Cathe Friedrich Reviews

A Mega Review of High Step Challenge with Cathe Friedrich

March 13, 2016

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High Step Challenge has five cycles of exercises.

Each cycle has a cardio segment followed by a lower and upper body strength training segment (of several exercises) before you move on to the next cycle.

If you’ve never done an advanced cardio routine with Cathe Friedrich before then come to terms with the fact that you’ll probably struggle with this workout the first few times.  

This is not an easy program but you’ll feel like a complete superstar once you master it.

Here’s a preview of High Step Challenge:

Let me tell you exactly what you’ll need and what you’ll be doing in High Step Challenge…

This post may contain Amazon (or other) affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission. You can get more information about that here.

Instructor-Cathe Friedrich

Category-Cardio + Strength

Equipment used in High Step Challenge-

Small square step*

3, 5, 10, 12, 15

20 lb. dumbbells

barbell with 40 lbs.

an exercise band


*Cathe uses a small square step with one riser to do some of the exercises at a 6″ height, but you can use one end of your regular gym sized aerobic step (the one she uses in most of her workouts) with one riser (if you don’t have a square step like hers).

✔ Pro Tip: This guide will be helpful if you’re in the market for an aerobic step: Your Expert Guide to Buying and Using an Aerobic Step

The high step is used for leg presses. Cathe has a square step with 5 risers that she uses as a high step (I use a high step I purchased as part of the Firm video series a decade ago).

If you don’t have a high step then you can use your low step with as many risers as you have for the exercises done with the 5 risers. 

If you don’t have a barbell either, grab dumbbells that are approximately the same amount of weight as her barbell for those exercises.

Length-67 minutes

HRM-431 calories


*Remember my choreography rating refers to how complex the steps in the routine are.  This is not a reference to how difficult the workout is.  This is an advanced workout with simple choreography.

My rating– A

The Important Stuff about High Step Challenge

All the premix routines in this video are shorter versions of this main workout.  (Premixes are additional workouts made up of pieces of the main routine spliced together in different ways.  You can find a link to the premix programs in the Main Menu of the video.)

If Cathe and Jai’s abs don’t inspire you during this workout then nothing will (Jai is over Cathe’s left shoulder).  The crew look gorgeous but I find it odd to do a workout with your hair down (like Cedie and Jai).  The 20th time I did the routine I decided they’re wearing hair extensions.  No, it doesn’t matter at all.

There’s a lot of equipment used in this workout.  If you have all (or most) of it already then buy this video. 

High Step Challenge is a very good workout to add to your library.  You can’t beat the benefits of cardio plus strength training.

Remember to read to the end of this post for tips on every section of this routine as well as links to a few places you can compare prices on this video 🙂


The warm-up is a short aerobics section with and without the low step (on one riser).  There’s no stretch in the warm-up.  Keep your 6” step out (one riser) for the first cardio section in cycle one.

Main Workout (The Exercises in High Step Challenge)

Cycle One

The first cardio section is on the step with one riser.  The choreography is simple.  The cardio segments are short so don’t half-ass the exercises.

Lower Body/Upper Body Strength

Leg press on the high step

Cathe tucks her band under her high step to do this.  If your band is shorter than hers (the link under ‘Equipment’ is for a long band like Cathe’s) then be very careful threading your band under your step to do the exercise she does. Your step could flip up out from under you.

Next are push-ups on the high step

Now you do leg presses with an overhead press on your high step.  I don’t have 3 lb. dumbbells so I do this with my 5’s.

Tricep dips off the step are next.

Side push-ups.

Side push-ups are so hard.  Make sure you have the right form.  You’ll really feel this in your triceps, especially after those dips.

Cycle Two

You don’t need any equipment for this cardio cycle.  Be ready to do air jacks.  (I hate those).  My calves always start to burn during this segment.  It’s all good.

Lower Body/Upper Body Strength

Squats with a barbell (40 lbs.) or your 20 lb. DB’s.  There are just enough of these to really annoy.  Forty pounds is a lot but you can do it.  Your legs and butt are stronger than you think.  Make sure you have the right form.

Keep that same weight out for dead lifts.  Use your hamstrings and butt to pull yourself up.  You bend at the waist.

She keeps this barbell loaded at that same weight for the next exercise which is a bent over lat rowI use my 20’s for all of these.  There are 2 sets.

The next exercise is done with your band (a standing row with the band under your feet).  There are a lot of reps.  You’ll be hating Cathe.  The move is small, try to do all the reps.

Now it’s time for push-ups. There are two sets of 12 and the last (third) set has 8 reps.

Cathe can do a LOT of push-ups.  Don’t feel bad if these are hard for you.  Most women can’t do push-ups the way she can.  That’s not an excuse for you to wimp out.  Do as many as you possibly can.

Cycle Three

You’ll need your step with one riser for the cardio segment.  There’s some kickboxing in this part.  This is my favorite cardio routine of the 5 cycles.

Lower/Upper Body Strength

Leg press (with the band) using your high step again.  I hold my 5’s, again.

Now you have to do hammer punch lunges.  These are part cardio/part lower body.  There are 24 per side.

Bicep curls with the 35 lb. barbell are next.  You can do this exercise with 15 lb DB’s. if you don’t have a barbell.

Then Cathe drops her barbell down to 25 lbs. (you can grab 12 lb. DB’s if you don’t have a barbell) and does another set of bicep curls.

Cathe uses a band to do a one-arm tricep extension next.  I do use the band for this exercise but you might have to play around to find the position that gives you the resistance you’re looking for.

Cycle Four

Cathe uses that square step with one riser for the cardio section in cycle four.  She moves around the step for the toe-taps.

If you’re using one end of your regular (long) step then you might not want to go all the way around the step.  Just modify the move for the equipment you have.

Lower/Upper Body Strength

Plié squat with a 12 lb. DB.  There are about a million reps.  If you’re going really low/deep in that plié you may blackout before she stops.

She sits on the high step and uses 10 lb. dumbbells to do a side lateral raise next.  I find sitting on the step makes me happy at this point but my legs get in the way for this exercise so I end up standing up to do it.

When she grabs the band for the next two exercises you may be glad that she’s not grabbing a weight but you’ll quickly hate that band. 

She does a side pull standing and then a ‘T’-pull sitting on the floor. These moves are very hard.  Get ready to burn.  That last set of 15 kills.

The next exercise is done with 12 lb. DB’s.  Get on your back for chest flys.  This is for your pectoral muscles.  It’s a long set.  You’re getting strong.  Do them all.  Be happy it’s not more push-ups.

Cycle Five

You won’t need any tools to do the last cardio segment.  The zig zags are calf-burners, just like Cathe says.

Lower/Upper Body Strength

Cathe uses her square step with 2 risers to do calf raises but you can do them on your low step or the floor.  And obviously you don’t need a barbell turned on its end to balance yourself.  Just walk over to a piece of furniture that’s about waist height so you can put your hand down for balance.

If you do this exercise on a step you can get a deeper range of motion.  I always stand on my step.  Stretch your calves out after this move.  If you start to lock up during the set then stop and stretch.

Keep your step out (one or two risers is fine, but Cathe keeps 2 risers) to do push-ups in a decline position (you’ll be putting your toes on the step).  Try to do this exercise with your feet up (so you’re in a declined position).  You’ll target your chest/shoulders differently in this position than regular push-ups on the floor do. And you’ll miss out on the straddle plank move if you don’t have your toes on a step.

I do the upright rows and overhead presses just like Cathe, with 10 lb. DB’s.  Check out her sculpted arms and shoulders in this section.  Yes, these are hard.  We’re all tired (except Cathe).

I use the band for the rear delt exercise.  Remember that exercises with the band are small and controlled.

Grab a 12 lb. DB for the last exercise (before abs).  Hover squats are next. 

The hover squats are really hard.  Think about how good your ass will look when it’s all sculpted.  Do all of these, your legs won’t actually fall off, I promise.


Just do it.  We can’t all have abs like Cathe but why not try?  There are no fancy weird moves in this section, just good ‘ol fashioned core work the way we all learned it a decade ago.

Cool Down/Stretch

You’ve worked so hard.  Don’t be dumb and skip this part. 

Your flexibility matters.  And remember those calf raises?  Throw in some more calf stretches to avoid a 2 a.m. Charlie-horse.

Now What?

High Step Challenge is a really thorough workout.  

Don’t be intimidated by all the equipment Cathe uses.

You can (and should) modify the workout to accommodate whatever equipment you have.

You can find High Step Challenge in several places:

Cathe’s website


Collage Video

And you can find High Step Challenge (and every other Cathe Friedrich program, including Live workouts) with a membership to Cathe on Demand.

You’ll find answers to all of your questions about Cathe on Demand in this post, Everything You Need to Know About Cathe Live and Cathe on Demand.

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