Low Max is a 69 minute “low impact” cardio step workout from Cathe; 8 minute warm up, 53 minute cardio step work and 8 minute cool down/stretch. Cathe uses an 8 inch step in this workout and I think that height is necessary to get a good workout.
The idea behind this workout is a low impact version of her Imax workouts, but that isn’t really what Low Max delivers. What it delivers is a lower impact, steady state cardio workout with “blasts”–but the blasts are not real blasts, in the Cathe sense. In most of her workouts, a blast equals a HIIT. The blasts in Low Max are lower body sculpting moves–but with no dumbbells. Lower body strength moves of the endurance variety.
The structure of Low Max is somewhat different from the Imax workouts, too. In the Imax workouts, the structure is 10 intervals and each interval is made up of a cardio routine that is repeated 6 times, a blast (HIIT) and a recovery move. Low Max has 7 intervals. You are first taught the step routine, then it is repeated 4 times. Then you do the “blast.” After the blast you move right into the next routine–no recovery. This makes sense, since in most cases, there wasn’t much to recover from. My heart rate did not increase during the blast. However, my leg muscles did start burning during the blasts, so I was grateful to move on to a new move. So they were intense, just a different kind of intensity.
I really liked this workout. It wasn’t what I expected, but I still liked it a lot. First, it was fun. The choreography was easy to learn, but creative. Second, it was a steady state cardio workout, but of a high enough intensity to still be a good workout. Not high intensity like her Imax workouts, but it did get your heart rate up. And you need workouts like that. It could be used as a recovery workout or as just a steady state cardio workout. In addition, if you’re doing a cardio + strength workout like Cardio & Weights, which has little lower body strength work but lots of upper body work, this would be a great cardio workout to do the next day, since it hits the lower body nicely. That said, I wouldn’t designate it as a cardio + strength workout.
Also, Low Max wasn’t entirely low impact. It is lower impact than most of her cardio workouts, but there is a bit of jumping and impact. Nothing major, but it is there. Since I own almost all of Cathe’s Low Impact Series, it is hard not to compare this workout to it. Low Max came before the Low Impact Series workouts, so it seems clear to me that Cathe learned a lot in the intervening years. She learned how to more effectively make a workout very intense and still be low impact. Low Max doesn’t really do either–it’s not entirely low impact and it’s not high intensity. The Low Impact Series succeeds in doing both–intense workouts with no impact (I adore these workouts). However, in my case, I don’t need low impact, but I like to do it anyway because it adds variety to my rotations. And everyone’s joints need a break sometimes. So the fact this workout doesn’t fit the bill “exactly” doesn’t bother me. But for people who are truly needing and wanting low impact, this workout doesn’t deliver what it claims to. But it will give you a lower impact workout than her others.
I’m not going to break down the cardio routines, but here are the 7 “blasts”:
1. low squats moving side to side, then squatting and kicking
2. lunge kicks off step with lots of pulse lunges
3. dynamic outer thigh lifts interspersed with sculpt 15s
4. “slam” squats off the side of the step followed by outer thigh lifts/squats/straddles
5. lots of squats and outer thigh lifts off side of step
6. lateral skaters and squat/lunges off step
7. side kicks and touch downs.
Premixes: Intervals 1-4 45 minutes, Intervals 4-7 44 minutes, Step combos only (no blasts) 44 minutes, All 7 blasts (no warm up/stretch) 23 minutes.