postheadericon The Firm Express – a test drive

mms_picture(18) The Firm Express is going to be my latest fitness experiment. A couple of months ago I wrote about my experience in attempting to work out for a month with no cardio. That was the result of having done some reading by folks who believe that cardio workouts are harmful. Maybe it’s my science background making an appearance, but I am in the mood for another experiment. I was in a sporting goods store the other day, and as is usually the case, I found myself near the strength building equipment – weights, medicine balls, etc. In that area, there were also a few box sets of exercise DVDs (does it mean I’m old because I keep wanting to write “video?”). Anyway, there were two sets that caught my eye – Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution, and The Firm Express –get thin in 30. I am a big fan of JM, and I have several of her DVDs, including Kickbox Fastfix and Ripped in 30. I had heard many good things about Body Revolution, and it was tempting to plunk down the $60 or so the store was asking for the set. But then I started to read the box of The Firm Express (cost: $30), and a couple of things captured my attention. First, the workouts are only about 20 minutes each, which is great for days when there isn’t a lot of time, but not so long that they couldn’t be doubled up. Also, I was intrigued by their mini-burst system – very short bursts of high intensity followed by slightly longer (but still very short) periods for active recovery). As an Insanity veteran, I am very familiar with high intensity bursts with breaks in between (although Insaniacs will know that in Insanity, the bursts are quite long and the breaks are reeeaaallllly short).

The Firm Express was developed by the people at The Firm fitness center, which has a fairly long history of producing reliably effective workouts. The express system consists of 13 DVDs – four week-long cycles, each containing a “cardio,” “sculpt,” and “cardio+sculpt” DVD, each about 20 minutes in length. There is also one additional DVD containing two 10-minute workouts: one for abs, and one “kick start” workout, which is a brief cardio session. The idea of this DVD set is to do one cycle per week for a total of three workouts per week.

I know that for me, three 20 minute sessions will not come close to meeting my need for exercise, both on a mental and physical level, so I am going to adapt the schedule. Some days I might double the Firm workouts, and some days I might go for a run or decide to do a weight day in the gym. And on the firm “off” days (which I am not really going to observe anyway), I might even toss an Insanity in now and then. But enough of my workout regimen for the next month will be Firm Express workouts so I should have a good idea at the end of the month as to how effective a system it was for me. I will be basing that on the following: weight gain, loss, or neither; strength gain, loss, or neither; and energy level.

I would like to, at the very least, not lose any strength. If any small gains were made that would be fine too, but I need to know if this is a program which can maintain muscle strength in the absence of a structured weight lifting program (my suspicion is that it is not, especially for upper body). I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds, and certainly I would like to maintain or increase my energy level, which usually happens when my cardio program is good. So I am going to give this a shot and in a few weeks will report back. If anyone else has tried this program, I would be very interested in your experience, whether positive or negative. Wish me luck!

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