Drop Two SizesRachel Cosgrove
Year Released: 2013
Categories: Floor Aerobics/Hi-Lo/Dance , Total Body Workouts, Foam Roller
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I am writing this review after completing a full 12-week rotation of the Drop Two Sizes (D2S) DVD program. I want to be complete, so be prepared for a LONG review!
A LITTLE ABOUT ME:
I am a daily exerciser at an intermediate level. I do NOT do rotations or follow programs—in fact, with the exception of being a test subject for Karen Voight’s Sleek Essentials back in 2005, I have never done a specific program/rotation before. I tend to do a mix of heavier weight training and lighter weight work. My favorite instructor is Kelly Coffey-Meyer, but I mix in barre, kettlebells, kickboxing, Pilates, Classical Stretch/Essentrics, and plenty of yoga.
WHY DROP TWO SIZES?
When I started this program (in April 2014), I was already in a healthy weight range. However, I was a few pounds up (about 3 lbs.) from where I prefer to be. Also, as a pear shape, I carry quite a bit of fat on my lower body (lower abs, hips, butt, and thighs), and so I was attracted to the claims of D2S as being a “fat loss program.” I never really expected to actually “drop two sizes” with this program, but then again, I didn’t really need to—my goals were simply to tone up a bit more, maybe lose a couple of pounds, and fit into my clothes better.
There were several other things that interested me about this program. First, the workouts are scheduled just four days per week. This was a big plus for me, as it meant that I could still do whatever I wanted (yoga, barre, etc.) the other three days. Second, I liked creator Rachel Cosgrove’s theories about the need to focus on strength training for fat loss. I’ve never been a big cardio person, and I’ve always thought that my body responds better to more strength, including for managing my weight. Finally, I liked that these workouts used equipment that I already owned, including kettlebells (although dumbbell options are always shown) and a foam roller.
D2S is a 12-week program consisting of three phases; each phase is four weeks long. The DVD set contains a total of six DVDs: there are two DVDs for each phase of the program, one containing two strength workouts, and one containing two metabolic (cardio) workouts. The rotation is basic: you alternate the strength workouts every other day, and after your last strength workout for the week, you complete one of the two metabolic workouts for that phase. So, for each phase, you will complete each of the two strength workouts a total of six times, and the two metabolic workouts just twice each.
When you select your workout on each DVD (strength or metabolic), you have the option to “add RAMP,” “add RAMP and Foam Roll,” or “Play Workout only.” After you choose your workout, there is also a music on/off option. RAMP stands for Range of motion, Activation, and Movement Preparation. These are the warm-ups for the workouts, and they are quite lengthy. Plus, there is only one RAMP per phase, so you wind up doing the exact same warm-up 16(!) total times. The foam roll is short, and it is also intended to be done prior to the workouts (after the RAMP). However, because there are no cool-downs for any of these workouts, I did my foam rolling at the end of my workouts, which worked well for me. (Note—the main menu of the DVD does allow “Foam Roll” to be selected as a separate option after you conclude the workout. Unfortunately, though, the individual workouts are NOT chaptered.)
Cosgrove teaches live, sometimes performing the exercises herself, sometimes instructing her two background exercisers. (Neghar Fonooni, an instructor in her own right, appears in all the workouts; Jill Yaworski, an editor for Men’s Health magazine, is featured in Phase 1 and half of Phase 2; and Nicole Hrin, an executive assistant at Men’s Health, is in the remainder of Phase 2 and the Phase 3 workouts.)
All of the strength workouts follow the same basic format. Cosgrove begins with 1-2 core exercises. This is followed by a “power” move with long (60-second) rests between sets. For the “strength” portion, you’ll do a series of 3-4 exercise in a row, repeated for 2-3 sets; each strength workout has two such sequences, with the final exercise in each generally being an “active rest” (usually, this is a variation on one of the RAMP moves). Finally, every strength workout concludes with a “finisher,” a brief, fast-paced sequence designed to raise the heart rate and to leave you feeling breathless prior to the end of the workout.
As noted above, there are also two metabolic workouts in each phase. These are categorized as either “Timed,” “Countdown,” or “Complex” Metabolic (each type appears twice, in 2 different phases only). For the Timed Metabolic, exercises are performed as quickly as possible within the timed interval. The Countdown workouts start with a specified number of reps—such as 10—with each exercise being performed that number of times for the first round, but in subsequent round, the number of reps decreases. Finally, the Complex Metabolic workouts use light weights, with a series of exercises being performed rapidly for a total of three rounds.
Additional details for the workouts in each phase are listed below. Times listed include the RAMP warm-ups as well as the foam roll segment, which is exactly the same for ALL phases (6 minutes).
Phase 1 (RAMP = 14 minutes)
• Core = 2 exercises; Power = 1 exercise
• Strength moves = 15 reps; 2 sets (Weeks 1-3), 3 sets (Week 4); 2 rounds of 3 exercises
• Strength 1 = 58 minutes (Weeks 1-3), 71 (Week 4)
• Strength 2 = 58 minutes (Weeks 1-3), 68 (Week 4)
• Timed Metabolic = 35 minutes
• Countdown Metabolic = 45 minutes
Phase 2 (RAMP = 13 minutes)
• Core = 1 exercise; Power = 1 exercise
• Strength Moves = 10 reps, 3 sets; 2 rounds of 3 exercises
• Strength 1 = 58 minutes
• Strength 2 = 64 minutes
• Timed Metabolic = 34 minutes
• Complex Metabolic = 29 minutes
Phase 3 (RAMP = 12 minutes)
• Core = 1 exercise; Power = 1 exercise
• Strength Moves = 12 reps, 3 sets; 2 rounds, 1st 4 exercises, 2nd 3 exercises
• Strength 1 = 66 minutes
• Strength 2 = 67 minutes
• Countdown Metabolic = 44 minutes
• Complex Metabolic = 31 minutes
WHAT I LIKED
• Doing D2S 4 days/week. As I suspected, I liked being free to do my own thing the remaining days (although I tended to keep it light—I was tired!).
• The foam rolling. Although Cosgrove really rushes through this segment, I think foam rolling on a regular basis (4x/week) REALLY helped me not be sore from this workouts. However, I would definitely recommend doing the foam roll AFTER the workout as I did rather than as part of the warm-up.
• The metabolic workouts, particularly the Complex Metabolic. This was a surprise, as I’m not a big cardio person. However, I think that’s why I liked these workouts—i.e., they were a quick way to get in cardio, and they used light weights to achieve that purpose.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
• The DVD case. Generally I’m a fan of more eco-friendly, cardboard cases. However, this one was poorly constructed, with the DVDs overlapping (and the metabolic DVDs on top, which made NO sense, as the strength DVDs are used 3x more often) and constantly coming loose from their holders.
• The music. Music rarely bothers me, but I found it too loud and jarring here. After the first few workouts, I used the “music off” option for the remainder of the 12-week rotation.
• The countdown “ribbon.” This is a sort-of timer that expands across the bottom of the screen as the workout continues. Although intended as a progress bar, it adds very little, as it doesn’t actually show time elapsed or time left. Furthermore, it is a rather large graphic which sometimes obscuring the specific positioning of the exercisers; it seemed not just unnecessary but also obtrusive.
• The lack of guidance on using the workouts. The rotation guide I mentioned above is outlined briefly on the inside of the DVD case. However, most of my knowledge about this program came from online/other sources. Throughout the workouts, Cosgrove talks about things like not using the scale to measure progress and instead going by your “outfit,” but this is never fully explained in the DVDs—rather, it is a concept covered in her book by the same title. Similarly, Cosgrove makes no mention of diet in the DVDs. For the amount of money she changed for this set, she certainly could have included a short introduction on the first disk which covered these areas.
• The RAMP warm-ups/lack of cool-downs. I actually thought the Phase 2 and 3 RAMPs were okay, as they were more active and a bit shorter. But the Phase 1 RAMP was too disorganized and WAY too long. Plus, if you do both the RAMP and the foam roll prior to the start of the workout as intended, that’s a 20-minute long warm-up!!! Doing the foam roll portion at the end worked well for me, but as an experienced trainer, Cosgrove should have included cool-downs on these DVDs.
• Phase 1 overall. I’m an experienced exerciser who works out daily, and I was VERY discouraged by Phase 1. Cosgrove begins with some very tough plank-based core moves that would be extremely challenging for those lacking pre-existing core strength. Some of the other moves included in Phase 1 are also quite tricky, such as a high pull. Plus, the higher number of reps in this phase further increases the difficulty level of the workouts (although Cosgrove does suggest starting with lighter weights).
• The progression of the workouts. Phase 2 was probably my favorite, but by Phase 3, I was really feeling exhausted. Not only was I not seeing any significant results, but also I was finding it difficult to stick with the program as the workouts were becoming both harder AND longer.
• The lack of modifications injury/movement issues. Cosgrove does offer a few modifications in these routines, but the modifications she mentions tend to be for strength and/or flexibility limitations—e.g., performing push-ups on a bench or at the wall, doing deadlifts from a bench if you can’t reach the floor. Unfortunately, she does NOT make any suggestions for those who might be suffering from injuries or related problems. Wrist difficulties? Shoulder issues? These are never addressed. In fact, I developed a problem in the front of my shoulder/collarbone area early on during this workouts that I am still trying to heal.
• The lack of variety in the strength routines. Cosgrove believes in using compound movements, but apparently, she believes in using very few of them! Although the difficulty level of the moves changes throughout the three phases, basically, the ONLY strength exercises that she includes are squats, lunges, rows, overhead presses, deadlifts, step-ups, push-ups, and core work. Everything in the workouts is just SLIGHT variations on these basic movements—there are no bicep curls, tricep work, chest presses, flyes, or any number of other common exercises.
I also had MANY pet peeves about Cosgrove herself:
• She says “nothing to it but to do it” ad infinitum. She also repeats MANY other little catchphrases, such as “we don’t want to just look good walkin’ in—we have look good walkin’ out!”
• She makes many other statements that I found de-motivating. For example, during one of the Phase 1 Strength workouts, she states “we’re just getting started on the workout!” after about one-third of the way through; this was discouraging to me. Similarly, when introducing an exercise during Phase 2, she repeatedly commented “you’re gonna hate me!” I want my trainer to inspire confidence, not dread.
• While performing exercises, she frequently states “take your time,” yet the pace she sets is rushed.
• Overall, I just found her to be unrelatable. In Phase 2 in particular, she talks quite a bit about looking good in your outfit and other appearance-related issues—no, this is not surprising for a workout titled “Drop Two Sizes,” but she also frequently says things that not all women can relate to, such as “we all like to wear high heels” (I don’t!).
I completed the full 12-week program. Unfortunately, I saw very little in the way of results. By the end of the 12 weeks, my weight was up approximately 3 lbs. Although Cosgrove discourages use of the scale, neither my measurements nor my photo records (as suggested in the book, I took photos in the same clothes at 3, 9, & 12 weeks) showed that I was any smaller. The only positives I noticed were that I did seem to have a bit more muscle definition in my legs (I was happy about this) and that my butt did look a little higher (this was more mixed—since I already have a large behind, it just made me look bigger). Otherwise, my arms/shoulders got bulkier that I would like—not defined, which I don’t mind, just big/bulky looking—and I lost A LOT of definition in my abs, which seemed to get very soft and mushy-looking.
Some people may say that I didn’t see results because I wasn’t following Cosgrove’s diet program (which, as noted above, is included in her BOOK, not the with the DVDs). I don’t think that should have been the deciding factor, as I eat pretty well overall, and I was seeing better results from my workouts BEFORE I started D2S. Plus, I did try to incorporate some of Cosgrove’s dietary recommendations, including adding protein shakes on my D2S workout days and increasing my intake of fruits and vegetables. Still, if the expectation is that this workout program is ONLY effective for those follow the diet plan as well, then users should be forewarned, as they will need to purchase both the D2S book AND this DVD set.
Please see above for my specific comments on Rachel Cosgrove. On the one hand, she does offer some modifications as well as form pointers, but on the other, I found her instruction to be lacking. Overall, I didn't really click with her style, and after repeating the same workouts so many time, some of the things she said really grated on my nerves.