Sunday, July 21, 2013

Focus T25: Lower Focus and Ab Intervals

This morning, I got to see Seth do the final workouts from the Alpha cycle of T25 that I have left to review, Lower Focus and Ab Intervals.

Today, he was doing a double workout. The calendar for Focus T25 had you working out five days a week. Four of these days (Monday - Thursday) you do one 25 minute workout, but on the fifth day (Friday), you do two 25 minute workouts back to back for a total of 50 minutes (plus around another ten for the stretches). Saturday is an off day for the program, where you take your measurements and track your progress -- they call it Stat-urday. Sunday you do the Stretch workout. Because of the intense heat on Friday, Seth had intelligently moved his Friday workouts to Sunday.

This morning Seth started out with the Lower Focus DVD. I have to say this one looked hard. There were tons of squats and lunges. The moves definitely worked all parts of the legs.

The workout started in the standard way with some knee lifts, jogging, and high knees. There was then a jumping jack progression, which I am sure really got the heart rate up nice and fast.

Shaun T then quickly moved into the first (of many) sets of squats. Again, everything was done in progression. There were basic squats, basic squats with your arms held up, then pulses, and finally controlled jump squats. The moves were very traditional -- just the sort of thing that I do in my twice weekly aerobics class. But these moves are traditional classics because they work

The next section of exercises were focused on the calves and done on the left then right. You started with simple one-legged calf raises and then moved into one-legged calf hops. This is definitely a tricky balance move and requires you to stay, well, focused. 

Shaun T then moved into a set of lunges. This was the sequence that made me happy that I was watching rather than participating. Seth did narrow lunges, deeper lunges, pulsing lunges, and then a static lunge hold. (I was having flashbacks to the Back & 6-pack workout in Asylum where you have to hold a static lunge for about two minutes; two minutes in which I always seem to think I will collapse.) Of course, you have two legs, so Seth did this twice. 

Then it was burnout time where some of these moves were repeated at top intensity. Seth was doing great -- like a champ!

After the burnout, it was immediately back to lunges and squats, with an alternating lunge and squat sequence. Shaun T upped the difficulty but having you do a lunge and then two squat hops.

The next brief section focused on the adductors with adductor squats and then twists in the the adductor squat position. Seth actually said this felt good because he was using a slightly different part of his legs. From the adductor moves, Seth progressed to some cardio, which looked like it was fun and a nice change-up from the previous moves. He did some two knee ups (hopping while raising his knee). The move transitioned so he was doing a knee up and then cross. Again, this is a move that I recognized from aerobics class -- it's one I've always found fun, and Seth seemed to agree.

Following the brief "rest" on the legs with the cardio section, Seth moved onto some deadlifts, where he raised his knee, then brought it straight in back of him and bent down. After this was the final burnout, which incorporated most of the moves since the last burnout. 

The last minute of the workout finished up with a squat into a hip flexor stretch. There was then a three minute cool down that focused on stretching the legs, mostly the hamstrings and hip flexors.  All I could think was, "Wow!" This looked like an abbreviated version of the P90X Legs & Back workout with a better use of time. I can't wait to try this with Seth. He killed the workout and got to check off the "Nailed It!" box on his workout calendar. 

Immediately following the Lower Focus workout, Seth moved onto the second workout of the day, Ab Intervals. 

Seth reports that this is the second hardest workout in Focus T25 after Total Body Circuit. Because Seth has radial tunnel, his occupational therapist said that for push-ups and planks, he needs to modify and be on his knees -- it's bad for his forearms and wrists for him to put his full weight onto them at this point. As a result, he had to modify some of the moves in this workout. 

The workout began with a child's pose into plank sequence, which moved into a downward dog into plank. This then progressed into downward dog into spider lunge followed by downward dog into oblique knees. This was all a bit rough on Seth's wrists, so I was glad when he moved onto the next set of exercises, which were done in low hover. 

Shaun T had Seth move from low hover into a side plank where you did hip raises. Seth decided to follow Tanya for this and keep his lower knee down on the ground to keep him more supported. All of these moves were interspersed with v-holds. Seth did a great job with these. I personally have a lot of problem with keeping my legs straight when doing v-holds and often have to modify and bend my knees a little bit. I showed this to Seth for when his abs get tired. Tanya did not show any modifications for this move, so I thought it might be helpful. 

The next set of moves, alternating straight leg lifts, looked to be Pilates inspired and reminded me a lot of scissors. Finally after around 8 minutes of the 25 minute workout, we got our first interval -- a set of cardio moves to break up all the ab work, the "T" Shuffle. Seth says this is his favorite move. It is very similar to some of the more simple ladder drills I remember from Asylum 2. 

After that, Seth was back down on the floor for another set of straight legs, this time on the alternate side. This was followed by another cardio interval of hop squats. 

Following that, it was back to the floor again for more ab work -- I was getting to see why this workout was called Ab Intervals. Shaun T had everyone doing heel taps, straight leg lifts, and then alternative leg v-holds. This set was done twice with some jogging and squats to break up the intervals. 

Through most of this, Tanya was not really offering too many modification -- the only difference between what everyone else was doing and what Tanya was doing was that Tanya was more often leaving her legs grounded instead of in a hover position. This is still very hard, and I could definitely imagine people who are just getting into core work having to take frequent breaks. Better to do that than to put stress on your lower back. 

There was then another quick cardio interval with speed knee kicks. It was then back down to the floor again for some back work. Seth did superman, then superman with a lat pull down, then superman with a straight arm fly. The last move was exactly the same as swimming (coasting) in Asylum 1: Game Day. The last move was Rocketman, where you again lifted your legs but held your arms back instead of forward like in superman. Again, Tanya didn't offer modifications for these moves. In this case I understand -- there aren't really any modifications (at least that I know of) for these moves that work the back of the core. Like before, I'd recommend taking rests if you're new to this sort of thing. The last thing you want is to have all the tension pool in your lower back and cause a strain. 

Shaun T took another quick break to do some standing mountain climbers. I had just done that move while doing a workout from Insanity earlier today. There was then a set of moves again in low plank. You had to walk your feet in and out so that you were in a sort of v-up position. 

It was back to standing for some sprints into a standing table top. This was a sort of balance move from yoga where you stand on one leg, bend over at the waist, and stretch your arms in front of you. You need your core to stabilize. 

The final ab move was a set of pyramid in and out abs. This was also familiar from some of Shaun T's other workouts. You dropped from standing into a plank and did an in out ab, then jumped back up, then down for two in and out abs, and so on building up to six or seven reps. This is very hard and great cardio. 

Shaun T finished it up with some light jogging, and then it was on to the cool down with some ab and back stretches. 

Seth says that this is definitely a workout that he wants to work on improving. I think he's doing great since this is his first big foray into doing intensive core work. 

All in all, this seems like a great ab workout. Shaun T is always great on working both the back and front of your core. I like how balanced this workout was in this regard. I also think the cardio intervals are a great way to mix things up. It's so easy to do a ton of ab work, get fatigued, and have it be less effective. Having the cardio intervals is a great solution. 

Those are my last reviews for the Alpha cycle. Seth has another three weeks of Alpha (after completing two) before moving onto Beta. I'm excited to see his progress -- already he's definitely getting better with a lot of his workouts. Great job!

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