The Firm: Tough Tape 2

Tracie Long, Pam Meriwether, Heidi Tanner, Jen Carman, Taber Bruner
Year Released: 1998

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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This is a compilation video from the Firm that utilized the Tri-Trainers and Crosstrainers workouts. It has already been well reviewed so I will just add my (rave!) opinions. The video is an efficient 45 minutes but does not include any ab work, just like Tough Tape 1. Unlike TT1, I feel that TT2 is more balanced between the upper/lower body, and I appreciate the variety of different instructors (Heidi, Pam, Tracie, Jen, Taber) rather than just Tracie from TT1.

Besides ab work, which can easily be added using Firm 5 Day Abs/More 5 Day Abs or whatever ab add-on you prefer, I feel like this workout has everything: a long leg set press (Firm Cardio), plenty of arm work (biceps-3 sets, triceps-3 sets, back-2 sets, shoulders-4 sets, pushups/chest-2 sets), not too many lunges (only the dip/kick sequence from Maximum Body Shaping and the dip/lunge sequence from Firm Strength, of which I subbed another exercise), but plenty of squats, also leg hyperextensions and plie squats (Better Body and Buns). The time flew by and this can be a KILLER workout if only you use very heavy poundage-I particularly felt fatigued in the shoulders-whoa! I used a 30# barbell for the leg work and 8-20# weights for the upper body. Of course the workout is complete with a warm up and a final stretch (there is a stretch after the warm up too, which I tend to skip).

I think this has the intensity of any of the original volumes or the other Tri-Trainers and Crosstrainers (except Firm Cardio which is harder). I know some people donít like the compilations, nor the mansion/library sets or the ďcrazyĒ music but itís all superb to me. Grade A+!

Instructor Comments:
So many instructors, and they are all superb. I especially enjoy Heidi, Tracie, and JenÖand Taber too..Pam is great too! Seriously though I think Tracie and Heidi have the best form pointers, but they all mirror cue which I appreciate. I really like the compilations (TT2 in particular, but many others as well) because they take tried and true exercises from great workouts and string them all together into a like-new workout.

Emily B.


With strength work, I am an intermediate exerciser, who doesnít really want to move up to advanced work. Most of the time, I do traditional strength work with weight. However, I have enjoyed branching out into Pilates and workouts on the ball as well. The Firm was the first place I went to try strength training and once in awhile I return to do them in order to gain, or regain, strength.

Tough Tape II is my second favorite Firm tape. (Maximum Body Shaping is first.) I like how the exercises flow into each other and the balance of upper and lower body work. I tried this one before the original Tough Tape and can see why people were surprised by this workout since it is so different than the original.

As with any Firm workout, you need a lot of equipment and there are frequent equipment changes. It does flow well for me and I have seen strength gains when doing Firm work, including this video.

Instructor Comments:
They are all good. My favorites in this video are Tracie Long and Heidi Tanner.

Laura S.


I just finished this video, and after having done it several times, I love it!! I think if you use heavy weights and really really focus on each movement you get the most out of this workout. I know I was sweating like crazy by the last half of the tape. I'll definatly be feeling it tomorrow!! The shoulder sequence kicked my butt! I think this tape is a challenge for intermediate and advanced exercisers, and even good for beginers who can modify most of, if not all of the exercises. I would definatly recomend this tape to anyone looking for a good strength training video.

Instructor Comments:
I think the instructers all did a great job, they were conistent with reminding you about the proper form for each exercise. Some comment that the exercise is tough, which is sort of inspiring because they are pushing themselves too.



Well, there is just no getting around it. This tape is weird. From the "Lets lift some weights in the library among the busts of Beethoven" to the "20 Minute Workout" style rear shots to the bobbing microphone it is a tape sui generis. (That would look more effective if I could italicize the "sui generis".) But does this mean I don't like it? Certainly not. I think it is a great strength routine. Perhaps some body parts get worked more than others-- chest only gets a couple of short sets of push ups, while shoulders are worked and worked. But, they do all get worked. And your heart gets worked too as you switch between upper and lower body work with little rest between each set. The best part of this workout is that you get a total body strength workout in 45 minutes.



This is my favorite Firm "parts" tape. It is easier than the first Tough Tape. However, no ab work.



This video is already well-reviewed, so I have nothing to add but my opinion. I'm surprised by the sometimes lukewarm reception this video has. Maybe it would have better received if the FIRM had given it a different title? Let's face it: It isn't THAT tough! Still, it's one of my favorite strength training videos. It has a nice flow to it, goes by quickly (because it's fun), and delivers a perfectly respectable strength workout. You can lift heavy with this one -- and should. There aren't lots of reps here. The Firm did a great job splicing the various segments together. There surely are better weight training videos out there, but this is one of the more enjoyable ones. Two thumbs up.

Michelle Easton


Everyone has done a great job breaking down this tape, so I'll just add some quick comments. The first time I did TT2, I didn't think it held a candle to Tough Tape 1. I thought TT1 was tougher and flowed better. I considered TT2 to be closer to Maximum Body Sculpting in intensity.

Since then, however, my opinions have changed. I still think TT1 is just a tad more intense strength-wise, but TT2 keeps my heart rate up longer - the plyo and tall box climb sections are great for that. I also think that it flows quite well, especially the section that starts and ends with the lat row/bicep curls with the cheat. In between working the right and left sides on those exercises, you do all the work that requires the tall box - leg presses, etc.

While I agree that TT2 has much more upper body work than TT1, I think they have the same amount of lower-body work. The things I miss in TT2 are pec flies and upright rows, two of my favorite strength exercises. The things that I appreciate are the emphasis on seated shoulder work and the cardio intensifiers. The only thing I could have done without was the hamstring/leg lift section from Better Buns that I think is pretty ineffectual.

So all in all I'm very pleased with Tough Tape 2 - a solid strength workout that moves quickly and holds my interest.

Instructor Comments:
I like all the instructors. I think it's nice to have so many - it keeps it interesting. The transitions between sections moves quickly and smoothly.

Elizabeth Graves


I got this tape on a trade and have to admit that it has "grown" on me. After doing Tough Tape 1, I did not think this tape was nearly as difficult. But, I think I have changed my mind. Tough Tape 2 includes segments from the Crosstrainer videos and Better Buns (WHY do they call it that?) Maximum Body Sculpting, and a small segment from Fat Blaster. I thought the tape was fast moving and contained a good assortment of moves for the upper and lower body.

I decided to do this tape again and use some modifications. I used my barbell and really tried to do the heaviest weight I could. Surprise! I was sweating bullets and really felt like I got a great workout. On the segment of kicks and back lunges ("and now the happy couple" plheeese)...I used a barbell instead of a dowel...much tougher! I also used a barbell on Heidi Tanner's squat segment and Pam Cauthen's lunge/squat section. A minor modification that made a big difference. I did feel that this tape was a better workout for my shoulders than Tough Tape 1...I personally need the shoulder work. The transition between segments were so close together, that sometimes I had to pause the VCR to get my weights ready...but, this also kept my heart rate up there.

I would give this tape a is now in my rotation for days when I just don't have it in me to do a Cathe tape or when a severe case of PMS has arrived.

Instructor Comments:
The blend of instructors keeps the tape interesting - I didn't mind the changes.

Suzanne M.


Iíve been doing the Firm for about 6 years now and Tough Tape 2 is my favorite FIRM video of all time! For the past 3 months I have been very unmotivated as far as strength training goes and this was the only tape I could bring myself to do. I did it faithfully 2-3 times a week since early November and the results are in - my upper body has so much definition, especially my shoulders!!!

Tough Tape 2 is culled from the Tri-Trainers and The Crosstrainers tapes. The workout starts with the warmup and stretch from Firm Better Body & Buns. The next part is from Crosstrainers Cardio - a set of pushups with Heidi Tanner followed by squats. Then another set of pushups followed by a set of step squats (also from Crosstrainers Cardio). Next is Tracy Long from MSB with squats and military presses, then Lat rows and biceps with Tracy followed by Triceps and shoulders and plyo jumps with Jen Carmen. Two sets each leg of Tall box presses from Crosstrainers Cardio, lunges/dips from Crosstrainers Strength. There is also a very brief tall box step up section (no weights) with Tracy from MSB (somewhat pointless, but the tape is so much fun I donít mind). There is also another set of plyo jumps in there somewhere.

Then comes what I feel is the best part of the tape - the concentrated shoulder work. This tape pieces together all the shoulder work from Crosstrainers Cardio and Strength together, so you get a great burn. I always had a love/hate thing with Firm upper body work and the way it jumps around, but this tapeís shoulder work makes sense. There are some shoulder exercises earlier in the tape, but I treat those as a warm up to the later work, which is a shoulder superset. I could hardly finish this superset when I first started and I have finally graduated from the 5-8 pounders I was using for the longest time. Consistently using this tape has made the cap of my shoulder wider and I even have those little cuts that Iíve been wanting for so long!

After the shoulders there are leg lifts to the rear while holding on to your tall box. Taber Bruner does only one set of 8 on each side. The leg lifts are broken up with another set of lat rows on each side. To make the leg lifts more intense I wear a 10 pound ankle weight on each leg and rewind for 2 sets (sometimes 3 since I love floor-type leg work). Taber goes slow enough that I can wear such a heavy weight with no problem. Then there are pulsing plies with weights interspersed with glute "pinches" . I may be messing up the sequencing a bit, but near the end there is a set of triceps dips with Heidi Tanner from Crosstrainers. I wear a weight in my lap like Cathe F. in MIS to make this more intense. The final segment has some pushups with Lisa Kay. These pushups are more for the back then the chest.

This tape is by no means perfect (no abs, no chest work other than the first 2 sets of pushups), but itís short and effective and if you use your heaviest weights, you really break a sweat. The only modification I made as I mentioned above is adding an extra set of leg lifts on each side with the heavy ankle weights. One set of lifts on each leg with no weight seems quite meaningless to me, so I feel this modification is necessary. Sometimes I tack on Firm 5-Day abs which makes the workout complete enough for me. The results this tape has produced for me are all the reason I need for saying this is my favorite.

Instructor Comments:
Iíve never had a problem with any Firm Instructor. Heidi, Pam, Jen, Taber, Lisa Kay, and of course the beloved Tracy are all motivating and pleasant. Heck, I even like Peluso and her bathing suit-like workout outfit!

Donna Alcott


Tough Tape 1 is tougher but this video is more fun. I also think it has enough leg work. It might not seem like it because there isn't a gazillion number of leg presses. It has a nice balance of leg exercises. This tape has more upper body exercises than Tough Tape 1. I wish this video contained the T-bar rows from Strong Body. I like that move because too many videos have one arm rows for the back. The shoulder work on this video is very good. If a person uses heavy weights for this video, then it can be tough. I also look forward to doing this video compared to Cathe's MIS. The latter is a workout that I use if I want to work out really seriously and be challenged. Tough Tape 2 is a tape that I enjoy while I'm working out. At the end of the tape, I feel I work relatively hard too.

Instructor Comments:
It was fun to see different instructors. It makes the time go faster. However, I think Jennifer P. looks too skinny. It might be her natural shape but she doesn't look healthy to me. Taber is thin but she still looks healthy. I love her deep voice. Jennifer Carmen has a fun bubbly personality. I like her plyo section.

Helen Stephens


This is a compilation of parts of other FIRM videos, like Tough Tape 1. There are segments from the Tri-Trainers and the Cross-Trainers. You alternate upper and lower body work, and there is no ab or floor work (except pushups). I think this is an "okay" addition to my collection, but it's not as tough as I had hoped. Tough Tape 1 is harder. Grade B.

Annie S.


I really like this tape, although it is not as tough as the first Tough Tape. Compared to the average strength tapes on the market today, this is a "gem." Lots of upper body work, one set of leg presses (from Firm Cardio) - but you are doing 32 reps total on each side. Highly recommended.

maryann parker


To buy this video,

This is a nice variety of exercises taken from Tri trainers All Weights/Maximum Body Sculpting, Better Body and Buns and the Firm Cross trainers Strongbody/Strength and Strongheart/Cardio. It is different from Tough tape one in many ways. For one, it only has one tall box section taken from Strongheart compared to Tough Tape 1 with the zillion tall box work. This workout has many many different instructors leading compared to just one instructor for Tough Tape 1 in which Tracie Long was leading. This tape has more upper body work then Tough Tape 1. It has 2 sets of lat rows instead of 1 in TT, 3 sets of military press instead of 2 in TT, 2 sets of side lifts and more back work( posterial delts and muscles on your spine)compared to TT which has no back work but does have upright rows which this workout doesn't have. There is no chest flies in this workout but you do get 3 sets of pushups and back work. There is also no tricep kickbacks. But a lot of French press( I think it was 2 sets) and tricep dips. Another difference is that Tough Tape 2 has plyo hops and tall box climb to keep your heartrate up where Tough Tape 1 doesn't have any aerobics with the weights.

I really think the Firm did a nice editing job on this video. It doesn't have a guest instructor cueing. The screen does a nice turn and then comes the next exercise sequencing. The next music comes on as the screen turns.

The warmup is from Tri Trainers Better Body and Buns with Jennifer Peluso( this is all she does in this video) then Taber Bruner does the beginning stretch.

Then comes the squat/pushups from Strongheart/Heidi tanner. I liked how it went from Taber to Heidi. They have the same low soothing voice. Next came the dips w/dowel and dumbell and squats with Military press from Tri Trainers All Weights/ Maximum Body Sculpting. After this was the plyo hop upper body work( Military press, bicep curl, French press) with Jennifer Carmen. I love this part! It gets my heartrate up too. Then comes lunge and dip and squat combo from Strongbody/Pam Cauthen. The Firm keeps picking my favorite sections. This is one of my favorites from Strongbody/Strength. Then comes the lat row/ heavy bicep curl with a cheat from Maximum Body Sculpting( I think it was the right arm).

After this comes the Tall box work from Strongheart/Cardio with Heidi Tanner. They put the left leg first which gives it a different feel( usually on the Strongheart video they do the right leg first so it was a nice change). So you do left leg tall box and then tricep French press and then another set of tall box on the left leg. Then comes Tracie Long's Tall Box climb from Maximum Body Sculpting/All Weights. This really keeps the heartrate up. Then after that you do lat rows and heavy, one arm bicep curl with your other hand for the cheat. It is so tough to try to get a 15-20lb dumbell to do a bicep curl so it's nice to have the other hand to help get it up. Then after this you go back to the Tall box from Strongheart. You do the right leg then rest and do bicep curls and then back to the right leg for the second set. My heartrate was very very high at this point. Almost too high. Next comes the seated upper body from Firm Strongbody. This is side lifts, frontal lifts and overhead press. My heartrate dropped at this point because you sit down during the side lifts and overhead. I would recommend squatting with this movements if you want to keep your heartrate up. Although some of you might need a breather from all the tall box work! Sitting down would be a welcome to you.

I wished they would have put in another tall box section at this point to keep my heartrate up, but they don't. The next section is the hamstring stretch, leg extension, lat row section with Taber Bruner. I was too tired to put on ankle weights but I usually do it during the hamstring stretch part. Then comes plie work. I like to hold my 20 lb dumbell like Rachel Mclish does on her plies. It is where you hold the heavy dumbell hanging down in front of you. You can also hold your barbell like Tracie long in Tough Tape 1 plies during this section. This is a nice exercise to have for your inner thighs. I felt it was tougher then the plies in Tough Tape 1. Next comes the seated upper body from Strongheart/Cardio. More Side lifts( I can't remember the name), rear delt squeezes and then tricep dip using the 2x4 and the tall box. Then comes more pushups and back work from Better body and Buns with Lisa Kay. This is nice to have the back worked. Then as Lisa Kay does a nice cat stretch it turns into Taber doing a cat stretch which was a nice transition. Then Taber stretches you out.

All in all this was a good tough sweat of a workout. I feel that it will be fun to alternate Tough Tape 1 with this workout. But I must say that this workout was far more entertaining with all the different instructors and different set then Tough Tape 1. You will have to add ab work to this workout because like Tough Tape 1, it does not have any. My overall opinion is that Tough Tape with Tracie Long is more tougher in the lower body because it has both tall box work from Tortoise and another set of tall box from Hare. But Tough Tape 2 is tougher in the upper body. So it's a nice variety.

Instructor Comments:
It was nice to have Taber Bruner and Heidi Tanner in one video. They sound alike and have the same leading the workout with great maturity. It was also fun to have Pam Cauthen in this video since Strongbody is my alltime favorite. Tracie Long is a Firm classic. She can make any video fun by her great cueing and perfect form. Jennifer Carmen brings a fun, super energetic personality to this workout. I wish they had put more of her sections from her Better Buns video. I love her instructing and hope that she will lead her own Firm video. She has the same incredible muscular body as Tracie. She just shines,"HEALTHY!!"

Mandy Lee