Cross Train Express: Power CircuitCathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2000
Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)
Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer
People have already broken this one down, so I'm just going to post my impressions. Power Circuit is a great circuit workout, alternating cardio and leg work. The cardio portion consists of a bit of hi/lo to open the routine, three step circuits, and three kickbox circuits. Then itís 10 minutes dedicated to back work and about another 10 (I think) for abs. This was so.much.fun! The circuits were tough but doable. I donít usually like circuit routines, but here it works! I think because I felt that my lower body was adequately worked, even while I was getting a tough cardio routine. It reminded me of STS Plyo Legs in that regard. The only quibble I have is that hi/lo portion is a bit of a space hog. The back work consisted of barbell rows, lat rows, and deadlifts. I only wish that during the back segment they had included lat pullovers and that during the leg portion they had substituted one set of lunges for deadlifts.
What I Liked
Cardio alternated with leg work, as it seems to do good things for my legs. Loved that Cathe included plank work in the ab section, as she is the queen of endless crunch variations
What I Didnít Like
To me, they went overboard on the rows. There was other back work she could have substituted. Hi/Lo portion was a space hog, and I felt I would trip over my step. This wonít be a problem if you have the room or choose to modify but not dancing all about the step, as Cathe and crew do.
What You Want to Be Aware Of
Constant high impact. Also has plank work, so if you have wrist issues, be prepared to adjust.
Cathe is professional, funny, and encouraging throughout the entire series. Her enthusiasm is contagious!
I hate, hate, hate this video for so many reasons, I don't even know where to begin. The cardio is just all over the place and forget about keeping your heart rate up - there's no consistency. It's structed like all of her other videos where she does step, kickbox, hi/lo, low impact..... but the routines are uncomfortable, slower paced (except the hi-lo) and the entire tape takes up so much room, it's impossible to do unless you're in a loft!!!!! Really - this is one that will go to a corner and never see the light of day. For an advanced exerciser like me, this is a waste of time.
Cathe's her usual self on this one. Her demeanor really doesn't vary much from video to video.
The cardio is a lot of stepping alternating with lower body work using weights. I didn't break these down, but they are tough! Because of the intense lower body work, I wouldn't do this one within 48 hours of Leaner Legs! Give those legs a break...they'll thank you for it!
You work your back in this part of CTX: overhand rows, underhand rows, and 1-arm rows in a (I believe) down pyramid...Cathe starts with a 20# dumbell for 8 reps, then a 15# dumbell for 12 reps, then 10# dumbell for 16 reps. She follows all this with plank work for the lower back core and some exercises that remind me of what a physical therapist would recommend: lying on your belly, raising alternate arm and leg. Again, Cathe stresses good form and protecting your lower back.
Then it's on to the abs. While I didn't break these down in this series, they are all excellent and tough. The main thing I've noticed with Cathe's ab work in CTX, is that she keeps you going, with no rests in between exercises.
Cathe seems to be having too much fun in this series, but her enthusiasm is contagious. And the cardio and weight segments are mercifully short, so I don't mind her. Cathe's cuing in the cardio is good, making them easy to catch onto. Also, she includes a lot of form pointers, still teaching maybe a lot like Pure Strength.
The Start The beginning of the tape takes you through lots of walking... to the right side of the step then across the rear then to the left up and back... the movements are strong, long, fast and focused. There are grapevines and double grapevines, even a turn during the grapevines... using complete arm motions throughout...
The Workout After some thorough stretches...and after more walking er grapevines she takes you into the stepping...
Basic, leg lifts at corners of step, power lifts, going across box, repeaters, straddles, side kicks and plenty of power jumps... (you don't have to do the power moves or the jumps) but she makes them fun...
The Circuit In between all the stepping she picks up a barbell and does squats...next round she does plies w/ barbell. Next round she does static dips with the barbell, etc. She tells you she is using a 35lb barbell, but you don't have to use that much.
Kickbox She also has about 3 min of kickbox after the hi-lo circuit... some very high kicks... at first it looked intimidating but after trying them and imitating her form I found I could do them...
The Weight Routine Deadlifts, bent rows with hands apart, bent rows with hands closer together, always doing 3 sets of all the back work.... she lowers the poundage to 25lbs here, and at times uses 8lb dumbells.
Beginners should imitate her form... but this is certainly a do-able workout for them.... Advanced exercisers will love it... It is intense, intense, intense, and not overly complicated.... Of course some of the footwork may take 10 times to learn... LOL...(well, for me it will!)
The Ab Workout is 11 min... another tough segment.
It has a good thorough stretch...
Summary Cathe is a formidable instructor, thinking of everything you might do wrong and cueing you...
Cathe is a formidable instructor, thinking of everything you might do wrong and cueing you...
Okay, this will be brief since everyone else described the workout format. I am use to the Firm workout and purchased Cathe's tapes in the past but felt intimidated by the advanced intensity and complicated steps of her workouts, plus the gym style of her exercises did not appeal to me. I was use to The Firm workout program with the Stepford Wives personalities of the instructors. I still love The Firm but I am falling in love with Cathe due to the CTX series.
I just finished doing this Power Circuit workout for the first time and felt challanged like no other. I decided not to fear Cathe and her take no prisoners attitude. She has such a fresh and upbeat personality, that you don't feel you're taking cues from a robot. I actually enjoyed the complicated step moves and kickbox section was great. The music is awesome and Cathe, as always, is with you every step of the way, giving you great form tips and cueing.
The back segment is an absolute killer. The planks section is excellent but if you're new to this type of exercise start off slow. I was dripping with sweat galore from every part of my body. This worout is definitely a keeper, I know I will see the results soon from this awesome workout. Way to go Cathe! A+
P.S. I did say I was going to brief, didn't I? Oh well, like Cathe said slyly, "I lied."
Cathe includes a lively mix of cardio styles, along with some of of my all-time favorite step moves in this tough, but very entertaining workout. I know I'm working my butt off during Power Circuit, but I have never ever checked the clock while doing the cardio portion. I'm having too much fun. I also really enjoy the soundtrack during PC. This video runs a close second to Step & Intervals in terms of favorite choreography.
Important Note: The cardio portion includes strength work for the legs using a heavy barbell.
She opens with a hi/lo routine that is a little trickier than Cathe's usual stuff. The low impact section has some speedy footwork with turning triple shuffles, double grapevines and up-and-overs, up-and-backs and spin-arounds. You will travel all around your step, so be sure to leave space on all sides of the step -- or just leave your step out of the way until the hi/lo is finished. The high impact portion isn't too tough and is very short. The moves would be easy to modify down to low-impact, IMO.
Six "power circuits" follow. Each includes one minute of step choreography, followed by a "power blast," a brief recovery, then one minute of leg work (lunges or squats.) The format is similar to the leg circuit of Body Max, but more compressed. The first three circuits are classic Cathe stepping, the last three circuits are kickboxing on and off the step. Some of my all-time favorite Cathe choreography shows up during these circuits, including skip across the step from Step Works and squat/pendulum from Power Max. The power drills include knee-ups snaking around the step, power 7's and --oowee, the one that slays me -- jump onto the step with legs apart, then jump together, then step off. The step kickboxing includes front kicks, side kicks and knee smashes. Cathe uses a pretty substantial barbell for the leg circuits. She does squats, plie squats, static lunges on the floor, rear lunges off the step, front lunges on to the step and another set of static lunges on the floor.
The cardio/leg portion ends with a brief recovery, which you will need. Then on to strength work for the back. There are 3 sets of barbell rows, followed by 4 sets of triple rows and then pyramiding lat rows and deadlifts. You then go to the mat and do ENDLESS planks and some work for your spinal erectors. The ab work is straight-forward, probably the most basic ab work of the entire CTX series. And then you're done.
All in all, a great workout. Tough, fresh and thorough.
Of all the videos in the CrossTrain series, I think this one may be my favorite. You start with a short low-impact floor section (great for "easing yourself into it" at 4 am) and then follow up with an also-short high-impact floor section. Then you get to the highlight of the workout, which is 6 circuits Ė 3 step, and 3 step-kickbox. Each of these is about 1 minute, immediately followed by another minute or so of power moves or intervals. Then you switch to leg work Ė lunges, squats, etc. This style of circuit appeals to me so much more than doing compound moves for the strength circuit, which seems to be the norm. By compound moves, I mean working your upper and lower body at the same time. I dislike that a lot. In this workout, the strength work is legs only, so you can concentrate on the legs and not have to worry about keeping your arms going at the same time.
After all that, you do 10 minutes of back work, which seems really short even though you do 3 sets of everything. It may be short, but itís very satisfying and I do know Iíve worked my back muscles. Finally, there is a fairly long abs/core section which I didnít time, but I think itís around 15 minutes. There is some killer plank work here! You hold the poses for infinity, or so it seems. I always have to rest during this section. It amazes me that the ladies in the video can actually do this without breaking. The planks are followed by traditional ab work, and a nice stretch at the end.
This one is a little longer than the other videos in the series, clocking in at a full hour. I really enjoy this workout, and it gets an A+ in my book.
I enjoy this video more than I thought I would at first -- a nice surprise. After the warm-up, Cathe moves into a low impact floor combo, then some hi/lo. I usually modify the hi/lo to all low impact, and still manage to stay aerobic. (I make sure to really lift my knees high, and that does the trick.) Then, Cathe moves on to 3 kickbox circuits (kickboxing using the step) using a barbell, and 3 step circuits using dumbbells. NOTE: This video also counts as a leg workout! All the strength portions of the circuits are leg exercises -- squats, static lunges, lunges onto and off of the step. The choreography is Cathe's typical complex stuff in the step section. The hi/lo choreography is pretty traditional stuff -- knee lifts, kicks, hops, jumping jacks, etc.
The back work is very thorough, using dead rows, triple rows, quarter deadlifts, one-arm rows (using drop sets) and "supermans." Plank work, which works both the back and abs, is also included. Traditional ab work and a stretch round out the workout.
Good cuing, except during the kickbox segment. Great form pointers... except during the first set of squats, when Cathe is having a little trouble getting the words out. ("Make sure your knee doesn't go past your heel... Actually, your toes shouldn't go past your shoes.") She gets it right on the next set of plie squats, though. ;-) But it gives me a good laugh every time I hear it...
This is volume 5 of the CTX Series. You will alternate pure cardio segments with lower body weight work, then end with a thorough back segment and abdominal. I really liked this tape; it's not as intense as Circuit Max, but its still a winner. If you loved the second segment of Body Max, then this will right up your alley. I found that doing this tape time just seemed to fly by.
You begin with a short warm up and stretch. Then you move into a low impact section followed by a high impact section. The high impact sections are pretty Hi, but since the segments are relatively short it's not that bad, or you can easily modify to low, taking out some of the jumps. During the high impact section you do some moves that are very familiar from Max. Intensity Cardio. You do some impact knee crosses, leaps, and jogs. This section is probably my least favorite of all of the segments. It's intense and short, but not really as fun as it could be.
There are three short step segments. You do a very simple combo usually repeating the combo 4 to 6 times. The combos are easy to learn and short in duration. You will see some old favorites in the mix, combined in a whole new way. Everyone's favorite drop squats and pendulum moves are back, but this time the pendulum is done using the narrow end of the step instead of the long. You also do some really intense stepping drills, yowsa these are tough but fun at the same time. I think the best part of the step segment is these power drills.
Then there are three kickboxing segments. You will do classic kickboxing using the step and the floor. The first segment uses the step while doing front kicks and sidekicks. During the three segments you will do lots of kick combos, kicking drills and my favorite of all those plyo filled punching drills. This is a pretty darn fun segment.
But beware if you don't like power 15's, 7's and 3's be prepared to modify. As in most of the CTX series the step and kickboxing segments on the step really use a lot of those power 15's.
Alternating in between each of the named cardio segments is lower body weight work. You'll need a barbell and dumbbells, though dumbbells can be used during all the sections if you prefer. You will do squats, piles, static lunges, lunges on the step, lunges off the step. Lots of lower body variety. But if you get really tired from all the cardio or have tender knees, I'd go lighter on the weights since you knees are getting in a lot of work during the whole workout.
The upper body segment featured is back. You are going to need a barbell and a few dumbbells. If you don't like bent over rows then you're in for lots of trouble :=) You will do multiple sets of bent over rows, doing about 16 reps per set. You will even do a variation of a three-count row where you do three rows then stand upright and repeat. Shrugs are back again! This time you are going to do heavy shrugs I think Cathe uses 15's, but you do them while maintain a slight upper body bend, similar to the position while doing barbells rows but not at that much of an angle. Then comes a killer set of dumbbell lat rows. You are going to do three sets per side, going from heavy weight to light weight while increase the repetitions each time you decrease the weight. Cathe goes from 20's to 15's and down to 10's or 8's. I found that I could keep using 20's for all of the sets. If you keep with the heavy weights you're back will be feeling it in a good way. To finish out back you'll do some dead lifts and some spinal erector work. Then finish off with a great ab workout.
I really enjoyed this tape. It has good variety and great abs and spinal erector work. The only complaint that I have is all the power 15's and 7's. It seems that in this tape and the whole series you're doing a lot of them. I would have rather seen more step drills rather than the power 15's. If your finding your modifying those moves it can get pretty boring when she does a long set of the power 15's. But if your ready to work hard then you will love this tape.