Video Fitness

Hard Core Abs and Back

Keli Roberts

This is my new favorite abs and back workout! I absolutely LOVE it and cannot say enough good things about it. It's close to perfect. The only criticism is that I wish it were longer! It is about 30 minutes long and uses the mini-BodyBar.

The workout consists of lying on your back, arching and then flattening the back and lifting the Bar overhead, then bending the knees with the feet flat on the floor, rolling up and then straightening the legs and reaching forward with the Bar, then rolling back down. There are variations of this exercise, with some twisting motions.

There is an exercise where you roll up to a V-sit, and lift each leg up one at a time and then down, and then you do variations with twists and straightening the leg. I really started to feel it (and my abs are very strong and it takes A LOT for me to feel any work in them).

There is some fantastic back work. Lying on your belly, you roll the bar forward and back under your forearms, coming up into a cobra pose---that felt great. You do some lifting of opposite arm and leg and some twisting motions. Then comes the real creative moves where you get onto your hands and knees and balance the Bar on your lower back. You are bent forward into about a 70% angle and you lift each arm up and back so that you are balancing with no hands, the Bar has to stay and you are bent forward! You really need some core strength for this one. I was surprised that I could do it and keep the Bar from rolling off. Then you keep the Bar on your lower back and lift the opposite arm and leg out and keep moving the leg in and out. Wow! That was challenging and fun.

There is a wonderful set of plank exercises where you come onto your elbows and then lift yourself up onto your hands, one at a time, and then down one elbow at a time, and then you lift each leg up and down. I loved this one. You move onto your side and up on your elbow with the Bar cradled under your opposite armpit, you lift up your mid-section toward the ceiling and then lower it down toward the floor, and then you vary it by keeping yourself lifted and twist your body toward the floor. This one was very challenging and got my heart rate up. It was also tough on the supporting shoulder. I decided to keep my lower knee down and dropped the Bar for the twists. Next you lie on your back and place the Bar under the knees for reverse curls and then you use the Bar under your head for crunches. Then comes a short stretch.

This is such a great workout! I am just so excited that there is finally a tape for the core that is really challenging but safe, and 30 minutes in length. The time just flew.

Keli is wonderful, as always. She is straight-to-the-point and doesn't smile too much until the end when she is sweating under her knees so the Bar keeps slipping.

This tape is NOT and I repeat NOT for a beginner. There is basically no instruction and no form pointers. You have to have a good base of knowledge about body alignment for this tape. It is for someone who is advanced and has done a variety of ab workouts and has some established core strength. It will be great to add to a cardio day or on an ab strength day. It's a MUST HAVE for all advanced exercisers, in my opinion.

Abbe G

This 30-minute tape uses the mini Body Bar (2 feet, 4 pounds) to work your abs, back and obliques. A lot of the moves are inspired by yoga and Pilates, but nothing too intricate. I found the ab section to be just so-so, as there was not a lot of intensity or variety of exercises. Also, a four-pound Body Bar might not seem like much weight, but when you are holding it out in front of you during the entire ab series, the shoulders get really fatigued. After a while, I hold the bar closer into my body, which really lessens the strain on my shoulders but, in my opinion, does not lessen the effectiveness of the ab routines.

The oblique work is short but very intense and quite excellent. The back work is also impressive with some creative variations of Cobra and plank work. I did make a few modifications in regard to equipment. In one move, in which you extend one arm and the opposite leg, Keli suggests putting the Body Bar on the lower back/hip to keep you "honest." I didn't want to have to worry about the Body Bar rolling off, so I put a five-pound leg weight on my back; it seemed to keep me "honest" enough in regard to my body position and maintaining tight abs. In another back movement, where you are on your knees and curling forward, four pounds didn't seem to do much for me, so I switched to my 18-pound Body Bar and that was much better.

I recognized a lot of the music from Cathe's CTX series, especially Leaner Legs. The set is what has been referred to as CIA's "Chinese Restaurant" look, which I found pleasant enough. Keli has two background exercisers assisting her.

Instructor comments: Keli Robrts is a very warm and cheerful instructor.


This is a great core workout. It includes pilates/yoga inspired stuff like the "v-sit", core work (planks), and a few traditional crunches near the end. Keli takes you through a choreographed little series of moves, adding on new parts little by little. She uses a small body bar; I've used a light bar, or sometimes no bar at all. It is useful to have it for the times you balance it on your low back--you could definitely substitute a short dowel (Home Depot). I loved the variety in this tape, and will use it often as I'm trying to focus on functional fitness a bit more.

Instructor comments: Keli is softspoken, motivating and just so nice in this video. She looks healthy and happy, instructs clearly, I just love her in this one.

Wendy Chapin


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