Xtrain is a workout series from Cathe Friedrich. I have been anxiously awaiting this program for months. I pre-ordered it the day it appeared on Cathe’s website many months ago and every time she posted an update on the production progress of this series/program, my anticipation grew. Anyone who follows this blog knows in 2012 I became a die-hard Cathe workout fan and just from the initial description of Xtrain, I felt certain it would top everything she has created to date (and she has created many, many incredible workouts). So when Xtrain arrived in the mail yesterday, I couldn’t wait to get started.
However, I couldn’t figure out how exactly to review it because Xtrain is technically a fitness program, yet it has been released differently than any other fitness program out there. For example, P90X, Insanity, TurboFire, Rip:60, PeakFit Challenge, Body Revolution, etc. are only available as programs. If you want to do a single workout in the program you have buy the entire program–you cannot purchase each workout individually. Cathe’s other program is released in a similar fashion: STS; though you do have more purchase choices with STS. You can purchase the entire program or you can purchase each mesocycle individually (in STS a mesocycle is a month of workouts)–but you still cannot purchase each individual STS workout separately.
Xtrain is different. You can purchase Xtrain as a program–all of the workouts + the Users Guide. Or you can purchase each workout individually (and therefore you have to purchase the User’s Guide separately if you want it).
So how should I review Xtrain? As a program? Or review each workout individually? And then there is the fact that I have done so many fitness programs that I have burned myself out on the “program” concept. But again, that was before I discovered Cathe. And I have every intention of doing STS as a program. I decided it was worth it to do Xtrain as a program, too, and then review it both ways. So, I will post this intro to the program, then I will post each workout review separately, and finally give an update(s) of the program as I go thru the 90 days (scroll to the bottom for links to the updates).
So let’s get into what Xtrain consists of; Xtrain is based on “undulating periodization.” This means the volume and intensity of weight training stimulus is constantly changing to maximize results. Plus, there is no steady state cardio in this program–it is all based on HIIT training.
Xtrain consists of 10 workouts. Workout #10 is “Ride” which is a workout done on a stationary bike–so a spinning workout. You can purchase the entire program in two versions: with Ride or without Ride. I purchased the version without Ride, so there will be no Ride review. Each program package also includes a comprehensive User’s Guide, full of so much valuable information. Cathe definitely outdid herself with this User’s Guide. It is by far the best one I have ever received with any program I have purchased (and again, I cannot stress enough how very many fitness programs I have purchased, so I really do have a lot to compare it to), including STS–which by the way has an excellent user’s guide, too.
The User’s Guide explains everything–breaks down the way the program works and the purpose of each individual workout. It gives 4 different rotation calendars! It breaks down each workout comprehensively–and that is no exaggeration. Every component is broken down time-wise, so you there is no ambiguity about how long each workout is. But it goes so much further than that. Anyone who knows anything about Cathe workouts knows she is the queen of premixes–well, she has again topped it all with Xtrain. The program–as a whole–has over 140 premixes! 140!!!!!! Each premix is broken down by component and time-wise. But there is more! There are bonuses! Another Cathe treasure. She has bonus segments that aren’t included in the main workouts, but are included in some of the premixes. There is MORE! Challenges! This is new! These are not included in the main workout or the premixes–they are “add ons”–meaning, if you want an additional challenge, you just add it on to the end of your workout. And finally, in each workout’s individual section, each exercise is listed. If it is a strength workout, the weight Cathe is using in the workout is also listed and how many reps you will do.
It is an absolute treasure. No secrets here. You go into each workout knowing everything. Of course, then there is the workout manager. A free tool on Cathe’s website. As of this writing, they are still working on adding Xtrain to the workout manager, but they have posted on her forums that they expect it to be integrated soon. With workout manager, you can print out “workout cards.” You chose your workout and it lists every exercise you will be doing in that workout so you can record the weight you lifted. It will also give you a 1RM (1 rep max) calculator, so you can determine the weight you should use for every single exercise in every single strength workout. The only workouts these tools are currently available for on Cathe’s website are the STS workouts. But like I said, very soon they will also be available for Xtrain.
Here are the 10 workouts in the Xtrain program. Once they are reviewed on this blog, they will be linked to this list:
Chest, Back & Shoulders
Bi’s & Tri’s
Cardio Leg Blast
All Out Low Impact HiiT
Ride (which will not be reviewed)
There are also bonuses and 100 Rep Challenges included on every workout (all of these are not on every workout, btw–they are included on different workouts, but many of them appear on more than one workout). Here is a list of all the extras:
A bonus “Heavy Bag” workout.
A bonus barre workout.
Two bonus core workouts.
Bonus Burn Sets that work a single muscle group: Bi’s, Chest, Shoulders, Tri’s, and Back (*See description of Rotation #3 for more info on how these Bonus Burn Sets are used).
And five 100 Rep Challenges: Hip Thrusts, Scarecrows, Flat Bench Tricep Extensions, Barbell Curls, and Lateral Raises with 10 to 20 degree tilt. (**See below for more on 100 Rep Challenges.)
Equipment needed to do the program: dumbbells, a barbell, a club step with 5 risers per side, stability ball, Slide N Glide disks, medium resistance tubing, dixie cups, firewalker loops and boxing gloves. The barbell is only used in the 100 Rep Challenges–you use dumbbells for everything else. And the boxing gloves are for Hard Strikes, a kickbox workout. So you can obviously do it without boxing gloves or use weighted gloves to get a more intense workout. There is a bonus “Heavy Bag workout” on Hard Strikes that uses a punching bag. It is only included in premixes, so if you don’t have a punching bag, no problem. But if you do have a punching bag, obviously you will need boxing gloves to do that bonus segment.
And finally, there are 4 workout rotation calendars. Two that are 90 days long and two that are 30 days long. The first is the 90 Day Undulating rotation that uses all of the workouts (and many of the premixes) from Xtrain except for Ride. The second 90 rotation combines Xtrain with one of Cathe’s other series: Low Impact Series. It excludes Xtrain’s high impact cardio, giving you a low impact rotation. I must add however that, regardless of “impact,” the Low Impact Series workouts are excellent and intense. So this sounds like a winner rotation, too–in fact, see below for an additional comment on this. *The third rotation is a 30 day cardio + strength rotation using Xtrain premixes that make it similar to one of Cathe’s earlier series: Cross Train Express. So you do cardio and strength in the same workout while working one muscle group a day. The cardio workouts have premixes that include one “Bonus Burn Set” muscle group workout to create the cardio + strength workout; these premixes are what are used in this rotation. The fourth and final rotation is a 30 Day Undulating rotation that uses only Xtrain workouts and includes Ride.
Now that all of that is out of the way, a few notes about how I plan to do this program. I am using the first rotation (90 Day Undulating rotation) as a guide. Each of the main workouts in Xtrain are under an hour, but of course, the actual rotation calendar uses a combination of main workouts and premixes. So there are several days in which the workout listed on a rotation is well under an hour and days when the workout listed is well over an hour. I work Monday-Friday and really only have an hour in the mornings to workout. So even though I will be doing the workouts listed on the rotation calendar, some minor adjustments will be made to keep the workouts in the time limit I have. I will also move the super-long ones (she has you do lower body premixes that range anywhere from 68 to 81 minutes most weeks) to the weekend. So I’ll be doing some shuffling, too.
**Also, the 100 Rep Challenges are not included in any of the rotations and I am very, very excited and eager to do the challenges. There are 5 of them. She chooses an exercise and you do 100 reps of that exercise. These challenges are yet another way to develop your muscles. According to the Users Guide, the 100 Rep Challenges increase neural pathways from your brain to your muscles. So I will also be adding 100 rep challenges to some of the workouts; for example on a day I am scheduled to do a Bi and Tri workout, I will add either the 100 Rep Challenge for the biceps or the one for the triceps (or maybe both–one of the Bi’s and Tri’s workouts is less than 40 minutes).
And finally, I suspect that after 45-60 days, I may start feeling constrained with a 90 day rotation (I know this from experience; I have done 90 day workout programs before and by the end of the 90 days I was sick to death of the workouts). So 45-60 days into the program I may swap over to the 90 Day Xtrain + Low Impact Series rotation. Plus, I think I will throw in Crossfire and To the Max a few times as well.
So there it is! A summary of Xtrain! Keep an eye out. Workout reviews are coming soon!