(Originally Posted 8/11/2015)
I know what you're probably thinking; What makes my (Erika) opinion matter when it comes to the following list of the Best Workouts?
As a 25 year veteran of the group fitness industry, I have been in many gym settings as an instructor. I pull from my mentors and the content of their home workout videos to construct my own classes in an effort to keep the choreography fresh, the content relevant, and catapult my participants to the next level of fitness. Before the days of YouTube and Workout Apps, I had to buy videos to do this. I have wasted more money and thrown away more home workout videos than many people will own in their entire lifetime. My current collection consists of workouts I have used as reference for my classes but never do, and videos that I love, use, and are a mainstay in my personal rotation, resulting in the list you see below.
So whether you are a runner looking for some cross training options, a home exerciser looking for the next best thing, or someone just starting out looking for some guidance, you can take my street cred and humble opinion for what you will to trust that the following are the 5 Best Workout Series to Own (and Use!)
Because they are Box Sets, they are an investment. And as a result, you might be inclined to shy away from purchasing them. But trust me, they are worth every penny.
5. Cardio Karate
Comprised of 14 DVD's, the breakdown combines Cardio and Weight Training from experts such as Amy Bento Ross, Gay Gasper, Greg Cook, Greg Sims, Keli Roberts and Steve Feinberg.
What I Like: If you are a fan of Kickboxing, this takes a calmer, more Zen approach. You feel as though you are expanding your repetoire with this Kickboxing/Yoga-esque hybrid. I would imagine that if you have any sort of Karate background whatsoever, this would seem silly, but I really feel that I've expanded my cross training with this series and worked on some things that get overlooked in traditional workout videos, like Balance, Power and Cleansing Breaths
What I Could Do Without:The DVD's focusing solely on Weight Training. Some of the moves are simply undoable. They are big fans of the Chinup Bar and as far as home workouts go, one could really injur themselves trying to emulate some of the moves.
My Favorite Disc: Cardio Complexes with Amy Bento Ross. This workout repeats the same 4 to 8 count combination in 3 consecutive waves; with no weight, with 1lb weights, with 2 or 3lb weights. While it sounds redundant and possibly boring as anything, it's actually quite fun and surprisingly intense. While it is easy to do, you realize at some point you are huffing and puffing, and REALLY sweaty.
I got on a Punching Bag obsession for a while and was ravenous for videos that focused on this format. One Google search later, this series was ordered. Consisting of 5 DVDs and 1 instructional DVD, this series lets you get out any and all aggressions in a 45 minute time frame, all led by Merle Silver. All the DVDs consist of Kicking and Punching combinations interspersed with intensity blasts of Mountain Climbers, Russian Kicks, Frog Leaps, etc. Everything is timed as the Addiction Logo in the bottom corner of the screen forms a complete circle to tell you it's time to move on.
What I Like: The Freestyle Structure. There are no combinations to speak of. She just shouts out, "Do this Now" and you either wail on the bag or do some sort of high intensity cardio move. It's perfect for when you want a great workout, but don't want to concentrate or just want to let your mind do nothing for a change. The music pumps too so you can just get totally immersed in working really hard.
What I Could Do Without: The Freestyle Structure. While this is what I like best about the series, it could have been executed better. She will call out a change mid beat, or intersperse jacks in between a Jab, Cross, making it a 5 count combo and throwing you off the downbeat. The music is also mixed badly so when the song changes, you are totally off the beat altogether. If you are not beat oriented, I guess it wouldn't bother you, but my Aerobic teaching background compels me to cringe at these professional video fails. I just self correct and move on.
My Favorite Disc: Disc 4 - It contains the most use of the Punching Bag. Some of the other discs are too blast heavy and draw you away from actually using the Punching Bag.
3. Katami 4x4
First of all, I need to disclose that I adore Paul Katami. He can truly do no wrong in my eyes. ANY video you get from him is a winner. That being said, I am partial to the 4x4 series. This series takes you through 4 phases; I am Change, I am Athlete, I am Warrior, I am Hero, and each workout consists of "Quads"; with a Quad consisting of 1 minute Cardio, 1 minute lower body, 1 minute Upper body, 1 minute core, repeated twice. The phases progress from easier cardio moves and isolation weighted exercises, to more intense Cardio moves and compound weighted exercises, thereby blurring the lines of each 1 minute round consisting of the afformentioned categories. Each DVD is a Total Body workout and the series in its entirety is designed to see measurable progress after the series is over.
What I Like: Aside from the entire concept, I like how the workout is given to you in digestable bite sized minutes. You find yourself working harder because you can do it for a minute. By the end, it is a total body workout and you have pushed yourself. Also, Each DVD has intensity menu options, and although the workout you will do/view is exactly the same, the camera focuses on the individual (there are 4 of them in the videos) who is doing the intensity level you chose in the menu. It's a measurable progress checkpoint within the measurable progress series
What I Could Do Without: He tries too hard to make it a brand or a household catchphrase and it's forced. "Take a 4x4 breath", "Do this in 4x4 fashion". (In the Foam Roller Video) "If something speaks to you, take a 4x4 hold and relax." We get it, it's called 4x4
My Favorite Disc: I Am Athlete, Disc 3. When I do well, it makes me feel like I won't get picked last in Gym class tomorrow.
2. Ripped with HIIT
The latest workout series from Cathe Friedrich consists of 7 DVDs, broken down into two HIIT Circuit workouts, one for lower and one for Upper Body, Low Impact HIIT, Plyo HIIT, and three strength videos - Lift it HIIT it. The strength videos are broken down into Chest/Triceps/Shoulders, Back/biceps/Shoulders, and Legs. The series also comes with a User's guide and suggested rotations.
What I Like: The Upper Body Lift it HIIT it DVDs. At this point point Cathe has several HIIT and Tabata workout DVDs and quite frankly, they all have blended together in my head. But the upper Body Strength videos are really innovative in this series. Once you've done three heavy sets of a muscle group, she ends that muscle with a "Finisher" move, usually utilizing Resistance Bands. The Finisher moves really pack a punch; easy to do at the time, but making you feel it the next day!
What I Could Do Without: The HIIT Circuit DVDs. This is just a personal preference of mine at this stage of my training, but I have no place for these types of workouts in my rotation. I end these workouts feeling like I neither did enough cardio nor weights. And if you are doing this workout on and "Off" weight day, you're still doing weights, so how is that an "Off" day? It makes me feel like I didn't work hard enough yet overtrained at the same time. (PS - I realize this statement negates my loving Katami 4x4, but 4x4 really is in its own category, so I declare it N/A for Paul!)
My Favorite Disc: Lift It, HIIT It Back, Biceps Shoulders
1. STS - Shock Training System
There are no words to express how this series has transformed my life, but I will try to accurately convey why this series NEEDS to be a part of everyone's home workout collection. Consisting of a whopping 41 DVDs, the series is broken down into 3 Mesocycles; Muscle Endurance, Hypertrophy, and Strength. Within this 3.5 month journey, this series incorporates periodization, muscle confusion, one rep max, and progressive overload training principles. The series is like a puzzle wrapped inside a riddle surrounded by a game. Not only do you get the true form training techniques of each aptly named Mesocycle, there are various techniques within the Mesocycles, such as Drop Sets, Back Off Sets, and Double Wave Loading. After you have finished the 3.5 month rotation, having gone through each mesocycle for four weeks, and resting one week in between, you should be 5% stronger, thus giving you the opportunity to revisit the entire series using weights that are 5% heavier than you previously used. Another way to revisit is the Undulating Rotation; Meso 1/Week 1, Meso 2/Week 1, Meso 3/Week 1, Meso 1/Week 2, Meso 2/Week 2, Meso 3/Week 2, etc. Or my personal favorite, the undulating rotation with the other Cathe Strength DVDs on Week 4.
What I Like: Everything - You are using weights appropriate to you as you have completed your one rep max tests prior to beginning. You have a definitive path to take for 3 months so as not to flounder with "What workout should I do today?" syndrome. The rest times appropriate to the training technique you are doing are measured out for you. You can record your results and truly see as you revisit the series that you are, in fact, stronger. The fact that it is a pure strength series and there are no Circuit workouts (see above) or Cardio-esque fillers. You know what you're there to do and can execute it well.
What I Could Do Without: The mess and the extra $$ associated with that mess. STS is equipment intense. As a result of adding STS to my training schedule, I have purchased slanted risers for my step, extra risers for my step to use it as a weight bench, the Cathe/Altus STS Tower, (Which I don't think is available any longer), Microload gloves to go up in smaller increments than a DB will allow, Safety barbell catches, heavier Dumbbells (my DBs range from 3 to 40 lbs and all the increments in between), Dumbbell handles for plates (to go higher than 40lb because I was sick of buying so many dumbbells), a weight rack for all my Dumbbells, more Plates, a tree for my plates, and a W Barbell in addition to the straight one I already had. By the end of the hour, your workout room looks like a tornado ripped through it...and now, exhausted, you have to clean it all up!
My Favorite Mesocycle: Meso 2 - Hypertrophy. Using weights that are 70 -80% of your one rep max, you use one muscle group until completion before moving onto another. The upper body is broken down in your traditional Back/Bi's, Chest/Tri's/Shoulders concept. You also use techniques such as Double Wave loading and Drop Sets. The rests are long enough that you are not racing around to gather your weights before they start without you (Like in Meso 1) and you are WORKING. Still, after 3 years of consistent STS training, this Mesocycle does not bore me one bit and I am ALWAYS still sore afterward. See Also: My Success Story Posted on Cathe's Website
(Originally Posted 4/30/15)
Although Bibs2bags is known for our custom bags made from your racing bibs, did you know we also offer security friendly clear bags??
Here is a letter we received after the Boston Marathon, demonstrating what a difference our bag made!
A BIG thank you for making my spectator experience at the Boston Marathon a Success.
Pre Race Weekend - used the athletic open top draw string bag
Boston Marathon Expo: Security stops in several locations getting in the Convention Center and into each room. I was greeted with big smiles from the security personnel and waved immediately through. This set off lights in the heads of many as it really is our responsibility to make the race safe for all and a good experience for ourselves.
Ready for Race Day
Used the Back Pack with wide straps. Very roomy, I had two water repellant thick winter coats rolled up, gloves, scarf, umbrella, sports bars, nuts, gatorade and a water in the mesh side pocket with room to spare.
Very comfortable to wear on one shoulder or both (and did so for over five hours). The finish line area and all areas along the race with strong crowds, you are not allowed to even put your bags on the ground. "you must keep them on" this was also true at the New York Marathon.
My plan was to head from our hotel at the finish line area of down town and take the T train to the 20-21 mile mark just passed the "heart break hill" area to see my runner and give encouragement. Then race him to the finish line to see him again! He only had to run 6 miles in headwinds of 20-35 mile per hour in the cold rain, I had to jump a train and make it through multiple security stops! RACE ON (:
I would never had made it with a regular back pack or purse. I was able to hold up the clear bag and move right through the crowds with the people who did not carry belonging. Was able to see my husband at multiple locations in a race that is a straight course (not easy to do) and beat him to the hotel. Yes, he had to get his pictures taken and go through the food line and walk the two blocks to the hotel...that gave me time to get the dry cloths bag and unwrap the warm coat.
The hotel lobby was filled with stories of the long waits at security stops and those that missed their runners. So glad you had the solution for me! If given the chance to be prepared and ease the minds of everyone at a race, the clear back pack is a winner.
I certainly had my eye out all the time for what people were carrying and doing both on the train, in the expo and along the streets. Getting looks of approval & appreciation for respecting the security and knowing that if everyone took tiny steps to make the experience safe we would all have more fun. It was a privilege to share your Bibs2Bags post cards and story on how you made my day fun and worry free!
It is my prayer that this takes off and all the Marathons and sporting events catch on.
My Sincere Thanks,
(letter used with permission)
Originally Posted 12/16/14 - By Lisa
For anyone who read part one, I told you I'd be a slacker and not get to part 2 in any reasonable time. But the big boss keeps cracking her whip, (well not really, but I keep getting the "when are you going to write part 2 of the blog?" texts daily) so I must write. Here are the remaining suggests for things to buy your beloved runner!!
6. I love to Run Sweatshirts http://www.ilovetorun.org/
I really like their hoodies-I own the "I'm too Lazy" sweatshirt, and it is super comfortablehttps://ilovetorun.org/hoodies-more-c-22_28.html. (the sizes do run small, so be sure to size up)
I am a stickler, though, and I will only wear the sweatshirt on days I do run. I'm weird like that. I also won't wear my new race shirt to the race. I didn't run that race yet, so why would I wear the shirt? Plus, it's bad luck. I'm always afraid that if I wear it before or during the race, I won't actually finish the race. I've read online that other runners also believe this, so I know I'm not alone in this thinking.
7. One More Mile http://onemoremile.net/ Love, love, love their products. I have sported many of their shirts at races (I wore the "Its a hill, get over it" shirt at the Mount Washington Road Race). Then I got really crazy and started getting into the custom shirts. I had a shirt made for my first 50K that reads, "I can't do this, but I am doing it anyway." It truly summed up my entire ultra experience. The shirts are really flattering, breathable, comfortable (have yet to have one rub or chafe) and high quality. I have 5 in my collection-4 short sleeve and 1 long sleeve.
8. Rock My Run http://www.rockmyrun.com/ My new favorite running app is Rock My Run. I do not have a membership, but I am seriously considering it, although the free version has been sufficient for the past 2 months. You can pick mixes based on genre, BPM, length, etc. Some of the mixes are just songs strung together. My favorite mixes are the ones that remind me of aerobic songs. Before I discovered running, I was an avid aerobics junkie (still am, although I now have to split my time between aerobics and running). I love the songs that have that constant beat, which helps me maintain a decent pace. Yes, we can get into the debate about yah or nay about running with music, but it is an absolute necessity for me, so I am very thankful for Rock My Run. And right now, there are Christmas music mixes, which pretty much is heaven on earth for me. Add an aerobic beat to Christmas music, and I am a happy girl.
9. Project Repat http://www.projectrepat.com/ I've wanted to make a quilt for a very long time. I debated doing it myself. My sister made one for herself. It took about 20 years for her to finish it. I also found friends who agreed to make me one. I have nice friends, and I'd rather not waste their patience with me on my quilting needs. So I decided to bite the bullet and get one from Project Repat. Yes, Bibs2bags can incorporate shirts into bags. But since I had enough bibs to purchase every bag in the collection, I didn't need to supplement my bags with my excess tee shirts.
Very happy with my blanket. Let me make one thing clear-I do not consider this a quilt. I consider this a blanket, which is actually my preference, as I wanted something I would use. I use mine every night when I am sitting and watching TV (currently plowing through all of the seasons of Dexter). And I keep the house at a balmy 64 degrees in the middle of winter in NH and this blanket is really useful. It keeps me cozy warm and remind me that at some points in my life, I am not lazy and complete more than just TV marathons.
10. Bibs2Bags www.bibs2bags.com
I couldn't make this list without including us. Yes, I said 10 gift other than Bibs2bags, but I guess I'm just a big old fibber. At this point, its too late to order a bag in time for Christmas (although we can send your loved one a very pretty gift card/IOU letting them know a bag will be made for them in the near future). BUT its the perfect time to think about Valentine's Day! Or Easter. Or Earth Day (we are upcycling your bibs into a usable item). Or a great gift just because you are proud of your runner and want them to show off their accomplishments. Most importantly, it makes a great gift for yourself!!
From the Bibs2Bags Crew, we would like to wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy holiday season!
About The Authors
A 25 Year Veteran of the Group Fitness Industry, Erika currently teaches Kickboxing, Step, and H.I.I.T. classes at Guilford Parks & Rec.
An Avid Runner, Lisa began her running career about 10 Years Ago.