I spent the past month and a half of my workout life sampling the Core de Force workout program published by Beachbody. For the most part, I’ve been a bodyweight workout guy for a long time now. Every once and awhile, a workout program I’m doing will integrate weights, but, overall, I’d say that a majority of my workouts are bodyweight based. Since Core de Force is advertised as a no-equipment workout that focuses on fitness through martial arts inspired moves, it seemed like a fun and different way to approach fitness for awhile. So, I dug in…
Equipment and Space:
I started the program in a hotel room in North Carolina. I was pleased to see that it’s a 100% portable program, and you can do the basic workouts anywhere. The required “footprint” is relatively small. All you really need is enough room to punch, kick, and sprawl to the ground. A couple of the moves have you shift forward or back, so having a little room around you is a good idea.
And, as the program promises, you don’t need any equipment to do the base workouts (note – you need an agility ladder or need to tape off an agility ladder on the floor to do the 2 “agility” workouts in the deluxe package). Oh, and you need a way to view the workouts, so I guess you need a streaming device or a TV/DVD player. Hmmm – liars. I guess some equipment IS REQUIRED.
In terms of time, you are only investing 30 days to complete a round (you will have something programmed every day), and the workout time investment varies from 27 minutes at its shortest to about 1 hour, 2 minutes for the longest session (a 47 minute workout + 15 minute core workout). As it is MMA/martial arts inspired, the workout formats center around the idea of a 3 minute round. The shortest workout is 6 rounds, the medium sized workout is 9 rounds, and the longest workout is 12 rounds. You get programmed rest between rounds, and little mini micro bursts of rest as you transition moves.
The majority of the workouts follow a VERY SIMILAR pattern:
- Skill work for 60 seconds
- Spike move for 30 seconds
- repeat skill work for 60 seconds
- repeat spike move for 30 seconds
That is the pattern for most of the workouts in the program. The exceptions are power sculpt and dynamic strength. In those workouts, it goes like this…
- 1 move for 60 seconds
- 1 move for 45 seconds
- 1 move for 35 seconds
The moves progressively get harder in that stack, so the 35 second move is supposed to be harder than the 60 second move.
Oh, and the core workouts (core kinetics, and 5 minute core on the floor) go to the beat of their own drummer. 5 minute core on the floor is 5 plank varieties for 1 minute each, and core kinetics is 7 moves done for 1 minute each (and you do the circuit twice).
List of workouts in the program:
- MMA speed (I’ll do this again)
- MMA shred
- MMA power
- MMA plyo
- Dynamic Strength
- Power Sculpt
- Core Kinetics
- 5 Minute Core on the Floor (I’ll do this again)
- Core de Force Relief
- Active Recovery
- *MMA Mashup
- *MMA Speed 2.0
- *MMA Shred 2.0
- *Agility Strength (I’ll do this again)
- *Agility Power (I’ll do this again)
- *MMA Kick Butt (I might do this again)
The basic DVD program has 10 workouts. That is actually pretty darn good value for the $$$ you are spending. My only beef is that even with so many different workouts, it felt kind of stale towards the end. I think if they varied the structure a little more, it might have helped. Then again, there is only so much variety you can create when your tools are punches and kicks.
My overall thoughts:
In total, I’d say this program is about 3.5 out of 5 ass-kickings. I thought the effort they put into making the modifiers accessible was great. Beachbody has really stepped up its game in trying to make its programs accessible to all fitness levels. Good trainers (and good programs in general) should show how to modify moves and break them down into progressive moves. CdF does that very well.
The instructor cueing was exceptional. Aside from how they teach push kicks, I felt that I got a great explanation on every move I was expected to do. And, along the way, Joel/Jericho explained what you should be feeling, and/or what the subtle nuances of the move should be. For example, on roundhouse kicks, it should come AROUND and be aiming for the side of your opponents’ rib cage. For sidekicks, your heel should be up and your toe should be down. This type of instruction helps you get the most out of the session. In addition, there are tutorial videos available that give you an immersive experience into the world of the fighting stance, and the various arm/leg movements you’ll be doing. This is a very nice addition.
The production values and music didn’t disappoint, and were up to usual Beachbody standards. They really are an industry leader in this department. I love watching these videos as I workout.
The overall cardio impact isn’t on par with some of the more advanced programs in the Beachbody universe, but it isn’t intended to be. Giving it a ranking of 3 out of 5 doesn’t mean it sucks, it just means that if you want a cardio ass-kicking, don’t use this program. Go do Insanity Max 30.
I’d say the cardio is on the intermediate scale, but slightly to the beginner side (rather than the advanced side). I wasn’t sucking air vigorously at any point during this program. I did sweat a lot though – especially on the longer sessions that were punctuated with core work as a finisher. I will give a shout out to the agility ladder sessions, and Jericho’s MMA Kick Butt. Those three workouts were probably the biggest cardio burner in the program. Too bad they aren’t part of the base kit.
Same thoughts regarding strength – don’t view this program as a holistic way to build a massive body. That is not its intention, and it doesn’t pretend that it will deliver that. You will get stronger in your chest. You will get stronger in your legs. You will strengthen your arms as a by-product of the chest work. Note – if you don’t supplement back work on your own (rows, pull ups), you will lose back strength. There are not any moves that work “pull” strength. BUT, I have to give CdF credit for introducing me to sphinx blasters. Those babies are intense, and will really challenge your triceps and shoulders. Honorable mention goes to jumping fireflies. If you want to do a crazy chest/shoulder/tricep stack, pair those two exercises together.
Here is where I think Core de Force excels, and it is for this reason that I’d recommend at least trying it…
Your hip strength and mobility will improve greatly.
Your core strength will improve greatly (if you do all of the prescribed extra core work).
In my first week, I was embarrassed by how poor my kicking was. I mean I could barely do a side kick above knee level (with good form). By doing kicking movements every session for 30 sessions, this cured itself pretty quickly. My hips/hamstrings are much more flexible now, and my kick technique is leaps and bounds above where it was. I’m not about to go join the MMA or anything, but having good range of motion with kicks means I have good range of motion with my hip flexors, which means I’ll have better athletic performance in any mode that requires hip flexor mobility.
I can also say that my core strength has improved. This is two-fold. First, you are doing tons of twisting moves during every session. With the moves you are doing, you hit your core in three planes of motion. That alone will improve your overall core fitness. Couple that action with the core kinetics and 5 minute core on the floor workouts, and you have a recipe for some serious core strength. If you’ve read the posts, you’ll know how much I hate core kinetics. But, despite my visceral distaste for it, I can say its a challenging workout, and gets the job done. Moving forward, 5 minute core on the floor is probably the core workout I’ll keep in my arsenal for a rainy day. Its quick, easy to remember, and is very functional (you are basically planking for 5 minutes). The first time I did 5 min core on the floor, I went to my knees between transitions – now, I’m on my toes the entire time. Boom!
I’m glad I did the program to get the core and hip strength benefits. I probably wouldn’t do the full program again, but I can certainly see myself cherry picking a couple workouts here and there to mix it up once and awhile.