Review Cathe’s LITE: Pyramid Pump Bonus DVD
Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Review of LITE: Pyramid Pump by Cathe Friedrich – an optional bonus full body workout that utilizes the full pyramid system to maximize your results in the shortest amount of time possible.
Pyramid Pump is the bonus workout for Cathe Friedrich’s new Low Impact Training Extreme (LITE) workout series, which consists of 7 DVDs plus numerous bonus add-ons and 100’s of premixes. The series is aimed at intermediate exercisers. However, Cathe states that it will also provide a solid challenge for the advanced exerciser through ramped up bonus segments, higher weight options, and premixes. For more details on the full LITE program, click HERE or check out my blog post – Your Ultimate Guide to Cathe’s New LITE Workout Series.
This is an excellent total body strength workout that works your muscles very effectively. The workout is broken down by body part and is also available as short individual muscle group Pyramid Pump Bonuses, on some of the main workouts, if you don’t want to buy the additional DVD / download.
Pyramid training is a stepped approach to sets and repetitions. In this case you start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the weight, whilst decreasing the reps (pyramid up), then you reverse that starting heavy and going lighter, whilst increasing the reps (pyramid down). Cathe already has one DVD that uses this approach and it is an incredibly tough workout called Pyramid Lower & Upper Body. Cathe’s usual strength workouts generally focus on building muscle strength or building muscle endurance; the pyramid technique focuses on both strength and endurance in a single workout. For this type of workout, it is important to record the weights you use so you can really focus on making the most of this workout. (The digital LITE User Guide includes workout cards to help you do just that for this workout). Due to the nature of this workout, you definitely need to be using the right weights. If you aren't using the proper weights for your body, you will find that you are doing either a strength or an endurance workout—and not getting all the benefits that Pyramid is designed to give you.
The first time through this type of workout, I view as a ‘trial run’ to see what weight I need to use the next time I do it for optimal results. This was particularly the case here as some of the moves are done on an incline on the ball, this makes the moves far more challenging, and so I needed to adjust some of my weights as I went along.
The exercises included in this routine are all traditional strength exercises and although Cathe uses lighter weights than she usually would, you can easily adjust your weights upwards, if required. I used heavier dumbbells on all of the exercises, both upper and lower body. The rep speed is generally controlled and so you can heavy up, as required, certainly for the upper body. (I did find using the ball, for all of the lying exercises though, meant that I couldn't go as heavy as I would have if I were using the step - due to the instability of the ball). The lower body may be more challenging to go really heavy for some of the moves, given the nature of some of the exercises involved. The exercises move from one thing to the next fairly quickly, with little rest between the sets, and this really helps to keep your heart rate elevated throughout the workout. I particularly found this during the lower body section, which is very metabolic and I was breathing hard in places.
The workout starts with a number of lower body exercises, many using the gliding device (I used a gliding disc but you can use a wash cloth, furniture sliders, paper plate etc) or the high step. I find that these tend to increase the intensity (and my heart rate!), particularly when you are moving reasonably quickly. The lower body exercises are very focused on lunges this time, which is quite unusual for Cathe. There are no squats at all in this workout – which I found very surprising. Out of the 7 lower body moves only 2 of them are not lunges…! (They are deadlifts and calf raises). I will admit I am not a huge fan of lunges, particularly elevated lunges (which are also included here), and so I found this part of the workout quite challenging – given the repetition involved (52 reps per exercise!) I know they are very good for me and that I should do them regularly but I have a feeling that this section would not necessarily be my go-to for a lower body workout.
For the upper body section, there are two exercises for each body part, which are then performed in the pyramid style. These exercises are superset against each other. So, for example, for chest you do both chest flys and incline chest presses. You start with your light weights and do set one of chest flys and one set of incline chest presses before you move up to your moderate weight for set two and so on. As mentioned, a number of the exercises use the stability ball to provide an incline for the moves. This tends to make them more challenging and I really felt these exercises, particularly the incline chest press and the incline front raise. The workout also has a cumulative effect so by the time I got to shoulders, they were already burned out and I had to struggle through the last few sets. With the right weights this workout will offers a serious challenge and will definitely burn out those muscles.
I found this workout very effective even though it is not the most enjoyable. The high level of repetition, I find, gives it a little bit of a dread factor for me (and that is why I don't do her original Pyramid workout as much as I probably should!) However, the premix options (as with the original DVD) do allow you to just do the pyramid one way - up or down and this is often more appealing! I did enjoy the premix that mixed in the abs exercises, with the total body workout, a little more as it breaks up some of the monotony of this type of workout. However, I am most likely to use the upper body premixes, as I enjoyed that section the most.
Pyramid Pump is a pure strength total body workout using the pyramid training approach. In this case you start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the weight, whilst decreasing the reps, for 3 sets of each exercise (pyramid up) then you reverse that starting heavy and going lighter, whilst increasing the reps, for 2 sets of each exercise (pyramid down). The rep pattern, for all of the exercises except calf raises, is as follows: 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps, 10 reps, 12 reps. For calf raises, you do 30 reps, 25 reps, 20 reps, 25 reps & 30 reps. The premixes included with the workout allow you to decide which way you want to do your pyramids and you can even just pyramid up or just pyramid down – depending on your time and preferences.
For each of the moves listed below, you will go up and down the pyramid so a total of 5 sets of each exercise. For the lower body exercises, you perform the full pyramid for each individual exercise before moving on to the next. For upper body, the exercises are superset by body part. So, for example, for back you do both pullovers and single arm back flys. You start with your light weights and do set one of pullovers and one set of back flys before you move up to your moderate weight for set two.
To do this workout you will need dumbbells, a high step with 3 risers, a stability ball (you could substitute a full size step or the floor, if you don’t have a ball, for some of the exercises), a gliding device and a mat. (In addition, the premix options allow you to select workouts that don't use the gliding discs or don't use the high step, in case you don't want to modify etc).
The workout starts with lower body then moves into upper body. However, the premixes allow you to change the order so you can start with upper first, if you prefer.
This DVD also includes 6 Pack Abs #1 but no other bonuses.
What You Need To Know
(The information below is based on how I did the workout, using heavier weights, but not including any of the bonus add-ons).
(Rating scale – 1= lowest & 5 = highest).
(The weights listed below are what Cathe is using)
Pyramid Pump is 80 minutes long, including a 4:30 minute warm-up and 5 minute cool down.
(The rep pattern, for all of the exercises except calf raises, is as follows: 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps, 10 reps, 12 reps. For calf raises, you do 30 reps, 25 reps, 20 reps, 25 reps & 30 reps).
Rear slide lunges – two 5, 8, 10# dbs & one gliding device (I used 8, 10, 12's)
Step ups – two 8, 10, 12# dbs & high step with 3 risers (I used 12, 15, 20's)
Side slide lunges – one 10, 12, 15# db & one gliding device (I used 12, 15, 20)
Elevated lunges – two 8, 10, 12# dbs & high step with 1 riser (I used 10, 12, 15's)
Sliding crossback lunges – two 8, 10, 12# dbs & one gliding device (I used 10, 12, 15's)
Deadlifts – two 10, 12, 15# dbs (I used 15, 20, 22's)
Calf raises – two 10, 12, 15# dbs (I used 15, 20, 22's)
Pullovers on the ball – two 8, 10, 12# dbs & stability ball (I used 10, 12, 15's)
Standing single arm back fly – two 5, 8, 10# dbs (I used 10, 12, 15)
Chest flys on the ball – two 8, 10, 12# dbs & stability ball (I used 15, 20, 22's)
Incline chest press on the ball – two 8, 10, 12# dbs & stability ball (I used 10, 12, 15's)
Standing tricep kickbacks – two 5, 8, 10# dbs (I used 8, 10, 12's)
Lying tricep extensions on the ball – two 5, 8, 10# dbs & stability ball (I used 8, 10, 12's)
Standing sweeper curls – two 8, 10, 12# dbs (I used 12, 15, 20's)
Incline bicep curls on the ball – two 8, 10, 12# dbs & stability ball (I used 10, 12, 15's)
Standing overhead press – two 5, 8, 10# dbs (I used 10, 12, 15's)
Incline front raise on the ball – two 3, 5, 8# dbs & stability ball (I used 8, 10, 12's)
6 Pack Abs #1 is also included on this DVD. This bonus core section is 10 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 quick stretch at the end. You will just need a mat for this core bonus.
This is a good little bonus that works the core pretty well and finishes off any workout nicely. The routine is boxing inspired and includes some new moves and some more familiar moves with a new twist. The moves flow from one to the next with little rest. This is a nice, fun routine that isn't too tough. I found this easier than 6 Pack Abs # 2.
Alternating sit outs (starting in beast position, pull the leg through and tap to the ground whilst tapping hand to opposite shoulder. These are done at a nice slow pace)
Triangle choke reverse lift (lying on back with one leg hooked behind the other lift up the hips)
Guard block crunches (lying on back with hands in guard position, crunch up & slip to one side then down & repeat to other side)
Body shot sit ups (lying on back then sit up & body shot one side, lie back down & repeat on other side)
Boxer sit ups (starting in seated position leaning back, lie back down, come up & alternate punches at the top – 2 high & 2 middle)
Hip thrusts with upstrike (start lying on your back with knees bent then raise hips & punch over the body to one side then the other)
V planks (in straight arm plank, tap foot to outside of hand – one side then other)
W planks (in straight arm plank, tap one foot to outside of hand & back, then same foot taps straight in & out, then other foot taps straight in & out then taps to outside of other hand)
Supermans (lying on your stomach with hands out in ‘W’ position, raise & lower arms / legs at same time)
Pyramid Pump offers 20 premixes.
(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).
1. Main Workout + 6 Pack Abs #1 90:24
2. Upper Body First: 80:27
3. Upper Body First + 6 Pack Abs #1: 90:24
1. Pyramid Lower Body Only: 44:51
2. Pyramid Lower Body + 6 Pack Abs #1: 54:48
3. Pyramid Upper Body Only: 44:42
4. Pyramid Upper Body + 6 Pack Abs #1: 54:39
5. Total Body - Pyramid Up Only: 50:12
6. Total Body - Pyramid Down Only: 50:55
7. Pyramid Lower Body - Pyramid Up Only (3 sets): 30:09
8. Pyramid Lower Body - Pyramid Down Only (3 sets): 29:19
9. Pyramid Upper Body - Pyramid Up Only (3 sets): 29:09
10. Pyramid Upper Body - Pyramid Down Only (3 sets): 30:42
11. One Set of Everything: 25:36
Mish Mosh Premixes:
1. Scrambled Total Body (Alternates Lower and Upper Body Exercise Rounds): 80:05
2. Scrambled Lower Body: 44:30
3. Scrambled Upper Body: 44:20
4. Scrambled Total Body With Abs Mixed In: 90:25
5. No Sliding Discs: 63:14
6. No High Step: 69:41
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 Recent Posts Page HERE.
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