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Cathe Live Review: Burn Sets Live: Back, Chest & Shoulders (#302)

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Cathe Live Review: Burn Sets Live: Back, Chest & Shoulders (#302)


Burn Sets Live: Back, Chest & Shoulders is a tough, heavy weight, low rep strength workout for the upper body. This is based on Cathe’s XTrain DVD series – Burn Sets - of which there are two DVDs: Back, Chest & Shoulders, and Biceps & Triceps. So I’m hoping there will be a Burn Sets Live: Biceps & Triceps coming very soon! The DVDs are both really tough, challenging routines designed for strength training rather than higher rep endurance training, which is often more her focus in the Live workouts. That is another benefit of Cathe being on her own, at the moment, so she can use heavier weights. For this routine she used a range of dumbbells from 5 to 35 pounds. I actually like the Live version better, than the DVD one, as there is lots more variety and you are not just repeating the same exercise for three sets. However, you also don’t lift to failure, like in the Live version, so it was definitely not quite as challenging as the DVD.


This routine is slightly unusual for Cathe Live, as it is a split session upper body workout so only focuses on the back, chest and shoulders rather than her more usual all upper body muscle group approach. She does have several DVDs (other than Xtrain) in this format but has not done a Live version of it.


All of the Burn Set workouts, this one included, are focusing on using the heaviest weights you can for 10 - 12 reps. The aim is to complete those reps feeling like you really pushed yourself to get the last few. Therefore, as with the DVD versions, I would suggest having a notepad handy to mark down your weights - highlighting what worked and what didn’t so you know for next time what weights to use. It is a little bit of a guessing game though the first time through and even Cathe remarked a few times where she could have gone heavier with an exercise. I generally matched her weights, however for some, as she said, I could probably have gone a little heavier, as I didn’t find the routine quite as brutal as I was expecting. However, I did still get a great workout but next time will be even better. Also I really loved the format of this one, as the pace is a little slower and you can really focus on getting the most out of your strength training, whilst doing your best for every rep. It’s also a nice change from her usual higher rep approach.


This workout consists of nine tri-sets each incorporating one exercise per body part. So each tri-set includes one move for back, one for chest and one for shoulders. The first tri-set is counted as part of the warm-up, using lighter weights, so you then do the same moves for the second tri-set but using heavier weights. After that, however, each tri-set has slightly different moves in it so there is lots of variety and nothing is repeated in exactly the same way. However, towards the end there are three different sets of push-ups but they all have slight variations in tempo and approach so it still keeps it interesting.


(One thing to note about this workout was the music - now normally I don’t really notice the music that much unless it’s particularly good or reminds me of one of Cathe’s DVD workouts. However, in this one, I found some of the music just awful and rather annoying as it sounded like techno music or something. This is a small point though as it’s a fantastic workout but I do hope she goes back to the usual music next time).


Overall, an excellent low rep, heavier weight challenge for the back, chest and shoulders that with the right weights will definitely have you feeling the burn.


(For more information about Cathe Live, how to sign up & to see all of my Cathe Live reviews, click HERE).


The Workout


Burn Sets Live: Back, Chest & Shoulders is a pure strength, upper body split workout. The routine consists of nine rounds of one exercise each for back, chest and shoulders.

What You Need to Know

(Rating scale – 1= lowest & 5 = highest).

The Moves


Burn Sets Live: Back, Chest & Shoulders is 47 minutes long and originally aired on 18th June 2020 (#302). The workout starts with a 6 minute warm-up, before moving into the first round. Cathe picks up 5 pound dumbbells, towards the end of the warm-up, to finish warming up the muscles. The step with four risers, on each side, is set up horizontally in front of you at the start of the routine. You will also need to have all of your dumbbells nearby.


Round 1 (Warm-up set)

  • 1 Arm row – one 20# Db – 12 reps each side

  • Flat bench press – two 15# Dbs (I used 20’s) & step – 13 reps

  • Front raise – one 10# Db (I used 1x12) – 12 reps

Round 2

  • 1 Arm row – one 30# Db – 12 reps each side

  • Flat bench press – two 25# Dbs & step – 12 reps

  • Front raise – one 15# Db (I used 1x 20) – 12 reps

Round 3

  • Pullovers – two 15# Dbs & step – 12 reps

  • Chest flys – two 25# Dbs & step – 11 reps

  • Seated overhead press – two 15# Dbs – 12 reps

Round 4

  • Double arm row – two 20# Dbs – 13 reps

  • Incline bench press – two 25# Dbs & step (4 risers at back & 2 risers at front) – 12 reps

  • Rear delt flys drop sets – two 12# Dbs (Cathe changed to 10’s for last set. I stayed w/ 12’s) – 12, 10 & 8 reps

Round 5

  • Triple rows overhand grip (palms facing back) – two 20# Dbs – 6 sets of 3 rows

  • Incline chest flys (optional - rotating Dbs at end so pinkie fingers come together) – two 25# Dbs & step (4 risers at back & 2 risers at front) – 12 reps

  • Side leaning 1 arm lateral raise (sitting in mermaid position) – one 5# Db & mat – 12 reps each side

Round 6

  • 1 Arm row w/ rotation (bringing Db into underhand position at the top) – one 25# Db – 12 reps each side

  • Narrow grip chest press – two 20# Dbs & step – 13 reps

  • Upright row – two 15# Dbs – 12 reps

Round 7

  • Triple row underhand grip (palms facing forward) – two 20# Dbs – 6 sets of 3 rows

  • Push-up & alternating shoulder tap / push-ups – mat – 13 reps w/ shoul tap & 4 reps push-up only

  • Seated lateral raise – two 8# Dbs & step – 12 reps

Round 8

  • Pullovers (vertical grip) – one 35# Db (I used 1x 30) & step – 13 reps

  • Push-ups drop sets – mat – 12, 10 & 8 reps

  • Iron cross (front raise & open to side then back together & down; palms facing each other) – two 8# Dbs (Cathe changes to 5# after 8 reps. I stayed w 8’s) – 12 reps

Round 9

  • Supermans (straight arms / goal post arms / hands under chin) – mat – 12 reps in each position

  • Push-ups (2/2 count) – mat – 12 reps

  • Seated scarecrows – two 5# Dbs & step - 12 reps

The workout ends with a 3:30 minute cool down and stretch.

Take Action

Try it today! Find out more about how to subscribe and to check out all of my Cathe Live Reviews - click HERE.

If you liked this workout, check out my review of Cathe Live: Toasted Trisets Upper Body (#196) – HERE.


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