The Firm: Upper Body Split

Tracie Long, Pam Meriwether, Carissa Foster, Taber Bruner
Year Released: 1999

Categories: Upper Body Strength

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This is a 60 minute Firm parts dvd. Others have broken this workout extensively, so I'll just give my impressions. Overall, I liked the dvd. I felt that the variety of instructors kept it interesting and the exercises were very traditional throughout. Some instructors gave better form pointers than others, but since this is a parts compilation that is to be expected. I felt that the transition between exercises were nearly seamless, and I didn't have to struggle or hurry up to pick up my next set of weights. The reps were at a decent enough pace that I could go moderately heavy. Overall not a bad dvd. I do wish that it were a tad shorter, as 60 minutes is a long time for me to workout nowadays.

What I Liked
The pacing, number of reps, and selection of exercises. I actually liked that the ab work was interspersed throughout the workout; less likely that I would skip it. I liked that this dvd was spliced from sooo many Firm workuts; kept things interesting. I liked that there were many pushups, as I'm working on doing more pushups, however, it would have been nice to vary the chest work.

What I Didn't Like
Sooooo many lat rows! I feel like some other body parts were short changed, like triceps and biceps. It would have even been nice to do some lat pullovers. Again, the only ab exercise were crunches and more crunches. At least there was a variety of crunches, but still. Also, I could have done without the cardio; that would have shortened the workout down by 10 minutes.

What You May Want to Look Out For
There were, what, 5-6 sets of pushups? If you have tweaky wrists, be prepared to modify. Oh, and some mild plyometrics during some of the cardio sections.

Instructor Comments:
All were professional although none really stood out. There were so many!



Tracie Long, Pam Meriwether, Carissa Foster, Taber Bruner, Stacey Milner Colins

This is a 62 minute Firm Parts workout. Its compiled from various Firm w/o's-post classics to pre BSS Firms. It is mostly upper body strength work with a few cardio segments thrown in to get your heart rate up. It does intersperse a good amount of ab work and some pelvic floor work. It has a nice warmup and stretch, but a very short cooldown/ stretch. I never do the cooldown / stretch anyways so that didnt bother me one bit.

I felt pretty evenly worked in this one though there were a lot of pushups and ab work. There were also quite a few sets of lat row-but I like working my upper back so that was fine too. There isnt a ton of cardio in this but enough to get your heart going a bit. Maybe 4 or so cardio segments.

You will see the typical upper body fare here: lat row, pushups, pec fly .tricep extension, bicep curls, upright rows, military press, front & side raise, medial delt work, etc. There is no bench press or overhead tricep extension. The ab work and some oblique work is not at the end, its interspersed throughout the workout and is thorough.

Instructor Comments:
All the leads are your typical Firm instructors-good cueing, not overly perky. I would rate this wrokout a solid intermediate Upper Body strength workout.



This is a Firm compilation made up of the three Tri-Trainers videos, the three FIRM Cardio videos (Carissa/Tamela/Dale), and the Prime Power video. Others have already broken down the video in detail so I am only going to add my opinions.

In general I absolutely adore the Firm, especially the classics which by my definition is anything with the mansion set produced before BSS1 / Goodtimes. There are very few videos that I do not like in the entire Firm classic series, and unfortunately this is one of them. I got this video and Lower Body Split at the same time, and this video pales in comparison to LBS, which is an excellent workout (all standing strength/cardio with ab work consolidated together at the END!). My main complaint with this routine is that abs are disbursed throughout: there are so many trips to the floor and back to standing and down to the floor again that it is really annoying. Like another reviewer aptly said, it is long and disjointed. It is not as nicely balanced or as enjoyable as the original Firm Parts Upper Body and there are so many other arm videos to choose from that this one left my collection rather quickly – a rarity for me!

If the constant up and down aspect does not bother you then it might be more enjoyable. However again I think there are many other better arm videos out there, many from the Firm itself. Grade C-.

Instructor Comments:
There is a big collection of Firm master instructors in this video because it is a compilation. However I think all of the instructors are excellent and have good cuing and good form. I particularly like Carissa Foster and as others have said she is an inspiration to follow along with.

Emily B.


I got this video because it came highly recommended and got good reviews. I may be in the minority but this video was a bore fest. I fought hard both times I did this video to not fall asleep. Maybe it's the fact that the music rarely changes or maybe it's the instructor. I don't know but I didn't like it and I am thinking of selling it. I have the first Firm upper body parts and it's wonderful! I got great results with it but I hate that there isn't that much bicep work. However I have solved that problem. I will add a bicep tape with it to make a total and complete upper body workout. I am surprised I don't like this tape but I really did get bored and gave up. Stick with the original Firm upper body parts and add your own biceps or a bicep tape and you will be good.

Instructor Comments:
She is nice but she seems to be a bit boring. There was nothing about her that stood out but she does cue great. :)



This is a Firm parts tape, and it pieces together bits of many different tapes. So many pieces of so many different tapes are used that it feels like this tape goes on forever and there is no rhyme or reason as to the order of the pieces. Some exercises, such as bent-over lat rows appear over and over again, at different points in the tape, with different instructors. The same thing happens with push-ups; there's one section at the beginning, then a little later on, then again and then again shortly after that one. There are way too many lat rows and push-ups and not enough of other exercises such as military presses or reverse flyes for shoulders (just one set of each). There are a couple of exercises for biceps, several different repeats of triceps kickbacks with different instructors (but no other triceps exercises). There is only one short set of lying chest flyes.

The title is a bit misleading because this tape is not just for the upper body; there are some plie squats, some hover squats, and internal contractions, plus a few sections of aerobics using the ball as a prop, and some plyometrics. There is also a lot of ab work throughout the tape.

Even though this tape is all over the place and seems disjointed and long, I basically like it and use it every now and then. It's pretty tough, if you use heavy weights. I feel like I burn a lot of calories and work hard. I like all of the different instructors. I like seeing little bits of my favorite Firm tapes, such as Firm Cardio and Firm Strength, and Tracy Long's tapes and others. I especially like Carissa Foster. She is what I consider the ideal body, lean and toned, and graceful and feminine.

I would recommend this tape to any intermediate to advanced exerciser who likes the Firm style. It is not a good tape for a beginner because there is no instruction; they just tell you the name of the exercise and very few form pointers are given. I would rate this tape a B+.



This is a Firm Parts Compilation. Focusing on upper body strength moves and short cardio bursts, Upper Body Split falls a bit short of it target. Instead of getting a thorough upper body workout, you will find that one or two parts are overemphasized.

Row, Row, Row your boat. By the end of this tape you’ve almost lat rowed yourself across the Atlantic Ocean! If lat rows really excite you then this tape is for you. With five sets of lat rows included in the workout, there are more lat rows sections then there are other upper body moves. 5 sets of ab work is also included. Two sets of Jen Peulso’s abs along with Tracey’s seated oblique work from Max. Body Sculpting are included as well as others. There are two short aerobic sections, one with Allie from Fat Blaster and the ball aerobics from Max. Cardio with Carrissa.

Many of the other upper body get hit with only one or maybe two sets. This tape is billed as a tough heavy upper body workout. But to do this tape the way it was designed will really cheat you out of the results you could get with a better structured tape. The segments jump back and forth with no apparent reasoning. All of the ab work and the short cardio bursts are almost added as an afterthought or as filler. Though using this tape as a lighter upper body workout in conjunction with heavy days is probably the best way to incorporate this tape into your rotation.

There are segments from Firm Cardio, Maximum Cardio, Prime Power, Power Cardio, Fat Blaster, Better Body and Buns, The Tortoise, Maximum Body Scuplting, Strength, and Cardio Burn.

There are also 3 or 4 sets of pushups with one set of pec flys to work the chest. There are also lots of 4-limbed aerobics included as well. I think because many of the weight segments are 4-limbed really keeps this from being a “heavy” workout. Usually with 4-limbed you have to go a bit lighter than you would with stationary weight work.

You will do biceps curls and concentration type curls for the biceps. Upright rows with piles, and lateral raises for the shoulders. Tricep kickbacks are the only exercise that targets the triceps specifically. And don’t let me forget the lat rows for the back!

The saving grace for me in this tape is Stacey Millner-Collins. Most of the firm parts compilations that I have don’t included a lot of her footage from the Prime Powers. I was happy to see some “newer” less recycled footage. I would have to recommend that you pass on this tape, in favor of a better upper body tape.

Susie F.


I have enjoyed using FIRM Upper Body, especially since I'm attempting my own version of the FIRM 90-Day Rotation (it makes a nice substitution for days when Upper Body is combined with a cardio tape). But after doing the video last night, I'm not quite sure it was worth the $29.99 that I paid for it. The workout breaks is pieced together from the Cross-Trainers, Tri-Trainers, and Blast Set (just from Core Cardio 1 & 2 and none of that horrid Bust & Butt) as follows:

  • Warm-up with oof ball (Carissa from the Blast series)
  • Pilates-type ab work (Better Body & Buns)
  • One set each side of quad kicks over the tall box and one-arm lat rows (Prime Power Fat Burning)
  • Four-limbed aerobics (Cardio)
  • Push-ups, seated double lat rows, and hover squats with pelvic floor (PPFB)
  • Push-ups (2 sets), pec flies, and pelvic contractions (Tortoise)
  • Abs (Tamela from the Blast series)
  • Floor aerobics (first section with Allie in Fat Blaster)
  • Upright rows with militaries and side & front delt raises (Maximum Body Sculpting)
  • One-arm lat rows (left side), tricep kickbacks, and bicep curls (Tortoise)
  • Push-ups, bicep concentration curls, and tricep kickbacks (PPFB)
  • Aerobics with oof ball (Carissa/Blast)
  • Rear delt flies (MBS)
  • Abs (BBB)
  • One-arm lat rows (right side), tricep kickbacks, and bicep curls (Tortoise)
  • Planks, push-ups, low back lifts (Fat Blaster)
  • Abs: crunches and stabilization exercises (Dale/Blast)
  • Side and front delt raises with plyometrics (Tamela/Blast)
  • One-arm lat rows (right side), upright rows, one-arm lat rows (left side) (Strength)
  • Sitting oblique ab work (MBS)
  • Stretch (Carissa/Blast)

All the segments are woven together fairly smoothly. I suppose the exercises are grouped together into "giant sets" but it doesn't seem very scientific. The sequencing seems to be aimed at providing variety, but also is a result of editing considerations (one segment ends with moving the tall box and flows into the next where they are in the process of moving the tall box). If you're looking to fatigue one area for a particular toning/muscle-building purpose, this video (like most FIRMs) is going to be frustrating for you. The purpose of this video is more for work-out variety with the FIRMs, a nice tape to complement or to alternate with Better Body & Buns, Standing Legs, Prime Power Lower Body Shaping, and other FIRM lower-body tapes.

Modifications: 1. I use a 2# dumbbell in lieu of the Oof, jr. ball. I think even with the "fun and motivating" ball I would find the ball aerobics annoying. I just don't like my hands together while jumping around. 2. There are soooo many push-ups. Remembering forever Kiana's exhortation that a variety of exercises is more important than many reps of one exercise, I throw in some tricep push-ups, tricep dips, or some dumbbell chest presses during a couple of the latter sets. 3. There are also soooo many sets of one-arm lat rows. Therefore, during the last sets (the Strength segment), I get out a lightly-loaded barbell and substitute one set of overhand bent-over rows and one set of underhand rows. It's easy to do here because I can keep the barbell out for the upright row set that's in between the two lat row sets (Pam uses a barbell for the upright rows). 4. The segment with Carissa doing all those jogs and high-steps goes straight into Traci leaning over the tall box to do rear delt flies. Putting the head at the same level as the heart always makes me dizzy and nauseous, so I just sit on the box and lean over my thighs. 5. I don't like to do ab work at the beginning or during a work-out. I think it's important not to fatigue the abs when you still need them to stabilize during weight work. I just fast-forward through the ab sections. The ab sections are nice, however, as they are the more creative sequences from the Tri-Trainers and the Blast Set.

All in all, this tape is a keeper. I'm mildly annoyed when I have to fast-forward through the ab sections and I could do without the ball aerobics. For concentrated upper body shaping, Cathe Friedrich's Pure Strength and Maximum Intensity Strength would be far better. But as part of a FIRM rotation, it's a nice tape.

Instructor Comments:



This isn't nearly as good as the Lower-Body Split, but it's one I will keep at least for awhile. It consists of five "giant sets" covering your upper body, interspersed with abs and aerobics. I generally fast-forward through the aerobics, because I don't care for FIRM-style aerobics. Overall, this is an effective workout. However, I do think they overdid it on the lat rows. There are about a bzillion sets. Why, I don't know. It seems to me that most people would need improvement in other areas ahead of their lats -- do you ever go around saying, "Gee, my lats are looking a little flat"? I've noticed the over-abundance of lat work on a couple of their other tapes, too. I'd rather have them reduce the lat work some and spend the time on other areas. Grade B.

Annie S.


I was anxiously awaiting the arival of this tape and I'm happy to report that it was worth the wait. Even though I have previewed the tape once and have actually done the workout one time, I don't think advanced Firm Believers will be disappointed.

The workout is about 60 minutes of heavy upper body weight training with cardio and ab segments dispursed throughout the tape. This is a parts tape taken from the Crosstrainers, Blast, Tri-Trainers, and Prime Power Series. The production quality is great and all of the different segments flowed very well together.

All of the upper body muscles are totally worked on this tape. There are lots of lat rows, upright rows and military presses, bicep curls from The Tortoise, pec flyes, tons of push ups and tricep kickbacks. One problem I did have with this tape was that the tricep kickback was the only exercise to work this bodypart. French presses or dips from Firm Cardio would have been nice.

From what I remember, ab work was taken from Better Body and Buns, Core Cardio 1 (or maybe 2) and Fat Blaster. Cardio sections were taken from Fat Blaster, Firm Cardio, and Core Cardio 1 or 2. The cardio sections were not that long (The Firm says 10 minutes total) but I thought they added some variety, gave me a chance to shake out my muscles, and helped prevent bordom which I think the Firm is good at doing. The time flew by as I was doing this video. One problem that I did have with the Cardio sections is sometimes they would move too quickly from doing intense cardio to ab work on the floor.

As far as equipment goes, a tall box, the ooof ball, various dumbells and a barbell is used. Overall, I give this tape an A- or B+. I'm already planning a rotation schedule using this tape and Lower Body Split. I have not viewed Lower Body Spilit yet but if it is as good as its upper body counterpart, I don't think I'll be disappointed.

Tiffanee Saunders