Monday, July 7, 2008

Slim Series

This post will come in waves. I haven't been as consistent with writing this summer with all the kids home. But I do want to keep writing and will do it in shorter spurts if that's what it takes.

I realized last night that I haven't written much detail about the Slim Series workout program. It's the follow-up program or more advanced program by Debbie Siebers that's similar to her Slim in 6 program, but much tougher. These workouts have consistently given me better results than any other workouts I've done.

I'll detail them for you so you can see what each has to offer. I remember when I first got the package, I'd look at the brochure and try to differentiate which workout was which, trying to figure out what was special about each. There are reviews on the Video Fitness website, in fact, I even wrote one of them. I actually wrote up VF reviews for all of the Slim Series workouts because I was so impressed, but the website was having problems with reviews getting lost at the time and all but Tear It Up got lost! I later saw that they were recommending to save them on a Word File, but I didn't, so they're gone forever. But I'll give some reviews now -- after doing them dozens of times and may eventually send them onto VF's review page too.

The Slim in 6 program consists of 3 progressive full body workouts -- Start It Up for beginners, Ramp It Up for the next level, and Burn It Up for advanced (plus 2 add-ons -- Slim & 6 pack for abs and Slim & Limber for stretching). Start It Up and Ramp It Up are both near about 45 minutes (SIU a bit shorter). Burn It Up is about an hour long. There was another workout, Keep It Up (high intermediate, but just 40 minutes long instead of an hour like Burn It Up). I often throw Burn It Up into my Slim Series rotation since it's similar in length and intensity. After doing this for 3 weeks though, I'm finding that I like the Slim Series better. The time clock is put to better use -- actually measuring out the time spent on each exercise or body part. In Burn It Up, the time clock groups several moves together and I can rarely look up and anticipate how many more reps or how long we'll spend on a lunge. Still, it has tough tough floor work at the end and I like to do it from time to time.

The Slim Series has 5 advanced workouts. Three are just under an hour (Tone It Up, Mix It Up, and Firm It Up). Two are 78 minutes long (Shape It Up and Tear It Up). All are total body workouts except for Firm It Up, which only works the lower body. Cool It Off is also an hour long, but is a complete stretch workout.

As much as I love Debbie and her tried and true stretches AND the fact that she holds the stretches for the recommended 30 seconds each to get a true stretch, I couldn't do Cool It Off for very long. It just didn't hold my interest. I love yoga and thought I'd love Cool It Off too. But I got antsy every time I did it. Each of the Slim Series has a "Music Off" option, so I tried it without the music, while adding my favorite yoga music or mellow music. I still couldn't do it. So I came to grips with the fact that I'd just do a long yoga dvd on my stretch day of a Slim Series rotation. I do love her Slim & Limber from the Slim in 6 series though. It's a perfect add-on stretch at about 15 minutes of nice long stretches (but not for too long :)).

Cool It Off is chaptered with the following stretches:

1) Introduction
2) Warm Up (3:45)
3) Standing Stretches (17:20)
4) Seated (on chair) Hip Stretch (3:20)
5) Core Stabilization (6:05)
6) Lying Prone Stretches and Lower Back Work (9:45)
7) Lying Supine Stretches (9:45)
8) Seated Stretches (9:00)
9) Standing Stretches (2:00)

I really haven't done it in years because I traded it away on the Ya-Ya Swap when I saw I wasn't using it much. I should give it another shot. I'm sure it's relaxing.

Out of the rest of the Slim Series workouts, my very favorite is Shape It Up. Before I did this one, I had a mental block that I couldn't handle a workout that was over an hour long. This one is 18 minutes over that, but somehow I broke past that barrier without any angst. In fact, this workout always flies for me. It's shorter in my mind than many hour-long workouts (even some 1/2 hour workouts :)).

Shape It Up is a total body light weight/high repetition workout with plenty of standing waist and core work throughout. The waist work, as Debbie calls it, is thrown in between weight segments and feels like a fun break. Don't let it kid you. It may feel like it's just there for a rest, but it really does stretch and work the core. There have been many times when I've done other workouts for awhile (yes, with traditional ab work or Pilates core work), then I'll do Shape It Up and will feel SO SORE in my core the next day. I know I've worked my core in a new, effective way.

Shape It Up is also chaptered perfectly so if you want to do a 45 minute lower body/core workout, you can hit "skip" on your remote every time the upper body work begins and it will take you directly to the next waist segment or lower body segment. The same is true if you want an upper/core workout -- just hit "skip" on the lower body segments. I do this the most often for a quick lower body workout. I prefer it to Firm It Up, actually, which has lots of great standing leg and floor leg work, but also has a lengthy pelvic floor segment that tends to drag for me. (I do know how to skip that though :)).

One thing I love about Shape It Up is Debbie uses the light weights for upper body work in ways that feel good to my body, yet work it. Amidst the upper and core work, Debbie throws in lunges and squats which get my heart rate up. I think that Debbie's found a way to get the Heart Rate up throughout a weight workout so that we're working our muscles and getting some cardio benefit. She also does some brief cardio moves (running in place, 1/2 jacks, and twist jumps). Sometimes I do the cardio on my rebounder, but most often, I just do it on the floor like she does. In a few of the Slim Series workouts, Debbie uses the resistance band, which is effective and tough, but I enjoy using the dumbbells more. This workout only uses the dumbbells.

Another thing I love about Shape It Up is the floor work.For the floor work, Debbie has a few terribly tough lying leg exercises that hit the muscles fast, but I'm always able to get through. My favorite is the one that she says is a move Physical Therapists use. You lie back onto your forearms and have your knees bent. You kick one foot into the air, then do a few variations of that move. I've had knee problems over the past 5 years and these workouts strengthen the muscles around my knee better than any others I've done. I told Debbie this the first day I met her -- that I always go to the Slim Series (particularly SIU) when my knee is bothering me. It helps my knee heal instead of aggravate it like other workouts. She seemed surprised to hear that.

Shape It Up is chaptered like this:

1) Introduction
2) Warm-up (5:23)
3) Lower body: squats, squat/front kick, dips, dip/front kick, deadlifts (5:45)
4) Standing core work: side reaches, side bends (2:37)
5) Chest/back/shoulders: standing chest work, bent-over rows, upright row (3:25)
6) Standing core work: waist twists, twists/punches, side bends (2:10)
7) Shoulders: arnold press, overhead press, reverse fly (2:40)
8) Lower body: leg abductions, squat/side kick, standing inner thigh work, plie squat/calf raise (8:52)
9) Standing core work: side crunches, oblique crunches (2:56)
10) Biceps/triceps: curls, kickbacks (3:53)
11) Standing core work: knee pulls, twists, uppercut punches (2:19)
12) Lower body: standing leg curls, floor exercise for quadriceps (9:44)
13) Chest/triceps (floor): chest fly, chest press, pullovers, tricep press (7:16)
14) Abs and lower body (floor): inner and outer thigh work, crunches (9:40)
15) Shoulders/biceps/triceps: front raise, reverse fly, concentration curls, tricep overhead extension (7:04)
16) Stretch (4:25)

Another favorite is Tone It Up. For me, Tone It Up is a mini-Shape It Up. It's a fun mix of upper and lower body toning. Lots of lunges, squats, and kicks to get that heart rate up (and work the lower body) as well as upper body weight work and a bit of cardio amidst it all. There are some compound moves in this workout that VFers compared to the old FIRM workouts when it first came out. The FIRM is known for 4 limbed movements, where you are step touching or walking in place, but are using weights for the upper body at the same time. This keeps the heart rate up (and makes it more fun). Debbie does this a few times in Tone It Up and I tend to add some steps to other upper body work just for the fun and challenge.

Like Shape It Up, the last 1/4 of the workout is done on the floor, which really breaks up the workout to make the time pass quickly. The outer thigh work just has 3 moves, but is SUPER TOUGH! Debbie laughs throughout it because it's tough for her too, which makes the time pass a bit easier as those muscles are BURNing!

I love any workout with chest flies. I'm not sure why, but they're my favorite. I usually do them on my step or on the coffee table (my weight bench) instead of the floor. It just seems to give me a better range of motion.

Here's how the workout is chaptered:
1) Introduction
2) Warm-up, part 1 (2:27)
3) Warm-up, part 2 (3:05)
4) Lower body: dip, squat, squat + leg lift, front kick + back kick (5:38)
5) Step touch + pull-backs, squat + row, alternating reverse fly, reverse fly, upright row, squat +
hammer curl (7:17)
6) Plie squat + chest crossover, plie squat + chest pullup, plie squat + standing chest fly, squat + tricep kickback (4:11)
7) Dip + front raise, lunge + bicep curl, static lunge + side raise, shoulder combo: front-side-rear
raise, rotator cuff, squat + W-press, squat (11:57)
8) Chest fly, chest press, tricep press, bridgework + tricep lying overhead ext, bridgework (7:22)
9) Inner thigh floor work (2:14)
10) Outer thigh floor work, pushups (7:21)
11) Abs (3:42)
12) Stretch (5:05)

Tear It Up has more cardio in it than the other Slim Series workouts. The cover says it's a Total Body Blast. It's a long one like Shape It Up -- 78 minute long. But it's a lot different. There's no floor work at the end -- all of the lower body work is done standing. I like to do this one in between Shape It Up and Tone It Up or either of those and Firm It Up because it doesn't work the lower body as hard as any of those (and prevents overtraining). It does have a ton of upper body work though. It's a full body circuit workout where you alternate weights and cardio, weights and cardio.

At first, this wasn't one I wanted to do all that often. The floor cardio became boring at times (or had too much impact when my knee was bothering me). If the workout were an hour long, I probably could have handled it, but the 78 minutes was long when I wasn't loving it. I later found that I could use my rebounder for most of the cardio segments and I love it this way. The only cardio moves I do on the floor are the burpees (blast from the past in P.E.) and kickboxing kicks (always love those).

Since there are so many upper body moves (both with dumbbells and the resistance band), when I'm pressed for time, I'll skip the resistance band section near the end to save 10 minutes. For a workout close to an hour long, sometimes I even skip the last lower body segment too.

The only thing I find lacking in this workout is a lot of chest work. There are plenty of dead lifts, though, and the last time I did this workout, I did a bunch of chest flies and chest presses during the final dead lift series.

Here's the complete breakdown of the workout:

1) Introduction
2) Warm-up (5:20)
3) Upper body: upright row, bent-over row, standing chest press, rotator cuff, W-press, reverse fly, bicep curls, tricep overhead extension (9:31)
4) Cardio: knee pull, uppercut and front punch, side lunge with toe touch, knee pull in low lunge
position, jog, jack (4:09)
5) Lower body: squat, squat + knee up, lunge, dead lift, plie squat, calf raise (7:56)
6) Cardio: front kick + back kick, side kicks, plyo squats, jog, jack (4:10)
7) Upper body (8:22) and lower body (8:11)
front raise + pull back, chest pull-up, side raise, bicep curl, hammer curl, wide bicep curl, reverse
fly, tricep kickback
squat, ski squat, low end squat, dead lift, one-legged dead lift, plie squat, calf raise
8) Cardio: burpees, fast run, jog, jack (3:10)
9) Upper body with tubing: one-arm row, bicep curl, overhead press, side raise, tricep overhead
extension (9:42)
10)Lower body: squat + side kick, dip, deadlift, plie squat + calf raise (6:41)
11) Abs (4:30)
12) Stretch (6:30)

Mix It Up is one that I probably have done the least. I like it, but don't love it as much as the others and often do Burn It Up in its place or Shape It Up twice that week. This workout uses the resistance band (RB) and dumbbells. I used to feel far more comfortable using weights instead of the band. It took me awhile to be able to figure out what length I'd need right away to make it effective (or not too tough) without having to rewind or skip back. I also didn't like if the band would rub against my arm or leg while I was doing a move. But I've gotten better at it and enjoy the challenge. You don't have to use the band though. You can do the same move with the dumbbells and get a good workout too.

It's one minute shorter than the other ones that are just under an hour (57 minutes long).

1) Introduction
2) Warm-up (5:17)
3) Back, biceps, legs -- lat pulls, alternating lunges/hammer curls, bent-over rows, crossover lunges/bicep curls, double rows (RB), squats/bicep curls (RB), jogging, half jacks(7:39)
4) Shoulders, legs -- shoulder presses, pliés, pliés/front raises, rear delt raises, reverse lunges/side kicks, arnold press, pliés/lateral raises, rear delt raises, squats/side leg lifts,
alternating shoulder press (RB), jogging, half jacks (11:52)
5) "Midsection series" -- punches, reaches, uppercut punch, crossover punch, upward reaches, side crunches, crossover reaches, side bends, downward reaches, chair pose, plié pose, side stretch (6:37)
6) Chest, triceps, legs -- standing chest flies, one-arm french press (RB), c-sweeps (for chest),
supine french press, pelvic tilts, push-ups, kneeling tricep kickbacks, bent-leg lifts (table work), chest press, rotating chest press, rib cage pullovers, tricep press (15:46)
7) Abs -- reverse crunches, alternating oblique crunches, standard crunches, double crunches (3:02)
8) Stretch (6:48)

Firm It Up is a tough lower body workout that somehow is advanced without any weights in the entire workout. Ankle weights are optional. I guess I do put the ankle weights on. But she doesn't use any weights for squats and lunges and it's still quite a challenge.

1) Introduction
2) Warm-up (4:08)
3) Squats, quad exercise, squat/knee up, ski squats, one-legged squats, squat/abduct, side kicks, side kick/step-out squat, plyo squats (16:14)
4) Standing inner thigh, side kicks, leg abduction/standing crunch (9:57)
5) Inner thigh floor work: frog, open and close, criss-cross (4:06)
6) Bridge work -- pelvic tilts (9:55)
7) Abs, including some bonus outer thigh work (7:58)
8) Stretch (6:19)

I'm going to do Firm It Up and Mix It Up one more time this week and I'll add more details with more fresh in my mind.


  1. Thank you sooo much for your well detailed observation on the Slim Series. It was very helpful in making my decision on what workout videos to buy next. I love working out at home and often change up my workout videos to keep from getting bored. I can't wait to get started on my Slim Series; I only purchased the SIU, TIU, and TIU; since they were your 3 favorite. I might buy the MIU at a later date. I really appreciated your write up on these videos.

  2. You're welcome, Rachel! Fun to know that this helped you. I'm just starting another Slim Series rotation after having a minor surgery 5 weeks ago. I'm happy to be back at it with Debbie! Let me know how they work for you!