Slow and Heavy: Legs and Shoulders

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2001

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

I'll start out by saying that I don't really enjoy working my lower body. But I loved this workout! The slow pace felt really good and allowed me to really concentrate on those large leg muscles. Cathe uses the slow and heavy format of 3 sets of 8 reps, 6 counts up and 2 counts down, with one minute rests (and stretches) in between, but she inserts three different pre-exhaust sets to compensate for the fact that the appropriate weight for most people to do lower body work is too heavy to lift over your shoulders at home.

The first exercise is front lunges. This is a pre-exhaust set and Cathe uses 2 10 lb dumbbells. You lunge forward, pulse up and down once, and go back to switch legs. There are 16 reps on each side. Then she moves into slow and heavy squats with a 50 lb barbell. I started with 30 and increased for each set to 40 because I didn't feel much in my legs. However, it was hard for me to get the weight over my head to the back of my shoulders! Next is a set of reverse lunges, also a pre-exhaust set, done in the same rhythm as the front lunges. Again, Cathe used 10 lb dumbbells. The static lunges are done with a heavy barbell. The third pre-exhaust set is side lunges with a dumbbell held in front of your navel. Cathe used a 15 lb dumbbell and I followed Jai who used 2 8 lbers. In this exercise, you step out to the side, pulse 3 times, then come up to switch sides. Then Cathe picks up the mongo 40 lb dumbbell to do plie squats. I loaded up my adjustable dumbbell with about 30 lbs and it felt really good. I liked that position better than holding a barbell on the front of my shoulders, elbows forward, like Cathe does for plies in some of her other videos. I also felt like it encouraged me to squat lower because my center of gravity was lower. Finally, we do 2 sets of 25 calf pumps with dumbbells in each hand. I really enjoyed the controlled movements and that the leg workout was only 30 minutes. Although I do like PS Legs, I rarely do it because it is SO darn long.

The shoulder workout was nice too. I am a shoulder wimp, so I like the PS Shoulder work without a barbell. This one is also done with dumbbells only. We start with front raises, using the 10 degree forward tilt to reduce momentum and focus on the shoulders only. Cathe uses 8 lbs. I normally can't for front raises, but with the more controlled slow movements I found I could make it. For side laterals (still using that 10 degree tilt), Cathe starts with 5 lbs but goes back to 8s on the second and third sets. Then we do posterior delts with your upper body in a flat table position and shoulders retracted. This is the same exercise Cathe does in Power Hour, but much slower of course. When I previewed the workout I was blown away during the close-ups of Cathe's rear delts. Her muscles are amazing! Here Cathe starts with 5s and moves up to 8s again. I couldn't use 8s because the heavier weight made me feel the effort in my triceps. Next, we do seated overhead press, but with the elbows out in front at a 45% angle rather than just out to the side. Cathe uses 15s, then 12s. For some reason there are only two sets of this exercise, but that was plenty! Finally, Cathe adds 2 sets on each side of slow and heavy side lying external rotators. This was so tough. I started with 5 lbs and dropped to 3s on the second set. I really felt the burn in my rotator cuff. I appreciated this exercise because I have a shoulder that occasionally comes out of its socket.

Cathe ends this workout with a short floor stretch.

Some VFers have mentioned on the forum that Slow & Heavy legs was not challenging enough. I don't have incredibly strong legs and I don't work them as often as I do upper body, so it was plenty tough for me. My legs were fatigued throughout the day and slightly stiff the next day. This workout and Chest and Back tie for my favorites, but I won't leave out the Triceps and Biceps. Overall this format feels better for me with the larger muscle groups because momentum is eliminated and I have to really focus on contracting the muscles. I would like to continue this series for at least four weeks, but it is really draining. I'm not sure if it's just an excuse, but I find myself wanting to snack more after a S&H workout too.

Caroline Kim