Exercise DVD Review: Bob Harper’s Ultimate Cardio Body

It’s been a while since I did one of these, but I feel like I’m almost obligated to do reviews for workout DVDs now. You can find my other Bob Harper and other reviews here.

I bought the Ultimate Cardio Body DVD a while ago but never got around to reviewing it. Why? Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle doing the actual workout. Since I hit my target weight, I eased back some on the workout front. I still exercised, only not as much, and I know from prior experience that doing a little bit of exercise will not leave you in good enough shape to truly experience a Bob Harper workout. Jillian Michaels has built a money-making machine around the idea that she is TV’s Toughest Trainer, but you wouldn’t know that from their exercise videos. Bob Harper will drive you into the ground and make you smile while he does it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ultimate Cardio Body, honestly. Besides cardio. Would it be like his previous cardio-centric DVD? Would I be able to not use weights? Would I collapse and die partway through? This morning, I finally got a chance to answer those questions. After five weeks of getting up at or around 4:30 every morning to do a cardio workout, I felt ready for a new challenge, so I threw in the DVD. (By the way, the answers are Yes, No, and Nearly.)

Ultimate Cardio Body is a one hour workout; well, to be technical, it is 1 hour, 1 minute, and change. You can tell because of the little bar at the bottom that counts down as you go, similar to his prior DVDs (except the kettlebell ones, which if I recall correctly didn’t have them). There was one nice little change to the countdown bar that might only mean something to console gamers, but it seriously made my wife and I happy: at the 25%, 50%, and 75% completion points, a little ding sounded and the bar filled in with blue and let you know you’d hit a milestone. It was like getting an achievement on an XBox 360 game. Yes, it seriously made us happy. Yes, we are seriously lame.

The workout gets right to it. No real speeches, just Get To Work. With Bob are 4 people, 3 females in amazing shape and one dude who’s tall. I think Bob likes having tall guys there, since at various points he likes to inform us of Joe’s height (he’s 6’2″). Like every other Bob DVD, the guy is the first one to start flagging and half-assing moves. It’s understandable, though, because it is a punishing workout.

It starts with some stretches. The real hell begins when he asks you to grab a weight. One weight. You start doing Alternating Lunges. Get used to them. You will be doing a lot of them. More than you’ve ever wanted to do in your life. I actually made a sob-like noise later on in the workout when he made me start doing them again. Oh! And as a reward for doing all those lunges, he makes you do jumping lunges! He’s so swell that way.

As usual, I’m not going to do blow-by-blow analysis. It’s better to be surprised somewhat. You will need handweights, probably in multiple weights for when your shoulders collapse in on themselves or burst into searing jets of flame and you need to go a little lighter. Just know this: you will be worked, and you will sweat, and you will want to curl up and cry at some point. Maybe it’ll be during Ass Burners (yes, the actual name of the exercise is an Ass Burner. Yes, it’s quite apt.) or Runner Lunge Pushups or whatever the hell he calls them (in plank, do a pushup while simultaneously bringing one knee to your elbow. It’s a new level of Holy Shit That Hurts) or while you endlessly hop on one foot, which sounds easy but isn’t, no, nope, not a bit. But it’ll happen. You will want to give up.

But the difference between Bob Harper’s DVDs and the others that I’ve done comes down to Bob himself. He’s dynamic without being huckstery like the PX90 dude, he gives instruction without sounding robotic and boring like Jillian’s videos for the last 5 years, and he makes me want to try harder because he knows that I can. It’s weird, but his personality is all over his videos and makes a big difference in replayability for me. See, when I watch an exercise DVD and the bulk of it is some trainer telling me how to do the moves, I know that is going to be dull as shit the 10th time I try to do it. I still occasionally do Jillian Michaels’ Banish Fat Boost Metabolism and No More Trouble Zones videos, and I can’t even watch the screen anymore. It’s her pointing out on someone else how to do a move I’ve done 8 billion times by now. I don’t give a shit about form anymore. I know how to do the exercise. I need someone who will inspire me to work my ass off.

That’s where Bob pays off for me. His energy is high, he works his helpers until they actually aren’t even doing the exercises anymore because they’re as exhausted as I am (which makes over-edited and -produced videos such a waste to me. I don’t want to look at some skinny asshole with a shit-eating grin doing the exercises without a trace of sweat because they get to have breaks and multiple takes that get edited out). As odd as it is, I get a good feeling from outworking the people on the screen. It makes me feel good about my effort.

Bottom line: This DVD is as good as any of his previous videos, and it’s among my top 4. It is hard, but I know it has great replay value, it’ll push you to the limits of your endurance and beyond, and it will give serious results. Like all of Bob’s videos, I recommend that you be in somewhat decent shape to bust into these, or else you may get discouraged quickly by having to skip or modify constantly. If you are serious about working out and ready for a serious challenge, I highly recommend this.

Oh, one final note: Bob should fire the Art Director or whoever approved the cover for this DVD. It is hilariously bad to me. Just awful. Forget the FiveHead. It makes Bob look like the Leader from Marvel Comics.

Other Bob Harper Review Links:

About Alan Edwards

Former cancer caregiver. Husband of the most magical and amazing person who ever lived.

Posted on August 18, 2011, in Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. So very funny. I agree on all points including the silly cover shot. I made a HUGE mistake and got into a funk and stopped working out for a few weeks. 5 days ago I decided enough was enough and popped in this DVD. Shit. It was so much harder this time around, I could barely make it up and down stairs to take my dogs out for a few days. It is a killer on the legs. I have been doing it daily now and am adjusting to the pain again. I actually like the workout crew this time around. No really odd looking people to distract you like in Jillians videos. It is hard. At a few minutes in, with the lunges, I am sweating and trying to not think about the 55 minutes still to come..and that hopping at the end…way harder then it appears. Anyway, great review. I have his new Core DVD but have not opened it yet. Looks tough.

    • I haven’t gotten the core one yet. The concept terrifies me, to be honest. I mean, I think my core is pretty good, but I know I’ll be crying and doubled over and unable to move halfway through. Probably worth it, though.

  2. Sweet jeeze, it still hurts… heh. Love bob, just love him!

  3. I just did the DVD today for the first time and I’m already hurting, don’t want to think about how much it will hurt tomorrow….but it will be well worth it 🙂

  4. This is going to sound absolutely absurd to everyone else on this post, but here goes. Alan, I am extremely new to working out. I need to lose weight and my sister bought me Bob’s series of videos. Holy crap. But, I like Bob and am motivated, so I’ll stick with it (I hope). My question is this – is this series enough? Should I still be at the gym? Thanks for any advice. Great post, by the way. =)

    • First off, thanks for the comment and compliment!

      Secondly, good luck! Being new to working out gives you some advantages and some disadvantages. On the good side, you don’t have any preconceived notions about what you’re going to do (I meet a lot of people who say that running is the best way to lose weight, for example), and you’ll be with the guy that I feel is the best trainer I’ve ever seen. On the bad side, Bob doesn’t spend a lot of time explaining moves, so you might need to just watch for a few seconds before you get what they are doing. Luckily, I don’t feel like Bob does any tricky moves. Once you’ve mastered the pushup, lunge, and squat positions, you’ll have 90% of what he does, heh. These workouts are no joke, as well, and you will be pushed way past your limits. I just advise patience and dedication: you’ll get better at them and able to do more. It’ll take some pain to get there, but it’s the good sore-muscle pain, and it’s at its worst on the 3rd day after you start working out. If you can work out on days 3 and 4, I swear that if you keep going, you will never be that sore again.

      Now, is it enough? That’s a fantastic question. When I did the series and lost 40 pounds, I was also lifting weights 4 to 5 times a week. At the same time, my wife (who lost 60) did only occasional additional weight lifting. Neither one of us did any additional cardio – no running, elliptical, none of that. There is so much strength work in Bob’s videos that I don’t feel that it’s even necessary to do more, unless you want to. I lifted weights because I could do it at lunch at work and it was a great way for me to relieve stress. My advice is this: if you find that you’d like to do some weight work while you’re doing his workouts, do it. If you don’t, then don’t. You’ll be doing so many pushups that you won’t need it. And there definitely isn’t a need for additional cardio, unless, again, you like to run or swim or other stuff like that.

      I hope that helps. If you ever have any questions or comments or anything, just drop by and leave a comment and I’ll be glad to help. Good luck and kick some butt!

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