Video Fitness

Muscle Max

Cathe Friedrich

This workout is a grueling 68 minutes long. It is incredibly thorough and tough. Unlike most of her other full body strength workouts, the leg work is divided into two sections. This works well since the leg work is super tough. It starts with squats with lots of variations on the count: 2-2, 3-1, 4-4, low ends and pulses. It reminded me of Power Hour as it was long and brutal. Next is lunges. I was going to keep my weight at 45 but Cathe lowered hers and I wisely followed. Again, lots of pulsing reps and low ends. Very little rest between sets.

Chest work is next. Push ups followed by chest flies. She adds an interesting twist (literally) on the second set which I really felt. Just when I though chest was over she adds a second set of push ups with an extra slow count. I had some choice words about those push ups. Very tough.

Back work is next. I really disliked how she did the lat rows. There were so many changes in the rep speed that it reminded me of the Firm's Super Sculpting. Since I don't like to look at the TV while doing these (would cause me to come out of alignment,) I had to rely on Cathe's cues which were sometimes late or non-existant. Hopefully, after a few times with this workout, I'll have the rep count memorized. She also does pull overs and bent over rows with a barbell.

More leg work. I nearly cried when she announced this. First up was leg press with the band. This caused me to really cry and ask for my mother. I swear there were flames shooting from my butt. These REALLY get you deep in the glute area. I felt these more than I feel leg press with 20 lb dumbells. Plie squats were next but she added a twist were you switch the dumbell from hand to hand. Didn't feel much different to me but the extra long sets made me think I had peed my pants because my thighs were so hot (was that TMI?!?!)

Shoulders are next. Side raises are first. She doesn't do the "imagine you're pouring a big pitcher of water" thing anymore but some might still find them uncomfortable. Next are upright rows. Her tip to keep your arms wider if it's uncomfortable worked for me. Next is a new Cathe move where you do a front raise into a delt squeeze. I used dumbells since I found a barbell uncomfortable. This was tough! Front raises with the band add gasoline to shoulders already on fire. I was in pain and very glad this was the last exercise.

Biceps are next. Pretty standard here. Regular curls (which I used dumbells for instead of the barbell.) She did what seemed to be a variation on figure eights (painful and better be effective for all that pain!) I wish she had used the band here.

Triceps are last. An incredibly torturous superset of overhead press followed by dips repeated twice. I had to take a break here and lowered my weight on the second set. Zero rest between supersets and a blink and you'll miss it rest between sets. Kickbacks using the band add a new and incredible burn at the end. I enjoyed these although it was a bit tricky to get the band placed right. I'm sure it will get better with practice.

Core work finishes it off. This is MUCH tougher than Core Max. Kind of reminded me of the abs in Slow and Heavy (which I love.) Very long and high rep with little rest. Much more focus on the lower abs than is usual for Cathe.

Stretch is short but adequate. I didn't move for a good ten minutes after Cathe told me the workout was over. All in all, a good workout. Crappy music but when you have flames shooting from your butt, you really don't care.

Instructor comments: Professional as always. She is very encouraging but not in an annoying way. She provides good form pointers. She is very ripped in this workout.



I found the music selection to be really bad.

The warmup had this song that had that weird vocal sound effects that you find in Cher's "Believe". I personally cannot stand the way it sounds when the vocals are mixed in that way.

Then, the lunges had this awful song that sounded like background music for the buck rogers tv show back in the 70s. Maybe it sounded like that - it's been a long time since I saw the show, but that's what I immediately thought of. 70s futuristic. No vocals. VERY irritating and later on during it's interminable play, it started sounding like woo woo woo (No, it wasn't the background exercisers - just an annoying sound in the song)

Really distracting from the workout. I was so aggravated by the music, I couldn't even enjoy the workout.

So I'm getting rid of it.

I also had a sound glitch where the sound cut out and got quieter.

Instructor comments: Cathe is her usual self.


This is the first Cathe strength workout I've tried, and I found it to be intense and challenging without being gruelling. However, keep in mind that this is an advanced workout, so intermediates like myself will probably need to lift less weight than Cathe (I generally used 1/2 to 2/3 of what Cathe was using) in order to complete the workout. Cathe uses a variety of equipment in this workout, including a barbell, several sets of dumbbells, a full club step, and a toning band, but I was able to get by without the barbell, step, or band (although my modifications may have further lowered the intensity of the workout).

The main workout on Muscle Max is 68 minutes long, but the DVD also offers several premixes: Upper Body Only (42 minutes), Upper Body Push-Pull (33 minutes), Lower Body Only (23 minutes), and Timesaver (56 minutes). The full workout breaks down as follows: Warm-Up, Lower Body, Chest, Back, Lower Body, Shoulders, Bicep, Tricpes, Core and Stretch (the DVD includes subchapters under each of the above categories; see Cathe's web site for a full list of exercises plus video clip). During the warm-up, you are constantly moving rather than performing static stretches, but I liked that Cathe still managed to thoroughly stretch each muscle group that was going to be worked. Also, Cathe constantly varies the count, which adds interest as well as varying intensity to each movement. Another thing I liked about this workout was that Cathe allows plenty of time between exercises, thereby providing you with an opportunity to rest AND to change your weights as needed. I also enjoyed the upbeat music, some of it vocal.

Overall, this routine left me feeling completely worked out, yet not exhausted, which means that it was enjoyable and has little dread factor. I think that both advanced exercisers and intermediates who are will to modify can get a great workout from this video--highly recommended!

Instructor comments: Cathe is clearly one of the best fitness instructors out there; she is professional, cues well, and displays perfect form. Sometimes I find her way of talking to be a bit stilted, but obviously, that's just a matter of personal preference.

Beth C (aka toaster)

January 5, 2006

This is a thorough all over muscle workout. It is complete and it is efficient. It basically is what it says. It hits every muscle. Not overly so, not "underly" so, but efficiently. I can't say this workout kicked my behind, and I'm an advanced exerciser; nor can I say it was too easy. I can say, with a cardio workout added, it's the perfect routine. She does the usual fare - which I'm finding with her doesn't change much. You've got your squats, your static lunges, leg press with the band, pushups, flies, tricep dips and overhead presses, lat raises (with the band also), bicep curls, rows..... like I said, your usual fare. There was a nice combination move for shoulders which was new, so i must note that. She does a great little ab routine at the end. Like I said, not killer, but efficient. That's the best way I can describe this workout, but that's subjective and I consider myself to be advanced.

Instructor comments: Cathe is her usual self in this video. Friendly, down to business. No different than her usual upbeat, real self.

Denise Berger
January 7, 2007

I held off on buying this one for more than a year because I figured how many cathe strength workouts do I really need? So last week I bit the bullet and ordered it, because it has been recommended at VF so much. What a great addition to my collection! MuscleMax is a little different than my other Cathe strength stuff(PH, MIS and PS) in that she doesn’t do three sets of ANYTHING. She starts out with a set of four count reps, enabling me to go heavy. Then, she finishes it off with a varied tempo set, which is longer. She also uses the bands in this one, but no ball. Surprisingly, there were no overhead presses! There are, however, lots of pushups. I wimped out and finished up with chest presses. The whole thing wraps up in 68 minutes, and the ab work at the end is what I’d consider more traditional ab work, not so much core stabilization. I did it 2 days ago and my inner thighs and rear are STILL sore. This one is a keeper. Love the music, too!!

Instructor comments: Cathe really shines in this workout. She's awesome.

Peggy T


Video Fitness copyright © 1996 - 2009 Wendy Niemi Kremer    All rights reserved