Lean Legs & Abs

Cathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2013

Categories: Abs/Core , Lower Body Strength

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Part of Cathe's 2013 releases, this workout focuses on lower body and core/abs. If you're expecting any similarities to the CTX Series lower body workout Leaner Legs (also known as Meaner Legs!), you will be disappointed. Instead of heavy weights and slow controlled reps, Cathe mixes it up with compound standing moves, standing and floor band moves, a brief chair section, an optional barre section, plus a thorough core/abs segment. Premixes allow you to pick and choose your poison. Equipment required is a set of light/moderate dumbbells (Cathe uses 8#), a firewalker band, a chair and a mat. The workout does have a little bit of impact - one of the standing moves is a sumo squat/jump combination, and there are some scissors in there - but it is easy to change to low/no impact. Many of the standing moves use 8# dumbbells, which Cathe says are to enhance the cardio effect, but there are a fair number of shoulder presses and upright rows in the workout.

Overall I'd rate this workout a B. On the plus side, there are no tricky or torque-y moves, no one section was endless, the music-without-vocals options was a godsend if you don't like pseudo-vocals from recent pop hots, and I was never bored with all the variation of compound, barre and band exercises. I also really like the variety of core/ab exercises. Negatives: Cathe was way offbeat some of the time because she performed so exercises so fast, and her cueing is terrible. Also, I didn't think the workout had any flow at all. Cathe progresses in a workmanlike manner from one exercise to the next, one section to the next, but the sections felt a bit...unrelated.

I would rate this workout as solid intermediate. I consider myself intermediate and did the workout all the way through on my first try with one modification (lighter dumbbells since I did shoulders yesterday). Another VFer suggested wearing a weight vest instead of using dumbbells to enhance the cardio effect without doing shoulder work, which I think is brilliant.

I don't know that this will be part of my regular rotation, but I'll add it in as a second leg workout during a week when I've already done heavy weights for lower body.

Instructor Comments:
Cathe is professional and in terrific shape, as always. During most of the standing section she cues as she begins a move rather than before - annoying! - and she's not good about saying "stay with the right leg for 8 reps" versus "we're going to alternate legs here". Some of the standing work is performed at very high speed, but the rest of the workout has better pacing.



Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of this workout.

So, this workout wasn't even on my radar until one day I was reading about workouts and I read a mini review that went something like this, "This is probably Cathe's easiest lower-body workout ever!" Well, my intermediate-level exerciser's ears perked right up because I don't get Cathe's lower-body workouts - I like to be able to walk and I'm not a glutton for punishment! I've seen this workout described as barre meets cardio and light toning. That's probably a good description.

So far, I've just done the workout itself, not any premixes. The original workout times are:

Warm Up - 6:10
Cool Down--5:39

The premix options range from 61 minutes (original workout plus the additional barre section) to 35 minutes, so everyone should be able to find a component of this workout that they can do. The premixes include:

Lean Legs and Abs + Bonus Barre: (Warm Up, Compound Legs, Chair/Firewalkers, Bonus Barre, Core, Stretch)
Lean Legs and Abs + Bonus Barre (No Core): (Warm Up, Compound Legs, Chair/Firewalkers, Bonus Barre, Stretch)
Lean Legs and Abs + Bonus Barre (No Chair/Firewalkers): (Warm Up, Compound Legs, Bonus Barre, Core, Stretch)
Timesaver #1 (No Chair/Firewalkers): Warm Up, Compound Legs, Core, Stretch)
Timesaver #2 (No Core): Warm Up, Compound Legs, Chair/Firewalker,Stretch)
Timesaver #3 (Chair/Firewalkers & Barre): Warm Up, Chair/Firewalkers, Barre, Stretch)

Here are some thoughts about the sections:

Segment One: Compound Legs

This segment is full of compound exercises like Squat Press. It is designed with an emphasis on legs but includes moves that get your heart rate up. Cathe even identifies when the heart rate is supposed to climb and when it should come back down. Light weights are used to enhance the cardio effect, not for serious strength work. Cathe uses 8s, I use 3s or 5s.

Segment Two Chair and Firewalker Band (strength band)

She starts with a standing move holding the chair. You put a weight on your quad as you lift your leg to work it. This bothered my standing leg with the bad knee. Other than that issue, it wasn't too bad. Then you use a round band (she uses her Firewalker Band and I used my Spri loop)around your ankles while you travel forward in a zigzag walk to a lateral skate. I really enjoyed this move. The section ends on the floor using the band with leg lifts.

Segment Three Core Segment

This section includes situps, several variations of crunches, leg isolation holds, scissors, X-crunches, a couple of different types of twists, and bicycles. It is harder core work than I want to do, than I can do, so I won't be using this segment.

Bonus Segment Barre

This segment includes different pulse squats and leg lifts. It isn't super hard, but it does give a different way of working with the legs. And, I assume, that it is a nice section to include in some of the premixes.

My legs felt well worked out after doing this DVD. I am an intermediate exerciser and am comfortable doing this workout. Because of bad knees, my squats and lunges are more shallow than hers or those of her background exercisers. Yet, it works for me.

Instructor Comments:
She is, as always, professional and motivating.

Laura S.