Cathe’s To the Max

Cathe’s newest To the Max is another super intense workout. Her other new one is Crossfire, which I’ve already reviewed (and is my current favorite cardio workout). To the Max doesn’t displace Crossfire as my favorite, but I do love it. I’m not entirely sure whether it is supposed to be a cardio workout that uses weights to increase intensity or a cardio + strength workout. I will probably use it as a cardio workout; however, my shoulders are feeling it.

I almost didn’t purchase this workout. Many years ago, after hearing that Cathe had the most intense step-cardio workouts out there, I purchased one. I was lost! The choreography was so complex and fast-paced—I really didn’t get a workout at all due to my bumbling confusion. I sold that one back through Amazon post-haste! And never even considered trying another Cathe step workout again. Until I purchased Cardio Supersets. Cardio Supersets includes a bonus step workout. And it was extremely doable. So I decided to give To the Max a whirl, in spite of its step usage. It was getting a lot of great reviews that it was even more intense than Crossfire, which is pretty intense! I’m so glad I did! It is an excellent workout—intense, advanced and non-stop. Also, the step work is pretty basic and athletic. I had no problem with it. There was one change/transition move that caused me problems. It’s done several times and by the last few times I had caught on. The first couple times though I was back to my confused bumbling. Overall, the step part is very intense and very doable.

To the Max is a 55 minute workout. However it comes with “bonus” segments not included in the main workout: Low Impact Slide N Glide Tabata and Bonus Fitness Tabata. Since it was my first time doing the workout and I planned to review it, I wanted to do everything. Luckily, there is a premix (of course! I LOVE Cathe’s premixes!) that includes every segment including the bonuses: To the Max Extreme. So that is what I am reviewing here. The DVD case has every subsection broken down time-wise as well as equipment needed. Equipment needed for the Extreme workout is: a step with 3 risers (that is if you are using a club step with removable risers—otherwise steps at two heights—8 inches and 10 inches), dumbbells: 3, 5, 8 and 10 pounds, Firewalker band and a set of Slide N Glide disks. Just like in Crossfire, each time you change to a new segment the bottom of the screen tells you what the segment is called (yes, they all have names) and what equipment you will need.

About the Slide N Glide disks. So far they have come up in two other Cathe workouts that I’ve done: Crossfire and Cardio Supersets, but I know they are also used in other Cathe workouts that I have hoarded purchased but have not yet done. I initially assumed that the disks were used to make high impact moves low impact, so when I did Crossfire and Cardio Supersets I just did the high impact move. But then I did some research. It appears that on some counts, yes—the disks make a high impact move low impact while not drastically decreasing the intensity of the move. However, it turns out that in some cases, using the disks not only make a move more intense, but also recruits more muscles! So I decided it was time to give the disks a try. Now, they are used in one tabata segment and a few moves in other segments, so I cannot give an across the board review of them. See the review of the Slide N Glide Tabata section for more.

To the Max Extreme is 63 minutes long; 6 minute warm up, 51 minute training period and 6 minute stretch. After the warm up, the first segment is the Solid Step workout. It is done on an 8 inch step and it is a “solid” step cardio workout, as labeled. Lots of basic athletic moves. This is where the confusing change step is, but other than that there was no confusion. And that change step is just to transition between moves—not one of the core moves in that segment. The next section is Step Tabata. You need the 8 inch step, and 3 and 5 pound hand weights. This is done tabata format—20 second HIITs with 10 second recovery and 8 of these cycles equals one tabata circuit. Cathe does 4 moves then repeats them. By now, you’re heart is pumping—just in time for the 30/20 HIIT segment! This is a tough segment! You need the 10 inch step, the Firewalker band and the disks. This section had 4 HIIT circuits. One circuit contains two moves that are repeated (so the 30/20 HIIT segment contains 16 HIITs). Each move is done for 30 seconds with 20 seconds of recovery.  The moves using the step are very basic—but tough!

Next is the Low Impact Slide N Glide Tabata. This had 4 moves that were repeated tabata format, all using the disks: jumping jacks, jack push ups, “swimming lunges” and plank mountain climbers. For the jumping jacks, I didn’t really notice the disks incorporating more muscles or making the move more intense. It did make it low impact, but a regular jumping jack is more intense. Push up jacks—I noticed a difference here! The disks definitely made them more intense and difficult, and recruited more lower body and core muscles. The swimming lunges with the disks was a low impact move. In the past, I have substituted 180 jump lunges for this move which is much more intense. I didn’t feel like the disk lunges were super intense with the disks. And finally plank mountain climbers—just like the jack push ups I felt more muscles recruited. I don’t know that they were any harder than a regular plank mountain climber, but they were different and intense. I will keep using the disks for moves that I see a difference. If I can make it more intense though, I will just substitute a non-disk move.

Next was compound leg work. Here is one of the two sections where it was more strength work than cardio—though it is made up of compound moves at a brisk pace (metabolic weight training). So after all that tabata and HIITs, your heart rate remains high. You use the 10 inch step and 8 pound weights. It has two moves that are repeated. You start on the step, squat off with one leg and lift up doing an abduction with a clean and press. You do each side of the body, then you move on to the second move which is moving plie squats holding the weights stationary that transitions into stationary plie squats with Arnold presses. You do that combo twice; then repeat all of the moves.

Next is another tabata! Fitness Tabata this time. Four moves, each repeated to the 20/10 count. You need the 10 inch step, 8 pound weights and slide disks. The last segment is core with upper body focus. You need a mat and all of the weights. Again, this seemed very much a strength section and I think this section in particular is the culprit for my sore shoulders. The moves included chest fly sit ups, a side plank with a weighted snatch and a sit up with an overhead press.

Then on to a nice stretch. I LOVE this workout. I was drained at the end of it. It worked me hard. There are 13 premixes! So you can do this anyway you want! Cut out just about any segment you want or make it any length you want. I adore Cathe’s premixes.

Premixes (all premixes contain cool down and stretch):

Premix #1  To The Max Extreme 63:00

Premix #2  To The Max Extreme – No Solid Step  55:19

Premix #3  Less  Impact  38:51

Premix #4 Fitness Tabata instead of Compound Legs 51:20

Premix #5 No Core 46:09

Premix #6  Low Impact SNG Tabata/No Core  45:36

Premix #7  Step Tabata Only 17:18  

Premix #8  Low Impact Slide N Glide Tabata Only 16:45  

Premix #9  Fitness Tabata Only 16:41

Premix #10  Triple Tabata 26:41

Premix #11 No 30/20 Hiit  39:24

Premix #12  No Compound legs 46:40  

Premix #13  30/20 HiiT only 26:15


40 thoughts on “Cathe’s To the Max

  1. Hi again! What I mean was I worked out heavy the day before doing To The Max and I find myself not being able to do her 8lb weight when doing compound exercises because again the day before I did heavy weights including the shoulders is that typical?


    1. I think it probably is. If your shoulders are recovering from heavy lifting the day before then they will get fatigued faster. Plus, for me at least, To the Max and Crossfire wear me out! So I am already fatigued just from the workout by the time she has you pick up dumbbells. If I were you I would do one of her other cardio workouts the day after lifting heavy–something that doesn’t include any dumbbells. Then your shoulders will get a full 48 hours of recovery before you doing anything to tax them again.


  2. Hi, How are you? my question. Is it normal to not be able to use 8lb when doing the compound exercises because the day before I did heavy full body exercises including shoulders.?

    Thanks in advance


    1. Hi Debbie–I’m not sure what you mean by not able? Are you too sore? Or, are you usually able to do it and suddenly can’t but you aren’t experiencing DOMS? Or are you suddenly having pain?

      If you are very sore from another workout then definitely take a rest day or two from any type of lifting or strength work and let yourself recover. Do cardio or yoga or just take a day off.

      If you used to be able to lift it without a problem and suddenly can’t–were you able to lift 8 pounds when you did your strength workout? When Cathe uses dumbbells in workouts like Crossfire the dumbbells are meant to increase cardio intensity, but if you consider 8 pounds heavy in your normal strength workouts, then you need to lift lighter dumbbells (or no dumbbells) during her cardio workouts–you don’t have to match her weights to get a good workout.

      If you are experiencing pain that isn’t DOMS related then that is an injury and you need to stop whatever it was you were doing and let yourself heal.

      And if I am totally off base with all of those replies then I need more information.


  3. Hi How r u?
    Question: what resistance is the blue firewalker band that is used with crossfire and to the max? I don’t have a light blue firewalker band because I couldn’t find that light blue color anywhere. I use a yellow band by perform better which is a light resistance.
    Thanks in advance!


    1. Cathe’s blue firewalker is the heaviest resistance of the 3. It came in a pack with 2 other firewalkers. Green is medium resistance, pink is light resistance and blue is heavy. However, there are heavier resistance firewalkers out there. The heaviest one I own is black and came with MetaShred Extreme. Cathe’s firewalkers are the best I’ve come across tho and I always come back to them because they are less likely to roll than any other firewalker I own (and I own a lot). Unfortunately she no longer sells them and I haven’t been able to find anyone else who sells similar firewalkers.


  4. I am glad you are cancer free That is the most important thing!! I am sorry that you have to have so much radiation but you got do what you need to for remaining cancer free. I wish you well for the reconstruction surgery. You certainly are one brave woman! I think I told you I was having stomach problems for a year! They finally found a medication that works for me. I was out of work and working out for a YEAR!! I am a intense workout junkie! So being away from exercising for that long was horrible. However, I started back up slowly and now I am with cathe working out to her advanced HIIT workouts!!! I have been back for a year now!! I wish you the very best. keep me posted. You will hear from me anyway with all my questions!!LOL


    1. Thanks! I am glad you found a solution to your stomach problem. I don’t know what it was causing you problems but I had a lot of stomach issues during the first half of chemo and it was nightmarish. I’m so glad that is over for me–and I am glad you’re healing up now, too.


  5. Goodmorning, I just finished to the max with 2 risers on each side and I actually was able to JUMP thru out the workout!! YEAH!! I really didn’t think I would be able to do it but between you and a 16 inch box!! and me really wanting to challenge myself I was able to do it. There were a few jumps that I did slower than every body else. But I am sure I will eventually get there!! It was a good workout! Yes, Intense!
    Personal question for you. Are u cancer free? You do not have to answer me. I understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I am cancer free but I am still undergoing treatment for it. I finished chemo a little over a month ago and I am currently undergoing radiation. I am about to finish my first week of that but I have 7 weeks of radiation total. I wish I could say that after that I am on the road to recovery, but I had breast cancer and had a mastectomy in March of this year, so the beginning of 2019 I have to undergo reconstruction–which is a major surgery that will have me not working out (and not even going to work) for about 6-8 weeks. So I won’t be truly building myself back up fitness-wise until next year.

      I still workout every day and I still push myself to do what I am capable of doing, but my fitness has declined due to treatment. I am looking forward to when I will be able to return to all of my Cathe workouts next year. I do plan to start incorporating some of her easier workouts later this year–Push Pull, Flex Train and ICE workouts. But the majority of her workouts are too advanced for me right now.


  6. Hello,
    No I don’t want to do 2 hours. However, I want to at least do an hour. What I am trying to say is that I would rather do a fitness blast instead of compound exercise. So how can I do extreme with the fitness blast instead of the compound exercises? Also just to mention I have this fear of jumping on the step. I feel like I am going to fall. I use to teach classes that included step but never jumps like that! Again practice makes perfect I guess. I will take a look at the chapters.

    Thanks Again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I understand now. Here is what’s really cool about most of Cathe’s workouts. The chaptering I already mentioned but because they are chaptered, you can use the skip function on your DVD remote. So if you know what segments a workout/premix contains, you can start it and just hit skip on your remote to skip over any segment you don’t want to do. That means if you want to combine different parts of 2 workouts/premixes you can easily skip over the warm up of the second workout and any other unwanted segments. Make your own workout without wasting time in the chapter menu.

      With that said, all of Cathe’s workouts aren’t chaptered excellently–but many are. TTM and CF are two workouts that have excellent chaptering so they make it easy to skip over things. I do that on some of her workouts. Usually to repeat something I really like–I do the exercise then skip back and repeat it. Much faster than rewinding and fast-forwarding.

      As for jumping on a step, I completely understand. I used to be really afraid to jump on a step too but I promise it easier than it appears. I was really afraid to do box jumps but pre-cancer I was doing box jumps on a 16 inch box. You should work your way up–add a riser each time one level becomes easy, but I swear it is easier than it seems. I used to be terrified to as well.


  7. Hi again!
    Question. I just bought to the max dvd. It looks awesome. I just got thru watching it. I did crossfire this am. so I thought I would see what to the max was all about. I like to do the extreme. However, How can I do the extreme workout along with premix 4 which is substituting compound legs to fitness blast? I tried to do that but I couldn’t and I really want to do that. Also I struggle with the disks. but I do want to use them. I guess practice makes perfect.
    Thanks in advance


    1. that sounds like a lot. If I am understanding you correctly, you want to do the Extreme premix which is 63 minutes plus premix 4 which is 52 minutes. That is a very long high intensity workout. I would not be able to bet through nearly 2 hours of To the Max either! One great thing about Cathe’s workouts is she chapters them. TTM and CF in particular are chaptered very well. You can go in and pick and choose what workout sections you want to do and repeat them as many times as possible. And I agree–the disks are a challenge at first, but they end up working your muscles in new ways!


    1. Yes, I do. Not in totality but they both contain tabatas. And To The Max contains a tough 30/20 HIIT. Since I love circuit workouts, I really love Crossfire and To the Max–because the intensity is always varying throughout both workouts. You are always working hard but sometimes you are HIITing it and sometimes just getting in some great cardio or metabolic strength work. Now some of the premixes that just include the tabatas or TTM’s 30/20 HIIT would be pure HIIT workouts. And this of course is all dependent on your level of fitness. Cathe does have some harder HIIT workouts. Tabatacise, Ripped w/ HIIT’s Plyo HIIT, and her original HIIT workouts from her Shock Cardio Series all contain more intense HIITs than what is in TTM or CF. But as long as you are pushing as hard as you can on any of them you should still be getting the benefits of HIITs. And there are frequently ways to up the intensity. In the CF and TTM tabatas you could raise the level of your step and use heavier dumbbells.


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