Basic Sculpting System: Abs, Back, Biceps

Cory Everson
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Abs/Core , Upper Body Strength

This is a 3-tape set: Hips/Calves/Thighs, Abs/Back/Biceps and Chest/Shoulders/Triceps. Each tape is about 30 minutes long, and follow the same format: following a full ten minutes of advertising and prefatory comments (during which we are supposed to be warming up on our own), Cory and two other exercisers run through about 12 exercises for the body parts on question. Cory generally shows a "home" version, while the two others experiment with various machines which are sometimes, but not always visible depending on the camera angles. In between each exercise, a "workout card" appears on screen with completed exercises checked off. This was a fabulous feature: you always know what you've done and what's still to come.

The hips/calves/thighs tape is the least intense of the three. Each move gets two sets of 15 reps, performed at a slow, even pace. There's some equipment switching here that slows things down a bit: Cory will do an exercise with no ankle weights, then put them on for one, then take them off again, only to pick them up later. I found this a bit irritating. Once I have them on, I would rather do ALL exercises that involve them while they are handy. She also pulls out a step at one point, and I had to pause the tape to go find mine. It might have been helpful to warn us at the beginning that we would be needing one. I felt the slow pace was a bit of a detriment in this tape: it just did not feel THAT intense. I kept reminding myself that we had done two sets, so that had to be worth something, but overall, I felt this tape was a little slow for me.

The two upper body tapes were much better. The order of exercises seemed much less random here: each body part was clearly grouped, and got about 4 exercises each. The lifting pace was slow and controlled, and the two-set system allowed for pyramiding (although Cory did not explain that at any point). Biceps all got THREE sets instead if 2, which threw me off a little, but knowing this now, I can plan accordingly next time.

I loved the pop-up workout card, and the slow, careful pace, but I feel this tape has some production flaws which may irritate some people. As I already mentioned, the machine exercisers are not always visible, even during the first few reps. This is the only tape I have seen where there are actually machine exercisers following along, which makes it a potentially valuable series for gym exercisers---but since Cory never walks you through the use of these machines, you're relying on the visuals, and they are iffy. If you plan to use this tape at a gym with machines, be sure to preview it first so you'll know what you're doing.

The stretches on these tapes are also mediocre. Cory gets bonus points for stretching between exercises, but she loses points for doing the SAME stretch every single time. On the legs tape, it's all about the quadriceps stretch. The arm tapes get two or three variations on the chest/back stretch where you hold your arms in front of you. I find it hard to believe that Cory could not have found more than one stretch per body part---it was a little boring, and probably not that well-rounded.

The music is a generic techno beat with fades in and out at times. These are probably the sort of tapes that you could follow with your own music. Overall, these tapes show many workout options for most exercisers, and allow you to vary your workout while doing the tape, if you have gym equipment. Although the form pointers and exercise instructions seem a bit random and unscripted, the body is solidly worked with classic exercises in a straightforward, easy to follow pattern. If you enjoy three-day splits, these tapes are short enough that you could pair each one with a half-hour cardio workout and run through the whole sequence twice a week for a thorough and balanced routine that you can grow with. There's room for improvement here, but overall, these tapes are better than average