Maximum Intensity Strength

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 1998

Categories: Total Body Workouts

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This is the first heavy weights workout I ever bought when I felt ready to graduate from the Firm in the later 1990s. It remains a favorite of mine for its non-nonsense instruction and basic strength moves.

This workout is more endurance-based than straight strength, since Cathe usually does 16 reps per exercise and there are multiple sets and multiple exercises per part. If you go as heavy as she does, you'll build some serious mass AND endurance. I have to go lighter than Cathe on smaller muscle groups (shoulders and biceps especially) to complete the reps.

Others have given breakdowns for each body part. In order, you do standing leg work, then chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps, followed by traditional abs (all crunch variations) and a stretch that's almost all lower-body. Cathe does do some static stretches for upper body between upper-body sets. Seeing as current research shows it decreases muscle strength to do static stretching in the middle of a workout, you might want to save up some of those static stretches for the end of the workout instead (I do simple moves like shoulder rolls or just march in place when she's doing the static stretches).

The best thing about this workout is that there is nothing complicated at all about the strength moves. If you want to see how to do a squat, deadlift, chest press or overhead press with impeccable form, get this workout. For that reason I think it's a great starter workout for beginners. Even if you can't use a 35# barbell for biceps curls (and who can?), you'll learn how to do barbell curls safely and effectively. The length and variety of exercises also make it perfect for intermediates and advanced exercisers.

Equipment for this workout: step used in the warmup and as a weight bench (for chest press, chest fly, skullcrushers, stabilizer for one-arm rows, etc.), moderate to heavy dumbbells and a barbell. The barbell is nice but optional; every barbell move can be done with dumbbells instead. You'll also want a mat or thick towel for the ab work.

The music is generic Muzak, more there as background filler than anything you'd want to listen to actively. It has a distinct enough beat to keep pace but is unmemorable.

This workout is LONG - I clock 72 minutes before pausing to adjust barbell plates, sip water and record my weights for each exercise. It is very easy to break into a lower body-upper body split, or pick out two bodyparts to do at a time.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is extremely professional. Her form is great and form pointers are excellent.



Type of Workout - Total Body Strength Training
Instructor - Cathe Friedrich
Level - Intermediate to Advanced
Length - 75 minutes
Equipment Used - barbell, dumbbells, step

This is a total body strength workout created back in the 90s, but it's still a very useful, tough workout today. The DVD starts off with a great step workout warm up. During the actual workout, she uses a 35 lb. barbell and dumbells ranging from 8-20 pounds. Although she uses a barbell in many of her exercises, you could probably substitute for dummbbells.

She does about 8-16 reps per set, depending on the exercise. Each body part has its own section and there are form pointers given before each section starts. That gives you a little time to set up. There are also form pointers given throughout the workouts.

This is one TOUGH workout. I must admit, I did not make it all the way through the abs section. I was sweating and tired. Funny, but when I do Cathe's workouts, I sweat as though I'm working out at the gym. I don't normally sweat in weight workouts, so I was surprised and pleased. Cathe is very encouraging and offers many form pointers throughout.

CONS: Small things: the music sounds a lot like elevator music. Maybe I've been spoiled by Christi Taylor, but I didn't like the muisc at all. I like something with a faster beat to it, even for strength training. Or at least something with a little bass. I prefer Jari Love's music selections over this DVD's LOL!

I also did not like switching up between so much equipment or so many exercises. One would swtich from bar to dummbells to bench and back again. It seemed like I was always up and down. I don't mind setting up an exercise in the beginning of a section, but having to do it in the middle of a section was a little tedious. I guess I will get used to it.

As for switching up between so many exercises, it was like she would do only one set of something and then switch immediately to doing two sets of something else. For instance, she did two sets of nosecrackers, followed by one set of French presses, and then went immediately to a standing exercise. The exercises just didn't really seem to flow in some parts. Also, the length of the DVD made it boring for me. It did not go by fast for me, like a Jari DVD.

All in all, I would recommend this DVD for someone that doesn't mind dated looks or bad music. It's extremely effective and I see myself using it in my rotation a bit. As for the length, it can be easily broken up over two days.

Rating: B-

Instructor Comments:
Cathe cues great and was a professional.



With strength work, I am an intermediate exerciser, who doesn’t really want to move up to advanced work. Most of the time, I do traditional strength work with weight. However, I have enjoyed branching out into Pilates and workouts on the ball as well.

This is the first Cathe workout I tried. It is a well-done workout – Cathe’s form is impeccable, her instruction is clear and precise, the background exercisers are fit and admirable, and it hits every area of the body. I felt VERY worked out after using this video. However, I found I did not use it very often. The dread factor of this workout was high and I just did not enjoy it. I ended up trading it after using it several times.

Instructor Comments:
She is an incredible instructor, teaching constantly.

Laura S.


Cathe Friedrich Maximum Intensity Strength (MIS)

Workout Type: Total Body Weightwork

Workout Length: warmup - 5 min. Lower Body standing work - 25 min. Upper Body - 35.30 min. Abs - 9min. Stretch - 3min.

Fitness Level: Geared for Intermediate or Advanced. (But if beginners do not use heavy weights such as 3lb, then they can do it)

Equipment: Step, Barbell or Dumbells or both, chair or bench if avail. mat, pushup bars.

Set: very simple , wood floor, slabs of wall in brick green and slabs of light blue.

Attire: Cathe - blue top and shorts, 2 cast members wear red tops, and 2 wear blue tops, all four wear black shorts.

Effectiveness: Depending on how much weight you use, how you will experience it. You can easily max yourself up in weights because she takes you through the movements slowly enough to heavy up.

Music: Techno with a nice beat. Terrific! IMO!

Presentation: You are never bored, you'll be too busy just working hard and keeping up.

Abbreviations used: QS - Quick Stretch

Before the workout, Cathe gives instructions for 1.30min.

Warm up: 5min. on step
basics, corner to corner, straddles, squats, lunges and pliees.

Stretches: 90min.

at 6.15min. Lower Body Workout Begins .. Cathe tells you she is using 35lb Barbell, 12 and 10 lb dumbells, and an 8 inch step
of course she encourages you to use whatever weight you wish.

Squats (Barbell)
16x 3 - count hold then up 4x QS
16x repeat QS

Static Lunges (Barbell)
16x each leg then QS
16x repeat QS

Pliee Squats
14x then hold at bottom repeat

Good Mornings (quarter deadlifts)
12x halfway up

Dips - she uses 12lb dbs.
4 3 - count at bottom then 16x 1st leg
repeat 2nd leg QS

Dips off Box with dumbells in hands - she uses 10 lbs.
8x per leg then 4x per leg then 2x per leg then alternating singles per leg - 4x

at 25min. Upper Body
Pushups - 16x

pec lifts - 8x
then 8 with 3 count down

pec flies - (she uses 20 lbs dumbells per hand)
2 count up + 2 count down - 8x
then 1 count up 3 count down - 8x QS

Pushups - 16x

pec lifts - 8x
then 8 with 3 count down

pec flies - (she uses 20 lbs dumbells per hand)
2 count up + 2 count down - 8x
then 1 count up 3 count down - 8x QS

at 33.25min. One arm Lat rows
R - 16x
L - 16x
R - 16x
L - 16x QS

at 37min.
Bent Rows w/ barbell 16x
Bent Rows w/ barbell underhand grip 16x

Reverse Flies (she uses 10lb db's) 16x
Reverse Flies (she uses 8lb db's) 12x QS

Shoulders: Upright row w/ barbell 16x QS
Upright row w/ barbell 12x QS

Overhead Presses 12x QS
then 8x QS

at 45min. Lateral raises w/ bent arm 12x (10lbs)
10x 3 - count down 8lbs QS

Biceps Curl w/ Barbell (she calls this Crazy eights:)
8x halfway up then down
8x from up to halfway down
8x full
8x halfway up then down
8x from up to halfway down
8x full

Hammer Curl w/ dumbells 12x
then 14x per arm , alternate arm w/ twist at top QS

French Press w/ barbell (in laying down position)
12x lift above head
12x bench press lift at waist

Triceps dips off box or step , with barbell on lap 24x
then 16x QS

at 57min. Triceps Kickbacks 12x per arm QS
12x per arm again QS

at 60.30 min. ABS 9min.

Stretches - 3min.

END at 72.30min.

Total Rating: Outstanding total body weights tape, I give it a 10 out of 10. perfect form, perfect music, perfect motivator, it doesn't get better than this.


Instructor Comments:
Instruction: A Formidable instructor! very inspiring, very motivating, matter of fact with charm and a friendly smile. Encourages you to push yourself throughout. not chatty, not perky



This was one of my first weight training videos, and it is definitely a great video to start out with, but it was never a workout I enjoyed doing. Now that I have a wide and varied collection of strength training tapes, I don't need this anymore.

Actually, I always did like the legs portion and used that quite a bit. It was an extremely efficient and effective workout that clocked in under 19 minutes, so it was great to add on to cardio. I also used the abs section a lot, for a tough, straight-forward ab workout.

The upper body section, on the other hand, was pure drudgery to me. I think it is only about 35 minutes, but it felt like an hour. Cathe moves fairly quickly through the workout without a lot of rest, and this is more of an endurance workout. However, she uses pretty heavy weights for the pace. I like to try to use the same weights as Cathe, and can do so on most of her later workouts, but this one was always a struggle. It was effective but I never enjoyed it, so I finally gave myself permission to not use this workout anymore.

I still might recommend this to someone who is new to weight training or Cathe (but don't try to match Cathe's weights). However, if you started with her other strength workouts and want to try this, you might find it boring or dated compared to her later releases.

Lisa C


This is an intense total-body strength workout that offers many options for intermediate and advanced exercisers. Cathe carefully instructs the routine with heavy barbells; I was using dumbbells and was able to follow just fine.

The 7-minute warm-up is done on a step. If you combine this with the legs section that follows, you’ll get a solid lower body workout for a split routine in just under half an hour. If you skip the warm-up, as I did, the leg workout is about 19 minutes---I combined this with a half-hour floor work only tape and feel I worked the legs thoroughly. Others have already broken down the exercises in this part, so I’ll just chime in and say be careful with this tape if your knees are at all iffy. This is 19 minutes of continuous squats, lunges, dips and pulses---no lift or extension work to break things up. Form is very important. If you are at all in doubt about your balance abilities, forgo the weights and hang on to a chair to keep yourself centered. I did this without weights and still felt it since the moves are continuous, and high-rep.

The chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps sections together add up to almost half an hour. Each body part gets several exercises, performed twice each. For some sets, such as back, you do each set one after the other. For others such as chest you superset and do one set of each move, then start from the beginning. I appreciated the way Cathe did stretches in between. The tape closes with almost ten minutes of abs and stretching work.

I really enjoyed Cathe’s teaching manner. She has a great personality, instructs very thoroughly, and does stretches throughout. I liked the way the tape was broken into sections, with clear divisions in between to allow people to mix and match their own workouts. I did, however, have a few complaints.

First, Cathe seems a bit random in telling you how many reps there will be. Once I came on VF and read Wendy’s breakdown, I realized that there was a pattern of 12-16 reps, but when I first did the workout, the reps seemed endless as I never knew how many there would be. I also think Cathe was a bit random in which exercises got a standard second set and which got the faster-paced pulse variation. I was trying to raise my weights for the second set, and found myself getting frustrated when she surprised me with a pulse set that was too fast-paced for me to do so.

Overall though, I am pleased with the workout I got here. This is an excellent tape to grow with, as its structure allows you to modify with light weights, while more advanced users can truly go heavy. The lower body section is a bit twingy for the knees, but the upper body workout is one I could see myself coming back to time and again.



It's interesting to look at this video from the perspective of a few years.. This was a watershed video. Up until this time (1998) there were no real serious strength training videos on the market. The Firm had their videos, but they were not straightforward gym style strength training. Their production values kept the "femininity factor" high so as not to scare women away from using weights. Kathy Smith had released a set of strength videos, where she touted the benefits of using heavy weights, but proceeded to demonstrate the exercises with light weights, or none at all in the lower body tape.

This was not unusual at the time. Woman were training with heavy weights in gyms all over the world, but in the fitness video industry it was widely believed that videos requiring the use of weights, especially heavy ones, simply wouldn't sell.

Into all this comes Cathe Friedrich, a fitness instructor and gym owner from New Jersey. She had built up a reputation by making step aerobic videos that were tough and fast paced with interesting choreography. "Maximum Intensity Strength" was a total departure from this. One of her previous videos "Get In Shape for Your Wedding" had had a strength training section, but it was the typical light weight workouts shown on videos at the time.

"Maximum Intensity Strength" was a blast of cold fresh air. It was the first of its kind. Cathe, a short, tiny woman demonstrated gym style weight lifting using substantial weights on a video tape for the first time. The step aerobics warm-up is in Cathe's traditional style, except that she does include a few calf raises at the end of it to compensate for the fact that they're not included in the workout itself. Then she and her crew appear with real barbells loaded with real weights (35lbs, she tells us) and proceed to do at least two sets of 40 squats, and move on from there. There's no doubt about it, this is real weight lifting. It's not some sissified version of it. It was the first time a serious free weight workout had ever been shown on a tape at all, much less one geared to women, and it was Cathe Friedrich who had the courage to do it.

The opening leg workout is about 20 minutes in length and consists of a high number of repetitions done with what would be considered moderate weights in most gyms. However no one had ever demonstrated a leg workout with such heavy weights on a video before, or, for that matter, such a high number of repetitions. Trying to equal Cathe's feat of doing the workout with a thirty-five pound barbell on her shoulders pushed many women to a new level of ftness prowess that they didn't know they could achieve. The leg exercises are done in straight sets, one after another with only slight rests between them. This is followed by an upper body and ab workout which is structured somewhat differently.

It is divided into sections for each of the major upper body muscle groups as well as the abdominal muscles. She does two sets of three different exericses for each upper body muscle group. Again, the lifting is done in straight, uninterrupted sets with much heavier weights than you usually see in most videos. Cathe also gives brief little snippets of instruction on form before doing each exercise. The set is basic CIA, and the only equipment required are dumbells, a barbell and an aerobic step used in place of a weight bench. You can't get much simpler than that, yet this tape will get your muscles into better shape than most expensive home gyms. The upper body portion, because it's divided into sections, is longer than the lower body portion of the workout. The abdominal section is about 10 minutes of intense, traditional ab exercises, followed by a gentle ending stretch.

This is one of the main drawbacks of the workout. It's just plain long, at least 75 minutes including the warm-up, abs and cooldown. Very few busy people have that kind of uninterrupted workout time. Still I'm glad Cathe put the workout on one tape rather than two and charging more. I would suggest that the best way to use the tape is to split it up and do it over two days rather than all at once. This allows you to really concentrate on the half of the body you're working. Then if you get a free day, try and do the whole thing, because if you do have the time, it will certainly build your endurance level and be a real calorie burner, especially if you use challenging weights.

One question frequently asked on the forum is, "can it be modified for beginners and intermediates?" The answer is, "it depends." Almost any weight training tape can be modified by using less weight for the exercises, but it's not always that simple. Since this tape is long, it requires a lot of endurance just to get through it, so beginners and intermediates should definitely divide it up. The step warm-up could also cause problems for a beginner, so it might be best to warm-up with another tape or on your own. The lower body portion is challenging even if you use nothing but your own body weight as resistance, so beginners should not try and do every repetition. They may also have to go slower than Cathe does because the pace is fairly fast. The upper body portion (except for the push-ups and tricep dips) is much easier to modify because you can simply lower the amount of weight used. The ab workout is also high in fast repetitions, and comes at the end of a very long workout, so beginners shouldn't try to keep up, and should consider performing this section on the following day.

Cathe uses both dumbells and a barbell. It's not necessary to have a barbell to do the tape, but the viewer must have enough knowledge to know how to hold the dumbells to substitute for the barbell. You don't always hold them in exactly the same fashion. With these precautions, I think the tape could be used by beginners and intermediates, but, let's face it, this would be an intimidating tape with which to begin weight training. The same qualities that make it so attractive to advanced exercisers who want to use heavy weights may turn off some beginners. That said however, you defnitely get a lot of workout for your money, and the video provides lots of room to grow and grow. You can go from using no extra weight all to the heaviest weights possible for the number of repetitions demonstrated. For my money, that makes it one of the best fitness investments I've ever made. This tape not only deserves its "Hall of Fame" status, it's the tape that revolutionized weight training at home, especially for women. However this tape is so challenging that even men pay it proper respect. I don't think anyone who is serious about weight training at home should be without this video.

Jane P


This is a video that gives you an advanced weight training workout. Cathe really burns the muscle out. It feels as if your doing 200 reps not 16. This is one of the toughest weight training workouts I have ever done. I know that no matter what videos i buy, this will always remain one of my favorites.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe brings her intensity from her step workouts to this workout. Her use of techniques such as negatives really burn the muscle. Congrats to cathe on making a superb video and being able to finish it with a 35lb barrbell.

pat griffin


Maximum Intensity Strength is an all-strength exercise video. While not designed as a cardio workout, it becomes so anyway because of the sheer intensity of the weight work.

As a fitness professional myself of some 20+ years, and having taught advanced cardio and strength-training boot camps myself, I find Cathe's videos exceptional in that you cannot find a tougher workout anywhere.

This video begins with a tough step aerobics warmup. From there, each body part has its own portion of the video, beginning with legs and buttocks, chest, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, abs, stretches.

Totally comprehensive in scope for strength-work, I'd have liked a tad more hamstring work than was there, but that's a minor flaw in an otherwise flawless strength tape.

MIS is a major muscle workout, to be done no more than 3x weekly, maximum. Cathe's other videos, all advanced, are the perfect rounding out of a total fitness program, with the possible exception of a Yoga/Meditation video, which she does not tackle - and shouldn't.

In short, this professional has waited quite a few decades for Cathe Friedrich to grow into the stunningly superb instructor she now is. For those people who are stuck with "celebrity" videos, I'd strongly recommend trying Cathe Friedrich's videos, and growing into them.

Instructor Comments:
Now the Reigning Queen of Advanced Exercise Videos, I consider Cathe Friedrich to be the best there is, and I've seen them all. While many home-exercisers may not be familiar with her videos because they're not highly-publicized nor available in video stores (yet), she truly has no equal in her professionalism, consideration for safety, flawless cueing, and kick-tush workouts.

Meriam Matthews


I'm reviewing this after almost a year of doing it. After Pure Strength came out, which is far more thorough, I was afraid MIS was going to fade into the background *gulp*. This tape is my first love, the one that that introduced me to gym-style lifting, the one that gave me most of the muscle I have. Before it, I was doing mostly one or two FIRM tapes for weight training. MIS is tough, but I was definitely an intermediate exerciser at best when I bought this and not only was it not too tough but I progressed very quickly. This video is very adaptable to your fitness level.

I do miss the feeling of doing this entire video and feeling a real sense of accomplishment-- I'd do it on my first day off during my work week and after 75 minutes, all the frustration of the week had just melted off. The music is great, Cathe is a lot of fun and the form pointers and positive attitude made me love weight training even more. For awhile there I just really wanted to do nothing but this video. Now I use this video to cross train with others, especially Cathe's new Pure Strength series, which shocked my system and gave me more development very quickly.

The only things I don't like about this video are:

1. The leg work goes awfully fast, and your heart rate sometimes gets so high that you can't focus on what you're doing. PS Legs is far better, but MIS legs doubles for me as a good cardio workout too, since I'm gasping and panting at the end.

2. I never saw any chest development with this tape, and I think it's because she does all the chest work on a flat bench. My recommendation would be to do all the chest work on an inclined bench so you can hit those visible upper chest muscles. Maybe others' experience would be different, but I have a very large chest and so development is difficult to see anyway.

3. No calf work! It's hard to have muscular-looking legs without calf work, even if you have natural calves.

But, if I had to pick one tape in my collection I could never give up that is worth its weight in gold, it is this tape. I don't think any collection is complete without it, even if you own Cathe's new Pure Strength series. So this is a year's worth of MIS experience talking, rather than just a couple of sessions or a previewing. This tape ridded me of my cellulite. No kidding. You will see results with this tape and come to think of Cathe as your personal trainer very quickly.

Sara Whitney


I love using my Firm parts video's for strengthening and toning, but I wanted to find something else out there for variety. After seeing great reviews from everyone on MIS, I decided to buy it. I was a little scared that it would actually be harder than Standing Legs and Tough Tape. I would have to say, for the most part, it's comparable. I found the leg section of MIS challenging (I used a 35 lb barbell and 15lb & 12lb dumbells as called), but not as challenging at SL or TT. I think because it's not as long... I'm not sure why. It's still very good and it'll be just the the variety I was seeking. I found the arm segments to be very tough. I think MIS is a little bit harder than Firm's Upper Body mainly because you do the reps at a slower tempo. I find I am able to use a heavier weight this way. UB is still good and I will continue to use it (and ,of course, Cory's Get Hard Arms too) as part of my rotation. The ab section is really tough - I liked that! Nothing fancy. Lot's of crunches.

Overall, I think this is a great strength tape for your whole body. Cathe does a great job covering every area. You work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, inner and outer thighs, hips, abs, triceps, biceps, back, shoulders, chest....I think I covered everything! She does an excellent job giving you pointers before each set. Plus, what else I liked was that she told you what size weight she was using (I always hated that the FIRM didn't do that!). I find that that really helps me gage where I should be. Oh, and the best part is she stretches after nearly all the sets, and believe me, you are very happy she does that! It's great for the muscles you're working and it's even better to get that break you'll desperately need! Cathe also uses her step for these exercises. If you don't own one, you can still use this tape and get a great workout.

If you're looking for another total body stength video besides the Firm Parts, this is it. You won't be disappointed!

Instructor Comments:
I have to say that the first thing I noticed about this tape was the music in the warmup. It reminded me of the theme from Match Game or the music they played in the background for Starsky & Hutch. Real funky-like! But that's ok, it was fun to listen to. Cathe is great. She's a wonderful instructor and has a fabulous body. I really liked her personality a lot!

Diana mason


In general, I like this video. I have been training with weights for over 10 years and I am a certified personal trainer, and my one criticism of this video is that I believe that the amount of weight that is used (i.e. the 35 lb. barbell and 20 lb. dumbells) may be too heavy for many exercisers (even advanced exercisers). The reps for some exercises are too fast and there are sometimes too many reps for the amount of heavy weight used. However, I think that the format is very good, with separate sections for each body part. Most sections incorporate three exercises per body part. Cathe uses good form. The abdominal section is thorough. Cathe is inspiring, but people have to be careful not to push beyond what is safe for them.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe Friedrich is knowledgeable about weight-training, as is evident by the muscular development she has attained. She is careful to give pointers regarding form. I have been working out with all her videotapes for the past ten years and I like her style and friendly approach.



Maximum Intensity Strength is a total body weight training video. Using this video will definitely help you build muscle. First is a brief cardio warm up with some stretches and then its on to the weightlifting portions.

First your lower body is worked completely by doing squats, hover squats, dips, plie squats, and quarter deadlifts. Cathe has you do two sets of each exercise. This is enough for me. I like that all the floor work is done with standing exercises using heavy weights. Cathe also has you stretch in between sets.

The upper body section is divided into: chest, back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. All are worked well with building and toning exercises. Again, two sets for each exercise. You also stretch between sets during all the different segments of the upper body section.

Finally, Cathe works your abs and then briefly stretches your whole body.

I really enjoy using this tape because it is motivating! I did a similar routine at the gym and find it much more enjoyable and convenient to work out at home. I have had to purchase a barbell and plates to continue to build muscle, but find the investment well worth it. Building muscle helps you burn fat, increases your metabolism, and helps your bones stay strong. This tape can be done with light weights to start. You can then add weight as you get stronger. Don't let the title intimidate you!

Instructor Comments:
Cathe cues very well. In MIS she provides form pointers to help you remember the proper techniques to use. I find her to be an upbeat, motivating instructor.

Beth Dillman


Well, there is no doubt in my mind that this video will build some serious muscles in one's body. I also think it is one of the best strength-training videos out there for getting your form correct (typical Cathe Friedrich form pointers are scattered throughout).

Having done Firm videos for many years, I thought that I would be able to handle a 35 pound barbell, no problem. Yeah right. I found I could use it for the leg portion, but not the upper body. Lowering the weights to 25 pounds helped for some of it, but other moves, I am embarassed to say, I had to use my ten pound hand weights. This video definitely shows you where you need to work on your strength!

Although I do like this video, I found some of the moves rather monotonous, as she usually does two longs sets of each. Also, although the back of the video says it's only 60 minutes, the warm up and cool down make it a lot longer. All in all, I give this one a B+.

Carolyn Sproule


Thanks to all the other reviewers who wrote in such glowing, thoughtful reviews of this video. This feedback, combined with the advice of the Collage video sales consultant convinced me to order the video (even with the US exchange rate of over $1.53 Canadian to each US dollar!). I only have one other strength training video (Rachel McLish's 1995 video), but I prefer this one, hands down. The workout is advanced - challenging to say the least. I've used weight machines in the gym, but never used a barbell. So, I began with only 15 pounds. I did the video for my first time this morning and enjoyed it. You can really feel the muscles working - heaven help me tomorrow and the next day when the soreness really sets in.

I do have pain behind the knee cap, and was unable to do lunges off the step. For now, I do them on the floor and it is plenty hard enough.

Instructor Comments:
She offers plenty of encouragement without being overly chatty. Her cuing is excellent and she knows her physiology. She is very petite but buffed!

Caroline M.


Maximum Intensity Cardio and Maximum Intensity Strength is a cross training set. Each tape is modular so you can essentially design your own workout. You can do only the hi/lo section or just the step or the entire tape. In Maximum Intensity Strength, you can work upper body, then lower body. Teacher that she is, Cathe always tells you to listen to your body and take the day off if you need to after doing vigorous exercise.

MI Cardio begins with the warm-up and some basic low impact aerobics consisting of grapevines, L steps and big arms movements. If this sounds boring, she does have to turning away from your tv set and ending up of the right side. This is really an extended warmup for mixed impact which has some classic floor aerobic moves. Then comes all out high impact "making a comeback" as she says. This is the "boot camp section" Tough, challenging, and gets the job done. Cathe could get a following of floor aerobic fans too! The step follows the same format, getting tougher and ending with all out high impact and plyometrics.

MI Strength is my favorite of the two. Besides the Firm, there are few serious weight training video workouts. There are weight training intruction, but not the same as a do along video. This does both. Even a beginer can learn proper form just using a 9 lb bodybar, 5 lb dumbells and doing just one set. Cathe uses a 35 lb barbell and 10, 15, and 20 lb dumbells; athletes and bodybuilders can probably go much heavier.

There's a brief but invigorating step warmup and a stretch to get the muscles ready to work. Lower body is first with classic squats and variation of lunges and dips.

The upper body is divided into chest, back, triceps, biceps , shoulders and then abs. The pushup -benchpress -pushup is grueling, straight outta the gym while those barbell crazy 8s will definately five you some GI Janes arms. In all section Cathe does two sets of 12 to 16 reps so you'll really feel your muscles work. There are also excellent stretches between each set. Even though your heart rate will rise, THIS IS NOT AN AEROBIC WORKOUT! This is to build muscular strength and endurance. It's nice for the heart in a way, but proper form and control is essential. She works the negative and positive , lowering the weight is just as important as lifting the weight. In weight training, you can take a rest and shake your muscles out. Never compromise proper form. But Cathe tells you all of this.

All in all these are two videos that belong in any video exerciser's library. A+ and Thumbs up.

Instructor Comments:
I'm a Cathe Friedrich neophyte. I've beeen doing video exercise for about 2 1/2 years. One doesn't do video exercise for long before hearing Cathe Friedrich mention over and over and over again. Her videos are not available in stores. Collage Videos rave over her advanced step aerobis. The fitness magazine constanly give her video high ratings. Kacy Duke, a fitness expert herself and who write the reviews for FIT MAGAZINE write glowing reviews. So I decided to see what the hubbub was about and ordered Step Fit because it had a longer stretch section and the end. I was hooked. Yeah, she whoops and hollers and never lets ups and somehow manages to keep you on the right foot "Get on the right lead." Her cuing is flawless and above all, viewer friendly. She is aware of the challeges of the home viewer try to do complex choreography. So beginner and intermediates take heart, you'll get there. I consider myself an advanced intermediate and Cathe just makes you wanna take fitness higher.

jean leslie wakefield


WOW! I am a diehard Firmie, and this tape is as good as any of the Firm strength videos. I will not repeat what others have said, except to say that anyone who loves the Firm's strength training cannot go wrong with this killer of a video. The people who write on this website are the ultimate authority on what I purchase, and I bought this tape on recommendations here. I was not disappointed---I am thrilled!

I like both Cathe and her cast. I like the music--even more now that I have used it several times. O.K., so her set is not as luxuriously ornate as the Firm's and the wardrobe is not as nice as the Firm's in videos, but as far as pure effectiveness and fun go, it's here.

You will be totally WIPED OUT after this video. I used 40 pound barbell for the lower body and then lightened up to 25 pounds during the arm sections. What a workout!

I guarantee that this will be one video you will keep. If you want a serious weight workout, this tape is for you!

Grade: A+

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is one of the best for an advanced exerciser. Her cueing is flawless, and she is a very motivating instructor. Her comments are just enough to encourage you over the edge throughout this very difficult workout.

Amy Steppe


I have always concentrated on the cardio aspect of working out. I have numerous tapes (75) and finally found Cathe.

I was very reluctant to buy this tape, however, from the minute I started it was a challenge. She varies the weights poundage, type of weights to use and the program. She never not boring.

For a change with a strength training tape I actually sweated! I was not aware of the type of music that was played because I truly was "in the zone" training with this tape.

Kudos for this tape and to Cathe. Working out at home is an absolute pleasure thanks to her.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe Friedrich is everything an intermediate or advance workout student should want. Her cuing is excellent and her choreography is always a challenge.

Sandy Brookens


I made this purchase after reading the review and I am in agreement with other reviews. This is the best strength tape I own. The first time I used the tape, I fell short of completing the end (abs) because I was so drained but I pushed the next time and am doing better. (what do you want from me, I'm 51 years old!) I will finish next time just in case their is a chance I will ever look like the instructor.

The other participants in the video are also serious about their workout. They are all shapes and sizes and use various weights.

The workout itself is never boring. I found it fun to use and let me warn ya - you will be sore for a few days but feeling very good about yourself. I recommend this tape to people who are ready to move on to the next fitness plateau.

Instructor Comments:
Wow- this woman is seriously in to the workout. The first time I used the video, I felt she was probably one of the most motivating instructors I have on tape. Cathe motivates me to go on when I don't think I can do one more rep.



This is an amazing video. Talk about "Grrrrl Power". Well in this case - Woman Power. However, this tape is geared towards any gender (thankfully no mention made of the pelvic floor!). I won't describe its content, as this has been done so well, by so many. I used to be someone who complained about doing strength training, who always gave up on it, and who had to always start out with vinyl coated 3lb dumbbells for doing shoulder work. I admit that I'm not nearly at the weight that many of you are, but I own a barbell now, and I do strength training 3x a week, thanks to Cathe! (No, I don't do this tape 3x a week, just once, because I want that all important variety).

I hope Cathe continues to put out good videos. I will continue to buy them. Especially with the fantastic service (ordered tapes on wednesday, got them FRIDAY). The FIRM really better watch out, because once Cathe puts out her 6 new videos, I'm going to probably get rid of some of my Firm cross trainers to make room for Cathe's tapes!!!

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is phenomenal. I have to confess to trading away Step Jam, but I think that was more due to my burned-out state where step aerobics was concerned (I'd been doing step, and only step for about 6 years). Cathe's style is fantastic. She comes across as warm, friendly, serious about fitness, and very powerful. I'm impressed with the quality and quantity of her videos. I'm impressed that she has a website, even though she said in her interview that she would probably be the last person to get into cyberspace. I've been in "cyberspace" as long as she's been teaching aerobcs (before ISPs - I'm a software engineer)... but Cathe's website, and of course, video fitness, are the top two places I visit now!



I have used other strength videos (Firm) for about nine years now and have been looking for a more challenging weight lifting video for a long time. This tape is exactly what I've been looking for. I love using very heavy weights and I'm glad that Cathe wasn't afraid to use heavy weights on this video. Another reason I love this tape is the variety, especially the upper body exercises. I feel like The Firm concentrates more on the lower body and leaves the upper body to some basic moves (used in every video). MIS includes bench presses, flyes, crazy 8's, tricep dips, alot of variety. Most leg exercises are all the same on just about every video, lunges, squats, dips, etc. Cathe has these as well but includes some extras such as quarter deadlifts and plie squats using her 35 lb. barbell (very tough). Cathe's ab work is always killer and this tape is no different. One final reason why I love this video is that this is the first video I've bought that I didn't have to go to the store and buy some kind of equipment before I could do the video. I can't wait for another great strength video from Cathe.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is by far one of the best step instructors on video and now she is branching out into strength videos. Her cueing is always right on and she gives excellent form pointers before each section and during the exercises.

Wendy M


This is the only tape that I have ever given the status of MUST do once a week. I have others that I intend to do once a week, but I don't get concerned or hyper if I don't. This is different. It is the best full-body strength tape ever, and I will never part with it! The results, doing it just once a week, are incredible. (Provided I use the correct weight for me, and don't slack off!)

The only thing I don't like about the tape is the warmup, so I just do my own. Not a big deal. I don't do Cathe's because I like to arrange my step at the beginning with 3 risers to do the strength exercises. The warmup is a step routine, and not one I would do with 3 risers! I guess you could call it laziness, but I don't want to have to stop after the warmup and adjust my step again.

I *highly* recommend this workout for advanced exercisers, even if you're not a Cathe fan. I wasn't, but now I'm converted. Grade A+.

Instructor Comments:

Annie S.


There are numerous reviews of this video on here that I have read--all of them good. I would just like to add that I love this video!! It is serious strength training from beginning to end. Cathe gives us something to work toward. The weights she uses amazes me, and I hope I see the day where I can use the weights she uses. But that will depend on me. Get this video if you are serious about your workouts!!!!!

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is awesome. No other comment.

Melanie Higgins


Many comments have already been made, so I'll try to keep this brief. Many people have been saying that this workout is much harder than The Firm. This may be, but what strikes me is that the overall quality is much better than the Firm. You know exactly what muscles you're working, and have form pointers out the wazoo. I also like how Cathe tells you exactly what weight she is using. In some ways, The Firm almost seems embarrassing by comparison. This is a must-buy for anyone who wants to do some serious weights but have been turned off by the cheesy music, ta-da poses, etc, of The Firm.

Jen Blaske


This review is to get this tape into the Hall of Fame - as everyone already knows, it is the best strength tape of all time. Cathe has been my favorite instructor for years and with her first true strength tape, she outshines herself. A must-have tape for the serious exerciser.

maryann parker


When I ordered this tape I thought it might be a good, lighter supplement to my Firm workouts. After all, I helped begin this website with my initial reviews on the Firm and answered the questions listed in the Firm FAQ. People referred to me as the "Firm Queen". Well, sorry Firm fans, I must terminate my queen status and pass along my crown to Cathe for creating the very best strength video money can buy!

This is serious stuff. She told us "We've got work to do, girls!" in her "Wedding" video, but that is nothing compared to the work you'll be doing here. Cathe effectively targets every major muscle group with a variety of exercises using both a 35 lb (!!!) barbell (Try holding one of these babies behind your neck for squats and lunges, or even worse, using it for upper body work like bicep curls and overhead presses - it's not a simple feat and Cathe is in *incredible* shape for such a tiny person! Her strength is amazing!!) and various size dumbbells. This is also a long workout, and despite the fact that's it's not aerobic, your heart rate will soar and you will burn calories.

The video begins with a fun step warm-up and stretch, and progesses into a challenging segment for the lower body which includes squats, lunges, dips, plie squats, dead lifts, and lunges off the step. Chest work is next, followed by back work, shoulders, biceps, triceps and abdominals. I am rather delerious by the time ab work rolls around and therefore cursing every single rep. It's also the point where my cats think the workout is over and start to weave around me demanding attention.

Cathe builds in much needed rest/stretch periods between each set of exercises, something many video instructors neglect. This little recovery period not only releases tension in both the working and stabilizer muscles, but also enables you to use a slightly heavier weight in your next set (Well, if you're feeling really strong, that is!). I also like the fact that she completely fatigues, if not exhausts, each muscle group separately versus changing from one group to another (ala Firm). I can already see benefits in both strength and defintion from one month of using this tape.

Now I won't be putting my Firm videos on the exchange since acquiring MIS, but I will be using them to cross-train with on a regular basis. However, if Cathe keeps cranking out strength workouts like this the Firm is going to have some serious competition!

Instructor Comments:
I thought Cathe was only widely known for her killer cardio workouts. Hah!! Maximum Intensity Strength is the best new strength video on the market, bar-none!



I would never have thought I could get a strength workout this thorough and intense at home. What a deal! While sometimes I balk at the 75 minute length, I couldn't get a workout this thorough at the gym in less than 75 minutes and this saves me the driving time. Also, because the tape is broken down by body part, it is very easy to do lower body one day and upper the next, or sometimes I do lower body, chest and back on one day and shoulders, biceps and triceps the next.

I won't go into detail about the format of the workout since that has been covered very well already. I just wanted to add my vote for the Hall of Fame because that is definitely where this video belongs. There are a lot of videos that I like, but not that many that I LOVE and LOVED from the very first time I did it. This was my first Cathe Friedrich tape and what an introduction. I do want to say though, that even if you are not a Cathe step fan, you may very well like this video anyway. Because it is a strength workout instead of aerobic, Cathe seems a little more serious and there is very little whooping or superfluous chatter. She's still very upbeat though and I was really impressed with this introduction to her. I do like her step tapes but I like this one better.

I really can't say enough good things about this workout. If you are serious about strength training, you must add this video to your collection!

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is a great motivator. Her cueing is very good, as are her form pointers. She is upbeat but not too cheerleader-like and I really like her style.

Dana S.


This is a serious workout-but alot of fun!!

After I tried MIS a second time I felt energized and can't wait to use the video again. I'm going to try to use it at least 2 times a week, with about 2 to 3 days in between. This video is that intense! Believe me, you are going to need the rest. I was sore for three days afterwards and I've been exercising for 5 years.

Finally, when using this video please listen to your body. Your heart rate can get pretty high-especially during the lower body section. If the weight is too heavy-drop down. again, Cathe has turned out an excellent production!!!!

Instructor Comments:
Again, wonderful instruction from an exciting, let's get to it instructor. She encourages you to listen to YOUR body.

lesia english


This workout is tough, tough, tough. I haven't made it through the first squat segment yet, and I can make it through the "Tough Tape" by Traci Long of the Firm with no problem. You can actually feel your ham strings straining with her squats, and it just gets harder from there. Cathe is motivating, precise, and safety conscious, but boy is this workout tough. She starts with lower body and then works up to every muscle in your upper body. I usually do this workout on Wednesday, because I know I can coast through the rest of the week, secure in the knowledge I have worked out my body to the max.

After lower body, in which you use a 35 lb. barbell and 20 lb. dumbbells, you graduate to a very intense upper body segment using muscles in your lower back you didn't realize you had. After every segment is a rest and a stretch, though, which I am very grateful she included. The upper body segment includes barbells and dumbbells, concentrating on each muscle group individually, and maxing out every one.

The final section is abdominals in which you work through upper, lower, and side muscle without a break. All I can say is Cathe has upped my fitness standard considerably, and I will be looking a lot harder in the future for someone to give me tough workout.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is cut in this video. In some other of her videos, I have noticed she is not as concerned about her fitness level as some of the other athlete/fitness instructors (ie. the Firm). Here it is obvious she worked to have a cut physique and she it motivates me all the more. Her cues couldn't be clearer, and she tries to make every move clear and concise.

Suzi Johnston


This is a really great tape! I did it for the first time yesterday and I'm feeling a pleasant soreness im muscles where I haven't felt soreness in a long time. If you're looking for a serious advanced strength tape look no further than this video because this one delivers the goods.

I used a 25 pound barbell and 12 pounders for the dips. I love those dips off the step. This is the first time I did dips this way and I really like working my quads this way. It's a great change from the leg press. My knees are going to thank me. Next time I'm going to try a 35 barbell for the squats, though. The only muscle Cathe doesn't work for the legs are the calves. I just work them on my own at the end of the lower body section.

There's a good routine for the biceps. I love those hammer curls with 12 pounders. Nice burn there. Those curls with the barbell are tough. I grimaced through them.

Really good chest work. I always liked using the barbell for the bench press and I like those 3 count dumbbell flyes. The abdominal section is short but intense.

I really like the stretches Cathe does after each exercise and the different pointers/tips she gives i.e. for the tricep press with barbell she tells you that you have teacups on your elbows so as not to move your elbows out of position.

This tape will definitely be going into the Hall of Fame. Rating - A+

Instructor Comments:

Terri M.


All I can say is, this video puts the Firm to shame! Those tall box leg presses are NOTHING compared to what Cathe puts you through in the leg/butt section (and the rest of the workout, for that matter). This is an A+++ workout from start to finish. I almost don't want to do my Firm videos anymore because they simply don't compare to this. After doing this video for the first time, I was sore for about 3 full days. I haven't been sore after a Firm video in years. Come to think of it, I don't think I have EVER been sore after a Firm video! And I use some really heavy weights. Oh well, here's the breakdown:

Cathe starts out with a funky step warmup to some new music that has a great beat. The first section is for the legs and butt and it is a killer. She starts out with 2 sets of sqauts, then static lunges on each leg, then plie squats, then regular lunges, then dips off the back of the step, and maybe something else (I can't remember too well, maybe it was from all the sweat dripping into my eyeballs!). And it feels like you are doing about 50 of each move, but it is probably only about 16-24 of each. She does all of this with a 35-pound barbell!!! Can you believe that? I could never imagine using that much weight. I used 2 12-pound hand weights resting on my shoulders throughout the entire leg section which lasted about 20 minutes. It was tough, no doubt about it.

Then comes the upper body workout split up into each muscle group. I used hand weights again for all the upper body exercises and I just varied the weight depending on the exercise. She definitely spends more time on the upper body as a whole than the lower, but that is just fine with me.

She starts with chest work doing pushups, bench press while lying on the step, barbell flys, then repeats that whole series. Then moves to the back with 2 sets of lat rows for each arm, barbell rows with an over hand grip, barbell rows with an underhand grip, and reverse flys. Then some shoulder work with upright rows, side lateral raises, overhead presses, and then something else I think. Next she moves to biceps doing some curls with the barbell and some other curls with hand weights. Next comes triceps, with french presses using the barbell while lying on the step, and then 2 sets of tricep kickbacks for each arm. I may be missing some of the upper body exercises--there were so many!!

Finally, she ends with a really intense ab section. She somewhat neglects the obliques and lower abs, but since I get an overkill of that from Firm workouts, I don't mind just concentrating on the upper abs.

After all that, she does a nice relaxing stretch, and believe me, you will need it. Make sure that you stretch a little longer than she does if necessary, because like I said, I was super sore for several days since the intensity of this workout is more than I usually do. However, after I did the workout a second time, I was only slightly sore. Also, she puts quick stretches and rests in between each set of weight lifting. These small breaks are definitely needed!

All in all, it is an incredible, hard, intense, rewarding workout. I recommend that everyone get a copy of this if you want to take your weight lifting routine to the next level. You won't be disappointed. This tape is sure to hit the Hall of Fame in record time!!

Instructor Comments:
Cathe looks AMAZING!! She is looking more toned and athletic than I have ever seen before. If I can look like that after doing this video twice a week, I'm all for it!!



Finally an advanced workout using heavy dumbells that I can do besides the Firm. It definately does not have the set or "feel" of the Firm but after I finished this workout, I have to say it is tougher than the Firm. The music is good too. I would say that this workout is sorta like Cory Everson's Get Hard Arms and Shoulder's workout. Cathe does a lower body section, back section, shoulder section, chest section, bicep section and tricep section and ab work.

I think Cathe's standing leg work is the best I've seen. There is no floorwork. My inner thighs were killing me with the plies and I have never had plies work for me! Thanks to Cathe, I might be doing them more than inner thigh work. I used my 27 1/2 lb barbell for all the standing work. It was tough although I think I will try 30 lbs next time. I used my 12 lbs dumbells for the dips off the step and dips on the ground. I was thinking that you can replace the dips with Tall box if those of you Firmer's can't do without the tall box. I might try it next time. I wish she did another set of deadlifts. That was a little disappointing but the rest is the best! I might add more deadlifts next time I do it.

I took off 7 1/2 lbs of my barbell for the back work but wish I hadn't. It was a little too easy for me. I used 15lb dumbell for lat row. Boy was my back feeling good after the back work! then I used my 20 Lb barbell for chest work and my 12 lb dumbells. I could barely finish the second set of pushups! I can't believe how strong Cathe is by using 20 lbs for chest flies. We are going to get really strong in our chest if we keep consistant with the chest work. Then the shoulders work was tough with a 20 LB barbell but I could have gone up a couple pounds for the upright rows but the 20 lb barbell was perfect for the bicep work. whew! Those crazy eights are tough! I love it though. For the tricep work, The tricep dips are killers!!! I'm going to add them all the time to my workout. Cathe has you using the barbell for resistance by cradling it your lap. Oh, I forgot to say that I love the way she tells you to hold your barbell for the plies, it really helped me with my form. I used 7 lbs for tricep kickbacks but had to go down to 6. Cathe is so strong to use 10 Lbs!!! I am still amazed. I love her ab work too.You never get a rest. My chest was quivering so much when I was doing the chest work squeeze with the abs that I had to put my hands behind my head to modify. Excellent music for the ab work! Music is really important for me when I workout. It has to be very motivating and I think Cathe did a superb job at picking great music. Everything about this workout is thumbs up for me!

My buns and hamstrings and quads were burning so much! More than ever. It sorta was the same feeling I feel when I do the Firm 1 lower body floor work but without having to go down on the floor.

I highly recommend this tape to any advanced exerciser. You will not be dissappointed!

Instructor Comments:
For me Cathe is the Queen of Step and now she has come up with a fantastic total body advaced weight training video. Her form and cueing are great. I like the fact that she is using heavy weights to challenge herself on this video. You are sweating away with her. You can see her getting to failure when she barely can make the last overhead press rep! Cathe's face has always reminded me of Princess Diana and now with Cathe's new haircut that looks like Princess Di's, she's a Princess Diana look-alike. I think Princess Di will live on through Cathe. Maybe I should call her the Princess of step.

Mandy Lee


I loved this workout. It's very hard to find solid weight workouts for advanced exercisers on videos these days. I found the upper body workout (Wendy gave a great description of it in her review) much harder than that in the Firm. She works every muscle of your upper body (and believe me you can feel it when you're done!) The lower body workout was very good also, although I do think the Firm's Tortoise is a little tougher. The abs were pretty difficult for me (especially after all that work) and I almost didn't make it through it. All in all, my body was quivering after that workout and I was definitely sore the next day. I was glad I didn't do the Maximum Cardio tape on the same day! Great workout for advanced exercisers.

Instructor Comments:
Once again, Cathe's wonderful in this video. She gives you plenty of instructions so you know exactly the right form and you can see her struggle a bit with some of the harder reps...which makes you feel just a little better about your quivering muscles!

Paige Perkerson


What can I say that Wendy hasn't already said?? I love this video and plan on doing it twice a week. I feel this video will really build muscle and burn fat. Cathe sheds new light on the use of a barbell and I think you can really grow with this workout. My legs were shaking so much when I got done with the lowerbody workout I knew it was going to be tough!! I love how you get to stretch out after each little segment, at least you get a little well deserved rest. Cathe is constantly giving pointers on form and she really seems to know what she is talking about in this video. Cathe is more toned than I have ever seen her, you can tell she has worked very hard to produce this video. I highly recommend it even to the beginner, you can start light and go heavier as you get stronger or really challenge yourself. During the second set of military presses you can see Cathe shaking the whole way up and back down so she is working just as hard as you are. Excellent video!!!

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is at her best in this video. She has a no nonsense approach and I love her teaching style.

Dawn Henson


The folks at Step N Motion were kind enough to express mail me a pre-release copy of Maximum Intensity Strength! Here are my first impressions:

Wow! Cathe has come up with a terrific, thorough strength workout that will challenge even the most dedicated FIRM believer. The sets are 8-16 reps, Cathe uses a 35 lb. barbell and dumbells ranging from 8-20 pounds. I used dumbells since I don't own a barbell--they worked fine, but I think this tape has made me decide to go get that barbell after all.

Each body part has its own section, which would be good if you ever want to tack on a section to another tape. Before each section, Cathe gives you an important form pointer for that section. Then, during the workout she gives more form pointers--lots of 'em. At one point she reminds you that it's OK if you can't keep up with the beat of the music, that form is more important. Step N Motion is finishing up a page of form pointers for their Web site with pictures--that should be helpful, too. After most exercises Cathe does a quick stretch for that body part--I like that. It's one thing I always appreciated in Tortoise/Tough Tape.

Here are the segments in order--segment lengths are approximate. With the beginning comments, I guess that makes about a 75 min. workout:

Step Warm up: 6 1/2 min.
Buttocks and legs: 19 min.
Chest: 8 1/2 min.
Back: 7 1/2 min.
Shoulders: 5 1/2 min.
Biceps: 5 1/2 min.
Triceps: 8 min.
Abs: 8 1/2 min.
Stretch: 3 min.

The warm up starts out similar to her step warm ups, then proceeds to slow back lunges and squats to get the blood flowin'.

The buttocks and legs section uses the barbell, mostly, though if you're familiar with FIRM tapes you will know how to do dumbell variations. You start with two long sets of squats, including what the FIRM would call "hover" squats. You proceed to 2 sets of static lunges on each leg--instead of lunging forward as in the FIRM, you keep your feet planted in lunge position and raise and lower yourself by pushing off with the heel. Then you move to 2 long sets of plie squats including "hover" plie squats (she doesn't call them that but I knew you'd know what I meant). The next move is a quarter deadlift, which you can do with wide legs or closed legs. This is much easier on the back than a full deadlift, but I really felt it in the hamstrings. After the deadlifts, you move to dips (she calls them back lunges), starting with a 3 count pulse dip set, then a set of 16 dips on each side. Then you step up onto your bench and do another set from there --short sets on each side, then alternating sides. If you remember, this is the higher intensity dip variation Summer had recommended on the FIRM trip.

On to the chest--this is a VERY thorough chest workout, which I love since that's a neglected muscle group in many of my favorite strength tapes. You start with a set of 16 push ups, then a set of barbell chest presses and a set of chest flyes--each with a few variations in the counting. Then you stretch a bit and do the superset again.

The back section starts with 2 sets of lat rows on each side (Cathe uses 20 pound dumbells). Then you move to barbell rows in front, leaning forward a bit--one set gripping the bar from on top, then a set gripping from underneath (this works the biceps a bit also). Then you move to reverse flyes sitting on the bench--2 sets again.

For shoulders, you get 2 sets of upright rows, then 2 sets of overhead presses, both with the barbell. You top off the set with lateral raises.

For biceps you do "barbell crazy 8's"--you start by doing bicep curls halfway up (to your waist) for 8 reps, then you curl all the way up and lower halfway down (to the waist) then back up to the top for 8 reps (ow!). Then you do full range bicep curls, up one count and glide down for 3. You move on to hammer curls and then alternating curls with a twist.

On to triceps! If you're using dumbells, you'll have to modify the first move a bit--lying French presses. The same exercise Cory Everson starts with for triceps in Get Hard Arms. Then you do close grip presses (like the last exercise in Cory's tricep series). Then comes the killer--my favorite--tricep dips with your hands on the step behind you. Cathe makes this even harder by having you cradle the barbell in your lap! 2 sets of those, THEN you move on to 2 sets of kickbacks on each side.

Are you ready for abs? I wasn't! I wimped out and couldn't even finish. My upper body was still quaking from the chest work, for one thing. This is traditional ab work, done with the feet on the bench, with lots of pulse/hold variations, raising and lowering halfway, that sort of thing. A few notes--she does the "pull up on the imaginary bar" move from Keli Roberts ab tape, and a crunch variation where you do these pec squeezes. You also get obliques and reverse crunches.

Finally you move on to the stretch segment.

Well! There are no leg presses, but I'm so thrilled to find another truly challenging and thorough strength tape with no aerobics. It'll be a great change of pace from the FIRM. Oh, and for the anti-whooping crowd, I counted only about 3 "whooo's"--I think they were during the lower body work. Otherwise this is a serious, no nonsense, butt-kickin' weight workout.