Basic Sculpting System: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Cory Everson
Year Released: 1995

Categories: Upper Body Strength

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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



These two tapes provide straightforward gym-style workouts filled with the classic upper body exercises. Yes, the soundtrack is insipid and the production set is drab. It's a cheap production. This is as far away from a FIRM production as I can imagine. Still, I consider this set to be among the finest upper body strength tapes available. These two videos cost me a grand total of $16, combined! Though each of these tapes can stand alone and qualify as excellent upper body workouts, I often combine these two tapes for a tough workout, skipping the abs (here? blech!). My arms feel totally pumped up afterward.

If you find, as I do, that you get more significant strength gains through split training (upper body one day, lower body the next), then you really should consider putting these tapes in your rotation. My only regret is that I didn't have these tapes when I was starting out. Each provides a clear and simple introduction to classic weight training exercises.

One caveat: If you insist on great ab work, you won't be happy with the Abs, Back and Biceps tape. Just regard this as an upper body tape.

NOTES: I like Cory very much. She's encouraging, and down-to-earth. My only wish is that she would produce more weight training tapes like this. These were made in 1995. She deserves a higher-quality production than this, too.

Michelle Easton


I first bought this tape because I was curious as to whether I would like to do strength training with a tape (I'd always done strength training to a set routine, usually with the TV as a background noise). I chose Cory's Body Sculpting Basics series because it was the cheapest series-I figured that if I decided that I didn't like strength training to a tape, I wouldn't be out as much as if I'd bought Cathe Friedrich's Pure Strength series or Joyce Vedral's Bottoms Up series.

I think that this tape is grossly underrated, but maybe that's because some people just don't like Cory's personality. I happen to like it, but I'm also willing to ask why Cory feels the need to make some of the comments that she does. I've read a couple of her books, and one of the standard themes is that, when she was young, she and her sister were athletic, but most of the girls they knew weren't. In one book Cory says that kids made fun of her muscular legs, calling them froggy legs. We must also remember that Cory was a six-time Ms. Olympia at a time when most women stayed away from lifting heavy weights for fear of "bulking up" and thus no looking feminine. So I think that some of the remarks about how you'll look in that bikini or bustier are geared toward reminding us that a muscular female body is feminine. So I don't mind those comments, even though, like most VFers, I already knew that.

Chest Shoulders Triceps is exactly what it says it is-complete routines for the chest, shoulders, and triceps. You'll do two sets (12 reps each) of each exercise, and the exercises are demonstrated on gym equipment as well as with equipment that most people can find space for at home, like dumbbells. Cory suggests that, if you actually have all three options available, you should switch options every third time through the tape, which is good advice for promoting muscle confusion.

The chest routine consists of pushups, bench presses, incline presses, and flyes. Cory does not make any recommendations for the size of weight to use, so you're on your own. Frankly, I like that better, because every time someone else has told me what I should start with, the weight is either way too light or way too heavy.

The shoulder routine consists of military presses, lateral raises, front raises, and bent-over raises. The triceps routine consists of pushdowns (Cory demonstrates a substitute for those who don't have such equipment available), kickbacks, and overhead triceps extensions.

Cory has you stretch between sets for every exercise. I love it. I think that I get so much more out of my strength workout with the stretching.

Cory reminds you of form throughout the tape, and she goes through the reps slowly. Even though there are only two sets for each exercise, your muscles will be worked thoroughly. When I first bought this tape, I had thought that I might start pausing the tape to add a third set, but I have never felt the need to.

Part of the reason that I haven't is that I've followed Cory's suggestion on the workout card included in the video (this should not be confused with the "workout card" referred to on the video). This card shows beginning, intermediate, and advanced rotations that progress from doing weight training three times a week, to four, then to five. The results from using these tapes five times a week have really impressed me. I had never lifted more than four times per week (with a split routine), and had trouble fitting in four sessions, each of which usually lasted an hour and a quarter to and hour and a half. The wonderful thing about Chest Shoulders Triceps is that it's really only about half an hour long (I use my Soloflex in this tape, and I have to pause it to rearrange equipment, so I usually take about 45 minutes with it), so it's practical to do it more than once per week. It's also practical to do just before a one-hour cardio workout.

Cory also recommends that you log your workouts, and a "workout card" appears on the screen between exercises.

I've decided that I like to do strength training with videos-when I did strength training on my own, I'd often take overly-long rests between sets, which just made the workout take longer (and also gave me too much time to notice that I was getting tired).

The only negatives in this tape are that, as others have pointed out, there's no warmup, but I usually use another video for that. Cory does have a warmup period at the beginning of the tape, and she uses that to give some weightlifting basics, but you really don't need to hear that more than once. It seems as if she loses count on some sets, but I might be going too fast-Cory definitely takes those reps slowly, which is why they're so effective.

This tape definitely gives a big bang for the buck as well as for your workout minute.

Instructor Comments:
I like Cory-I think that one of her strengths is that she really wants you to succeed. I don't mind goofy comments; I just laugh at them good-naturedly, as I would if she made them in real life. But Cory gives me the impression that if I did laugh, she's laugh right back. I also love having her as a role model. I'm perfectly well aware that I'm not going to look like Cory Everson by doing half-hour tapes, but I find her body inspiring. Of course, I find anyone inspiring who can wear a leotard without tights!

Mollie F.


Another $5.45 bargain through As in the entire three video set, skip the warm-up and here's what you will find (all 2 sets of 12 repetitions): pushups, bench press, incline press, flies, military press, lateral raise, front raise, bent over raise, push downs for triceps, tricep kickbacks, french press. You can go heavy on the workout, because Cory, like Cathe, takes short little breaks between moves. A solid 24 minute workout (no cool down - so what).

maryann parker


This review is for all three of Cory's Basic Sculpting System:

  • Back Biceps and Abs
  • Chest Shoulders and Triceps
  • Calves Hips and Thighs
Content of the videos are described pretty well above. So...

What's good:

This is thorough, and it allows you to start rotating body parts if you don't feel like doing your routines to the radio, since I doubt there are many others like this set (other than Cathe's upcoming series). Another good thing is she slows down the reps and you can go much heavier than in GHAS-- I always feel like she's speeding through that one.

These are short enough that you can tack them on at the end of a cardio workout.

Finally, Cory is motivating. I feel like these workouts are actually meant to build muscle-- not provide a little wimpy weight work for people who do it just because they know they should. I still prefer Cathe's weight work, but these are good. I found my set of three (pretty lucky!) at GNC for $9.99 each.

What's bad:

The set and outfits are pretty dated-looking (even though this was made in 1995). The saddest part is the music. It's so quiet and Muzak-like. Not too likely to get the testosterone flowing. :)

I'd like it if she'd add a few more sets.

In the Chest, Shoulders and Triceps tape, she's tacked on an unmentioned few sets of ab work that definitely aren't worth doing, but that makes the workout even quicker if you choose to skip that part.

Overall I'd recommend these videos if you're looking to shake up your routine by splitting up your body parts or if you're sick of choreographed stuff like the FIRM-- this is strictly gym-style.

Grade: B+/A-

P.S.-- These aren't available from Collage, but I noticed that at, you can buy them for only $6.99 each! That's well worth it.

Instructor Comments:
Cory isn't nearly as annoying in this video as she is in Get Hard Arms and Shoulders. There's still the obligatory talk about looking sexy on the beach and what men like, but it's taken down a notch. In fact, she makes some pretty funny jokes from time to time.

Sara Whitney


Like the other two videos in this series, you can do it with either free weights or gym equipment. I use free weights.

Cory starts with chest work, and does 4 different exercises, including pushups. Then there are 4 exercises for shoulders, followed by 3 for triceps. You do 2 sets of 12 of each exercise. There's a short rest in between sets.

In 25 minutes, you're done, and you know you've had an excellent workout. I love the way Cory just cuts to the chase and gives you RESULTS in such a short period of time. She really knows her stuff. Grade A.

Annie S.


An excellent strength routine - no choreographed warm-up, though, so just pop in another tape for those 5 minutes. Three exercisers show "home" and "gym" versions of each exercise - they do 2 sets of 12 reps, with a rest and stretch inbetween each set. The exercises are: push-ups, bench presses, incline bench presses, flies, overhead presses, side lateral raises, front raises, bent lateral raises, lying triceps extension, triceps kickbacks, and overhead triceps extensions. The workout takes 30 minutes, and can be made more intense by increasing weight and/or sets.

Instructor Comments:
Pipsqueak voice, but not too irritating. I really like the way she splits the bodyparts for this series of tapes - I can get a more intense workout by doing just three bodyparts at a time in thirty minutes. I get too tired to give my all when I've spent an hour or more trying to work my entire body in one session.