Body Beast: Tempo Back/Biceps

Sagi Kalev
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Upper Body Strength

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A variation on strength training from the Body Beast set, this workout mixes up the tempo/rep speed of various exercises to stimulate the muscles in a new way. Sagi and his two backgrounders - Sean and "Pretty Boy" Brian - work out in the stripped-down gym setting, using a weights bench (aerobic step with risers is fine) or stability ball, plus dumbbells and a barbell. The barbell is optional. The crew also uses a pullup bar or door-attached bands for some back and abs exercises.

Total workout time is 48.5 minutes. Warmup is 2 minutes, the strength section is 45 and the cooldown/stretch 1.5 minutes. Both the warmup (jog in place, arm circles, several reps of deadlifts, rows and rear delt flyes with very light weights) and cooldown (a couple of basic upper-body stretches) are basic and short. The music is background guitar-heavy metal/rock, and none of the workout is designed to be on tempo with the music.

For each strength exercise (there are three for back and two for biceps), you'll do three sets. The first set, at a light weight, has 15 reps and the slowest rep speed: 6 counts lifting the weight and 6 counts lowering the weight (or lower/lift, in the case of the pullovers). The second set of 12 reps uses a medium weight and the rep count is either 6/3 or 3/6, depending on whether Sagi is emphasizing the lift or lower movement. The final set of 8 reps has a slow 3/3 count and you can use your heaviest weight. After you finish all sets of one strength exercise, you'll do a core/abs move before moving to the next strength exercise.

The exercises are:

- Pullovers
- Wide plank in-and-out (start in plank with legs wide, hold for 3 counts, jump legs in towards torso and hold for 3 counts, repeat for 10 total reps)
- Pullups - these are KILLER with slow rep speed. Sean, the designated modifier, does them lying prone on the floor and pulling a band - good substitution and it works the lower back as well
- "Rambo"/hanging circle abs - hang from pullup bar and lift your knees in a semicircle from left to right, then back. The floor/band substitution is hard to explain but resembles a reverse crunch if you started it with your legs fully extended and almost on the floor, then pulled them in and extended while shifting to your side. I found it to be stressful on the lower back and hip flexors without working my abs/core much at all.
- Bent-over row
- Lat oblique twist - Sagi uses a barbell with plates on one end only and moves it side to side while rotating his body. He rotates so much that it doesn't work the core well at all, just provides a lat stretch.
- Preacher curls
- Hanging curl on the pullup bar (pull legs in to work lower abs). Sean does these on the floor with the band. He pulls on the band just enough to raise his shoulders from the floor, then lifts his hips high. LOVE this variation.
- All angle biceps curl - wide grip for first set, narrow grip for second, and reverse grip/palms out for third. The final set really works the forearms well.
- Fast mountain climbers

I like the workout because I like Sagi and slowing down the tempo does change how an exercise feels. I was able to use the same weights as I did for Build and Bulk but struggled on the last reps of the 12- and 8-rep sets. That slow count adds up!

My main beef with this workout as well as Tempo chest/triceps is the counting. Sagi is not consistent with his counting - sometimes 1-2-3-4-5-6 is fast, sometimes slow, a couple of times he counts "1-2-3-4-5-6-5-4-3-2-1" so you miss a beat. He also does not count the whole way through each set, and the backgrounders are each counting on THEIR own, so you the home exerciser have to do the same. The music is hard to hear sometimes and there is no consistent beat anyway, so that's not pacing you well. Frustrating.

My other problem is how poorly demonstrated/cued the ab exercises are, especially the band substitutions if you don't have a pullup bar. The camera doesn't show Sean clearly, Sagi isn't telling you what to do beyond the basics ("pull!") so it's up to you to figure out alignment. The lat oblique twist move is poorly executed as well.

Instructor Comments:
Sagi is in amazing shape and has high energy. He is encouraging. He does not demonstrate or cue adequately some of the core moves, which is frustrating.