Hardcore: Muscle Max

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Total Body Workouts

Muscle Max is a 68 minute full body strength training workout led by Cathe Friedrich. This workout was part of her Hardcore series from 2005. Cathe is accompanied by Lorrayne, Rhonda, Brenda, and Cedie. For this workout, you will need an 8-inch step, a barbell (optional but recommended), multiple sets of dumbbells (I use a range from 5 to 20 pounds), and a resistance band (Cathe and crew use medium tension but a lighter or heavier band can also be used).

After a brief warm-up, Cathe begins with the first of two lower body sets. The first set is as follows: dumbbell squats (a warm-up series of 24 reps), barbell squats (one long endurance set with varied rep speeds and "low ends", or slow pulses in the bottom range in counts of 7 or 3), and static barbell lunges (one set per leg; this is also a long endurance set with varied rep speeds and "low ends"). You'll be glad the lower body work is over, at least for now! Chest is next. It begins with two sets of 12 push-ups (with an 8 second rest between the sets), continuing with two sets of dumbbell pec flyes (first set with a 2-2 count, second with a 4-4 count adding supination at the top), and finishing with a "bonus burn" set of push-ups (including tempo changes). After this, it's time to work the back. You begin with two sets of barbell bent over rows (with an underhand grip), bent over dumbbell rows (one set per arm, using the tempo changes in the "bonus burn" push-ups), and barbell ribcage pullovers (one set).

Ready to work the legs again? You begin with leg presses (step-ups) with the resistance band underneath one end of the step. Two sets are performed on each leg. The lower body work finishes with two long sets of pulsing plie squats (holding one dumbbell and passing it from hand-to-hand). Shoulder work is next. It begins with two sets of slow dumbbell lateral raises, before moving into a "bonus burn" set using the resistance band (with the band set using both full range movements and pulses; believe me, your shoulders will be on fire!). After two sets of slow upright rows, you finish with a unique barbell exercise which Cathe calls a "Front Raise into a Rear Delt Squeeze." I've also seen this exercise performed with dumbbells in an old Rachel McLish VHS tape, which Rachel calls "Uprights." Two brief sets are performed.

Whew--onto biceps! You'll begin with two sets of slow barbell curls (done to a 4-4 tempo), before moving into "partial curls" with dumbbells. These are similar to the Crazy 8's in Cathe's Maximum Intensity Strength and Body Max workouts, but not exactly the same (plus dumbbells are used here). The last upper body muscle group to be worked is triceps. You begin with a superset of French presses and tricep dips, performed twice. The tricep work finishes with kickbacks using the resistance band. Both full-range and pulsing moves are used.

Core work is next, beginning with prone extensions (Supermans). Cathe then moves into a supine for position for a methodical series of crunch variations, plus jackknifes, hip lifts, and v-sit oblique crunches. A short stretch (about 5 minutes), concludes the workout.

Although this workout is labeled advanced, intermediate exercisers can also benefit from it too. Just use ligher weights and perform less reps and/or sets. The "mix and match" option on the DVD menu allows you to customize your own workout, by selecting an exercise one at a time. When using this option, the DVD will return to the "mix and match" menu after each exercise. There are also four premixes: Timesaver (full body, 56 minutes), Upper Body Push/Pull (33 minutes), Lower Body only (23 minutes), and Upper Body only (42 minutes).

This was my first Cathe strength workout, and it remains my favorite. It's extremely versatile (with the "Mix & Match" and premix options), and doesn't overwork or underwork anything. Cathe gives excellent form pointers throughout. The music is decent as well. I highly recommend this DVD for intermediate and advanced exercisers.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe gives excellent cueing and form pointers, and is warm and personable. I also find her physique inspiring.

Garrie A