Sunday, March 3, 2013

Les Mills Combat: Overview, Combat 30: Kick Start, and Power HIIT 1

Very very exciting news -- my Les Mills Combat workout program arrived Saturday, two days before the expected Monday arrival date.
Saturday was a pretty busy day with visiting with friends, dinner out, and a trip to the opera, so I got to dive into Les Mills Combat today.
So, what comes in the box? I selected to get the basic Combat Kit, which Seth got me as an awesome early birthday gift. The Combat Kit included the following:
1. Seven workouts plus a bonus live workout because I'm a member of Team Beachbody. The workouts are:
The Basics: This was the 30 minute DVD I did online the other day to familiarize myself with the seven disciplines of martial arts that Combat draws from: boxing, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Karate/Kung Fu, Capoeira, and Jiu Jitsu.
Combat 30: Kick Start
Combat 45: Power Kata
Combat 60: Extreme Cardio Fighter
Combat 60 Live: Ultimate Warrior's Workout
Power HIIT 1
Shock Plyo HIIT 2
Combat 30 Live: The extra free DVD I got for being a Beachbody Member
2. A nutrition guide, which I probably won't use.
3. A tape measure and card to track results, which, again, I probably won't use. (But you can qualify for a free shirt if you send before and after pictures.)
4. A fitness guide, which is basically a "get started" guide and includes the schedule.
There are three different versions of the schedule for Les Mills Combat. The first is a 5 days a week schedule. The second is a slightly more intense 6 days a week schedule. The final schedule requires that you purchase a version of Les Mills Combat with additional workout DVDs (which I didn't want to do because I could always get it later as an add on, and I wanted to see how I liked these workouts first). All schedules are for 60 days meaning that I should finish this program and have a week or two before I need to start my Tough Mudder training.
I decided to do the 5 days a week schedule, which they called the Combat Warrior Schedule. (The 6 days a week schedule is the Supreme Warrior Schedule. The schedule for people with the extra workout DVDs is the Ultimate Warrior Hybrid Schedule.)
This schedule should be ideal for me because I want to also take time over the next month to increase my running for the race on March 30. The Les Mills Combat program will be perfect because over half of the workouts are 30 to 45 minutes, less than the normal hour-long Insanity and Asylum workouts. This will be a great program to accompany my other efforts.
Today, because I was extra excited, I decided to try the first two workouts scheduled for week 1, Combat 30 and HIIT Power.
I started off with the Combat 30 workout. This was a very fun and well-paced 30 minute workout. This could definitely be a go-to workout for days when I'm short on time. The Combat 30 workout focused mostly on boxing and Tae Kwon Do (TKD). These are the areas at which I'm probably most practiced, so I felt very prepared for this workout.
The instructors, Dan and Rach, did a good job showing each move slowly once or twice and then quickly moving into high gear -- with 30 minutes there is really no time to waste. The instructors were also very motivating and really really into what they were doing. At times they were a bit much, but there enthusiasm would definitely be helpful on a day when I was feeling a bit tired and needed some extra oomph to push me through a workout. (Also, it was totally funny and charming when they sang along with the music being played in the background.)
The workout started with a dynamic warm-up and then moved into a boxing section, which used all four punches (jab, cross, hook, uppercut) pretty heavily. As I said before, we did everything slowly one or two times and then fast for a while in a way that kind of mirror interval training.
The middle part of the workout proved my favorite, a TKD inspired kicking-intensive round. We were kicking non-stop for almost ten minutes, and I loved it! A fun addition was a jump kick. This definitely make me feel like I was ready for combat, and it got my heart-rate up.
The workout rounded-out the end with another boxing segment this time with lots of jabs in fast succession to work the core.
Before I even knew it the 30 minutes had flown by, and we were done. At the end of the workout I felt great. I would place the challenge level at around that of TurboFire -- medium difficulty and lots of fun. Definitely easier than Insanity but still enough of a challenge. The kind of workout you'd want to do any day.
Because I was still feeling great and the workout was only half an hour, I decided to also try the Power HIIT 1 workout. This workout was also 30 minutes and required the use of a set of hand-weights. I used my 8 lb. weights, but wished I had slightly heavier ones.
The workout was divided into three sections: arms, legs, and then total-body. Dan led this workout, and he was very very enthusiastic -- a bit too enthusiastic for my tastes. After a quick warm-up, we jumped into the arms section, which utilized the weights. We were doing multiple short sets with a quick rest in between. A lot of the work was focused on the shoulders with a little back thrown in.
We started with deadlifts and then moved to rows with a shoulder press (which they called clean and presses). With this move you did demi-squats to engage your legs. Since the number of overall reps was small (four or five sets of four with rests after each four reps), I felt like I could have handled a heavier weight. This was definitely the easiest part of the workout for me, however, I could increase my difficulty by adding more weight.
The leg segment was next. We did three sets of leg work: plie jumps, which were done fairly slowly; squats; and jump lunges. We went through these moves three times each. The jump lunges were definitely the hardest for me, especially since I had done a weight training workout yesterday where I heavily worked my shoulders and quads.
The final section of the workout was total-body and it was definitely the hardest and best designed. The main move was the inchworm. This move started kind of like a slow burpee. You went from standing to having your hands on the floor. You then walked out to plank position, did a push-up and walked back. Done slowly, this move was fairly easy, but it got much harder when we started moving quickly.
We then made a change that made this move much more advanced. From a squat position, you jumped out into a plank and did a push-up, then jumped back into a squat position, jumped forward and back and did the move again. Fast! We did three sets of this progressing from a single jump forward and back to two jumps forward and back to, finally, two power jumps. Yikes! This was hard, plus at this point I was feeling pretty tired from almost an hour of exercise and doing a lot of shoulder work two days in a row. We rounded out the total-body segment with some plank work, mountain climbers, and spider push-ups. By this point my arms were completely done.
While the Power HIIT workout didn't quite feel like a true high intensity workout with very clear intervals of work and rest, it did deliver the goods. I loved the full-body segment, which had some moves that reminded me of the Insanity and Asylum programs. The arm section was fairly basic and could definitely be improved upon on my part with heavier weights.
I think of this DVD as a quick workout that's good for people who love cardio and hate to weight train but need to weight train. There are enough resistance training elements that it could suffice for a resistance day if fitness if your only goal. (You won't build muscle mass doing this.) I especially liked the moves where we used our body weight for resistance. (In general, I think that's the best kind of resistance training.)
So far, I'm really loving the Les Mills Combat program. I have a large number of workouts left to try, including the longer Combat 60 and Combat 60 Live workouts. I'm really looking forward to these because I loved the Combat 30 workout but wished it could have been a little longer. For tomorrow, I'm eager to trying the Combat 45 workout. Stay tuned!

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