Video Fitness

The FIRM: Bust & Butt

Tamela Hastie, Carissa Foster, Dale Brabham

Two Biceps UP!!!! This one is GREAT! I love it, and had the biggest endorphin high!!!! YUMMMMMY!!!! This is very high up in my FIRM favorites. I know I've only done it once, but I usually know right away if I'm gonna be happy. I'm ECSTATIC!

The ball is optional, and the tape suggests subbing a cantaloupe (Really!), dumbbell, sofa pillow, or a child's play ball. I think a soccer ball would be perfect. In this one, it's not really the weight of the ball that seems important. The biggest benefit of the ball in this workout seems to be squeezing it w/ the knees during bridgework.

The workout begins with using the ball in the warm up and doing the stretches using light dumbbells to intensify them. Tamela lead this part.

The first move is barbell lunges to the low box on one leg, w/ a lunge, stationary lunge, then push off (8 ct move). Then single lunges, same leg. Pushups using the low box are next with the same down, half way up, down, all the way up pattern. The lunges are repeated on the other leg, and another set of pushups on the short box.

Push ups using the tall box are next, w/ different variations (I think down, hold, up?) Then spinae erector work, followed by abs (great set).

Tall box hover squats, very similar to the sit-stand ones in the PS Legs tape follow. (YUM!) Next are another (yes!) set of push ups, which are done on the floor. Another set of spinae erector work and quadriceps stretches are next, then MORE push ups.

Barbell dips (with the same count as the lunges earlier) from the low box are next, followed by biceps barbell curls, dips on the other leg, then upright rows for the shoulders/traps. BARBELL ROWS follow (!), then hover squats and internal contractions, followed by another set of barbell rows! (Yippeee!)

Triceps work is next, using the tall box for triceps dips, then standing french presses, kick backs, and another set of french presses.

Lunges on the floor and plie' squats are next w/ the barbell. Following this is bridge work with feet on the tall box, and the ball squeezed between the knees (GREAT!). Abs using the ball (didn't really seem to do anything for me...We'll see about that part), then more bridgework and another set of abs are next. Plie's w/barbell shoulder presses, then plie's w/ upright rows, another set of barbell biceps curls, and another set of triceps french presses finish the segment.

Another set of barbell dips and more barbell biceps curls finish off the arms! Next are "bunny lunges" and a type of "curtsey" lunge (which I had some problems with, but know I'll get). You go to dips on the opposite leg, then hit the floor for some great table work. The stretch follows.

For someone who was verrrrrry hesitant to get the tapes, I'm thrilled to pieces. I can't wait to check out the cardio tapes later! Anna, Cathy, everyone~ This is WONDERFUL! Thank you!!!!

Love, Apryl = ) Yeeeehaaaawwww!!!! They did it!!!!

Instructor comments: The instructors are all super. They really did a great job, and the transitions between them are hardly noticed until one time when Dale comes with a seriously LOW voice! LOL! Dale, I think, is the new queen of abs, taking Nancy Tucker's place. OH MY!

Apryl
tonyap@bright.net
3/10/99

YES!!! The FIRM really gets you BUSTING BUTT in BUST & BUTT!!! This FAST PACED, weight workout is already my NEW FIRM FAVORITE!! I LOVE this video!!!

Tamela greets you with "Welcome to Firm Cardio" and starts the routine with a FUN ball warmup. I really enjoy using the ball!! A nice change from the usual warmup. (The ball is my new favorite toy!) Then Tamela continues the warmup with light weights.

As others have covered the workout movements, in their reviews, I will comment on my feelings on the workout overall.

The PACE of the routine is fast for a weighted workout! Because of this not only do you derive the weight training benefits but also secondary fat burning (YAY!!!)!! Yet the pace is not too quick that it is unsafe. Plus the FIRM included a lot of spinal erector work for balancing the work of the muscles.

Transitions are VERY smooth as in the other tapes in this series. The instructors are up for the task of whipping you into shape too! Same outfits (for the clothes horses out there)! Carissa really pushes herself during the workout.. You feel her breathing as hard as you are. (Well almost!). Dale is very composed with a hint of a smile. Very coool that one! And Tamela. I think Tamela studied the masters ie Jayne Poteet, Susan Harris, and so on to capture the little smiles, shrugs, glances etc she makes. And she did her homework well!!!

EXCELLENT, OVERALL INSTRUCTION!!!

The workout includes lots of new movements and variations on old ones. The barbell is high usage. Lots of pushups. My favorites are done from the tall box! YOW!!!!!

The bridgework is done with the OOOF Jr. between your knees. (Hold the canteloupe!). Obliques are worked holding the ball in the opposite hand. This not only adds resistance but a nice extra stretch..mmmmm!!! The ab work in this video is longer than in Core Cardio I. YES!!! What I liked most about the workout was that I was getting a GOOD TOUGH WEIGHT WORKOUT in a SHORT amount of time with some FAT BURNING thrown in for good measure!

Regarding the intensity of the workout. I found this workout to be at an above average intensity but not a killer. But thats probably because of my modifications. I am an intermediate exerciser. On certain Firm videos I will sometimes modify the exercise. For example I might do a second set of pushups from the knees. I may use lighter weights etc. I use these modifications on other Firm videos also and some of them are for me more intense than this workout. Thats probably because the exercise sets and overall length of this tape is shorter.

Overall I know this tape will be in my rotation schedule often!! Its SHORT enough to use with another tape. INTENSE enough to stand on its own. EFFECTIVE and FUN!! NOT ONE MINUTE OF BOREDOM EVER!!!!!! You are waaayyy to busy to get bored and boy are your MUSCLES ENGAGED!

BTW I know the Firm likes to use different leads for their videos. I think I have picked out the next FIRM video lead from the crowd (besides fitbabe of course!) The cute, gal with the bouncy black ponytail was great FUN to watch!! She's a natural for BUST & BUTT II!!! I'm READY to ORDER my copy NOW!!!!

Lee

Lee Mellott
rustymellott
3/99

The instructors and cast start off in a warm-up with the OOF ball, it's a good length and fun. You are moving around and then go into a 4 -limb segment which seemed like a continuation of the warm-up with some upper body with weights. A good stable warm-up.

Push-ups with a short step are next, full form with legs crossed or on the knees.

I was able to do them full-form, this was a great new variation, it was tough and I loved it. one of those moves that I can always try and improve my form on and get better and better at.

Lunge with barbell on step is next, another tried and true move with a new twist.

I was impressed by the great form demonstrated by instructor and cast. Lots of concentration is needed to perform this, and I always focus on an object in front of me to keep my balance and form. (an old skating trick on jumping)

Included in this set are more push-ups, same as the 1st (on step with legs crossed), lunges on the other leg, push-ups on the tall box next, spinae erector work, this also needs time and correct form. I am not that good at this, so I will be taking my time and probally pausing the tape to learn it correctly. For those of you that can do this ....bravo !!!! This is tough ! next in this segment comes abs.........I really liked this ab moves as they are no-nonsense moves and very effective.i especially liked the move in which you bring your lower body up, then lift the upper, then lift the upper again intensifying it.

the lateral twist ab move is also great, and I love that you are able to see how it works the muscle when they do a close -up on tamelas form. this is evident all thru the tape, the close -ups seem to be "closer " if you will......you can see the muscles working.

On this segment, they have a stretch, but I would of liked it to be longer.

The transitions are also very fast and while I have all my equipment right there, I needed to pause the tape to get ready for the next thing. I'm sure though that I will be able to keep up better when I'm more familar with the tape.

Hover squats and (more ) push-ups are the next segment. also, more spinae erector work with a variation from the previous. NEXT is barbell with dips bicep curls with barbell up-right rows with barbell

This is a wonderful segment, we will all be buff !!!!!!! and so far I am very pleased with the whole tape (this being while I'm actually doing it) the dips with the barbell are tough, I will be taking my time and paying attention to form to get to best results possible. Again the form from the cast is impeccable, keeping their elbows in when doing the curls.

I used the barbell with 15 lbs on it, plus the weight of the bar. next set is bent rows with the barbell, hover squats, and tricep dips. in the future I will probally have to pause here to add more weight on my barbell for the bent -row. Carissa does a great job, I noticed that on the tricep dip off the box that some of the cast are not using the best form. This was another great set, I love the tricep dips, but I'd like to see a longer stretch at the end.

Next is the french press, triceps kick-back which I went heavier than the cast using my 7lb weights, but I'm sure we all have our specific weights for the familar moves.

The music is this set was not so good, I'm very musical so it does make a difference to me, the more I like the music, it seems the better I do ?? but on a general level I'm sure it wont bother most people. next comes lunge and plie. This is done very fast, but extremely effective and tough ! The plies are long and they kill .....This is what we wanted and this is what were getting Tough tough tough !!!!!!!!! We do them with variation like a heel lift for intensity, also moving the thighs in while in plie postition.

Bridgework is next with the ball on the tall box. this set also has a short set of abs with the ball too. I love bridgework so, I wished it were longer, but I can always rewind !!!!!!! next: barball plie with overhead press, up-right row, french press with toe taps and a short stretch.

This set will get you good !!!!!! Dale leads this segment and has "mahvalous" form.

Next set is dips with the barbell, these have pulses and kicks to intensify. biceps and bunny lunges which target the outer thigh. I love this move !!!!!!!!!

This is another set that I will probally want to rewind and do twice !!!! ahh the beauty of modification...........

Then comes tablework, a personal fav of mine, again use your rewind, here if not anywhere else !!!!! Do the whole set on one leg, then rewind and do on the other, you will see amazing results. Watch not only the instructor(dale) but sue mi powell and our beloved Lisa for their great form !!!!! Again, you can see which muscles are being worked and how effective these moves are. We end with a tall box stretch with the soundtrack from bonanza ????? I felt like little joe was going to round the corner on his horse at any minute !!!!

A few last thoughts......I really love this tape, it's tough and will be a weekly tape for me. The instructors are all great, I don't care about voices or changing in between segments, that never bothered me in previous tapes. I'm sure you will be pleased with them, the cast are very "real" as you andI could of been there too. normal healthy bodies, and of course there's lisa (fitbabe) looking damn good and Sue Mi powell whose form is top notch and someone to learn from.

The only thing I can fault is some of the music. I mentioned earlier that while it might not bother the majority, I'm very muscial and while the music used does not interfere with any of the segments or "annoy" the ear, I found some of it bland.

Of course for me the bottom line is the work-out itself and this is one great tape.

eve
EVERH@aol.com
03/15/99

Just after finishing the tape, let me tell you my exercise top was soaked. I was much more impressed by Bust & Butt than I was with Maximum Body Sculpting. Plenty of biceps work and FOUR sets of push-ups! Yowza. I thought it was interesting that they didn't do any tall box leg presses, but my legs worked just the same. I'm still not thrilled with the abs sections. I don't get that nice burn in my stomach that I get from earlier Firm tapes. Oh, well. That's what 5-Day Abs is for I guess. I love the tape just the same. LOVE IT!

Instructor comments: Same as my Core Cardio 2 review of them. They're all likeable and clear, although Tamela seems just a weeee bit too happy sometimes.

Lena Yester
forq@mindspring.com
4/1/99

This workout is great! In my opinion, nobody does weights like the Firm! I am very pleased with this workout and will use it a lot!

Pushups galore! Biceps plus! This workout is really great for the upper body, yet does not neglect the lower body. Although there are no tall box leg presses, the innovative method of using the short box to work the lower body worked for me!

Production is heavenly! Nobody can touch the Firm's production, sound, and weight training sequences. Nobody!

Also, I love the return of the plastic covers and the free gifts were the icing on the cake of this video series!

Way to go, Anna!

Instructor comments: Please, Anna, bring Susan Harris back!

Amy Steppe
asteppe@yahoo.com
4/2/99

It took me a couple times through this new workout to 'feel' what weights I need to use. The pace moves really fast in this one too and after doing it a couple of times I learned the sequence and knew what to expect. I really love this workout because I feel it is more "fat-burning" to do strength training quickly like this workout.

But I'll warn you the first time or two doing the workout will be a little frustrating trying to keep up (this is the case with all the new Firm Blast workouts). But I am that way to a certain extent with all new workouts. I think this fast paced weight workout will complement slower paced heavier weight workouts nicely (by alternating schedules)just because there is a different focus and will suprise the body and the muscles.

This workout seemed similar to Tough Tape (except the pace is faster)in that they used the same weighted barbell for both upper and lower body..that's where I sometimes have had problems because what is challenging for my upper body doesn't challenge my lower body. But then I decided I needed to challenge my upper body more so I use the heavy barbell for as many reps as I can handle and then pyramid down to a lighter barbell or dumbbells. So I end up using 2 seperate barbells for this workout (loading one up heavy for lower body and one lighter for upper body). It would also work to use one heavy barbell for lower body and dumbbells for upper body. I think it is more effective and fatigues my muscles more to do it this way.

They also did fewer reps than some of their other workouts (8-16 rep range for the most part) so I'm able to use heavier weights. At first I didn't think I cared for how they do some floorwork in the middle of tough standing strength work because I've always felt this cuts into my "fat burning" potential :)! But after doing it a few times I think it is beneficial to have those little breaks on the floor so that I can lift heavier especially in those sets later in the workout.

They had some really different bunny lunges on this tape....I like them a lot to work some different parts of the thigh muscle (inner and outer thigh). But I had to practice my form on those some on my own. I really loved the sets of barbell military presses with plie squats and then upright rows with plie squats...killer! But I find myself using dumbbells for this rather than the barbell they use since with the barbell I was banging my thighs with the barbell each time I would do a plie squat! I wish they'd had at least a set of side laterals, but they seem to do a lot of side laterals in the cardio tapes especially Core Cardio 1, so maybe that's why it's recommended to crosstrain these 3 videos.

I also feel that they packed in a ton of great exercises in a short amount of time in this workout! It is a workout that I feel will hold my interest for a long time. The workout alternated between upper and lower body work with a lot of compound exercises. For shoulders and triceps they did 2-3 exercises one after the other to form a bi-set or tri-set to fatigue those muscles. I felt the order the exercises was very good in that they started with larger muscle groups first (legs, chest and back) and worked down to the smaller muscle groups (biceps, shoulders, triceps).

I also love how they use the short and tall boxes for most of the lower body strength work, it makes for a nice change of pace and a different focus on the muscle from doing lunges, dips, squats on the floor. The set and the instructors are the same as the other 2 Core Cardio videos and similar type music.

I will go through all of the exercises in the order they were done:

Pre Warm-up (Tamela) done with the ball doing overhead and front presses to warm up the upper body as she is doing lower body movements and light stretches to warm-up the lower body.

Warm-up with light dumbbells (Tamela) bicep, tricep, and overhead presses with marching in place, step touches and stretches with the legs.

Weight segments...

1. Lead by Carissa: Push-ups on the short box (various tempos and pulses), Barbell lunges on short box (first leg), 4 count lunges, single lunges., Push-ups on the short box (various tempos and pulses), Barbell lunges on short box (other leg), 4 count lunges, single lunges. 2. Lead by Dale: Push-ups using tall box (various tempos and pulses), Spinae erector work by lifting both head and legs. 3. Lead by Tamela: Abwork done with a combo of reverse crunches first then upper with twists to each side and combo crunches with upper, lower, and twists combined. Tall box hover squats (mixture of 3 count pulses, sit and stands) using barbell, Push-ups on floor (various tempos and pulses), Spinae erector work and quadricep stretch, Tall box hover squats (mixture of 3 count pulses, sit and stands) using barbell, Push-ups on floor (various tempos and pulses). 4. Lead by Carissa: Dips off of short box (first leg) using barbell, 4 count dips, single count dips, Barbell bicep curls (various tempos and pulses, very tough), Dips off of short box (other leg) using barbell, 4 count dips, single count dips, Barbell Upright rows (various tempos and pulses), Bent Over Barbell Rows in front of tall box immediately into Hover squats holding barbell on thighs, Bent Over Barbell Rows, Tricep Dips off Tall Box (various tempos and pulses). 5. Lead by Tamela: Double arm French Press, Tricep Kick backs, Double arm French Press, Lunges with barbell-fast strikes (first leg), Plie squats (regular and pulses to front and rear and heel lifts to each side), Lunges with barbell-fast strikes (other leg), Plie squats 6. Lead by Dale: Bridgework with heels on short box and OOOF ball between the knees...this is excellent! Oblique abwork to one side using ball at shoulder for light resistance, more bridgework same as before, Oblique abwork to other side using ball, Plie squats with barbell (I use dumbbells) with Overhead presses (alternates front and behind the neck position), Plie squats with barbell Upright Rows, Barbell Bicep curls, Tricep French Presses with toe touches. 7. Lead by Tamela: Barbell Dips (various tempos, first leg), Barbell Dips with kicks, first leg Bunny Lunges to outside and crossing over (to work inner and outer thighs), Barbell Dips (various tempos, other leg), Barbell Dips with kicks other leg), Table work on tall box (very similar to table work in Hare). 8. Final Stretch lead by Carissa: stretches done mostly seated on the tall box

I think its a very thorough workout and packs a lot of exercises in a short amount of time. I really love the workout!

Instructor comments: The instructors form and manner are very good. The only thing I wished they would have done is to cue which leg you are working during lower body work...I always seem to be working the wrong leg! My best advice is to turn the same way the instructor is turned and mirror their moves exactly (hope that makes sense) to be sure you're working both legs (and not the same leg twice...like I think I did on the first set of lunges :)!!

Cheryl Shakespeare
shakespeareca@sprintmail.com
4/2/99

I like this tape even better than I like Maximum Body Sculpting, and I like that one a lot, too! It is a very thorough total body workout in 45 minutes. It does a great job of working the upper and the lower body.

The only "weakness," so to speak, is the ab section. It is OK, but not great. I wish it were a little longer and more interesting. But then, I guess The Firm has to make it on the shorter side in order to fit the workout into 45 minutes.

I really liked the FAST pace of this workout; as other reviewers have mentioned, it keeps me in my THR, and it makes the time fly! You do have to have all of your equipment out and ready, since the workout does move so quickly between sets. I especially liked all of the bicep work, the tricep work (WOW!), and the pushup variations. I enjoyed using the short box for the lunges in dips. It was a great change of pace. I felt like using the step allowed me to really target my hamstrings and glutes.

Unlike some other reviewers, I used the same barbell for the lower and the upper body work. I used 25 lbs. (total weight), and I felt that I could really focus on range of motion and form for the lower body exercises. Some of the lunges and dips were a bit fast to use really heavy weight. I also really liked the plie squats and knee pulses (goodbye inner thigh jiggling). Hover squats--ouch (in a good way)! The bridgework with the ball squeezed between the knees was good but short (I used a 2 lb. dumbbell held sideways the wide way during this part and for all of the ball work and it worked just fine). I liked the tablework (thank you for bringing back the ankle weights!). The bunny lunges kind of confused me, but I'm sure after doing the tape more that won't be a problem. It was great of The Firm to include spinal erector work as well.

I did question the safety of one part of the workout, though. I have heard and read that when shoulder presses are being done, one should never lower the bar behind the neck, that the bar should always be lowered to the front (or it could cause/aggravate shoulder problems). I just brought the bar to the front each time. All in all, a great workout in a short time--this one packs about as much punch as possible in 45 minutes! Oh, and I think the music is great!

Instructor comments: The cueing on this video is similar to that of Firm Cardio, Firm Strength, Fat Blaster, and Better Body & Buns. It is adequate, with some form pointers but not that many. It isn't as thorough as Tracie Long's videos, but it's more thorough than the Classics. I like all three instructors--I think they all seem "real world." Carissa, especially, doesn't hide the fact that she is working hard! Tamela is very friendly and encouraging, and Dale is in GREAT shape!

Kristin Aziz
KAziz@prodigy.net
4/6/99

Usually I wait until I've done a video several times before reviewing, but I'm already quite inspired by this one, and not in a good way. My quadriceps are sore and my knees are really mad. Bust and Butt does very little for the glutes and is downright unsafe. The dips and lunges, hover squats and overhead presses, as presented, are just one bad idea after another. I can think this workout can be salvaged, though.

  • Lunges and Dips: After my knees started doing the snap, crackle, pop today I went to my bookshelf to see what the problem was. The lunges and dips using the 10" step in Bust & Butt have three serious problems: 1) the step height; 2) step-forward instead of in-place lunges with elevation; and 3) the use of the barbell. 1) & 2) In A Woman's Book of Strength Karen Andes emphasizes that one should use no more than 8" of elevation, and that the front-foot elevated form should be used with in-place lunges only. As other reviewers have noted, the pace is quite quick. This won't be a problem if each set of lunges is done in place, simply going up and down along with the pace of the video. Carissa doesn't alternate legs so this would be an easy modification. In-place lunges would not only be safer, but also more effective. Andes points out that there is "more buttocks involvement when the stance is longer, lunges are deeper and when the front foot is elevated." As done in Bust and Butt, the lunges are extremely short stance. Simply compare Carissa's stance to that of a normal lunge by Tracie Long in Maximum Body Sculpting or Tough Tape/Tortoise or the picture of Andes performing a front leg elevated lunge on p. 121 of A Woman's Book of Strength. 3) The barbell is an additional problem. You can see Carissa's torso jutting forward, nothing like the beautiful form executed by Tracie Long. The FIRM seems to be the last holdout for doing lunges with a barbell (at least Cardio and Strength show modifications). Barbell lunges don't seem to be as much of a problem for the knees and spine so in Tough Tape/Tortoise with the slower tempo. The dumbbells at the side form, however, is advocated by both Kiana Tom on her show and Robert Kennedy in Shape Training. I think even dumbbells on the shoulders would be a better idea than the barbell--it is much easier to balance. If you watch the FIRM cast during the dip section off the box, you can see that even they are wobbling all over the place.

    The lunges and dips on the floor are also problematic. The lunges are at a rapid pace--so rapid that you have to go shallow (not very effective) and jam into the knee--but not a problem if done in-place. For the dips, all that needs to be done is to substitute heavy dumbbells for the barbell, on the shoulder or at the sides. With the barbell, the torso is forced to lean too far forward.

  • Hover Squats: The hover squats were seriously uncomfortable even while I was doing them. I'm fairly tall (5'9) so I think I need the height of a chair, rather than just the tall step. These are extremely difficult to do with a barbell. There is a significant weight shift from the quadriceps to a balance between the quads and glutes and hamstrings when changing from a barbell to dumbbells at the side. Having all that weight on the neck is painful, anyway. Furthermore, the Bensons' book FIRM for Life demonstrates the hover squat with weights held at the side.

  • Overhead Presses: This whole section--plies with overhead presses and then plies with upright rows using the barbell--is just one big nightmare. Overhead presses are difficult enough to execute with good form, especially when going behind the head, much less while trying to do a decent plie squat at the same time. Like Cheryl, I was having trouble not banging my knees with barbell while doing the upright rows. The only way to avoid it was to lean forward and that threw the whole plie form out the window. All these problems could easily be solved simply by using dumbbells (similar to Maximum Body Sculpting).

I did some other modifications, which are more a matter of personal preference than an issue of safety. The warm-up worked very well using a 2# vinyl-coated dumbbell instead of the pricey Ooof (was that "Jr."?!?!?) ball. During the stretch with light weights, I brought the dumbbells down from the shoulders to the thigh during the hamstring stretch for better balance. I do not have a FIRM 'short box' so I use push-up bars ($6.99 at Target!) on top of my 8" Step Co. step. The tall-box push-ups seemed to work fine on the Rubbermaid toolbox. I do not think that the FIRM needs to be commended for including spinal erector work as it is really paltry. The bridgework is lacking also, so during the bridgework and oblique curl segment I get out my Flexaball and do 2-3 sets of hip raises with in-and-out rolls (I like to keep the video going even though I'm doing my own thing--keeps the rhythm of the workout consistent). The intensity of the Flexaball exercises also partially compensates for the short floorwork section. During the first two sets of french presses, I keep the tall box out and sit on it--easier on the spine than standing.

There actually were several things I enjoyed about the video. I really like the music and the overall production value was outstanding, as we all have come to expect from the FIRM. I very much enjoy the wide variety of push-up positions, especially since I've been working on my push-up capability. The biceps and triceps get an especially good workout. After the tricep dips, when Tamela says "three to five pounds for kickbacks," she means it. The triceps get very fatigued in a short amount of time. With the numerous modifications, I think I can come to really enjoy this video and get a good, safe workout from it. It is, however, 'buyer beware.' I bought the Blast Set for a very specific purpose: to add variety with Bust and Butt and for two good cardio with weight workouts (cannot stand the Classic aerobic mixes and Fat Blaster was a bust). These three videos alone, however, are not a "Complete Rotation System" as the FIRM claims. I think Bust and Butt needs to be complemented with other videos, such as Tortoise/Tough Tape to hit all of the muscles thoroughly.

Instructor comments: Tamela, Carissa, and Dale are do pretty darn well considering the flawed program they've been given to work with. Tamela swings the weights around a bit too much but she's just so darn likable, I'll let it go.

Gretchen Vaughn
vaughngr@aol.com
4/6/99

Overall, I like this tape a lot and probably will reach for it often for heavy weight work.

WHAT IS BAD:

1. There are no leg presses, and I don't think those lunges on to the short step do a darn thing for your butt. My butt wasn't the least bit sore the next day, nor was anything else. Now I just do leg presses instead of those. How can they not include leg presses on a butt tape?

2. The shoulder work is paltry. There are three sets of upright rows, which mostly hit the trapezius, and one measly set of military presses.

3. Five sets of pushups doesn't count as bust work to me. It would have been great if they had included a couple of sets of pec flyes.

4. A few of the moves seem a little dangerous, like doing overhead presses while doing plies, and then taking the barbell and doing upright rows with plies. The barbell was smacking my legs and it was tough to keep good form. I suggest dumbbells for this sequence.

5. There are only two sets of back work.

6. Some of the stuff they put in is really a waste, since they don't do enough of it. There are, I think, three total reps for the spinal erectors, and about 6 total reps of bunny lunges. Those didn't do a bit of good for me-- they go really fast, anyway. And they're a new move so I'd like to spend more time learning them and doing more of them.

WHAT IS GOOD:

1. The music!!

2. This is very thorough for a 43-minute workout-- more so than Tough Tape. And I think this is harder than Tough Tape. I really sweat with this one and so feel I also get a good aerobic benefit from it. They don't waste a single second here-- everything is compound moves. No one-armed stuff and often several muscles are worked at once. It's very time efficient. There's little time to fumble for equipment, but you get used to it, so keep everything right there with you

3. This one has ab work.

4. The plie work is killer. There is a lot of it, and it's varied. My legs were screaming for mercy.

5. Tricep work is very thorough and tough.

6. There are fewer reps in this tape, so you can go heavier.

7. I love FIRM tapes that use the barbell. This one uses the barbell nearly exclusively. Sometimes I substitute dumbbells because for some things it's hard to keep good balance with the barbell.

8. This has a little bit of everything-- even bridgework and tablework, and just enough of it to get my legs burning-- not enough to bore me to death.

Question is, is it worth the money? It's worth $19.95, for sure, but maybe not $29.95 or $34.95, whichever price they choose, unless you're a diehard FIRM fan. If you're starting out or don't care if you own every FIRM there is, there are safer and more thorough FIRMs out there for much cheaper. Consider that Tough Tape, which is very similar, is only $6.99 in stores like Target. Bust and Butt, too, is a Parts tape. It does come in a hard cover, though.

I like it and I'm glad I got the package deal, though. I enjoy the tape a lot, with a few modifications.

Instructor comments: I feel pretty neutral about all three of the instructors. They are no Tracie Long, but they aren't bad, either. Tamela's a little too enthusiastic for me-- seems fake, and her form is bad at times, but she is upbeat. Carissa is very no-nonsense. Dale is also very competent, and extremely muscular with a very deep voice. What's odd about her is you'd expect her to be no-nonsense and brusque, but instead she tries to be cheery and enthusiastic-- very scripted. It's like she and Carissa swapped personalities. I think I'd like Dale better if she DID act like a drill sargent.

Sara Whitney
fssmk2@uaf.edu
4-08-99

Others have done a very through of breaking down this work-out, so I will just tell you my over-all impressions. Please keep in mind that I am a mid-level advanced exerciser who loves Firm work-outs. I also do Cathe F, Kick-boxing, Gilad and Firm Combos for most of my Cardio Work. In the 3 months prior to getting my blast tapes I was doing mostly Standing Legs, PS-CST, PST-BBA, Tough Tape, Firm Upper Body, and Firm Strength for my strength work-outs.

On to the review! I think once again that if you like the Firm style you are going to like this tape! I have now done this work-out 3 times and each time my enjoyment level has gone up, up, up! It is my belief that no work-out tape is perfect and that each tape requires modifications to make it suitable to your work-out life-style. That's certainly the case here. While I find B&B to be a FUN, FUN fast-moving strength with a good cardio side benefit, I also had to modify some sections that I felt were possibly unsafe.

I don't like using weights for my warm-ups. So much risk for injury when you have just rolled out of bed and your muscles are stiff. So I left them out, which worked just fine. I also refuse to stretch with weights for the same reason. I prefered to do the lunges on the floor, not the short step, but more because I felt I had better control then because I was having any problem with my knees. I probably was more shallow in my lunges and dips with this tape then with my other strength tapes, but that was because of the faster pace. I still felt it in my glutes and thighs, so I was happy with the faster pace. I also felt that the over-head presses behind the neck was down-right dangerous, especially considering the quickness at which it was done. That move went right out the window- no way will I ever do it!

Other then that, I just throw myself into this workout and have a BLAST! I use a 25lb barbell for both the upper and lower body work, which worked great even though I usually use a much heavier weight for the lower body on other tapes. I used a set of 2.5 lb soft ankle weights rolled up together for the bridgework instead of the OOOF ball and I really felt it in my hamstrings. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the tri-ceps series! My tri-ceps were cooked by the end of that section! I was also surprised to find that I liked the push-ups. At first I thought, "oh no, FIVE(!) sets of push-ups", but they are spread out enough in the work-out that I can really give them my all. I loved/hated those hover squats. I wish that they had put in more shoulder work (ala Firm Cardio or VOL 2). And I missed my beloved Leg Presses (sob!). I don't think using the "ball" during the ab work (which was too short) added anything special and it felt awkward. The bunny lunges and "curtsy" lunges did nothing that I can tell- more like filler. I'm still trying to figure out if I should continue to do those or sub something else.

But when the work-out is done and I checked my HRM, I found that I had spent 22 minutes in my THRZ! That's pretty darn good for a strength work-out. I have been 'good' sore each morning after I did this tape.

I LOVE the music. No boredom here for me! I can tell that I will be able to listen to this soundtrack for years. The tape is wonderfully edited so that everything seems to flow seamlessly from one shot to another. The production value is beautiful as well!

All in all, I felt this was a winner. I still love SL, TT, and Stength more- but I love the fun factor in this tape as well. An A- only because of the questionable safety of some of these moves. Hopefully this will be done by advanced exercisors who know their bodies and can judge what is right for them.

(next time I do this video, I'm going to do the first 20 minutes of Firm Vol 5 through the leg presses, then do B&B from after the stretch on, then go back to VOL 5 for more abl work. That should be a great workout, plus I won't be suffering from leg press withdrawl!)

Instructor comments: I think all the instructors are beautiful women with wonderful toned bodies. I enjoyed them all very much in this video. No real cuing gaffes like in CC1 and CC2, but they will never beat out Tracy Long! But a good decent job by all three!

Clare
lzclare@ameritech.net
4/12/99

Bust and Butt is a solid total-body FIRM workout. It seems to move at a faster pace than recent FIRMS. For example, Tamela does a lunge segment that is paced about the same tempo as lunges in FIRM Volume 2. (much faster than the FIRM Crosstrainers). Also, I can't figure out why they decided to omit leg presses from the workout. I really missed them! This workout starts off with a ton of pushups. Many of them are done with your hands on the FIRM box. I found this modification to be very uncomfortable, so I just did the pushups on the floor instead. The ab work in Bust and Butt is average. I ususally like to tack some extra abs on to the end of the workout.

The exercises in Bust and Butt were nicely varied. I really felt like the workout hit every major muscle group. The music has really grown on me since the first time I did the workout. It's a lot like the music in the Tri-Trainers and FIRM Basics. It's very creative as far as exercise music goes. (definitely NOT the boring old Club Dynamix loop!). I'm also really glad the FIRM decided to continue with the 45 minute format. I like the shorter length.

Overall I would consider this tape to be very adaptable for various levels of exercisers. A beginner might have a hard time with the intensity, but intermediate and advanced exercisers should be pleased with the workout. I would consider it to be about the same intensity level as Better Body & Buns or Maximum Body Sculpting. Overall, I give this tape a B+!

Instructor comments: I liked all three instructors just fine. Tamela Hastie was by far my favorite. She seems so friendly, natural, and down-to-earth. Carissa Foster was a very typical FIRM instructor -- very polished, straight forward and professional. Dale is the most muscular of the three instructors. She was O.K., but wasn't my favorite. Something about her demeanor made her seem very abrupt. Although, I do like her better now than I did when I first got the Blast tapes.

Christine L.
letskyce@jmu.edu
April 13, 1999

This is a FIRM parts tape. It has 3 instructors so it gives the tape a nice variety. You can tell each instructor will have there own full video later because each instructor in this video has a different color background room. Carissa's is green, Dale's is pink and Tamila's is more orange color.

First of all this tape is no Standing Legs with endless tall box reps. It is no Tough Tape either with endless tall box reps. It has no tall box work( BOO HOO!!). The sequencing exercises are different then the other Firm parts so it is a nice change. It starts off with lunges on the step then you go down to pushups. Kinda like Firm Cardio which starts off with squats/pushups combo and All Weights Squats/pushups combo. But this tape starts off with lunge/pushup combo. Superb music that is really upbeat!! Carissa is sweating buckets all over her tights. Oh, I forgot, the warmup was very ingenius. Not the ball I might add. I found the OOF ball to be too big to my liking. I also didn't really feel comfortable using it for the warmup. What I use is the Karen Voight Streamline Fitness Green balls( I use only one of them). This felt so much more natural in my hands and it has a rubber feel to it so it grasps better. It also works so much better for bridge work and ab work far better then the bigger OOF ball. I loved the use of weights during the warmup. I'm no fitness expert but I've always felt that the warmup stretches were boring. Using the weights gives the upper body something to do! The FIRM is so ingenius in inventing new exercise idea's. They introduced the 14 inch tall box/fanny lifter which I will forever be thankful for! Now my upperbody will have some light toning while I'm stretching my calf and so forth.

Anyway, back to the review of the workout. Even though there is no tall box work, I add it in during the dips/bicep curl sequence. I don't use a very heavy barbell since you go from doing lower body work to upper body work. Like you will do lunges then do pushups or dips and then bicep curls. The ab work is pretty good. Not anything too tough though. I found it odd that they didn't put it at the end of the workout though. But they also put in bridge work right in the middle of the workout as well instead of the end of the workout. The 4 reps of back work did nothing for me because I'm used to doing Pure Strength Back work but this isn't a compare Cathe to Firm review.

The makers of the FIRM video's are like me. They love to take a FIRM video and make it into a "combo" video or "parts" video. This is what they did with Bust and Butt. They took all Dale's, Tamela's and Carissa's weight work from there total body video's, and put them all on one video. Like Standing Legs was taken from Firm 1-6 video's.

This video only has 8 reps of kickbacks but does have 2 sets of 6 reps of Frenchpress. When Carissa does her tricep dips off the step, I do my tricep work like Firm Cardio with Heidi Tanner. For some reason, keeping my feet up on the tall box and hands on the 2x4 during dips is much more effective for the triceps. There is the BEST inner thigh plie work done by Tamela. I was very impressed with the inner thigh burn! There is alot of pushups which I do on the floor because it feels more comfortable. There is no chest press or chest flies. So the next day, you could do more weight work for your chest. I didn't feel any burn on the bridge work like I feel in Firm 5. And I didn't feel any failure during the ab work with the ball. After the ab work, you get up to do more plies with the barbell with overhead press. This does bring the heartrate up but I didn't feel any burn in the inner thigh like I did during Tamela's plie's section. I really started to get to failure on the last set of upright rows and bicep curls. I was so happy when Dale said to get a dumbell for more French press. This was really a great set. It was like ,"Is this EVER going to end?" But in a way that was pleasing to the muscle!

Tamela does some lunges which has some really neat music! But she does these strange Bunny Lunges which I didn't do because I felt nothing. So I do forward lunges. Or you could do squats. I might try that next time.

Dale finishes the workout with table work that is pretty challenging but not as tough as Heidi Tanner's butt killing table work in Firm Cardio.

This is a piddly comment but a thriller for me. I have lot's of stretched out skin after having 6 kids. Mind you, toned abs but still some extra skin. So when I saw Tamela's same stretched look during abs, I felt that I'm not the only one. You can have great abs like Tamela but still have a little bit of stretchy look. Everytime she did a crunch, the light reflected a little bit of non perfect abs. Yes! Firm instructors aren't perfect(he!he!). Not to say that Tamela's abs looked bad, they were very toned but she has had 2 boys so you could tell they have been stretched.

The ending stretch by Carissa was very short with no calf stretch so I added it. She does do very quick, blink of an eye stretches for the hamstring, quadraceps, tricep, shoulders , and seating hips stretches and sides of the waist stretch. She then reaches up to the air and rolls her eyes back into her head like a " I worship you FIRM" move which I thought was strange but then they showed a different angle of her reaching up and she looks so pretty with her long neck and legs.

Overall, I loved this video because it had new great music, 3 new wonderful and beautiful instructors. It has a new workout format to keep my workouts from hitting a plateau. But since you use the same weight both for the upper and lower body on the barbell, it didn't challenge my lower body as much as it does with a more exhausting heavier weight workout like Cathe's Pure STrength Legs or Standing Legs. But I felt it was a fun refreshing workout and I recommend getting it. I can always add Firm 5 tall box work or one section of Standing Legs to get in some great tall box work.

Instructor comments: Carissa is the greatest Firm instructor! I've been waiting for the Firm to come out with another great FIRM instructor after Jayne Poteet. Carissa is walking in Jayne's footsteps. Perfect posture, perfect body, great on-camera disposition. Friendly without being too silly. Carissa wears this really elegant exercise attire that really shows off the beauty of her back. Tamela's smile could brighten anyone's day. Very friendly instructor with long blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. She reminds me of LaReine Chabut. She say's "this is fun" alot. Dale has a very low voice and a very very muscular body. Her voice is sorta whispery and sexy. She really reminds me of Daryl Hannah. Not so much her bodytype but her face. Overall, I like Carissa the best!

Mandy Lee
GJamesLee@email.msn.com
4/13/99

I love this video!!! I'm so glad The Firm is making videos to target my worst feature! (Yes, my butt) This one is one of their best. There is no leg press, which surprised me, but lots of lunges and dips, and hover squats. And plies! Ouch! I really don't think three sets in a row were necessary, but I won't be complaining in a couple weeks when I start seeing results! I had to pyramid down for the set of lunges on the floor. The move is a little fast.

Of course there is excellent upper body work as well. Lots of biceps and triceps, and push-ups from both steps as well as the floor. The push-ups from the step boxes hurt my hands! I wonder if I'm doing something wrong?

My only complaint about this video (except for the 2-minute stretch at the end, which I complained about at length in my review of Core Cardio 1!) is that the moves change quickly, and the first few times I did this workout, I didn't have enough time to change weights and props, so I had to keep rewinding a little every time they went to do a new move! Now that I've done it several times and know what's coming next, it's not a problem. I just never noticed this with any other Firm. Overall this video is awesome. For the first time in a long time I felt afterburn from The Firm! It was a great feeling! I definitely recommend this.

Jane
Jane1721@yahoo.com
04/15/99

Other reviewers have described this video in detail, so I'll provide you with some of my first impressions. The upper body work was a very pleasant surprise. I expected to work my chest and butt as the title suggests, but my whole upper body was quivering after this one. I found that the lunges and dips onto the short box did not really work my legs as much as regular, on the floor lunges and dips. I received these videos well over a month ago but was working on another rotation. However, I can tell that I'll be using this one to strengthen my upper body as well as improve my bust and butt (hopefully)!

Instructor comments: The instructors were fine. Nothing they did really grated on my nerves, but then again many of the things that bother others don't affect me at all. Form pointers were scarce. Of all three, I found that Carissa was the most likeable.

Evelyn Lugo
Mickybill@aol.com
5/2/99

Firm Blast Series: CC1, CC2 , Bust & Butt

In my opinion, these tapes were ok. I only did them once, so I'm sure I didn't get the full benefit of each workout. The good thing about them is they are only 45 minutes in length. I felt refreshed and energized at the end of each workout and not wiped-out.

My least favorite of the 3 was Bust & Butt. It just moved too fast for me since I am used to using heavier weights. Some of the moves just didn't seem natural. I just didn't feel like I worked my muscles enough when I was done. There are quite a few pushups so my chest felt a bit sore the next day. There were also no tall box leg presses, so I was kind of disappointed.

The one thing that bothered me is that the Firm seems to use so many props in their videos. This time they came up with the ooph ball, which I felt was unnecessary. In Core Cardio 2 they do a stretch with a dowel - I think a towel would have been just as good.

I often look at all the props as another money-making gizmo for the Firm. I am not trying to bash them, I just think the ooph ball was kind of silly. The one other thing that I didn't like was doing the abs at the beginning of each tape - but that is a personal dislike for me.

Overall, these are decent tapes for a 45 minute workout. I was fortunate to have a fellow VFr lend them to me to try. If I were to buy them myself I would get the Core Cardios but not Bust & Butt. Although, none of the tapes grabbed me enough to spend close to $30 for one. These are parts tapes, so I will probably buy one of the tapes they were made from, when they come out. Those tapes may be easier to follow with just one instructor and the cardio sections will be good and intense.

Instructor comments: They were OK. The cuing was a bit hard to catch onto at first but I got used to it. Dale seemed to have the best cueing. The moves are not too difficult, so it is easy to catch on in the Core Cardio tapes. If you do these tapes a few times, I'm sure they are easier to follow.

Janet W.
Woodwind@freewwweb.com
04/19/99

I'd to preface my comments on these three tapes by saying that I have used the FIRM tapes for the past 10 years. I have tried others, and the only other series of tapes I enjoy are REebok (specifically, The Video, Power Step, Intense Moves, and Extreme Step). I've tried Kathy Smith, Karen Voight, Tae Bo, CIA, The Crunch, and Buns of Steel. Not one of these has motivated me to put them in the VCR more than, at the most, three more times. These just don't do it for me like the FIRM tapes and the Reebok videos I mentioned earlier. Generally speaking, I'm what you would call a FIRM Believer. Overall, I think the concept behind the FIRM tapes is unique--especially when they first came out. The quality of the workouts and the production are usually very high, making nearly all other tapes pale in comparison, even today. However, now that so many others have adopted a similar concept, and after producing so many tapes, I think the FIRM is starting to have a difficult time maintaining it's uniqueness. In trying to do so, they are creating more and more tapes, targeting us FIRM Believers, but some of these tapes are losing their quality. Sometimes it's the instructor, sometimes the workout. Sometimes I think that the FIRM has lost some of it's edge and is working to produce tapes as fast as they can without as much regard to the quality of the workout as they used to have and should have.

This tape starts out by saying "Welcome to Core Cardio 1," which threw me right away (thus my point about the FIRM trying to produce tapes too fast??). The routines in this tape also seemed a little outdated, cueing overall was not very good, and when I finished the tape, I felt cheated. BUT, the next day I was SO SORE, I couldn't believe it! So, I tried it again a few days later, and while this tape isn't one of the FIRM's best, it's worth doing. You have to almost memorize the routines to know when each one ends. I had similar feelings about the tape Better Body and Buns after the first time I did it, though not quite as intense (I also have problems with the perkiness of the instructors in that tape), but after giving it a chance, I found that the workout is actually quite good. So I'll do the same with Bust and Butt. We'll see.

A major problem I have with these tapes is that Tamela, in particular, seems to be using very poor form (more about this in the Comments about the instructor section). Had I not been using other FIRM tapes, like Tough Tape, All Weights, Tortoise, Hare, Strong Heart and Strong Body, for such a long time, I would really have had a time trying to understand how to position my shoulders or move in general.

I also really dislike the way they switch between the short and tall step in each tape.You probably burn more calories moving the steps back and forth so much!

Overall, I am disappointed that I spent almost $100 for these three tapes. Fortunately, though, I saw that the FIRM is coming out with some new compliation tapes...two of them...which will probably include the better parts of these three tapes, and these should (and better) be worth the money, because while I have been somewhat disappointed with some of the recent FIRM tapes, I still believe in the FIRM and think that these tapes deliver like no other workout I have ever done. I just wish they would pay a little more attention to details so that new tapes meet the high standards of most of the past tapes.

Instructor comments: Of the three new FIRM tapes, I did Bust and Butt first, then CC2,and finally yesterday CC1. I don't care for the multi-instructor format, but had Tamela Hastie been the only one, I would have wanted my money back! She is too much like a cheerleader and her form is terrible. Her shoulders are almost always raised, as if she is really tense and when she did kicks in CC1, her feet seemed to be flailing out of control. Actually, for each segment she leads, she seems to be trying to go too fast and her body can't keep up with the music. Her cueing is terrible...all of the sudden, her segment is over and you had no idea it was coming. She constantly says "This is fun" with an enormous teethy smile which I find very annoying. As I said above, she's seems like a high school cheerleader at a football game. I prefer instructors like Tracie Long, who is in other FIRM videos.

Carissa Foster is a little better, but her cueing is also not as good as it could be.

Dale Brabham is fantastic! She has an amazing physique...washboard stomach I would love to have. Her voice is a little deeper than most FIRM instructors, but she provides excellent cueing and clear instructions without being too perky or talkative. And, you know when she is going to end a segment. She makes these videos worthwhile!

Amie Coxon Ware
mware@loudoun.com
5/1/99



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