Cathe Live: Compound Giant Sets

compoundGiantSets-LightWeights-07-09-15-256I chose to do this workout mostly out of curiosity from the title. I am so glad I did. This is an awesome metabolic/endurance workout. It wasn’t quite what I expected by the title. A giant set is circuit training with very little rest between sets; however I always associate giant sets with focusing on a single muscle group. For example doing 4 chest exercises, one right after the other with little rest between each exercise. That is not what happens in Compound Giant Sets Live. In this workout you do 7 compound exercises at a brisk (but not crazy fast) pace/tempo and between each exercises you get a very brief rest (generally to the count of 8). You repeat the round of 7 exercises 4 times (you get a longer rest between each giant set). Cathe tells you in the beginning that the first time you do this workout you should start light. Since it is an endurance workout your weight can seem too light at first and but this workout creeps up on you. Halfway through the second round she tells you that if your dumbbells still seem too light then go ahead and increase them but have the lighter ones nearby in case you were wrong. Two things are important to keep in mind to get the most out of this workout–pace and form. So choose the weight that you can keep up the pace Cathe sets but with proper form.

With all that said, I started the workout with 8 pound dumbbells like Cathe and immediately found them too light. However I completed two rounds with 8 pound dumbbells before I bumped it up to 10 pound dumbbells. I found that satisfactory for the most part except for one exercise (plies w/ one arm overhead tricep extensions) in which I had to drop back down to 8 pound dumbbells for the last round. I love this workout so I will definitely be returning to it. It is fast paced (but also a controlled pace) but the exercises appear in the same order every round (except the first round in which Cathe forgets one exercise so inserts it a little later in the round), so if you have your dumbbells close by, you have 8 counts between each exercise to quickly change weights. I do believe that for some exercises I could use 12 pound dumbbells. But the next time I do this workout I will complete the entire thing with 10 pound dumbbells (except the one exercise that 8# is more appropriate for me) before I decide that I will bump it up to 12s on some. It will probably wear me out more using 10 pounders for all 4 rounds.

After you finish the 4 rounds of giant sets you do some standing ab work. Most of it is unweighted but you will also need two dumbbells for some of the exercises. Cathe combines two 8 pound dumbbells in one hand for one exercise but I found it easier to just grab a 15 pound dumbbell. The final exercise before the stretch is plank work. Overall an excellent and deceptively challenging workout! I felt I had been worked hard by the end of this workout.

Compound Giant Sets is 42 minutes long; 6 minute warm up, 6 minutes core work, 2:30 minute stretch. Recommended equipment: a set of 8 pound dumbbells and a fitness mat. As I already stated above, I used 8 pound and 10 pound dumbbells and one 15 pound dumbbell. This workout aired live on 7/09/15; here is a video clip.

Giant Set (repeat 4x):

  1. Squat w/ overhead press, 12 reps;
  2. Alternating reverse lunges w/ bicep curls, 10 reps;
  3. Drop squats w/ tricep extensions (jump into plie squat bringing DBs to ground, jump feet back in and bring DBs overhead, do 2 overhead tricep extensions–this is one rep), 8 reps;
  4. Alternating forward leaning lunges w/ rear delt flys, 10 reps;
  5. Start facing forward, turn to side and do a front lunge bringing DBs down on either side of front foot, stand and face forward, do overhead press, turn to other side and do a front lunge bringing DBs down on either side of front foot, 10 reps;
  6. Plie squat w/ one arm overhead tricep extensions (get into plie and raise one arm overhead, lower into plie squat and do 2 tricep extensions, raise up out of squat–this is one rep, arm stays overhead through out the entire set), 10 reps on each arm;
  7. Squat thrust, two push ups (raise one leg for each push up), jump feet back in and stand; 8 reps.


  1. Get into sumo squat and do torso rotations, keeping hips forward;
  2. Continue torso rotations but focus on one side (so rotate from middle to side);
  3. Back to doing #1;
  4. Still in sumo squat , do alternating side bends; when you bring the arm overhead, you do it w/ force, as if throwing something overhead/to the side;
  5. While still in sumo squat bring elbow to opposite knee, alternate sides;
  6. Grab both 8# DBs in one hand (I just used one 15# DB), place other hand behind head and do side bends;
  7. Holding one DB in both hands, raise DB overhead to the side, to the middle, to the other side; this changes to just lifting side to side;
  8. Plank work: hold straight arm plank; lower to elbow plank and hold; step feet out and in; march feet; alternate tapping knees to mat.



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