All Out Strength

Donna Read
Year Released: 2002

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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I am a very advanced exerciser. I like workouts that kick my butt and this one just didn't. Granted, she did A LOT of interesting and different things -she challenged balance throughout the workout and it was "interesting", but I barely broke a sweat. Perhpas next time I'll know to go heavier and that may help. She did have an awesome abs section and she claimed that she 'loved to do abs', so that was nice. I recommend this video if you're an "advanced beginner" or a strong intermediate, but if you're super advanced, and want your butt kicked, this isn't the video for you.

Instructor Comments:
If she said "beautiful" one more time, I was going to hurl! No - really - she seemed nice and friendly and comfortable. No complaints. She just kept saying "beautiful". Sometimes she would even say it to the beat of the music. It was ANNOYING! Also (and I realize this is completely shallow and ridiculous) but she didn't look fit (my goodness - i hope she doesn't read this), but she was wearing this baggy black set and she just looked pail and sort of frumpy. I didn't feel like I had any confidence in her because she didn't look fit at all. Then she had a girl behind her that weighed about 250 pounds.

Denise Berger


Someone recommended this workout to me when I commented how much I love Mindy Mylrea’s Pump Party. On doing it, I could see why. Donna does a mix of exercises which are similar and stresses the same kind of compound exercises, some of which stress balance. It’s a strength workout for which I use lighter weights than the standard Firm workouts, so I agree it ends up seeming like a low-weight, high-rep workout. For Firm workouts, I usually use 10-17.5 pound weights. For this workout, I used 8-12 pounds (as well as tubing, which is optional).

Donna is backed up by two exercisers on one of the standard CIA sets. The background exercisers show various modifications throughout the workout, including doing harder or easier modifications to the moves Donna does and use dumbbells when Donna uses tubing. They all interact quite a bit throughout the workout. I could not begin to tell you anything about the music. I don’t remember anything about it. Obviously, it wasn’t memorable.

The workout starts with a warm up which is fun for awhile, but then becomes overly long. At the six or seven-minute mark, I would skip to the start of the workout. Donna then leads a series of moves, many of which include both upper and lower-body components. The first time I did it, the workout took awhile because I would listen to what we would be doing, then choose my weights, and back up to restart that section. The next time, it went much quicker because I was familiar with what she was going to do. She does cue the move as she starts it and I wished for more advance cueing or set up to the moves. The moves she has you do seemed effective. I felt them and she generally explained the purpose of the various exercises. She does not explain how to do the moves, but does give form pointers throughout the workout.

This workout is not a “party in a box” workout for me (like Pump Party), but it is a good solid workout and I kept being surprised by how much time had gone by. It flowed really well for me, especially after the first time when I knew what was coming.

A generous VFer loaned this workout to me and it is now on my wish list. It is one I want to have available to me long term.

Instructor Comments:
I really like how Donna leads workouts. She comes across as capable and likeable and she keeps me engaged.

Laura S.


I liked this workout the 1st time I did it, but liked it much better the 2nd time, because I knew what to expect (and which weights to use). Donna uses a body bar, tubing, dumbbells, a step, and a mat. I used a light barbell instead of the body bar, and it worked fine. Also, the tubing is optional (she uses it, but her 2 background exercisers use dumbbells instead).
Warm-up: 12 minutes (Really gets your HR up)
Step extensions, knee lift repeaters, squat walks, step hamstrings, and stretching
Total Body Conditioning: 50 minutes
The first part of the workout is mostly for the lower body, but she does throw a few upper body moves in between to give your legs a well-deserved rest.
With the body bar (or barbell):
squat / lunge combo., one-legged squats (a lot of balance moves in this workout), overhead presses while standing on one leg, dead lifts (with variations like all the way down, half way up, down, all the way up), bent over rows with narrow then wide arms, squat / calf raise combo., front rows, bicep curls, side lunges with abductors, abductors while standing on one leg, tricep extensions.
With the dumbbells and optional tubing:
Lunges with leg extensions, bend forward and do scapular retractions, bicep curls, plie squats (with variations like all the way down, half way up, down, all the way up), put your feet 6 inches apart and do front raise / half-squat combo., side raises.
With your mat (or just on the floor):
Planks on your elbows and toes, bring your knees to the floor and do hamstring curls in the plank position, back extensions, pushups with hands facing each other, narrow pushup / wide pushup combination: start with a narrow pushup, then, without moving your body, move your right hand out and do a wide pushup, move your right hand back and do another narrow pushup, then move just your left hand out and do another wide pushup (this is a combo.that actually makes pushups enjoyable)
With your step:
Chest presses, chest flyes, tricep extentions, dips off of the step, sit on your step and lean forward for posterior shoulder work.
Back to the mat or floor:
V-sits (hold the position, then do some taps on the floor with clapping in between), while in the V-sit position, rotate side to side to work your obliques, tap the floor on each side and clap in between (this was pretty fun also, I actually caught myself smiling as my abs began to burn), feet on the floor and roll your body up and down, more V-sits, curls with your knees raised, reverse curls, crunches, lay back raise knees and then rotate them side to side to work obliques, crunches while extending arms and legs, bicycles
Cool-down and stretch: 3 minutes
Very relaxing stretches (and music)

Overall, I think this is a great inter./advanced total body workout with a lot of different but effective moves. It had a good balance of lower and upper body work. Most of it seemed more like a low weight / high rep workout, because it moved pretty quickly. You will not be bored with traditional exercises, and the time goes by fast. I like the fact that Donna throws in some upper body moves while you are doing the lower body part of the workout. I also like the fact that she doesn’t do a bunch of different exercises on one side and then switch to the other side. She does 1 or 2 lower body moves on one side, throws in an upper body exercise, and then does the 1 or 2 moves on the other side.
Set: I liked the set a lot. It is a gym floor, but the rest of the set looks like a fancy lobby. The wallpaper has a cool red and gold looking pattern and there are windows that seem to let light into the room. There are blue pillars that stand out in front of the red wallpaper. There are some old diner stools in the back with 2 tables that have big pictures sitting on them. It gives you something interesting to look at while you are working out.
Production Quality: Excellent
Music: Also liked this a lot, not too loud, not too quite. The music is motivating, and goes great with the workout (except one time in the warm-up when it started to fade out, but the warm-up was still going on).

Instructor Comments:
Donna Read is motivating and very relaxed in front of the camera. Sometimes she starts doing a move while she is telling you what it is, but you can catch up very easily.