Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cathe's Shock Training System

I promised a loooong time ago that I'd let you know what I thought of Cathe's Shock Training System workout series.  It's her most complete and thorough weight training system, consisting of 3 mesocycles -- one focusing on muscle endurance with lighter weights and more reps, the second on hypertrophy (muscle building and definition), and the 3rd on building strength with heavy weights and lower reps.  Here's how Cathe describes STS:

What is STS?

STS stands for Shock Training System and is based on four of the most important training principles in strength training: periodization, muscle confusion, one rep max and progressive overload. STS has been designed using the latest research and is a 3 month strength training program featuring a different exercise routine every time you work out.
Workouts like STS are very commonly guided by personal trainers and athletic coaches for their clients and athletes, but due to the overall magnitude time and expense of filming 40 workouts, it is quite considerable to understand why nobody has a made a similar program for the home exerciser until now.
STS brings a unique, quality health club workout into the privacy of your own home by maximizing the use of periodization, progressive overload, muscle confusion and one rep max testing.

Science of STS

STS stands for Shock Training System and is based on three of the most important training principles in strength training: periodization, muscle confusion and progressive overload.


Periodization is a way of planning, organizing and varying your training program over time to bring about optimal gains in your physical performance. Numerous research studies have been done that clearly show that exercisers who follow a periodization–based workout get superior results when compared to exercisers who don't follow a plan of this type.
STS has been designed to be a 3½ month linear periodization program featuring three workout cycles called mesocycles, each lasting four weeks. Each mesocycle will have a different purpose, with the first cycle focusing on muscle endurance, the second on hypertrophy and the third on strength.
You will do a different workout every week for a total of 12 weeks along with an active recovery week between mesocycles to help your body rejuvenate and prepare for the next cycle. Since this is a linear periodization program, each mesocycle is designed so that the intensity (weight lifted) increases from the previous cycle and the volume (sets and reps) decreases.

Muscle Confusion

Muscle confusion is the principle of constantly changing your workout routines to keep your body's muscles always guessing and challenged in different ways. Muscles should never be allowed to adapt to an exercise to the point where the exercise is no longer effective and not resulting in hypertrophy or the goal you desire. Instead, a well designed exercise program that utilizes muscle confusion varies the workout routine's exercises, sets, reps and intensity to keep your muscles growing. This also helps to avoid plateaus and boredom.
The advantage of STS is to maximize muscle confusion by not only giving you a different workout every week, but also by varying the intensity and volume of the workout over the entire program by utilizing periodization. Muscle confusion is one of the most important rules of strength training and no other workout program on the market today utilizes this principle to the same degree as STS.

One Rep Max (1RM)

Your one rep max (1RM) is the maximum amount of weight you can lift one time for any exercise. In the STS program we will demonstrate a method to easily and safely estimate your 1RM for every exercise in the program. Once you know your 1RM for each exercise, you can quickly and easily determine the correct weight to use for each exercise in every mesocycle and week of the STS series. Knowing the correct weight to use for every exercise is extremely important and will help you obtain the results you're striving for, both safely and quickly.

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of intensity placed upon your body during a workout over a period of time. This means that in order for your muscles to grow, you need to continually challenge your body by increasing the intensity of your workout in very small steps. In STS you will start the first week of Mesocycle 1 using weights that are only about 60% of your one rep max (1RM). Then every week, except week #3, you will slowly and gradually increase your weights by about 5% so that by the time you finish the program you will be using heavy weights that are up to 90% of your 1RM.

I've done Mesocycle 1 one time through and while I really liked the Leg workouts, the upper body workouts weren't my favorite.  I truly love muscle endurance workouts.  Her earlier two total body endurance workouts, Power Hour and Muscle Endurance are the ones I've probably used most (just love them!)  But these upper body endurance workouts had so much equipment and moved so quickly, that I just felt a bit scattered and rushed throughout.  I've decided that for future STS rotations, I'd just use the Meso 1 Leg workouts and will use upper weight work from either Power Hour, Muscle Endurance or her stability ball workouts, Super Sets and Push/Pull.  I will say though that my ability to do push-ups (on the toes, no less!) improved tremendously with Meso 1.  Cathe does a ton of them and I grew to not only be able to do them, but learned to love them as well.  Before I could only do a few without collapsing.  During Meso 1, I was able to do sets of 10 or 12.

Mesocycle 2, on the other hand,  is just wonderful, just perfect, in fact.  I've done it two times through (it's a 4 week program) and I smile throughout.  The workouts are so well designed.  Simple concepts, multiple sets, long one minute rest breaks between the sets.  I just love the pace and the expertise Cathe brings to this mesocycle.  Each of the 4 weeks is different.  Each weekn Cathe introduces a new method of weight lifting such as tri-sets, double wave loading, pyramids or back off sets.   I almost always work to failure with these sets and really see improvements with my strength and my body with this series.  Cathe explains each method and how it works as you go.  I truly felt like I had a personal trainer right by to guide me with my progress.  Here's a sample of the 2nd week of Meso 2.  I love chest work the best!

I can't review the 3rd Mesocycle because I sold it to my friend before I even looked at it.  (I know, bad). 
From all I read about it, I was afraid that the weight load would be too heavy for my post-surgery restrictions.  She uses a squat rack and a weighted vest to be able to maximize the weight load in these STS workouts.  I do have a few of Cathe's other heavy weight workouts (Slow & Heavy and 4 Day Split) and figured I could substitute them for the 3rd mesocycle each time.  (I'm actually doing that with 4 Day Split
right now).  I did keep a few of the Plyo Leg workouts from this mesocycle and will incorporate them with my
rotation. She gives the option of either heavy weight Squat Rack leg workouts (I sold those) or the Plyo Leg workouts which use plyometrics to work the legs instead of really heavy weight.   My friend is doing the whole Meso 3 program right now.  She keeps telling me how much she loves it (and she struggles sticking with rotations lately).  STS has kept her on track for 10 weeks now.  She may just talk me into trying Meso 3 after all.  There are always ways to modify and adjust to meet my needs. 

One thing I love about STS that I don't see in her other workouts are  graphics that show up before each exercise to tell you how long you'll be doing it (how many reps) and how long the breaks are, the percentage of your 1 Rep Max at which you should be lifting, what equipment you'll need, etc.  I also love that the warm-ups give you a choice between following Cathe and the crew in some aerobics-type moves or in using some cardio equipment of your own.  I like running on the treadmill or jumping on the rebounder to get my heart rate up most mornings instead of doing the floor aerobics.

Here is some more STS video footage of all the mesocycles if you want to see more.  

Also, Cathe has a Success Story page solely for STS users.  Check it out.

And lastly, Cathe has started selling her workouts as digital downloads. I'm so new with my iPod that I haven't tried this yet, but I'm sure I will soon (and I'll be right back here telling you about it). TTFN!

Click here to visit Cathe dot Com.

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