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Ready to take your strength training to the next level? Cathe's STS program can do it for you with three, 4-week cycles that focus on endurance, hypertrophy, and strength. STS incorporates principles of periodization, muscle confusion, one rep max, and progressive overload to give you a lean, strong and fit body.
How It Works
Cathe's STS program is one of the most comprehensive, and most impressive, workout series available. This carefully researched program spans a 12-week training period, guiding you through more than 40 workouts and 3 levels of fitness: building endurance, building muscle and building strength.
STS is based on periodization, a way of organizing workouts so that you focus on different aspects of training during each mesocycle. With STS, you get:
- Workouts divided into 3 Mesocycles: Mesocycle 1-Endurance, Mesocycle 2-Hypertrophy, and Mesocycle 3-Strength. Each mesocycle is 4 weeks long and includes 12 different workouts.
- 3 Workouts per Week: The workouts are split by muscle groups (e.g., Mon: Chest/Shoulders/Biceps, Wed: Back/Triceps and Fri: Legs) and progress from 65% of one rep max (1RM) in Mesocycle 1 to 90% of 1RM in Mesocycle 3.
- Optional Leg Routine: Cathe includes a separate leg routine for Mesocycle 3 using a squat rack or weighted vest with a barbell.
One Rep Max
The most important concept of STS is one rep max (1RM), the maximum weight you can lift for different exercises. Knowing how much you can lift for every exercise will ensure you get the most out of your training. We love that this is a part of STS because most of us wouldn't know the first thing about calculating 1RM or why we should bother. Cathe makes the process easy to understand and follow with step-by-step instructions in the STS manual and an online 1RM calculator that makes the calculations a snap. The process itself is a bit time consuming, but very accessible and worth the effort.
When you first see the STS program, you may be overwhelmed with all the DVDs (there are 41) and the thick STS user's guide. The program, however, is laid out in a linear fashion and simple to follow. The mesocycles build on one another and prepare you for each phase of your training.
Mesocycle 1 – Muscle Endurance
The endurance workouts move quickly with short rests between exercises. The workouts are different each week and start at 65% of 1RM (about 15 reps per exercise), increasing 5% each week to 70% by week 4.
- Format: Circuit (e.g., a chest exercise, a shoulder exercise and a biceps exercise)
- Split: Muscles are split over three training sessions: Day 1 – chest/shoulders/biceps, Day 2 – back/triceps and Day 3 – legs.
- Exercises: A variety of classics (e.g., flies, overhead presses, and squats) and unusual moves (e.g., sliding side lunges, 45-degree lunges and wall squats with leg extensions). There are also numerous sets of pushups and pull-ups (she uses a rack, but shows a substitute if you don't have one).
Mesocycle 2 – Hypertrophy
This workout progresses from 70% to 80% of 1RM (8-12 reps) over 4 weeks with longer rests between sets and more traditional straight-set training.
- Format: Straight sets with training concepts such as drop sets and double wave loading (increasing weight by 5% for each set).
- Split: Muscles are split over 3 training sessions: Day 1 – chest/shoulders/triceps, Day 2 – legs, Day 3 – back/biceps.
- Exercises: A variety of moves such as bench press, lateral raises, chin ups, pullovers, low plane lunges, squats, and deadlifts.
Mesocycle 3 – Strength
In this series, you work at 80-90% of 1RM, which means you're lifting heavy enough that you only do 6-8 reps. Each week you increase your weight 5% and reduce your reps by 1. The rest periods are up to 3 minutes long so your muscles can recover.
- Format: Push-pull, alternating muscle groups to maximize recovery.
- Split: Muscles are split over 3 training sessions: Day 1 – chest/back, Day 2 – legs, Day 3 – Shoulders/biceps/triceps
- Exercises: You'll see many of the same moves as the other cycles, but the leg workouts are different. One option is Plyo Legs for those of us without a squat rack or spotter and includes weighted exercises as well as slow, controlled plyometric moves. The other option is Legs – Squat Rack, which is geared more towards strength. You can use a squat rack or a weighted vest along with a barbell to lift the heaviest weight you can safely handle for the lower body. We love that Cathe includes this option, especially for women who tend to go lighter with their weights to avoid bulking up. Cathe and the other female exercisers prove women are capable of lifting heavy and that we won't build huge muscles by training that way. Men will also enjoy having a very challenging workout, particularly since most videos tend to be geared toward women.
After each mesocycle, you take a week off to recover and prepare for the next one. Keep in mind that, with all those workouts, you can mix and match anyway you like if the linear progression doesn't appeal to you.
- Thoroughly researched and comprehensive – Cathe uses a variety of training concepts and explains them throughout the series, giving exercisers a deeper understanding of their bodies and how muscles work.
- Videos are well-formatted – Each DVD shows the exercises, equipment you need and the chapters included. During the workout, a read-out cues the next exercise and shows a timer counting down the rest period. Cathe and the gang (which includes both men and women) do the workout with you, including changing equipment and taking rests.
- STS will appeal to both men and women.
- Incredible variety – Each week, you do a different workout, which makes each exercise feel fresh and keeps you on your toes.
- Challenge – Many of us lift lighter than we should. STS pushes you to see what you're really capable of.
- Expensive – At $299, this is one of the pricier series
- Requires a lot of equipment – You need a variety of weights, bands, and barbells and Cathe also uses a pull-up rack and a squat rack (which are both optional).
- 1RM calculations are time-consuming – You have to calculate the percentage of your 1RM for each week, something you need to do ahead of time. You'll be spending some time on the computer before the workouts.
- No cardio included – It may be tough to squeeze in cardio after spending 3 hours each week on high-intensity strength training.
- Time commitment – If you miss a workout, you may throw off your entire schedule.
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