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Cathe’s STEP BOSS Review: PHA 3

#Cathestepboss #Pha3 #Phastep #cathefriedrich #workoutreviews #fitnessmystyle #fitnessmystylereviews #Newcatheworkouts #strengthtraining #totalbodyworkout



Cathe’s STEP BOSS Review: PHA 3 (PHA Step)

PHA 3 (PHA Step) is a total body workout that alternates between lower and upper body exercises to enable maximum muscle recruitment & keep that heart rate elevated throughout.


PHA 3 is part of Cathe Friedrich’s new STEP BOSS workout series, which consists of 3 step DVDs plus a number of bonus add-ons and premixes. The series is aimed at advanced exercisers and while all the routines are step based, they follow different formats for three totally different types of challenge. For more details on the STEP BOSS program, click HERE or check out my blog post – Your Ultimate Guide to Cathe’s New STEP BOSS Series.


PHA 3 is the third PHA workout, as there are two other DVDs of the same name – Strong & Sweaty PHA and LITE PHA 2 (for a detailed review of this workout click HERE). There are also three Live versions in Cathe’s archive (PHAT 1 #57, PHAT 2 #94 & PHA 3 #184 (for a detailed review of PHA 3 click HERE)). The concept for this routine is based on Peripheral Heart Action Training – 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”.


Another advantage of PHA training is that you are limiting lactic acid build-up and fatigue. When you build up lactic acid in your upper body and the muscles fatigue, you then switch to the lower body where the muscles have had enough recovery time to generate force again. In that sense, it’s a time expedient way to work out too.


This was another fantastic addition to this series of workouts and I enjoyed it very much. As with the latest LITE PHA 2 & the Live PHA 3, this one has less repetition - as you only repeat each set of exercises two times through (rather than three times for the other versions). I find this much more interesting and as you are moving quickly, from one thing to the next, the workout flies by. This workout was pretty metabolic - as many of the moves are very functional - and my heart rate stayed pretty elevated throughout. It has a really good cardio effect, as there is also very little rest between the exercises or sets and you only get a slightly longer breather between rounds.


The workout is set up in two groupings of exercises, alternating between lower and upper body. Each group is then repeated once more before moving on to the next group. The exercises are all traditional strength moves but some have a slight twist and incorporate the use of the step, along with gliding devices, to provide an additional balance challenge. Also some of the exercises are a combination of two moves, such as, hop squats & rear lunge or pullovers & chest flys. The key here though is selecting the right weights, for each exercise, to really challenge yourself and maximise the benefits from this style of routine. Cathe used moderate weights and I increased on a few, shown below, however as you are moving rather quickly, on some of the moves and they often combine muscle groups, it may be difficult to go really heavy on some of these. The reps are generally not too high though, usually between 8 and 16 reps, so you could heavy up a bit, if you wanted to. Cathe does hit every muscle group, at least once during the workout, so you are working a little bit of everything in this one. I did find my lower body more challenged though and was really feeling the push dips and the rear slide lunges in particular.


The routine ends with a push-up / dip challenge and by this time, on the final set, I was really feeling these. However, you then move into the cool down and a really nice stretch that works very well to stretch out all those hard working muscles. I loved this stretch as it was a little different and very effective. You actually use the step for many of the moves, which you would normally do on the floor, and I found this worked well, particularly moves like the figure 4 stretch.


One thing to point out though, given that it is part of the Step Boss series, I was expecting it to be a similar format to the Live PHA Plus Cardio Blasts (for a detailed review of that workout click HERE) so that you incorporate step cardio intervals, at the start of each round. However, that is not the case here. This is just a pure strength, total body workout, rather than a cardio and strength routine, which was a little disappointing as I love that Live routine. However, with the magic of Cathe’s amazing Workout Blender, I think I will make my own premix of this using the blasts from IMAX 4.


Although the main routine does not include specific moves for the core, Cathe offers a number of premixes, with this DVD, so that you can incorporate one of the bonus ab sections (Ab Stacker Abs), into this workout, either after the main workout or mixed in after each round. I really enjoyed the one that mixed them into the main workout, as it provides a nice total body challenge. There are also a range of other premixes on this DVD, which allow you to do the workout in a number of different ways, including dividing the routine into upper and lower body splits, if you would prefer to do them separately, or doubling up the whole workout for a serious eight round total body challenge.


Overall, this was a fantastic total body strength workout with a strong cardio effect. This is a great workout for when you want to challenge your whole body and work every muscle group in a time efficient manner.


The Workout


PHA 3 is a metabolic strength workout that consists of two rounds of exercises - alternating lower and upper body moves. The 1st round has eight exercises and the 2nd has six exercises. Each round is then repeated once more. Each round is then repeated once more. You will need a full size step, with two risers on each side, both for some of the lower body and upper body exercises, plus various weighted dumbbells and two gliding devices. You could substitute a high step and / or the floor, if you don’t have a full size step, for many of the exercises.


This DVD also includes a core bonus (Ab Stacker Abs) and an Extended Stretch (Extended Lying Stretch).


What You Need to Know

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

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


The Moves


PHA 3 is 55 minutes long. The workout starts with a 5 minute warm-up before moving into the first round. The step, with two 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 behind and to the sides of the step during this routine.


Round 1a

  • Alternating rear lunges (off step) – two 10# dumbbells (I used 12’s) & step with 2 risers – 4 sets (4x singles & 2x 3 pulses)

  • Alternating step out Arnold press – two 12# dumbbells – 16 reps (fast)

  • Hop squat & rear lunge (3 squats hopping & 1 rear lunge) – one 12# dumbbell (I used 1x 15) – 10 reps

  • Bicep curls - two 12# dumbbells – 8 reps, 4 reps (go ½ way up, external rotation, & down), 8 reps, 4 reps (go to top then ½ way down, external rotation & up) & 4 reps

  • Push dips – two 12# dumbbells & step topper – 16 reps each side


  • Pullovers (1x 4/4 count) & chest flys (1x 3.5’s) – two 15# dumbbells & step with 2 risers – 6 sets

  • Rear slide lunges – one 12# dumbbell, one gliding device & step topper - 10 reps each side

  • Squat thrust & 2 plank push-ups – two gliding device & step with two risers (hands on step) – 8 sets



Round 1b

  • Alternating rear lunges (off step) – two 12# dumbbells & step with 2 risers – 4 sets (4x singles & 2x 3 pulses)

  • Alternating step out Arnold press – two 12# dumbbells – 16 reps (fast)

  • Hop squat & rear lunge (3 squats hopping & 1 rear lunge) – one 12# dumbbell (I used 1x 15) – 10 reps

  • Bicep curls - two 12# dumbbells – 8 reps, 4 reps (go ½ way up, external rotation, & down), 8 reps, 4 reps (go to top then ½ way down, external rotation & up) & 4 reps

  • Push dips – two 12# dumbbells & step topper – 16 reps each side

  • Pullovers (1x 4/4 count) & chest flys (1x 3.5’s) – two 15# dumbbells & step with 2 risers – 6 sets

  • Rear slide lunges – one 12# dumbbell, one gliding device & step topper - 10 reps each side

  • Squat thrust & 2 plank push-ups – two gliding device & step with two risers (hands on step) – 8 sets


Round 2a

  • Squat & cross back lunge - one 15# dumbbell (I used 1x20) & step topper – 12 reps each side (fast)

  • Renegade row (1 arm row in straight arm plank (one hand on step)) – one 15# dumbbell (I used 1x20) & step with 2 risers – 16 reps each side


  • Front to back lunges (pendulum lunges onto & off step) – two 12# dumbbells & step topper – 10 reps each side

  • Front & side lateral raises – two 5# dumbbells – 2x 4 reps, 8x 2 reps & 8x singles

  • Goblet squat (sumo squat with dbs held in hands between legs) & deadlift combo – two 15# dumbbells – 8 sets (2x squats & 1x 2/2 count deadlift)


  • Push-up dip challenge (6 push-up & 10 dips) – step with 2 risers – 4 sets


Round 2b

  • Squat & cross back lunge - one 15# dumbbell (I used 1x20) & step topper – 12 reps each side (fast)

  • Renegade row (1 arm row in straight arm plank (one hand on step)) – one 15# dumbbell (I used 1x20) & step with 2 risers – 16 reps each side

  • Front to back lunges (pendulum lunges onto & off step) – two 12# dumbbells & step topper – 10 reps each side

  • Front & side lateral raises – two 5# dumbbells – 2x 4 reps, 8x 2 reps & 8x singles

  • Goblet squat (sumo squat with dbs held in hands between legs) & deadlift combo – two 15# dumbbells – 8 sets (2x squats & 1x 2/2 count deadlift)

  • Push-up dip challenge (6 push-up & 10 dips) – step with 2 risers – 4 sets


The workout ends with a 1 minute cool down and a 4 minute stretch using the step.



Bonus Add-Ons


Bonus Abs

Ab Stacker Abs is also included on this DVD. This bonus core section is 9:30 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 need a mat & 4 risers for this core bonus (if you don’t have risers you could use light dumbbells or other small items. For info a standard riser weighs approx. 2.2 pounds or 1kg).


This is a really interesting routine that works the core in different ways by incorporating step risers into the core moves. This really helps to increase the intensity and challenge of the moves and means you have to engage your core even harder to maintain stability in a few of the moves. The routine includes many familiar moves but they are given a different twist by using the risers. I found some of the moves a little awkward with the risers, for example, supermans and in future would probably just use light dumbbells instead, but most were very doable and worked my core well. I was also a little nervous about flipping the riser over my head, for the stacking crunches, but actually it was much easier than I was expecting.


This bonus has a good mix of harder and easier moves and I found the boat pose moves quite challenging with the additional weight of the riser. However, I would probably use a heavier dumbbell for some of the others though, to increase the intensity a little more, as the riser is quite light for some of the moves, such as, the stacking oblique rotations and plank stacking. The moves flow from one to the next, with little rest, so it keeps the core working nicely. This isn’t the toughest core routine but I did find it more challenging than Bonus Abs #2.


  • Stacking crunches (lying on your back with 4 risers in front of your feet, you will grab one riser (underhand) every time you do a crunch, flip it over your head & place each one on top of the other just behind your head. Then repeat taking each riser as you do a sit up and stacking them at the front of your feet) – 4 risers & mat – 3 sets

  • Side to side oblique stacking (leaning back with feet off the floor & 4 risers to one side of you, move the stack of risers, one at a time, from one side of the body & back to the other) - 4 risers & mat – 3 sets


  • Modified boat pose (holding one riser between hands back over head, sit-up & hold briefly in boat pose (with knees bent & feet out parallel to the floors) & tap riser to shins) - 1 riser & mat – 13 reps

  • Side oblique sit-ups with boat pose (lie back with riser in hands, arms back over head, then sit-up & twist bringing riser to alternating sides as you lift the same side leg x2 then sit-up & hold in boat pose bringing riser to shins) – one riser & mat – 8 sets


  • Plank stacking (in straight arm plank with 4 risers in front of 1 arm, one at a time move the risers with 1 hand. Move 2 out to one side & 2 out to other side then bring them back into centre) – 4 risers & mat – 5 sets

  • Supermans (lying on stomach, holding one riser between hands outstretched in front of you – raise & lower arms & legs at the same time) – 1 riser & mat – 16 reps (holding up for 3 counts)



Extended Stretch Bonus

Extended Lying Stretchis 10 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 gentle breathing to calm the body before a nice total body elongation stretch. You then move into a number of different stretches more for the lower body. These are all very familiar stretches, including figure 4 stretch, quad and hamstring stretches. You then move into more total body stretches like cat / cow and child’s pose before ending, in a sitting position, with stretches for the neck and upper body. All of the moves are slow and controlled - nothing is held too long but just enough to feel the muscles start to relax. This felt to me very much like an extended version of a Cathe cool down, from one her DVDs, and I loved it. It’s such a nice feel good session to finish out a tough workout session and I felt very pleasantly relaxed and stretched out.


Premixes


PHA 3 has 15 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).

Basic Premixes

  1. Main Workout + Extended Lying Stretch - 60:31

  2. Main Workout + Ab Stacker Abs – 64:11

  3. Main Workout + Ab Stacker Abs + Extended Lying Stretch - 69:59

Timesaver Premixes

  1. Timesaver #1: First Half Only – 32:32

  2. Timesaver #2: Last Half Only – 31:54

  3. Timesaver #3: 2 Segments Mixed (1A + 2B) – 32:07

  4. Timesaver #4: 3 Segments Only (1A + 2A + 2B) – 42:50

  5. Timesaver #5: 3 Segments Only (1A + 1B + 2B) – 43:46

  6. Timesaver #6: Lower Body Exercises Only – 32:22

  7. Timesaver #7 Upper Body Exercises Only – 31:51

Mish Mosh Premixes

  1. Scrambled #1 – 53:58

  2. Scrambled #2 (Abs Mixed In After Rounds 1B and 2B) – 63:57

  3. Scrambled #3 (Abs Mixed In After Every Round) – 62:34

  4. Extreme #1: 6 Rounds – 77:01

  5. Extreme #2: Double It 8 Rounds + Extended Stretch – 104:59


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: Pump Party – HERE.


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

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