Female Body Breakthrough Base Phase in Review

While I’m not going to post any pictures until I’ve been doing this long enough where I actually feel like I look awesome in a bikini, I thought I’d at least post a mini-update of how things are going on Rachel Cosgrove’s Female Body Breakthrough.

First of all, I am definitely working up a sweat each and every time I do a workout. Boy, I’m telling you – I can really feel a big difference between this and the useless steady-state cardio I used to do! I’m now a firm Rachel Cosgrove anti-cardio believer – hat a waste of time that was. Strength training has proven much harder to “phone it in” (either on purpose or by accident) and I find that my heart is really beating hard as I go through the routine – probably providing me with as much of a cardio workout as it does when I do the more traditional cardio machines.

As far as the amount of weight I’m lifting, I’ve followed the instructions and have been increasing the weights every time. I keep surprising myself at what I can do! Even in just two short weeks (only 6 workouts), I’ve made a lot of progress. My incline pushups have gotten lower, and I’ve increased the amount of weight by at least a few pounds in every single exercise I do. The most notable improvement has been in my single leg single arm Romanian deadlift: I started by doing it with 15 pounds, and now am doing it with 30 pounds! Definitely feeling the burn on that one :) Either way, it’s pretty exciting to me that it’s the first time in my life I’ve been picking up dumbbells that weigh more than 10 pounds. I’m looking forward to when I graduate to using barbells with weights on the end – then I can really show off to the macho-looking guys at my gym who seem shocked to see a woman in the weight room.

On the numbers front, I haven’t seen any changes in my weight (yet), but I’ll blame that on two things: the fact that my diet hasn’t been as great as it should be (it’s really tough on the road, though I’ve made my own mistakes as well), and the fact that adding muscle means putting on pounds there. The real things to look for are how my clothes are fitting, which I would say is not really static (some days I swear everything is looser; other days, I am bulging out of things). Again, I think my poor diet is really to blame for this one. This is something I want to try to work on more in the next few weeks.

The big gain so far is that my muscles are becoming really defined. Already I can see a lot of definition in my arms – not so much as to look cut (yet), but there is a definite bulge around the bicep instead of being a straight line from shoulder to elbow. My back also looks a lot tighter, though I’m not really sure how that’s possible, since I didn’t think it looked flabby or anything before. But the arm work in this routine is killer, and I usually feel my shoulders/back the next day. At the very least, I think it’s really going to help with my new year’s resolution to get better posture.

My core looks really good some days, and not at all different other days – which I think means I’m getting some defined abs, but they’re sometimes hidden depending on what kind of bloating/water weight/fat I have over the top of them. However, I know my core is definitely getting a lot stronger – I’ve gone from doing bird dogs with no weight to doing it with a 9 pound dumbbell in hand, and I’m doing my upper-body core stability Russian twists with a 15 pound dumbbell (vs 5 pounds when I started). I also managed to do a 3:00 plank the other day – can’t believe how much progress I’ve already made to my goal of 5:00!

But where I’ve really been feeling a lot of these workouts is in my butt/thighs, which have been basically perpetually sore since I started the workout (yup, even after two rest days on the weekend, I wake up on Monday morning still feeling my Friday workout!). They say that Rachel’s workout is known for producing really ridiculously tight butts, and I can definitely see how that’s true! Beyond the soreness, I’ll note that when I look at my butt in the mirror, there’s minimal difference between when I’m standing relaxed and when I’m engaging the muscles – which I think means the muscles are getting pretty tight on their own and I’m losing some fat from there. Yay! That’s probably the most noticeable result so far, and I love that I can see it in the mirror – it reminds me that I’m on the right track.

Unfortunately, while I had thought that I was allowed to add back in some cardio (intervals though) after the completion of the two week base phase, I misread – she actually recommends no cardio until you’ve done the weight training for at least eight weeks. Sigh. I do miss pure cardio workouts! However, the next phase of the program adds in a fourth workout each week, which is metabolic circuits – definitely cardio, just not on an elliptical or treadmill. I’ll take it! And whether I’m supposed to do it or not, I’ll be running the Bahamas Marathon next weekend. It will be very interesting to see how that goes when I haven’t done steady state cardio since Christmas…

Anyone else giving Female Body Breakthrough a try? Or what other fitness routines are people trying with the new year (come on, you know you made a resolution and are doing something!)? Looking forward to hearing from all of you :)


  1. loving your blog! i have sooo far to go with mine hahah

  2. rachel cosgrove isn’t married to a allen cosgrove (sp?)? I think I saw fitness articles from him in some magazine (Men’s Health?).

    don’t know about the Female Body Breakthrough, but muscle mass shreds unwanted fat. Short-term, it burns it during the workout, and then long-term your metabolism is higher as you build more and more muscle.

    don’t twist your neck checking out your tight butt too much!

  3. I got through a couple of weeks of her program. I like the set-up…there wasn’t enough variety in the workout choices for me. So I’m using the Nike Training Club app, which has had me shaking and sweating every time I’ve used it in the gym. And my half-marathon training is still in there and trumps all else. So we’ll see how it goes. I can tell you that the amount of dead lifts they make you do (everything is a timed circuit, so you’re really sweating), my calves were DESTROYED last week. But it’s fun :)

    Though I do find that there’s nowhere in the gym that’s really a happy place to do these workouts. I need a yoga mat and weights, but they don’t live in the same place. I either have to get in the guys’ way with my yoga mat, or be sweating and gross in the “stretching” area with a bunch of pretty girls who don’t sweat at all :P I do feel like a badass, though.

  4. Danny, I think she’s married to Alwyn Cosgrove, who wrote The New Rules of Weight Lifting. While I haven’t read that one (yet), my understanding is that the principles are very similar to Rachel’s book – hers is just adapted for women specifically. And you’re exactly right about the philosophy – putting on some muscle is exactly what my body needed!

    Lisa, I hope they get the Nike app for Android soon, since I don’t have an iPhone! I can definitely see how this would get old after a while, but for a few weeks in each phase, it still seems fresh to me (this coming from someone who was used to doing the same exact elliptical/weight machines routine for two years). As for where to do them, I go into the aerobics/stretching room and steal a mat and body bars, then head out to the real weight room so I have access to everything else I need. The men can just deal with it, particularly as I’m starting to lift as much (or more) than some of them!

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