Basic Sculpting System: Abs, Back, Biceps

Cory Everson
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Abs/Core , 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


Forget the warm-up, here's a rundown of the exercises (all 2 sets, 12 reps): pull down for the lats (here you actually have to use your weights, since Cory uses the machine - don't get discouraged - keep going), long row (you can use tubing or dynaband), bent over row, single arm row. Then on to biceps (this time, 3 sets of 12): bicep curls with barbell, alternating bicep curls, concentration curls. Abwork: 2 sets of 25 crunches, alternating oblique twists (too short). No cool-down. The entire back and arm workout - a solid 29 minutes. Great bargain: $5.45 through

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


A tough, thorough workout in about 30 minutes! I like it -- and I think other fans of Cory's Get Hard Arms & Shoulders will, too.

This tape can be done with either gym equipment or dumbbells/barbells. Cory demonstrates the "home" versions of the exercises, while two others use gym equipment.

You start with several different exercises for the back, doing 2 sets of 12 reps each. On the very first exercise, Cory considers a pull-up bar to be the "home" version, but many of us don't have pull-up bars. It's an exercise for the lats, so I just innovate and do whatever I feel like doing at the time. I don't feel like I've lost anything by having to substitute for this particular exercise. For the rest, you can use dumbbells or barbells, except for one exercise you will probably want to use a tube for. That is the long rows, and I just wrap an exercise tube around a pole (I exercise in my basement) and do it that way.

After the back exercises, you move on to biceps -- killer style! She has you do 3 sets of 12 of 3 different exercises, because the arm muscles are harder to develop. Your biceps will be screaming for mercy before you're done. You do biceps curls first, then one-armed biceps curls (alternating arms), and finally concentration curls. I manage to use 10 pound dumbbells for all but the last two sets of concentration curls, and then I have to go down to 8. But I'm working on that!

Finally, there is the ab section, which is just crunches. That part is skip-able, for me, anyway, because I have other ab routines I like a lot better.

I love this series, and I recommend it to anyone interested in strength training/body building. Grade A.

Instructor Comments:
Cory can make some really tough workouts when she wants to. I wish she would make more like this.

Annie S.


I was quite impressed with this video. The only complaint I have is that there is no choreographed warm-up. You are supposed to march in place, or use your own treadmill or stationary cycle for 5 minutes while Cory introduces and explains the coming routine. This information is quite useful, though, so listen to it at least once, and then warm up with Cathe next time!

On to the routine itself. There are three exercisers, and each one is using a different piece of equipment. One demonstrates the "home" version, one the "machine" version and one the "fancy machine" version. Naturally, this gives me "gym envy", but the "home" versions aren't too bad. Cory and friends do 2 sets of 12 reps per exercise, with a rest and a stretch between sets. The "home" back exercises are: assisted pull-up (this requires a chin-up bar), long row (this requires a resistance band), barbell bent row, and one-arm bent dumbbell row. The "home" biceps exercises are: barbell curl, standing dumbbell curl, and concentration curl. Then 3 sets of 25 reps of crunches and twisting crunches complete the workout. The whole thing takes about 30 minutes, and you can always add more weight or more sets if you want to increase intensity, so I think this workout will challenge even the advanced exerciser.

Instructor Comments:
I find Cory's voice to be quite high and girlish - exactly the opposite of what I expected from a bodybuilding champion! Anyway, the form pointers are okay, and the attempts at motivation are not too irritating.

Serena Schlueter