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REVIEW: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel

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Here we are again and this time the Parrot has been drafted to review The Master’s Hammer and Chisel.  No, it’s not the cover of a steamy erotic novel, but rather a fitness series by Beachbody as hosted by Sagi Kalev ( aka. Hammer ) and Autumn Calabrese ( aka. Chisel ).

mhc_cover
Fabio not included.

WHAT YOU GET:

12 workouts on 6 DVD’s and a shaker cup rigged to explode if you taint it with anything other than Shakeology.  Also included is a meal plan, calendar and instructional guide.

mhc_basic
The portion control containers should be handy for the kids storing their Lego.

What you’ll need:

I would recommend a decent bench as the $20 WalMart special probably isn’t going to cut it here.  It has to be solid and secure and will be used often in this program.  Skip the stability ball alternative. Using weights with stability balls are for people who have lost the will to live.  Also, sell your house and buy all the Shakeology you can afford.  Sorry, just kidding.  Just wanted to be sure you were paying attention.

yell_comp
UNDO!! UNDO!!

Chisel Balance
Time: 40 minutes

All “Chisel” workouts will be done by Autumn so this is Day One.  The focus is working the core balance muscles so that means 8 rounds done on one side twice, then repeated on the other side twice.  Squats, jumps, push ups…and oh yeah, the Bulgarian jump squats.  Those hurt.

Hammer Plyometrics
Time: 25 minutes

For those familiar with Body Beast, say hello again to Sagi.  If Autumn counts every calorie in those plastic containers, Sagi looks like he eats trains for breakfast.    The man is solid muscle.

I was hesitant how someone of Sagi’s size would perform in a primarily cardiovascular workout.  Exceptionally well it seems.  This is very different from what you might expect from Shaun T so don’t expect your Max 30 to save you here.  Once again, you will need a good bench for some jumping around.  There are 9 moves which are repeated after the halfway point.

Sagi is the kind of guy I like to have as my trainer as I tend to prefer those who would kick my ass with a frozen boot should I decide to be a slacker.  My wife however, thinks he’s a bit corny and I can see why.  He’s got very “Schwarzenegger-ish” one liners such as “Ready to get hammered?”

scotty
Born ready.

Don’t ever change Sagi!

Iso Strength Chisel
Time: 34 minutes

Back to Autumn for what will prove to be an astonishingly painful half hour.

Ten resistance reps, then hold the position for ten seconds.  Repeat this for three cycles with no rest before moving on to the next move.  This was agonizing only three moves in as those iso holds hurt like hell, only to go right back into contracting the muscles again.  This is mostly a total body workout with emphasis on the legs.  The arms for the most part remain left alone.

Iso Speed Hammer
Time: 23 minutes

Ten moves.  You go down for a count of three then snap up.  Then you follow with 10 fast reps.  Push ups, squats, curls and rows are on the menu.

Might as well pause to say that I’m not a huge fan of the music track.  It’s not Turbofire awful, but I prefer to have few more guitar power chords in my workouts.  Instead it’s rather “tinny” techno crap.  I blame you kids out there.

10 Minute Minute Ab Chisel
Time: 10 minutes. Obviously.

Ten moves at 1 minute each.  This doesn’t exactly have a quick pace but it is nonetheless effective.  It’s all bench work but a modifier is on the floor if that’s what you need.

10 Minute Ab Hammer

So how does Sagi’s ab routine compare?  I was expecting some weights to be involved but alas, you’re down doing crunches with the same format of 1 minute moves.  It’s a good addition to my increasing collection of abdominal workouts, but neither is terribly unique in their approach.

Hammer Conditioning
Time: 30 minutes

Think of this as medium intensity resistance training.  Four rounds with 2 moves per round done twice.  It is mostly total body with rows, squats, push ups and presses and each move is 12 reps, which falls between building size or stamina.

Chisel Endurance
Time: 36 minutes

Seven moves repeated for 2 rounds.  Again, it’s mostly total body with a heavier emphasis on the legs.  There are some push ups, presses and rows but the arms still feel left out.  Thus far in this series there has been little in the way of bicep/triceps engagement.  The intended focus here is endurance and stamina but I’m not sure how that goal is met.  Stamina is being able to do consistent sets at the same rep/weight count.  I don’t see how this workout does that.

Master’s Cardio
Time: 17 minutes

Out of the whole works, this one is by far my least favorite.  It suffers from having too many cooks it kitchen and the mix of Sagi and Autumn’s individual ego’s really doesn’t gel.  Another problem is that should you be experienced with T25 or Max 30 cardio, this will be tragically easy.  For me I can’t see doing this twice.

masters_cardio
Master's Cardio lacks the spark each trainer gives when tending to their own field.

Hammer Total Body
Time: 42 minutes

I have high expectations, so this is Sagi’s big opportunity to deliver.  And deliver he dopes with old school weightlifting in the format of 10/8/6 reps.  Three moves per round with 3 rounds.  Push ups, squats, delts, rows and blast it…biceps and tri’s get ignored again.

Chisel Total Body
Time: 35 minutes

Finally, the biceps and triceps get decent attention.  3 round with three moves ( 10 reps each ) per round.  Squats, rows, curls, dips, lunges…this is indeed a total body workout.

Chisel Agility
Time 38 minutes

This is best defined as cardio you have to think about.  1 minute moves of speed in motion.

Hammer Power
Time: 38 minutes

Ok, this one is pretty sweet.  The “power” stands for power lifting and hot momma if Sagi doesn’t deliver.  You will slowly move from basic moves such as squats and presses to full press and jerk presses.  If you have lower back issues, please go easy here or this will kill you.  However, it will also strengthen that weak sucker if you keep at it.

Chisel Cardio
Time: 38 minutes

Very little rapid movement, but rather cardio brought about by resistance.  Weights, push ups, pulls ups and various squats are in 7 moves per round repeated for 2 rounds.

Max Hammer Strength
Time: 35 minutes

You expect a lot with a name like this.  And were it 5 minutes longer with better arm focus, it would be almost perfect.  The format is doing one minute of low/no weight.  Then you grab the steel and go max for 8 reps.  For example, one minute of push ups moves right into 8 bench presses.

Beast Total Body
Time: 45 minutes

This is a pleasant little treat.  It’s Sagi redoing the exact same workout in his Body Beast series with a fresh cast. You can tell he’s a bit more at home in his world.  Like its Body Beast twin, BTB is the kitchen sink in 4 circuits of 4 moves done twice.

mhc_bbtb
A foretaste of Body Beast 2 perhaps?

CONCLUSION

I was skeptical about what would happen if you put Sagi and Autumn together.  It can go either way: it can appeal to people who like both instructors or it can alienate because people dislike one or both.  Instead, Hammer and Chisel finds a way to appeal to fans of either trainer and insure the other is not such a radical change like a good cop/bad cop situation.  As amazed as I am to say it, Sagi and Autumn have a winner on their hands.

With the exception of one workout, the two are never on the screen together which is just as well.  It allows a nice break and gives the program a longer shelf life. Let’s face it, it’s easy to get trainer overload.  Shaun T with excessive double negatives in his speech, or Tony Horton’s impersonations day after day can be a little much.

pterodactyl_tony
The pterodactyl slays me every time.

So how are Sagi and Autumn to train with?  Let’s put it right out there folks: women have it hard when it comes to being trainers because they walk a fine line.  Become too much of a cheerleader and they risk becoming annoying beyond measure.  This is my personal gripe against Chalene.  Jillian Michael’s is what might come out the other end of a clone vat if mad scientists tried to create a female Tony Horton, proving that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

pterodactyl_tony
Ok, please stop.

So it is with much delight that I can say Autumn rides the fine line and maintains her professional trainer persona without accidentally turning her workouts “girlish”.  If my twelve year old son can watch me doing a workout with her on the big screen and not think Dad has gone soft, that’s a good sign.

Sagi likewise has the inverse problem to contend with.  Some guys can be so “alpha” that women and even men might be put off.  One thing I noticed about Body Beast is how Sagi can sometimes be a bit of a prick to his cast.  Fortunately he’s more supportive here and his biggest critic, my wife, found him much more pleasant.  Mrs. Parrot ( who affectionately calls him “Butthead” ) commented that his wife must have had a talk with him.  Still, I live for his catch phrases such as “Need to puke? Get a bucket.”

bucket
Never leave home without it Sagi.

Hammer and Chisel is without a doubt, an impressive total body fitness package that does not merely imitate what has gone before. It does have some shortcomings though.  There feels to be not enough time between working major body parts for recovery and my legs had no problem reminding me of this.  A recovery workout would have been an ideal thing to add given the redundancy of some workouts such as Master’s Cardio which probably should have been shelved.

Beachbody production values are generally first rate, but I do wish some more attention was put towards a better music track.  I don’t necessarily want AC/DC corrupting my virgin neurons, but perhaps something with a bit more “oomph”.  Then again, it’s easy to be spoiled by Shaun T who has consistently exceptional backtracks.

To conclude, this is a package with unisex appeal and will absolutely work you hard.  It follows it’s own philosophy by going after complete fitness and not just cardio or bulk.  If you like Body Beast or 21 Day Fix, this is a natural next step for both programs.

4 FEATHERS out of 5

REVIEW: The Master’s Hammer and Chisel
7.9 SCORE
Pros
  • Odds are you'll like at least one trainer!
  • Cons
  • Sometimes feels like it doesn't know what it wants to be.
  • Summary
    A versatile fitness offering that has a broad appeal.
    Trainer8
    Production Values8
    Strength8
    Cardio7.5

    John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.

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