Xtrain: Hard Strikes


Hard Strikes is part of Cathe‘s Xtrain series. For more info on the series as a program see My Intro to Xtrain.

Hard Strikes is a 47 minute cardio + strength workout. It is a rather eclectic mix of exercises. First off, let me say that I really enjoyed this workout. It is intense and fun–but not what I expected. For one, the cardio is only 30 minutes of the workout and there are no “extreme” premixes to make it longer (however, if you have a heavy bag, there are premixes that add that in, making a longer cardio workout; but I don’t have a heavy bag so that is of no use to me). The workout is a combination of boxing, kickboxing, HIITs, strength and core work.

The breakdown of this workout is a little odd, too. The “warm up” is very active and intense and moves right into the workout. I couldn’t tell when the warm up ended and when the “workout” began. Apparently Cathe couldn’t either, because here is how it is broken down in the Xtrain User’s Guide and on her website: warm up/cardio boxing/kickboxing 31 minutes, conditioning 12 minutes, cool down/stretch 4 minutes. The only equipment necessary for the main workout is dumbbells; Cathe uses 8 pound dumbbells. Cathe and crew also use boxing gloves that weigh approx 12 ounces. I don’t own boxing gloves; however I have always used one pound weighted gloves when I do kickboxing workouts. For Christmas I got a pair of 2 pound weighted gloves and that is what I wore for this workout. I’m not sure if that contributed to the intensity of this workout or not, but I found it a very intense little workout that I really enjoyed.

This DVD also includes Bonus Core #1, Bonus Burn Set Triceps, Bonus Heavy Bag and 100 Rep Challenge Bicep Curls. These will all be reviewed at the end, except for Bonus Heavy Bag. I do not own a heavy bag, so I will not be doing this bonus. However, I can give some information about it. Equipment required: heavy bag and boxing gloves. It is set up tabata format with 3 tabata rounds. **2/4/13 EDIT–I did do this bonus. Scroll down and read the added review.

I generally do not describe warm ups when reviewing a workout–other than to give general information, but since I cannot tell where the warm up ends and the training period actually begins, I am describing it all. As the workout progresses Cathe does jacks, jump ropes and jogs between the moves, so you never stop moving.

Bob and weave with jabs
Punch down 8 each side (repeat several times)
Leg abductions while punching up and front
Hold arms in goal post position and alternate lifting knees to side, touching elbows to knees
Alternating lifting knees in front
Front kicks
Back kicks
Front kick/back kick combos
Wide squat touching elbows to knees and punching overhead
Squat and kick
Sumo pulse squats with tiny steps forward (while in sumo)
Wide sumo squats touching elbows to knees and punching overhead
Alternate lifting leg to side and touching side of foot
Side kicks
Hook punches
**I think around here (9-10 minutes into workout) is where the actual training period begins
Jumping jacks
Jabs–singles, then double time
Low jabs/strikes
Alternate regular jabs and low jabs
Jacks and scissors
Jab cross reach pull (the pull is a knee lift)–low first then “pop up” (jump)
Jab and jack
Punch combos
Interval blast: high impact ice breakers–recover with side jabs
Front jabs–singles then double time
Interval blast: hop squats–recover with side jabs
Alternate upper cuts–regular speed then “flurry” upper cuts (very fast)
Pendulum legs while punching arms over head
Punch front mambo
Punch combo
(I think this next move was the third and last interval blast, but she didn’t label it as such) “Dip down” this looks like a plie jack while alternately punching down between legs as you jack; alternate this with jumping side-to-side and jump ropes
Then you cool down briefly before moving on to the conditioning drills.

Conditioning Drills
Shoulder press with dumbbells
Bear crawl press
Bicep curl balance challenge with dumbbells
Hammer curl balance challenge with dumbbells
Plank shoulder snatch with one dumbbell
Tricep dips
Jab and strike sit ups
Sit ups with speed bag arms
5 Sit up/5 push up combo (repeat 6 times)—you will see this again in Super Cuts 

Heavy Bag Bonus: I love this workout so much and hated that it contained 3 tabatas that I couldn’t do since I don’t own a heavy bag. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought—shadow boxing, especially with weighted gloves, can be pretty intense. So maybe these tabatas will be, too, if I use my 2 pound weighted gloves. So I did premix 12 which has the main Hard Strikes workout w/ the conditioning + all 3 heavy bag tabata drills. HUGE success! I LOVED it! It gave me an intense hour-long workout. Were the tabatas at the same level as Tabatacise? Hell no. It wasn’t even really HIIT level, but it was still intense cardio. It may very well be HIIT level with a heavy bag, btw—but I was just shadow boxing with weight gloves. It was still awesome. So awesome I had some seriously severe DOMS all through my back for days afterward! Impressive!

Here’s a review of the bonus. A tabata is a form of HIIT (high intensity interval training). In a HIIT, you go all out—at your highest intensity possible for a short amount of time (anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds—or in the case of psycho workouts like Insanity—3 minutes!), then recover for anywhere from 10 seconds to 1-2 minutes. A tabata is a HIIT cycle with a specific structure. You go all out for 20 seconds and recover for 10. You do 8 cycles of 20/10—one after the other (a total of 4 minutes)—to complete one tabata. The tabatas are set up the same way Cathe sets up tabatas in Tabatacise, Crossfire and To the Max. She introduces 4 moves, then you repeat them. There was really not much of a break between tabatas. She tells you to get a drink, the screen fades; when it returns you immediately start the next tabata.

Heavy Bag Tabata #1:

Jab right

Cross right

Rapid jab cross

Alternating hooks

Repeat, except lead on the left

Heavy Bag Tabata #2:

4 upper cuts right/4 upper cuts left

In horse stance fast knuckle punches

Right stance: 3 jabs + one cross

Left stance: 3 jabs + one cross


Heavy Bag Tabata #3:

Jab cross hook upper cut—right stance

Jab cross hook upper cut—left stance

Back fist—right arm (slam the back of your hand against the heavy bag)

Back fist—left arm


Bonus Core #1 is 10:30. It is a great core workout. Bonus Core #2 is tougher, but this one is still pretty challenging. You start with full sit ups with speed bag arms. Then you do pulse crunches with hands to knees, then hands behind head. Sit up touching hands to knees, toes, knees and lay back down to mat. You alternate this move with pulse crunches touching hands to knees. Next is frog style crunches (knees to side and bottoms of feet touching). In banana position, twist to the side bringing in knees and touching opposite knee to elbow–alternate (this is a tough move!). In C-sit position with knees bent and feet off ground, do oblique twists. Next is something Cathe calls stacked crunches. What is stacked is your feet. Both legs are extended straight and one heel sits on the opposite toe. As you crunch up, you lift the top leg. Next is full sit ups. The workout ends with a plank series. First, while in straight arm plank, alternate bringing your foot to your hand. Then drop to elbows (low plank) and alternate bringing your knees to your arms. Next is a “jog” while still in low plank–alternating dropping your knees to the mat. The plank series ends by holding low plank. Then she briefly stretches out your core.

Bonus Burn Set Triceps (14 minutes): this “bonus” is actually an individual muscle group segment from the Burn Set workout. So, just click on any of the Burn Set links and it will take you to the review of that workout where you can read about the concept of the Burn Set workouts and the individual muscle segments.

100 Rep Challenge Bicep Curls w/ Barbell (7 minutes): I love these 100 rep challenges. My method of using them is to tack them on to the end of a workout that works the same muscle group. I think that is probably how it was intended, too, since the 100 rep challenges for Biceps and Triceps are included on the Bi & Tri workout. All of the 100 Rep Challenges are basically set up the same. Cathe is giving instructions while one other person actually does the 100 reps. There is no warm up or cool down and none of the challenges are included in premixes–so they are yours to play with however you wish. For the bicep challenge, the crew member with Cathe (Marlo) uses a barbell with 25 pounds on it. I used the same. The reps are not done fast–but not super slow either. At a controlled pace. First she does 40 reps and takes a 30 second break. Then 22 more reps, takes another 30 second break. 18 more reps and takes another 30 second break then finishes with the last 20 reps. The first time I did this, I did it at the same pace as Marlo, but in the future I won’t take as many breaks. I think 25 pounds on my barbell was a good place for me to start doing the 100 rep challenge, but I could have powered on longer after the first break (and I will in the future). In the future I will probably only take two 30 second breaks rather than 3. The first time I did this challenge, I did Premix 2 before hand–which is the main Bi’s & Tri’s workout + Bonus Core #2. Then I tacked on the bicep challenge. My arms screaming afterward! I felt as if I had worked them harder than ever! I LOVE IT! The odd thing, however, is that I had no DOMS! I thought that was odd. **The second time I did this challenge was after Burn Sets Bi’s and Tri’s and my biceps were burned out. I used the 25 pound barbell, but Marlo’s breaks worked just fine for me that time! So it apparently depends on how burned out the muscle group is–and Burn Sets really burns those muscles.

Edit: It was pointed out by a reader that the crew members have been filming workouts all day and their muscles are probably already fatigued. This is, of course, true. Cathe mentions in most (if not all) of the 100 Rep Challenges to go at your own pace, which is what the crew members are doing. I noticed myself that when doing the 100 Rep Bicep Challenge that I needed more rests when I did the challenge after Burn Sets Bi’s & Tri’s than after I did the regular Bi’s and Tri’s workout. So Burn Sets burned my biceps out more, which made the challenge more difficult. This is obviously what is going on with some of the crew members—their muscles are burned out.


Hard Strikes + Burn Set Tris 61 minutes

Hard Strikes + Core #1 57 minutes

Hard Strikes + Burn Set Tris + Core #1 71 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (1 Tabata)  51 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (1 Tabata) + Core #1  62 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (1 Tabata) + Burn Set Tris 65 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (1 Tabata) + Burn Set Tris + Core #1   76 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (2 Tabatas)  55 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (2 Tabatas) + Core #1   66 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (2 Tabatas) + Burn Set Tris  69 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (2 Tabatas) + Burn Set Tris + Core #1  80 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (3 Tabatas)   60 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (3 Tabatas) + Core #1  70 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (3 Tabatas) + Burn Set Tris   74 minutes

Hard Strikes + Heavy Bag (3 Tabatas) + Burn Set Tris + Core #1   84 minutes

Timesaver (No Conditioning)   35 minutes

Timesaver (No Conditioning) + Core #1   45 minutes

Timesaver (No Conditioning) + Burn Set Tris  49 minutes

Timesaver (No Conditioning) + Burn Set Tris + Core #1  59 minutes

Heavy Bag Tabatas #1-3 only   – 13 minutes

Heavy Bag Tabata #1 only  – 5 minutes

Heavy Bag Tabata #2 only  – 4 minutes

Heavy Bag Tabata #3 only  – 4 minutes

18 thoughts on “Xtrain: Hard Strikes

  1. Hi, i just got hard strikes and really like it, but do you have advice for some low impact modifications? i am thinking of the jumping jacks and scissors. i can handle some impact but need some lower impact in there too. thanks!


    1. A low impact version of a jumping jack is to continue to do the same arm movements but instead of jumping, alternate tapping your legs out to the side. The low impact version of scissors is similar, same arm movements but tap your feet behind you. The key to getting the most out of a workout when going low impact is to use full range of motion–tap your leg out as far to the side or behind you as you can–so lots of energy.


  2. I really appreciate your advice. I will go for Hard Strikes because of the intensity and the 23 premixes . I don’t mind jumping jacks either. Cute Cathe- I just can’t get enough of her 🙂


  3. Hi ! I hesitate between purchasing Rock out Knockout and Hard Strikes. Which one is tougher according to you?
    Thank you for a brilliant blog! 🙂


    1. Thanks! That’s a tough question. Intensity-wise, I would say Hardstrikes, but with Hardstrikes the cardio factor is shorter than it is with Rockout Knockout. They are both great workouts but Rockout Knockout actually has kicking in it (which Hardstrikes doesn’t–it is more cardio boxing with some metabolic/endurance strength work at the end). I always prefer kicking. With Rockout Knockout, if you add on the heavy bag bonus (which I always do) you get a full hour of kicking and punching. Hardstrikes is more of an intense little cardio workout with some punching. Hope that helps!


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