Bob Harper has been reshaping bodies for 11 seasons now on The Biggest Loser, and now he's focusing his baby blues on you. His latest DVD, Ultimate Cardio Body ($15), subtitled "Extreme Weight Loss Workout," makes me think of the show, but Bob seems kinder in this video even though the workout is relentless.
Inside a brightly lit modern studio, Bob and a cast of four, with two women confusingly both named Leah (I kept thinking Bob was getting the gals mixed up), lead you through an hour-long workout combining old-school strength training with old-fashioned cardio moves. Get ready for high-knee marching, running in place, and jumping jacks. These bouts of cardio alternate with basic strength training moves for the lower and upper body, sometimes combining the two. Be prepared to do squats and and plenty of them. You will add a little jumping action to both squats and lunges, and making these moves air borne knocks your heart rate out of the fat burning zone straight into the cardio training. Bob does offer variations if you're not quite up to jumping, but if you're having knee troubles, this workout is not for you. It's heavy on the lunges, squats, hopping, and jumping.
Learn my likes and dislikes of the workout when you read more.
This is definitely a hard workout, and I appreciated the challenge. But the challenge comes from reps upon reps of the same exercises, so it can get a little dull. You do however, bring your quads and hamstrings to the point of exhaustion many times during the workout, which means your legs are only going to get stronger. I did love all the jumping and hoping. At the end of the workout, just when you start to believe you're on the home stretch, Bob has you start hopping. You're on one foot for what feels like a minute, then the other foot hopping for a minute, and then you keep alternating. The rest move is mimicking a jump shot, which means you're trying to defy gravity when you're really tired. I loved the intensity. I also appreciated that the only prop you need is a set of dumbbells. I used five pounders (although for some moves I could have used 8 pounders) and burned 460 calories in an hour — love that.
Bob also begins the workout with some static stretching, it's not too deep, but I didn't feel ready to stretch my cold desk bound body after pressing play on the remote control. I wish the warm-up was slightly more dynamic, and that warm-up stretches were actually part of the cooldown, when my worked muscles were ready for the sweet relief of flexibility training. I must say, this is a total body workout, including your heart. This workout is perfect for small spaces, but if you live in an apartment, your downstairs neighbors might not appreciate all the jumping. You can buy the DVD directly from Bob's website or Amazon.
Here's a taste of the workout: