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Cathe Live Review: Strong Upper Body w Core (#25)

Cathe Live Review: Strong Upper Body w Core (#25)

Strong Upper Body w Core is a tough, pure strength upper body and core workout. This is really effective, straight forward, routine that works every muscle group in the upper body.

The workout consists of five sets of two to four exercises for each body part. Each set is repeated two more times before moving onto the next set of exercises. The workout starts with back, then shoulders, chest, triceps and finally biceps. You then finish out with both standing and floorwork for the core. You move pretty quickly, from one thing to the next, and this increases the challenge, as there is very little rest in between the exercises. The key to getting the most out of this workout is choosing the right weights – you really need to challenge yourself, on this one, and I would recommend taking notes throughout so you can keep track and make sure you really work to fatigue on each set.

All of the exercises for the upper body are traditional strength moves. There is no pulsing - these are just straight forward reps and they are all at a controlled pace so you can really heavy up, if you want to. The exercises are usually performed for 12 reps, except tricep dips. However, Cathe does struggle on counting a few times and so sometimes you do 10 or 11 reps instead. (I have noted these below so you can add on the extra, if you want to). Cathe used moderate weights and I went heavier on a few of the moves. This is a really excellent workout that targets everything effectively. By the time you finish the third set, of each of the exercises, I was really feeling it. The chest and biceps I found particularly tough, as I went heavier here or stayed with a heavier weight rather than dropping down, like Cathe did, on some of the later sets. You pretty much fatigue every muscle group and so by the final round of biceps I was definitely struggling.

One thing to note on the shoulders set – Cathe used 8 pounds for the lateral raises and I already found this tough on the first set however, as she stayed with 8’s for the second I decided to try it too. Fortunately, during both this and the third set, after rep 8 and 6 respectively she switches to one arm at a time and therefore I was able to stay with the 8’s. So just in case you are looking to do the same - know that it is not all double arms and you do get a little respite.

The workout ends with an interesting core section, which I really enjoyed as there is so much variety in the different moves and it works your core from a number of different angles. You start standing with twists / knee lifts, diagonal woodchops and side leaning woodchops. I was definitely feeling my arms on this too after all of the previous work! You then move to floor for more exercises using one dumbbell before finishing out with a one minute plank. This incorporates a number of different moves so you are not stationary for all of that time. The slow tricep push-ups at the end were so hard – I really struggled on these as my arms were already burned out. This section worked my core nicely and I felt it was a good way to round out the routine.

Overall, with the right weights, this is a challenging and effective upper body and core workout. This is one to heavy up on and then you will definitely feel the work as you burn out every muscle group. This is one I will be returning to often.

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

The Workout

Strong Upper Body w Core is a pure strength upper body and core workout. The routine consists of five giant sets of upper body exercises – one for each body part (back, shoulders, chest, triceps and biceps) and finishes with an excellent core section.

What You Need to Know

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

The Moves

Strong Upper Body w Core is 56 minutes long and originally aired on 23rd October 2014 (#25). The workout starts with a 4:30 minute warm-up. You pick up 5 pound dumbbells halfway through the warm-up to simulate some of the strength moves to come. The step, with three risers on each side, is set up horizontally in front of you at the start of the workout and is only used a weight bench for some of the strength exercises.


  • One arm rows – Cathe held one 12 & one 15# Db in one hand (I used 1x 20) - 12 reps

  • Pullovers - two 15# Dbs & step – 12 reps (2nd set is 10 reps & 3rd is 11 reps)

Repeat above moves two more times


  • Overhead press – two 15# Dbs – 12 reps

  • Rear flys – two 12# Dbs (I used 10’s) – 12 reps

  • Front raise - one 12# Db (I used 1x 15) – 12 reps

  • Side lateral raises – two 8# Dbs – 12 reps (in 2nd & 3rd set Cathe starts alternating 1 arm at a time)

Repeat above moves two more times


  • Chest flys – two 15# Dbs (I used 20’s) & step – 12 reps

  • Narrow grip chest press – two 15# Dbs & step – 12 reps

  • Push-ups – mat – 12 reps

Repeat above moves two more times


  • Overhead tricep extensions – two 12# Dbs – 12 reps

  • Lying tricep extensions - two 10# Dbs (Cathe changed to 8’s for 3rd set. I stayed with 10’s) & step – 12 reps (3rd set is 11 reps)

  • Tricep dips – step – 32 reps

Repeat above moves two more times


  • Traditional bicep curls – two 15# Dbs (Cathe changed to 12’s for 3rd set. I stayed with 15’s) – 12 reps

  • W curls – two 10# Dbs (I used 12’s) – 12 reps

  • Crazy 8s (8x ½ way up, 8x ½ way down & 8x full reps – two 10# Dbs (Cathe changed to 8’s for 3rd set. I used 12’s for 1st & 2nd & 10’s for 3rd set)

Repeat above moves two more times

Core at 43:55 minutes

Standing Core

  • Alternating oblique crunches w/ knee lifts (holding Db horizontally between hands) – one 10# Db (I used 1x12) – 29 reps

  • Diagonal woodchops (raising one Db overhead at an angle) - one 10# Db (I used 1x12) – 26 reps

  • Side leaning woodchops – one 10# Db (I used 1x12) – 16 reps each side

Core on Mat

  • Seated lean back crunches (sitting on mat & leaning back w Db in one hand & arm overhead, pull Db down to side so elbow almost touches mat, switch sides) – one 8# Db & mat – 20 reps

  • Sit-up & overhead press (Db held horizontally between hands) – one 10# Db (I used 1x12) & mat – 11 reps

  • Sit-up & twist (Db held horizontally between hands) – one 10# Db (I used 1x12) & mat – 12 reps

  • Russian twists (sitting on mat & leaning back, twist Db from side to side) - one 10# Db (I used 1x 12) & mat – 44 reps

  • 1 minute plank (start in elbow plank; raise one leg & hold, raise other leg; march feet; march feet out & in; come up to straight arm plank, raise one arm & opposite leg then switch sides; do 2 tricep push-ups (4/4 count); open arms wider & slowly lower all the way to floor) - mat

The workout ends with a 3:30 minute cool down and stretch.

Take Action

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

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May 12, 2020

I really liked this workout. It's basically PHA --- heavier weights, fewer reps, 3 sets of 12 for each exercise. Awesome core

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