Friday faves – weight training DVD’s edition

Weeeee, it’s Friday!!!!!
Whew. Sorry – just had to get that out of my system. 😉

ALSO – before I forget: I changed my twitter handle. I am keeping @jsutera654 for professional use mainly and have created a separate handle for my personal life (i.e. fitness, food, wine, y’know the drill by now). Please start following me here: @JessFit654. I started following all of you guys last night but if I missed you, please follow back! Who knew creating a new handle would be so stressful!!

Anyway, I’ve been riding quite a high after last night’s incredibly inspired Core Fusion class with Fred DeVito. It amazes me what a long-lasting impact just one class with him has on me. Seriously. And I’m pretty darn sore in the glutes/thighs and core region. Nice ‘n toasty, love that!

Before I get to the final post in my weight training series, I thought I’d share my workout from this morning. I won’t lie, it wasn’t my best effort, I think I was a little sleepy this morning. Plus, I think I might have held back a bit as I’m hoping to go for a run this afternoon since the weather tomorrow looks like a total fail of a forecast (rainy, cloudy, ick) so I might have to nix the run tomorrow in favor of Ride or another indoor activity. See? Always planning ahead. 😉

Back/Biceps/Triceps – endurance-style

Back – straight sets
pull-ups – bodyweight only; 3×10
bent-over rows w/dumbells @25 lbs; 3×15
Deadlifts @40 lbs; 3×15

Biceps/Triceps – supersets
Superset#1: barbell curl @25 lbs w/lying tricep extensions @25 lbs; 3×15
Superset #2: Hammer curls @15lbs w/dips on the bench (bodyweight); 3×15
Superset #3: medicine ball preacher curls @10 lbs (double-arm); tricep kickbacks @10 lbs (double-arm) <—these preacher curls got me good, love them!

Now – onto some Friday Faves – weight training, style. A few of you mentioned you’d love to start out with doing some weight lifting at home so I thougth I’d share with you some of my absolute favorite weight training DVDs. 

Butts & Guts – this is an older Cathe Friedrich workout but my absolutely FAVORITE lower body workout. Really gets the butt GOOD. Uses mainly light handweights or body weight only activity, plus lots of floor work (love to hate). She actually just released an “updated” version of this workout called Lower Body Blast, highly recommend this one, too. 🙂

Pyramid Upper and Pyramid Lower Body – this is great for those of you who want to get at least one upper and one lower body workout in a week. As I mentioned in my post on styles of weight training, this workout is based on pyramids, or three sets of one exercise “up” the pyramid and then the same three exercises back down. You increase the weight to the top of the first three sets and then decrease back down. Realllly good burner. This one also has a great pre-mix that incorporates some upper and lower body workout for those of you who want to try a full body workout once a week.

STS (Shock Training Sytem) ‘nuf said. This is an amazing workout series. It’s pricey, and it requires a time commitment (3 1/2 month rotation) but absolutely worth it).

Core Fusion Body Sculpt – my favorite Core Fusion DVD as it really does mimic the class experience the closest. Includes light handweights at the start and then bodyweight only work for the rest of the workout. Full body workout. Amazing.

Core Fusion Lean & Toned – this is my second favorite Core Fusion DVD, really focuses on the lengthening/strengthening idea behind Core Fusion. Mix of light handweights, body weight work and lots of stretching. Love.

STS Total Body – This is a newer Cathe workout as well – if you aren’t ready to invest in the full STS series, you could try this one out and see what you think. As the name implies, its a full body workout and is based mostly on the second phase of STS which is the hypertrophy phase (lower reps, mid-level weights).

High Reps – Another new one from Cathe. A great workout from an endurance perspective as it’s all about lighter weights but TONS of reps. It is killer, not gonna lie. This is another total body workout, btw.

Hm, I am pretty sure I could go on for weeks about my favorite workouts to do at home…or you could just check out this pic and you’ll spy lots more workout DVDs to try from my personal collection. 😉

Of bad hair days and toasty upper body workouts

For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, you already know this much.

I’m having a horrible hair day. One that I *totally* blame on my upper body workout this morning.

I guess this “personal trainer of me” stuff is working out pretty well, huh? I’m loving it! So much more than I thought I would.

So let’s get to it, today’s workout was all about chest and back, with “smabs” to come tonight ala Core Fusion Pilates Abs (was just too tired this morning to get up earlier to fit in both).

Today’s workout looked like this – a little bit different than last week’s chest/back workout:
(three sets each @15-20 reps per set, unless otherwise noted)

Warm-up: Push-ups done drop-set style. Starting with 20 reps; then 15, then 10; then 5. Warmed up the chest and back muscles nicely. Wish I could do more on my toes…that will come, I’m just impatient. 😉

superset #1: flat bench press (15 lbs per dumbell…could’ve gone heavier I realized after the fact) followed by stiff legged deadlifts (80 lbs – barbell)

superset #2: flat bench flyes (15 lbs per dumbbell, was just right) followed by one-arm row (started with 20 lbs but upped it to 22.5 lbs on the second and third set)

superset #3: incline bench press (17.5 lbs per dumbell); followed by pull-ups on the pull-up tower (loved this one, noticed good improvement in my pull-up ability)

(in case you’re wondering, this is what the pull-up tower looks like, it ROCKS, btw)

superset #4: incline bench flyes (15 lbs per dumbell); followed by pull-downs with the resistence band (I was aiming to do bent-over rows with the barbell but was so pooped at this point that I subbed in the resistance band work instead)

All told – this was an awesome workout! I got a good sweat on – thanks to the endurance style of the workout – and felt super-toasty afterwards. Sure-fire DOMS tomorrow is my guess.

Which brings me to my next point/question…
Why are some women afraid to attempt strength training workouts in the first place? I see it here and there in bloggy land and I always wonder. Is it a fear of working out with a bunch of sweaty, meatheads? A fear of “doing it wrong?” A fear of “bulking up”?I’m honestly curious. I’d love your feedback for a future blog post I’ve been mulling over.

Something new

As I alluded to in my post on letting it go, I’ve been thinking long and hard about my workouts lately. About what they mean for me. About my motivation. About my new focus and mindset that is far less about the numbers and structure, and far more about getting back to basics.

As part of all this thinking and mulling, I’ve decided it’s time for something new.
Call it another case of antsy pants.
Call it an insatiable desire to challenge and shock the system with new approaches to working out.
Call it me being me. 😉

This “something new” entails a new approach to weight training. You see – for nearly as long as I’ve been seriously lifting weights, I”ve either always taken a group fitness class, worked with my husband on a weight workout at the gym (rarely), or followed a structured weight lifting program like STS, done at home with the always awesome Cathe Friedrich by my side.  But I’ve never created my own lifting program.

And I have no idea why.

I have all the tools at my fingertips in my home gym. And, I know plenty about weight lifting after all these years to create a program of my own. So why haven’t I ever gone this route before?

I talked it over with Scott on a long walk today – and mentioned this concept to him.  And,  by the end of our walk (and talk), a new 4-week workout was born. I may not be a personal trainer by any stretch, but dammit – I know enough to be dangerous and I might as well start appreciating that fact, right??

So here goes.  The next four weeks will look something like this – with running, spinning or kickboxing for cardio and Core Fusion for core/flexibility training for a good, well-rounded cross-training routine.

Monday – Back/Chest: four exercises per body part, with 30 second rests between each set of 15-20 reps (I’ll go into the types of exercises I’ll do throughout the week in future blog posts, don’t worry); and Core Fusion Yoga or Pilates Abs
Tuesday – Biceps/Triceps (same format as above)
Wednesday – Ride
Thursday – Core Fusion Yoga or Pilates Abs; Kick
Friday –  Legs/shoulders (same format as above) and just the abs section from Core Fusion Body Sculpt (10 mins)
Saturday – Run

So you’ll see – I’m trying to balance the weight work without forgetting to work abs (something I ALWAYS did pre-Core Fusion) and including some sort of flexibility work in the mix, another area I’ve always pushed aside in the past. I’m thinking of doing this for the next four weeks, upping the weights each week, letting my body tell me when to go heavier.

I’m not sure how I”ll approach each week, yet. I figure I’ll go with the flow a little bit in terms of the format – it could involve trisets (my fave), or supersets. But, it’ll mainly be endurance based, to build up my endurance (duh) but also build lean and toned muscles, something I’ve been favoring more and more lately. I credit Core Fusion with that in large part, because it has lengthened and toned my muscles, leaning them out a little bit which I’m digging, interestingly enough.

Surprisingly, I’m really excited about this – it might seem simple to some of you fitness friends to build your own workout program vs. relying on a workout class or DVD to get you through, but this is kind of new for me. To train myself, trusting myself to lead the way. And I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes. See? I am a personal trainer afterall – a personal trainer of ME! 😉


…I’m stir crazy. I’ve decided I was not meant to live in the Northeast. I feel like the walls are closing in around me -being inside ALL THE TIME is just not natural. We should be like cavemen, scavenging for food (ok, maybe that one’s a stretch, I’m no good at scavenging), spending our days wandering the great outdoors, surrounded by fresh air.

…I’m dying for summer. I swear to you all right here and now. I will NOT take the spring and summer months for granted. Ever again. The sheer thought of going for a run in the early morning or late after work and it STILL being bright light out (and warm) seems like such a dream to me right now. Yet – in the spring and summer, it’s a given. And thus, easily taken for granted. No more. I hate this antsin-the-pants-I’m-a-spaz-can’t-concentrate-hate-this-cold-weather-just-want-to-run-outside feeling I got going on. Shoo, winter, shoo!

…I *think* I’m ready to give greek yogurt a try again. After my yogurt-ed-out experience a couple of months back, I thought I’d never get my yogurt grove back. But then, I saw on some of your blogs that Chobani had some new flavors out (lemon! black cherry!) and I just have to try them. I was all about Fage before but maybe a change in brand AND this hiatus from greek yogurt will do the trick. Yogurt – I’d like to be friends again. Truce?

…I need to figure out some race plans for spring. It’s time. Enough futzing around talking about how much I miss running outdoors and doing lots of intervals to speed up my pace (which was an awesome workout last night, btw), but it’s time to find some races to work towards. I’m craving it, to be honest. I’ll get back to you guys when I figure this one out. It will include at least one half marathon. That is for sure. Maybe the Wicked Half again, maybe a different race altogether. Maybe even more than one. Hmm.

…everything seriously happens for a reason. Remember how I decided against going to the Cathe Road Trip this year in favor of a “workout-n-wine” weekend with Heather and my sister? Well, everything *does* happen for a reason becauuuuuse I *still* get to see Cathe Friedrich this spring anyway! She’s going to be at Fitbloggin this year, taking us through a workout “challenge” on Friday and will be there for the entire conference! Seriously, I geeked out BIG time on twitter when I saw that. I mean how cool is that? Now I’m even more excited for Fitbloggin to finally get here! Tina – did you see that update, my fellow Cathlete and Fitbloggin friend??

…Happy bloggy birthday to fantastic blog friend Lindsay who I seriously cannot wait to meet while I’m in Austin for a trade show in a coupla weeks. SERIOUSLY excited about this. Weee!

…and ps. I’m reallllly looking forward to getting to Exhale Spa at Battery Wharf next week for some live Core Fusion classes.<stay tuned for my planned “schedule” for next week’s CF fun btw> I just wish I got to go THIS week when Fred DeVito was going to be there teaching at the new location! I tweeted to him that he should come back next week. Think he’ll take me up on that offer?

Off to Group Kick, hope you enjoyed my random musings. I kinda did 🙂

“Wanna know how I got there?”

“Wanna know how I got there?”

This has become a little game I play with my husband. You see, I am the queen of random conversations that appear to come from waaaaay out in left field. My husband has come to just roll with it, as always.  But now that even I have to laugh at the random conversations-from-nowhere, I’ve devised the following game:

“Wanna know how I got there?”

Here’s how it works:

I make the random comment/conversation starter.

My husband looks at me, smirks, but let’s me finish.

Then, I ask: “Wanna know how I got there?”

To which he always laughs and says, “yes” (indulging me everytime)

So let’s play, shall we? Here goes:

Me: I’m not going to the Cathe Road Trip this year.

You: Huh? I thought you were trying to be the first to register?? What happened?

Me: Wanna know how I got there?

Alright. So, the MAIN purpose of going to the Road Trip this year was to catch up with my favorite blog friend Heather, hopefully her sister and of course my sister (maybe both!). But, after an email from Heather about an hour before registration was set to open, she brought up an excellent idea. Our very own “road trip” together to our lake house in Maine this summer. She would come up with her husband (maybe her sis) and we’d spend the time together relaxing, working out (because c’mon, this is US we’re talking about here), swimming (er splashing) in the lake, cooking and drinking some fantastic wine.

Does that *not* sound awesome or what?

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the Cathe Road Trip. It’s an awesome time spent with fellow Cathletes and a weekend with my sister I’ve grown to look forward to more and more each year. But we’re both facing a fair amount of travel this year as it is, and with my other sister and the little one (Isabel, the cutest niece ON the planet), I’d rather spend the time closer to home this summer. And maybe Heather can meet the cutest niece and my other sis too. Best of both worlds if I do say so myself.

I’ve already dubbed this weekend: The crazy, strong and loving (wine) weekend (a throwback to the Cathe Forum we belong to: “Crazy, Strong, and Loving it”).

Has a nice ring to it, no?

So there you go – that’s how we got there. Not all that random once you hear the pieces all come together. My husband still thinks I”m nuts though…but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 😉


With that, I’m off to disconnect for a couple days. It’s a long weekend (wee!). We’re going to Boston for the night for a romantic night in the city (gotta love Rue La La deals on hotel rooms and for special hair treatments beforehand with the sis!).

I’ll be back later this weekend with a belated Core Fusion Challenge week #3 recap and maybe, just maybe, a little giveaway too! Happy weekend!!

These things running through my brain…

…I must, I must get them down on “paper” before they run right back out.

Random thoughts, questions, ruminations running through my brain…

Damn, that was an incredible run this morning. Outside! In the fresh air! Without nearly freezing my face off! And with my one of my favorite running pals (Steph, who trained as part of our Wicked Half marathon group)! Runner’s high, much??

I have wicked ADD. I blame social media. I can’t believe how much my attention span has gone down lately. Noticed it today as I was multitasking at work while checking in on twitter and such. Alll over the place. I’ve become such a spaz. Wow.

Is that definition I see?? Something I noticed today. Nah, I don’t have a six pack – nor was that my intent with the Core Fusion Challenge (though, I wouldn’t complain if I did!). But I noticed something while showering this morning. Sure, I still have some “soft” spots I’d like to burn off with some additional cardio work. But my stomach is noticeably flatter and a teensy tiny bit more defined. By God, Core Fusion is working!

For someone who loves all things fitness as much as me, I’m actually kinda low maintenance in some ways. Let me explain. Sure, I have built-up a pretty kick-ass home gym annnnd I have a gym membership too for things like Ride, Kick, etc. But when it comes to something like running? I think I fall into the very low-maintenance category – I don’t have much “gear” if you will. Tina‘s post today spurred this thought. I have a garmin but it’s the most basic of models. That’s about it. I don’t use an iPod. I don’t use a camelback. I don’t wear sunglasses (hate how they jiggle on my face). Just me, some warm clothes if it’s winter, running shorts if it’s summer, my heart rate monitor and my sneaks. And I’m good to go. Is that weird?

My goal tomorrow? To be the #1 registrant for the annual Cathe Road Trip. Yes, last year I was lucky #2. I was fast-fingered with my registration (trust me, to get into the road trip, you have to be GLUED to your computer right as sign-ups open). But I want to be even faster this year. Random goal, I know. But I am just SO excited for the Road Trip this year…getting to see Heather (and her sis, wee!) again will ROCK. A girls weekend with my sister, surrounded by friends and fellow Cathletes, sweating it up all weekend, I mean, what could be better, really?? 😉

Random enough post for you today?? I had loads of blog post ideas running around in my head today. Since I couldn’t pick just one, I figured I’d group ’em together. Plus – that whole presence thing? Working out for me pretty well. I hope you didn’t miss me *too* much yesterday! Happy Thursday, ya’ll!

Step into my (home) gym, won’t you?

Well, it’s time.

I’ve procrastinated long enough, but per Heather‘s insistence (love ya, girl), I am *finally* getting around to my “this is my home gym” post.

So without further ado….step into my (home) gym, won’t you?

That would be my weight bench, along with what could be the best purchase ever – the pull-up tower from Cathe, that doubles as my rack for my barbell. Comes in mighty handy during bench presses, lemme tell ya!

A shot of my step, free weights (the barbell is in the corner) and various medicine balls and stability balls.

The dreadmill treadmill I am learning to love in the winter, but that gathers lots ‘o dust in the spring/summer. Treadmill…I love to hate thee.

A sh*tload ton of workout DVDs ranging from lots of Cathe videos to my latest Core Fusion challenge DVDs. Wouldn’t you love to have that butt?? 😉

And finally, a dated but still quite workable TV to watch all those videos (except those that need tons of space to move around, those I do in the living room) and to keep me occupied during those interval workouts on the treadmill. And yes, that *would* be a water fountain for my cats beside it. 😉

So there you have it – my home gym. And yes, I realized after putting this post together that I am downright lucky to have all of this equipment at my fingertips. Trust me, I do not take it for granted whatsoever. And for the record, I acquired these goodies over time, so a home gym like this *is* feasible if you build it up over time versus handing over a big chunk ‘o change right out of the gate. Just sayin’.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a return for more Core Fusion Challenge updates…into week two we go!

An STS check-in

Since I’m almost at the end of my STS rotation (that would be lucky #3 for those of you following along), I thought I’d post a little STS-style check-in.

That and I had a workout tonight that left me feeling like my childhood favorite – She-Ra. In my book, she pretty much rocked growing up. Just sayin. 😉

(of course now that I’m looking at a pic of She-Ra herself, she’s dressed rather inappropriately for the age when I admired her most…like six?? Geesh. LOL)

So anyway, I’m into the second to last week of STS. That means I’m into week three of mesocycle three which is alllll about heavy weights, very few reps. I’m the first to admit that the previous two rounds of STS I did NOT love this cycle. I got bored with the long rest periods between sets. I have wicked antsy pants, what can I say. But what I realized this time is that I wouldn’t have been bored in M3 the last two times around if I was lifting heavy enough in this cycle. Duh! So I’ve really been focused on that this time – because I’m only lifting each set for about 6-7 reps, I can certainly go a lot heavier than I would in mesocycle 2 or 1. So I have been.

And dare I say I feel significantly stronger. And I’m seeing those efforts pay off.  Which I LOVE!

I love how the physical strength I feel translates into mental strength and toughness.

And it’s definitely boosting the confidence – something I’m totally needing now that I’m into this whole new job thang. Confidence is a MUST!

Which brings me to my next point: physical changes in my body since embarking on this round of STS.

I intentionally did not take a single picture or measure a single body part. That wasn’t (and isn’t) what it’s been about for me. I won’t lie and say that seeing physical results isn’t appealing because duh, I’m human, right? But – what I will say is that it’s not about the numbers game this time around for me. It’s the feeling of strength that I dig. And that is a huge switch for me – someone who can easily get stuck on numbers and I count that as a home-run for me – numbers aren’t ruling me like it used to. Wee!

There ARE some numbers I am proud of, though. Some of my recent strength gains I’ve noted in this round of STS, even just this week (i.e. last night!)…

  • I can bench press 50#.
  • I can lift 40# during bent-over rows.
  • I can deadlift 60#.
  • I can curl 27.5# (per dumbell)
  • I can squat 55#

I type those numbers with pride..and without fear of sounding like a show-off. I’m just damn proud of myself – for what it’s done for my physical and mental strength. And I want to openly share that feeling with you. I think we all deserve to celebrate our achievements, don’t you?? So hopefully, you agree and don’t think I’m just blabbing away because I think I’m awesome or something 😉

And of course – now I’d love to know what you’ve celebrated lately...even if it was just a personal achievement that you didn’t even share with anyone or very broadly. It can be anything – big or small, as goofy as you like. Anything!  Let’s celebrate our successes together, shall we?


Cathe Friedrich – she knows how to work a booty

Just sayin’.

This is a quickie review but I had to jot it down while it was still relatively fresh on my mind (and booty for that matter, ha!).

I wanted to eek out a couple of extra weight workouts at the end of my STS M2 cycle which just ended this past weekend. Technically, I was supposed to go into “active recovery” after I finished the last of the mesocycle 2 workouts last week but I couldn’t help myself this weekend. I was itching to try the final two new Cathe Friedrich workouts. You saw my review of High Reps the other day, well here’s my quick take on Lower Body Blast.

In a word – AWESOME.

If anyone ever asks me what my favorite Cathe workout of all time is, my answer never changes: Butts & Guts. Hands down (though STS tops the list, too.)

Well – Lower Body Blast is literally an updated version of Butts & Guts, just updated by about six years.  And I LOVED every sweaty minute of the 59 minute blast.

It includes lots of Cathe’s best leg work – including lots and lots and LOTS of paper plate work. Those kill me everytime. She even brought back a fan favorite (kinda) – low pulse lunches. OWWWW. And – in true Cathe style, she keeps your heart rate pumping with cardio bursts sprinkled ever-so-nicely into the workouts. Just when you think you’ve caught a break, it’s cardio blast time. She’s sneaky that way. 😉

This is a great complement to an existing endurance-based weight training program. Most of the leg work in this workout is based on higher rep counts and lower weights so you could easily work it into and STS M1 and M2 rotation, or make one up on your own, including Lower Body Blast, High Reps and STS Total Body for a great full body workout three times per week. I may consider this as a one-month mini-rotation after I finish STS in January, actually.

If you missed my other reviews of Cathe’s newest workouts, you can check them out here:

I’m clearly a Cathlete at heart but even if you’ve never, ever considered one of her workouts, I PROMISE if you try one of these newer workouts as a test-run of Cathe’s style, you will not be disappointed. This is Cathe at her best – hardcore cardio, hardcore weights, hardcore all around.

Cathe Friedrich’s (holy) High Reps

Holy high reps.

‘Nuff said.

I finally got around to trying the third of Cathe Friedrich’s brand spankin’ new workouts and chose to pop the High Reps workout in on Saturday morning.

I just finished the STS mesocycle 2 four week cycle and am about to go into “active recovery week” before diving into the final cycle in the rotation. Given that, I figured I’d tack on one more weight workout to my regime last week before taking a break from the weights this week.

And boy, was I not prepared for what High Reps had planned for me! It was nonstop, like whoa. But SO SO SO awesome, I can’t even begin to describe it. But I’ll try – this is a “review” style blog post afterall, right?? 😉

So the focus of this particular workout from Cathe is a total body, endurance-style workout. Which meant high, high, high rep counts and light weights. It felt a LOT like the BTS Group Power program at my gym, but on speed or something! The workout is broken down by body part, that is, after a brief warm-up that left me sweaty and warm – you know it’s gonna be a goodie when the WARM-UP is intense. LOL.

Each set of exercises breaks down into a series of weight work – usually a combination of barbells, dumbells and resistance band work and includes 3-4 exercises down in close succession for each body part. This is very different than Group Power in that each body part is only worked for one exercise with high reps, not three to FOUR done with high reps. PHEW. Cathe sure does know how to take it up a notch…or ten. 😉

Cathe does a really nice job in this workout in terms of mixing up both the style of weight lifting (balancing free weights with barbell work) but also the succession of moves. You might do an upper body series (like shoulders) and then switch to some leg work before going back to another upper body set (say, back) and so on. It was nice to break up the workout that way versus doing ALL legs and then ALL upper body.

By the end of this workout, I was wobbly and my entire body felt nice and fried…in the best possible way, of course. Waking up this morning, I totally felt it especially in my upper body and back.

Holy high reps is all I gotta say (again).

LOVED this workout (shocker, I know).


In other news, I promised my buddy Heather I’d post some pics from our first “ladies day out” with my niece Isabel this weekend. We hit the outlets near my sister’s house for a little shopping where I proceeded to buy every cute outfit I could get my hands on for Isabel. I just couldn’t help myself – she HAS to look stylish afterall, doesn’t she??

Just look at that face!!