Video Fitness

Abs & Pushups Plus

Ilaria Montagnani

This is a 28 minute workout that -- surprise -- challenges you with pushups and ab work. Unlike some DVD's with specifics in the title, this one delivers exactly what it says and no more (I'm not sure what the "plus" refers to in the title). There is no equipment needed. This is downstairs-neighbors friendly. Just to let you know, this is not a push-pull workout, so you do not balance out the pushups with any kind of pull ups or band work.

Ilaria has four background exercisers, two men and two women. The two women in the back frequently modify by performing pushups on their knees. Ilaria's new set is nice, brightly lit, and uncluttered with hardwood flooring. There are windows facing buildings outside.

The short introduction reminds you to go to your knees whenever you need. Ilaria never does, by the way. I consider the difficulty level of the DVD to be getting up there because pushups are always so challenging. However, it is not as hard as P90X Chest & Back, both because it's shorter and because the ab work sections are not as difficult as the pushups.

Breakdown:
There's really no warm up. You start with pushups from the get go (the kind where you lower down your elbows and then back up to hands). Next, you do 10 regular pushups before the first ab section.

Ab section 1 = crunches at a moderate pace: some regular ones, 16 each side with one leg extended and raised slightly and finally 16 each side with one leg extended and raising with each crunch.

Pushups section 2 consists of 10 tricep pushups, hands in diamond shape. Then pushups with one leg raised, 10 each side.

Ab section 2 = crunches with feet in the air reaching to the ceiling. Some regular, then some bending the knee toward the center of the chest and then some angling the knees to each side. Next, repeat that series while holding the legs slightly closer to the floor for added weight.

Pushups section 3 = cobra pushups. These are the dreaded ones where start at something like downward dog and then scoop your body toward your hands. Ilaria does 10 regular cobras and 10 "reverse cobras." These are just awful, really hard. Finally, Ilaria does 10 spider pushups. I have heard many types of pushups called "spider" before, and this one is different yet, to me. It brings one knee up to the armpit with each rep, alternating knees.

Abs 3. Standard obliques. Just crunches toward each side alternating which foot is on the knee and later also raising the knee with each crunch. You've seen this before.

Pushups again. 10 pushups with the right arm reaching out to the side each time for wider pushups. For a more advanced move, you may bring your hand to the shoulder at the top of the pushup (that's where the cover photo came from). Then 10 with the left arm reaching out wider and then finally 10 alternating sides.

Ab work #4. Regular crunches first and then slow situps with arms reaching out to the center and then after that, to the sides. Ilaria suggests you have someone hold your feet down if you're having trouble.

Planks! It's the last part of the workout and, as Ilaria says, this section ties everything together. Ilaria has you get in a regular plank and then reach further and further with your hands.

Tricep, back and hamstring stretches to finish.

Instructor comments: Professional, inspirational. She's the best! I don't know how anybody can give so many form pointers and counts while doing pushups. I'm pretty sure she doesn't need to breathe, much less gasp & wheeze. Her form looked outstanding every time I glanced up at her. I just adore her. I hope she makes lots more fitness DVD's.

By the way, the angle of the front cover photo kind of gave her some serious Schwarzenegger arms (not that there's anything wrong with that). The pictures on the back show better how tiny and super-fit she is. She has an amazing physique.

Sarah-lara

02/07/09



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