CIA 2102 Power Bar Training

Alison Boyd, Shannon Salisbury
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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This is a long strength workout. Before doing it for the first time, I had carefully read the reviews and I received the advice from the person who traded this video to me not to feel obligated to do every rep they do. So, the first time I did it, I watched their warm-up while I did crunches on the ball Ė my typical abs work I do on my own in place of abs work on a lot of videos. As their warm-up takes 10 minutes, I had plenty of time. And, I did not match their number of reps on every section. This is a LONG workout and doing the abs at the beginning for a warm-up and skipping their ab work at the end allowed me to fit in this workout before work.

This tape has been broken down pretty thoroughly above, so Iíll just add my thoughts. I am tired of the CIA set they used, but since I donít usually care that much about sets, I just ignored it. I did enjoy the interaction between the sisters and found them motivating. Their form is not always good. I will defer to other reviewers on the details, but this would not be a good tape for a beginner.

Overall, I found this to be a good, tough strength workout. I havenít kept a lot of low-weight, high-rep workouts, so it will give me a change from my Firms and Cathe. This workout wonít be a favorite, but I will keep it for a change of pace when Iím ready for something different and tough.

Instructor Comments:
I enjoyed their interaction. They give form pointers throughout the workout. Unfortunately, their form is not always good.

Laura S.


Today I did CIA:2102 PowerBar Training.

I've had this virgin for quite a while. Well...

Dull as dishwater! Instructors and background exercisers showing poor form. The evil red CIA set. IMHO - these gals have no charisma. This w/o is about 75 minutes long. It felt like two hours! (I did Slim Series' 78 minute Tear It Up the other day and that seemed to fly by.)

The biceps section was so boring I felt that time must have come to a stop. I skipped the abs. The two minute stretch is a joke. After five thousand squats and lunges, there are no quad stretches.

I'd unload this one fast, but DH likes it!

Instructor Comments:
AKA "The Sinister Sisters"



This a challenging high repetition workout. Every muscle group is worked thoroughly. The only thing I wish was included was floor work (e.g., inner and outer thigh raises and bridge work) for the lower body.



Since others have broken down the workout already, I'll just give my impressions. Since I've found a lot of annoying things and things that I needed to "correct" to make the workout safe, this will probably end up looking like a very negative review, but my final jugement on the workout is that it is a good total body weight routine, IF you make some modifications.

Overall likes: The music was great (but not loud enough); the workout moves quickly--you're done before you know it; some moves--like the variable-count bicep curls--are very effective; the workout is generally well-balanced (see exceptions below); minimal space is required.

Overall dislikes: Sometimes, the sisters' instruction (or lack of it) or their own form could lead someone who is not familiar with strength training technique to perform the moves incorrectly, even to the point of risking injury; they constantly refer to the weights as "5 pounds," "10 pounds," etc., meaning the weight of each plate on the bar. If you don't have a Troy Lite bar, this reference in pretty useless. Why didn't they just give the total weight? Are they mathematically challenged? Shannon makes a point of exagerated breathing, so you hear an annoying (or is it just me?) shhhhh, or shoooooo throughout much of the workout.

Comments on specific sections:
Squats: Both Shannon and Allison lean too far forward when doing many of the reps. Following their form could lead to lower back strain.

Deadlifts: Why are these done while standing on the step? There is no reason for this (are they trying to imitate some people in the gym who stand on benches to do this workout?). Allison carefully cautions against arching the back, but gives no such caution about rounding it (which is more risky). In addition, the 8 count down reps in the beginning could lead some exercisers to go through a too-deep range of motion, just to get in the entire count. At the top of each rep, there is an exagerated shoulder roll, which I think may lead to not keeping the shoulders in scapular retraction throughout the movement. Instead of the roll, I just recheck my scapular contraction before doing the next rep. The 1 up/1 down reps seem too fast to be safe.

Deadrows: Watch for rocking of the torso, which Shannon gets into, and which is not good on the lower back.

Bench presses/flyes:
I found the variations in hand spacing and repeated reps to be very effective at hitting the chest, as well as the triceps and front shoulder. (See, I DO have something nice to say about this workout!). Again, the 8 count down may lead some people to perform the motion with an excessive range of motion (too depp) just to get the count in.

Lunges: Rather than the 7 down, 1 push off reps ("seven-ups") I did a 6 down, 2 up rep, so I can't comment on the effectiveness of the exact exercise. The "killer" reps (8 single reps per leg) aren't! The workout could do with an additional lower body segment, perhaps step-ups or pliťs, but maybe I'm just used to Cathe's infinite reps for the lower body.

Shoulder presses and raises:
Allison's form is horrible here: she pushes up and back. The front shoulders have been worked a lot already during chest presses, but the rear shoulders are not worked much at all. I suggest replacing the forward raise with a bent-over rear shoulder raise.

Biceps: This section was interestig and effective. You start with 8 reps up, the 4 reps down, the 2 reps up, then a 1 count down and up. Then reverse and repeat several times. On the negative side, both Allison and Shannon show some form glitches. Shannon sways her upper body somewhat and Allison raises her shoulders through some reps. More disturbing, Allison seems to take weight work very casually, and starts "grooving to the beat of the music" while doing the exercise: wiggling her upper body around, keeping time with her foot.

Triceps: This was a find section, though I personally don't do dips and subbed there.

Abs: Both sisters don't seem to keep their core as supported as it should be when doing the "barbell roll" move. The rest of the ab work is short but sweet.

Instructor Comments:
Pleasant enough, and they count well, but this workout didn't show me why they seem to have so many fans. Their form was sometimes off (not a good thing in a weight workout), and I found their voices a bit annoying. Also annoying if you, like me, find sentences like "LAY down SLOW" to be offensive to the ears.



Iíve had this one ever since it came out, but only recently did it for the third time. It just sits on the shelf because I consider it too long for this type of workout (75 minutes), and itís not one that can easily be broken up. The good points are (1) itís tough, and (2) itís taught by the Anderson sisters who are GREAT. The bad points, besides the length, are (1) itís quite repetitive, and (2) your shoulders/back will probably ache from having the barbell/body bar on your back for quite some time. If there were a condensed version of this available, Iíd snap it up, but this version doesnít work for me.

Annie S.


When I first got this video, I did it weekly. Since then I have switched to Cory's BSS but I always want to slip Power Bar Training in somehow. Recently I did it again after a few weeks and loved it. It just about killed me. I don't love the squat section since it seems to go on forever and the weight on my shoulders becomes uncomfortable, so sometimes I just skip it. But the high number of reps give me that feeling of really fried muscles. It brings out the masochist in me (I think I need to get MIS!) I am usually dripping sweat by the end of the warmup!

I did have a few dislikes with this video. The music is quiet, and at times the audio gets crackly, especially when Shannon is leading. The stretching also seems insufficient, especially after that killer tricep section. I guess I'm used to Cory's stretching after every set. After the lunge segment, Alison stretches hamstrings but not quads. I thought that was strange.

I heard that their barbells are 5 lbs unloaded and I use a 10 lb FIRM barbell, so I substract 2.5 lbs from their plate weight suggestions. I love the modified dead lifts. I like the sets of 8, 4, 2, and single count reps. But the best part is the abdominal segment! Shannon starts out by teaching an ab roll using the barbell. Very tough and I don't think I have the strength to do it correctly yet. Then she does crunches, obliques twists and reverse crunches with a plate weight for added resistance. Then Alison further works your obliques with a move where you hold the barbell vertically with one arm - I love it! Then she does oblique twists with the bottom leg raised - the can opener I swear that line down the middle of my abs was more visible after this workout.

I have heard criticism that this workout isn't effective because of the hi-rep lower weight format, but I don't care. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment and I usually feel it in my triceps and hamstrings the next day. Bravo, sisters!

Caroline Kim


PowerBar Training is one tough, long strength video. I can usually get through Cathe's strength tapes without stopping, but I had problems getting all the way through this one without stopping to take a break. One of the hardest things about this video to me was that you do so very many reps, and don't take any kind of break between sets. I really expected to be sore today, but I am only a little bit sore in the rear.

The warmup actually has you using a bar with minimal weight to warm up each muscle group individually. You do each of the exercises briefly that you will do later on. I felt very warmed up by the end of this session, and this was a unique warmup since you are using weight and work each muscle group individually. The approach they use (8,4,2,1) is not one I have seen before, and while it was interesting, in some cases it did not work well for me.

Someone else broke down the exercises and how they are done (8,4,2,1s) so I will just give my impression of each session.

The first leg session (squats, squats and more squats) goes on forever. This section made my shoulders ache from holding the bar up there for so long, so I tried the alternative method that Shannon demonstrates- wrapping the arms around the bar and holding it in front of you. That helped my shoulders but I just wasn't comfortable with this. There is no break during this section at all, and it really went on longer than necessary if you were able to use a heavier weight.

The inner thigh work was great and I really felt that deep in my thighs.

The back work was truly unique. There were a lot of deadlift variations-which I usually try to avoid, but I was able to do these. I did notice that my forearms ached during all of these exercises. I also did not see why this section was done on top of the bench.

The chest work was the one section I absolutely could not finish. I got through the first set of each of the three hand grips (last one of which was very awkward) and thought we were done, but nooo. A whole other set of chest, followed by flies.

The shoulder work was equally tough but bearable. Here they have you hold plates to do lateral raises and front raises.

Biceps section did not seem like it lasted as long as the others, and this section was not as challenging, probably because I kept my weights lighter anticipating a longer section.

The triceps work was very effective and also a bit shorter. I have not been able to do the ab roller type exercise with the bar the way it probably should be done. This exercise feels very awkward to me, and I since I have a tile floor I am always afraid of the bar rolling so far that I fall forward. The rest of the ab work was good old fashioned crunch type work, and worked every part of my abs. I kept the weight during the entire workout.

Overall Pros: I really liked the music- it was mostly popular songs with a good beat. The sisters interact very well together and are motivating to work out with. The workout was very intense and effectively worked each muscle group. It was non-stop so there was no time taken up chatting or explaining what was going to be done next (which is one complaint I have in Cathe's vids)

Overall Cons: I can easily see getting bored with this workout. Rather than doing fewer of a lot of different exercises, they do tons of the same moves. I just get really bored doing squats for 100 reps.

My shoulders really bothered me during the long leg sessions. There were not a lot of form pointers offered during the workout. They did say if your form started to suffer to stop. I am experienced enough to know what good form is, but a beginner might not be. Shannon also does not always demonstrate good form during the workout.

It would be helpful to know what total weight they are recommending. Alison tells you what size to put on the barbell, but since every barbell is a different starting weight it was hard to judge which weight to use.

Tara Whitmore


I may be the sole dissenting voice on this tape. Its been described in detail so I'll just list what I think might be helpful to others considering this tape.

The good:
There are some really good things about this tape. The warm up, which is ten minutes long and uses light weights to get you ready for the workout would be a great add-on section to another tape. A good 10 minutes of total body work with a barbell. I also really liked the legs sections of this tape, great for building endurance. The legs moves were interesting. The abs workout was also very good and quite different than any other ab workout I've seen.

The bad:
This tape goes on forever, reps, more reps and then do some more reps! It takes the concept of light weights, high repetitions to a whole new level. Body parts are worked unevenly, and the tape is 70-something minutes long. Just too long for this type of workout, in my opinion. I thought the warmup was unnecessarily long, could have easily been around 5 minutes. Triceps are worked in both the chest segment and then again in the triceps segment, by contrast the biceps segment seems short by comparison.

I can't figure out the functional benefit of this tape. It has too many reps, even for a light wt/high rep tape. It was mainly upper body, and not many of us do endurance activities for upper body, water skiers and manual boaters excepted. It was pointed out that it's a good change of pace tape, but I want a functional benefit from my weight lifting.

All of this could have been overlooked if the music was loud enough to hear. I was hoping for something along the lines of Body Pump. This tape totally misses what makes Body Pump special and that's the use of audible, fun music. The work in Body Pump goes with the music, you can feel the changes in lifting speed come with changes in the music. Power Bar totally misses that aspect.

I seem to either be alone or in the minority on my opinion of this tape, but if you are looking for a tape that goes with a good driving beat to take your mind off the lifting, this isn't it. I didn't think this tape was fun, and traded it for a tape I really wanted. I wouldn't have minded keeping it, but I would have used it for combos, not as recorded.



What can I say? This video is soooo tough that it borders on cruelty!

I knew I was in trouble when the warm-up included squats and push-ups.

For lower body work, I think this video is even harder than Leaner Legs... maybe even harder than Standing Legs. It is a killer!

You warm up by running through a light round of what is to come...a lot of squats, modified squats, deadlifts, deadrows (I don't think I've ever done those before), shoulder work, biceps, triceps. And, in the real work, you do lunges. Lots of killer lunges.

But, it's not so much what you do, its the way the tag team torturers do them that make them sooo tough. Almost all the exercises are in the format of eight counts down/then up, then a couple of four counts down/then up, then some two counts, then some singles....then YOU DO IT AGAIN....!

The squats have lots of variations: regular squats, squats with side leg lifts, squats with back leg lifts, squats with screaming in pain, squats with begging for mercy...and on and on for what seems like forever.

Oh, and Alison's form in squats doesn't look too hot,she bends forward way to much in my opinion.

The lunges are also especially cruel. There are eight counts with seven down and one up (they call them 7-ups). Then four counts, with three down and one up. Then 2 counts: out, down, up, back. Then (I think) singles.... I was delirious by then.

Anyway, if you want tough...this is your workout.

I'll keep it as a shocker to do every now and then when my body is too adapted to doing its usual thing, but I don't see it ever becoming a true favorite.

Set wise, the set is the 21 series red oriental set. It looks good and the cast wears outfits that match it nicely. I want that top!

Music wise, it was kind of disappointing. The music just doesn't seem very loud.

Oh, and an odd note: I figured when the title was "Powerbar Workout" that it probably used a body bar....but everyone in the cast uses barbells. And, to do the ab roller type exercise they do, you would need a real barbell.

Instructor Comments:
Shannon and Alison are great, as usual. They say close to the beginning that this might not be fun, but it is what works. That pretty much sums up the workout. They remain perky and upbeat throughout, but they don't project the same level of "fun" you see in their cardio workouts.

Laura (LCC)


I have waited to write a review on this workout because it really took me several times through it before I decided that I liked it, hehe. But now that I have figured out what size weights work for me, I love it more and more. The set is the red Oriental background. The red tops the cast is wearing sort of blend into the background, but it's nothing that bothers me.

The workouts starts out with a warmup using the bodybar. I have to confess; sometimes I use a warmup from another video, because this one is just so, well, long. The first segment is squats with Shannon. I did an audible gasp the first time I previewed this segment because her form is awful. She is almost doing good mornings, literally bending in half during the squat. I know the proper form for squats, so I just ignore her and Alison. I use my 18 lb bar for this segment because a heavier barbell really hurt my shoulders (this segment is long). My favorite part is the inner thigh work. While in plie position, you lift your heel off the floor and continue with the squat motion. I swear I feel this the next day every time I do it. Yowsa!

Next is back work with Alison. I have to be careful with this segment because I have a sway back and it tends to move a bit too fast for me. Lots of deadlifts with rows. You'll feel it.

The next segment is chest. Shannon uses various grips on the bar for the chest press work (done on an incline on your step). The first grip is a very wide grip (think goal post), the next is a bit closer, and the last grip is very close, almost a tricep grip. I stick with the first two hand positions, because the tricep work just feels "weird". She ends the segment with flies - I am fried at this point. Yowsa again.

Moving on to lunges with Alison. I love this segment! The lunges are done onto your step in various tempos. I use my 25 lb barbell, again because my shoulders get sore. If you really concentrate on the lunge movement and pushing off with your heel, I promise you will feel this the next day.

The last few segments are small muscle groups; shoulders, biceps and triceps. The shoulder segment is killer. Shannon does a lot of overhead press work, using various speeds, etc. The next exercise is a slow lateral raise to the side, then two counts forward (think front raise position) and then down. OMG. The bicep work is hard just because my shoulders are fried!

The workout ends with some unique ab work. One of the exercises requires you to roll forward while holding onto your barbell. This felt awkward to me, so I just picked up my ab roller and did the reps with my impulse New Year's purchase, hehe.

All in all, this is a great workout. I only have two complaints. (1) It is a tad bit too long. I find that by the time I get to the ab work I want it to be over. (2) The music. Why was the music loud on all the other new CIA's except for this one? I really wish the music were loud, because it would change the whole feel of the workout. But it's still a great endurance workout that I will enjoy rotating with some of my body bar workouts. Final verdit: A Keeper!!

Instructor Comments:
I really like Shannon and Alison and they work well as a team.

Suzanne M.


All I can say is "Wow!" This is a tough and FUN workout! If you've been looking for a Body Pump type workout, but longer and more challenging, you've found it! It's very similar in feel and style to Body Pump. You do a LOT of reps of everything with somewhat lighter weights. It actually looks like they're using a Body Pump weight set, although maybe it's an imitation. Any breaks are much shorter than I would have preferred! :-) The music has a lot of vocals and is really good, much better than the stereotypical stuff from CIAs past. It could have been a little bit louder, but it was really good. I'm not good about being able to identify songs. Maybe someone else will be able to ID some of them. Shannon and Alison are cheerful but not perky, and very "get down to business." They say that the workout isn't fancy, but it will get the job done. I have to say I agree. :-) The workout starts with lighter versions of some of the exercises you'll be doing later on to warm up: squats, dead lifts, dead lifts with barbell rows, overhead barbell presses, pushups on the step, etc. You start out with a couple of very slow reps to counts of 8, then counts of 4, 2, and finally singles. That's the general pattern in all of the exercises.

The main workout starts with squats, squats with leg lifts to the side, and squats with legs lifts to the back. Then you do plie' squats, some with 1 heel lifted up like in Nancy Tucker's section in Firm Super Sculpting.

Next is back work doing dead lifts and dead lifts with rows in various combinations. You do 1 long set with an overhand grip, then take a short break and do a set with an underhand grip. Alison has you stading up on your step for this, which I didn't really understand the purpose of. I did the second set on the floor, because I felt a little bit nervous elevated like that.

Chest work is barbell chest presses with one end of the step elevated. You do 3 sets, changing the width of your grip on your bar between each one. Then you get a short break and and do it again. The narrowest grip really has your triceps screaming too. :-) You finish up with flies.

Then it's back to legs and lunges onto the step. You have several variations in the count, including what Cathe fans would call static lunges, although you lunge onto the step in count 1 and THEN do a count of 6 static lunges, and back up before switching legs. By the time I got to the end of the section, my legs were screaming for mercy ( In a good way ). :-) You get a really nice leg stretch at the end of this section.

For shoulders you do overhead presses with varations in the count, 4's, 2's, and singles. Then you do variations of flies and front raises in combination that are hard to describe but really toast your shoulders. You're READY to be finished by the end! :-)

Biceps look deceptively easy. You're just doing bicep curls with the barbell in various count variations. BUT YOU NEVER STOP!! I started out thinking I should up the weight I used the next time. In the middle I was thinking I would increase the weight, but only by a few pounds. By the end my biceps were fully as pumped and burning as at the end of PS BBA. There will be NO extra weight the next time around! :-)

Triceps are skull crushers ( okay, technically they're french presses, bt I like the other name better :-) ) and triceps dips, alternating sets. They have the option of the bar in your lap for the dips or not. This section was shorter than some of the others, but since you already did those chest presses that hit the triceps, this was PLENTY! :-)

Abs were wonderful! You use your bar for some challenging work rolling the bar out away from your body and pulling it back in, using abs and lower back, like with an ab roller. It was hard to do on my rug, but I was starting to get the hang of it by the end. It takes a lot of control to keep from rolling on out and smashing you nose on the floor! :-) Then you flip over on your back for more traditional abs work with an optional weight on your chest. They even show you how to put a weight on you lower abs for the reverse crunches. THEN (yes, there's a fair amount of ab work ) you put the bar between your bent legs and push the end of the bar upward as you do obliques.

The workout ends with a short, but very welcome stretch section. :-)

I think I'm really going to be feeling this workout tomorrow. It's a definite keeper! There are so few really good non-Cathe or Firm weight workouts. THIS workout is a very welcome addition! :-)

Erin Ferragut