Video Fitness

Firm Upper Body Split

I was anxiously awaiting the arival of this tape and I'm happy to report that it was worth the wait. Even though I have previewed the tape once and have actually done the workout one time, I don't think advanced Firm Believers will be disappointed.

The workout is about 60 minutes of heavy upper body weight training with cardio and ab segments dispursed throughout the tape. This is a parts tape taken from the Crosstrainers, Blast, Tri-Trainers, and Prime Power Series. The production quality is great and all of the different segments flowed very well together.

All of the upper body muscles are totally worked on this tape. There are lots of lat rows, upright rows and military presses, bicep curls from The Tortoise, pec flyes, tons of push ups and tricep kickbacks. One problem I did have with this tape was that the tricep kickback was the only exercise to work this bodypart. French presses or dips from Firm Cardio would have been nice.

From what I remember, ab work was taken from Better Body and Buns, Core Cardio 1 (or maybe 2) and Fat Blaster. Cardio sections were taken from Fat Blaster, Firm Cardio, and Core Cardio 1 or 2. The cardio sections were not that long (The Firm says 10 minutes total) but I thought they added some variety, gave me a chance to shake out my muscles, and helped prevent bordom which I think the Firm is good at doing. The time flew by as I was doing this video. One problem that I did have with the Cardio sections is sometimes they would move too quickly from doing intense cardio to ab work on the floor.

As far as equipment goes, a tall box, the ooof ball, various dumbells and a barbell is used. Overall, I give this tape an A- or B+. I'm already planning a rotation schedule using this tape and Lower Body Split. I have not viewed Lower Body Spilit yet but if it is as good as its upper body counterpart, I don't think I'll be disappointed.

Tiffanee Saunders

This isn't nearly as good as the Lower-Body Split, but it's one I will keep at least for awhile. It consists of five "giant sets" covering your upper body, interspersed with abs and aerobics. I generally fast-forward through the aerobics, because I don't care for FIRM-style aerobics. Overall, this is an effective workout. However, I do think they overdid it on the lat rows. There are about a bzillion sets. Why, I don't know. It seems to me that most people would need improvement in other areas ahead of their lats -- do you ever go around saying, "Gee, my lats are looking a little flat"? I've noticed the over-abundance of lat work on a couple of their other tapes, too. I'd rather have them reduce the lat work some and spend the time on other areas. Grade B.

Annie S.

I have enjoyed using FIRM Upper Body, especially since I'm attempting my own version of the FIRM 90-Day Rotation (it makes a nice substitution for days when Upper Body is combined with a cardio tape). But after doing the video last night, I'm not quite sure it was worth the $29.99 that I paid for it. The workout breaks is pieced together from the Cross-Trainers, Tri-Trainers, and Blast Set (just from Core Cardio 1 & 2 and none of that horrid Bust & Butt) as follows:

  • Warm-up with oof ball (Carissa from the Blast series)
  • Pilates-type ab work (Better Body & Buns)
  • One set each side of quad kicks over the tall box and one-arm lat rows (Prime Power Fat Burning)
  • Four-limbed aerobics (Cardio)
  • Push-ups, seated double lat rows, and hover squats with pelvic floor (PPFB)
  • Push-ups (2 sets), pec flies, and pelvic contractions (Tortoise)
  • Abs (Tamela from the Blast series)
  • Floor aerobics (first section with Allie in Fat Blaster)
  • Upright rows with militaries and side & front delt raises (Maximum Body Sculpting)
  • One-arm lat rows (left side), tricep kickbacks, and bicep curls (Tortoise)
  • Push-ups, bicep concentration curls, and tricep kickbacks (PPFB)
  • Aerobics with oof ball (Carissa/Blast)
  • Rear delt flies (MBS)
  • Abs (BBB)
  • One-arm lat rows (right side), tricep kickbacks, and bicep curls (Tortoise)
  • Planks, push-ups, low back lifts (Fat Blaster)
  • Abs: crunches and stabilization exercises (Dale/Blast)
  • Side and front delt raises with plyometrics (Tamela/Blast)
  • One-arm lat rows (right side), upright rows, one-arm lat rows (left side) (Strength)
  • Sitting oblique ab work (MBS)
  • Stretch (Carissa/Blast)

All the segments are woven together fairly smoothly. I suppose the exercises are grouped together into "giant sets" but it doesn't seem very scientific. The sequencing seems to be aimed at providing variety, but also is a result of editing considerations (one segment ends with moving the tall box and flows into the next where they are in the process of moving the tall box). If you're looking to fatigue one area for a particular toning/muscle-building purpose, this video (like most FIRMs) is going to be frustrating for you. The purpose of this video is more for work-out variety with the FIRMs, a nice tape to complement or to alternate with Better Body & Buns, Standing Legs, Prime Power Lower Body Shaping, and other FIRM lower-body tapes.

Modifications: 1. I use a 2# dumbbell in lieu of the Oof, jr. ball. I think even with the "fun and motivating" ball I would find the ball aerobics annoying. I just don't like my hands together while jumping around. 2. There are soooo many push-ups. Remembering forever Kiana's exhortation that a variety of exercises is more important than many reps of one exercise, I throw in some tricep push-ups, tricep dips, or some dumbbell chest presses during a couple of the latter sets. 3. There are also soooo many sets of one-arm lat rows. Therefore, during the last sets (the Strength segment), I get out a lightly-loaded barbell and substitute one set of overhand bent-over rows and one set of underhand rows. It's easy to do here because I can keep the barbell out for the upright row set that's in between the two lat row sets (Pam uses a barbell for the upright rows). 4. The segment with Carissa doing all those jogs and high-steps goes straight into Traci leaning over the tall box to do rear delt flies. Putting the head at the same level as the heart always makes me dizzy and nauseous, so I just sit on the box and lean over my thighs. 5. I don't like to do ab work at the beginning or during a work-out. I think it's important not to fatigue the abs when you still need them to stabilize during weight work. I just fast-forward through the ab sections. The ab sections are nice, however, as they are the more creative sequences from the Tri-Trainers and the Blast Set.

All in all, this tape is a keeper. I'm mildly annoyed when I have to fast-forward through the ab sections and I could do without the ball aerobics. For concentrated upper body shaping, Cathe Friedrich's Pure Strength and Maximum Intensity Strength would be far better. But as part of a FIRM rotation, it's a nice tape.

Instructor comments:


This is a Firm Parts Compilation. Focusing on upper body strength moves and short cardio bursts, Upper Body Split falls a bit short of it target. Instead of getting a thorough upper body workout, you will find that one or two parts are overemphasized.

Row, Row, Row your boat. By the end of this tape you’ve almost lat rowed yourself across the Atlantic Ocean! If lat rows really excite you then this tape is for you. With five sets of lat rows included in the workout, there are more lat rows sections then there are other upper body moves. 5 sets of ab work is also included. Two sets of Jen Peulso’s abs along with Tracey’s seated oblique work from Max. Body Sculpting are included as well as others. There are two short aerobic sections, one with Allie from Fat Blaster and the ball aerobics from Max. Cardio with Carrissa.

Many of the other upper body get hit with only one or maybe two sets. This tape is billed as a tough heavy upper body workout. But to do this tape the way it was designed will really cheat you out of the results you could get with a better structured tape. The segments jump back and forth with no apparent reasoning. All of the ab work and the short cardio bursts are almost added as an afterthought or as filler. Though using this tape as a lighter upper body workout in conjunction with heavy days is probably the best way to incorporate this tape into your rotation.

There are segments from Firm Cardio, Maximum Cardio, Prime Power, Power Cardio, Fat Blaster, Better Body and Buns, The Tortoise, Maximum Body Scuplting, Strength, and Cardio Burn.

There are also 3 or 4 sets of pushups with one set of pec flys to work the chest. There are also lots of 4-limbed aerobics included as well. I think because many of the weight segments are 4-limbed really keeps this from being a “heavy” workout. Usually with 4-limbed you have to go a bit lighter than you would with stationary weight work.

You will do biceps curls and concentration type curls for the biceps. Upright rows with piles, and lateral raises for the shoulders. Tricep kickbacks are the only exercise that targets the triceps specifically. And don’t let me forget the lat rows for the back!

The saving grace for me in this tape is Stacey Millner-Collins. Most of the firm parts compilations that I have don’t included a lot of her footage from the Prime Powers. I was happy to see some “newer” less recycled footage. I would have to recommend that you pass on this tape, in favor of a better upper body tape.

Susie F.

This is a Firm parts tape, and it pieces together bits of many different tapes. So many pieces of so many different tapes are used that it feels like this tape goes on forever and there is no rhyme or reason as to the order of the pieces. Some exercises, such as bent-over lat rows appear over and over again, at different points in the tape, with different instructors. The same thing happens with push-ups; there's one section at the beginning, then a little later on, then again and then again shortly after that one. There are way too many lat rows and push-ups and not enough of other exercises such as military presses or reverse flyes for shoulders (just one set of each). There are a couple of exercises for biceps, several different repeats of triceps kickbacks with different instructors (but no other triceps exercises). There is only one short set of lying chest flyes.

The title is a bit misleading because this tape is not just for the upper body; there are some plie squats, some hover squats, and internal contractions, plus a few sections of aerobics using the ball as a prop, and some plyometrics. There is also a lot of ab work throughout the tape.

Even though this tape is all over the place and seems disjointed and long, I basically like it and use it every now and then. It's pretty tough, if you use heavy weights. I feel like I burn a lot of calories and work hard. I like all of the different instructors. I like seeing little bits of my favorite Firm tapes, such as Firm Cardio and Firm Strength, and Tracy Long's tapes and others. I especially like Carissa Foster. She is what I consider the ideal body, lean and toned, and graceful and feminine.

I would recommend this tape to any intermediate to advanced exerciser who likes the Firm style. It is not a good tape for a beginner because there is no instruction; they just tell you the name of the exercise and very few form pointers are given. I would rate this tape a B+.

Abbe G

I got this video because it came highly recommended and got good reviews. I may be in the minority but this video was a bore fest. I fought hard both times I did this video to not fall asleep. Maybe it's the fact that the music rarely changes or maybe it's the instructor. I don't know but I didn't like it and I am thinking of selling it. I have the first Firm upper body parts and it's wonderful! I got great results with it but I hate that there isn't that much bicep work. However I have solved that problem. I will add a bicep tape with it to make a total and complete upper body workout. I am surprised I don't like this tape but I really did get bored and gave up. Stick with the original Firm upper body parts and add your own biceps or a bicep tape and you will be good.

Instructor comments: She is nice but she seems to be a bit boring. There was nothing about her that stood out but she does cue great. :)


March 23, 2007

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