I know some of you are like me and love watching those ads on TV that showcase different workouts designed for “maximum weight loss and a toned body”. P90X is one of the many on TV, and since I’ve done it, I want to give my take on it for the curious.
P90X (P90 Extreme is the real name), is a 90 day workout regimen designed by 45 year old trainer Tony Horton (which he says on one of the DVDs). It consists of 12 different DVDs, broken down to about 2 body parts per DVD. They are: Chest & Back, Shoulders & Arms, Back & Biceps, Chest, Shoulders & Biceps, Legs & Back, Plyometrics, Kenpo X, Cardio X, Yoga X, Ab Ripper X, Core Synergistics, and X Stretch. A Nutrition Plan is also included. The whole purpose of this is muscle confusion, fat burning, and toning with little plateau effect. There are 3 different regimens you can choose to follow. The 1st is working out twice a day, the second is geared more towards a cardio workout, and the third is geared more towards a strength workout. The cardio workout still has its fair share of strength training, mind you. The first 3 weeks of any regimen have you on the same DVD schedule and then on weeks 4-12, it changes. You start to get used to 3 weeks of doing the same thing, then right as your muscles are about to adapt, you change it up, hence the muscle confusion that is advertised.
Even though the program itself is a little over $100, you need a few more things for the workouts. The most expensive after the DVDs is a portable pull-up bar that can fit over any door frame. You can find these at any Target or Walmart-type store for no more than $40. These are great because you can do multiple workouts. Next, if you plan on doing the yoga, I’d advise you get a yoga mat whether you have carpet or hardwood. Yoga mats are designed for zero slippage, since yoga is done barefoot and can get sweaty. Then, 2-4 sets of dumbbells OR a set of resistance bands. I have the bands and sets of 5, 8 and 10 lb dumbbells, and that’s all I need. Once the lifting gets a little easier for you, you can always use a higher weight, or decrease your weight if you went too heavy. If you don’t want to buy weights, go for the resistance bands. You can get 3 different bands in a box and use those instead of weights, as well as for the pull-ups or chin-ups. Each workout also has a modification for each move performed, in case you are uneasy about doing what Tony and the other 2 people in the video are doing. But over time, if you keep up with the program, you should be able to do almost every move unmodified.
My boyfriend bought the program, so I was using his DVDs. Like the average beginner with this program, I wanted the results that I saw on TV. Not totally hardcore, but I wanted to look better than I did with at least a hint of ab lines, toned arms and legs. The only thing I DID NOT follow was the nutrition plan, because it’s really expensive. I barely got through week 1 with everything I had to buy. So I stopped that, but continued to use my Women’s Health magazine and other resources for eating well. Also, some of the DVDs are kind of cheesy as far as some of the things Tony will say and do, but I started to not pay attention and tuned it out. After a while, you also don’t look at the TV as much because you start to remember what move is next, or how to do a move. Tony tells you to log your reps for each move using downloadable forms, which I chose not to do. I chose to do as many as I could within that time frame with good form. I think good form is better than number of reps, because you’re not rushing and if you’re using the right weight, you’ll definitely get results.
Since it is such a long program to follow, it might be hard to keep up with, because most of the workouts are about 1-1.5 hours long. This is where scheduling time to workout might be hard, depending on your schedule. About an hour or less for strength training, and then each strength DVD also has the Ab Ripper workout immediately following. The longest DVD is the Yoga one, which is 1.5 hours long. It goes by faster than expected, at least for me it did. With each DVD though, I was sweating, which made me feel good to know I was getting a good workout. The DVD I was most sore after was the Legs & Back, followed by the Ab Ripper. If you have trouble working out for this long, try to break it up between morning and afternoon if doable. Because of my 7am-4:30pm work schedule, I worked out when I got home each day. Sometimes I changed it up and worked out before work.
Motivation is also key for these workouts. I started with the strength train regimen, and immediately after I started the cardio regimen. For both I sometimes had a hard time wanting to workout after a long day at work, because I knew what the workout was and that it was at least an hour. I forced myself because I really wanted to see results and if this program actually did work. Sunday is always a rest day, or the Stretch DVD, so if there was ever a day where I chose not to workout, I made it up on Sunday. You need to have at least ONE day a week of rest, no matter what kind of workout you’re doing. You will also learn from the AbRipper that you shouldn’t work your abs every day, which for the most part I believe. I’ve read tons of articles that agree, but others that don’t. It depends on how much you’re working your abs. If you’re doing the AbRipper DVD, for instance, work them every other day. If you’re only doing a few moves, I think it’s ok. If you really think about it, we already work our abs every single day. From sitting down, to getting up, to walk, etc. It’s totally your call. But if you’re sore, do every other day.
I’m your average girl who has little upper body strength. I was horrible in gym class when it came to pull-ups or chin-ups. So when it was time for those moves, I followed the modifier with the resistance bands and chair. I eventually got ballsy and skipped the bands, and just used the chair. You have to use your own strength a bit more, but it works. I can now do 5 pull-ups without stopping. It doesn’t seem like much, but for me, it’s an accomplishment. There was one day when I was doing one of the arm DVDs with my boyfriend: he finished his workout before me and was watching me finish mine. Even he said he noticed more muscle on my back.
Overall, I really enjoyed the regimens I followed even with the cheesy things. They made me giggle after a while. I really feel that the results we see on TV for this workout are only achieved by doing the nutrition plan along with the workouts. It could also possibly be because those people might have done the 2x per day regimen, where I didn’t because I thought it was too much for me. Every person is different which is what I also realized, so our results will be different. I did the P90X workout about 2 years ago, and I think that’s what really started my healthy eating and weight loss. I was able to complete the 2 workouts with minor unmotivated days, but I wouldn’t be normal if I wasn’t unmotivated at times.
Every so often, I’ll still do the AbRipper and Cardio X, because those are my 2 favorite DVDs of the program. I was eventually able to do each move unmodified which made me super excited. Some I didn’t need to, but there are certainly ones that I wasn’t strong enough for.
If you think you can do this and you can keep doing it week in and week out, then do it. Your motivation might build from this, since your average workout program is 4-6 weeks, not 12. I just heard that P90X 2 was recently released. It’s a series that has more skill-based exercises with core and stability moves. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to try it or not.
Good Luck with P90X! 🙂