Cathe Live: PHA Training

phaTraining-7-02-15-256pxThis is the first Cathe Live workout I did and I love it! What a great workout and the live aspect of it really mixed things up. This is a great total body metabolic strength workout. I own all of Cathe‘s DVDs and I honestly don’t think she has any DVDs out there that are like this workout. I could be wrong–I don’t have them memorized, after all, but this one seemed very different. The workout does use traditional exercises that Cathe frequently uses in her workouts but what is different is the sequencing of the exercises. Cathe explains it in her description of this workout:

You alternate between upper and lower body resistance exercises, allowing as little rest as possible between each movement. The lack of rest and recovery keeps your heart rate up for cardiovascular and fat burning benefits, while switching between upper and lower body exercises maximizes blood flow to all parts of the body and reduces build up of lactic acid.

All I know is I love this type of workout. I found it a great workout. Very fast-paced so you are getting some cardio with strength. The equipment Cathe recommends you have on hand are as follows: barbell loaded with 45 pounds, plus 5,  8, 10, 12 pound dumbbells. Below in the break down I also list what weight Cathe directs you to use for each exercise. Like any workout, you need to go through it once to see if these weights will apply to you. I found it a mixed bag. For the plié squats, rear delt flies and front/side raises the weight Cathe directed us to use was perfect for me. For the side lunges, I bumped my weight up to 8 pounds after the first round. For the bicep/triceps I bumped my weight up to 12 pounds after the first round. In the future, I will grab 15 pounds for the static lunges and, also in the future, I will have a heavier barbell handy for deadlifts.

That leads me to a second note about this workout. It is a very fast-paced circuit workout so you need all of your equipment handy and close. That means your barbell(s) needs to be close to your dumbbells and all equipment close at hand. There is no time to add plates to your barbell so if you don’t have two barbells (or 3 like me!) you are $crewed if you need different barbell weights. And pausing should not be an option as stopping the workout defeats the purpose of PHA.

Here is Cathe’s forum post about this workout along with a video clip.

***2/22/16 Update/Note: I have been doing a lot of Cathe Live workouts a second time and am still loving them just as much, but I have to add a comment on this one. I did this one for the second time this morning, this time using heavier weights from the very first circuit and OMG. I LOVE THIS WORKOUT. This might be my all time favorite workout. With the proper weights, it works your muscles so well and still gives you a great cardio workout. For a strength workout, it is all around impressive. I am so enamored if it I now feel the need to work it into my rotations more frequently.***

On to the breakdown:

PHA training is 50 minutes long; 5:30 minute warm up; 6:30 minutes of core work; 3 minute cool down/stretch. It aired live 7/02/15. The initial set up for this workout is 3 rounds of the 8 exercises listed below; however, this is a live class and snafus happen! The first time through the first round Cathe forgot exercises #5 & #6–so rather than 8 exercises, you only do 6. Cathe fixes this by calling the first round your “warm up round.” You then do all 8 exercises for 3 rounds. So you actually do 4 rounds, but one round is missing the lunges and the front/side raises.

After the warm up you grab the 12 pound dumbbells and do a warm up set of plie squats (16 reps, pulse 7 then pulse 3 2x), then grab the barbell for plie squats.

  1. Plie squats with BB (1 rep to a count of 2 up, 2 down then two reps to a single count; 7 reps) (45# BB)
  2. Rear delt flies with 12# DBs, 14 reps
  3. Side lunges w/ 5# DBs (two side lunges to each side, bringing DB to foot; 8 total of these pairs) (I used 12# DBs)
  4. 3 bicep curls, overhead press, 3 overhead tricep presses; for the first 2 sets she uses 10#, for the last two sets she uses 12# (6 sets total) (I used 15# DBs)
  5. Static lunge w/ 12# DBs (20 reps each leg) (I used 15# DBs)
  6. Front/side raise w/ 8# DB (alternate arms to front once, then raise together 2x, alternate arms to side once then raise together 2x; 5 of these sets)
  7. Deadlifts w/ barbell (12 reps) (I used 75# BB)
  8. 12 push ups (for final set/4th round do 16 reps)

Core (repeat this series 3x): 1. 16 pulsing crunches; 2. 4 sit ups while speed bag/rolling arms/fists; 3. 4 sit ups with two punches at top; 4. 8 ankle grabbers; 5. 8 sit ups; at top alternate raising one leg; 6. in straight arm plank bring knee to outside elbow for 8 reps.



25 thoughts on “Cathe Live: PHA Training

      1. Thanks, 2L! (I’m sorry; I’m not seeing where you included your weights. Where did you update them?) I’ve been incorporating more total body strength WOs into my routine, and this has been on my to-do list for MONTHS!
        (Yeah, I forget sometimes that you’re bionic/crazy [I kid :-D] and do a lot of your WOs now with your weighted vest. You must have legs of steel, 2L.


      2. It’s my fault! I didn’t click on the post attached to your comment–I just assumed you were commenting about the Strong & Sweaty PHA Training review (on the blog dashboard, it has the title of the post the comment is attached to–I just didn’t read it carefully) so went straight to that post. Sorry! I will add the weights I used for the Live workout tonight. And I have not attempted to do the Live PHA Training with my weighted vest on. It was the S&S one!


      3. Ok–I did it right this time. I added the weights I used to the Live PHA Training. If only one weight is listed then I used the same weight as Cathe.


      4. Thanks again, 2L! (Sorry to be such a bother! :-p ) This is going to be my Saturday WO, and I’m really looking forward to it. 😀 (And thanks for also listing the weights for her S&S PHA ’cause you know I was eventually going to be asking for that, as well. LOL)


      5. No problem! You will love PHA Live! It is one of my favorite Live workouts. In fact, I think I have returned to that Live workout more than any other.


  1. Thanks for your reply! I understand that Strong&Sweaty will be more of a strength training series. But I also hope that the PHAT and Giant Sets workouts will be tough enough with my 8,12 & 15 lbs dumbbells and will give me some cardio effect using the equipment I already have. I can’t wait to get more info on the actual content 🙂


    1. It all depends on your fitness level. I use heavier weights than Cathe and her class does in the Live classes. If I used the same weights as they did, the workout (for me) would not be nearly as intense. But the reason Cathe (and I’m sure some of the people in her class) use the weights they use is due to what is available to a class of that size. We know from doing Cathe’s DVDs that she is capable of lifting much heavier than she does in her live classes. An example–in any Live class, the heaviest Cathe’s barbell ever gets is 45, usually for deadlifts and much lighter for other things. Deadlifts are done in PHAT 1 and I use a 70 pound barbell for that exercise. If I didn’t, I definitely would not get the same workout. But I’m sure the Strong & Sweaty workouts are not going to be an exact replica of her live classes so 15 pound dumbbells may be as heavy as you need. I do know I need to lift heavier than that for effective lower body, back and chest work. However, when Cathe needs to go heavier with dumbbells, she sometimes holds two in one hand (one 10 + one 12, or one 12 + one 15) so that is an option for lifting heavier if you need to, tho if you do it too much/too long it can make your hands start to hurt!


  2. Hi my friend! After reading your reviews on the two PHAT Cathe Live workouts, I’m SO excited she is going to release a PHAT program on DVD😃
    I’ve never done PHAT , please share according to you , is PHAT alike metabolic weight training? Or is it similar to The Firm’s AWT ? Or low impact cardio such as Afterburn, Cardio Supersets…Or PHAT is mostly strength training which somewhat raises the heart rate.
    Thank you in advance and hugs!


    1. Hi Sveltana! I am very excited about Cathe’s upcoming workouts. It seems like she is basing them on some of her most popular Live workouts. Which is great–they are popular for a reason. They are awesome! If you read the exercises contained in the PHAT workouts you will see there is no actual “cardio” moves. It is all strength training. And it is generally low enough rep (generally around 12 reps) that you can lift heavy enough to get a great strength workout. These workouts are very metabolic, so you are also getting cardio in the mix. They move fast. A workout card is essential unless you are using the same weights as Cathe because you need to know in advance what weights you will be using and have them all set up so you can go from one to the next quickly. That is how you get the cardio effect–fast paced strength exercises. What makes these PHAT workouts even more valuable is that because you alternate between upper and lower body exercises, the muscle group just worked gets an opportunity to rest even tho you are continuing fast paced circuit training (which keeps the heart rate elevated), which means you can still lift heavy enough with every set to benefit your muscles. Does this make sense? I do not feel like Cathe’s Live PHAT workouts are anything like what she currently has on DVD, so there is nothing of hers to compare it to. Now, Kelly Coffey-Meyer has done at least one that I can think of that is a PHAT workout: Strength & Stamina. It isn’t as advanced as what Cathe has done but it is also an excellent workout.


  3. That’s what I’m loving about Live.. it’s what I know and expect from Cathe.. but in a fresh way. Thank you for your time writing all this up. I have bought quite a few dvds and set based on your reviews and passed on some as well.

    Happy Holidays!


    1. I did my second Cathe Live workout this morning (review will go up later today) and you are right–there is a lot of variety. Even if there are the same moves as she uses in some of her DVDs, she puts things together completely different in the Live workouts I’ve done and I love that variety.


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