Cathe Live: Barbell Upper Body

barbellUpperBodyLive-1-29-15I have been kind of depressed the past week or so. My Apple TV was having buffering problems and I was unable to do any Cathe Live workouts. Not only was it wasting my time in the mornings as I tried to get it to work but it was screwing up my workout rotation. After three days of having to do alternate workouts (not as simple as it sounds when I use workout cards to tell me what weights to lift and I have to set up dumbbells/barbells and other equipment for strength workouts), I gave up. My husband, in the meantime, was trying to figure out why, after 3 months of seamless Cathe Live, it suddenly won’t work. I share all this in case anyone else has experienced this problem because he did fix it! It took a while and we even bought a new router which at first seemed like a waste of money since it didn’t immediately fix the problem. Finally, after trying several things, he decided to move the old router into my workout room and hardwired it into my Apple TV (it was wireless before) and tada! Cathe Live plays seamlessly again! So I am very happy again! Now that I have discovered Cathe Live, the idea of being without it is just depressing! I’m also happy the new router wasn’t a waste of money.

I celebrated by doing Barbell Upper Body and wow! It was brutal! I didn’t know what to expect when I went into this workout so I decided to be conservative w/ my weights but for some exercises to use what I usually lift. Well, it turns out, this is a high rep/endurance workout along the lines of Les Mills Pump and Cathe’s Power Hour. So there were several times I had to stop and let my muscles thaw before I could continue with Cathe. Not to worry tho–she was doing a zillion reps, so my muscles still got plenty of work! But now I know what to lift in the future. I never lifted too light. I either lifted the perfect weight or too heavy. BTW–excellent workout. Burned my upper body out. Great ab work, too.

Also, at first I had no idea what weight Cathe was lifting. She didn’t specify what you are lifting by plate weight but plate size; she told you to have a barbell with large, medium and small plates. It wasn’t until the very end of the workout when she shared that the medium plates were 5 pound plates that I knew what she was lifting. I have 4 different barbells (and different kinds of plates) and the one she (and the class) are using is the same barbell and plates that came with Les Mills Pump. So the barbell weighs 5 pounds, the large plate is 10 pounds, medium plate 5 pounds and small plate is 2.5 pounds. So the heaviest weight she could lift with her barbell and plates is 40 pounds; however, for this workout she never went heavier than 35 pounds. The first exercises are compound exercises then you move to isolation. You start with back exercises and I thought I was being conservative using only 50 pounds on my barbell. Well, it was perfect. I was burning out and getting close to failure by the end of the back segment. I would say my weight choices were also good for the compound back & shoulder work (35 pounds) and the shoulder work at the end (25 pounds). I overshot it with chest and biceps. 35 pounds seemed conservative for chest for me and just right for biceps. Well–it was too much for both! I hit muscle failure several times! So next time I will drop to 30 pounds for both. And finally, for triceps I used 25 pounds and that worked for the first run through. But when you repeat all of the exercises a second time it was too much and I dropped to my 15 pound body bar but in the future I will have a 20 pound barbell on standby to use for the second set.

And btw–it is almost 6 hours later and my shoulders and arms are still aching.

Barbell Upper Body is 42:30 minutes long; 5 minute warm up, 3:30 minutes of abs/core and 2 minute stretch. Equipment needed: a barbell with various plates (Cathe had two 10 pound, two 5 pound and two 2.5 pound plates) and a step w/ 3 risers on each side. It aired live on 1/29/15; here is the video clip.

One thing to keep in mind about every exercise below–there are a lot of reps. A lot. And at various tempos–one up/3 down, 6 up/2 down, 2/2, pulse 7 times, pulse 3 times, half reps, etc. So you will be seriously burning your muscles out. I will list the weight Cathe used and the the weight I used as well as what I plan to use in the future. Also, she uses the barbell at 20 pounds during the warm up. I just used my 15 pound body bar for the warm up. Finally–unless Cathe is changing the weights on her barbell, you get very little (or no) rest between the exercises listed below. If you get a rest I will note it below at the end of the exercise description.


  1. Back rows (Cathe used 35#, I used 50#); you do this in triple row format, 3 bent over rows, stand, 3 bent over rows, stand, and so on–lots of reps; you do this pattern with both the overhand and the underhand grip; it ends w/ single overhand rows
  2. Deadlifts and deadrows (Cathe used 35#, I used 50#–btw, this is an example of no rest between exercises #1 and #2, you flow straight into it)
  3. Clean & Press alternated w/ deadrows (Cathe used 25#, I used 35#); after doing this for a while you do sets of 3 power presses (3 overhead presses), then just deadrows; then repeat it all over again with no rest–but end w/ power presses (so no deadrows)
  4. Pullovers and narrow chest press (lay on step; Cathe used 25#, I used 35#–in the future I will use 30#); lots and lots of reps at various tempos
  5. Wide grip chest press (Cathe used 25#, I used 35#–in the future I will use 30#); there is no rest between #4 & #5–only to widen your grip on the bar; lots of reps, different tempos
  6. Push ups; 3 sets of 8 reps; first set is 2/2 count, the last 2 sets are single count; you get a short break after the push ups
  7. Lying overhead tricep extensions (Cathe uses 25# and so did I); lots of reps, different tempos
  8. Tricep dips off step; 3 sets of 24 reps; sets 1 & 3 are fast, set 2 is slow with different leg positions
  9. Lying overhead tricep extensions (Cathe uses 25#, I used 15#–in the future I will use 20#)
  10. Tricep push ups, hands on end of step (very short rest after tricep push ups, mostly to change barbell weight)
  11. Bicep curls (Cathe used 15#, I used 35#–in the future I will use 30#); lots of reps and tempos (you get a short break after biceps)
  12. Upright rows and overhead presses (Cathe used 15#, I used 25#)
  13. Front and side raises using two 5# plates only


  1. Russian twists using one 5# plate
  2. Full sit ups, raising one 5# plate overhead at top of move
  3. While lying on your back, plant one elbow on the ground with the fingers pointing straight up in the air; the other arm lifts up overhead and is holding one 5# plate: raise your torso/arm w/ 5# plate while your other elbow remains planted on the mat
  4. Get into elbow plank but forearms are parallel so wrists are by opposite elbows; rotate body up into side plank while raising top arm overhead

7 thoughts on “Cathe Live: Barbell Upper Body

  1. I just love your blog! I agree that especially at this point in my life, I am too lazy for the gym! So grateful for your reviews on all of the alternative ways to workout at home.


  2. I am one of those who does not have a barbell, and must substitute dumbbells. I am very interested in your opinion as to the difference between the two. What am I giving up by using dumbbells instead of a barbell and plates?


    1. In a workout like this one–high rep/endurance, I personally don’t think you are giving up anything by substituting with dumbbells. In fact, I think there are benefits to using dumbbells over barbells. When using a barbell, especially for high rep workouts, you may start compensating for your weaker side (so your stronger arm is actually bearing more weight). Dumbbells take that issue completely out of the picture, as each arm is forced to lift the same amount of weight, so you are avoiding muscle imbalances. However, as you get into heavier weight workouts, the barbell has its advantages. Deadlifts, back rows and bench presses primarily. It is very difficult go super heavy on those exercises using dumbbells (especially the bench press–but of course, you need a rack for that too). In the end it does depend on your goals. If you are doing primarily endurance, hypertrophy and metabolic strength workouts then you don’t need anything other than dumbbells. But some lower rep hypertrophy, strength and power exercises require you to lift heavier and a barbell is necessary for some of those exercises.


  3. So happy you reviewed this one! I attempted it a while back and just couldn’t get the weight on my barbell right and moved on, always thinking I’d return to it in the future. It is a tough one for sure, but now know more what to expect and use for weights! Thank you!!


    1. That’s the tough thing about workouts like these–getting the weights just right to get the best workout. I know I overshot it on some exercises yesterday and had to keep stopping because my muscles were so burned out I couldn’t do another rep. I will definitely lower the weight the next time I do it!


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