PowerFit Plus: Total ExpressStephanie Huckabee
Year Released: 2010
Categories: Strength Training (Total Body)
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Note: This is one of two discs in the PowerFit Plus set.
I’m reviewing this workout after doing it three times.
General workout breakdown: Cardiomama has already broken down and described this workout well, so I’ll just add a few thoughts.
This is not a bad little total body workout. If you’ll excuse some nitpicking, I feel that the biceps get a teensy bit more attention than they perhaps deserve if one wants to keep things in balance, whether here in comparison to the amount of work for the triceps or just in general, and I feel the hamstrings are woefully underdone, only worked indirectly. That said, I do like the amount of work for both the big and small muscles of the back, especially in relation to the chest (there’s really no need to work the chest as much as, much less more than, the back), and I like that Stephanie uses planks for corework rather than doing bunches of crunches for the abs, as she does in other PowerFit workouts.
Note that Stephanie does upright rows, one of those exercises that more and more physical therapists, etc., are saying have greater risks than rewards, even though fitness instructors still love ‘em. Since you have the band in hand, why not swap in a rotator cuff exercise? One I know is to hold the band in front of you with your palms up and pull out; you can keep to Stephanie’s rhythm or do your own.
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.
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.
Stephanie and crew also have a mat for the floorwork, so depending upon your flooring you may want to have one handy, too.
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.
This comes in a regular plastic DVD case with the other PowerFit Plus disc, Cardio Kick. Each disc rests on its own little plastic holder, one on top of another, so at least they’re separate, although they still overlap, and one of mine was slightly damaged in all of the shipping it has had to endure, so I have to be careful as I close the case.
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.
This may be my favorite of the strength workouts from all three PowerFit sets because it’s one of the more balanced total body sets Stephanie does, even if she slightly overemphasizes some muscles that get too much attention anyway (*cough* biceps) and underemphasizes other important, oft neglected ones (*cough* low back and hamstrings). I personally also like that it’s almost all standing, as I’m not the biggest floorwork fan. And I like that Stephanie uses planks for the corework instead of bunches of crunches, her default for most of her other abs exercises. I like the 1-legged squats in here as well as the overall lack of floorwork for the lower body. That said, I’m not the biggest fan of the lunge, er, dip series with shoulder work, perhaps because I’m taller and it’s a little awkward with the short band Stephanie’s included with this kit (I’ve been known to do the up move of the shoulder exercise with the down move of the dip instead of coming up to do the shoulder move…). Of course, in general I’m not the biggest fan of combination, er, “compound” exercises like that anyway, although I get why they’d appeal to Stephanie in a time-crunched workout like this.
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 basic cardio choreography and strength training rather than a newbie to exercise. She mirror cues, meaning when she says “right” she means the viewer’s, not hers.
Stephanie’s more of a supportive mom type of instructor; you can tell 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 “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 Plus “Total Express” is 20 min. total body (band) resistance workout led by Stephanie Huckabee. It consists of mostly weighted, standing exercises, but there are some bodyweight exercises sequenced into the standing section to elevate heart rate. The brief section of floor exercises consist of push-ups, planks & stretches. This workout is part of the PowerFit Plus set that includes the "Cardio Kick" workout (on separate discs). I think it’s a solid total body workout, it has similar exercises to the other PF total body workouts (common exercises that work major muscle groups) but w/ different rep focus (incorporates the 3 count hold and/or pulse in this workout). Stephanie cues well & provides clear instruction w/ encouragement.
Music: canned, instrumental
Set: airy space w/ wood floor, greyish walls w/ various fitness equipment in the space.
Cast; two background exercises who demo great form w/ constant smiling.
Equipment: flat resistance band
Overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion > Alternating side step (hands on hips)> add arm sweep to front> samba (right)> add alternating overhead arms & sweep down in back of body> lift & lower in split leg stance (rear leg is straight) w/ arm sweep to front> pelvic tuck/hip flexor stretch (rear leg is bends w/ tuck) w/ arm sweep to front & pull back> squats w/overhead arms> spinal rolls> marches> repeat sequence (work through other side).
Alternating shift/lunge to side in plie/sumo squat position> add alternating single overhead arm reach> add alternating single arm reach to floor (more knee level)> walk feet in to narrow stance & roll up to standing position> Overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.
Squats: band under both feet, held in both hands, wide stance>deeper range of motion> 3 count hold in lowered position.
Upright row: double arm, band under front foot & crossed> alternating single arms> double arm.
Lat row: from previous position, turn to face side> single arm, both ends of band held in one hand> 3 count pulse at top> stretch: spinal roll.
Single leg squat: start in same body position w/ band held in both hands & lowered position of squat/lunge, single reps> 2 count lift & lower> repeat sequence.
Repeat lat row & single leg squat sequence on other side.
Leg Abductions w/ bicep curls: from previous position, turn to face front (band under non-traveling leg)> perform leg (lift) abduction to side> add double arm bicep curl arm> 3 count hold at top> repeat on other side.
Tricep kickback: double arm (band held under front foot)> alternate single arm> repeat sequence.
Dips (rear lunge): from previous position, turn to face side w/ band held in both hands (band under non-traveling leg)> perform rear lunge> add medial shoulder raise.
Posterior flies (raises): face front & place band under other foot, hinge forward (at hips), bent arms, perform single reps> 2 count lift & lower.
Repeat dip sequence on other side, but add frontal raise (medial for previous set).
Marches (bodyweight)> alternate side squat> faster pace w/ press (down) arms> marches> power marches> repeat sequence.
Plie w/ bicep curl: band under right foot, held w/ both hands, start in lowered position> perform plies> add bicep curl w/ palms facing up (left arm lifts to front, right lifts to side).
Double (arm) bent row: split leg stance w/ band under front foot> perform single reps> 3 count pulse at top.
Repeat Plie w/ bicep curl sequence on other side.
Sumo/plie squats (bodyweight): start in lowered position> lift w/ knee lift, alternating sides> add overhead arm pull down w/ knee lift> walk feet in & roll to standing position
Push-ups: on knees> 3 count at lowered position>modified cobra> planks (on elbows/forearms & knees)> planks on toes> modified cobra.
Table position (on all fours)> cat/cow (spinal rolls & reverse position)> transition into standing position.
Plie position> shift to one side for static hold, both sides> walk feet in> hamstring stretch (front foot flexed, bent back leg)w/ shoulder (bent arm stretches across chest, other arm holds it), both sides> chest stretch (hands clasp, straight arms in back of body)> upper back/shoulder stretch (hands clasp, straight arms, in front of body)> repeat the chest stretch> side bend w/ single overhead arm, both sides> overhead arms w/ inhalation, reverse motion.