Bodybuilding Reviews / Videos
Repetrope Personal Workout Series
Tapes under review:
Lawrence Farnham Personal Workout: Pecs, Biceps & Triceps (31 minutes)
Jonathan Domingue Personal Workout: Upper Back, Chest, Biceps & Shoulders (36 minutes)
Jonathan Lawson Personal Workout: Chest, Biceps, Upper Back & Triceps (28 minutes)
Produced by Dan Traugott in 1998
Analog effects by Domino (music)
Videos shot on location at Metroflex Gym, Tampa, Florida
These three videos all show a young bodybuilder demonstrating an upper-body workout for us, assisted by Alex Edmonds (a certified personal trainer). The video and audio style is the same for all three, as is the location at Metroflex. Some of the same exercises are demonstrated in all three, although each tape has unique ones shown and variations come into play even for the same ones. Farnham does the chest and upper arms. Domingue (pronounced DO-mang") adds upper back and shoulders, cutting out triceps. Lawson does the chest, upper arms, and upper back. Anyone in the early stages of training can benefit from these tapes, but experienced lifters might use them to fine-tune their workouts. Mirrors dont always catch something, and the back isnt easily viewed. Needless to say, you need a good gym to have a workout like the ones you see here.
Repetropes cameras are up to their usual standards on these videos. Although the emphasis is on working out, we get tight close-ups of the muscles being worked, and after each exercise the muscles are posed to show the effect of the set. The camera moves almost continuously as the exercise goes on, giving every conceivable view of the movement. The scene is lit dramatically, with bright lighting in the foreground with the guys on camera (Alex is often visible), fading to black behind them. Domino contributes what I have come to think of as Repetrope music, a jazzy computerized score that pumps up the soundtrack without blocking the noise of the weights or the directions on doing the exercises. Technically these videos are superb.
All three tapes emphasize a safe and sane approach to weightlifting. Correct form is everything: If youre not using correct form, you shouldnt bother training, Lawson says. These tapes demonstrate good form for each exercise covered, with examples of bad form and the injuries that can result. Watching these videos is likely to improve your workout form. Nothing can replace a talented trainer at your side, but these vids offer lots of advice on specific exercises, the order in which to do them, and how they affect the body parts being worked. It is also a pleasure to watch a proficient bodybuilder in his home environment. All these guys (four counting the trainer) are good at what they do, and enjoy sharing what they know with us. The three featured bodybuilders wear workout shorts and shoes and socks, leaving their upper bodies exposed so we can see the workouts effects. All are shaved and have low body fat.
Here is my take on each video in this series. Remember they are available individually from Repetrope.
Lawrence Farnham Personal Workout
Farnham is called a model and fitness trainer on the tape box, and thats accurate. He looks about 20, no more than 150 pounds if that, and is in good but not competitive shape. He makes reference to his Godzilla-sized arms (theyre not), and talks like a bigger guy than he is. If you can get past that and the hair over his eyes, youll get some solid information on training.
Pecs first. Farnham tells which exercises to start and end with for each body part, but says to vary them to improve workout interest and their effect on the muscle group. He starts with the flat bench press (an exercise shown on all three tapes). Farnham talks us into the exercise, then either talks while he does the reps or has dialogue dubbed over the tape on how to do or not do it. Alex chimes in as well. The second exercise is the incline dumbbell press, and hes already breaking a sweat. Third is dumbbell flyes, fourth is the pec deck machine, and the finishing exercise is the cable crossovers. The talk is not continuous; often we just watch him do reps, then pose the muscle he worked.
Triceps are next, and his are solid. He starts with a tricep pushdown, moving to a flat bench tricep extension (with E-Z curl bar), then a close-grip bench press (with E-Z bar), and finishing with a one-arm reverse cable pulldown. He says to do the reps till you get that funky burning feeling.
Now biceps. We get the standing barbell curl first, then preacher curls with an E-Z bar (the viewer is in spotting position in front of the preacher bench), then a standing dumbbell curl, a hammer curl (with dumbbells) where he shows how to hit different parts of the arm, and the biceps get finished up with a one-arm cable curl.
Jonathan Domingue Personal Workout
Domingue was the NPC Teen Nationals winner in July 1998, and has a fan base solidified by a photo feature in the February '99 issue of "Flex" magazine. He hails from Louisiana, and is all potential. Jon has no polish, which may appeal to those tired of slick talkers. When he poses he grins at us, and clearly eats up the attention hes getting. Since hes less verbal than Farnham, Alex talks more on this tape than on the first one. Jon doesnt have to talk -- his body does it for him. Hes thick-necked, thick everywhere in fact, and attributes his success to commitment and perseverance: They worked for me, he says.
Upper back exercises start this tape out. The first one is seated cable rows, which can injure you if you do them wrong; we get the right way here. Next T-bar rows, on a machine designed for them. Domingue wears a weight belt, since hes hitting some heavy poundage. Third is reverse flyes (with dumbbells), on an incline bench. Last up are dumbbell rows, and with 70-pound bells he gets quite a pump going.
Shoulders next. The dumbbell press (over the head) starts this body part out. He turns to dumbbell shrugs (for the traps), using wrist straps. Alex reminds us of proper breathing here and elsewhere on this tape. Third is a side lateral raise (with dumbbells), for the outer delts. Finally we get the cable side lateral, again for outer delts, with arms worked one at a time. Alex warns us that raising the arms too high on these exercises will strain the rotator cuff (an injury sidelining many baseball pitchers).
Pecs next. The flat bench press opens it (is there an exercise more basic than this one?). Jon and Alex are thorough -- we get info on grip, placement of feet, angle of the arms, and breathing. Next parallel bar dips -- with legs bent at the knee and crossed behind him, its more of a chest exercise than one for triceps. Alex recommends a spotter for this one too. Third is the incline barbell press, another staple of the gym. Fourth are incline dumbbell flyes, with Alex explaining the correct angle of the incline bench. Finishing off is the cable crossover.
These bicep exercises are standard; the guns doing them arent. First is the barbell curl (using an E-Z bar), with varied grips noted. Next is standing alternate dumbbell curls, two sets at 35 pounds per hand. Hammer curls after that, noted as good for the outside of the bicep (where sailors get tattoos). Jon hasnt broken a sweat so far, but does so now. Concentration curls follow, a good isolation exercise. His heavily veined arms get pumped here. Finally we get cable curls (with two cables used together). He stands between them and squeezes them in, holding his arms up like hes doing a front double-bicep pose.
I recommend this tape not only for trainers but for Domingue fans. According to his "Flex" interview, hes finishing his college degree before he competes again. When that happens, he wont be a middleweight for long.
Jonathan Lawson Personal Workout
The tape box says Lawson is a natural bodybuilder and physique model. He also works for "Ironman" magazine. Lawson is an educated, soft-spoken trainer who knows exactly what hes talking about. He projects a calm, assured demeanor and is all business when he hits the weights. Speaking clearly, he tells what he prefers vs. what others like to do.
The upper back comes first -- he has one. T-bar rows begin it on an incline rowing machine. He moves to the seated cable row, then reverse flyes (with dumbbells) done sitting as an isolation exercise. Oddly, Lawson sweats only on the body part hes working until near the end of the tape.
Pecs next. We get the flat bench press again -- and why not? If it works, go for it. Second are incline flyes (with 30-pound dumbbells here). Cable flyes follow on a flat bench. Fourth is the incline press on a Smith machine.
Triceps begin the arm exercises. The cable pushdown is done with a V-bar (you can substitute differently shaped bars with carabiner clips). After that come line tricep extensions (skull crushers) on a flat bench. Third is the behind-the-head dumbbell extension, done sitting up. For it he holds a dumbbell by one end with both hands, lowering it slowly -- first a small one, then a 40-pound 'bell, which would burn. Next come dips on parallel bars, with stress on the arms.
Biceps end this workout. The first exercise is the incline curl (with dumbbells). Lawson's arms get a great pump here. Next is the concentration curl, demonstrated first at 25- and then 30-pound weights. Cable curls finish it up, done with one arm for variety.
And just when you think this man will never smile, suddenly hes posing outdoors in daylight at the Curtis Hixon Plaza, grinning ear to ear as he shows off his routine. While he continues his display, the credits thank "Ironman" magazine, the city of Tampa (for use of the plaza), and the staff of Metroflex. We can add one more: thank you, Repetrope, for these tapes.
August 1999, revised June 2000