This DVD has two workouts, sculpting, Strong for Life, and stretch, Limber for Life.
STRONG FOR LIFE:
You can do two 30-minute workouts or combine them, which is what I prefer doing. This was shot on a set that Margaret jokingly refers to as “…my beautiful Mediterranean villa by the sea.” It’s a painted backdrop that looks like it came from Ricky Ricardo’s Copacabana. The music has a Spanish / salsa flavor with wonderful acoustic guitar. Often, Margaret can’t stand still and subtly moves to it while exercising.
Warmup consists of simple but fluid moves.
Chest: Many reps, as usual, of pec flies done at varying speeds and heights, i.e. full range, half way down, pulsing. Simple but effective.
Triceps: While still on the floor, you bring your arms back by your ears, not straight up as most instructors do for triceps, so your straightened arms are at a forty-five degree angle. You raise and lower your dumbbells full range, pulse and halfway. My triceps were fried and I was only using five pounds.
Biceps: palms up for all moves, done with arms in front and arms at sides, full range, pulsing and halfway for many reps.
Standing quads: Squats and pulses that seemed to go on forever. A simple move but it killed my quads because of the many reps. Margaret used a balance bar but I didn’t.
Down to the floor for hamstring and glute work. In her workouts, Margaret very often works one leg, then does bridge work to rest the lower back before doing the second leg. This makes things tougher because, after doing one hamstring (which also works that glute) you are pre-fatigued on that side for the bridge work. Then when you do the other leg, that one is pre-fatigued by the bridge work. It seems like a very effective way to work those muscles.
Cool down for this section, which I skipped because I was doing the entire workout.
Warmup – again, I skipped it because it wasn’t necessary if I was continuing on.
Back: Upright rows pulling elbows back to squeeze your upper back. Next set of reps -- hold dumbbells in front of you, palms facing and pull elbows back, squeezing your back muscles. Lastly, extend arms in front chest high, wrists crossed and raise and lower eight times.
Delts: Lots of variety here. Starts with a signature Margaret delt move – extend arms at shoulder height to the side, bend at the elbow, dumbbells up and facing forward, then bring forearms together in the front so elbows and wrists meet. A unique sweeping move, where your arms are extended straight out to the side, shoulder height, then you sweep one dumbbell across your body at that same height, toward the other arm, then do the same with the other arm. Extend dumbbells in front of you, palms facing, waist high then bring elbows back, arms rounded as if surrounding an invisible beach ball. Arms extended to side at shoulder height, pulsing palms up, then palms down. Her delt work is always tough.
Calves: Margaret’s standard calf raises with feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed outward for many reps, then repeat with feet parallel. You are not allowed to let your heels touch the floor. I held a pair of 5 lb. dumbbells because I want to increase my calf size. Margaret held onto a bar for balance.
Abs: Standard crunches, but you raise and lower your body in stages – middle, upper, middle lower, and Margaret forbids you putting your head and shoulders on the floor because you have to keep your muscles contracted throughout. At one point, she has you (your legs are bent with knees up) lift up the toes of one foot as you raise your upper body, then alternate with the other foot the next time you come up. I don’t know the purpose of this because I didn’t feel anything different than usual. Then she isolates lower abs by having you put the bottoms of your feet together with your knees open like a frog.
Outer thighs: Lying side leg lifts and pulses with thigh weights. Not easy but not as tough as some of her other DVDs.
Inner thighs: Lying on your back, with your hips resting on the back of your hands, lift your legs perpendicular to your body and move them in and out to the side. I kept the same weights on as for the outer thigh. This wasn’t very difficult and I much prefer her lying side inner thigh work on other DVDs, which is much tougher with leg weights.
LIMBER FOR LIFE
There are six five-minute stretch chapters. You can’t do just one because none of them works the entire body. However, the wonderful music (“Music of the Angels”) makes this a very relaxing stretch and I easily do the entire half-hour even though I am not a stretching fan. It’s shot on a deck of a Florida beach house and I love outdoor workouts.
The DVD comes with a looped stretch out strap. I found it a bit awkward, especially for lying quad stretches where you are on your stomach with the strap pulled up over your back and shoulder.
Margaret is the only instructor who can consistently get me to exercise for an hour or more. She makes a tough workout seem effortless, even while I'm breathing hard and my heart is pounding. My only complaint is that in the Limber for Life stretch chapters, she cues too late, which is a problem when you are lying on the floor and can't see what she is doing.