Progressive Strength

Kimberly Spreen
Year Released: 2006

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights) , Total Body Workouts

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Denise has already given a thorough breakdown, so mercifully, I'm allowed to skip that part of the review process. I just want to add that in a half hour's time, Kimberly delivers a thorough and challenging total body workout. After the warm-up, you start with a series of push ups. This is the workout that taught me to do full push ups on my toes. It's the workout that convinced me that I could do them! I think it was the combination of using dumbbells as pushup bars, using the step to push up on instead of the floor and the progression from knees to toes and ultimately doing the most progressive version of the exercise. From pushups you move into push ups with side planks while raising a dumbell laterally as you turn to the side, then planks with alternate front shoulder raises. After that you do what Kim calls "dumpster dives", aka squat thrusts, then one final plank that you hold for eight seconds. So, just six or so minutes into the workout, you've fired up your core, elevated your heartrate and did small boatload of push ups. Fun stuff!

Ok, I lied a bit. That was more of breakdown then I intended to give, but that first segment challenges me right out the gate and gets me revved up for the rest of the workout.

Next come the upper body segments which thoroughly work the shoulders, biceps and triceps. Then you switch to lower body work with some lunges onto the step. The step and Kimberly's form reminders really helped me to get to execute the lunges with good form and really get the most out of the exercise. Lots of times I just don't feel the work when I do lunges. These I really felt. After the lunge series both upper and lower body get a break when you do some standing oblique twists with a dumbbell. A fun way to work your abs without hitting the floor! You go back to a lunge and squat series, and for this I have time to heavy up the weights so that I can challenge my upper body as well during this segment. At one end of the step, you lunge up with a front shoulder raise, do a one legged squat on the step with a lateral raise, squat with bicep curls bringing you to the opposite end of the step, then lunge of the step with a front raise. I believe this is repeated about four times back and forth across the step. It's fun compound movements that also challenge your balance. Some easy squats transition you to the next segment which is seated ab work, a series of v-sits on the step with a dumbbell, then to the floor for some side planks, also with a dumbbell. If find these incredibly challenging and I have to modify by descending to my elbow. I still feel the work in my obligues but it's less taxing on my upper body. Then a nice thorough stretch.

The bonus workout is fun and challenging too but frankly I usually skip it and move on to some cardio. It's a kickboxing drill workout with the body bar that challenges my coordination and if I used a heavier body bar probably would have fried my shoulders too, but I only used a 9 lb. bar because I felt a little bit unsure and clumsy with it the two times that I did it. I'd have used it more often but it just didn't meet my needs when I was using Progressive Strength in my rotation. I wanted a short, effect strength workout and some cardio. Tagging the bonus workout on added length to my workout without the cardio.


Instructor Comments:
I think she's outstanding! Very comfortable in front of the camera. Comes off as sincere, friendly. No idle chit chat, just great cueing and form pointers. I really enjoy working out with her.

Helen K


The setting is Greg Twombly's recent CIA background. Kim wears an all black outfit and her two background exercisers wear matching blue tops and black pants.


March in place, step touch with reach and pull arms. Next is wide toe taps with rotation then pull back arms wide. Kim then changes it up to heel kick backs, step touch, wide toe taps with alternate overhead arms. Side to side lunges with left arm reaches help to open up the shoulder area (then she'll repeat this with the right arm). Squats with reach through arms and then roll down/roll ups to warm up the back and spine. Next is more spinal rolls with shoulder rolls alternating arms. Back to basic squats then march in place to finish up the warm up.


Upper body starts with pushups. Kimberly uses weights on top of the step with hands on weights, legs out straight behind you. First she drops to knees, drops to chest, back to knees and then back up. She does this 3 times, then adds 2 full pushups. Next set she drops, lifts on arm with the weight in hand up to the side, completes the pushup and comes back up. PHEW! I recommend light weights for this set. Next set she adds front raises by lifting one arm straight up while holding plank. Next transition she does what she calls dumpster diver. These are burpees with a new name. Just when you've had enough, Kimberly brings on squats to work the legs. She holds dumbbells in hammer grip and does compound work by doing overhead presses with the squats. She then changes it up by turning the hands at the top and then adds a straight arm lowering the weights down. One more change is taking the straight arm down and making a big circle. This should work the upper body with all the compound movement. Kimberly then does a few more squats with regular overhead presses then she brings the weights all the way down to ground before bringing it back up. Then she what she calls a russian swing. Basic row follows. This segment adds the back into the moves. Shoulder flyes are next and then she combines the two movements. Back to basic rows then upright rows to hit the shoulders in the medial deltoids. Kimberly then combines rows & upright rows. Lateral raise to bicep curl, then "hand weights to Kim" by keeping palms up and doing forward front raise and add another curl. Repeat this combo several times which leads into regular curls and alternating curls. Kimberly does different ranges/pulses with the bicep curls. After this we are back to the lateral raise/front raise palms down combo. Next triceps are worked with overhead extensions. She then adds a tricep full pull over where she brings the weight all the way from the back down to the front. She does a few squats before tacking on alternating front lunges onto step. Good form pointers given throughout the workout. A little change is a 3 count hold, no pulsing. Then she does a lunge, tap the step and back down. Hamstrings, glutes and quads will fire with this one!! Back to alternating lunges, march in place to prepare for what is next. Holding weights together in middle of chest, Kimberly does a 2 count twist right to left. She then speeds it up. She then adds to the twist by dropping the weight into the hips and then adds a figure 8 motion with the weights. After the twists she does a few squats and marches before moving on. Up next is more lunges. She moves to the end of the step, does a lunge, moves onto top of the step & does a squat, knee up then onto one legged squat, leg back and return to home. She adds & repeats with moves that work shoulders and biceps. This section will test your balance as well as work your body. Step touch to marches, then march on top of step, moving onto squats done in front of the step. Kim then lowers one weight and does a spinal stretch releasing the lower back. Then she sits on the step with legs to front of you. She does v-sits with one weight. This begins the abdominal/core section. She then adds rotation to the v-sits. Then she just holds the v and twists right to left, then moves into tempo with this move. This v-sit section is very challenging as she plays with the levers to add instability to really kick in the core! After this section she moves the weights and drops to her left hip on the floor. She then grabs one weight & scoops down and through the side and back down to the side (in a side plank position). Your obliques will really fire up with this weighted move. Repeat other side. This completes the workout, now onto stretch.


With finger tips wrapped around toes you'll round your spine & release. Then she releases chest by placing hands to back of the step and stretches. Then, seated on step, you'll stretch one arm overhead & to the side. Repeat other side. Round out upper back again then clasp fingers together and go overhead. Triceps stretch then back to overhead move. Very nice stretches really complete this total body workout!

Chapters/Workout Options:

1. Warmup, Progressive Strength & cooldown/stretch-30:30 minutes

2. Warmup, Combat Blast & cooldown/stretch-29:45 minutes

3. Abs & Core

4. Cooldown & Stretch


Combat Blast: (21 minutes long)

NO warmup really, so it would be great to add with Progressive Strength. (I believe this is an option when you choose play all) Kimberly uses a body bar but a dowel would work as well. Kim starts with squats with the bar in upright position on floor in front of her. She grabs the bar and pushes it forward while doing the squats. Pick up the bar, keep squatting, then move feet together keeping bar at shoulder height. Kim prepares for strikes with the bar. Strike the bar towards someones head in hook position then hook the bar toward someone's rib cage. Blend the two using varied tempo changes. Next is a side strike, like you are poking someone in the side. Kim then steps into the "poke" movement, then moves that into a full lunge. She then adds a circle overhead with the bar in the middle. Next move is helicopter--up center, cross the body with bar and strike to one side then repeat the other way to other side. Strikes down low are next with blocks up high done at a steady pace. Strike low, block high, then repeat other side , flipping grip for other side to work. Place bar down (to use for balance purposes), chamber round house to right side. Now full round house. Repeat sequence to left. Put bar down on floor and bob & weave. Tap bar with hands side to side, making legs work. Kim then runs through all the strike poses, doing them a little faster the 2nd time through. (this will get the heart rate up even faster) Squats while pushing the bar to the side then squats pushing bar to front are next. Kimberly then winds it down, starting with rolling the body down and rolling it back up. This was very fun workout and I'd love for Kimberly to do a full length version of this one!

Instructor Comments:
Kimberly has a very warm personality and her cueing is superb. (anyone can follow along)