Sunday, 22 January 2017

Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs DVD Review

Price: £9 / $9
Length: 3x 26 & 17 minute workouts
Workouts: Full body
Suitable for: Everyone
Overall Rating:   ★★★★★
Enjoyment:  ★★★★☆   Difficulty:  ★★★★☆   Results:  ★★★★☆
Based on 8 weeks of use.


Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs
   Killer Buns & Thighs has quickly become one of my favourite Jillian Michaels workouts. I love a good lower body workout, and this DVD is nothing but. I was so keen every leg day while using this, keener than usual, and I was so sad to see the end of it! I planned to use it for two weeks per level, alternating with an upper body workout on non-consecutive days, for 5 days a week, and though my initial plan was to use the two for 6 weeks between them, it became 8 weeks and that still wasn't enough! And frequent readers know I change my workout every 4-5 weeks to avoid plateaus and to keep it interesting, but I really wanted to keep going. So much so that I'm compromising and looking to fit it into my calendar later in the year.


Overview
   Split into three 30-minute levels of increasing intensity, each made up of 4 circuits, Killer Buns & Thighs is dedicated to transforming the lower body. With a mixture of controlled resistance to build muscle, interspersed with compound moves and cardiovascular exercises to help melt fat, you simply cannot avoid results. Lower body workouts are amazing for cardio as the muscles in your lower body are so much bigger than those in your upper body, and so take more energy to utilise and burn more calories. And, of course, improving the muscle there makes for a more shapely silhouette, slimmer thighs and a nice, round bum, not to mention helping to increase resting metabolism and burning more calories at rest.
   Each workout begins with a thorough warm up, then 30 minutes of work, then a cool-down.
   On a personal note, I also love the fact that Natalie and Anita are the additional instructors, because I love their chemistry. I feel more comfortable with these two than new and more frequently-changed faces in Jillian's more recent DVDs.

Kit
   Like all Jillian Michaels DVDs, you will need hand weights. It's true that it's a lower body workout, but to burn fat, you need to utilise more muscles, and so some light weights for compound moves is a good idea, as well as heavier ones for deadlifts and the like. But, and this is the first time I've seen it in one of her DVDs, you'll also want a chair or exercise step or bench. Level 2 uses a chair for step-ups and elevated bridges in a single circuit - I used my Reebok Deck at its highest - while level 3 uses it only for Bulgarian split squats, or 'king squats', depending on how you know it, in one circuit. A mat is also advised for comfort while doing fire hydrants and other moves on your knees.

Level 1
   Though the lowest difficulty, level 1, like all the others, has a beginner and advanced modification for every move, allowing you to find an appropriate challenge. Each circuit is made up of a mixture of low-impact strength and high-impact cardio moves, giving you the chance to get your heart rate up, then recover before getting it back up again, ensuring you can push yourself without fear of exhausting before the end.
   The first two circuits are higher impact than the others, with the third being lower and made up of moves like fire hydrants, really giving you your breath back so you can give the last circuit your all. This makes the entire workout more manageable and ensures that you have the energy to complete it, and it's the end that counts. After about 20 minutes, your body has quite likely used up all the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen), and so only then will it begin using body fat for fuel. This is also why it's a good idea to do cardio right after 20 minutes or so of strength training, because you're not as exhausted, can get more out of cardio, and subsequently also do less of it.
   Level 1 seems to target the glutes the most, as I felt it in my rear the following day on a number of occasions.


Level 2
   The jump from level 1 to level 2 was, in my mind, a little bigger than they usually are, and after two weeks (amounting, really, to 5 days of use) on level 1, I found it wasn't quite enough. I didn't go back, though, I stuck with level 2 and gave it my all, but subsequently gave it 3 weeks (8 uses) before moving on.
   The moves are more advanced and complex, with things like push-ups into hero pose from yoga, but the guidance and beginner modifications are there. This is also the level that uses a chair or a high exercise step if you have one in circuit 3, and I recommend you choose a stable one. The step-ups start with a rear lunge, then a step up onto the bench, then a knee raise as if you're going a step higher, before reversing the sequence and then repeating. You don't want something that's going to slip or make you hesitate.
   This workout used more quad (thigh) moves than level 1, like controlled leg extensions, and so I wasn't surprised the following day when I seriously felt it in my quads.


Level 3
   I personally found level 3 easier than level 2, but that's simply because I'm more experienced with more advanced moves from using other Jillian Michaels DVDs which weren't level-based. The jump between level 2 and level 3 wasn't as big as between 1 and 2, which was good, but I still gave it three weeks - partly because I was almost finished, so what was another week, and also because I was seeing definite results.
   Circuit 3 and 4 are both more controlled, and while the camels, fire hydrants with extensions, and bow pose in circuit 4 seriously begin to hurt, it also kind of feels like a mercy. You're doing intense work, but you feel like you can do it. Because you've already done those horrible rockstar jumps into cannonballs.
   Quite happily, I felt this workout the most in my hamstrings.


Verdict
Enjoyment:  ★★★★☆  -  Personally speaking, I love a good lower body workout, and this is no exception. But with a mixture of different kinds of moves, it's far from boring.
Difficulty:  ★★★★☆  -  Jillian Michaels never titles her DVDs mildly and always seeks to deliver on its promise. It is hard, but it has to be.
Results:  ★★★★☆  -  It works.
 
   It is impossible not to see results from this workout. Though each level increases in difficulty, it's also clear that each level targets a different area of the lower body, too. The whole DVD is well-rounded (no pun intended) and targets your legs and bum from all angles. There are some old school moves, like fire hydrants, but Jillian points out - and she is not wrong - that these moves are incredible effective, especially when used in a circuit that mixes strength and cardio.
   It's an amazing fat-burner, metabolism-booster and booty-shaper - seriously - and it also gives an incredibly rewarding feeling every time you complete a level.
   The atmosphere is also wonderful. Older Jillian Michaels DVDs I find a little awkward, while the newest feel a little too aggressive. This DVD, from 2011, is from my favourite JM period - she looks good, she's smiling, and there are one or two points to make you laugh and subsequently lose balance and fall over. This makes it easier to want to use the DVD.
   In fact, even on my birthday I couldn't wait to use level 3 for the 7th time.

   Paired up with Jillian Michaels' Killer Arms & Back on alternating days, you will transform your body, your strength, your mobility and your confidence.



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