Jillian Michaels for Beginners: Backside

Jillian Michaels
Year Released: 2007

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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I recently picked up this DVD used, mainly because I was curious about the instructor, Jillian Michaels. I have never watched Jillian's TV show, THE BIGGEST LOSER, but I was interested in seeing what one of her workouts might be like.

In her Introduction to this DVD, Jillian explains that the "Backside" is designed to target the muscles on the back of the body, including the back, the glutes or "tush," and the backs of the legs (hamstrings). She admits that the one exception to this is the biceps but maintains that this muscle group is important when working the back because it is a related pulling muscle.

Jillian also explains the circuit style of the routine, noting that this is one of the best methods for fat loss. There are six total circuits to this workout (with NO warm-up or cool-down). Each circuit consists of a cardio move and then 2-3 strength exercises; this sequence is repeated for a total of three sets per circuit. In each segment, Jillian is joined by a former BIGGEST LOSER contestant--the individual performs the actual moves, while Jillian instructs and provides form pointers. Most exercises are performed for ten repetitions.

The exercise takes place in a white, featureless room with no windows, and there is no music. Quite a bit of equipment is used for this workout, including dumbbells, a step, a chair, and tubing (Jillian does mention substitutions, but not until the exercise is already underway). I have broken down each circuit in greater detail below (times in parentheses are approximate).

CIRCUIT 1 (7 minutes)
Jillian is joined here by Shane, from BIGGEST LOSER AUSTRALIA.
*Cardio=butt kicks
*Back=wide grip dumbbells
*Hamstrings=static lunges

CIRCUIT 2 (8.5 minutes)
Here the exerciser is Kim, from BIGGEST LOSER FAMILY.
*Cardio=step ups
*Back=single arm medium rows
*Hamstrings=elevated held bridge (head/shoulders resting on chair)

CIRCUIT 3 (7.5 minutes)
Pete from BIGGEST LOSER 2 is featured in this segment.
*Cardio=speed skaters
*Hamstrings=stiff leg deadlift
*Back=seated rear delt raise

CIRCUIT 4 (7 minutes)
Shane returns.
*Cardio=dumbbell punches
*Hamstrings=morning glories
*Back=seated rows with anchored tubing (varying Set #3)

CIRCUIT 5 (14 minutes)
Kim returns
*Cardio=step ups (adding intensity with weights)
*Biceps=bicep curls with tubing
*Hamstrings=donkey kicks
*Core=reclined leg hovers

CIRCUIT 6 (8 minutes)
*Cardio=speed skaters (advanced by keeping foot off floor)
*Biceps=concentration curls
*Core=bicycles (isometric contraction for Set #3)

In the end, I found this workout to be just okay. Although Jillian was generally supportive encouraging, and gave plenty of form pointers, I don't think that this routine would be appropriate for those new to working out. First, the former BIGGEST LOSER contestants featured were obviously NOT beginners; all of them had lost significant amounts of weight themselves and had clearly been exercising for some time. Second, these circuits were actually fairly challenging, as the moved quickly and became progressively more difficult. Although a beginner could use very light or even no weights, I still think this workout would be intimidating for those brand new to exercising.

Those criticisms aside, I simply found this workout to be somewhat boring and uninteresting (although the time--nearly an hour--did pass quickly given the circuit-style format). I didn't like the frequent equipment changes, and I didn't like the way that Jillian constantly asked and answered questions of the invisible audience (e.g., "why are we doing this? well, I'll tell you..."). But for experienced exercisers looking for a no-nonsense circuit-style workout, this DVD might fit the bill.

Instructor Comments:
As I said, I've never seen THE BIGGEST LOSER, but I have the sense that Jillian is pretty tough on that show. She is definitely laid back here, joking with the contestants and encouraging them. [Although she does say that she regrets that she was never able to make one of them throw up. :( ] Still, I didn't really like her overly detailed manner of explaining things; even for beginners, I think this would be rather tedious, especially when you have to hear it over and over again on the DVD. (Example: "So, why do we work the core later? Because we need the core and don't want to exhaust it early on"--she must have explained this in at least three separate places!)

Beth C (aka toaster)


I have to say that I totally give Backside a thumbs up, it's good in so many ways. For a real beginner, you couldn't ask for a better way to start. It consists of 6 circuits, each starting with a short, cardio warmup, then 3 exercises of 3 sets of 3 reps. Jillian has 3 individuals from 3 different BL shows performing the exercises and she 'trains' during the workout, correcting form, offering advice, tips on modifying up or down, and I felt like she was there, training ME personally. I liked that!

Plus, while you never stop moving, each series is performed at a slow, controlled pace so you can really lift heavy if you're a bit more advanced. I definitely got a workout and have a nice burn going now.

The only downside here is that there is no stretch at the end which I think is necessary, especially for a beginner who may not know about cooling down and stretching. But that's the only demerit I can give this workout. I'm looking forward to trying Frontside soon.

Instructor Comments:

I bought this set because I really like Jillian and truly miss her on TBL. For those of you who didn't care for her tough training method, this set has a much softer Jillian present.