Editor's Note: Many of the early reviews of this video were submitted when there were few serious strength videos on the market. Unfortunately, this video does not hold up well in comparison to some of the newer strength videos on the market.
This is a pretty good total body workout tape.
The first section is devoted to the upper body:
shoulders, chest, back, biceps, and triceps, plus a set
of "bench crunches" for the abs. Section two
starts out with floor work; glute lifts alternating with
sets of ab work. The ab work is tough: it's not the usual
crunches that are typically done for the abs, and at
first it really did in my back because some of the
exercises involve lifting your entire upper body off the
floor. But it seems my back has strengthened as I've done
these, since my back now lasts for the duration. The
second part of section two is standing leg work: squats,
plie squats, side leg lifts, glute lifts, calf raises,
and lunges, some using dumbbells for resistance. The only
drawbacks for me are the lack of exercises for the
forearms and inner thighs; otherwise it's an excellent
tape. I do this tape regularly, and recommend it.
I was bored the first few times I did this tape...it's 60
minutes of back to basics weight-training. (you'll need
handweights that suit your level). It is, however, truly
amazing how quickly my boredom passed when I started to
see results after only a few sessions with this tape.
Most of the excercises are standard, (eg. bicep curls,
rowing, squats, lunges), but her abdominal work strays
from the typical crunches. She shows you how to use your
whole body to work the abs. My only complaint is her
stretching form...she looks like she's really bouncing
thoses muscles to release them.
This is going on my "heavy rotation" shelf
and I recommend it to all levels interested in building
Upper Body: 23 min
Lower Body: 22 min
Abs: 8 min
This tape is two distinct workouts, upper body and
lower body with abs. The upper body starts with
shoulders, than chest and lats, next is bicepts &
tricepts and finally tricepts and pecs. There are two
sets of each exercise. The Lower body portion starts with
floor work and abs, then its onto squats, lunges, calf
raises, standing side leg lifts, dead lifts, etc.
Rachel explains each move and shows modifications for
beginers and those with out a weight bench. I don't have
a bench, but a chair and step bench work fine. She uses 8
pound weights for the whole work out, but you can use
less. I use 5 - 12 lbs depending on the exercise.
The only complaints I have are that a few stretches
are included in this video, but I wish it included a full
body stretch at the end. Also, there is no warm up, but
it is mentioned that you need one before doing this tape.
I use another tape to warm up and stretch out on my own,
I just wish they had been included.
I do this video about 3-4 times a month and every time
I do it I am pleasantly sore the next day. I have owned
it for about 8 months (It was my intro to working with
weights) and used it regularly, until I discovered the
I really like this tape even though it is not perfect.
Some of the moves, I feel, are probably not safe for the
back like the one called side leg crunches where Rachel
lies on her side supporting herself on one elbow with the
other elbow behind her head. Then she lifts her
straightened legs towards the elbow behind her head which
involves both some torso twisting at the same time as
she's lifting the weight of her legs. In fairness, an
inset shows a safer modified version of the move.
Sometimes Rachel demos bad form like during the dumbbell
flies when her back is arched very high off the bench
even though an overvoice says keep your back against the
bench! Her back arches hugely again during the triceps
exercises on the bench. Rachel is young, has a beautiful
body and is in great shape but she should be more aware
of proper form. Admittedly the video abounds with tips on
form and it is helpful but when she models bad form, it's
confusing. In one segment she does squats and an
overvoice says make sure your knees stay over your shoes
but Rachel's knees are beyond her shoes. Someone who's
not familiar with proper form would probably do as she
does. At the beginning of the video, we are advised to
have 10 minutes of activity and stretching before doing
the video. Rachel says the video is concentrated exercise
and it is, which is probably why I like it. But her few
seconds of stretching that she intersperses throughout
the tape are rather abysmal. She says hold the stretches
for at least 10 seconds as she bounces the stretch for a
couple of seconds! After the hour tape there is a almost
a whole minute of badly performed stretches during the
"cool down" at the end.
Ok, now to why I
like this tape. Since giving up the Firm due to knee
problems exacerbated by the step box, I have missed
weightlifting and find it too boring to do on my own.
This tape, especially the first half, fills a crying need
I have for some weightlifting. I do like the fact that
it's fast paced. Rachel uses 8 lb. weights and I'm able
to alternate between 5-10lb. depending on the exercise.
She does show modifications to do without a weight bench.
I use my Step as a bench. There is such a wide variety of
exercises and some of them are unique enough, not
ordinary crunches and leg lifts, that I find I can keep
my interest up for the duration of the hour tape. One of
the routines is called jet sit ups with one leg bent and
the other leg straight and raise the whole upper body up
to meet the straight leg. Probably another move with
debateable safety but she does show a modification.
The first segment covers upper body and probably is my
favorite because of the weightlifting. It includes
standards like bicep curls, lateral raises, etc. but it
is rather fast paced in that it moves quickly from one
exercise to another and several alternating sets are
done. Rachel does demo each exercise and gives just
enough of a demo that you can perform the exercise
correctly. I do like the fast pace because some days I'm
using it to replace an aerobic workout along with a yoga
tape. The second half includes some unique variations of
pelvic lifts, e.g. pelvic lifts done with one leg raised
straight up, which I enjoy a lot. I also love the
standing side leg lifts and the buttock compressors.
I've done this tape 3 times now. I find Rachel
pleasant to exercise with. She enjoys the workout but
she's not perky or too vapid! She's very good at counting
the reps so even if you look away from the TV you can
keep up. I feel that this tape is a "let the
exerciser beware tape" i.e. you have to be familiar
with good form and do the modification if you feel a move
is threatening to your back. Some of the moves on the
second segment may not even be effective because they
appear to largely depend on momentum rather than the slow
repition. I'm still evaluating this tape to see if it's
bothering my back.
I bought the tape at Best Buy for $12.96. The tape is
just Rachel and you, one on one. The setting is pleasant
with a large areas of geometric color both on the floor
and in a large backdrop painting. The music is quiet jazz
type music. Rachel uses a wooden weight bench and 8lb.
I like it! I bought this because of the good comments
made on the forum about it, and you guys were right.
This is a strength-training workout with dumbbells.
You work every part of your body; upper, lower, and abs.
Many of the moves are unique, especially the ab work. And
the lats exercise is particularly good. I was actually
sore the next day after the first time, and my lats have
never been sore before. Another really neat move is the
I recommend this to anyone wanting to build some
muscle. All levels of exercisers can use it by simply
varying the poundage. This one gets an A.
Rachel gets down to the basics. She explains what each exercise does for each muscle group and how to properly perform the exercise. She is serious-minded without all of the "flightiness" of some videos.
This one hour workout is so-so for the lower body, but I really enjoy the upper body workout - one problem: she instructs a little too much, "and now we will do this, just like that" before she starts the real count of the exercise. I do this occasionally and use 8 lbs. like she does. The tricep work is especially good. As for the lower body, those bodybuilder moves are just too strange for me.
As an instructor, she's fine. I just didn't like the structure of the workout.
Instructor comments: I was quite disappointed with this tape. Rachel is a bodybuilding champion, and author of two pretty good books (Flex Appeal, and Perfect Parts), but this video is just haphazard. Why would she do four exercises for shoulders, and only one for chest and back, which are much bigger muscles? The arm section was fine, but the leg section was all over the place, and the ab exercises scare me. I wish she had stuck to the real bodybuilding methods like Cory's Get Hard Arms.
If you are looking for a standard strength training video. This is not it. This video consists of strength training moves for your entire body but Rachel uses a technique called "angle training." which, according to some bodybuilders, is suppose to define and cut more than increase mass. For example, Instead of doing regular old military presses to work the shoulders, Rachel has you lift the dumbells with both arms extended straight out up to shoulder height and then bring in the dumbells to your shoulders.
The first time I saw these angle training moves, I thought they were unsafe but if you listen to Rachel, she gives really good form pointers and shows you alternatives to many of the moves she does.
The upper body section is excellent, but I was not as impressed with the lower body section. Being a Firm junkie, I'm use to using ankle weights and tall box leg presses to work the legs. This tape does not use either one but you can use ankle weights for many of the exercises shown and I felt like a got a great lower body workout. Rachel also includes deadlifts in this video. If you do these, be warned that they are not your standard deadlifts. Rachel uses two dumbells for this exercise and instead of just lowering herself straight down, Rachel uses the dumbells to lower herself straight down and then "swings" the dumbells out at the bottom of the move. You really have to pay carefull attention to her instructions in this exercise but I find this style of deadlifts to be very effective.
This video is about 50-60 minutes long and is broken up into different sections according to bodypart so you don't have to do the whole tape in one day.
Overall, I think this is a great strength tape.
Instructor comments: Rachel gives excellent form pointers. She is a great teacher.
I've only done this tape once, but I thought it was a nice change from the Firm and Cathe (I haven't done a Cory Everson weight tape yet). Lots of different exercises than this Firmie is used to. I didn't feel completely and totally drained like after a Firm/Cathe tape, but I really liked the fact that she used the same weight for all the exercises - that was a nice change. I modified just about all the abs/back exercises to the easier versions shown (I have a back problem), but feel I might actually be able to work up to them without wrenching my back in the process ( I seem to have a problem with just about ALL of the Firm's ab work).
I also modified two of the lower body exercises (dead lifts and seesaw lunges) because of my back and will do tall box lifts and plie squats next time. There are enough things that I like about this tape to override its shortcomings (as mentioned in other reviews: no warmup, few stretches, demonstrates bad form a couple of times)
Instructor comments: Lots of form pointers (even though she quite obviously ignores a couple of them). The workout is well organized and the time goes quickly. She is encouraging and cheerful, sweats with you all the way.
In Shape is an older workout (circa 1994 or so) which basically gives you a total body weight workout in just under an hour. The look isn’t dated and music is sort of bland instrumental. Rachel does the whole workout alone. The set is relatively plain, done in solid colors (no fuchsia or anything extreme).
The workout is divided up as follows:
SHOULDERS: Side lateral raise, military (shoulder) press, rear delt lifts, upright rows. You do 2 sets consisting of 12 reps of each of these.
ABS, CHEST, BACK: Ab crunch sitting at the end of a bench, lean back slightly, bring legs up bending knees to meet chest. Pec flies lying on bench, lat raises. You do one set of 20 ab crunches and 2 sets of 12 reps of the other exercises.
ARMS: Tricep kickbacks, hammer curls turning wrist so it’s a regular bicep curl, wide bicep curls, lying tricep extension (arm goes laterally over chest), pullovers with one dumbbell. Rachel says she invented the tricep extension done that way.
Upper body ends here about 24 minutes into the workout.
ABDOMINALS, BUTTOCKS, LOWER BACK: Oblique crunches—sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Lean back on your hands, bend your knees and pull your legs towards your chest, twisting to alternate sides to work the obliques. Several pelvic lift variations. Ab crunch lying back on elbows with one leg straight out, the other with knee bent so it points straight up and foot is even with other knee. Bring the straight leg up to work the abs. Full sit-up with one leg bent (sort of a teaser variation). Oblique crunch lying on side with legs straight out, lift both legs (sort of like in Cathe’s workouts or Tamilee’s I Want Those Abs).
THIGHS (FRONT AND BACK), BUTTOCKS: One set of deadlifts, one set of plie squats.
CALVES, HIPS, THIGHS, WAIST: Standing outer thigh lifts, calf raises standing on one leg only, squats, one leg standing hamstring curl (Rachel has her leg in sort of an awkward position for this).
THIGHS, BUTTOCKS, LOWER BACK: Seesaw lunges—lunge on right leg, rise bringing left foot forward to meet right leg. Dip back with left leg, bringing right foot back so you’re standing in starting position again. Alternate sides. Back extension—lie on stomach, extend legs straight back and lift one leg at a time.
COOL-DOWN STRETCH: Lower body only.
This workout really does hit every muscle, and it moves slowly enough that you could go pretty heavy if you wanted to. Modifications are shown in little insets for most exercises. Rachel gives form pointers via voiceover, but the funny thing is, the voiceover goes over the regular instruction, rather than the regular instruction being muted or left out. During the upper body section, she stretches at the end of every segment, which is why the cool-down at the end is only for lower body.
Rachel’s form isn’t good on some of the exercises, though maybe at the time, it was considered proper form. Also, she does strange numbers of reps, like only doing one set of deadlifts, but two sets of most other exercises. I felt sort of unbalanced afterwards, but since I did feel this all over the next day, that may have been more mental than physical.
I think if you know proper form and want something relatively quick and simple, this might be a good workout for you. It is currently only available on VHS. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to beginners because of the problems with form, but it definitely isn’t the worst thing out there, despite its age.
Rachel seems to have quite an impressive educational background related to fitness. She explains the moves well and briefly demonstrates each one before you do it. She looks very fit, but not overly skinny like many instructors today. Her manner is very calm and encouraging. On the back of the cover, they show her doing various poses rather than the workout, but she isn’t at all “fluffy” in the workout. Rather, she seems calm and authoritative.