Parrot Review: A WEEK of HARD LABOR
Sagi Kalev returns with a Beachbody on Demand exclusive: A Week of Hard Labor. In keeping with his tradition of speaking in the third person about getting huge ‘canyons’, Sagi now demands we enter the beast’s cave and get what’s coming to us.
Also had to modify my non-American English spellcheck, so with respect to my Canadian countrymen I must refrain from using the proper spelling of LABOUR and use the less civilized version of LABOR. Sorry, but when one lies with dog’s, one invariably rises with fleas.
WHAT YOU GET and WHAT YOU NEED
A monthly bill from Beachbody on Demand that with any luck, should be safe now that the company has had a well deserved 3.6 million dollar kick to the nuts. Sometimes even the good kid needs to be sent to their room.
The program is 5 days so technically its more of a Work-Week of Hard Labor. No doubt my kosher homeboy Sagi properly observes the Sabbath unlike other week-long programs which are no doubt designed by uncircumcised Philistines.
For equipment you will need weights obviously; preferably in the mid to high-end range for your body type. I would also advise using a decent workout bench with an incline option. I know the modifier uses a stability ball as a substitute, but if that Chinese made hunk of rubber decides to give up the ghost while you’re holding a set of beastie-weights then a painful lesson in Newtonian physics will follow.
Day 1 : Chest and Back
Time: 44 minutes
I just freaking love Chest and Back workouts going all the way back to the original P90X. Something about pull-ups and push-ups feels right and pure, like those exercises alone could enable me to save countless sorority girls from a burning building. Sagi’s new Chest and Back is comprised of 3 complexes:
- Presses / Lat pullovers
- Incline presses / One arm rows
- Close grip press / push ups / pull-ups / reverse flyes
No longer do we dabble in light/medium/heavy. Now we go straight to medium, heavy, then Sagi demands we unleash the beast with HEAVY PLUS. The moves are basic but the work is hard. This is probably one of the better Chest/Back routines out there.
Day 2 : Legs
Time: 43 minutes
Good leg workouts are hard to come by these days as most focus on plyometric style training. Not today kids. No, today we assault our pillars with the following:
- Squat sequence ( careful not to do dead-lifts )
- Squat Lunge Matrix ( 5 move complex )
- Squat Giant Set ( Pistol Squats, Bulgarian squats and lunges…ugh. )
- Giant Set ( sumo squats and calf raises )
If you’re anything like me ( and my condolences if you are ) then it might take a couple rounds to get this workout. Some of the sequences get a little complex and keeping up can be an issue.
Day 3 : Core
Time: 30 minutes
Might want to forego a big breakfast until after this workout unless you feel like seeing it twice.
Today we move between crunches and planks with a workout that is sure to leave no core-stone unturned. The pace is just right so keeping up will not be an issue. The only issues I had was my wrists were getting tired from some plank moves but I was able to modify around the problem.
Day 4 : Shoulders and Arms
Time: 43 minutes
Time to build those
canyons cannons. Shoulders, biceps and triceps to be specific with the following sequences:
- Giant set ( multi-directional Shoulder raises )
- Progressive set ( Hammer curls to Rotating press )
- Superset ( Incline curls / Half circles )
- Bicep Curls ( normal/wide/wider grip )
- Superset ( Skull crushers / rear flyes )
- Superset ( Kickbacks / Tricep push downs )
Shoulders and Arms remains true to being a simple workout that focuses on lifting big and not getting fancy. Expect this one to be on the favorites list for getting your guns ready for the show.
Day 5 : Total Body
Time: 50 minutes
The only problem with this workout might be the timing in the schedule. Only yesterday did we get decimated with Shoulders and Arms so the odds of being at 100% are pretty slim. The good thing is that the moves are not constantly beating on the same muscles as there is a lot of ground to cover. An easy fix would be to swap this and Core. See…what would you do without me?
Total Body follows a sequence that goes up for 5 rounds, then does those same rounds in reverse moving back.
- Front Rows
- Decline Push Ups
- Lateral raises
- “The Combo” ( Squat / Hammer Curl / Squat / Press )
- Repeat in reverse
The weights remain in the light to medium territory as the moves go after many muscles, particularly during “The Combo”. Expect a hell of a cardio workout to boot from this one just due to a whole lotta muscles needing oxygen.
For those clawing at Beachbody‘s door for a sequel to Body Beast, A Week of Hard Labor might be enough raw human flesh to keep the undead hordes occupied until Sagi puts together something along the lines of a full Body Beast 2. While not a full-fledged program, A Week of Hard Labor is tailor made to please anyone looking to lift big and mix up their Body Beast schedule. It’s also excellent at morphing into a hybrid with any one of the other programs on BOD or elsewhere. And as an added bonus, true men can regain their rightful place as protectors and progenitors after being so cruelly emasculated by YouV2.
Sagi is a decent fellow as a trainer and is much less verbally harsh on his cast than in Body Beast where Mrs. Parrot lovingly referred to him as “Butthead”. I see a ring on his finger, so I’m guessing Mrs. Beast has tamed the savage soul…a good woman can do that. There are times when he seems to miss cues but that has more to do with getting a product to the online-streaming market fast rather than rehearsing for months.
Some might be concerned about running time given the desire for everything to be around 30 minutes these days. But I have to point out that decent strength training cannot truly be accomplished in a mere half hour, so I am grateful a little additional time was taken so that warm-ups and cool-downs could take place and still get enough left for some great iron pumping.
I give A Week of Hard Labor 4 Feathers out of 5. If it had a couple more workouts it would fill and voids nicely but for now we can enjoy what can be viewed as Body Beast 1.5 with the hope a solid 2.0 is still in the product pipeline over at Beachbody.
Parrot Review: A WEEK of HARD LABOR
Trainer - 75%
Production Values - 80%
Strength - 80%
Cardio - 70%
Music - 80%
A worthy, albeit incomplete successor to Body Beast. Sagi offers a much needed missing component from home fitness training.
Fits well within existing Body Beast schedule.
Chest and Back is one of the best.
Another dedicated muscle workout might be preferred over Total Body.
Legs workout overly complex.
Might have benefited from more rehearsal.
I gotta say, that I’ve done most of Sagi’s workouts (not the Equipment Room Series), and most of all Tony Horton’s (not Double Time) and I gotta say that A WEEK OF HARD LABOR is a nice change from what we’ve been used to. However, I agree with Mr. Parrot, maybe the production should have rehersed more, the Cast and even Sagi himself. Then, I know that in order to create a workout to use at home the movements gotta be basic and easy to understand, but it would have been great to add so much more. Chest and Back got me a little dissapointing, mainly in the Back. Chest was well worked, but I feel that the back was a little forgotten, Legs, it was hard but Beast Up Legs is even harder than this one. Shoulders and Arms was really good, but in this particular workout I saw the lack of rehearsal in the cast and Sagi. Some of the moves were changed in the second set. The pase was different from one set to another, and the move itself was changed in some cases. I think Sagi put a great effort and his dedication is remarkable, but maybe BeachBody should have wait a couple of months and rehearsed a little bit more and take production into account, the rep count is missing sometimes. We all know P90X and Body Beast and many more and how well produced they were!
DP, Have you looked at Sagis “weight room” Bod exclusives?
While this has been a great concept, I think some things got dropped in execution. As you mentioned in the summary, Sagi missed a couple of cues, and for some of the moves I would think he’s demonstrating it when in reality it was the start of the set. In Chest and Back, he refers to one of the close-grip presses as a forced set, and I prepped for it, not being able to see the screen; clearly I wasn’t the only one confused by it as one of the cast members was as well. It should have been called a double drop set. Production values were a bit lacking as well, needing the rep counts on screen a bit more.
I feel like you combine this with Autumn’s workouts, you get what MHC was supposed to have been. Not to say MHC isn’t already a good program, but this is a much better use of Sagi’s skillset.
I think it’s good, maybe even great overall, and I think if stretched into a full program it could be better than even the original BB. I like the lower rep counts, and it’s nice to have some muscle groups combined into single workouts.
It could have been better, though. Chest/back left me wanting a little more of each (I think there’s some pressure to keep the runtimes short), and a 30+ minute core workout seems unnecessary. But to me, the only almost-stinker was arms/shoulders. I found it really bizarre that 90% of the shoulder work was done in one big, lightweight giant set. Seems to me that a more basic routine alternately hitting bis, tris and shoulders would have made more sense.
ETA: The onscreen graphics were pretty bad, I’d say. There were several times where they didn’t really indicate exactly what it was you’re supposed to be doing, and Sagi is not going to pick up much of the slack there. In chest/back, I remember specifically that they didn’t clearly indicate that you were supposed to change hand positions on the single-arm rows, and it wasn’t clear that the last set of close-grip bench press was actually going to be a force set. I think it hints at it, but there’s no reason to be vague when you can literally write the instructions on the screen. It feels like a graphics intern was rushed into doing it at the last minute, which probably isn’t far from the truth.
But overall, really good. And a Godsend for people who like traditional lifting but are getting tired of the same BB routines.
Hey Mr. Parrot, just wondering if you (or anyone else here) had any honest opinions on BOD (I don’t trust online reviews as I feel like they are typically overrun by Beachbody coaches and cronies)?
My main questions are:
*Are most videos available (and when you want them – ie, they aren’t pulling some down, swapping them out)?
*Is the stream reliable (ie, does it load and play quickly, does it ever freeze or buffer in the middle of a workout)?
If it’s basically $100 but I get access to all the videos and it’s reliable (i can’t stand workouts freezing/buffering while I’m trying to workout), I’d consider paying for it.
Unless they’ve changed the pricing scheme again, the $99 gets you access to every BeachBody program ever made. If you don’t want to commit to a year, it looks like you can do 3- or 6-month plans at a higher per-month cost. Either way, you get everything they’ve ever done and (allegedly) everything they’ll ever do, all available all the time. In the beginning, they did indeed swap out videos. But I think after hearing from angry customers who paid for “premium” content only to see it slide down into the regular library (like me!), I think they’ve learned their lesson.
I’ve never had any real issues, maybe a couple of times I can think of where I had to pause and move the video around to get over a rough patch in the stream (didn’t have to skip anything, just had to rewind a bit). My Apple TV is hardwired into the router, so I doubt those couple of blips were on my end, but I can’t be sure they weren’t, either.
If you like BeachBody workouts and already have some equipment, I think the $99 price is an unbeatable value — you certainly can’t go to a gym for a year at that price, not even those purple and yellow outfits that don’t actually allow real exercising. I know Parrot likes DailyBurn too, but to me BOD kicks its ass with one hand tied behind its back.
Thanks for the response, this really helps!
My experience with BOD is pretty much on par with Elchupinazo. The content is what they say it is and no swap outs as best I can tell. The stream has had no issues/buffering but I also have a 150Mbps Internet speed package so I really cannot speak for anyone else with lesser speeds. I had Dailyburn back when I was 30Mbps and even then no issues. I too am running it on an AppleTV. I think quality of service with video streaming has improved to the point I expect you to be ok.
In terms of content I have to agree, BOD wins out big. Dailyburn has a few killer workouts like ‘Live to Fail’ and ‘BlackFire’, but the rest are somewhat pedestrian. Beachbody simply has an overwhelming head-start with content and is pumping out regular week-long workouts at a steady pace. Considering that purchasing a DVD set from them would almost be as much as a year of service, it’s a foregone conclusion where the better value is.
Thanks for the response! As a fellow Canadian, was it basically just the $100 to get unlimited access?
It was for me. (Canadian as well)
Hi Ajay, I’m a regular consumer like you and am equally wary of MLM companies (which Beach Body is). Nothing on this earth can convince me to shill out $$$ for Shakeology, especially not on autopay. BUT: the investment in BBOD is well worth it…Netfix for fitness. Some programs need to be purchased outside of BBOD but most are on there and available anytime to any member (i.e. Body Beast, Hard Corps, 21 DFX, Masters Hammer and Chisel, Fixate (5 min recipes for all meals and snacks), P90X etc, all the Shaun T workouts, and more. I was apprehensive about the ongoing autopayments and intended to stop after my free trial…I never did. I have never had streaming issues. I take my phone to the gym and stream workouts on their wifi. You can also dl and save up to 7 workouts in advance. You get something like a month free before you are charged. I’d highly recommend trying it (and have to friends). Access to all nutrition plans etc are there too. Hope that helps! (from a skeptic who believes the average beachbody user should never be called a coach, but has to admit I’m happy with the programs. I’ve seen a lot of progress this year)
Thanks for your wonderful writing. I couldn’t find a place to request – but really would love your reviews of Cathe Friedrich’s workouts. It would be a welcome change from BB-dominated reviews. And I think you might really love them. I’d love to read your comparison if you do try Cathe.
Loved most of this program myself. I’m probably not going to do Total Body or Core much in the future, but adding the other three into some revised Body Beast schedules is definitely going to happen. Happy to have Sagi back!