Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bob Harper: Ultimate Cardio Body

Time for another DVD review! Although it was released earlier this year, I just now got around to snagging a copy of this ass-kicker:

I find it kind of twisted that I did this DVD twice in the first week I got it and am looking forward to doing it again this weekend. Yes, it's tough. However, Bob pushes you *just* enough to where you're burning and droppin' f-bombs, but still able to finish the interval (barely, in my case).

I found that this particular DVD is like a hybrid of his Pure Burn Super Strength and Body Rev Cardio Conditioning workouts. I personally liked this, because while I love (and hate) both of those DVDs, I find it hard to motivate myself to take them on separately since they're both a little over an hour.

With Ultimate Cardio Body, Bob does get you sweating with standard cardio moves (jumping jacks, high-knees, skaters, mountain climbers and the like), but what really pushes you closer to OMG-I'm-Gonna-Die territory is his use of weighted strength moves performed at a moderate-to-fast pace with basically no breaks in between. I'm noticing that more "cardio" workouts are doing this these days and I absolutely love it. I think using light/medium weights in circuit-style workouts is a fantastic alternative to separate cardio and lifting workouts. Burning fat and building muscle in the same session? Oh, hell yes.

Some examples of those moves: Squat jumps and split lunges (a.k.a. jumping lunges) WITH dumbbells in each hand. I've probably done thousands of squat jumps in my life, but adding extra weight makes that move incredibly challenging. And it doesn't end there; with both of these plyometric moves, Bob makes you do isometric holds in between (don't ever let his smile and good looks fool you- the man is clearly a sadist).

While the workout is heavy on lower-body training, Bob also incorporates some basic upper-body work as well with push-ups, planks, shoulder presses, bicep curls and lateral raises. While standard moves, Bob increases the intensity and makes you perform more isometric holds to push your muscles almost to the point of failure. Going from push-ups to plank to mountain climbers (all back-to-back with no break, mind you) made my arms and shoulders weep.

Toward the end of the session, Bob pushes you to finish strong by performing more agility-type moves like single-leg hops, jumps (as if you were shooting a basketball) and sprint-runs in place.

U.C.B. also includes a separate Glutes workout, but honestly, I haven't bothered trying it because there seems to be a lot of glute work in the main workout alone. If anyone's tried that, please share your thoughts in the comments!

Overall, this is a top-choice workout for me. Bob really does challenge all of your major muscle groups and the pace of the workout makes that hour fly by. And during the cool down stretch, when you're thinking about how beaten down you are, Bob makes some funny comments about his knee-high black socks. I must say, I appreciated a good chuckle at the end of a workout like that.

Definitely for intermediate/advanced levels only. There are a few modifications here and there, but not to the point where I would advise a beginner to give it a try. Another plus is that the only equipment you need is a couple sets of dumbbells. I used 5's and 8's on my first try.

Bottom line: This is one of the best total-body workouts I've ever done. Bob mastered the balance between cardio and strength training with this routine, so whether you're looking for a new cross-training option or something to break your plateau, U.C.B. has got you covered!


Alyse said...

I like workouts that combine strength and cardio together. I especially like compound moves like squats with a shoulder press and stuff like that. They burn more calories and you definitely feel like you've done something. :-)

I'm probably still a "beginner" so I don't have this one yet. I do have Pure Burn Super Strength but am nowhere near close to doing that one. I also have neighbors underneath and me and have to go easy on the plyo moves.

Great review, by the way.

Joslyn said...

Thanks for the review, I've been looking at this at Target for awhile now but wondered what it was all about. May pick it up next time I'm looking at it now :D