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Does Hammer and Chisel Work? Workout Reviews (Complete List)

 

Hammer and Chisel Review

 

Hammer and Chisel Review… Does it work?

 

We will see with my Hammer and Chisel review. Similar to the popular website articles for my detailed P90X3 workout reviews and detailed Insanity Max:30 workout reviews, I plan to take a very CLOSE look at all Hammer and Chisel workouts to decide for myself. I have long been a fan of Sagi (Hammer) Kalev’s Body Beast program, getting some killer mass gain results, and also a huge fan of Autumn (Chisel) Calabrese’s 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme programs, especially the easy-to-follow portion control nutrition focus. However, I am most excited about the Hammer and Chisel release given how this program combines the best of each leveraging new compound exercise movements and nutrition schedules to sculpt your body to get the best results possible. It also includes a dedicated modifier that demonstrates moves at a lower intensity and adapts exercises for those with limited access to equipment.

 

Hammer and Chisel Review

 

 

The success stories from the beta test groups for Hammer and Chisel are quite impressive. I know several of the beta test group members that achieved AMAZING results. Time to see if it works for me. My goal here is to simply demonstrate the efficiency-effectiveness of the Hammer and Chisel workouts based on my personal experience with this Hammer and Chisel Review. Again, given that I am a science guy:),  I will leverage heart rate analysis for each workout to draw conclusions and comparisons including the data in my perspective. I have a Polar H7 Bluetooth enabled heart rate monitor (chest strap) synced to my iPhone using the free Polar Beat Mobile App and Polar Flow (used “jogging” or “other indoor” setting as default). For the first time, I also plan to present results from my FitBit Charge HR (wrist monitor) to further investigate my initial conclusions that the accuracy is questionable. Consider it an extended test drive for Hammer and Chisel in addition to the FitBit monitor that so many people wear on a daily basis! Warmup and cooldown time is included in the heart rate analysis. I will also try to draw links to other Beachbody programs for additional perspective where applicable. I have done P90X, P90X+, P90X2, P90X3, P90X One-on-Ones, P90, 10-Minute Trainer, Insanity, Insanity Max:30, Insanity Asylum Volume 1, Insanity Asylum Volume 2, T25, Body Beast, RevAbs, 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, PiYo, Les Mills Combat as we all as other programs and hybrids thereof. Nutrition targets during this review are consistent with the Hammer and Chisel nutrition guide with a more detailed review HERE. Supplements include Beachbody Performance Ultimate Stack of ENERGIZE pre-workout, HYDRATE during workout, RECOVER post-workout, CREATINE, RECHARGE casein protein before bed and Shakeology snack. Now on to my Hammer and Chisel Review!!

 

Mike with Hammer and Chisel

 

The Workouts

Iso Speed Hammer (Beachbody on Demand streaming access)
Total Body Chisel (Beachbody on Demand streaming access)
Chisel Balance
Hammer Plyometrics
Iso Strength Chisel
10 Minute Ab Hammer
Max Hammer Strength
Chisel Agility
Chisel Cardio
10 Minute Ab Chisel
Total Body Hammer
15 Minute Glute Chisel (extra DELUXE workouts available!)
Hammer Conditioning
15 Minute Leg Hammer (extra DELUXE workouts available!)
Chisel Endurance
Hammer Build Up (extra DELUXE workouts available!)
Power Chisel (extra DELUXE workouts available!)
Hammer Power
Master’s Cardio
(Bonus exclusive from Team Beachbody Coach, ask me how to get it!)

 

The Data Analysis Summary

I have now completed all 19 Hammer and Chisel workouts including base, deluxe and the coach bonus workouts! This program has some amazing new workouts that will be in my rotation for years to come. Most of the workouts are total body focus. Although I prefer having some workouts in the schedule that only target one specific muscle group to failure each day (e.g., chest or biceps), Hammer and Chisel gets the job done and my results after doing these workouts are impressive. I do recommend the Deluxe workouts for an added challenge with medicine ball! Most of the workouts feature only one trainer, either Autumn (Chisel) or Sagi (Hammer), however, Power Chisel and Hammer Build Up from the Deluxe series feature both for the first time along with the coach exclusive bonus Master’s Cardio. There are modifiers for a range of fitness levels. I also did a review of the Hammer and Chisel nutrition plan. Nutrition is a critical component of sculpting your physique with this program and getting the most out of your workouts.

 

I have compiled data from the heart rate analysis to summarize my findings with regard to efficiency-effectiveness of the workouts (as related to heart rate impact). Of course there are many other benefits of the workouts unrelated to heart rate, calorie burn and heart rate zone, however, I have found the heart rate analysis to be strongly correlated with certain results from previous experience (e.g., weight loss, lean muscle). I should note that I was surprised to find that there are no Yoga, Stretch or Pilates routines in Hammer and Chisel. However, these can easily be incorporated. The warmups and cooldowns do have some Yoga and stretch opportunities.

 

The table below summarizes the data collected from the trusted Polar heart rate monitor in addition to calculations to normalize calorie burn to total workout time and separate determination on percentage of workout in upper heart rate zones “4″ and “5″ (keeping in mind extra warmup/cooldown will impact this value). Click on the table to expand the view for easier reading. The two graphs below the table illustrate the findings and support the conclusions. You can see with regression analysis that there is a strong correlation between Average Heart Rate in the workout and normalized calorie burn in relation to total workout time (R2 = 0.99393). It is great to see that the top workouts in the analysis range from resistance focus to more traditional cardio impact (Chisel Agility). It is clear that the CHISEL workouts provided some of the top calorie burns, average and max heart rates. However, Hammer workouts recorded impressive stats. Hammer Plyo had my heart rate in zones “4” and “5” for 83% of the workout while Hammer Build Up (deluxe) red lined max heart rate at 193 beats per minute. Wow! That is at the ceiling of where my max heart rate should be given my age. What a challenge!

 

Hammer and Chisel Heart Rate Review Summary

Hammer and Chisel Heart Rate Review Summary. CLICK TO EXPAND.

 

Hammer and Chisel Heart Rate Review Summary

Hammer and Chisel Heart Rate Review Summary. CLICK TO EXPAND.

 

Hammer and Chisel Heart Rate Review Summary

 

I was not surprised by the results above as the most challenging workouts from a heart rate analysis perspective were some of the more demanding resistance routines that kept me moving throughout. You would not think that a “balance-oriented” workout would be the highest calorie burn for the entire program, but Autumn nailed it with Chisel Balance.

 

Check out the comparison below to some key performance indicators relative to other top Beachbody programs P90X3 and Insanity Max:30. Numbers shown are averages of all 16 Insanity Max:30 workouts and all 20 P90X3 workouts relative to all 19 Hammer and Chisel workouts. Workout times are generally in the 30-40 minute range.

 

Percentage of workout in upper heart rate zones “4” and “5”:

Max:30 = 78.9% vs. Hammer and Chisel = 56.7% vs. P90X3 = 42.8%

 

Average Heart Rate:

Max:30 = 161 bpm vs. Hammer and Chisel = 147 bpm vs. P90X3 = 139 bpm

 

Max Heart Rate:

Max:30 = 182 bpm vs. Hammer and Chisel = 179 bpm vs. P90X3 = 171 bpm

 

Calories Burned:

Max:30 = 369 calories vs. Hammer and Chisel = 349 calories vs. P90X3 = 349 calories

 

Normalized Calories Burned:

Max:30 = 14.01 cal/min vs. Hammer and Chisel = 11.56 cal/min vs. P90X3 = 10.65 cal/min

 

This comparison appears to indicate that Hammer and Chisel essentially challenges me more than P90X3 and less than Max:30 in all metrics. Again, keeping in mind the workout lengths vary and that there are no Yoga/Stretch/Pilates routines in Hammer and Chisel. This is not surprising if you look at the workout schedules for each. I find this very impressive given the lack of “traditional” cardio in Hammer and Chisel!

 

Finally, back to the Polar chest strap vs. Fitbit wrist monitor controversy. Final conclusion…

 

Fitbit is NOT accurate!!

 

Yes, my opinion on this has not changed even after another 19 workouts to compare. I wish this was not the case. In good news, I was able to get my heart rate over 140 bpm range with some of these workouts, however, the actual data fails several tests when comparing to the trusted Polar data, manual pulse checks and just pure commonsense (e.g., calorie burns were insanely low). Below please find a summary of the Fitbit data from all 19 workouts. The workouts in the table are still sorted by top calorie burn from the Polar data and shows that even the order of calorie burns is inconsistent with Polar. However, a regression of Polar calorie burn vs. Fitbit calorie burn provides a somewhat reasonable fit of R2 = 0.68635. In other words, the Fitbit does record data and generally shows that as you workout your heart rate will increase with a more demanding workout (with no consistent bias). Fitbit calories burned are generally 2.5 times lower than Polar (i.e., reality). Unfortunately, fits of average heart rate and max heart rate for Polar vs. Fitbit are not good at R2 = 0.01646 and R2 = 0.06207, respectively. The average and max heart rates are 20-25% lower in value than those recorded on the Polar monitor!

 

Hammer and Chisel Heart Rate Review Summary Fitbit

 

I submit that Hammer and Chisel DOES work in only 30-40 minutes a day… but check out the workout reviews for even more details!

 

Favorite Workouts: Hammer Power, Hammer Plyo, Iso Strength Chisel, Total Body Hammer

Least Favorite Workouts: Glute Chisel, Chisel Endurance, Anything with Bulgarian squats (ha!)

Hardest Workouts (for me): Chisel Balance, Chisel Cardio, Total Body Hammer, Hammer Plyo

Easiest Workouts (for me): Chisel Agility, Master’s Cardio, Glute Chisel, Iso Speed Hammer

 

The Reviews

Iso Speed Hammer

The first workout that I decided to press play for my Hammer and Chisel Review is Iso Speed Hammer given that it is available pre-launch exclusively via the Beachbody on Demand streaming service to phone, tablet and computer (free trial here!!). I was really excited for this workout given that I have spent countless hours with Sagi’s Body Beast program over the years and strongly believe TEMPO discipline is one of the best methods for accelerating progress with your fitness (and certainly breaking plateaus, from my experience). Body Beast TEMPO:Chest/Tris and TEMPO Back/Bis are my favorite all-time workouts from Body Beast and I was looking forward to how Iso Speed Hammer compares.

Described as,

“Sagi introduces the power of The Master’s Hammer with his Iso Speed Hammer workout, which utilizes the effectiveness of tempo training to build strength and grow muscle. Incorporating speed and isometric holds, this workout will help you kick-start your way to becoming totally shredded.”

Sounds promising.

So how did I do in approx. 24 minutes of Iso Speed Hammer?

Polar data…
Hammer and Chisel Review Iso Speed Hammer Heart Rate

Hammer and Chisel Review Iso Speed Hammer Heart Rate

FitBit data…

Hammer and Chisel Review Iso Speed Hammer Heart Rate FitBit

CLICK TO EXPAND.

 

Not going to lie. I loved this workout, but also didn’t love it at the same time. Ha, let me explain! The workout is great. Let me get this out out of the way… what I didn’t love was that there was around 4 minutes 30 seconds of warmup and 2 minutes cooldown, which only leaves 17 minutes or so for more intense work. I would have preferred a longer workout, even 30 minutes total including the warmup/cooldown would have been better for me. With that said, it is critical to warmup and cooldown. This was mostly missed in the Body Beast program, for example, unlike P90X where there is significant warmup/cooldown built in along with the considerable length of the actual workout (longer isn’t always better though).

The warmup with Iso Speed Hammer is more than just stretching, but also involves a lot of work with a resistance band (or towel modification).  Reminded me of some of the Autumn Calabrese moves from 21 Day Fix Extreme. My shoulders were actually on fire by the end of the warmup, which is a good sign. For the main workout, the focus is on TEMPO training in a much different way than Body Beast. Instead of 3 sets of 6 sec up-6 sec down, 3 sec up-6 sec down and 3 sec up-3 sec down in Body Beast, this workout consists of different “levels” to the tempo movements. For those familiar with P90X3, it is similar to some of the “elevator” pushups and pull-ups where you perform the movement, but stop at different points to get more time under tension in the eccentric (negative, down) motion. So, the exercises require 10 reps of each exercise where you stop (iso hold) at 3 positions in the eccentric motion and then a burnout of an additional 10 reps normal speed for each set. There were 11 sets for total body challenge including pushups, static lunge with weight, chin-up, deadlift, side lateral raise, sumo squat, rear felt/cross-fly with band, pistol squat, face down incline curl, elevated calf raise and tricep kickback. Approx. 30 second rest between sets. Pistol squats and chin-ups were killer!!

Okay, the “actual” workout was only 17 minutes or so, but I was sweating a lot by the end. Surprisingly, according to my trusted Polar chest strap monitor I burned 263 calories in about 24 minutes, which includes around 6.5 minutes of warmup/cooldown, with average heart rate of 143 beats per minute and most of the workout in zone 4 “hard” at 80-90% target heart rate max. Max heart rate was 183 beats per minute. I am not surprised by these numbers given how hard I felt I was pushing, but I am surprised I was able to get this challenge in such a short period of time. Awesome! I also enjoyed the eccentric approach, as always. I am already sore just hours after the workout. Now, let’s address the FitBit data. Seriously? 92 calories burned in 24 minutes with average heart rate of 106 beats per minute and max of 125 beats per minute. No way. I say again, no way. Anyway, loved this workout, especially when you are in a time crunch for a total body challenge, and can’t wait to do it again!

 

Total Body Chisel

My first experience with the Chisel workouts for my Hammer and Chisel Review from Autumn Calabrese was the Total Body routine that is also available pre-launch exclusively via Beachbody on Demand (free trial here!!). This should be a strong indicator of what is to come with Autumn’s Hammer and Chisel workouts relative to 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme. I imagine a lot of weighted compound moves! Looking forward to this one…

Described as,

“The sneak peek of The Master’s Chisel workout places an equal emphasis on strength, but also focuses on crafting lean, mean muscles. Autumn guides you through a sweat-inducing, full-body resistance workout with the Total Body Chisel, to help you achieve stunning muscle definition and overall power.”

Let’s do this, so how did I do with this 35 minute workout?

Polar data…

Total Body Chisel Review Total Body Chisel Review

Fitbit data…

Total Body Chisel Review FitBit

CLICK TO EXPAND.

 

Wow. Okay, that was a killer workout. Although there are modifiers available for any fitness level, similar to Iso Speed Hammer, this workout will push you to the limits in a relatively short period of time if you choose. Weight selection is key. The workout requires resistance with weights and a bench, although a stability ball can be leveraged in place of a bench throughout the Hammer and Chisel program (I personally do not prefer this method due to safety). I recommend dumbbells for this workout vs. bands. My heart rate data tells the story. From the Polar data, I burned 454 calories in a little over 35 minutes with average heart rate 154 beats per minute and most of the workout in zones 4 (hard) and 5 (max) at 80-100% target heart rate max. Max heart rate was 183 beats per minute. Once again, the FitBit data is a joke from my perspective recording only 132 calories burned during the total workout with average heart rate 103 beats per minute and max heart rate 134 beats per minute. If you have a FitBit and believe your data is accurate, onward and upward. However, if you are uncertain I at least recommend a manual pulse check relative to your FitBit data if you are concerned about actual heart rate data. I think I had 132 calories on one shirt sleeve alone for this workout today. Ha. My manual pulse check several times during the workout confirms the Polar data is accurate.

I have to be honest, this workout was a challenge for me. Although I am still recovering from a lower back disc herniation, I felt safe with this workout and was able to increase weights each set. The workout started with approx. 3.5 minutes of warmup including variations of stretch and Yoga. The main workout was then around 30 minutes with 2 minute cooldown stretch. The routine consisted of 3 circuits with 3 sets of 3 moves of 10 reps each with total body focus throughout. That is a lot of reps! There was no rest between the sets within a circuit, but approx. 45 seconds rest between circuits. Given the limited rest for most of the workout, it was a significant cardio endurance challenge, especially if you increased weights progressively within the circuits. The first circuit was weighted squat, flat bench press with legs up and reverse parallel row. My weights were in the 35 – 45-lb dumbbell range this first attempt at Total Body Chisel. Second circuit included weighted step-back lunge, incline bench fly 45 degrees and laying bench pullover. My weights were between 25 – 35-lb dumbbells. Last circuit was weighted step down from bench/cross back/up/toe tap, incline dumbbell curls 45 degrees and bench dips. Weights ranged from Body Weight to 30-lb dumbbells. Phew. I loved this workout. The step down cross back lunges in the last circuit were very difficult and reminded me of a similar move in Body Beast BUILD:legs. My heart was pumping! The incline dumbbell curls were great for isolation as well and the 30-lb dumbbells were more than enough by the end of the workout. I will definitely be doing this one again soon. Bring it!

 

Chisel Balance

I decided to mostly follow the order of Hammer and Chisel workouts prescribed in the recommended 60-day schedule as I test drive all of the workouts. Of course I will be doing these in a much more condensed timeframe for my reviews. I KNOW this will be a challenge and I am up to it my friends! The first workout scheduled in the program is Chisel Balance. I am not sure what to expect, but I love the concept of developing strength via body control and balance. Autumn has a strong track record of accomplishing this goal in her workouts.

Described as,

“A total-body workout creating stabilization, muscular endurance, and core strength.”

This sounds a lot like some of the challenging P90X2 work I have done in the past. Should be fun!

So how did I do with 41 minutes of Chisel Balance?

Polar data…

Chisel Balance Heart Rate Review Chisel Balance Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Chisel Balance Heart Rate Review Fitbit

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This workout surprised me. It was tough, although there are modifiers throughout for range of fitness levels. The warmup was similar to Total Body Chisel around 4.5 minutes or so in length with stretch and Yoga sequence to get ready for the workout. Total active workout time was then approx. 35 minutes with 2 minute cooldown at the end. Chisel balance was all about foundation and balance with major core engagement and many 1-legged moves to create more balance for your body (I found my left side needs some work, especially after the disc herniation this year that mostly impacted the strength of the left side of my body). My heart rate was elevated throughout. Polar data shows a killer 521 calories burned in 41 minutes with average heart rate 156 beats per minute and majority of workout in zones 4 (hard) and 5 (max) at 80-100% target heart rate max. Max heart rate was 181 beats per minute. Fitbit data indicated 180 calories burned in 41 minutes with average heart rate 117 beats per minute and max heart rate 151 beats per minute. Although I still don’t trust the Fitbit data, in good news I was able to record a heart rate above 150 bpm. Woohoo!

This workout will be great for me moving forward for developing more stability and strength post-back injury. The workout consisted of 8 rounds of 2 sets of 15 reps each. Both sets are completed before moving on to the next round. There were around 30 seconds of break between sets. Moves included 1-leg squat sit on bench, 1-leg bridge pullover, 1-leg squat deadlift, up-down on bench, split squat jump, renegade row leg lift, 1-arm press bridge and balance row pistol squat. I used 15-20-lb dumbbells for most of the workout first time through. Most moves I may be able to increase, but not by much given the need for slow, controlled form each side. I had to be very careful on some of the moves that had one of my legs extended to keep my lower back safe. No modifications needed though. For me, the up-down exercise was my favorite sequence (think, plank transition from floor to bench at 15 reps x 2 sets. Ouch!). The split squat jump was a crazy plyo move using the bench to force isolation of one leg at a time. I also enjoyed the balance row pistol squat at the end and 15 pounds was plenty for that move while maintaining form. Overall, I was exhausted by the end. The breaks were nice, but you can see my heart rate was still elevated throughout. Success!!

 

Hammer Plyometrics

Those familiar with Body Beast know that the program has limited cardio, which was an area of contention for some people that believe you must perform significant cardio to get results (e.g., leaning out and/or cardio endurance). Of course this is not necessarily true as resistance work ramps metabolism just as effectively, if not more effectively for periods of time after the workout is complete. Body Beast focuses on the workout, Beast Cardio, which involves a lot of free weights and body weight to challenge cardio endurance. It is not easy. Hammer Plyometrics intrigues me to see how effective Sagi’s Hammer approach pushes cardio limits and performance.

Described as,

“This jump training workout will use your entire body to create force, speed, and power.”

Jump training = challenging, from my perspective. P90X Plyo was always a challenge for me, but the results were amazing.

So how did I do with 26 minutes of Hammer Plyometrics?

Polar data…

Hammer Plyo Heart Rate Review Hammer Plyo Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Hammer Plyo Heart Rate Review Fitbit

CLICK TO EXPAND.

 

What was THAT all about. Ha. Man, this is my new favorite workout. I don’t know how Sagi comes up with some of this, but I have never done a workout like this before. There were some more traditional moves tweaked to give a challenging compound set workout in a relatively short period of time. The focus is on fast-twitch muscle fibers and developing speed for progress. The warmup was similar to Iso Speed Hammer around 5 minutes, but unlike Autumn’s Chisel warmups, the Hammer ones involve a resistance band and work the shoulders and arms a lot. My shoulders were burning by the end of warmup alone. The workout was then approx. 18 minutes finishing up with 2 minute cooldown stretch. So, for only 18 minutes main workout I was excited to see my calorie burn and heart rate data. I pushed hard too. Polar data indicates 356 calories burned in a little over 26 minutes total workout with average heart rate 161 beats per minute with most of workout in zone 5 near 90-100% heart rate max. Wow. Max heart rate was 179 beats per minute. Fitbit again gives lower numbers, but average and max heart rates were even higher than previous Hammer and Chisel workouts completed thus far. 150 calories burned with average heart rate 130 beats per minute and max of 166 bpm. Goes without saying I recommend chest straps and the Polar data vs. wrist monitor and the Fitbit data. Broken record on that topic. Anyway, per the Polar data, over the same workout length Hammer Plyometrics burned an extra 100 calories over Iso Speed Hammer due to the Plyo focus with approx. +20 increase in average heart rate! Yeah, I would say it was effective.

Hammer Plyometrics focused on 2 rounds of 9 moves each, about 9 minutes per round. Each move is done for a full 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. After one round there is a short break and then back to a second round. I was pushed hard on this one. Moves included vertical jump, burpee pullup (wide front variation), leg in and outs with bench, plyo push-up taps, crazy horse with bench, chin-up crunch squat jump, knee driver, sumo tuck jump and lunge lunge squat to finish up. I do recommend a bench for this workout with some of these Plyo moves, but a stability ball may work for some exercises (be careful!) For most of these sets I was able to complete between 10-20 reps depending on the movement. The pullup variations were lower given transition period and I could have done more pull-ups if time did not expire (may consider weighted vest later). There were a lot of compound moves that made the workout very effective as my heart rate was high throughout. The only exercise with weight was the Plyo knee driver and you do not need much weight to challenge you. My favorite sets were the burpee pull-up, plyo push-up taps and chin-up crunch squat jump. I did not need to modify this workout even with my back and knee issues, but there are modifications available. I loved the comment from Sagi near the end where he encourage you to get back into it if you puke. Ha. He talked a lot about obsession and achieving your results for extra motivation. I can’t wait to try this one again. Bring it.

 

Iso Strength Chisel

When I initially studied the Hammer and Chisel program I was intrigued by Iso Chisel on the schedule. I have long been a fan of isometric moves, which focus on muscular contraction against resistance in which the length of the muscle remains the same. In other words, holding a specific move during the exercise in the engaged position. Isometrics can be really challenging and also help with muscle definition and growth. I imagine this version will involve weights, which will only enhance the challenge and hopefully results!

Described as,

“An intense resistance workout using isometric holds and flexibility to increase strength.”

So, how did I do with 35 minutes of Iso Strength Chisel?

Polar data…
Iso Strength Chisel Heart Rate Review Iso Strength Chisel Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Iso Strength Chisel Heart Rate Review Fitbit

CLICK TO EXPAND.

 

Time under tension. Iso Strength Chisel brings time under tension a new meaning. I have done many TEMPO, isometric and force set type workouts in the past, but these are all combined in this one workout. It is very deceiving and you do not need heavy weights to make this effective. The idea is to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible to develop strength. The Polar data shows I  burned 418 calories in 35 minutes with average heart rate of 148 beats per minute with most of the workout in zone 4 and max heart rate of 181 beats per minute. Not bad. Fitbit data indicated 129 calories burned in 35 minutes with average of 109 beats per minute and max 134 bpm. Although heart rates are measuring elevated, if you do not look at the total caloric burn and average heart rate over the course of the entire workout you may not observe some of the discrepancies of the Fitbit. Perhaps your experience is different if you have a Fitbit, but my experience does not support it being an accurate tool, which has been my experience with most wrist monitors.

So I have to be honest, I had to take some breaks during this workout. The sets with iso split squat, pull-up and step-up side moves were very challenging for me, even though I am in pretty good shape. I found myself out-of-breath a couple times trying to keep up, especially the step-up side hold sequence, which reminded me of the set-up move in Body Beast BUILD:Legs (my nemesis!) The workout started with the same 4.5 min warmup then approx. 30 minutes active workout time and 20 sec cooldown stretch at the end. The routine involved 11 rounds (8 unique moves with some having right and left sets). Each round used the following format… 10 reps, hold iso position 10 seconds, 10 reps, hold iso position 10 seconds, 10 reps, hold iso position 10 seconds. Exercises consisted of weighted sumo squat, push-up, weighted split squat L and R, pull-up, weighted step-up side hold L and R, 1-arm row L and R, weighted sit-up C-curve and lateral raise. No joke. I used a range of weights from 5 to 20-lb dumbbells. It was more than enough, although perhaps I will able to increase weight on some moves next time. The split squat sequence bulgarian style with foot on bench had my glutes on fire. I mean, you literally do 3 sets of 10 reps without putting the weight down while doing iso holds in the engaged position between sets. I was able to do all of the push-up sets without modification or break, but it was extra tough since my legs and glutes were still on fire from the sumo squats beforehand. I also found the pull-up sets very challenging. I was able to do all 10 first set, but the iso hold pretty much maxed me out and my numbers fell the next 2 sets (assist will be needed for most on this move). However, the hardest set for me was the weighted step-up side hold. Cruel and unusual punishment. I look forward to hearing some feedback from others once they do this workout. It is a rocker. Don’t be afraid to go light or even no weight and it is critical to maintain proper form for best results and safety.

 

10 Minute Ab Hammer

There are shorter, ab-focused workouts in the Hammer and Chisel system and I decided to try 10 Minute Ab Hammer first. To be honest, I am a little nervous about this one since I am overcoming a lower back injury this year so I will need to make sure form is perfect and controlled. However, I believe that this type of workout can also greatly improve my recovery from the injury by supporting the stabilization and strength of my core and lower back. A six pack would be nice too. Ha. I am curious how this compares to Beast Abs from Body Beast and the other ab routines out there from Beachbody.

Described as,

“Carve definition into your core while strengthening your entire ab complex.”

Let’s go, I decided to stack this one with Iso Chisel. So how did I do in 10 minutes of Ab Hammer?

Polar data…
Ab Hammer Heart Rate Review Ab Hammer Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Ab Hammer Heart Rate Review Fitbit

CLICK TO EXPAND.

 

I really liked this workout with focus on abs, core and lower back. It did remind me A LOT of BEAST ABS from Body Beast with some variations. It was very short, only around 12 minutes. No warmup or cooldown. There were 9 rounds, 60 seconds each including 7 unique moves. No weights and no breaks. Exercises included C-sit tap, forearm run, up down reach, oblique crunch twist L and R, side plank wing L and R, windshield wiper and hammer run. This was a great workout, but nothing special from my perspective. I did find the oblique crunch twist and side plank wing sets quite challenging, especially trying to stay safe with my lower back disc herniation. I survived though and did not require breaks other than to re-position a few times. The hammer run was pretty cool at the end where you lay down and kick straight out vs. a traditional bicycle move. My abs were on fire! Polar data supports 106 calories burned in approx. 12 minutes with average heart rate 125 beats per minute mostly in zones 2 and 3, light to moderate at 60-80% target heart rate max. Max heart rate collected was 152 beats per minute. Fitbit data of 52 calories burned over the workout with average heart rate of 117 beats per minute and max heart rate 133 bpm. This is the first workout that was not a “total body” workout. After 6 Hammer and Chisel workouts now, 5 of the 6 were total body. I am personally hoping for some workouts as we move forward in my review that isolate specific muscle groups to allow fatigue and further muscle growth. That is what I love about Body Beast. We will see!!

 

Max Hammer Strength

In my search for a more muscle-targeted workout in Hammer and Chisel to create failure and growth, I was excited to try Max Hammer Strength. This sounds like some old-school traditional lifts with Olympic power and strength discipline. I am curious to see how it compares to the Body Beast program.

Described as,

“Start with a pre-fatigued muscle, finish with a maximum lift. Increase strength, power, and muscular development.”

Wow, now this sounds exactly like what I am searching for next and the theory behind this workout will certainly push to failure. I can’t wait to try the challenge!

So how did I do in 36 minutes of Max Hammer Strength?

Polar data…
Max Hammer Strength Heart Rate ReviewMax Hammer Strength Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Max Hammer Strength Heart Rate Review Fitbit

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I love the concept of Max Hammer Strength with regard to pre-fatigue of the muscle groups before loading to failure. In my mind those last few reps to failure are where you make your progress. You WANT to go to failure. What I would say that the way this workout is designed, the pre-fatigue may or may not happen depending on how strong you are in certain areas. That is because the pre-fatigue phase is all body weight work in Max Hammer Strength, and those stronger in certain areas may need to add some more resistance to make the subsequent fatigue loading more effective. More on that later. I enjoyed the workout though. Polar data indicated I burned 427 calories in 36 minutes with average heart rate 148 beats per minute with most of the workout in zone 4 “hard” around 80-90% target heart rate max. Max heart rate was 186. Wow, that is pretty high! Fitbit monitor shows 131 calories burned with average heart rate of 106 beats per minute and max of 139 bpm. That is a pretty significant discrepancy between Polar and Fitbit, once again, and I trust the Polar data more based on how I felt and manual pulse check to verify heart rate numbers.

Max Strength Hammer consisted of the usual 4.5 minute or so warmup with resistance band that mostly targets the upper body follow by almost 29 minute active workout and 2.5 minute cooldown. This workout is another total body workout, but I do like that is designed to fatigue your muscles. There are 12 rounds of exercises that include 2 sets per round giving 24 total sets. The first set of each round is body weight for a specific muscle group and you do as many as you can in 60 seconds designed to pre-fatigue the muscle. The second round is targeted to go “heavy” to go to failure with proper form at 8 reps of a different move. The sets included reverse lunge R body weight/reverse lunge R heavy weight, reverse lunge L/reverse lunge L heavy weight, pushup body weight/bench press heavy weight, squat body weight/shoulder squat heavy weight, pullup body weight/dumbbell pullover heavy weight, good morning body weight/stiff leg deadlift heavy weight, chinup body weight/1-arm row L and R heavy weight, stay low sumo body weight/sumo squat heavy weight, band military press/military press heavy weight, split squat R body weight/step up R heavy weight, split squat L body weight/step up L heavy weight and ledge calf raise body weight/calf raise heavy weight. Phew. That was an intense workout. There are modifications if you do not have a bench, but a bench is preferred. There are around 20 sec breaks between sets and a little longer for some moves before the failure loading second set. The key is to figure out what weight you are going to use ahead of time as the workout moves quickly and you don’t want to wait too long between pre-fatigue and fatigue sets or you will not be doing the workout to full effectiveness. I found the sets with pull-up/dumbbell pullover challenging with 60 seconds of wide front pull-ups before the dumbbell pullover! I definitely went to fatigue. Also, for the same reason, chin-up/1-arm row sets were killer. The hardest though for me was the split squat/step-up heavy weight sets. Legs were on fire and many of these Hammer and Chisel workouts contain bulgarian style squats. Ouch! I mostly used between 20-50-lb dumbbells for movements on the heavy phase, probably could go higher on many of them if I can maintain form to save my lower back. You need to pick the correct weights to get to fatigue, and this may involve using some weight in the pre-fatigue set as mentioned. This will be a fun one to do again!

 

Chisel Agility

Many of the “cardio” routines these days are actually weighted workouts with dumbbells that move fast and get your heart rate up for a total body challenge. However, I still enjoy the cardio workouts that just get you moving around to elevate heart rate and get blood pumping using your body weight and agility moves. I believe these types of workouts help with performance of your body as a machine. My favorite program for accomplishing this is the Insanity series by Shaun T, Max:30 being my new favorite cardio challenge. I also like Agility X from P90X3, Plyo X from the original P90X and several agility workouts from Insanity Asylum Volume 1 (e.g., Speed & Agility, Vertical Plyo, Game Day/Overtime). I am excited to see Autumn’s take on agility workouts.

Described as,

“A challenging cardio workout that will help you move quickly, improve coordination, and create greater stabilization.”

Comparison of heart rate analysis from this workout with some of the weighted cardio workouts will be interesting.

So how did I do with 40 minutes of Chisel Agility?

Polar data…

Chisel Agility Heart Rate Review Chisel Agility Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Chisel Agility Heart Rate Review Fitbit

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This was a fun workout, challenging at times, but I mostly found it easy. I am in pretty good shape and I know it will challenge many people. I found myself jogging between sets every once in awhile. You can also control intensity by how fast you move for some of the exercises. There were a lot of plyometric moves though, which made it quite taxing on the legs after awhile! The Polar monitor recorded 461 calories burned in 38 minutes and average heart rate of 152 beats per minute with most of the workout in zone 4 hard. Max heart rate from Polar was 172 beats per minute. For Fitbit, 266 calories burned with average heart rate of 137 beats per minute and max of 188 bpm. 188 bpm?!?!?!? No way. Ha. Seriously, although I am ecstatic that the Fitbit recorded such a high heart rate, it must have lost signal and synced up with a neighbor. There is no way I hit 188 beats per minute. I digress.

This workout consisted of 2 rounds of 10 moves each at 60 seconds per set. You perform one round with around 20 seconds break between sets, 60 sec break and then repeat round to finish up the workout. The warmup and cooldown were the same as always for Autumn’s Chisel workouts with the balance of the workout being cardio. There are modifiers for all fitness levels. The moves included high knee forward/wide back, plank X tap, grapevine shuffle, lateral squat hop, multidirectional lunge, rotating squat jump, skater triangle, diagonal jump lunge, circle in and out and directional squat jump. The goal of the Chisel Agility is to switch direction often with power and purpose to generate progress. I found this workout to be a lot like Plyo X from the original P90X with some moves that reminded me of P90X2 (circle in out from Plyocide, except no medicine ball) and P90X3 (skater triangle looked like Agility X moves). I found the plank x move, rotating squat jump, diagonal jump lunge and directional squat jumps to be the most demanding. Plank X was my favorite! Bottom line, I did not see a lot of new moves in this one, but it was a good cardio challenge as you can see from my heart rate analysis.

 

Chisel Cardio

Having already tried Autumn’s Chisel Agility workout for a cardio challenge using body weight moves and Plyo discipline, next up is Chisel Cardio. Chisel Cardio is another one of those workouts that leverages free weights to help develop strength and cardio endurance. I am looking forward to Autumn’s take here on cardio with weights in Hammer and Chisel. I am hopeful that there will be no Bulgarian split squats, those are killer and seem to be showing up everywhere in this program. Ha.

Described as,

“The cardiovascular resistance routine will increase heart rate, circulation, and burn an intense amount of calories.”

Cool. Well the good news is we can the compare the calorie burn of this workout, which uses weights, with Chisel Agility, which does not use weights, to see if there is a difference in calorie burn and average heart rate given the similar workout length.

So how did I do with 39 minutes Chisel Cardio?

Polar data…

Chisel Cardio Heart Rate Review Chisel Cardio Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Chisel Cardio Heart Rate Review FitBit

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Okay, Chisel Cardio is now one of my favorite workouts thus far in Hammer and Chisel. I had a lot of fun with this workout and it was demanding for the entire body. (Yes, another total body workout!) Started with the usual 4.5 minutes or so of warmup/stretch/Yoga similar to the other Chisel workouts, around 32 min. main workout then 2 minute cooldown stretch. Polar data indicates I burned 507 in almost 39 minutes with average heart rate 156 beats per minute and most of the workout in zone 5 “hard” at 90-100% target heart rate max. And, it felt like I was pushing the red zone. Max heart rate was 192 bpm. Wow, that is the highest yet of all the workouts tried. Fitbit recording maxes me out at 164 beats per minute with 184 calories burned and average heart rate 120 bpm. Focusing on the Polar heart rate data, and relative to Chisel Agility without weights, you can see that Chisel Cardio with weights provided almost 50 extra calories burned over the same time period with higher max heart rate by 20 bpm with slightly higher average heart rate. Bottom line, as expected from experience, adding resistance to cardio routines often enhances rates and metabolism for sustained calorie burn, even long after the workout is completed.

Chisel Cardio consisted of 2 rounds of 10 sets (8 unique moves). First round is performed at 60 seconds per move with a short break between sets followed by 60 second break before repeating the sets in round 2. Moves included over the top (bench), pullup, dumbbell swing, figure 8 abs, burpee, sword pull L and R, forearm plank kick and side step-up L and R. Quite challenging if you push yourself, but also modifiers available. By the way, I do recommend a bench for this program. It is used a lot and stability ball will not work as well for most of these bench moves. The most challenging exercises for me were pullup, dumbbell swing, sword pull and side step-up kick. 60 seconds of pull-ups is no joke. First round I was able to get 20 unassisted slow controlled form + 5 assisted and second round 15 unassisted + 7 assisted. Those were tough where placed in this program. Loved seeing kettlebell dumbbell swings in this one. I believe this is the first ever Beachbody workout with kettlebell swings. I used 30-lb dumbbell and it was plenty for me given my lower back injury. Trying to stay safe! Burpees I was able to knock out 17 per 60-sec set. Over the top and side step-up kick moves again leveraged the bench and my legs were on fire. There are a lot of step up leg moves in Hammer and Chisel, which elevate heart rate. Overall GREAT workout and I look forward to seeing this one again soon.

 

10 Minute Ab Chisel

I decided to stack Chisel Cardio with 10 Minute Ab Chisel. Not sure what to expect with this workout, but I am always looking for shorter, ab-focused routines that are very effective in sculpting midsection while strengthening core and lower back.

Described as,

“This core-crusher will transform your midsection, without ever getting on the floor.”

That sounds interesting. We will see how effective this workout can be without getting on the floor and also how it compares to Insanity Max:30 where there is a similar approach. Let’s do this.

So how did I do in 10 minutes of Ab Chisel?

Polar data…

10 Minute Ab Chisel Heart Rate Review 10 Minute Ab Chisel Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

10 Minute Ab Chisel Heart Rate Review FitBit

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Ab Chisel is different. I like it. Again, the bench is used, although there is a modifier with the floor. The workout focused on plank work to engage and fatigue the core including several moves that target the oblique muscles. This is a workout I will definitely be adding to hybrids or otherwise in the future as the bench was an effective tool to force proper engagement of core. Exercises were forearm plank, seated rainbow, forearm plank cross, unicorn, bird dog crunch, c-sit scissor and side arm twist. All done using bench for support at 60 seconds per set with little break between sets. The toughest moves for me were the forearm plank cross, bird dog crunch and c-sit scissor. Side arm twist really worked my oblique muscles at the end and was a great way to finish the workout. Polar monitor indicates 117 calories burned in this short workout of approx. 10 minutes with average heart rate of 141 beats per minute (not bad!) and most of workout in zone 3 “moderate” 70-80% target heart rate max. Max heart rate was 161 bpm. Fitbit says 39 calories burned with average heart rate 118 beats per minute and max HR of 137 bpm. The calories burned always seem unusually low on the Fitbit from my experience. Alright then. Onward and upward with my Hammer and Chisel Review!!

 

Total Body Hammer

Total Body Hammer should be right up my alley with some traditional lifts to stimulate muscle growth. Looking at the worksheets, I think I will really like this one a lot and I am most excited to see more chest focus.

Described as,

“A hypertrophy workout focused on pyramid-style sets to maximize strength and muscle growth.”

Even better. I believe pyramid sets are some of the most effective for hypertrophy along with TEMPO discipline. I have found in the past that pyramid sets are also very challenging and you have to select weights correctly to get the most out of the workout. I am up for the challenge.

So how did I do with 43 minutes Total Body Hammer?

Polar data…

Total Body Hammer Heart Rate Review Total Body Hammer Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Total Body Hammer Heart Rate Review FitBit

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Body Beast fans, now THIS is what I am talking about! This workout was outstanding, from my perspective. The format is more aligned with Body Beast with progressive pyramid sets and even several force pyramid sets within the challenge. It was a demanding workout. Polar heart rate analysis demonstrates 494 calories burned in 43 minutes with average heart rate 146 beats per minute and most of the workout in zone 4 “hard” at 80-90% target heart rate max. Max heart rate was 183 beats per minute. Fitbit data says 175 calories burned with 114 bpm average heart rate and max of 150 bpm. Almost 500 calories per Polar data supports my comments on this being a demanding workout. Awesome.

Total Body Hammer is, of course, a total body workout. What is different though is the use of pyramid sets and force sets to ramp the intensity in the time available. There is the usual 4.5 minutes warmup with band and approx. 3 min 15 sec cooldown. Rest is the main workout. There are 3 rounds of 3 moves. Each round has upper body (chest or shoulder), lower body and back. For each move you perform sets of 10 reps followed by 8 reps followed by 6 reps. Rest. Then move onto next move. Once all 3 moves are completed within the round you return to the first move and repeat the entire sequence before moving onto next round. For some moves you increase time under tension by hanging onto the weight between sets (force sets), while others you do not. Those are tough! The rounds include, 1) bench press, squat, reverse grip row, 2) incline fly, reverse lunge, wide pull-up, 3) military press, split squat, post delt fly. Yes, more Bulgarian style split squats. Ugh, most Hammer and Chisel workouts have them. My nemesis! As mentioned, I am a big fan of this workout. I was able to use between 20-45 pound dumbbells for most sets with weight, some increases were noted for next time. The pyramid focus and force sets may reduce the weight compared to what you normally would use for these types of exercises. A tip for the heavy squats is to get lifting straps to help hang onto the weight since  you do not put them down at all for the 10, 8, 6 rep sequence. My forearms and grips were toast by that move since heavy bench press was right before. for pull-ups I was able to do the first 24 reps unassisted without issue, but second time through I needed some assist. Failure = good! I most enjoyed the post delt fly movement at the end. I think I will be sore from this one. Success.

 

15 Minute Glute Chisel

Time to chisel my glutes. Ha! 15 Minute Chisel is one of the 4 additional workouts available in the DELUXE DVD UPGRADE. The Deluxe workouts look amazing so I was excited to try the Glute Chisel routine. Honestly, not sure what to expect, but everyone can use a good chisel of the glutes! Here we go.

Described as,

“Quickly sculpt a round, firm backside with intense strength and power exercises, for a lower body that makes jaws drop.”

So how did I do with 15 minutes of Glute Chisel?

Polar data…

15 Minute Glute Chisel Heart Rate Review 15 Minute Glute Chisel Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

15 Minute Glute Chisel Heart Rate Review FitBit

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This was a fun workout. Yes, it was challenging, but a lot of fun. The workout uses a medicine ball to increase the difficulty and imbalance for some moves. 8-lbs is a good starting point. A dumbbell can be used if you do not have a med ball. Glute Chisel is around 18 minutes total, but around 15 minutes for the primary workout. Warmup and cooldown are short about 1.5 minutes each. I found this workout similar to Medicine Ball Core Cardio from the P90X One-on-One series. Cool stuff. There are 10 rounds, each round being a specific move with the medicine ball for 25 reps (there are 6 unique moves). Rounds involved sumo jumping jack, Bulgarian split squat (again!) R and L, jumping curtsy lunge, warrior 3 R and L, side lunge ball pull and bridge on ball. Some of these moves were killer, especially for 25 reps, like warrior 3 with ball on each leg and side lunge ball pull. Glutes and also hamstrings were ON FIRE. Polar data indicates 211 calories burned in 18 minutes with average heart rate 150 beats per min and max heart rate 174 bpm. Most of the workout was in zone 4 “hard”.  Fitbit data is mostly inaccurate as usual with 104 calories burned with average heart rate 135 bpm and max heart rate 160 beats per minute. I have some work to do with my flexibility with Glute Chisel, but I know I will improve over time.

 

Hammer Conditioning

Hammer Conditioning sounds interesting just by name alone. I am unsure of what to expect with this workout. Is this a cardio routine? Or, a series of resistance moves? Most, if not all of Sagi Kalev’s workouts use weights so I imagine there will be some resistance discipline.

Described as,

“A workout based on compound movements that will improve stability, coordination, and strength.”

Cool. I love compound moves. Very effective at stimulating the larger muscle groups and enhancing metabolism and overall results.

So how did I do with 30 minutes of Hammer Conditioning?

Polar data…

Hammer Conditioning Heart Rate Review Hammer Conditioning Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Hammer Conditioning Heart Rate Review FitBit

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This one is short, but effective. My shirt was soaked with sweat in less than 30 minutes. No better feeling than looking in the mirror with your light grey shirt turned dark grey. Success! Selecting a weight that challenges you in these moves is critical or you will not get as much out of the routine. Hammer Conditioning leverages compound movements that give you a total body challenge on each exercise. Polar heart rate data indicates I burned 349 calories in 30 minutes with average heart rate 146 beats per minute and most of the workout in zone 4 “hard” 80-90% target heart rate max. Max heart rate during the workout was 182 bpm. Fitbit results show 123 calories burned with average heart rate 119 beats per minute and max at 148 bpm. 123 calories? My left sleeve alone had 123 calories on it!

Hammer Conditioning really does provide a cardio endurance challenge, but it does use resistance with weights, as expected. However, this approach promotes the “afterburn effect” commonly found with resistance workouts where metabolism is ramped for sustained periods after the workout. The compound nature of the exercises further ramps results as most muscle groups are worked in all exercises. After a 4.5 min warmup, the workout consists of 4 rounds of 2 compound moves each performed for 12 reps. You complete each move once and then repeat before taking a break and moving onto the next round. Breaks between rounds were 60 seconds. Heart rate gets elevated in each round since you are essentially doing 4 sets in a row before any substantial break. Rounds included, 1) clock push-up crunch/side lunge row, 2) fly lunge twist/sumo squat press, 3) burpee renegade upright row/stiff leg deadlift crunch and, 4) plank raise tap crunch/reverse lunge curl kickback. For most moves I used between 20-30-lb dumbbells, except fly lunge twist performed at low weight around 8 pounds (like Sagi) to protect shoulders. The clock push-up crunch was a tough move that reminded me of some of the floor plyo pushups from MMX in P90X3.  The fly lunge twist was a challenge on the shoulders and mine were ON FIRE! Pretty innovative approach. The sumo squat press, burpee renegade upright rows and reverse lunge curl kickback had my heart rate the highest. Again, proper weight selection to challenge you is key. I am looking forward to doing this one again! Rage on.

 

15 Minute Leg Hammer

I decided to stack Leg Hammer with Hammer Conditioning per the Hammer and Chisel workout calendar. It seems these two have synergistic effects when performing back-to-back. This is one of the 4 additional workouts available in the DELUXE DVD UPGRADE. I am hopeful that there are some new moves in Leg Hammer, especially targeted toward calf muscles.

Described as,

“15 minutes is all you need to fire up your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves for maximum strength and power.”

So how do I do with 15 minutes of Leg Hammer?

Polar data…

15 Minute Leg Hammer Heart Rate Review 15 Minute Leg Hammer Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

15 Minute Leg Hammer Heart Rate Review FitBit

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I highly recommend these Hammer and Chisel Deluxe workouts. What is great is the use of the medicine ball, which allows some new moves to ramp heart rate. Dumbbell can be used in place of med ball. I used 8-lb med ball again in this one and will likely increase weight next time. This workout could easily be called Glute Hammer as well. Similar to 15 Minute Glute Chisel, the glutes and entire lower body are worked throughout the workout reminiscent of P90X One-on-One Med Ball Core Cardio and P90X2 Plyocide. Honestly my upper body had a strong workout as well since you mostly hold the med ball during the entire workout. What is unique with this routine is the way the sets are designed and fit together to get the best results. There is a 2.5 min warmup with med ball, almost 15 min main workout and 2 min cooldown. There are 10 rounds (6 unique moves). Each round has a specific movement that you perform over 60 seconds going slow (20 sec), medium (20 sec) and fast (20 sec). Actually a lot of fun! Moves included squat press, side lunge L and R, reverse lunge L and R, sumo twist, deadlift crunch L and R and step-up press L and R.  The deadlift crunch was similar to the balance stiff leg deadlift crunch move in Hammer Conditioning. I have some work to do with balance on my left side and glutes, hamstrings and lower back were pushed hard. Hardest for me were sumo twist, deadlift crunch and step-up press at the end. Polar data indicates 211 calories burned with average heart rate 150 beats per minute with most of workout in zone 4 “hard”. Max heart rate 169 beats per minute. Fitbit recorded 88 calories burned during the workout with average and max heart rate of 129 and 151 bpm, respectively. What is interesting is the 211 calories burned from Polar monitor is fairly significant during a short period of time. Normalized to a longer workout length in Hammer and Chisel would provide a workout that is considered one of the highest burners in the program!

 

Chisel Endurance

I had the opportunity to join a live call with Autumn Calabrese to discuss the new Hammer and Chisel program and she was asked about her Chisel workouts. She specifically called out Chisel Endurance and how it was developed to push people to their limits. Okay, it seriously sounded challenging and Autumn said something like, “I don’t know why we do this to people!”. I am ready for the test.

Described as,

“Increase muscular endurance and strength in this time-under-tension workout.”

Time-under-tension is difficult as it typically requires slowing down reps and/or holding onto weights between sets (or, iso hold body weight). Usually challenges your grip strength as well!

So how did I do with 36 minutes of Chisel Endurance?

Polar data…

Chisel Endurance Heart Rate Review Chisel Endurance Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Chisel Endurance Heart Rate Review Fitbit

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Chisel Endurance. Wow. Another sweatfest with this workout. The goal is to test and improve your stamina and endurance with a series of moves with body weight and added resistance to ramp heart rate and develop strength in your total body. The workout starts with the usual Chisel warmup around 4 minutes, main workout approx. 30 minutes and 2 minute cooldown. Polar data shows I burned 445 calories in 36 minutes with average heart rate 151 beats per minute and most of workout in zone 4 “hard”. Max heart rate from Polar was 188 bpm. Fitbit indicates 183 calories burned with average heart rate of 126 beats per minute and max of 167 bpm. I pushed hard today on Chisel Endurance and was convinced it was going to show one of the most challenging for me from a heart rate analysis perspective. The Polar data demonstrates it is right up there, as expected.

The primary workout involves 2 rounds of 10 moves (7 unique). You complete one full round of all 10 moves before moving onto round 2. There are very short breaks, maybe 30 sec. on average, between sets within the round with a 60 sec. break between rounds. In other words, not a lot of time to catch your breath! Rounds include bench run ups L and R, negative pull-ups, step-up cross over with bench L and R, decline pushup, 1-hand row leg extension with bench L and R, incline press and plank hold knee taps. You can see the bench is used a lot and that the routine targets the ENTIRE body, like almost all Hammer and Chisel workouts. I found the negative pull-ups quite challenging right after the bench run ups, which raised the heart rate. For the negative pull-ups I hit 12 unassisted each round and added an extra 5 assisted to each set. The step-up cross over move is tough with the bench and you REALLY need to pay attention to form and safety. Decline pushups I hammered out 25 reps each round, slow and controlled. The finish to this workout killed me both rounds, plank hold knee taps. I had to take a couple short breaks in that move as my entire body was exhausted by the end of each round. There is certainly a lot of time-under-tension, as advertised. Very effective workout!

 

Hammer Build Up

Excited for this one. Sounds like some old school lifts with some new school tweaks to hammer the major muscle groups. Hammer Build Up is one of the 4 additional workouts available in the DELUXE DVD UPGRADE. Looks like a killer workout. Let’s go!

Described as,

“Five exercises work five muscle groups to hammer muscular definition, stabilization, strength, and stamina.”

So how did I do with 30 minutes of Hammer Build Up?

Polar data…

Hammer Build Up Heart Rate ReviewHammer Build Up Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Hammer Build Up Heart Rate Review Fitbit

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With Hammer Build Up we have our first workout with two super trainers in one session! Woohoo. Sagi runs the show, but Autumn does a good job of demonstrating form and pushes you to do better. This workout is a rocker! It is only 30 minutes, but moves VERY fast. There are virtually no breaks from start to finish other than transition to the next move. My heart rate was elevated throughout. The concept of this workout is to hammer each major muscle group, one at a time as the workout progresses. Starts with legs then back, chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps and finish up with abs. Each muscle group is considered a round so there are 7 rounds. Each round leverages 4 unique moves that are performed for either 15 seconds or 30 seconds before moving on. The 8-lb medicine ball is used on many of the exercises. Warmup is the standard Hammer warmup before the main workout, which has each round a little over 3 minutes followed by 1 min. 45 sec. cooldown. Again, there is very little rest between sets, be prepared!

Each round included legs (30 sec. squat/front lunge L and R, 15 sec. step-up R and L), back (30 sec. pullup/ reverse grip row/pullover/reverse fly), chest (15 sec. 1-hand push-up on med ball L and R, 30 sec. bench fly/feet on ball push-up/incline press), shoulders (30 sec. ball military press/lateral raise/upright row/anterior raise), biceps (30 sec. standard curl/hammer curl, 15 sec. concentration curl L and R, 30 sec. rotation curl on bench), triceps (30 sec. dips/kickbacks R and L/skullcrusher) and abs (30 sec. ball plank hold/ball mountain climber/windshield wipers with med ball L and R). Yup, rocker. Pick your weights for a good challenge. Besides the 8-lb med ball, which I may increase next time, I used dumbbells from 15-35-lbs. May increase in some areas next time, but the concept of moving fast and fatiguing each muscle group in succession is awesome. The 1-hand pushup on the ball were a challenge along with the feet on ball push-up, which reminded me of P90X2 moves. Core and tris were on fire. The rotation curls on bench were another move I enjoyed as I was exhausted by that time after the other bicep moves, which means I went to failure (30-lb dumbbells). Success. Polar data supports this challenge with 370 calories burned in only 30 minutes with average heart rate 145 beats per minute, most of workout in zone 4 “hard” and 193 bpm max heart rate. 193! That may be a record for Hammer and Chisel, we will see when I complete my overall summary of the program. Insane. Fitbit says 121 calories burned with average and max heart rates of 122 and 144 bpm, respectively. I don’t believe it. I still trust the Polar chest strap monitor more based on how I feel as well as a manual pulse check to confirm. This is one of my new favorite workouts, I highly recommend the Deluxe Hammer and Chisel workouts!!

 

Power Chisel

Power Chisel is the last DELUXE workout of the four left for my Hammer and Chisel Review. I have really enjoyed the other DELUXE DVD UPGRADE workouts including Hammer Build Up, 15 Minute Leg Hammer and 15 Minute Glute Chisel. They have all used a medicine ball (dumbbell modifier available), which has been a nice change-of-pace for some new moves and challenges. Hammer Build Up featured BOTH Hammer and Chisel trainers with Sagi taking the lead, so I am hopeful that Power Chisel will feature both trainers with Autumn taking the lead this time. We will see, but this workout looks awesome on paper.

Described as,

“Get ripped from head to toe with hardcore resistance training, isometric holds, and powerful plyometrics.”

So how did I do with 30 minutes of Power Chisel?

Polar data…

Power Chisel Heart Rate Review Power Chisel Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Power Chisel Heart Rate Review Fitbit

 

Cool. As expected, relative to DELUXE Hammer Build Up, Power Chisel is a total body workout where Autumn and Sagi are in the workout together with Autumn taking the lead this time. I like the concept of two Beachbody supertrainers in one workout (rumor has it Shaun T and Chalene Johnson may work on something together next). The goal of this workout is not unlike many of the other Hammer and Chisel routines where you want to develop strength and power with isolation moves for each muscle group and a lot of core focus. The concept of pre-fatigue is explored again to enhance hypertrophy. The medicine ball is used for many of the exercises. There are 14 rounds with most consisting of two primary moves. For example, the first round is med ball squat jumps in the following sequence — 4 reps, 4 sec iso hold, 4 reps, 4 sec iso hold, 4 reps, 4 sec iso hold, 4 reps, 4 sec iso hold immediately followed by a heavy set of 10 reps of squats. So, the rep-iso sets are designed to pre-fatigue the muscles and then you take the muscles to failure with heavy squats. That is one round, approx. 60 sec. break and move on. Other rounds involve upright row/pullup, ball plyo lunge L/heavy lunge L, ball plyo lunge R/heavy lunge R, plyo pushup/heavy chest press, ball sumo plyo/sumo squat heavy, ball push press/heavy military press, ball knee drivers L/side step-up L, ball knee drivers R/side step-up R, bicep curls/heavy bicep curls and tricep kickbacks/heavy tricep kickbacks. There are a couple bonus sets of 16 reps dispersed in the workout including hanging knee curl, half spiderman and ball seated toe tap. As you can see, the total body is challenged! The toughest sets for me were the ball plyo lunge/heavy lunge, plyo pushup/chest press and ball knee drivers/side step up. The moves with the bench always elevate my heart rate. I liked the half spiderman bonus set as well for arm, shoulder and core work. I used between 15-45-lb dumbells throughout and noted some increases on my worksheets for next time. Polar data indicates 357 calories burned in 30 minutes with average heart rate 149 beats per minute mostly in zone 4 “hard”. In fact, most of the Hammer and Chisel workouts have me in zone 4, for the most part. Max heart rate was 179 beats per minute. Fitbit monitor shows 121 calories burned with average heart rate 114 bpm and max 135 bpm. This is a great workout, highly recommended!

 

Hammer Power

When I first looked at the lineup of workouts for Hammer and Chisel, I was most interested in some of the new routines that focus on Olympic lifts, including powerlifting discipline, which has mostly been limited for at-home workouts in the past due to equipment available for the average person. Body Beast was a great start though. However, I believe that Hammer Power may take it to the next level using standard dumbbells and a new sequence of strategic Olympic lifts. Regardless, all of these workouts can be done at home or the gym.

Described as,

“This intense powerlifting-inspired workout will increase speed, reactive strength, and power.”

Yes. So pumped for this one.

So how did I do with 39 minutes of Hammer Power?

Polar data…

Hammer Power Heart Rate Review Hammer Power Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Hammer Power Heart Rate Review Fitbit

CLICK TO EXPAND.

 

One of my new favorite workouts… EVER. Hammer Power is one of my new favorite workouts from the NUMEROUS (maybe hundreds) I have done. Right up there with P90X One-on-One 30-15 Upper Body Massacre, which held that title for 6 years. This workout is awesome. Some old school Olympic Powerlifting, but with dumbbells vs. barbell and some new variations that were quite tough. You really have to focus on proper form and safety with this one. Getting the correct range of motion with the dumbbells is critical. From experience, I generally feel that getting the move correct is easier with the barbell approach, but dumbbells keep you from cheating, works both sides equally and really forces your continued focus on form.  My shoulders and legs were mostly worked in this one. Polar data indicates 383 calories burned in 39 minutes with average heart rate 134 beats per minute with most of workout in zones 3-4 around 75% target heart rate max. Max heart rate was 171 beats per minute. Fitbit shows 187 calories burned with average and max heart rates of 120 and 159 bpm, respectively.

Hammer Power begins with the standard “Hammer” warmup with resistance band or towel modifier approx. 4.5 min, around 32 minute primary workout and 2.5 min cooldown. The workout consists of 2 rounds of numerous moves. Each move is performed with 2 sets of weight back-to-back. Round 1 requires the sets to be LIGHT and MEDIUM. Round 2 requires weights that are LIGHT and HEAVY. There are 30 seconds between sets and 60 seconds between rounds. Round 1 included overhead press LIGHT and MEDIUM, squat LIGHT and MEDIUM, thruster LIGHT and MEDIUM, jerk press L and R for LIGHT and MEDIUM, deadlift LIGHT and MEDIUM, shrug LIGHT and shrug w/extension MEDIUM, upright row LIGHT and full upright row MEDIUM, and clean LIGHT and full range clean MEDIUM. Round 2 was clean & press LIGHT and HEAVY, clean & squat LIGHT and HEAVY, clean squat press LIGHT and HEAVY, clean squat jerk LIGHT and HEAVY, and 1-arm clean squat jerk L and R for LIGHT and HEAVY. No joke. It felt like there was very limited time to switch between weights throughout, which kept the heart rate elevated. I kept weights in the 15-45-lb dumbbells range with some increases noted (just have to be cautious of my back). I was challenged with those weights though. The clean squat press and 1-arm clean squat jerk press series were just killer. I really liked the thruster, full upright row and shrug with extension moves. Pretty cool stuff. New favorite workout. Enjoy!

 

Master’s Cardio

And, last but not least. I saved Master’s Cardio for my last Hammer and Chisel Review. #19 of 19! Why? Because Master’s Cardio was actually the very first Hammer and Chisel workout I have ever tried at the exclusive Team Beachbody Coach Leadership Retreat. It was the first ever live workout for this program and it was a great cardio challenge (lot of legs from what I recall). Master’s Cardio is only available through your Team Beachbody Coach so if you are interested in this one please hit the Contact button at the bottom of the screen to shoot me a message to get hooked up. Here is a picture of me doing the Master’s Cardio live workout from California with about 200 other coaches!

 

Hammer and Chisel Review

 

Now it is time to put some heart rate numbers to the madness…

So how did I do in 17 minutes of Master’s Cardio?

Polar data…

Masters Cardio Heart Rate Review Masters Cardio Heart Rate Review

Fitbit data…

Masters Cardio Heart Rate Review Fitbit

CLICK TO EXPAND.

 

And, done. All 19 Hammer and Chisel workouts done. This was a fun way to finish up my workouts for review. My legs are ON FIRE! Ha. This one is all about getting the heart rate up with a lot of dynamic leg exercises. Exactly how I remembered the live workout I did with Autumn and Sagi. This is only the 3rd workout that features both trainers, with the others being Hammer Build Up and Power Chisel from the Deluxe workouts. There is a short 1.5 min warmup, around 14 minutes of workout and finishes up with about 1 min 45 sec cooldown. Autumn and Sagi alternate leading a new move. There are 12 rounds (9 unique moves) of 30 reps each with around 30 sec. break between rounds. The moves include alternating reverse lunge with twist (Sagi), shuffle (Autumn), sumo squat hop (Sagi), 3 way lunge R and L (Autumn), 1-leg squat R and L (Sagi), clock lunge double pulse R and L (Autumn), lateral squat hops (Sagi), sumo jacks (Autumn) and narrow-wide burpee with jump (Sagi) at the end. It was a good workout. Sumo squat hops, 1-leg squat, clock lunge double pulse and narrow-wide burpees with jump were my favorite. I had a sweat going, but it is fairly short and not as challenging as some of the others in the Hammer and Chisel program. No weights, but my legs had a great workout with just body weight with this move sequence. Polar heart rate data demonstrates 180 calories burned in 17 minutes with average heart rate 138 beats per minute with most of workout in zone 3 “moderate” at 70-80% heart rate max. Max heart rate was 175 beats per minute. Fitbit indicates 96 calories burned with average heart rate 124 bpm and max heart rate 165 bpm. All of the heart rate data recorded confirms Master’s Cardio is one of the easier workouts in the Hammer and Chisel Series. Regardless, this is an excellent workout to get as a bonus from your Coach and a great option for cardio with a busy schedule and even on the road!

 

*****

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Hammer and Chisel Review

Hammer and Chisel Review

Hammer and Chisel Review

I hope you have enjoyed my Hammer and Chisel Review!

 

 

 

 

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Premiere 5 Star Diamond Independent Beachbody Coach, CEO and Founder of TEAM RAGE, Mike Nowak Fitness, HowDoIGetRipped.com and How Do I Get Ripped, LLC. You are about to learn how I went from out-of-shape busy dad with significant travel, 2 kids and a wife to losing 20 pounds, 16% body fat and 7" off my waist while getting paid more income from home than my Ph.D. in Science & Engineering. Retired my Ph.D. career to focus on FAMILY & FITNESS!

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