PowerFit Harmony: Sculpt Strong PushStephanie Huckabee
Year Released: 2010
Categories: Total Body Workouts
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Note: This is disc #2 in the PowerFit Harmony set.
I’m reviewing this workout after doing it three times.
General workout breakdown: Lindsey and especially Cardiomama have already broken down this workout well, so I’ll just add a few notes.
Stephanie generally does 8-12 reps, although some exercises might go up to 16 or might get additional sets (alternating between a lower and an upper body move or doing one arm at a time, then both together), a tempo change, or pulses. She never does anything for very long, so if you want to get the most out of each exercise you’ll have to make sure you’re challenging yourself from the first rep.
There isn’t much downtime between moves, although Stephanie does have a few pauses. I didn’t feel too rushed, but for those unused to working with a resistance band you’ll want to have the remote nearby to hit pause as needed or for those who are working with additional equipment you’ll want to have your other bands and/or weights very close by.
This is the obvious pair with Sculpt Strong Pull, which works many of the opposing groups, although there’s some overlap in the lower body since both have squats and lunges - er, dips - that’ll work the glutes and quads. Still, you should be able to do these on back to back days without much of a problem, although you could always do a cardio or core workout in between. Both of these are nice little workouts, but I think I might prefer Pull over Push here.
I have all three PowerFit sets, and I prefer the way the strength workouts are split in the Harmony set (push/pull and upper/lower) compared to the split in the original set (legs & shoulders; chest, triceps & glutes; back, biceps & thighs), because I feel Stephanie balances the muscle groups better in the Harmony splits and doesn’t overdo some of the smaller muscle groups (biceps, shoulders). I do agree with Cardiomama that this feels very similar to other PowerFit strength workouts, however.
Level: I’d agree with those who say that done as shown these workouts are beginner / intermediate. I’m not sure I’d recommend this to someone who had never exercised before, as Stephanie’s form instruction is a bit skimpy for some exercises and the combination moves require a good bit of coordination and concentration, and this may be tricky for someone who has never worked with a resistance band before. But this is great for someone who’s not an absolute beginner but who’s still working out at a beginning level: those who’ve graduated from “this is how you do a squat” videos but need something to bridge the gap into intermediate workouts, those who are restarting, and those who have dialed things down for health or other reasons. This would also work well for a travel workout, especially if you know you’ll be wiped out and won’t have the time, room, or energy to do much but still want to get something in to maintain your fitness. All that said, with some creativity, as many have said, an intermediate could make these work, not just on light days but perhaps even on moderate days.
I knew going in that these would be on the easy side for me at my usual fitness level, intermediate / advanced. But I’m not at my usual fitness level right now. After starting and stopping due to, well, life over the past year and a half I needed something easy – and short – to ease myself back into working out regularly so I could work back up to my regular level of working out. (I suspect if I had gotten this earlier on I may not have gone through such long spurts of not working out…) These fit the bill.
Class: 2 women join Stephanie, who instructs live as she does the whole routine. No one shows modifications, not that they’re really needed.
Music: standard-issue exercise video stuff; it’s nothing offensive, but it’s certainly not memorable.
Set: open interior space with “wood” laminate floors, gray walls, and a big “window” looking onto a brick-looking wall; fitness equipment is neatly organized off to the sides on shelves, and there’s some IKEA-style furniture tastefully arranged along the back and sides, too. The set is brightly lit, though, so it feels like you’re meeting Stephanie at a boutique studio type of place.
Production: clear picture and sound, professionally done camera angles that were predominantly helpful (there were maybe a few times I wanted to see Stephanie instead of a background exerciser or her legs instead of her face, but I had little trouble following this workout while watching it).
Equipment: As noted, Stephanie only uses one resistance band of a medium level of resistance. It’s worth nothing that Stephanie’s band is short, only 4 feet in length. To increase the intensity, use a band with a stronger resistance and/or add ankle weights or dumbbells where appropriate; to decrease the intensity, use a lighter resistance band or a band of similar intensity but longer length or drop it altogether for some moves.
Space Requirements: This workout is nicely compact. At 5’8” I was able to do the entire workout on 6 2’x2’ puzzle mats, or in an area 6’ wide by 4’ deep.
DVD Notes: The DVD just has this workout. After the usual warning screen plays, a screen with the title and a picture of Stephanie pops up. You’ll have to hit enter or play or whatever on your remote, and then the workout will play. There are no chapters within the workout, which is too bad because it would be nice to skip the warm-up, for example, if you’re using this as an add-on.
It’s worth noting that the PowerFit Harmony set comes in a cardboard case with all 10 discs, 2 on each “leaf,” with one disc overlapping the other. While this makes things compact and keeps them all together, that means you can’t really entertain visions of splitting up this set for storage ( if, like me, you have separate shelves for cardio and strength DVDs) or for trading / selling off the ones you don’t want. Also, cases that store discs one over the other are one of my pet peeves, as I don’t like storage systems that I feel encourage potential damage to the discs they should be protecting. Those concerned about shelf space should know the whole thing takes up almost as much space as about 2 regular and 1 small plastic DVD cases together.
Comments: For the record, I’ve never done a FIRM workout, so I’m unfamiliar with Stephanie’s previous work and cannot compare what she’s doing now with what she did then. But I’m betting some of the cues that seemed different to me (e.g. using “dips” to refer to lunges and the cue of “full-form squat”) come out of her Firm experiences.
I have to admit that Stephanie’s hook of “just give me 20 minutes” is what reeled me in. OK, that and I found this set at a deeply discounted rate, which was probably the real reason I bit. I’m not quite the busy mom type of Stephanie’ main target audience, but I’ve recently assumed a few more responsibilities and find there are days when those 30-minute workouts are just a little too long (especially when “30 minutes” really means more like 35-45…), particularly after I ended up taking a longer than expected break from working out and needed to start back. Now that I’ve done these three times in a row, first singly and then doubling up the next two times through, I’m ready to move on, but I’m keeping these in case I find myself in a similar situation again.
I have all three PowerFit sets, the original PowerFit, PowerFit Harmony, and PowerFit Plus. If I were to rank them in order of intensity, according to my opinion, it would be Harmony as the easiest, then the original PF set, and the PF Plus as the hardest. But there isn’t a significant difference in intensity level between the three, so others may not find that there’s a real progression or may disagree with my ranking, but more importantly if you have one set you’ll be able to do the other sets.
Just as an FYI, Stephanie appears to be no longer producing PowerFit workouts. Although it will be increasingly difficult to find new copies, you’ll be able to find copies available secondhand.
Stephanie cues well and provides a decent amount of form tips and instruction, although I still maintain the amount better suits someone already a little familiar with strength training rather than a newbie to exercise. She mirror cues, meaning when she says “right” she means the viewer’s, not hers.
I’m on record as not liking drill sergeant or perky cheerleader types, and Stephanie definitely isn’t one of those. She’s more of a supportive mom, but not so much so that you’ll find yourself subconsciously reaching for a juice box rather than a protein shake afterwards; it’s more that being a mother and wife is as an important part of Stephanie’s identity as being a fitness instructor and her target audience is the busy mom who needs reminding to take care of herself. That said, I can understand why some people have said they don’t feel like Stephanie gives them enough credit for their true capabilities as exercisers since she prefers the “I know it’s hard and you have a lot going on, but you can do it because there are only a few more reps and you just have to give me 20 minutes” spiel rather than “Embrace your inner athlete!” or something like that.
Stephanie is a talker, but not chatterer, if that makes sense. Much of the time she’s cuing, but the rest of the time she’s motivating. I’d prefer to go without her fairly constant reminders to make the most of my 20 minutes and to focus on how great I’ll look now that I’m taking care of myself (appearance just doesn’t motivate me in the way it does others), but at least I don’t have to listen to cutesy talk about body parts or whatever. I do like that she includes “feel how strong you are” comments in addition to just sticking with the “visualize the body you want and I’ll help you get there” ones.
PowerFit Harmony “Strong Push” is a 20 min. total body resistance workout that consists of standing exercises & floor exercises. It is sequenced with bodyweight & weighted exercises that work the chest, triceps, abs & lower body (butt, outer thigh focus) w/ some combination exercises (ex. squat abductions w/ chest press, crunch w/ band arm sweep) & isolated exercise for muscle groups (triceps kickback). I did like the floor exercises in this workout (good variety, most were not in the other PF workouts), but did not care for the standing exercises (felt too similar to the other PF resistance workouts, felt repetitive). And Stephanie does say “Listen Up” and “you only have 20 min.” a lot during the workout, so that was a bit annoying (her chatter was not overkill in the other PF workouts). I use this workout paired w/ others, not as a stand alone workout (though it could work for one).
Overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.
Alternating side step> add single arm sweep (starts in front, moves out to side)> alternating press step to front> add double arm sweep (front out to side)> alternating step touch> add push down arms (large range of motion bicep curl)> back cross step (foot taps in back)> add triceps press arms> side squat> side squat w/ spinal roll> marches> repeat sequence again> Overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.
Close squats: band under both feet, held in both hands, narrow stance of feet/legs> static hold in lowered position, then lift & lower to perform other reps> repeat sequence.
Squat abductions w/ chest press: band is around upper back, held w/ both hands> alternating side squats> alternate squat (side leg lift) abduction> add chest press.
Triceps kickbacks: double arm (band held under front foot)> fast pace, alternating arms> repeat sequence.
Squats (bodyweight): Marches> wide stance> squat w/ arm sweep to front> pulses> repeat sequence> marches> overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.
Alternating stepping lunges: folded band is held in both hands> front lunge, tap, then (other leg) rear lunge, tap w/ arm sweep to front, alternating sides> add knee lift (in place of tap)> add overhead arm sweep> add twist w/ arms & torso to knee/side.
Abductions: band under non-moving leg, other leg abducts to side> static hold in top position, then lower & lift to perform other reps> repeat on other side.
Quadriceps kicks (bodyweight): front kick w/ flexed heel, reverse motion to tap floor> repeat on other side.
Push-ups: on knees, single reps> slower pace.
Band pushes: body is in quadruped position (on all fours) w/ band held in both hands & looped around one foot> alternate straight leg extension & knee pulls in (to floor)> straight leg lift> repeat on other side.
Chest press: band under upper back, elbows flared out, held w/ both hands> add glute bridge> perform only glute bridge> static hold at top of exercise, then lower & lift to complete reps.
Triceps press: elbows close to waist w/ hammer grip (palms facing each other).
Crunch w/ arm sweep: upper body crunch w/ (almost straight)arm sweep to center> alternate single arm sweep> repeat sequence.
Side planks: bottom leg bent, top is straight, top arm held overhead> static hold in top position> lift & lower> repeat on other side.
Quadricep stretch: from previous (side lying position), both sides> Triceps stretch: seated position (cross-legged) w/ both arms overhead, bent arms to stretch> Chest Stretch: place hands on lower back & open chest> clasp hands in back of body w/ straight arms> overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.
This is a 20 minute all sculpt workout led by Stephanie with 2 background exercisers. I absolutely love the set they are in (my dream home gym). There is a warmup and cooldown in the 20 minutes but besides that its nonstop sculpting with the band. No wasted time here! I wore my weighted vest and felt that helped bump up the intensity!
After the warmup Stephanie moves right into a squat series with the band. You will do regular band squats then a squat w/ an abduction and a chest press with the band. From there you move into tricep kickbacks with the band, bandless squats, walking lunges with a torso twist, standing abductions (she doesnt use the band but I did to up the intensity), a quad kick-extension (again I used the band), pushups, table work with the band (I added ankle weights & used the band here and REALLY felt the burn), lying chest press with a bridge, tricep press, a pec fly & crunch combo, and a side plank before you cooldown.