Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Workout at Home: Review of Cathe Friedrich's "Power Hour"

Cathe Friedrichs “Power Hour” is one of my favorites.  I *think* it came out in 2000 (I’ll check on that), which would make it about 10 years old. This doesn’t make it seem dated, though.
At the time this workout was released, Body Pump classes were becoming popular. They were strength training based group exercise classes that focused on an hour long total body working, with one body part per song. Since then, other instructors have picked up this style of training (Rep Reebok, Jari Love) but at the time, this seemed pretty new.
The basis for this workout is a high-rep, low-weight workout. However, the weights Cathe uses (and encourages) are substantial. I like that she tells you what weight she’s using for each exercise. It doesn’t mean you have to use that weight, but it either gives you something to shoot for, or something to surpass.
The workout uses a barbell, dumbells, and a weight bench/step.
Here are the sections:
1. Warm-up: The warm-up uses a weighted barbell (Cathe uses 20 lbs).  Many of the exercises that will be done later, such as squats, rows, dead lifts, bicep curls, lunges, are featured here with a lighter (in theory) weight.
2. Squats: Oh man. I remember when I first did this track, I didn’t think I would make it. However, as I’ve come close to almost memorizing the track, it’s gotten *a little* easier. (Just a little).
Cathe does both regular squats and plié squats. There is a short break in between. But the tempos are varied and it really is quite challenging. Down 2/up 2; Down 3/ up 1; Down 2/ hold/ up 4; Low ends (oh my). Just know it’s tough. And… Cathe uses a 40 pound barbell.
3. Chest: Cathe starts the chest track with push-ups: 16 push-ups, then some variations. She follows with a set of flys on the bench (using a set of 10 pound weights), and then a set of bench presses using a barbell (I think she uses 25 pounds, but I usually use 20. I’m pretty tired by that point).
4. Back: The back track consists of bent over rows with a barbell (35 pounds), dead lifts, and 1-arm rows (15- 20 pounds). It’s a great track, and I feel like it really works the back.
5. Lunges: Although there are only 2 lower body tracks in this workout (the squat track and the lunge track), they are both quite difficult, and thorough. The lunge track is tough! They are all static lunges, using rhythmic variations to keep it challenging (yes, there are some killer low ends). Each leg has one set with a barbell (I think 30 pounds) and another set using dumb bells (2 10s).
6. Shoulders: After the lunge track, I know *I’m* excited to be finished with lower body.  The shoulder track consists of a variety of exercises:
- Front raises, using a 10 pound plate (I often use a dumb bell, if I can’t find my plate).
- Lateral raises, using 2 5 pound dumb bells
- Posterior raises. These are tough. Cathe uses 5 pounds, and I can too now, but at first, I found I had to go really light.
- Barbell shoulder press: Using 20 pound barbell.
This track goes by fast, but it’s thorough.
7. Biceps. Wow. The bicep track. Oh man. Cathe uses a 15 pound barbell, which I’m sure doesn’t seem like much. Well….. My barbell is 15 pounds without any weight on it, so it looks easy. Let me tell you- this track is tough. I’m almost always sore from it. It’s just so many reps.
8. Triceps. The triceps track consists of two different exercises:  Lying extensions on the bench, using a barbell (I think it’s 25 pounds), and one arm triceps kickbacks. You do the extensions first, then get up and do the triceps kickbacks, then do another set of extensions. This is another track that leaves me sore (as long as I use enough weight).
9. Abs. A great abdominal section ends the workout. Cathe keeps it basic with crunches in varying rhythms, lower body crunches, and a set of planks! I do love the planks!
10. Final Stretch… AAAAAAAHHHHHH….
Strengths: This workout goes by pretty fast, and the music is pretty fun. Every body part seems thoroughly worked.
Weaknesses: I can’t think of many with this workout. I know some of the recent research in the “functional fitness” field says that plié squats aren’t good, but I haven’t had any trouble with them. Like any workout, you should rotate this, because while it covers each body part, there are some key exercises that are not done: hammer curls, triceps dips, posterior back flyes. Some might say this workout is short on lower body work (I think there is a total of 12 minutes), so if that’s something you feel you need more of a focus on, you would either want to add some, or do a different workout.
Level: I truly believe any level can do this workout, if they use light enough weights. I did it when I was pregnant, using no weight for lower body (I had enough extra weight). You also don’t need a barbell- you can use free weights. Then, when you feel like it’s too easy, add more weight.
So, that’s my breakdown of Power Hour. Have you done it? What do you think? I would love your feedback.
Keep watching for more reviews!


Cheeseboy said...

Hey, my wife does this workout!

BabyWilt said...

I've not done it before but I have come across her workouts on youtube. Great to read an impartial review of it though.