plan accordingly next time.
I loved the pop-up workout card, and the slow, careful pace, but I feel this tape has some production flaws which may irritate some people. As I already mentioned, the machine exercisers are not always visible, even during the first few reps. This is the only tape I have seen where there are actually machine exercisers following along, which makes it a potentially valuable series for gym exercisers---but since Cory never walks you through the use of these machines, you're relying on the visuals, and they are iffy. If you plan to use this tape at a gym with machines, be sure to preview it first so you'll know what you're doing.
The stretches on these tapes are also mediocre. Cory gets bonus points for stretching between exercises, but she loses points for doing the SAME stretch every single time. On the legs tape, it's all about the quadriceps stretch. The arm tapes get two or three variations on the chest/back stretch where you hold your arms in front of you. I find it hard to believe that Cory could not have found more than one stretch per body part---it was a little boring, and probably not that well-rounded.
The music is a generic techno beat with fades in and out at times. These are probably the sort of tapes that you could follow with your own music. Overall, these tapes show many workout options for most exercisers, and allow you to vary your workout while doing the tape, if you have gym equipment. Although the form pointers and exercise instructions seem a bit random and unscripted, the body is solidly worked with classic exercises in a straightforward, easy to follow pattern. If you enjoy three-day splits, these tapes are short enough that you could pair each one with a half-hour cardio workout and run through the whole sequence twice a week for a thorough and balanced routine that you can grow with. There's room for improvement here, but overall, these tapes are better than average