PeakFit Challenge: Cardio Strength 1

Michelle Dozois
Year Released: 2011

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Total Body Workouts

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This is one of the 10 workouts in Michelle’s Peak Challenge set (and this is one of the two workouts that was sold by itself as well). This is one TOUGH advanced workout that alternates functional style strength exercises with mixed intensity cardio. The other reviewers already gave good breakdowns and the Ascent/Climb/Peak Intensity/Basecamp structure, so I’ll just give my opinions.

I really enjoy Michelle and was looking forward to these super intense workouts…once I worked up my endurance and thought I could handle them! Well I am at that point now, finally able to tackle some advanced workouts. And it was worth the wait! This workout was tough (did I mention that?) and I really enjoyed the functional strength and high energy cardio. The music was very fun and carefully synchronized for each of the Ascent/Climb/Peak Intensity/Basecamp and to each exercise. The basecamp and ascent are strength oriented, Michelle used a light pair and a heavy pair of dumbbells (she didn’t offer what poundage she was using, but I used my 4, 6, 8, and 10# pairs as appropriate-you can’t go too heavy due to the functional style). The functional work was reminiscent of Tracie Long’s TLT series. I also thought the strength was heavy on the shoulders (but did hit all the muscle groups) and on the whole, more taxing on the upper body than the lower body. The core was not often hit directly but was constantly engaged with all of the twisting moves. There was some strength work for the legs but the real work came in with the cardio and plyo jumps. The climb was pretty darn intense itself with lots of jumps and also some kickboxing, and the peak intensity was all out, full effort plyometric-style work, but it only lasted for about 8-16 reps of jumps, and then it was back to basecamp! Michelle spent about the first half of basecamp as a breather and then jumped back into strength for the second half.

My only real complaint about this workout is that there is NO warm up, it just jumps right into the basecamp with weighted work! I was unimpressed with Michelle for not including a basic warmup. So I just went through the first few exercises unweighted. Likewise, while I love a long-ish stretch in workouts of about 6-7 minutes, the stretch was about 9 minutes and was just pretty long (wish she had spent some of that time on the warmup!) But the long stretch is a minor complaint. Everything else was just so well organized.

I just loved, loved, loved the combination of functional strength and drill-style cardio and plyometrics. My I am high intermediate/low advanced and this workout was hard but doable for me. It really challenged me and kept my heart rate up the entire time. Definitely a keeper for my collection, and I plan to get a lot out of this workout. You can always increase the intensity by upping the poundage or putting more energy into the cardio. Overall grade A!

Instructor Comments:
I have always been a big fan of Michelle’s, I think she is one of my favorite instructors. I have two of her Your Best Body workouts and her Ultimate Workout, and this is a step up from them-but her instruction style stays consistent. She is encouraging but not chatty, and constantly gives good form pointers and points out modifications. She readily admits that she is struggling too and you really feel like she’s working out with you and not just barking out orders.

Emily B.


Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this workout.

Just to let you know a little about me, I'm a 48 year old intermediate and long term exerciser who has bad hands, wrists, and feet (psoriatic arthritis) and bad knees (osteo arthritis). Consequently, I look for low-impact workouts - or workouts that I can modify easily - that don't require body weight to be supported on my hands/wrists.

This workout is really well designed. It is comprised of sets of intervals and you do each interval twice, once on each side. Each interval, except for the first one*, is comprised of the following sections:

> Ascent - Moderate exercise - Strength
> Climb - Increasing intensity - Cardio
> Peak intensity - The highest intensity - Cardio
> Basecamp - Recovery - Strength base move

*The first round, or circuit, has no Peak intensity because it is designated as the official warm up.

Michelle is in a big, open room with multiple modifiers behind her. I think it's the same set as Kari Anderson's recent workouts as well as others. Throughout the workout, there was a lot of energy with both Michelle and the exercisers. I did not see many modifications being demonstrated. Michelle does give specific recommendations for weights to use and really encourages the home exerciser to increase their weights where possible.

I found this workout to be hard for me. The weight work was tough - fun, but tough. I kept dropping the weight of my dumbbells, so although I enjoyed many of the moves, they didn't feel as efficient as I would like because I was using lighter weights than recommended. There were also a good number of moves with weight supported on the hands and high impact moves I had a hard time modifying.

I would rate this workout as advanced. For those who are advanced, it is probably a really fun workout. For those that have less high level of fitness, check out the clips before you order it. It could be a good workout for you - just try to be as sure as possible before ordering.

Instructor Comments:
I always find Michelle to be fun, motivating, professional, and a really organized fitness leader. She's all that and more in this workout.

Laura S.


This is a 59 minute strength & cardio workout led by Michelle w/ 6 background exercisers (male & female). The set is a nice room with hardwood floors, white walls & windows in the background. You will need a variety of dumbbells for this workout- she recomends 2 sets, 5 -20 lbs.

The workout is set up in 10 minute circuits. You start with level 1 - strength training, and then move to level 2 - where you incorporate some compond moves into your strength moves. Level 3 is cardio and its no "walk in the park" easy cardio. Then you perform level 4- which is all out, anaerobic cardio. She concludes the workout with a cooldown stretch.

The workout jumps right in- no wasted time here! Some of the strength work (levels 1 & 2) def had a functional feel and some seemed kettlebell inspired. There were a lot of compounds moves (level 2) so you are moving and working throughout the entire hour. Some of the strength moves include: deadlifts into a bicep curl, pushups into plank knee pulls, pliets w/ UB work, squat to the floor w/ a shoulder raise, and I felt my core being worked throughout each strength set.

Level 3 cardio moves included: shuffle jump, various kick and punch combos, jumping jacks, high knees, skiiers, etc. The level 3 cardio is not what I would consider easy at all and is followed by 15 seconds of even more intense cardio!

Level 4 cardio moves include tuck jumps, flying jumps, ground touch-jump, crab crawl jumps, and more heart pounding explosive moves. Level 4 only lasts 15 seconds so its very do-able! And is followed by another level 1 strength set, which allows your to recover.

This workout is def advanced but is SO very doable because of the way Michelle has structured the work. This workout really really strengthens your heart- training it to not only get up there but to come back down. I LOVE a challenging workout and I love that this one flows so well and the time just flew by. At 30 minutes into the workout I was still going very strong. I didnt lose any steam until the very last circuit, but was still able to finish strong. That says alot to the sequencing of this workout and I am impressed! Can not wait to try others in this series. Michelles cueing is spot on and all the moves are athletic and easy to catch onto.