Kelsey Wells’ PWR and PWR at Home Programs: How Do They Compare?
I’ve been using Sweat-trainer Kelsey Wells‘ programs for a year now. Primarily PWR, but have dabbled in PWR at Home here and there, and just finished 6 weeks straight of PWR at Home for Sweat‘s Summer Challenge.
When I started PWR I planned on doing the gym version when I was able to get to the gym and the home version when I had to workout at home. That’s the beauty of the Sweat app – you can switch back and forth from one program to the next as needed, depending on your time restraints, mood, and equipment. You’re never married to a program unless you want to be, and have the luxury of testing out all 11 programs at no additional cost. Each one has it’s own unique training style so it’s amazing to be able to dial-in which style you prefer. Enjoyment = adherence!
I’ll give a quick, general comparison of the 2 programs below and you can decide for yourself which, if either, program is best for you. As I mentioned, Sweat offers a variety of programs, so there are plenty of training options outside of PWR.
PWR (gym version) vs PWR at Home
PWR was designed to be performed in a gym setting, with access to a variety of machines and equipment. Alternatively, PWR at Home was designed to be performed, you guessed it, at home (duh) with minimal equipment.
PWR sessions typically consist of:
- 2 Activations, during which you complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of a specified number of repetitions of two different exercises repeated for 4 minutes with no rest between rounds (2 activations x 4 minutes each for a total activation time of 8 minutes). – Applies to both PWR and PWR at Home
- 3 Pyramids, during which you complete 3-4 sets of a single weight lifting exercise such as lat pull-downs, squats, bicep curls, etc. The repetition count decreases with each set and, typically, the weight you lift increases – This is unique to PWR (gym) OR Circuits, during which you complete 3 rounds of 3-4 sets of exercises done for 40-60 seconds each, with a short 10-15 second rest between sets and rounds. For example, performing 40 seconds of bench presses, 10 seconds rest, 40 seconds of push-ups, 10 seconds rest, 40 seconds of triceps extensions, 10 seconds rest would be considered 1 round of the circuit, and repeats for a total of 3 rounds. – This is unique to PWR at Home
- 2 Supersets or 1 Triset, depending on where you are in the program. Supersets are either timed, with the goal of completing as many rounds as possible of a specified number of repetitions of 2 different exercises repeated over and over for 6 minutes, with a brief rest period between rounds OR untimed, with the goal simply being completion of 3 full rounds of a specified number of repetitions of 2 different exercises, regardless of how long it takes. The goal of a triset is to complete as many rounds as possible of a specified number of reps of each of 3 sets of exercises in a 10 minute time period, with a short rest between rounds.– In my experience, PWR at Home uses only Supersets (no trisets)
- 2-3 Burnouts, depending on where you are in the program, during which you perform as many reps as possible of a single exercise for 60 seconds straight without rest. These are considered optional – Applies to both PWR and PWR at Home
Generally, PWR (gym) workouts take 45-55 minutes. Workout length will depend on whether or not Supersets are timed, how much rest you take, and how long it takes you to switch weights, set-up equipment, or wait for machines/equipment to free up, outside the built-in timer.
By comparison, PWR at Home workouts take 30-40 minutes. Again, this will vary by workout and how long it takes you to get through the untimed Supersets. Switching machines, adding or re-racking weights, and finding or waiting for equipment isn’t really an issue when it comes to the home-based program.
When I first started and was time-poor due to littles’ nap times and schedules, I’d find myself completing a shorter PWR at Home workout at the gym. It was nice to utilize the gym’s childcare but also save an extra 10-20 minutes compared to the gym-based PWR session.
Based on my 14-months of experience with Kayla Itsines’ BBG program, PWR is MUCH less cardio-intensive. BBG never failed to get the blood pumping, the legs jumping, and arms and abs shaking. To be honest, when I started PWR I was a little nervous I wasn’t getting as good of a workout because I wasn’t sucking serious air, drenched in sweat, and getting that oh-my-god-imma-die feeling. Yeah, but no, BBG was great. I know it’s hard to tell when I’m being sarcastic or serious, so check out my 60-week BBG review to get the scoop.
I mention that to say that some of the PWR at Home circuits pay homage to the BBG circuits of my yesteryear, meaning they can be INTENSE! They require very little equipment and involve cardio-heavy and/or difficult, large muscle group movements. All-aboard the struggle bus to Defeatsville!
PWR (gym) Activations and Supersets have the potential for being more cardio-rich than the rest of the workout, to be sure. The Pyramids within the gym program are more about form and strength than speed and reps. Pyramids, however, typically work the larger muscle groups with big lifts so they’re still tough and get me breathing heavy.
Personally, I prefer lifting over cardio and honestly haven’t had a formal cardio (LISS or HIIT) session in I don’t know how long. I’m decently active running after my kids and walk them to the park here and there, but that’s about it lately. Once school starts (if and when! #covid_19) I’ll be walking to and from drop-off and pick-up nearly every day.
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As mentioned above, PWR (gym) is intended to be completed in a gym environment. The program was written assuming access to:
-equipment such as squat racks, benches with racks, barbells, and dumbbells
-machines for exercises like leg press, hack squats, hamstring curls, and leg extensions
-cable machines for a variety of exercises like lat pull-downs, bicep curls, triceps pull-downs, chest flies, etc.
PWR at Home uses minimal equipment and you can get by with a yoga mat, skip rope, recovery bands, resistance bands, dumbbells, and a bench. If those items aren’t available, most exercises can be done using body weight only or things like canned goods, full jugs of laundry detergent, or full water bottles as weights. Instead of a bench you can use an ottoman, chair, or floor in most instances.
I discovered a short time into my PWR/PWR at Home journey that I much prefer the flow of PWR workouts and pyramids over the PWR at Home timed circuit set-up. I now modify the gym-version of PWR to be completed at home when a trip to the gym isn’t possible. I use bands, tubes, dumbbells, and similar/complimentary exercises in place of cables and machines. Luckily I have a decent amount of equipment at home that makes this possible, such as bands, a pull-up rig, adjustable threaded dumbbells and barbells with plates, and a bench.
Open-for-business gyms and home gym equipment can be hard to come by these days (thanks, COVID!) so do what you can with what you got until things become more readily available.
Which Program Gives Optimal Results?
The answer here is simple: WHICHEVER PROGRAM YOU WILL DO CONSISTENTLY. Whether that’s one of the two programs I’ve outlined here, or maybe it’s BBG or Fierce or Crossfit or kick-boxing or whatever…if you will do it and do it consistently in conjunction with proper nutrition, you will see results. Check out my friend’s blog for a super-detailed account of all the available SWEAT fitness programs. I guarantee you’ll find a program that fits your schedule, available equipment, and training style preferences.
Just starting out, I know it’s difficult to imagine yourself as one of “those” people who enjoys, craves, and wants to exercise. But here’s the thing – when you find movement that empowers you, brings you contentment, and gives you joy you’ll find training is your favorite part of the day.
Just find what works for you. I hate running, for example. I used to believe I had to run to be fit. So I ran and I hated it, as I knew I would. So I didn’t do it often or consistently, and I didn’t get results. Now I lift weights. I feel like a badass warrior women beast, and I like it. So I do it often and consistently, and I’ve seen results. Check out my results for yourself. This is me…
I hope this has given you an idea of what to expect from each of the 2 PWR programs outlined above. Feel free to experiment with each program until you find the one that works for you and your personal journey. I’m happy to answer your questions and read your comments below. As always, find & follow me on Instagram!