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Cathe Live Review: PHA: Barbell (#299)

Updated: Jun 7

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Cathe Live Review: PHA: Barbell (#299)

PHA: Barbell is a fairly challenging pure strength workout that also has a little bit of a cardio effect too.


This is the sixth PHA workout now in the Cathe Live archive. The others are PHA Training 1 #57, PHAT 2 #94, PHA 3 #184, PHA 2020 #278 & Hooked On PHA #288. There are also three PHA workouts on DVD (Strong & Sweaty PHA, LITE PHA 2 and STEP Boss PHA3).


They are all fantastic and challenging workout based on PHA (Peripheral Heart Action Training), which is alternating between lower and upper body exercises with very short rest periods between exercises. 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, like all of the newer versions, consists of two circuits that are each repeated once before moving onto the next circuit. The first circuit has eight exercises and the second has six. As usual, the exercises alternate between focusing on the lower body and the upper body. However, in the first round of the first circuit, Cathe goes out of order for the last few exercises and so you do two upper body exercises back to back and then do a lower body move. However, she corrects this on the second time through. I really liked this routine, as there is no lower body work on the step (except hip thrusters) so it has a variety of different exercises, which was really nice to see. This is one of Cathe’s longer workouts again, which I love, at 57 minutes, however I found the time just flew by and before you know it you are done.


All of the exercises in this routine use the barbell. Cathe had her barbell set between 25 and 40 pounds but encourages you to go as heavy as you want to. As I don’t like using the barbell I used dumbbells and a kettlebell (for plie squats only) and had no issues, as the exercises are all easily modifiable. This is definitely more of a heavier strength workout, as the reps are at a more controlled pace so you are not rushing the moves but really trying to feel the work. Cathe does take slightly longer breaks, between the moves, than is often the case for this type of workout, as she is demonstrating a move or changing the weight on her barbell. Therefore, it didn’t provide quite as strong of a cardio effect as some of her other PHA workouts.


The rep count varies both between exercises and often between sets as well. I found it quite difficult to gauge the right weights, for some moves, the first time through as I was expecting more moderate rep counts, as she usually does for this type of workout, but sometimes this was not the case. For the chest press, for example, I went with 40 pounds (2x 20# Dbs) for both sets and even though she did go to 40 pounds on the second set she still ended up doing 39 and 32 reps respectively! So you have been warned! Now that I have the individual rep counts noted, it will be much easier next time to gauge the right weights but I was definitely struggling a little on that first round of chest presses.


Most of the moves are very familiar but she did incorporate hip thrusters in this one, which I haven’t seen in a live workout before. Previously, she used them for a bonus 100 rep challenge in her Xtrain DVDs and I think they were also used in STS. For this move though, she does show two other modifications and of course as it’s just Cathe you actually get to see them all! I choose the third option, with the feet on the step, as I find hip thrusters a little awkward. She also shows modifications for the clean & press too, in case you want an alternative.


(Unfortunately, again as with the previous few Lives, the stretch was rather inadequate for this one. Although it was longer at 3:30 minutes, Cathe still did not really stretch out the upper body except doing a chest stretch and neck stretches. There was nothing for triceps, shoulders, biceps etc… So again I added a few extra on the end. I find do find this slightly frustrating, as this was a tough total body strength workout and given she has time, I don’t understand why Cathe isn’t doing proper stretches at the moment).


Overall, an excellent and effective total body challenge that can easily be done with dumbbells if you don’t have a barbell.


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


The Workout


PHA: Barbell is a pure strength total body workout consisting of two circuits of eight and six exercises respectively, which are repeated once.

What You Need to Know

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

The Moves


PHA: Barbell is 57 minutes long and originally aired on 28th May 2020 (#299). The workout starts with a 5:30 minute warm-up, before moving into a warm-up set of squats. The barbell, if you are using one, is set up with 30 pounds at the start of the workout. The step, with three risers on each side, in set up horizontally in front of you at the start of the workout and is only used as a weight bench for upper body and hip thrusters / bridges.

Warm-up Set

  • Squats – 30# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) – 16 reps

Change barbell to 35 pounds

Circuit 1a

  • Squats – 35# BB (I used 2x 20# Dbs) – 16 reps

  • Bicep curls – 35# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) – 10 reps

Change barbell to 40 pounds

  • Deadlifts – 40# BB (I used 2x 20# Dbs) – 12 reps (2/2 count)

Change barbell to 35 pounds

  • Chest press – 35# BB (I used 2x 20# Dbs) & step – 39 reps

  • Plie squats – 35# BB (I used 35# kettlebell) – 16 reps & 4x 1.5’s

  • Underhand grip dead row – 35# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) – 4x 3’s & 8x singles

  • Close grip bench press – 35# BB (I used 2x 20# Dbs) & step – 24 reps

Change barbell to 40 pounds

  • Stiff leg close stance deadlifts – 40# BB (I used 2x 20# Dbs) – 16 reps (2/2 count)

Change barbell to 35 pounds

Circuit 1b

  • Squats – 35# BB (I used 2x 20# Dbs) – 32 reps & 4x 1.5’s

  • Bicep curls – 35# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) – 10 reps

Change barbell to 40 pounds

  • Deadlifts – 40# BB (I used 2x 20# Dbs) – 12 reps (3/1 count)

  • Chest press – 40# BB (I used 2x 20# Dbs) & step – 32 reps

Change barbell to 35 pounds

  • Plie squats – 35# BB (I used 35# kettlebell) – 16 reps & 4x 1.5’s

  • Overhand grip dead row – 35# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) – 6x 3’s & 4x singles

Change barbell to 40 pounds

  • Stiff leg close stance deadlifts – 40# BB (I used 2x 20# Dbs) – 14 reps (3/1 count)

Change barbell to 35 pounds

  • Close grip bench press – 35# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) & step – 24 reps

Change barbell to 40 pounds

Circuit 2a

  • Hip thrusters – 40# BB (on hips) & step (modification: hip bridges using BB or resistance band across hips (I used 2x 12# Dbs) & step) – 24 reps

  • Tricep dips – 40# BB (I used 2x 12# Dbs) & step – 24 reps

Change barbell to 25 pounds

  • Static lunges – 25# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) – 16x singles, 4x 3/1 & 4x 1/3 each side

  • Pullovers – 25# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) & step – 16 reps (2/2 count)

  • Alternating forward lunges – 25# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) – 16 reps

  • Clean & press (modification – only upright rows or only overhead presses) – 25# BB (I used 2x 12# Dbs) – 12 reps

Change barbell to 40 pounds

Circuit 2b

  • Hip thrusters – 40# BB (on hips) & step (modification: hip bridges using BB or resistance band across hips (I used 2x 12# Dbs) & step) – 24 reps

  • Tricep dips – 40# BB (I used 2x 12# Dbs) & step – 24 reps

Change barbell to 25 pounds

  • Static lunges – 25# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) – 16x singles, 4x 3/1 & 4x 1/3 each side

  • Pullovers – 25# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) & step – 19 reps (2/2 count)

  • Alternating forward lunges – 25# BB (I used 2x 15# Dbs) – 22 reps

  • Clean & press (modification: only upright rows or only overhead presses) – 25# BB (I used 2x 12# Dbs) – 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: Total Body Barbell Challenge #227– HERE.


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