Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hammer & Chisel Review

I was really excited to start the Master's Hammer and Chisel program because I love weight lifting. It's my comfort zone, I always loathe cardio workouts but power through them because I know they are good for me and give me great results. I was really looking forward to building some muscle and defining my body. This workout is categorized as muscle building/ slim & tone and intermediate to advanced skill level. There is more equipment needed than other home programs I've done; well recommended I guess. They recommend a bench and chin-up bar. They do show ways to modify without those but I think they played a big part in moves and I highly recommend them. Of course dumbbells are required, no way to really get around that and a band is helpful and used in just a couple moves.

This program alternates between the Hammer (workouts led by Sagi and tend to be more body building focused) and the Chisel (workouts led by Autumn and tend to be more full body cardio and 21 day fix type workouts). Both were awesome. There are a total of 15 workouts which kept this 60 day program interesting and appealing. I wasn't doing the same five workouts over and over and there were sometimes weeks that went by between doing a repeat. One downfall was that there was no specific day designated for stretching. There was one rest day a week so I guess if you wanted to stretch on that day you could, but would have been nice to have a specific stretch video workout. Once the rest day came along that is all I wanted to do and needed it after a week of lifting!

I highly recommend printing off the worksheets that go along with this program to track your dumbbell weight progress. I started off low, not super low, but probably lower than I needed to because I wanted to gradually work my way up. So my lowest weight was mainly 8 pound dumbbells. On one or two complex moves I did pull out the 5 pounders, like when Sagi was using an 8 pounder for fly lunge twists in Hammer Conditioning I used the five. I had a goal to bump up weights every time I repeated a workout, so having the worksheets to refer back to were crucial.

The Workouts!

Hammer Plyometrics (28m): this one doesn't pop up too often throughout the program but it's a good one. It wasn't easy to do in the basement with a short ceiling so the last time I ended up taking equipment upstairs to complete it. A good cardio workout and I loved the 30 second intervals; felt like I could push harder knowing it was only 30 seconds. This workout was tied with Hammer Conditioning for the top 3rd workout in the program to give a peak cardio workout.

Iso Speed Hammer (25m): I loved that this was a short one. It's amazing what even ten minutes difference feels like. This was straight and to the point. Ten slow concentrated reps followed by ten fast reps, then the move was over and onto the next.

Total Body Hammer (45m): This a great whole body workout. You do a move for 10, 8, 6 reps using the same weight finish a couple more moves in the round then repeat the 10, 8, 6 reps of each move before advancing to the next round. There are three rounds total. My biggest dislike of this workout are the background people. Both girls quote their used weight as combined dumbbell amount instead of how you are suppose to state your weight in what size the dumbbells are. So they say "20 pounds" when they are using 10 pound dumbbells in each hand. Wish they would have used some girls that actually lifted weight and were motivating to other women doing this workout. I could have also done without the eye rolls the far right lady kept giving Sagi. I know his jokes are corney but they aren't bad and keep you amused through the workout.

Max Hammer Strength (36m): This is a great weightlifting workout and it's pretty whole body (with more focus on the legs of course because it seems like every workout is a leg workout). You do a move for sixty seconds with no weights then you do the move 8 reps with max weight. Pretty straight forward.

Hammer Power (40m): I loathed this one at first. Too many deadlifts and not a fan of the jerk move. But the more I did it the more I liked it. I think I like the people in this one the best. And I liked that it was light, medium, and heavy weights. Once I bumped up, I worked on spacing out the weight. So I left my light weight at ten pounds for some time and worked my way up to 15 and 20 for medium and heavy. Felt great after this workout! It did prove to be difficult to do in the basement and probably the worst one to do with little children running around. It was fast moving and I had to push myself to keep up but it was great not to feel like the workout dragged along, like some of the others.

Hammer Conditioning (30m): Glad this was a short one. Seemed like days I needed it most a shorter workout would pop up on the calendar. This one had some good dynamic moves, only eight moves doing 12 reps each, twice. I liked the burpee renegade upright row. My least favorite move was the fly lunge twist; you know it's tough when Sagi is using an 8 pound dumbbell. I stuck to a 5 pound weight for that move. Once I got my weights high enough this was a real sweat fest. And ranks pretty high compared to others for being a cardio, calorie burning workout. My Fitbit said it was 60% cardio, making it tied with Hammer Plyometrics for the third top workout in the program to give a good cardio workout. 

10 min Ab Hammer (10m): There are ten moves and they are all done on the floor. Lots of oblique work. Pretty straight forward.

Chisel Balance (40m): I think this is the very first workout in the program. I remember liking it after the first time and a few following ones. However toward the end I started to dread it. The final move of renegade rows with a pistol squat.... seven total minutes of this move. Your legs and butt will be screaming! I do like that this one has a move, you do it twice and then move on and you don't come back to it. I bumped up my weights in the beginning but once I was at what Autumn was using I stayed put. I wanted to work on balance and not dealing with a heavy weight causing me to topple over.

Iso Strength Chisel (35m): This one changed things up a bit by not having a cool down at the end but instead incorporating the stretching after each individual move. I liked that for a change. You did a ove 10 reps then held for ten seconds then repeated the round three times. It was pretty intense and definitely gave those muscles a good burn.

Chisel Endurance (35m): This is a two round workout where you do each move for sixty seconds. Lots of work on the bench. Step ups and step overs, decline push-ups, incline press, and balanced rows were all done on the bench. This would probably be considered a cardio workout however it is kind of slow moving so I was able to bump up my weights quite a bit and it still wasn't one of the more cardio workouts. But it was good and got the job done.

Chisel Cardio (40m): This was a real sweat fest and according to my fitbit readout it was peak performance over any other workout. I bumped up my weights the first two times in a couple moves, ended up getting to what Autumn was using then didn't really see a need to increase as it was mainly a cardio workout. Easier to push myself when I'm not weighted down with an excessive dumbbell in my hand. I liked that this was a 2 round workout, so once I hit the mid way point it was easy to push myself through the second round saying "just one more time of this move then done". The sword pulls are killer. It does start off a little slow with her explaining moves but those breaks are welcomed during round two when I needed to catch my breath.

Chisel Agility (40m): This workout was #2 for performance according to my fitbit readout. This is the only one that utilizes NO EQUIPMENT! So a great one to do if you're traveling (unfortunately it didn't pop up on the schedule when we were traveling). It has two rounds each round with 10 moves you do for 60 seconds. Overall I liked this one, a great cardio and a change from using all that equipment. You do need some space to bounce and move around for the grapevine shuffle and various lunges. Here's the list of moves:
  • High Knees
  • Plank X Tap
  • Grapevine Shuffle
  • Lateral Squat Hop
  • Multi-directional Lunges
  • Rotating Squat Jump
  • Skater Triangle
  • Diagonal Jump Lunge (because of a bad knee I modified this differently by just doing straight jump lunges)
  • Circle In and Out
  • Directional Squat Jump

Total Body Chisel (36m): this was three rounds where you did three reps of 10 for each move. Pretty straight forward lifting program. The first round I was able to use just two different weights. The second I felt like I had a different weight for each move, which isn't bad I guess just a pain to keep track of and my workspace got cluttered. This video ended with tricep dips which was the only isolated tricep move in the whole program (besides kick backs in another hammer video).

10 min Ab Chisel (10m): Seven different ab moves mostly all done on the bench. I did it a couple times without a bench and I think it might have been harder without. A good ab workout that had my core burning.

Master's Cardio (18m): this is on an extra DVD you can get from ordering through your coach (or um... ME!!) I like that it's quick. I did it twice when it was mentioned as an optional alternative. It is the only one led by both Sagi & Autumn and they are quite goofy with each other which is rather distracting. I just started the workout instead of waiting for their banter to finish. I don't feel it gave me much of a good workout and only did it the days I was really short on time just so I could say it was done for the day.

Of course I would have loved to have had the additional deluxe workouts. I believe there are four additional ones. I did get to do Hammer Build Up one time as it was offered on the CDJ when it was mentioned as an optional workout.

My husband and I used a variety of Beachbody Performance products. Our favorite being the post-workout Recover. It was easy to drink as soon as we were done and know that our body was getting the amino acids it needed to build and repair those muscles. We started off with the nighttime supplement: Recharge. While I really liked it and it encouraged me to get to bed since you need to be sleeping within 30-60 minutes after drinking, we often forgot to drink it. I do think it helped combat soreness the most. We switched to recover about midway through and I noticed muscle soreness creeping back in. But we were also going up in weight so who really knows if it was the lack of using Recharge or the increase in weights.

Halfway through we also started using energize. This is an AMAZING product and my husband rarely does a morning workout with out it! It's a citrus powder you drink in a cup of water right before you start. It has beta-alanine, low-dose of caffeine from green tea, and quercetin in it. Way healthier for you than an energy drink. If give you just that boost you need to push you through your workout and give all you got, which is turns gives you amazing results. Who can't utilize that!?!

I also had some Hydrate on hand but honestly used it maybe twice because it tasted good and was a change from water. But Hydrate is a during workout powder that is great at replacing electorlites. I did a good amount of sweating during hammer and chisel but I'd say hydrate is a better product for a more cardio focused program like what we plan to do next: T25 or Insanity Max 30.

I definitely saw my progress as the program went on, I was increasing weights every time I repeated a workout and got up to using 20 pounds! I preferred to increase in 2.5 pound increments because I wanted to be able to complete the reps and have something to work toward each day.

We both ate above our calorie plan in hopes of building muscle. I ate in Plan D (until the last week when my daughters stopped nursing I dropped back down to Plan C) and my husband ate in Plan D/E when he could muster it all in. We both maintained our weight. We were familiar with the nutrition plan since it is the same as the 21 day fix: colored coded portion containers. 
I lost 1.5" off my waist and a half inch off my hips. I dropped 0.6% body fat. Was hoping for a little more drop in body fat but it's all about progress not perfections.
My husband dropped 1.2% body fat and gained inches in his upper body (an inch in his chest and quarter inch in each arm) while losing 0.75 inches off his waist. We could definitely see more muscle definition throughout the program. Being that it is 60 days, it was hard to eat 100% on track. We listed and sold a house in that time (showings and meetings causing us to eat out a little more than usual), we had a 10 hour road trip, and just a crazier life in those 60 days. I know we could have done better with nutrition but it is what it is and I think we did pretty damn well for what we were going through. We did not miss a single workout and that's something to be proud of!

I would reach for this workout again. I think I would do a hybrid of this with another cardio focused workout such as T25 or Insanity Max 30. If you're in a slump and need a challenging workout then definitely get yourself a copy, you'll love it!

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