IMAX 4 is part of Cathe‘s new Step Boss series. The other two DVDs in this series are Step Sync and PHA 3. Cathe also created a Quick Start Users Guide to accompany this series. This DVD contains the main workout plus an Ab Bonus and an Extended Chair Stretch. These bonuses are included in the premixes (premixes are also also listed at the bottom of this review). The first time I did this workout, I did the premix that combines IMAX 4 with the two bonuses for an 67:30 minute workout.
Unlike the prep work I did for PHA 3, I did not revist any of the previous IMAX workouts. However, I used to do IMAX 1 and IMAX 2 a lot. I loved those two workouts. IMAX 3‘s choreography was too complicated for me. I did it 2-3 times then never returned to it. I also did her Low Max a lot, which is a low impact version of her high impact IMAX workouts. IMAX 4, in my opinion is a combination of IMAX 2 and Low Max. Low Max is long (69 minutes) and IMAX 4 is much shorter (45 minutes). But, like Low Max, it is primarily low impact. In order for low impact to be effective, you are frequently also getting some good lower body work. That was true of Low Max and is also true of IMAX 4. The comparison to IMAX 2 is the choreography. IMAX 1 has some pretty basic choreography. The choreography of both IMAX 2 and Low Max was moderately complex but very doable (for me at least). I was able to catch onto all of the combos in IMAX 4 though never the first time through. Some I caught on the second time through the combo, some it was the 3rd time through and a few I didn’t catch on until the 4th time through–but I always caught on in time to get through two full combos without issue. And even the combos I stumbled on the first few times through I still caught onto the majority of the combo immediately so I wasn’t losing any cardio work–I was still working hard!
So, to summarize. This is definitely not Cathe’s most challenging or intense IMAX workout. It is the shortest of the bunch, the choreography is moderately complex but doable for anyone familiar with Cathe’s step choreography and it is probably the least intense of all of her IMAX workouts, including Low Max. Low Max is only more intense due to the length of it and the intervals are much longer and more endurance based. I really enjoyed this workout. This IMAX is more suited to my current fitness level than her older ones. I was younger and really into kick-your-butt cardio workouts back when I discovered those. I am in a different place now and this IMAX fits my current needs perfectly.
IMAX 4 is made up of 10 cardio step combos. Each step combo is followed by a cardio blast. Each combo is repeated 6 times before you do the cardio blast. The combos are not built or taught. The first (and every) time a combo is done, it is done in full. Cathe does cue but if you are not familiar with Cathe’s step cardio lexicon, you will be lost. I will not be breaking down the step combos but I will break down each blast. You will be doing 2 sets of most of the blasts, one set on each side of the body. Whether or not this workout can be considered a HIIT workout depends on your fitness level. For my current fitness level, I did feeling like I was HIITing it with many of the blasts. But a few years ago I probably would have just considered this intense but not HIIT level. According to my FitBit I was in my peak heart rate zone for 22 minutes of the workout.
IMAX 4 is 45 minutes; 6 minute warm up and 4:30 minute cool down/stretch. Equipment: step with 2 risers on each side (8 inches). Cathe considers this a low impact workout. However, Cathe’s definition of low impact is different from most other trainer’s definition. Cathe’s low impact workouts are generally much lower in impact than her regular cardio workouts (with are loaded with plyometrics and high impact moves) but still have some hopping in them. This workout is no exception. There is a little bit of hopping in this workout.
Cardio Blasts (remember, there is a step combo before every blast and after every blast you get a short recovery):
- Start beside step with one foot on the floor and one foot on the step, lower into squat then step onto step so both feet are on step, squat then step one foot off into a squat, continue squatting on and off step in this manner, when stepping on and off the step you are actually doing it fast and with a hop
- Starting standing beside the step, do a fast triple step over the step and back with a knee raise (think of a Heisman if you’ve done Insanity)
- Start standing on one side of the step, do 3 knee pulls off the side of the step then do a shallow lunge off the other side with other leg
- Start straddling the step, step knee straddle each leg then, while straddling the step, place hands on the step and do 2 double leg donkey kicks, tapping heels together at top of donkey kick
- Start standing on step, do alternating curtsy lunges stepping one foot off step when lunging, you are also circling the arms
- Stand at one end of the step with one foot on the step and one foot on the floor, do a squat and when you raise up do a side leg raise, lifting foot that was on the floor, push fists down between legs when squatting and reach arms overhead when doing side leg raise
- Start standing on top of step, do alternating shallow side lunge off step, you also do various arm movements (including “swim” arms–so some of these are what Cathe calls “Swim Lunges”)
- Squat attacks: stand at one end of the step with one foot on the step and one on the floor, both hands are clasped together, squat and hopping foot up off the floor up at top of squat, punch clasped hands down when squatting and raise clasped hands overhead at top of squat
- Start standing on top of the step, squat off one side (one foot on step and one on floor) and pulse 2x then do 2 single squats on each side (one pulse squat + 2 single squats, alternating sides)
- Start standing on floor at one end of the step, step over the step lengthwise then do a squat thrust beside step (burpee without push up), alternate sides
Bonus Abs #2 is 10 minutes; 20 second stretch. Equipment: full step with 2 risers under each side (8 inches), a fitness mat and one 8 pound weight. The bonus starts with the mat on the step, you are sitting on one end of the step with the dumbbell on the floor between your feet. I loved this bonus! Loved it! It was not terribly difficult. It did get harder when you start doing plank based moves but I felt it was more intermediate level. I love both of the Ab bonuses included in the Step Boss program but this one is definitely my favorite of the two. Cathe suggests using a heavier dumbbell when you are more familiar with the moves and I agree. Next time I do this bonus I will use a 10 pound dumbbell. In addition, your hands are on the step a few times so you either need to wear lifting gloves or have something on the top of the step to protect your hands.
- Weighted Crunch (you are sitting on one end of the step, pick up the DB in both hands, roll back and do a pull over, roll back up and set DB on the floor again, roll back without the DB then roll back up, keep repeating these two versions of a sit up)
- Weighted Oblique Crunches (still sitting on end of step, holding DB in both hands, roll back and do a pull over then sit up and rotate DB to side, lowering it down past one thigh, alternate sides with a sit up/pull over between each side rotation
- Oblique Twisters (still sitting on end of step, holding DB in both hands, lean torso back slightly and twist DB side to side)
- Side Hips Dips (in straight arm side plank, with bottom hand on end of step, raise and lower hips; add raising one arm straight to ceiling)
- Straddle Planks Lower Body (place mat on floor at one end of step, get into straight arm plank with hands on mat and feet on the step, step one foot off step onto the floor beside the step, repeat with the other leg, step first foot back onto step then step other leg back on step, continue this pattern alternating your lead leg)
- Straddle Planks Upper Body (come into straight arm plank with hands on top of step and feet on floor, place one hand on floor beside step, repeat with other hand then place first hand back on step then other leg back on step, continue this pattern alternating your lead hand)
- Reverse Crunches (place mat back on top of step, lay on step with arms overhead and hands gripping step, legs are bent and feet raised, do slow reverse crunches; pace becomes quicker; return to a slower pace and extend legs straight at bottom of crunch)
Extended Chair Stretch is 16 minutes. Equipment: chair. This bonus starts with Cathe and crew sitting in chairs. The first 50 seconds you sit in chair with hands clasped in lap, eyes closed, taking deep breaths. This was a very relaxing and gentle stretch. I will be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with it. At 16 minutes, I expected something more. The stretching wasn’t very deep. I think it either should have been shorter or the stretches deeper. But if you are wrung out from IMAX 4 then maybe this is just what you need. Personally, I doubt I will return to this stretch. BTW, that’s saying a lot because I am a big fan of extended stretches. Big fan. But this one isn’t worth my time.
- Sit on edge of chair and pull one knee up with hands on shin; round spine lowering chin to chest then straighten spine
- Cross one ankle across opposite knee and sit up tall with straight spine
- Sit with one leg crossed over the other, thighs touching, and do a spinal twist, reaching one hand to back of chair while other is against knee of crossed leg; twist toward other side
- Extend one leg straight in front of you, heel on floor and toes facing ceiling, hinge torso forward toward toe; raise opposite arm to ceiling and sit up straight then hinge forward again, reaching arm in front of you; raise both arms overhead with spine straight then hinge forward again reaching both arms in front of you; reach both arms behind you and grip the back of the chair seat and pull shoulders back, stretching chest
- Place both feet on floor, knees bent and fold forward over thighs, forearms crossed on top of knees
- Repeat 1-5, if a stretch was done on one side of the body, you will do the stretch on the other side of the body
- Sit with legs wide and hands on knees, lower one shoulder toward opposite knee
- Still sitting with legs wide, reach one arm toward opposite corner of room; circle that arm around behind you on an angle and look toward extended hand; circle hand back in opposite direction until it is handing down between thighs and circle limp arm
- Turn body to side so you are in a supported lunge with one thigh is on the chair seat and both legs are at 90 degree angles, do a side bend in this position, reaching arm overhead to other side of body; rotate torso toward chair back placing both hands on chair back and looking over shoulder
- Stand beside chair with one arm on chair back, outside leg ankle is crossed over other ankle, reach outside arm overhead and do a side bend; reach arm to ceiling while gazing up at hand; circle your wrist as you slowly lower your arm
- Stand behind chair with hands on chair back and do a forward fold, walking feet back so body is in a 90 degree angle; “wag” your tail–shifting hips slowly to each side
- Do a standing quad stretch, holding chair back for balance
- Still standing behind chair but in split stance now with legs straight, hinge forward over chair back
- Repeat #12 & 13
Main Workout + Extended Chair Stretch 57:36 minutes
Main Workout + Bonus Abs #2 54:34 minutes
Main Workout + Bonus Abs #2 + Extended Chair Stretch 67:34 minutes
Timesaver #1 First Half Only 27:33 minutes
Timesaver #2 Second Half Only 27:37 minutes
Timesaver #3 First Half Only + Bonus Abs #2 37:21 minutes
Timesaver #4 Second Half Only + Bonus Abs #2 37:35 minutes
Timesaver #5 Blasts Only 27:47 minutes
Timesaver #6 Blasts Only + Bonus Abs #2 37:46 minutes
Timesaver #7 Combos Only 27:03 minutes
Timesaver #8 Combos Only + Bonus Abs #2 37:02 minutes
Double Blast After Every Combo 61:50 minutes
Double It 78:39 minutes
Mixed Combos & Blasts 57:27 minutes