Video Fitness

Super Sculpting

Jen Carmen, Dale Brabham, Nancy Tucker, Carissa Foster

I haven't been this excited about a workout since StrongHeart & StrongBody (Firm Cardio & Strength)! This is one awesome, well-balanced, challenging workout. I can't wait to do it again! There are new moves and variations w/lunges and dips as well as a neat pulse for the leg presses. YUM! I LOVE this one! Thank you, FIRM!

Instructor comments: They all do an excellent job. Jen has energy out the wazoo and Carissa just sparkles.


FIRM Super Sculpting is a pretty darn good tape--what Bust & Butt was supposed to be but never was. And for ten dollars cheaper, nonetheless. It's all weight work with two to four sets per exercise at around 10 reps per set, without any FIRM-style compound exercises (which I actually kind of like), and no Oof, Jr. ball in sight. The FIRM shows their usual creativity in coming up with new ways to do familiar exercises, which yields great results at times (curtsy-dips) and could cause injury at others (seated barbell rows).

The routine breaks down as follows:

    Led by Jennifer Carmen:
    • Warm-up*
    • Double seated lat rows, bicep curls, double seated lat rows with a twist, hammer curls
    • Push-ups on the tall box
    • Upright rows, clean & press, bicep curls (2 tri-sets)*
    • Double seated lat rows, french press, tricep dips*
    • Posterior delt flyes while leaning over tall box*
    • Push-ups on the tall box*
    Led by Nancy Tucker:
    • Squats with heels elevated on board, plie squats
    • Hip raises with leg extended over box, using dowel and ankle weights
    • Lunges, curtsy-dips, cross-lunges, & curtsy-dips*
    • Leg press on tall box (includes pulsing reps), overhead press, leg press*
    Led by Dale Brabham:
    • Upright rows, clean & press, front delt raises, side raises (2 giant sets)
    • Good mornings, seated underhand bent row (2 super-sets)*
    • Posterior delt flyes and rhomboid pinches while leaning over tall box*
    • Push-ups on tall box*
    • Tricep dips
    • One-arm lat rows
    • Bicep curls with suppination at bottom and diagonal curls
    • One-arm lat rows
    Led by Carissa Foster:
    • Dips
    • Squats, lunges (2 super-sets)
    • Squats, standing outer and inner thigh lifts with ankle weights & dowel (2 super-sets)*
    • Ab work
    • Stretch

    *Segments are included in Cardio Split I

    Despite the lack of floor work, the workout hits the inner thighs and glutes pretty well. The key is to keep low on the new leg press pulses. Some of the video participants exaggerate the lift off the floor which take the work out of the glutes and into the quads. The pulsing during the leg presses, lunges, and dips blasts the leg muscles by keeping them contracted.

    Safety Considerations (you knew they were coming): 1) With the lower reps, it is tempting to go super heavy on the weight. Although the speed is generally good for this, sometimes the exercise design + heavy weight + speed = too much torque on the joints, as in the case of twisting the dumbbells during bicep curls and double lat rows. 2) A couple of the exercises are pretty close to impossible. The push-ups on the tall box are really awkward on a Rubbermaid box, but it's easy enough to just do them on the floor. I'm not sure what the heck the FIRM was thinking with the bent-over barbell rows in a seated position, especially since the good mornings that they are paired with are done while standing. I just keep standing and go with the underhand grip, keeping Cathe Friedrich's form pointers in mind as I'm doing so. 3) The curtsy-dips work the leg muscles in a new and interesting way. One has to be careful, though, not to cross too far behind with the dipping leg and to keep the front knee and toe pointed in the same direction. Nancy Tucker does a wonderful job of showing good form here, but many of the background exercisers do not.

    All in all, I very much enjoy this tape. I like the FIRM's high production values: original music, pretty sets, and nice outfits. Fortunately, I think this all any of us really expect from the FIRM (that and results!), rather than a completely safe workout with educational form pointers (such as we get from the wonderful Ms. Cathe Friedrich). The warm-up is very good, the ab work is just all right but creative, and the stretch at the end is a joke.Super Sculpting is very challenging, comparable in intensity to Tough Tape. It could easily be divided into two full-body workouts that are not identical, but that complement each other.

    Should you buy this and Cardio Split I? The weight work in Cardio Split I is entirely from Super Sculpting, and only about half as much. Cardio Split I is about as close as the FIRM has come the past few years to producing a tape that has an even mix of aerobics and weight training, much like the Classics. If you honestly prefer an all-weights tape or prefer a 50/50 split, there would be no need to own both. I don't think there's any advantage to be gained with the separation of upper and lower body exercises in Cardio Split I. There simply aren't enough repetitions to warrant spliting the upper and lower body workouts into two separate days.

    Instructor comments:


    Gretchen did a great job of reviewing this tape, so I just wanted to add that I agree with her and recommend it highly. I didn't care for Bust and Butt, but I will definitely use this tape often. The Super Shapers set is a big hit with me.

    Instructor comments:

    maryann parker

    This is my new favorite strength video. I love it! Can't wait to do it again and again and again.

    Gretchen's review gave a fine breakdown of the video, but I just want to add that I think the exercises flow together extremely well.

    The warm up seemed a little short to me. But I had already done the step section of "2 the Max", so I didn't have to worry about it.

    From there, it is all strength work and it is fun! There are new variations on some of the old faithfuls. The curtsy-dips and cross lunges were very interesting and I'm still feeling where they work the muscles just a little bit differently. There is a new variation for leg presses, too.

    The ab work is short and, to be honest, I'm not sure how "safe" it is. There are a lot of lower ab twists, followed by upper ab crunches and rotations. I guess the rule of thumb should be, if it doesn't feel right to you, don't do it.

    Then there is a short stretch which is the only part I really didn't like. But, I hardly ever like a video's stretch and usually prefer to do my own.

    All things, considered, this is a GREAT workout!

    Instructor comments: As (almost)always, the FIRM instructors are superb.

    Laura (LCC)


    Firm Super Cardio & Super Sculpt Set

    This is SO MUCH BETTER than Bust & Butt/Core Cardio videos! In Super Cardio, there are still the dreaded plyo jumps, but not as many, and some (but not all) of the moves are similiar but the sequencing makes it much more enjoyable. The music kicks and they give the instructors 2-4 songs in a row instead of switching them out all of the time. Most importantly the editing of this set of vids is far superior. One of the reasons I no longer have the B&B/CC in rotation is because they gave us all these props to use but give us no time to strike the old ones and get the new ones. I hated having to "pause,rewind,play" in between every freaking song. Super Sculpt feels like the Firm Strength (or Strong Body) video without the cardio moves. The only thing I didn't care for is the "yoga style stretch"; it went way fast for yoga and the move from lying down with your legs spread to quickly sitting up made my lower back creak and I don't have back problems.

    The only other thing that bothered me was that in Super Cardio the instructors took the time to breakdown a simple step like the "tri-star" move before adding arms, etc. yet they didn't take the time to break down the more difficult moves like the step "shuffle X3, press, leg extension, mambo back step change, repeat! I'm not necessarily blaming the instructors because they don't design the workout. I'm just questioning the designer's logic. Definitely worth purchasing! My new faves!They will remain in my rotation.

    Instructor comments: The instructors were great as all the firm instructors usually are. I read in a review earlier that someone had a problem with an instructors breast enhancement and "what kind of message is that?" And that another one looked to "butch". Frankly, who cares? Sometimes we women are our own worst enemies. Did they do a good job or not? I thought they all did great, especially Jennifer Carmen! The Firm should do a video with her, Susan Harris and Tracie Long as the primary instructors.

    michele ward
    23 Dec 99

    Excellent production work. Jen Carmen Is Fabulous. Dale is Soothing ( while she kills you) and Carissa is magnificent. Cheers for the Firm in putting Nancy Tucker in another tape. I love her in Fatblaster.. But Most of all- NO TAMELA HASTIE!!!! THANK GOD.. No more "THIS IS FUN" Crap....

    Instructor comments: Got the Super Shapers for Xmas and Christened one today.. I just wasn't expecting to work that hard.. What a pleasnat, unexpected surprise. This Tape Is hard!!!! It blows away Bust and Butt and Is much harder that its "parts" derivative CS1....I love it .. Can't wait to do its companion tape tommorrow... Jodi's Modifications: I don't like Dale's seated barbell Lat work- Instead I do it "Carrissa style" from Bust and Butt.. as for the standing inner/outter thigh work, I take it to the floor and add weight, Susan Harris style- which is always the best style anyway :-) LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT


    I like this video, but I am not as impressed as I thought I would be. What I like about it is that each instructor is given enough time to teach several exercises, and the tape can be perceived as four sections, each with a different instructor teaching. The transitions between sections are smooth. The warm-up with Jennifer Carman is fun, fast-paced and upbeat. She does a nice variety of upper body exercises, but too few sets and reps in my opinion. Nancy Tucker's lower body section is very good for the most part; one of the new exercises is the partial leg press onto the box where you lift your weight up onto the box but come right back down---WOW! A killer! A sure butt shaper! Dale Brabham does some nice upper body work, especially the shoulder sequence, but some of the exercises are the same as Jennifer's section, and I would have preferred that each instructor's section had contained different exercises. Carissa Foster does some lower body work, including lunges and dips, and I felt that they weren't really necessary, since Nancy's lower body section was so thorough and tough. Also, Carissa's forward lunges bother me because that exercise is not safe for the knees. Speaking of unsafe, Nancy's curtsey dips were a new twist (pun intended) on the conventional dip, but I don't think that the risk to the knees is worth the questionable benefit to the outer thigh. The most unsafe exercise that I have seen in a while in a video was the FORWARD CROSS LUNGE with barbell, which places way too much torque and stress on the delicate knee joints. The Firm's attempt to be creative with the curtsey dips and forward cross lunges is going to result in a lot of knee injuries. Carissa's abdominal section was pretty good, but short. The twisting reverse curls and the rotating upper body crunches were effective variations. The stretching section at the end was virtually non-existent. After this workout, a stretch is definitely necessary, so you will have to do it on your own. I would have liked to see some additional exercises for chest; push-ups were the only chest exercises. Also, some of Dale's back exercises were ridiculous; the back row with a barbell done in a seated position with the legs out in front---this does not work the back at all; there is no resistance to gravity for the back muscles in that position; I just stood up and bent over for that one. The reverse shoulder flyes were OK, although I think that it is more effective in a bent over position seated or standing, rather than leaning your chest on the step. When she switched to the rhomboid pinches, it was not effective, because the weight was much too light. In summary, I think the workout on this tape is pretty good with some exercises that need variation to be safe and/or effective. The pace is quick and there is a nice variation of exercises. In my opinion, this tape is not such a vast improvement over other recent Firm tapes. It's just another good Firm tape.

    Instructor comments: All the instructors in this video are familiar faces, but there is much more personality showing from each one of them in this video than in past videos. My favorite is Carissa Foster; she looks beautiful and natural and the blue outfits are great. She seems relaxed and happy. Jennifer Carman is a little dynamo with a great camera presence. Dale seems more relaxed and happy than previous videos and I like her better in this one. Nancy Tucker does a great workout in this video, and seems nice and in great shape. All the instructors come across very upbeat.

    Abbe G

    At first, I thought the household jugs looked pretty silly. It also concerned me that in "Twenty-questions about fitness" they said to not be fooled by programs that used milk jugs instead of real dumbells. After thinking about it though, this is a good way to get people who can't afford all the weights started. As far as the workout goes, I almost fainted the first two times I used it by the last sets of squats. This tape is nice and tough the way I like it. There are biceps a-plenty and two sets of tricep dips! I was not disappointed. Just do the tape and try not to pass out!

    Instructor comments: Nancy could stop saying, "Ya ready?". They also put way too much make-up on Carissa. I've seen here in Charleston doing her job and she doesn't wear any!

    Lena Yester

    This is what Bust & Butt should have been. An intense muscle strengthening and shpaing working. The workout has already been broken down so I'll just add my comments because I hope if becomes a VF Favorite at least. Super Sculpting has the same cast with all lead instructors in the background so it really feels like one workout instead a compilation of several tapes, which the Blast Set obviously is. There's time for equipment changes so pausing that VCR isn't really necessary. In various takes, Nancy and Carissa are using water bottles and laundry detergent jugs as weight substitutes. Look carefully and you can also see a broom, and paperback books (substituting for 2X4s.) I know "20 questions about Fitness says don't be fooled by this. The Benson Sister's may have considered that it takes several props to do a Firm video. Complain if you want, but if you want workout results at home, use the FIRM. If anyone is trying to decide between buying the Blast Set (CC1, CC2, Bust & Butt) and Super Shapers, get Super Shapers for a better workout and save some money.

    Instructor comments: Nancy Tucker was a co-instructor in Tri-Trainers Fat Blaster. She has a really toned body and had a d=heavier Southern accent in Fat Blaster. She leads the curtsy dips and cros lunges, a Steel Magnolia with a softer accent this time. Watch her if you want to see good from. Carissa seems much more experienced in this series. She leads a set of squats with legwork using ankle weights. Dale is very athletic and much warmer in Super Shapers. (If and when Power Cardio comes out, I'll but it.) Last and definately not least, Jen Carman owns this workout. She's so high-energy and that broad smile doesn't look pasted on. She leads a large portion of the segments...she could lead the whole tape and you wouldn't be bored.

    Jean L. Wakefield

    The Firm:Super Sculpting

    Dale Branham, Carrissa Foster, Nancy Tucker & Jennifer Carmen

    This Video is EXTREMELY GOOD! Yes, me, not liking the Firm, until 2 weeks ago, think this is going to the Hall of Fame! (Yes, Suzanne M-it's true!) This is very good at working the muscles, all over the body. It's heavy weight/slow movement workout, that hits every muscle you have. There's 19 minutes of upper body and 19 minutes of lower body(according to the video cover). The exercises are done in a set and then, that set is repeated. Bicep curls, bent over rows, squats, glute squeezes. leg presses, shoulder presses, good mornings(which is a dangerous exercise for beginners), dips, lunges, upright rows...etc You use dumbbells, barbells, ankle weights and dowel rod. It's a very though workout and FUN! The Firm is also getting better with picking out music. It's instrumental versions of some current songs. Yes, if you want to work your muscles hard, this will do it!

    Instructor comments: You've heard it all before, of what I think about the "coolness" of Firm instructors. I wish the Benson sisters would give up that "sexy/breathy" image and let them be themselves. But, despite that, the instructors do a good job.


    I LOVE this video! This is everything Bust and Butt should have been, but isn't. I always feel really pumped after doing this especially my shoulders. I have a love/hate relationship with the leg press pulses, hate doing them; but feel them working. I do go about 10 lbs lighter for that then regular leg press though or use a shorter tall box (if that makes sense LOL). I found the ab section too short, but I liked the routine. The only complaint I have are these minimal stretch routines at the end, I really love to stretch and that's one of the main reasons I love the Classics and Crosstrainers--but I can always do it on my own or throw in a stretch tape.

    Instructor comments: I really enjoy Carissa's up beat attitude. Dale I feel is the best cuers though. I think Nancy has a great demeanor and Jen sparkles.

    Stephanie Bridges

    I like this workout very much. I like the format of switching back and forth from upper body to lower body. If I don't have much time I use the different segments accordingly. I also like that I can go very heavy with my weights.

    While I am not a fitness professional I believe that after working out injury free for 10 years or so it is safe to follow the Firm. Of course one always needs to take into account ones own abilities. I have always enjoyed the Firms method of assuming I am intelligent enough to find out about good form on my own. They are right I have! I appreciate that they don't waste my time with a lot of advice that I don't need to hear over and over again. In Super Sculpting the Firm does not let me down. They give me an intense, workout with many time tested exercises and a few new variations. I've been doing this tape once a week since I got it in December (and as always with the Firm- I've experienced no injuries) and I know I will continue to use it for many years. In my opinion it's a classic!

    Instructor comments:


    This video is fantastic! I can't wait to do it again. I think it's a little harder than Tough Tape, because there are more reps and more sets in general. There's also a better balance of upper and lower body work. I really feel it in my delts, triceps and pecs the next day. The only thing I dislike is the stretch at the end. It's too short and too fast; they could have left it out for all the good it does. The pushups on the tall box and the seated lat rows ARE goofy but easy enough to modify. While "Twenty Questions about Fitness" "does caution you against using plastic bottles as dumbell substitutes, the "Form Pointers" I received last year contained a retraction. Basically, it said the Firm had changed their stance on the subject due to "advances in plastic manufacturing technology" although they don't specify what exactly they mean by that. Anyway, their inclusion in the video leads to humorous continuity errors. In some shots you see Carissa or Nancy holding plastic jugs but the reflection in the mirror shows them using a barbell. This tape is definitely worth buying especially if you get it with its companion, Super Cardio (another excellent tape).

    Instructor comments: All of them do a credible job.

    Kerry Prendergast

    I've been searching for an all around weight workout without any aerobics and I finally found one with this tape! I agree with one reviewer that the ab workout wasn't long enough; however, overall this one was great! When I finished this workout, for the first time I felt energized! Excellent tape!!

    Paula K.

    After doing Cathe Freidrichís straightforward style strength training, I just donít have the patience for this type of workout. Itís up-and-down, get-this, get-that, on and on. You spend way too much time changing positions and/or equipment, and youíll probably have to pause the video often to do so. The good points are itís a total body strength workout in about 50 minutes, and thereís none of the Firm-style cardio, which I find totally boring. The instructors are Dale Brabham, Nancy Tucker, Carissa Foster (my favorite), and Jennifer Carmen. Iím almost certain this is a ďPartsĒ video compiled from other Firm tapes, although it doesnít say that on the cover. Iím pretty sure Iíve seen some of these segments in other workouts. I have no problem with ďPartsĒ tapes, but I know some people donít like that. Overall, itís a nice workout, but I wish they had sequenced it so that there wasnít so much changing around. Annie S.

    After doing Cathe Friedrichís straightforward style strength training, I just donít have the patience for this type of workout. Itís up-and-down, get-this, get-that, on and on. You spend way too much time changing positions and/or equipment, and youíll probably have to pause the video often to do so. The good points are itís a total body strength workout in about 50 minutes, and thereís none of the Firm-style cardio, which I find totally boring. The instructors are Dale Brabham, Nancy Tucker, Carissa Foster (my favorite), and Jennifer Carmen. Iím almost certain this is a ďPartsĒ video compiled from other Firm tapes, although it doesnít say that on the cover. Iím pretty sure Iíve seen some of these segments in other workouts. I have no problem with ďPartsĒ tapes, but I know some people donít like that. Overall, itís a nice workout, but I wish they had sequenced it so that there wasnít so much changing around.

    Annie S.

    Since others have outlined the details of this video, I would just like to add that I think this is one of the Firm's BEST videos - at least of the 15 or so I have tried so far. It is one of the toughest - on par with Tough Tape, in my opinion and a great total body strength training workout. It has a good pace, good motivating music and a nice variety of instructors. All in all, I highly recommend this tape!

    My only criticisms of the tape are that there are a little TOO many lunges, dips and squats. There were SO many of these throughout the video, I would have liked to have had a little more upper body work in place of some of the lunges and dips. Also, the ab section at the end is short and weak, with no exercises for the LOWER abs.

    But despite these criticisms, this video is TOP NOTCH and along with Maximum Body Shaping, is one of my very favorite FIRM videos!

    Patty V.

    Instructor comments: All the instructors were great in this video - upbeat and motivating with good form.

    Patty V.


    I traded this workout after only doing it once. The equipment changes are unbelievable. The workout uses every possible piece of equipement and you are constantly being asked to switch from one to another. The worst was when you had to put on your ankle weights and use the dowel for support while doing leg lifts over the fanny lifter. Enough already!

    Instructor comments: I really liked all of the instructors in Super Cardio. Here I was too buy changing equipment to notice much about them.


    Feb 5, 2004

    The fun factor in Super Sculpting is so high for me. It is a really tough sculpting workout that never fails to leave me sore the next dayÖbut I do enjoy it immensely.

    The music and the movement are both really fun and energizing (it's probably the best music ever for a firm workout). The workout is led by several instructors, including Dale Brabham, Carissa Foster, Nancy Tucker and Jennifer Carman.

    The breakdown is:

    Warm-up/Stretch: 4 min
    Weight training: 39 min
    Abdominals: 3 min
    Cool-down/stretch: 3 min

    Total: 49 min

    Alot of the equipment that they use ios optional, but I find that much of it does add to the fun factor. They use Dumbbells, Fanny lifter, Weighted ball, barbell (I prefer a body bar), dowel (my body bar doubles for this too)...

    This one is widely available so I recommend that if you are looking for a fun sculpting workout...track this one down.

    Cori (ziggy2306)

    February 25, 2004

    I got this DVD as part of the 4-pack you can get via QVC for about $24 (including shipping). This 4-pack includes Total Body Shaping Mix, Maximum Body Shaping, Lie down and workout, Super Sculpting.

    I have 3 of these (all but LDW - I sold that years ago) on VHS, but I don't have a VCR hooked to the TV of choice down in the basement/entertainment room, and I like DVD better, so I bought this.

    DEFINITELY WORTH $6 ($24/4).

    I like this workout alot, but it was a lot harder the last time I tried it (right after getting back into exercise, once my youngest was old enough to let me workout again).

    I'm not sure where it falls in my rotation - given that I have P90X, Cathe, Mindy - etc... but I like it, and I'll probably do it maybe 1-2x a month.

    Instructor comments: I love Dale, Nancy and Jen. They are my favorites Firm instructors.



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