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Cathe Live Review: PHA Plus Cardio Blasts

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

Cathe Live PHA Plus Cardio Blasts

Cathe Live Review: PHA Plus Cardio Blasts

PHA Plus Cardio Blasts is a cardio and strength circuit workout from Cathe Live. I absolutely loved this workout. After my discovery of Leg Day (Click HERE to see the Review) as my perfect Lower Body workout, this is definitely my perfect PHA workout! It has the same excellent strength training approach – alternating lower and upper body exercises with only short rests in between - plus Cathe added in actual cardio blasts and best of all there is absolutely NO repetition! That is always my only complaint, with Cathe’s PHA workouts, that you usually do a giant set of 6-8 exercises, alternating lower and upper body, and then repeat them two or three times and I am just not a fan of lots of repetition. Cathe’s new LITE series included PHA 2 and I really enjoyed that workout as she only repeats the exercises twice – but this was even better. (To see my review of LITE PHA 2 – click HERE). Also Cathe has 3 other live PHA workouts and two DVDs – all of which are pure strength workouts.

PHA, in case you aren’t familiar with the term, stands for Peripheral Heart Action Training and as Cathe states “the goal is to maximise blood flow between the upper and lower body, while shortened rest periods keep your heart rate up for cardiovascular and fat-burning benefits”. This workout definitely achieves that.

PHA Plus Cardio Blasts involves a number circuits, each consisting of a cardio blast, a lower body and an upper body move. Once completed, you then move on to the next circuit – so there is lots of variety and it moves quickly so you have no chance to get bored. I loved the flow of this workout and the rep patterns are varied to keep you engaged throughout. The weights used are fairly light but you could easily increase them, as the pace is reasonable and it is not too high rep. You could also raise the step height, as well, if you want to really challenge yourself.

All of the cardio blasts are just straightforward Cathe style intervals – no choreography and they are all done on the floor. Those that use the step only have your hands on the step so you are not actually jumping on or off the step at all. The cardio blasts were a nice way to get my heart rate up a little higher and they were all nice straight forward moves so no dread factor. Even the one arm burpees were fine as you have your hands on the step.

The strength exercises are all fairly traditional moves and as the weights were lighter (I matched Cathe’s weights for most exercises, just increasing on squats and deadlifts) this felt slightly more of a metabolic workout than a true strength workout. You do hit each muscle group and I did feel the work but you would probably need to go a bit heavier to feel it in the same way I do for her pure strength versions of the PHA workouts – particularly the Strong & Sweaty DVD.

My only tiny gripe is that the cool down stretch seemed a little short, I didn’t feel like I stretched out my upper body, as well as I would have liked, so I just added a few extra stretches on at the end. Overall, though this is a real winner and one I will definitely be returning to frequently.

(In case you are not familiar with Cathe Live - it is a streaming service from veteran fitness professional Cathe Friedrich, where she provides access to her live classes filmed at her gym in Jersey. Currently, there are over 230 workouts available in the archive, which you can access at any time and a new class is recorded nearly every week. More details are provided at the end of this article).

The Workout

PHA Plus Cardio Blasts is a cardio and strength routine that includes 10 circuits, each consisting of a cardio blast, a lower body and an upper body move. The lower body exercises are done both using the step and on the floor so you will need your mat off to one side ready to lay on the step for the upper exercises when needed.

What You Need to Know

What you need to know: Instructor: Cathe Friedrich. Length: 55 mins. Equipment needed: 5 - 15# dbs, full size step with 3 risers each side & a mat. Optional: Lifting Gloves. Fun Factor: 4/5. Sweat Factor: 4/5. Coordination: 1/5

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

The Moves

PHA Plus Cardio Blasts is 55 minutes long and originally aired on 28th February 2019. The workout starts with a 6 minute warm up before moving into the first cardio blast. (Cardio blasts are shown on bold italics below). All moves done using the step are with 3 risers on each side (10”). The weights shown below are what Cathe used.

  • Squat digs & apple picker jumps

  • Squat off side of step – one 15# db & step – 16 reps each side

  • Pushups (Singles, 2/2 & 3/1 counts)


  • Ground & pound – 12 reps each side

  • Step Ups – two 10# dbs & step

  • One arm row & one arm back fly – one 10# db

Step Ups

  • High jacks & low jacks

  • Pivoting sumo squats & side to side sumo squats – one 15# db

  • W curls – two 12# dbs

  • 4 Lateral hops holding one 8# db horizontally between the hands – 4 slow & 4 fast x2

  • Push dips – two 12# dbs & step – 16 reps

  • Tricep dips on step – 32, 24, 16 & 16 reps

Push Dips

  • Quarter turn jumps – 32 reps

  • Alternating side lunge, crossback & side lunge combo – one 15# db – 12 reps

  • Overhead press – two 12# dbs – 12 & 10 reps then 1x 2/2 & 2 singles – repeated 4x

  • 3 Rope climbs & 1 elbow strike – 8 reps each side

  • Forward lunges – two 12# dbs – 16 reps each side

  • Chest flys – two 15# dbs & step (2/2 & 1.5’s count)

Chest Flys

  • Power scissors & scissors

  • Back lunges off the step – two 10# dbs & step – 3 pulses & singles then ends with slow singles

  • Pullovers – two 15# dbs & step


  • Attacks (jump up while raising arms and then bring them down in front of you) – these move from front to side to back to side and then front

  • Single leg deadlifts – two 10# dbs – 2/2 & 3/1 counts

  • Close grip chest press – two 15# dbs & step (both arms & single arms)

Close grip chest press

  • One arm burpee with hand on step – 16 reps

  • Squat toss – one 10# db (in squat position, pass dumbbell from hand to hand as you squat)

  • Sweeping curls – two 15, 12 & 10# dbs – 8 reps of each weight increment and then 4 standard bicep curls to finish

One Arm Burpees

  • Squat thrust with hands on step & 4 plank jacks then stand, this changes to jumping up at the end. Then squat thrust & moguls (jump feet together up toward one hand and then the other). You stand at the top not jump for these.

  • Squats & deadlifts – two 15# dbs

  • Lateral raises – two 5# dbs – 20 reps

  • Scarecrows – two 5# dbs – 10 reps

  • Shoulder circles – two 5# dbs – 6 reps forwards & 6 reps backwards

Sqau Thrust Moguls

The workout ends with a brief 2:30 minute cool down and stretch. (I added on a few extra stretches to ensure that my muscles felt fully stretched).

Take Action

Try it today! Cathe Live is a streaming service available from – you can subscribe to monthly ($9.99 pm), six monthly or yearly plans and has over 200 live workouts in the archive for you to access at any time.

If you liked this workout, try Cathe Live: Bootcamp Strong – click HERE for my detailed review.

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