Serious Strength (aka Seriously Strong)Gin Miller
Year Released: 2007
Categories: Strength Training (Total Body)
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Instructor - Gin Miller
Type - Total Body weight training, heavy weights/high reps, although I modified down for low weights/high reps
Level - Advanced
Impact - Mixed
Duration - 72 minutes (6 minute warmup, 64 minute workout, 2 minute stretch, according to collagevideo)
Equipment - various weighted dumbbells, step, barbell, mat (i did not use a barbell though)
This is a total body strength workout led by Gin Miller. If you love Jari Love, I believe you will love this workout. This workout has all that Jari's is lacking - great music, bright set, and jokes LOL! Most of the exercises are traditional with a twist, but not so out there that you (1) think you may injure yourself or (2) think that the moves are TOO innovative.
This workout has four 15 minute toning sections, that are clearly divided on the main menu. Each segment on the menu features which exercise will be done during that segment. She has different tempo variations and counts which keeps the workout interesting.
I love how Gin emphasizes proper form and modifications. I have been shying away from lower body workouts, because most feature endless lunges and squats, which have been hard on my knees. Gin explains that you can either go heavy on the weight or go into a deeper lunge to intensify, or vice versa. So I just heavied the weight, but didn't go as low, and my legs still felt very worked out. Plus, no knee pain!
PROS: excellent form pointers, great music, Gin is a very engaging instructor
CONS: abs segment could have used different moves and been a little longer.
Gin loves to crack jokes and she seems very sincere. Love her sense of humor. She gives excellent form pointers and shows modifications.
I’m reviewing this DVD after doing the entire workout once or twice.
Note: I have the original version, which is released under “Serious Strength,” but I see now that it’s called “Seriously Strong.” I have no idea what differences, if any, there are between the two versions.
General workout breakdown: This total body weights workout clocks in at 72 minutes, and it’s not an easy 72 minutes.
The front cover bills this as a “HEAVY weight, HIGH repetition, ADVANCED workout.” You’ll be able to go relatively heavy for a high rep workout (i.e. you can drag out your 8s and10s rather than restrict yourself to your 3s and 5s), but this isn’t a true heavy weights workout. It’s more about endurance than pure strength or muscle growth.
Gin plays with tempo variations, often building a combination of several different ones (e.g. alternating between 8 counts, singles, and 4 counts, with maybe some 2 counts to start things off). Her pace is controlled, never rushed.
There are some balance challenges, which pushes this into the “functional fitness” category, although other than these the workout is pretty straightforward gym-style body parts-focused weights work. For the most part Gin does not combine upper and lower body moves into one, another factor which aids in picking up slightly heavier weights here.
- The warm up (5 min.) begins with Gin reviewing posture and introducing her backup exercises before marching, single arm lift, side bend, dynamic low back stretch, heel dig with arm movements, dynamic hamstring stretch, shoulder roll, and little squat.
- Part 1 (16 min.) = squats and biceps curls.
The first squat round begins with shallow squats, gradually increasing the range of motion and then slowing down before doing a tempo combination. Gin does a shoulder stretch in a wide squat and wide-legged forward bend before doing a few straight-legged deadlifts. Regular old biceps curls get jazzed up with toe taps into knee lifts; you’ll do a few more straight-legged deadlifts before doing a different combo of biceps curls while holding the knee up, using the straight-legged deadlift (which becomes a 1-legged deadlift) as a transitional move between sides. After a few quick stretches for the biceps, you return to the squats combo. The final biceps exercise is done with the arms a little out to the side; the knee lifts / holds and 1-legged straight-legged deadlifts return as well, with Gin adding a leg kick out in the knee hold position.
- Part 2 (20 min.) = rear leg lifts, chest (push-ups or chest press), lunges, and shoulders (lateral raises and overhead presses).
Mini presses with hands resting on dumbbells on the step become the rear leg lifts, which again are done with varying tempos, some pulses, and holds. Gin also adds in the opposite arm lifts for that extra challenge. For chestwork you have the option of doing push-ups (with hands on step or floor) or chest press; both move at the same tempo. Gin and her mid-level exerciser do push-ups on knees, switching between knees and toes, and then only on toes. Gin pauses for a breath in some kneeling lunges before a “blow-out set” of single push-ups / chest presses.A kneeling or seated child’s pose and a chest stretch ends this portion. Gin then goes into static lunges, with her front leg on the step and the others with both feet on the floor, with a quick hamstring stretch between sides. All three exercisers begin without weights to establish range of motion, but Gin picks dumbbells up for tempo combinations. The break periods between sides are shorter series of lateral raises (which the lower level exerciser does on alternating sides). After 3 sets of lunges / shoulders, Gin switches to overhead presses (beginning with elbows in and opening up at top); toe taps become knee lifts. Dynamic calf stretches and shoulder / neck stretches finish off this segment.
- Part 3 (14 min.) = bridges, unlitateral rows, plie squats, and hinged rows.
The bridge series are done with feet on the step; again, Gin varies the tempos and adds knees out & in at the top. Gin adds a weight on the hips of one exercise in the second round. The first round of rows is done one side at a time, with the opposite foot on the step; again, Gin changes up the tempo. After a shoulder stretch in a wide squat, Gin picks up her barbell for plie squats – with tempo variations, of course, and some pulses. Gin uses the barbell for deadlifts with a slight bend in the knees, which leads into the double-arm row combination. Standing twists end this part.
- Part 4 (19.5 min.) = triceps (overhead extension, supine extension, or dips; about 4 min.), core work (side seated core stabilization, bicycles w/ holds, planks w/ sprinters; 9-10 min.) and a final stretch (about 2-3 min).
Gin begins by demonstrating your three options for the triceps workout: overhead press with a dumbbell, supine extension with a barbell, or dips with hands on dumbbells and/or on the step platform. Again, expect tempo changes and pulses; there are also a few breaks between combinations. Surprisingly Gin doesn’t really do a triceps stretch during the rest before the core work. The side core stabilization series consists of arm movements and then a leg movement to meet the arms while seated on your hip on the step. The rest are self-explanatory (the “sprinters” are knees to the ground from elbow plank), with Gin switching up how many reps you do before a hold.
The final stretch is short, with a wide-legged forward bend, shoulder stretch in wide squat, side lunge with arm reaching forward, low back stretch, hamstring stretch, and chest / biceps / front of the shoulder stretch. Gin says you can keep stretching if you’d like, and I definitely needed to add in quads, hip flexors, glutes, biceps, triceps, etc.
Level: I’d recommend this to experienced exercisers, preferably those exercising at an intermediate through maybe mid-advanced level. You can definitely grow with this workout by increasing your range of motion and weight over time. Although Gin includes some helpful form tips and reminders, I agree with those who say there’s not enough instruction for newbies to strength training.
Class: 2 women join Gin, and they’ll show up to 3 different versions or at least 1 alternate exercise. As you might expect, Gin shows the most intense variation. There are some exceptions: in the bridge segment Gin coaches her 2 back-ups, and in the core segment she alone appears for the first exercise and final stretch, then coaches one and then the other of the back-up exercises in the other moves.
Music: mostly instrumentals, with a beat, sometimes kind of funky or gritty in feel (similar to the old school hip hop stuff Chalene uses in Turbo Jam, but Gin’s soundtracks are Cardio Mixes remixes).
Set: bright, uncluttered interior space with neutral colors and a big poster of Gin on the wall behind her.
Production: clear picture and sound. The camera usually shows all 3 women at once, which is great when different levels are shown.
Sometimes Gin will turn to the side to demonstrate form better or an insert will show Gin from the back or another helpful angle.
A perceived exertion chart appears on the screen at or around the end of each segment.
Equipment: As shown, this workout uses a step (Gin and crew have Reebok steps at the low or high settings), barbell, dumbbells, and a mat. You can get away with just dumbbells (or use your dumbbell plates instead), and with a little thought you could do this without a step. You can skip the mat if your floor and/or step surface doesn’t require it.
I saw on the forum that someone recommended subbing in a Bosu for the side core work, which is a great idea; you could probably use a Bosu instead of the step for the whole workout, actually.
Space Requirements: enough room to do squats, lunges, and rear leg lifts, with enough room for your step and weights, too. Overall this is a compact weights workout, with each exercise done in place rather than moving around.
DVD Notes: The main menu is rather busy, with these options: Remote Audio Button - Music ON Channel 1 or Music OFF Channel 2, Quick Mix Menu (which says it plays shortened segments in a rearranged order and you can pick your own starting point), Play All, Warm Up, Pre Class (Guidelines), Part 1 (Squats 1, Biceps 1 BB, Squats 2, Biceps 2 DB), Part 2 (Rear Leg Lifts, Chest, Lunges w/ Shoulders), Part 3 (Bridges, Rows DB, Plie Squats, Rows BB), and Part 4 (Triceps, Core ~ Side, Bicycles, Planks, End Stretch). It would have been nice to see premixes for upper body only and lower body only.
Comments: Just as an FYI, the back cover says this workout is at 130 bpm.
I haven’t tried any of Gin’s other strength workouts, so I don’t know how this compares to her other offerings.
In a way this video reminded me a lot of what I liked about the original Ripped (or Get Ripped!) by Jari Love: up to three variations for each exercise; the ability to use moderate (to maybe moderately heavy) weights; a good number of reps without feeling repped to death; tempo variations to keep those long sets interesting; simple, tried but true exercises for the total body; a limited amount of equipment; appropriate for experienced a wide range of exercise abilities; and a pleasant, knowledgeable instructor who cues well. SS is more balanced between upper and lower body, however, and does not have the floorwork of Ripped (which to me is a plus ;)). The increased lower body work in SS is what made it feel a hair more challenging than Ripped for me, since lower body work, which involves many large muscle groups, wears me out more quickly. In general, SS has slightly fewer reps but includes even slower tempo variations, so it evens out. And Gin is more unscripted and less motivational speaker-like than Jari.
Other similar videos might be Cathe’s Muscle Endurance or Power Hour, where although endurance-focused you can also go a little heavier, as evidenced by Cathe’s use of barbells for a number of exercises, just like Gin.
I remember that another VFer placed Gin between Jari and Cathe in terms of difficulty / intensity, and I’d agree.
Gin focuses on cuing here, so there’s not a lot of form instruction, although she’ll include a few tips now and there. She also spends a lot of time encouraging you. Gin’s trademark sense of humor is on display here: at one point she asks you if you’re ready to cry “uncle” yet, then says you’ll have to cry “aunt” instead because there are no uncles there – except for the cameraman. She keeps the humor in check, though, bringing it out to help you push through a tough set. Few people are as relaxed in front of the camera as Gin, and she interacts easily both with her background exercises and especially the viewer.