Cathe’s Hardcore Extreme

HEHardcore Extreme is another compilation DVD from Cathe. Her compilation collections are basically DVDs that contain premixes–but they are premixes created from multiple existing workouts. And two of them in particular: Terminator and Hardcore Extreme, contain long and brutal “premixes.”

Hardcore Extreme is created from 4 workouts in the Hardcore Series: Imax 3, Low Max, Kick Max and High Step Challenge. I will give a brief description of each workout below, but they have all been reviewed on this blog, so for a longer description just click on the title link and it will take you straight to the review.

Imax 3 is a step cardio/interval/HIIT workout consisting of 10 intervals. Each interval is made up of an aerobic phase, an anaerobic phase and a recovery phase. The aerobic phase is a step routine that is repeated 6 times. It is not taught or layered, so there is no learning curve. It is a very tough high impact workout and the choreography is complex. A 6 inch step is used in Imax 3.

Low Max is another step cardio circuit/interval workout similar to Imax 3, but much less intense and much lower impact. It is made up of 7 intervals, each interval consists of a step routine and a “blast” which isn’t intense in the traditional Cathe blast-sense (HIIT)–but more endurance lower body strength work. The choreography isn’t horribly complex and it is taught in layers, so a learning curve exists. Each step routine is repeated 4 times once it is learned. It is steady state cardio and there is no recovery period. An 8 inch step is used in Low Max.

Kick Max is a kickboxing/HIIT/lower body conditioning workout. It consists of kickboxing drills and combos, 10 blasts (HIITs) and leg conditioning drills. The only equipment needed for this workout is a chair to hold onto for balance when doing the conditioning drills.

High Step Challenge is a cardio + strength workout that uses a high step, a 6 foot dyna band, a barbell and dumbells. It is set up circuit style with 5 circuits. Each circuit starts with cardio then moves into fast paced strength exercises.

Before I get into the individual workouts, a point I would like to make is that the the choreography for Imax 3 is complex and it is featured in all three of the Hardcore Extreme workouts. So if you do not like complex choreography then Hardcore Extreme is not for you. Before I did Hardcore Extreme, I had only done Imax 3 once. And it had been a challenging workout in which the choreography for the step routines lost me frequently. And it doesn’t help that the blasts are very intense and the recoveries short–so when you jump back into the next complex step routine, you are worn out. Not the best state of mind for complex choreography with zero learning curve. However, the first Hardcore Extreme workout I did was Interval Blast Plus Legs. You only do 6 of the 10 intervals from Imax 3, starting at #5. I remembered how winded I was that first time I did Imax 3 by the time I got to these later intervals and the difficult time I had with the choreography. Well, coming to intervals 5 and 6 relatively fresh made them easier to catch onto! Of course, all that changed by the time I got to the later intervals, because the workout kicked my butt, so the choreography started losing me again. The point I’m unsuccessfully making is that it would benefit anyone who wants to do Imax 3 and any of the Hardcore Extreme workouts frequently, to spend some time doing Imax 3 and getting used to the choreography. It’s not a waste of time. Read the Imax 3 review–it is an excellent workout, even if you have problems with the choreography. But you can also do the premixes–there are two that only do half of the intervals and one that only does the step routines with no blasts. All three of those premixes are great ways to learn the step routines. It’s funny, because a few months ago you’d never see me write such things, but I’ve since become such a Cathe convert that I am actually willing to take the time to learn her step routines so I can get the full benefit of her awesome workouts.

Workout #1: Interval Circuit

Interval Circuit is a cardio + strength circuit workout. It is made up of High Step Challenge and Imax 3. I really wanted to love this workout. High Step Challenge is one of my favorite workouts and my only complaint with it is that I wish some of the cardio in it was more intense. So Hardcore Extreme’s Interval Circuit seemed the perfect fix, right? Eh. It’s not a bad workout–it does the job: strength work with some intense cardio, but in the end I still love High Step Challenge on its own much better than this compilation. Too much equipment was needed for this one, plus, since it is pieced together, you are either rushed to move things around, or you are forced to pause the DVD repeatedly. In addition, even though you do get good strength work, since you are mashing together two workouts, things are cut out, so it is not the complete total body strength workout that High Step Challenge is on it’s own. All the muscle groups are hit at least once–but some are hit a lot more and others, only once. I prefer to either isolate muscle groups and work them completely, or get a comprehensive full body workout. So Interval Circuit just didn’t deliver what I was looking for. I won’t return to this one again. But that doesn’t make this DVD a complete loss. So far I’ve done Workout #1 and Workout #3 and #3 is a winner. I think #2 will be, too. But that remains to be seen (tomorrow!).

Interval Circuit is 68 minutes of cardio + strength; 9 minute warm up, 53 minute training period, 6 minute stretch. For this workout you need the club step at 6 inches, high step at 14 inches, dyna band, dumbbells and a barbell. It is set up in 3 circuits. Each circuit starts with two intervals from Imax 3, then one full circuit from High Step Challenge (including the cardio segment). After doing the 3 circuits, she tacks on some shoulder work from one of the other High Step Challenge circuits before moving to the stretch. For the High Step Challenge cardio segments you will use the high step at 6 inches.

Imax 3 warm up

Circuit #1:
Imax 3 intervals 1 & 2
High Step Challenge cycle #1:
Cardio on the 6 inch step. The choreography is basic.
Leg press with band. (You need the step at 14 inches with the dynaband looped under it; you’ll have an end in each hand to add resistance as you climb the step.)
Tricep push ups off of high step.
Leg press on high step with overhead press. (Cathe only used 3 pound hand weight–I don’t like this version for various reasons so I just kept the dynaband looped under it and used it again.)
Tricep dips off high step.
Side/one-arm tricep push ups.

Circuit #2:
Imax 3 intervals 4 & 5
High Step Challenge cycle #2:
Cardio on floor—jumping jacks, plyo jacks, air jacks and tuck jumps.
Squats with barbell
Deadlifts with barbell
Barbell rows
Rows with band
Push ups

Circuit #3:
Imax 3 intervals 9 & 10
High Step Challenge cycle #3:
Cardio is a fun kickboxing routine with the 6 inch step.
Leg press with band
Hammer punch lunges (these double as a cardio move)
Barbell curls
Tricep overhead press with band
Dumbbell upright rows
Dumbbell overhead presses

High Step Challenge stretch

Workout #2: High/Low Intervals

High/Low Intervals is my favorite of the three workouts on this DVD and infinitely the hardest. In fact, I think it might be the most difficult Cathe workout I have done to date–cardio-wise that is. And that’s what this workout is: an extremely high intensity long-ass cardio workout. It combines Low Max, Imax 3 and Kick Max and it will kick your butt. It starts out benign enough with the Low Max warm up and the first Low Max interval, but then it just builds from there. The workout ends with all 10 of the Kick Max HIITs (the entire “Blast Challenge”) to really burn you out completely at the end. As I mention in the Workout #3 Interval Blast Plus Legs review (below), the Kick Max blasts are the hardest part of the entire Kick Max workout. There really isn’t much more to say about this workout–it completely kicked my butt. I love that!

High/Low Intervals is a 73 minute step cardio/HIIT workout; 8 minute warm up, 59 minutes of intense cardio and 5 minute stretch. Imax 3 uses a 6 inch step, Low Max uses an 8 inch step and Kick Max uses no equipment. I just kept the step at 8 inches for both Low Max and Imax 3 segments, then put it away for Kick Max Blasts.

Here is the break down:

Low Max warm up
Low Max interval 1
Imax 3 intervals 2 & 3
Low Max interval 3
Imax 3 intervals 6 & 7
Low Max interval 4
Imax 3 interval 10
Kick Max Blast Challenge
Kick Max stretch

Workout #3: Interval Blast Plus Legs

Interval Blast Plus Legs is step cardio/HIIT/leg conditioning workout and it is intense. It is comprised of Imax 3 and Kick Max. This workout is definitely more advanced and hardcore than either of these two workouts on their own. Imax 3 alone is a very intense workout. Kick Max is also a great workout, but the real killer in Kick Max are the blasts. There are 10 of them and their are tough. Well–that is what 2/3 of this workout consists of–Imax 3 intervals and Kick Max blasts. So it is a doozy!

And it is long, clocking in at 73 minutes; but if you want to make this a shorter straight cardio/HIIT workout, that’s easy. Just skip the leg conditioning drills at the end and go to the stretch. I do that frequently when I do Kick Max by itself, so that I can get my cardio in at an hour. That works the same with Interval Blast Plus Legs–get rid of the legs and the workout is 55 minutes long.

Don’t get me wrong–I am not discounting the leg drills. They are excellent and effective, but it’s a good way to save time if that is needed.

Interval Blast Plus Legs is 73 minutes long; 9 minute warm up, 39 minute step cardio/HIITs, 18:30 leg condition drills and 6:30 stretch.

Here is the breakdown:

Imax 3 warm up
Imax 3 intervals 5-7
Kick Max Blast Challenge blasts 1-5
Imax 3 intervals 8-10
Kick Max Blast Challenge blasts 6-10
Kick Max Leg Conditioning Drills
Kick Max Stretch

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