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Cathe Live Review: Stacked Sets Upper Body

Cathe Live: Stacked Sets Upper Body Live

Cathe Live Review: Stacked Sets Upper Body

Stacked Sets Upper Body is a solid strength workout using giant sets of exercises to burn out the muscles in your upper body. This workout is based on one of her DVDs from the LITE (Low Impact Training Extreme) Series – Strong Body Stacked Sets: Upper (click HERE for the detailed review). To find out more about the LITE series, check out my Ultimate Guide to Cathe’s New LITE Workout Series HERE.

The workout consists of 3 giant sets of exercises that are each then repeated once more. These groupings are Triceps & Chest, Back & Biceps and Shoulders. The strength moves are lifted pretty much directly from her LITE workout (with just a few changes) and are all straight forward strength moves. Although this is a short workout, only 44 minutes, I did feel the work in each of my muscle groups but not necessarily as much as usual for a Cathe express strength workout. Cathe used fairly moderate weights, as the many of the moves are higher rep and you move from one thing to the next with little rest in between either exercises or sets. However, you do get longer rests and stretching between the giant sets. For some reason this didn’t feel quite as metabolic as the LITE version. I did go heavier on a few exercises but I found it difficult to go too much heavier with the rep patterns and volume of reps. I think if the giant sets had been repeated once more this would have been a far more challenging workout and I would have felt really worked by the end of it. The workout is cumulative though so by shoulders you are definitely feeling the work a bit more.

The only slight issue I had with this workout was that the warm-up seemed very short and you are immediately using 5# dumbbells to mimic the upcoming upper body exercises. I had already completed Cathe Live: Advanced Step Choreography (review coming soon!) before this one so I was already warm but if I was coming straight to this workout, I think I would have needed to warm-up a little more first. Cathe does have you marching in place and doing ‘heels forward’, through some of the upper body warm up exercises, but this didn't really raise my heart rate and my muscles didn't feel fully warmed up by this. This was rather an unusual warm up for Cathe, as she normally does some floor-based bigger range of movements, to heat up the body, before reaching for the light dumbbells. However, this is just a personal thought and you may not find this such an issue.

Overall, this was a solid upper body strength workout and the time flew by very quickly. For days when you are short on time, this is a nice quick workout to get those muscles burning a little.

(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

Stacked Sets Upper Body is a pure strength workout focused on the upper body. The routine consists of 3 giant sets for Triceps & Chest, Back & Biceps and Shoulders. Each giant set includes a number of different exercises, to work the relevant body parts, and these were then repeated before moving onto the next giant set. The rep patterns vary depending on the different exercises.

What You Need to Know

What you need to know: Instructor: Cathe Friedrich. Length: 44 mins. Equipment needed:  5-15# dumbbells, full size step & a mat. Optional Lifting gloves. Fun Factor: 3/5. Sweat Factor: 2/5. Coordination: 1/5

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

The Moves

Stacked Sets Upper Body is 44 minutes long and originally aired on 14th March 2019. The workout starts with a 4 minute warm-up, using 5# dumbbells (already in their hands as it begins), before starting the first exercise, which is tricep dips using the step. So you will need to have the step set up horizontally in front of you ready to go. (The step is set at 10” – 3 risers each side throughout the workout).

Stacked Set 1 – Triceps & Chest

  • Tricep dips – step - 48 reps

  • Lying tricep extensions – two 10# dbs & step – 8 reps (down & 2x1.5’s then all the way up)

  • Push-ups (on the toes on floor) – 16 reps

Push Ups

  • Close grip bench press – two 15# dbs & step (singles & doubles)

  • Bench press – two 15# dbs & step – 8 reps (singles & 1.5’s)

Bench Press

  • Close grip bench press & bench press combo – two 15# dbs & step – 8 reps

Repeat above but weight & reps vary:

  • Tricep dips – step - 32 reps

  • Lying tricep extensions – two 8# dbs & step – 8 reps (down & 2x1.5’s then all the way up)

  • Incline push-ups (on the toes with hands on step) – 16 reps

  • Close grip chest press – two 12# dbs & step (singles & doubles)

  • Bench press – two 12# dbs & step – 8 reps (singles & 1.5’s)

  • Close grip chest press & bench press combo – two 12# dbs & step - 8 reps

Stacked Set 2 – Back & Biceps

  • 1 Arm horizontal row (alternating hand facing forward & back) – one 15# db – 8 reps (so 16 in total)

  • Pullovers – two 15# dbs & step – 8 reps (1.5’s)


  • Hip hinge & back fly – two 10# dbs – 3 flys x7

  • Bicep curls – two 15, 12, 10# dbs - 3 sets of 8 reps (each time using lighter dbs)

  • 8 Point drop curls – two 10# dbs – 2 sets

  • W Curls – two 12# dbs – 8 reps

W Curls

Repeat above – although Cathe goes out of order and starts with pullovers and then 1 arm rows.

Stacked Set 3 – Shoulders

  • Hip huggers (upright rows to the side) – two 15# dbs – 24 reps

  • Overhead press – two 12# dbs – 8x 1.5’s

  • Front & side raises – two 5# dbs – 8 sets (16 reps)

  • Lateral ‘U’ raise – two 5# dbs – 8 reps

Lateral U Raise

  • Shoulder circles – two 5# dbs – 4 low & 4 shoulder height (1st forward & then backwards)

Repeat above but for Hip huggers only 20 reps.

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

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 230 live workouts in the archive for you to access at any time.

If you liked this workout, check out my review of Cathe Live: Breathless Upper Body – HERE.

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Jun 10, 2021

Pretty decent upper body burn. If you're honest with your weights -- you'll get a good workout.

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