For the past two weeks, I've been using two DVDs from Jillian Michaels' 'Killer Body' collection - Killer Arms & Back, and Killer Buns & Thighs. Both DVDs are broken into three 30-minute workouts that escalate in difficulty and seperated into levels. Obviously, I started with level 1.
Usually, I get on just fine with level 1. I'm advanced enough that I use the advanced modifications, but that's still difficult enough to keep it challenging. This time, however, I didn't go into it with those kinds of expectations. Having used Killer Body this time last year, I've learned that when Jillian Michaels promises an 'upper body' workout, you will get an upper body workout. She'll get your whole body moving, yes, but there will be such constant focus on the arms, back, chest and shoulders that it really does hurt, and really does work.
Well, I was right to adjust my expectations. I found level one of both Arms & Back and Buns & Thighs to be equally as challenging as one another, and the advanced modifications, most of the time, were out of the question. And yet somehow it was all managable.
I put it down to the structure. You need to engage as many muscle groups as possible to get in good cardio - more muscles in motion equals more fat burn - but the muscles in your upper body are much smaller than your lower body, so they get worn out quicker and you don't get much cardio out of them, either. So for a number of the cardio intervals in the upper body workout, your upper body gets a bit of a rest, or simply has to hold a plank. That definitely makes it easier.
As for Buns & Thighs, your lower body muscles are bigger and need more energy to utilise, so it's easier to get good cardio even out of something as simple as squats and lunges, but in this case, I felt the workout had a broader, merciful structure, though that may not have been intentional. The first circuit is difficult, but nothing beyond what I expected from level 1 of a lower body workout, but the second circuit begins with butt kicks, which is the best move in the world after circuit 1, because you can stretch out your quads, refocus your mind, and get your breath back even though it's a cardio interval. Circuit 2 gets harder, of course, but once you've finished that, you find that circuit 3 is much slower - fire hydrants, inner thigh leg lifts, swimmers - and you doget your breath back while still feeling a brutal burn. And then, when circuit 4 rolls along, which has a lot of cardio to make up for that slower pace, you have the energy and the focus to tackle it, and it's made even easier by knowing it's the last circuit.
My lower body is stronger than my upper body, so while I do think that Buns & Thighs is harder than Arms & Back on paper, for me, personally, they were on par with each other in terms of difficulty. And despite how challenging they were, I actually quite enjoyed them. Even looked forward to them! Though, I can't say I'm too keen on the idea of starting level 2 tomorrow, because I get the feeling it'll be just beyond my abilities, but I'm going to do it without complaining because I also know that's how you grow.
I'll update again in two weeks once I've finished level 2 - and hopefully I'll have more concentration to write that post! This one feels a bit disconnected, but I've been working on filling Etsy orders all day long and I'm quite tired. Still, I'll have finished in two weeks - in fact, this time in two weeks I'll be packing up final orders for my final Christmas post run. And then comes a looong soak in the bath...oh I can't wait.