31 August 2012

Powerstrike Review - Ilaria Montagnani

Powerstrike, http://www.powerstrike.com/, developed by Ilaria Montagnani, is probably one of toughest low impact workouts I have (same exhaustion level but not as bouncy as Cathe workouts).  I would say it should not be attempted by a beginner, and intermediate exercisers need to proceed with caution.

There are (currently) 3 different videos available: Powerstrike (4?), Powerstrike 5, and Powerstrike Kickboxing 6, ranging from 40 to 49 minutes long from start of warm-up to end of cool down.  Even if I haven't been working out recently, I can get through the entire workout by my second week ... IF I take it easy and stay at the low kicks.

If you extend your kicks fully and put your all into the punches, Powerstrike is a heck of a hard workout - imagine sweat flying everywhere, dripping off the elbows, chin, and eyelashes, and you have an idea of the effort involved.

However, I think everyone should be extremely careful with their joints.  These workouts can make my knees ache for days if I'm not very aware of body placement.  Especially when reaching the tired stage, it is easy peasy to lose track of the extension at the knee and harm the joint.

You really can't follow Ilaria very closely, her joints are exceptionally protected by some bulky muscle (especially for a woman) and she can get away with moves that could damage many of us due to her extreme conditioning.  Additionally, the camera work is, eh, not so helpful at times.

So, while I urge all exercise enthusiasts to enjoy the Powerstrike workouts, but you must enter the workout already knowing proper form, and where your body should be in all the moves.  I would recommend this only for people who are very familiar with kickboxing routines and karate positioning.

Great leg workout, moderate upper body workout (add weighted gloves for upper body oomph).

FYI - If you do not like muscular women, you will not like watching Ilaria.  She has a truly enviable muscular physicality.  The hubby walks by while I am working out and starts muttering about the individual teaching the video.  Ilaria is pretty massively muscled for a woman (not for a professional body builder though).  She can do pistol squats without any difficulty.

All photos from Powerstrike.com and facebook pages:

I think this may be one of the most beautiful photographs I've ever seen of her.  It hits all the marks for perfect use of negative space and awesome lighting.

Another gorgeous photo ... someone was being artistic for this shoot!

Sorry, or not, to say that following her workouts will NOT give you her body.  You would need to be lifting heavy weights for several years to come even close (not to mention drastic changes to your diet).

"Bodystrikes" is another release of hers that concentrates on lower body, low impact.  It could replace a lower body weight lifting day if need be.

Athletica is her "functional" weight lifting video, and I use it once a week in addition to New Rules of Lifting for Abs workouts.

Individual Reviews -

 Powerstrike (4)
After running into a wooden table, and giving my right vastus lateralis a humdinger of a bruise (seriously feels like I stuck a softball in my leg), I needed an "easy" workout, i.e. one without a lot of bouncing.  I reached for this first Powerstrike DVD, which is sometimes sold as Volume 4. 

I still burned 400 calories in this 57 minute workout, which is pretty impressive for low impact (to compare, I generally burn about 300 calories on a lopping jog for the same amount of time).

There is a bunch of kicking in this video, but the kicks involve fairly simple combinations that are moderately easy to do.

Ilaria does include circle, or crescent, kicks, but begins with a knee circle that could be used in place of the kick.  (There are also front snap and roundhouse kicks.)

The punching combinations are not difficult.  And, there is some jogging in place that could easily be converted to marching.

If you can find this first powerstrike DVD, I would recommend it for moderate exercisers and anyone with a martial arts background for those low impact days.


If you try this workout, and say, "Gosh, it is not hard enough" ... I suggest you squat deeper and kick higher.  Head level roundhouse and snap kicks wear me out.

Powerstrike 5

Once again, I have pushed my body enough that my calf said, "Please, no jumping today" so I turned to my low impact videos and grabbed Powerstrike 5.

This is a 49 minute workout where I burned around 400 calories.  I was able to keep up with almost the entire workout.

Warm-up - The warmup is an intro to the punching drills and kicking form.  There are 4 punches: jab, cross, hook, and upper.  They are usually taken at a reasonable speed, and should be fairly easy for anyone to pick up.

There are 4 kicks: front, roundhouse, side, and crescent (or circle).  The crescent is simplified as a knee circle for beginners and you should stick with it until you are comfortable with a full crescent kick.

Body - The main workout consists of 3 combinations, and I really like Ilaria's combo choices here.  Unlike most workouts, you do NOT repeat the same combinations on both sides.  Finally, a change!  You pretty much work each side equally, but learn a new combination for the second side.  Yes!!!

Granted, this is a complaint for some people, but Ilaria's approach to this shakes up the workout and keeps you on your toes.  I approve.

Except for the crescent kicks, I think this is a fairly easy workout.  Some of the movements are a bit quick, but you do not have to keep up with the participants to get a useful workout.

The third combo, which is her karate combo, is kinda boring.  I think if I did not have a familiarity with martial arts, this would be new and interesting, but since I do, it drags.  Luckily, it is short.

Cooldown - Waaay too short.  And you hardly hit any important muscles.  No bicep stretch, no shoulder stretch, no quad stretch, no glute stretch ...  I barely follow her instructions in this part.  Another thing I'm starting to notice is that she does not exhibit much flexiblity in her stretch routines.  So if you are flexible, be sure you know how to take the stretches deeper, because her's are really shallow stretches.

Cueing - Her cueing is definitely better in this video than what I've found in some of her other titles. 

I'd recommend Powerstrike 5 for anyone who has a basic understanding of martial arts (I first typed marital!), and wants a low impact, full body routine.

My left calf complained 3/4 of the way through, "I thought you were taking it easy, as I requested!"  Some of the kicking routines definitely will make the calf a bit stressed.

Good for us, use it or lose it!


Powerstrike Kickboxing vol 6

I can definitely tell that my body is slowing down this week, and needs a rest and recovery period.  Since I do not want to begin that rest until next week, I reached for the last Powerstrike video for an "easy" workout.

There are no plyometric type moves in this video, but some running in place and bouncing. 

This is more high intensity that the other Powerstrike videos, but still only burns about 380 calories for me. 

Ilaria's cueing is really coming along very well, and the transitions "feel" right (I've got a Kelly Coffee-Meyers workout that always feels like she is starting on the wrong foot). 

The only new addition to the punches and kicks from the earlier videos are elbow strikes and back kicks. 

Same recommendations as her earlier videos, only for moderate exercisers who are somewhat familiar with martial arts moves and kickboxing drills.

Warm up
The warm-up is adequate, and familiarizes you with the punches and kicks, not the combinations (all good in my opinion).

Her verbiage gets a little off in comparison to her movements, watch and follow the movements.

The combos are long, as you are learning only two (a total of four, two on each side).  So they build rather slowly, and you will work any given combo for 2 minutes before adding-on.  You might do this four or more times for any given combination.

I was definitely getting low on carbs for the brain pan, because the last bit of two combos was pretty sloppy.  Via my heart rate monitor, I spent the vast majority of my time in aerobic zones 2 (29 minutes) and 3 (16.5 minutes), which is also why I got sloppy.  Zone 3 is an exhausting zone to work in for an extended period of time.

Another: what?  where?  cooldown.  I'd strongly recommend you do real stretches for the hip flexors, quads, calves, and hamstrings.  I'd also encourage bicep, tricep, latissimus, and shoulder stretches, because you certainly work them thoroughly in the body of the workout.

My cooldown runs for another 2 or 4 minutes after Ilaria's finishes.


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