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Cathe’s Perfect30 Review - Perfect Pump: Upper Body

Cathe’s Perfect30 Review - Perfect Pump: Upper Body

Perfect Pump: Upper Body is a time efficient and effective upper body strength workout. This workout is part of the Perfect Pump DVD, which consists of two 30 minute strength routines – one focused on the upper body and one on the lower body.

Perfect Pump is part of Cathe Friedrich’s new PERFECT30 series that consists of six workouts on three DVDs plus a number of bonus add-ons and premixes. The series is aimed at advanced exercisers and is perfect for when you are tight on time but still want a solid, intense workout. Each DVD contains two 30 minute workouts, which focus on the main elements necessary for a well-balanced fitness routine: strength conditioning, cardio endurance and balance / flexibility. For more details on the PERFECT30 program, click HERE or check out my blog post – Your Ultimate Guide to Cathe’s New PERFECT30 Series.

This workout consists of a five rounds of exercises each one focusing on a different muscle group. The workout starts with back then biceps, shoulders, chest and finally triceps. For each muscle group you do a number of different moves using heavier and lighter weights or resistance tubing / bodyweight.

The exercises are a combination of more traditional strength moves mixed with some slightly different variations. There are a few new moves, including a “Battle Ropes” and a “Rapid Row Toss”, which is a back exercise where you rapidly transfer the weight between the hands, in a rowing action, to challenge the muscles in different ways. With heavier weight, this didn’t feel as comfortable as I would have liked and you really have to focus on safely transferring the dumbbell without feeling like you might drop it. I also found that the push presses, with heavier weight, were rather challenging at the pace Cathe did them, however for most exercises the pace is generally more controlled.

Cathe uses a range of dumbbells from 5 to 35 pounds, with a focus on the heavier weights, and with such a short routine this is definitely necessary to really get the most out of your time. I generally stuck with Cathe’s weights and this worked well for me. I only decreased my weight on the standing tricep extensions as 35 was a little too much. As usual, Cathe manages to pack a lot into a short amount of time and with the heavier weights, I was definitely starting to feel the burn. I found that the workout builds as you progress and the muscles start to fatigue, a little more, with each exercise. The moves are performed for generally between 8 - 12 reps, although some are a little higher, so the key here, as with any shorter routine, is to find the right weights that will really challenge you for each exercise. I would suggest having a notepad handy to jot down what worked and what didn’t so you can get an even better workout the next time you do it, as the first time is always a little bit of a guessing game.

The exercises move fairly quickly, from one to the next, with short rest periods both between exercises and the different rounds. Each body part is targeted reasonably well, given the short amount of time, and I found the whole routine flew by. I found this to be a pretty effective workout and particularly felt the back, chest and shoulder work. If you are using a weight selection that really challenges you – you will definitely feel it too.

At only 30 minutes in total, including the warm-up and the cool down, I would have loved for it to have been a bit longer - as it did feel rather short. There is however, a Perfect Pump Bonus Upper Body add on (and a Lower Body one too) that gives you an extra few upper body exercises to take your workout to approx. 36 minutes (although you have to go back to the main menu to select that chapter, as there is no premix that adds just the bonus upper body onto the workout) or you can use a premix that adds both the bonus upper body and the extended stretch to make it a little longer or even do it twice through, if you want to! I was a little bit disappointed that the bonus add-on for upper body was so short though, as it is only 4:50 minutes long and I was expecting it to be at least 10 minutes.

In addition, there are also premixes that focus on different body part splits or mix in lower body strength training too. This is an excellent option, as it gives you a nearly hour-long strength challenge and if you add in the Bonus Core routine, as well, then it truly is a total body workout. I loved that version and if you have the time, the one that also adds the Bonus Extended Stretch on the end really then does do it all! Plus if you are really up for a serious challenge and have the time available, then the premix that combines all of the bonuses together (two strength bonuses - Pump Bonus: Upper body, Pump Bonus: Lower Body, Bonus Core and Bonus Stretch) will give you an awesome 83 minute total body workout.

Overall, a fairly intense and effective upper body workout, particularly good for those days when you are short on time and still want to feel the work.

The Workout – Perfect Pump: Upper Body

Perfect Pump: Upper Body is a pure strength workout that consists of five rounds of strength moves each focusing on a different muscle group – back, biceps, shoulders, chest and triceps.

This DVD also includes Perfect Pump: Lower Body (review HERE), two Pump Workout Bonuses (Upper Body & Lower Body), a Core Bonus Routine (Bonus Core) and a Stretch Bonus (Bonus Extended Stretch).

What You Need to Know

(The information below is based on the main workout (Perfect Pump: Upper Body) not including any of the bonus add-ons).

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

The Moves

Perfect Pump: Upper Body is 30:48 minutes long. The workout starts with a 4 minute warm-up before moving into the first round. You pick up 3 pound dumbbells and resistance tubing, part way through the warm-up, to continue 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 workout. You will need to make sure that you have space to lie on the step, as it is only used as a weight bench during this routine. Also you will need to have your equipment handy, as you will be moving reasonably quickly from one thing to the next.


  • Pullovers – two 15# Dbs & step w/ 4 risers – 10 reps

  • Pullovers – two 20# Dbs & step w/ 4 risers – 10 reps

  • 1 Arm row – one 35# Db – 12 reps each side

  • 1 Arm row – one 30# Db – 10 reps each side

  • Bent over clutch row (double arm row w/ feet wide & hip hinged over) – two 20# Dbs – 10 reps

  • Posture pulls – resistance tubing – 8 sets (1.5’s)

  • Rapid row toss (hip hinge & rapidly transfer Db between the hands in a rowing action) – one 25# Db – 28 reps


  • Standing sweeper curls – two 20# Dbs – 8 reps

  • Clutch curls (bringing Dbs together at mid chest) – two 15# Dbs – 10 reps

  • Bicep curls – two 15# Dbs – 10 reps

  • Bicep curls – two 12# Dbs – 10 reps

  • Bicep curls – two 10# Dbs – 10 reps


  • Incline front V lat raise combo (lie back on incline; do front raise, wide V raise then sit up & do 2x side lateral raises) – two 5# Dbs & step w/ 2 risers at front & 4 risers at back – 6 sets

  • Seated lateral raises – two 5# Dbs & step w/ 2 risers at front & 4 risers at back – 8 reps

  • Seated scarecrows – two 5# Dbs & step w/ 2 risers at front & 4 risers at back – 12 reps

  • Push press 3.5’s (clean & overhead press x3) – two 15# Dbs – 5 sets (of 3 presses)

  • Battle ropes (band under back foot & ends held in each hand; raise straight arms front & across) – resistance tubing – 32 sets


  • Incline bench press – two 25# Dbs & step w/ 2 risers at front & 4 risers & back – 16 reps

  • Incline clutch press (holding Dbs together over chest & press up / down) – two 20# Dbs & step w/ 2 risers at front & 4 risers & back – 10 reps

  • Flat dead bug fly (chest fly w/ 1 leg extension) – two 25# Dbs & step w 4 risers – 10 reps

  • Leg lift push-ups (push-up w/ alternating leg lift) – mat – 10 reps


  • Standing overhead tricep extensions – one 35# Db (I used 30) – 12 reps

  • Banded tricep kickbacks – resistance tubing – 5 sets of 7 pulses

  • Tricep kickbacks – two 10# Dbs (I used 12’s) – 10 reps

  • Tricep push-ups (hands on step) – step topper – 10 reps (on knees)

  • Tricep dips (hands on step) – one 12# Db (on lap) & step w/ 4 risers – 24 reps, 18 reps & 12 reps

The workout ends with a 2 minute cool down and stretch.

Bonus Add-Ons

Perfect Pump: Upper Body Bonus

Perfect Pump: Upper Body Bonus is also included on this DVD. This bonus strength section is 4:50 minutes long and does not include a warm-up (as Cathe is assuming you are adding it on to another workout) or a stretch at the end. You will need 5, 8, 12 & 20# dumbbells, medium tension resistance tubing and a full size step, with 4 risers on each side, for this bonus.

This bonus add on consists of five different exercises - one for each muscle group. They are not very high rep so I would suggest you go as heavy as you can, to get the most out of your time. I would definitely increase my weights further next time, as I found all of the weights used were on the lighter side for these exercises. Each move is done for a set number of reps or sets, as some combine two different moves or use single and double arms. I didn’t find the bonus that challenging and was extremely disappointed it is so short. It would have made much more sense to do a longer add-on, given that the main routine is already so short too. Also it didn’t really feel like it added much more to the main workout, whereas if it had two exercises for each muscle group, for example, it might have made more of an impact.

Overall, a very short upper body add-on and one that I probably would only use with this routine and not as an add on to another routine (where you would have to separately go to this bonus rather than it playing straight through on this routine) as I just didn’t find it that effective.

The moves:

  • Upright row two 12# Dbs – 8 sets (1x single & 1x both arms)

  • Single arm rear delt fly comboone 8# Db (I used 1x10) - 5 sets (1x rear delt fly & 1x rear delt fly w/ palm facing back)

  • Bench press / chest fly combotwo 20# Dbs & step w/ 4 risers – 8 sets (1 of each)

  • Banded curl 1.5’s two 5# Dbs & resistance tubing (I used two 15# Dbs & no tubing) – 8 sets (1.5's)

  • Banded overhead tricep extensionsresistance tubing (I used two 10# Dbs & no tubing) – 8x singles, 4x 3 pulses, 4x singles & 2x 3 pulses

Perfect Pump: Lower Body Bonus

Perfect Pump: Lower Body Bonus is also included on this DVD. This bonus strength section is 7:38 minutes long and does not include a warm-up (as Cathe is assuming you are adding it on to another workout) but does include a very quick stretch at the end. You will need a 10# weight, a high step with three risers, resistance tubing and a mat for this bonus.

This is a short add on routine that focuses on the glutes and hamstrings and can be added onto the main routine or any other workout for a quick lower body blast. This bonus consists of three different moves that are each done for a number of sets, using both single rep counts and pulses to increase the burn. I did find the first move a little awkward, trying to balance a 10 pound dumbbell behind my knee, for hamstring presses, and in future might use a booty band or ankle weights instead. The final exercise I found the most challenging, as you are doing banded single leg glute squeezes with one foot on the high step. The use of the band, around the top foot, definitely helped me feel the burn a bit more with this, particularly using a heavier tension resistance band (I used a band rather than tubing as I prefer it). However, given the bonus is so short, it’s not the most challenging add-on and I would have loved for it to include a few more exercises.

Overall, a quick and efficient, higher rep, lower body add on.

The moves:

  • Hamstring presses – one 10# Db (behind knee on lifting leg) & mat – 8x singles & 32x pulses each side

  • Outer thigh presses (lying on back w/ legs straight up in the air & band around bottom of feet; open & close straight legs) – resistance tubing & mat – 2 sets of 4x singles & 24x pulses

  • Banded glute squeezes (lying on back w/ 1 foot on step & 1 foot in air (band around bottom of top foot); raise & lower hips in bridge position) – resistance band & mat – 2 sets of 8x singles & 16 pulses each side

Bonus Core

Bonus Core is also included on this DVD. This bonus core section is 9:17 minutes long and does not include a warm-up (as Cathe is assuming you are adding it on to another workout) but does include a very quick stretch at the end. You will need a mat, if you are on a hard surface, for this core bonus.

This is an interesting and rather unique abs bonus. The routine includes a number of different moves that are yoga and mobility inspired, which work your core from all angles and in slightly different ways. The aim is to engage all of the core muscles from the thoracic region to the hip flexors and glutes. This is what makes it more challenging, as you are often extending or balancing in the moves and, therefore, having to maintain a greater level of stability through the whole core region.

This bonus consists of five different moves, including variations, such as, side plank angle extensions and rotating piston planks. The routine is a mix of easier and slightly harder moves and I actually often felt more work in my upper body (e.g. T-raise supermans) and glutes rather than my core. I am not quite sure what to make of this routine, as I didn’t feel that my core was actually worked that hard. The only two moves that I really felt the work for my core was in the first and fourth exercise. One is a version of a banana hold and the other was the glute bridge leg drops, as you are really having to stabilise the core area when you drop the leg out to the side. This is also where I felt the work in my lower body too. The reps are not too high and there are breaks in between each move so it is not a very intense routine. I was definitely expecting something much harder given the short timeframe and how much Cathe packed into some of the main routines. Therefore, I am not sure I would return to it that often, as I just didn’t feel that it really worked my core very effectively. Although, I do think it worked well added to the Mobility Basics routine, as it is very much in the same style as that workout.

Overall, a short and different core bonus.

The moves:

  • Banana hold into opposite hand to foot (lying on back; lift arms & legs in hollow hold then reach 1 hand to opposite foot) – mat – 6 sets

  • Rotating piston planks (start in straight arm plank; push hips back to one side then straighten & over to other side) – mat – 4 sets (2x slow & 4x fast)

  • T-raise superman (lying on stomach w/ hands out in a T-position; raise & lower arms while keeping feet on floor) – mat – 2 sets (2x slow & 4x fast) & 3 sets (1x slow & 2x fast)

  • Glute bridge leg drops (raise into 1 leg glute bridge & slowly lower top leg straight out to side & back in) – mat – 8 reps each side

  • Side Plank Angle Extension (in a side plank w/ lower knee on the floor; reach top arm / leg out & in) – mat – 8 reps each side

The routine ends with a 20 second stretch.

Bonus Extended Stretch

Bonus Extended Stretch is also included on this DVD. This bonus stretch section is 8:16 minutes long and only requires a mat. This is another really relaxing stretch routine that I enjoyed very much. The routine starts lying on the mat with some lower body stretches, including knee circles, hamstring and figure 4 stretches. You then move into a mix of upper and lower body stretches, including cross legged stretches, straight leg stretches, cat / cow and upward dog. Finally you work towards a standing position through downward dog, forward fold and then finish with upper body stretches for the side of the body, shoulders, triceps and chest.

Overall, a really nice routine to stretch out those tired muscles and definitely one I will return to often.

The main moves include:

  • Knees to chest / knee circles

  • 1 Leg hamstring stretches (lying on back; bring 1 leg towards the head)

  • Figure 4 stretch (cross 1 leg over other knee)

  • Torso stretch (bringing knees to one side & arms to other side)

  • Quad stretch (lying on side; bring foot in towards backside)

  • Cross legged stretch (cross legs & lean forward)

  • Torso twist (sitting up w/ 1 leg straight out; bring other foot across top leg w/ opposite arm reaching across & twist torso in other direction)

  • Straight leg forward fold (sitting)

  • Cat / cow (in tabletop position)

  • Upward dog

  • Downward dog

  • Forward fold (standing)

  • Side stretch (standing; reach arms up & clasp opposite wrist & bend over towards side)

  • Shoulder stretch

  • Tricep stretch

  • Chest stretch (bring arms behind back)


Perfect Pump has 20 premixes on the dvd.

(Premixes are extra bonus workouts included on the dvds that use the main workout as the backbone and then add, remove or change the order of elements to create a new routine. The premixes are also available on Cathe's On Demand streaming service).

Basic Premixes

  • Lower Body + Extended Stretch - 36:47 mins

  • Upper Body + Extended Stretch - 37:39 mins

  • Lower Body + Upper Body + Extended Stretch - 61:49 mins

  • Lower Body + Core Bonus + Extended Stretch - 46:06 mins

  • Upper Body + Core Bonus + Extended Stretch - 46:58 mins

  • Lower Body + Upper Body + Core Bonus + Extended Stretch - 71:08 mins

  • Upper Body + Upper Body Bonus + Extended Stretch - 42:16 mins

  • Lower Body + Lower Body Bonus + Extended Stretch - 44:26 mins

  • Lower Body + Upper Body + Lower Body Bonus + Upper Body Bonus + Extended Stretch - 74:06 mins

  • Lower Body + Upper Body + Lower Body Bonus + Upper Body Bonus + Core Bonus + Extended Stretch - 83:41 mins

Timesaver Premixes

  • Back & Biceps - 16:38 mins

  • Back, Biceps & Shoulders - 21:10 mins

  • Chest & Triceps - 15:00 mins

  • Shoulder, Chest & Triceps - 19:32 mins

  • Total Body Express - 31:36 mins

Mish Mosh Premixes

  • Upper & Lower Body - 54:37 mins

  • No Step - 39:21 mins

  • No Step + Core - 48:39 mins

  • Upper Body Light Weights & Bands + Core Bonus Express - 32:06 mins

  • Lower Body Light Weights & Bands + Core Bonus Express - 36:53 mins

Take Action

These workouts are available as a bundle or individually on DVD, download or through Cathe’s On Demand streaming service ($19.99 per month, which also includes access to all of the Cathe Live archived classes).

Check out my reviews of each of the other workouts in this series by visiting my Cathe DVD Reviews page HERE.

If you liked this workout, check out my review of Cathe Live: Strong Express Upper Body (#234) – HERE.

If you enjoyed this review, please share it using the links below.


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