Metabolic Rotation (DVDs + Cathe Live)

dumbbellThis is a rotation I have been planning to create and do for a very long time but the concept was overwhelming, considering all of the workouts I own. I have a lot of excellent ones. And then there is Cathe Live which is full of excellent metabolic workouts! The object of this rotation is intensity, but I also do not want to over-train myself or anyone who chooses to follow this. So what I really strove for with this rotation was to keep the intensity high almost every day, but to vary the impact. Luckily Cathe has a lot of intense low impact workouts, but there are others who do, too. I am staying away from systems to make this rotation accessible to more people. Every workout will be an individual workout you can purchase except for Cathe Live workouts. Yes, they are included. They are too good not to. The goal is to workout an hour a day. Since Cathe Live workouts are frequently only 40-50 minutes I also sometimes include a short add on that is streamed via Youtube and free. They will be mostly Popsugar workouts but also a few BeFit workouts. So other than Cathe Live workouts everything is available on DVD or free. However, if you are not interested in rounding out your hour, skip the add ons and just do the main workout. If you do that, your workout times will vary–sometimes as little as 30-40 minutes, other times 60-70 minutes (Saturday workouts).

Now, the majority of the workouts in this rotation I have done before but I will also be sampling some new-to-me Cathe Live workouts. The majority of Cathe’s Live workouts are metabolic, so I am not worried about these messing up the rotation. There is some repetition with some of the workouts. For the majority of the 8 weeks you will do a different workout every day but there is only a limited number of metabolic/cardio + strength upper body workouts that I am aware of so some of those had to be re-used. Same with low impact cardio. I used Jillian Michael‘s Killer Arms & Back for some of the metabolic upper body workouts. They are short workouts–around 30 minutes so I included add-ons to the days you do her workouts. I used the same one each day–Jillian’s Kickbox FastFix: Upper Body workout to keep the metabolic upper body theme going but personally, I swapped it out the last time it appears for Kelly Coffey-Meyer‘s Body Design: Upper Body Strength segment. They both are about the same length but Kelly’s gives you much more focused strength workout. However, it is not metabolic.

While researching the benefits of metabolic workouts (of which there are many) I came across this excellent article that articulates it so much better than I can: The Hierarchy of Fat Loss from T Nation. If you are wanting to lose fat I recommend you read this article. But for my purposes, in order to lose fat, you need intensity and afterburn. You also have to stop relying on muscle splits for a while. At least splits that focus on small muscle groups. You need to do total body circuit workouts that are made up of fast paced circuits with little rest between exercises. If you are doing splits, stick with upper/lower body splits and make sure your upper body splits are metabolic (fast paced circuits–add in some cardio intervals to up the intensity). In addition to this rotation, diet will have to be a factor, or you simply will not achieve results.

As I said, I have been thinking about this rotation for a long time. I decided to finally create it and commit to it because the scale has been creeping over the past few years and my clothes are getting tighter. I am usually good about damage control but the past few years, not so much. I have no problems keeping a strict workout schedule, but my diet has slipped. So I decided to commit to this 8 week rotation–the workouts and the diet–and document it all here.

I found this rotation very hard to create. My original vision for this rotation came a long time ago–before I subscribed to Cathe Live. There was a part of me that wanted to go with my original idea and do DVDs only. But Cathe has created some pretty amazing live metabolic workouts that I felt really enhanced the rotation. But due to Cathe Live workouts, some trainers/workouts that I would have otherwise included (or included more of) were left out. However, if not for Cathe Live, almost all of the metabolic workouts that also double as strength workouts would have been total body workouts. Thanks to Cathe Live I was able to make this rotation a little more interesting by doing two total body workouts a week plus splits. Because of this I have decided to also create the DVD only metabolic rotation and it will focus on total body workouts. I am still working on it but it should post soon.

A final note. Because this is a metabolic rotation, you will be using dumbbells for nearly every workout–so 6 days a week, every single day. Listen to your body. Your main strength days are Monday (total body), Wednesday (lower body), Thursday (upper body) and Saturday (total body). Keep this in mind when doing Tuesday and Friday workouts and do not lift super heavy on weights–especially if you are sore. And since these are all metabolic workouts, if you find yourself super sore during any week, lighten your dumbbells for every workout until you aren’t hurting so badly. You will still get a lot out of these workouts, even if you aren’t maxing out on dumbbell weights. Now, with that said, if you are capable and feeling strong, then lift as heavy as you can on the strength days. Just make sure you can complete all of the reps at the trainer’s speed/pace with good form. One of the important aspects of metabolic circuit workouts is little rest time between exercises–so you need to keep that brisk clip that the trainer sets in your workouts.

Results: In the end I stuck fairly close to this rotation. It is an 8 week rotation but I did it for 3 months. The last month I was playing with the DVD only metabolic rotation–so my metabolic workout rotation actually continued for 3 months. The biggest difference between this rotation and any other rotation I’ve done? I did the food. Every. Single. Day. Without fail. Even through the holidays! I lost 11.5 pounds. My goal was initially 10 pounds, so I achieved my goal. But now I think I could stand to lose another 3.5 so I am continuing to do the food.

Week 1:

Monday: Atletica #1 + Crossfire stretch only

Tuesday: Cathe Live: Crossfire Express + Popsugar: Metabolism Boosting Workout

Wednesday: Cathe Live: Triset Legs + Xtrain: Legs stretch only

Thursday: Cathe Live: Smokin’ Upper Body

Friday: ICE: Low Impact Sweat premix 4

Saturday: Patrick Goudeau Hardwork Conditioning 24/7

Sunday: Rest or yoga

Week 2:

Monday: Cathe Live: PHAT #1 + To the Max stretch only

Tuesday: Cathe Live: Quick Fix Kickboxing + Flex Train stretch only

Wednesday: Cathe Live: Lean Lower Body + Popsugar: Butt-Lifting Workout That’s Better Than Spanx

Thursday: Ripped w/ HIIT: Upper Body Circuit + Core 1

Friday: Ripped w/ HIIT: Low Impact HIIT premix 2 + bonus abs

Saturday: Cathe Live: Sweat, Pump & Jump

Sunday: Rest or yoga

Week 3:

Monday: Cathe Live: Total Body Giant Sets

Tuesday: Crossfire + Core premix

Wednesday: Cathe Live: Totally Toned Legs

Thursday: Jillian Michaels: Killer Arms & Back: Level 1 + Kickbox Fastfix: Upper

Friday: Afterburn

Saturday: Tracey Mallet F.I.T

Sunday: Rest or yoga

Week 4:

Monday: Atletica #2 + Total Body Stretching

Tuesday: Cathe Live: Fitness Fusion + Lean Legs & Abs stretch only

Wednesday: Cathe Live: Lean & Mean Legs + Popsugar: Leg Sculpting Hot Pants Workout

Thursday: Cathe Live: Step HIIT & Upper Body Weights

Friday: Kelly Coffey-Meyer: Athletic Conditioning #2: Workouts 1 & 2

Saturday: Patrick Goudeau Body Weight Blast

Sunday: Rest or yoga

Week 5:

Monday: Cathe Live: PHAT #2 + Popsugar: Skinny Jeans Workout

Tuesday: Cathe Live: Metabolic Conditioning + BeFit: Plyo Box Lower Body Workout

Wednesday: Cathe Live: Lower Body Burn + Popsugar: Squat & Plank Challange

Thursday: Jillian Michaels Killer Arms & Back: Level 2 + Kickbox Fast Fix: Upper

Friday: Cathe Live: Hard Strikes Low Impact Boxing

Saturday: Patrick Goudeau Extreme Calorie Burn

Sunday: Rest or yoga

Week 6:

Monday: STS Total Body

Tuesday: Cathe Live: Metabolic Circuit Blast + Popsugar: Cardio Jump Workout

Wednesday: Cathe Live: Legs w/ Weights & Stability Ball

Thursday: Jillian Michaels: Killer Arms & Back: Level 3 + Kickbox Fast Fix: Upper

Friday: ICE: Low Impact Sweat: Premix 4

Saturday: Toby Massenberg AfterBURN

Sunday: Rest or yoga

Week 7:

Monday: Atletica #3 + Total Body Stretching #2

Tuesday: Cathe Live: HIIT Fit Circuit + BeFit: Hard Out HIIT for Fat Loss

Wednesday: Cathe LiveLegs on Fire + Popsugar: Reboot Your Butt

Thursday: Cathe Live: Smokin’ Upper Body Blast + Flex Train stretch only

Friday: Xtrain: All Out Low Impact HIIT Extreme premix

Saturday: ICE: Metabolic Total Body: Premix 4

Sunday: Rest or Yoga

Week 8:

Monday: Jari Love Get Ripped in 6 Minutes

Tuesday: To the Max Extreme premix

Wednesday: Cathe Live: Legs & Glutes

Thursday: Ripped w/ HIIT: Upper Body Circuit premix 5 + stretch

Friday: Afterburn

Saturday: Patrick Goudeau Lean Hot Body

Sunday: Rest or yoga







25 thoughts on “Metabolic Rotation (DVDs + Cathe Live)

  1. You have made something I’ve been trying to understand for a year simple. I prefer metabolic workouts but they wipe me out. Thanks for a simple explanation of metabolic workouts. I can’t wait to start my rotation.


  2. This is great information. I really appreciate the work you put into your reviews. You are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. I was going to put together a rotation of metabolic workouts and you have made it easier. If I’m understanding you correctly- I can go to Cathe’s website and use any dvd in the categories of Circuit, Hiit, Low Impact and Bootcamp and create a metabolic rotation. Is that correct?


    1. Thank you so much! I am so glad you are finding it helpful. And you are correct–any thing that elevates your heart rate into the anaerobic zone is metabolic, whether you are using dumbbells or plyometrics to do it. And any strength training workout that elevates the heart rate through circuit training and/or cardio bursts is metabolic.


  3. Another question ….. what would you say is the difference between a metabolic workout and a cardio + strength workout? The speed of the transition between exercises?


    1. Ok–this can be confusing. Metabolic is an umbrella term. The key to any metabolic workout is EPOC (Excess Post Oxygen Consumption) or afterburn. This can be achieved through HIIT and strength training. This is the beauty of what is now being labeled “metabolic” workouts. Using dumbbells to increase your heart rate to that peak level. So you are getting that HIIT effect with little to no impact and also building and/or conditioning muscles. It is a beautiful thing. That means that cardio + strength workouts (which are essentially circuit workouts) are metabolic. It also means fast paced circuit training that incorporates lower body work either as individual sets alternated with upper body sets in a circuit training workout or compound exercises that work both upper and lower body are metabolic. So this covers a whole range of workouts. Cardio workouts like Afterburn and X10 that are done circuit fashion and use dumbbells to increase intensity–also metabolic but not total body strength (tho you are getting muscle conditioning as a bonus). Or Cathe’s PHA, Giant Sets, Muscle Max, STS Total Body, and many more workouts–all circuit based total body strength workouts. Also cardio + strength workouts like High Step Training and Ripped w/ HIIT circuit workouts–and many of her live workouts.

      I hope this makes sense and doesn’t make it even more confusing. One way I am now increasing the metabolic effect of many of my strength and metabolic workouts is by wearing a 12 pound weighted vest. My heart rate peaks every time.


  4. Me again …. Question. Question #1: When you say “total body workouts”, do you mean equal parts of strength and cardio? On your workout rotation page, you mention, “The final thing I will add is seriously consider your goals. If your goal is to lose weight, then you will want to focus on the total body strength workouts 2-3 times a week and include HIIT workouts for cardio. If you are looking for muscle definition/strength then the split series rotations should be your focus.” Questions #2: Is that kind of how you structured your metabolic workouts, except on the 2-3 times of Hiit, you made those metabolic? I’ve read and reread your info so many times and want to make sure I’m understanding correctly. You are like another Cathe to me! I’m kind of addicted to metabolic workouts right now … doing Afterburn once a week, along with the Extreme Step Express premix from Athletic Training (omg … that step routine is done 4 times), Crossfire, x10. This past month, I’ve been doing 3 per week and 1 strength day. I’m an assistant high school girls’ basketball coach (and also teach 6th grade) so metabolic workouts seem to help me make the most of my time as of late. Question #3: Goal is to lose 5 pounds (and yes, diet needs to be tweaked). Would 3-4 metabolic workouts and 1-2 strength be good? I subscribed to Cathe Live this morning and also have a plethora of her dvds, so I can follow just about anything you would recommend. I have no trouble committing to the exercise part. The eating … wish you were my neighbor so we could help each other stay accountable. I would so love to have someone like you to workout with and food plan with.


    1. Hi Marcie! Let’s see–I’ll try to answer your questions in the order you asked them. #1. by total body I mean strength workouts that work all muscle groups. Total body workouts can have cardio blasts or not, but they are usually metabolic. Working your lower body usually increases your heart rate whereas upper body only workouts do not burn a lot of calories. 2. I have tried to structure the rotations so every workout you do (except your rest/yoga day) is a metabolic calorie burner–whether it is strength or straight cardio. 3. Yes, that sounds like a great calorie burning set up. The real key to going the metabolic route is to make sure you are varying your load. Using dumbbells to increase intensity is a great way to not only burn calories but to build/condition muscle, but you also want to make sure to give your muscles some rest. So do not always push yourself to lift super heavy, especially on those days when the weight is actually serving as your cardio. Like Afterburn and X10–they are perfect examples. I always use them for cardio so I never lift heavier than Cathe. But on workouts that double as my strength workouts I am usually lifting heavier than her.

      And accountability does help! I think that is WW is working for me. Because I am forced to log my food and my weight into a program every day. Plus–I am paying money for it!


  5. Well, I subscribed to Cathe Live this morning and just completed Totally Toned Legs. It was awesome. Love being with her live (I know it’s not live at the moment). I did find myself thinking many times throughout the video, “Man, I wish I lived in New Jersey and could work out at Cathe’s studio often like they do.” I told my husband that it is a goal of mine to plan a NE vacation and have Cathe’s studio be one of the destination places.


    1. Good for you! I LOVE Totally Toned Legs! One of my favorites. You should try Triset Legs–one of my favorite Cathe Live lower body workouts. Wouldn’t it be awesome to show up in her studio for a workout session? Maybe one day I’ll make it out the NJ. I haven’t even made it to one of her road trips. I live in the midwest so nothing is close.


  6. Thanks so much for sharing this! I followed your Cathe Live rotation over the summer and really enjoyed it. Since then I did a round of STS and for the last 3 weeks I’ve been doing pilates and cardio, but I really miss Cathe Live. I also practice heated power yoga at a studio 5 times a week. I’m going to use this format for a couple of months.

    I too struggle with 10 pounds and I’m on the short side (5’2). It sounds so shallow to say that since I’m really happy with my fitness level but I want to look like my fitness feels. It’s absolutely the food, especially the little things that just creep up. I just turned 46 and I have to be honest with myself about what I put into my body, especially how much and how it makes me feel.

    Thanks for sharing what has worked for you and I’m so happy you’re getting the results you want!! You deserve it!!


    1. You’re welcome! And thank you! You know, that is how I felt. I would look in the mirror and think–I do not look like I have completed STS 3 times along with multiple other strength training programs and I workout every single day. It was very frustrating to me. You think if you do all of that work in the gym you should be able to wear it like a badge of honor. But nope, you have to do the work in the kitchen or it stays hidden. Which I think sucks, personally–but I am finally sucking it up and fixing my diet. I’ll never look like a fitness model because I love my carbs, but at least I can look closer to how I feel!


  7. Thank you for putting this together. I check your site daily, to see your reviews of new workouts and to check the Cathe workout details for my own workout. I’ve been considering subscribing to Live and I think I’m going to get it done. I’ve been following your blog since last summer and it seems the reviews you write on the Cathe workouts are exactly what I’m thinking; thus, when you say you love Cathe Live, then I’m pretty sure I would love them, too. Thanks, also, for your candid thoughts on diet. I’m 42 and am in good shape (cardio vascular wise and strength-wise) but have about 5-7 pounds I can never let go of. I know it’s diet, but I haven’t bitten the bullet to just dive in and commit. I’ll go a few days and then falter. Maybe WW is what I should try. Thanks again for all of the time you commit to this blog.


    1. You’re welcome! I am glad this blog is so helpful! And those last 5 pounds (the vanity pounds!) are the hardest to lose. I am down 11 and am trying to lose 4 more and I am stuck! Plateau I guess. /o: But I am just keeping on keeping on, trying not to get discouraged. Those last 4 pounds may take just as long as the first 11, but I am going to stick with it and do it. Even tho it sucks and I wanted a cupcake last night (I had frozen grapes instead).

      I do love Cathe Live. I have something to share about it tho. I think, thanks to Cathe Live, my lower body is stronger and has more endurance than ever, but my upper body not so much. I returned to STS Total Body this morning. I haven’t done it in a year (about as long as I’ve been subscribed to Cathe Live). I used the same weights I used last time I did it PLUS a 12# weighted vest for the lower body trisets. In the past, that workout always wastes me. One of the best total body workouts ever. This time through–I was struggling with the upper body work but the lower body work didn’t challenge me like it used to–even with the addition of the vest! I thank Cathe Live for both–working my lower body so well but my upper not enough. So! You might want to supplement the upper body work in Cathe Live with some of her more heavy/focused DVD upper body workouts. That’s my plan for the future!


  8. Love your blog and soooooo glad I stumbled on it. I’d love to read what diet you followed. I’m doing Cathe’s Strong & Sweaty only 30 day rotation right now and trying to eat clean and lose the extra lbs. I picked up over the holidays. Try to eat as clean as possible, but I’m always interested in what woks for people.


    1. Hi Nancy! Scroll down to my response to Melinda. In short–I am doing Weight Watchers but I describe it in more detail there. I have resisted doing “diets” in the past because I felt like they were for people who need to lose a lot of weight and I didn’t. I just wanted to drop 10 pounds. But when nothing I was doing worked, I decided I have to do something that will force me to change the way I am eating. I thought paying for a diet plan and having the accountability of weekly weigh ins would help. And it did. It worked! It is working I mean. The biggest thing I fear is maintaining the loss. It is so hard to lose but so easy to gain back. )o:


      1. I may try WW. Like many, after 42 or so, the weight crept up me. I’ve been thin all my life and active, so putting on weight and not being able to lose it was tough. Counting calories and exercise wasn’t making it happen for me . At almost 50, I tried Medical Weight Loss and the weight came off, but the diet was super restrictive.I was literally hungry every minute of every day, other than about 30 minutes after eating. It was a really tough couple of months. I agree that being accountable to someone else seemed to make a difference. In my head, I know what I should be doing, but actually doing it is a whole different story! I have put back on some of the weight, but I’m determined to get it back off again without going back to MWLC!! It isn’t a lot (maybe 8 lbs or so), but I’m going to keep fighting and your blog definitely helps. I have a desk job also, and a 3rd grader, so taking time to go to the gym just doesn’t work for me any more. Luckily, I’ve got a decently stocked home gym, but getting up early in the morning hurts every single time!


      2. Hi Nancy–that has always been my problem. An inability to do a restrictive diet long term. I honestly cannot stand being hungry. I am a baby. It is miserable. That is definitely where WW wins for me. If I am hungry I just eat fruit and veggies. As much as I want. I also use volumetrics to make meals more satisfying–and it “costs” me nothing. For instance I eat a big salad with my meals and if I use Skinny Girl dressing–that is also zero points. So a zero point salad that makes my meals more satisfying. I add tons of veggies any dish I make. I eat fruit before and/or after meals to help me feel full. And then WW gives you weekly points so you can still indulge. You do have to plan and indulge more wisely than you (or at least I) did in the past, but I can still go out to eat or have a treat every week.


  9. This is awesome! And I too and more interested in Cathe Live now. And I also, as stated in the previous comment, have issues with food consumption. Do you follow a particular diet? I have been exercising for YEARS and pretty much have just maintained my weight with no diet. However, at 46, even with consistent exercise, I have put on 8 pounds over the past few months (I would say only about 2 of those are muscle gains). Realizing, as we age, we cannot out exercise our diet! I need to make that just as much a priority but it is very, very difficult. I have become a HUGE fan of metabolic workouts and have been doing a mix of Cathe, Jari, Tracey Mallet, Patrick G. and occasionally Bob Harper. I could never stand Jillian for some reason. I gave all of her DVD’s to Goodwill; albeit, she is effective. She bored me to tears. I have some KCM but I never reach for them either. For some reason, I don’t click with her. I also recently purchased “Get Addicted” kickboxing with heavy bag and I am in love! My rotation for this month is very similar to yours except mine is all DVD’s mainly metabolic, upper, lower, total days and I try to throw in one kickboxing day and one cycle day. And you’re definitely getting me on the Cathe Live train soon!!! I also love reading through your reviews of DVD’s and feel like we are on the same page so if I am contemplating one…I read what you have to say about it and base my decision. Now, about that diet…?


    1. Yes, I am following a particular diet. Weight Watchers. I have stayed away from “diets” for years. But I did count calories and journal everything I ate. And I did it consistently for many, many years. And every time I tried to lose the weight I’ve been gaining (over the past 5 years) I would cut calories and lose a few pounds but I always gained it back. I finally accepted the fact that it wasn’t just about the calories. It’s the quality of the food and I needed to stop doing the same the thing. I’ll be honest, I was eating a very routine diet. I was married to certain types of foods. I loved my meals and didn’t want to eat anything else and even tho they fell in a lose or maintain calorie range, I was gaining anyway. Plus, I ate out at least once a weekend and had stopped making good choices when I ate out (I used to make good choices 90% of the time, oh… about FIVE YEARS ago!). WW made me make a radical change to everything I eat. I am not counting calories (which was kind of freeing after more than a decade of counting every day). Yes, I am counting points, it forced me to start evaluating what I am putting in my mouth again and believe it or not, the points system forces you to take food quality into account. Now I eat a TON of fruit and veggies every day but my carb and sugar consumption has dropped significantly. I ate a lot of protein before and I still do–that didn’t change, but I make some different choices on how I get that protein. And btw–I just turned 46 this month and it has been harder for me keep the weight off. In fact, it looks like this weight/fat gain started happening around the time I turned 40. But I also acknowledge my diet has changed over the years and I had become more resistant to saying no when I want something that is definitely not good for me. A big part of it is having a food pusher for a husband. Trust me, he is not enjoying me being on WW. But I have stood firm and not allowed him to sabotage me.


      1. This is an excellent reply. I am going to research WW. I have never had to worry about dieting. I was a skinny fat cardio junkie-competitive runner. I’ve always been very fit conscious and pretty much thought I was invincible to weight gain…now doing the same things I have always done (well since Cathe came into my life almost 2 years ago I have started experimenting more with weights and other forms of exercise) I continue to gain fat around belly area. So now, I need to incorporate a better diet to go along with my workouts…I know I will feel much better if nothing else as I tend to gorge way to much on guilty pleasures. Proud of you and your commitment to stick with your diet! So glad I found your link on Cathe forums (I forgot your name on there though)? I am going to start Cathe Live this weekend thanks in part to your raves about it. I just can’t get enough of her workouts. She meets my fitness needs perfectly at this time in my life. Thanks again for the speedy reply. I am def going to check into WW for better health.


      2. On Cathe’s forum I’m Jengolf. And you’re welcome! I’ve spent the majority of my life dieting it seems. I became addicted to fitness around age 30 and was able to stop worrying about it for a while. Working out actually helped me rapidly drop weight without dieting and I never looked back. But then I turned 40 and I had to start counting calories again–even tho I workout harder and better than I did back at age 30! Sometimes I wonder if I should regress with my workouts–back to the days when I didn’t have to worry about calories but I know it’s not the workouts. It is getting older and needing to start doing the work in the kitchen. Which sucks. It really does. And I’ll be honest, WW is no fun. But it is doable. It is working for me when nothing else I tried was. So I’m am grateful I finally decided to give it a try!


  10. This makes me wish more than ever that I was a Cathe Live subscriber! Congratulations on your dietary discipline…I keep saying I am going to lose 7 pounds, and like you, I have no problems sticking with the exercise and the expenditure side of the calorie equation, but unlike you, it is the consumption side that does me in…

    Great job! And thanks so much!


    1. It has been the food that has been making the scale creep and my clothes get tighter for the past few years. I just decided a few months ago that if I keep doing what I am doing I will keep getting the same result–weight gain. So I made some big changes. I cannot say I have enjoyed it but it has been livable. Now I have to keep the weight off (after I lose a few more pounds!). That may be even harder.


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