Friday, August 24, 2007

P90X review Week 1

So I've started my P90X odyssey.

My impression of the program so far is pretty good. I firmly believe this is one of the best comprehensive strength building workouts I've done. I don't think you can beat it for the price of around $120.00. You do need some dumbbells or stretch bands and a chin up bar. So if you have to buy these items, the initial monetary outlay could top $250.00. But honestly after a week I think the money is well spent for what you are getting.

The workouts follow a pattern of muscle development, muscle coordination/recovery, muscular development. The first day starts out with a session focusing on the chest and back. Basically this is one full hour of various versions of pushups and pullups. There are 12 exercises in all. After the first round the exercises are repeated with the order reversed every two exercises. This looks like 2, 1, 4, 3, 6, 5 and so forth. The session is pretty evenly paced with water and stretch breaks. And the instructor (a guy named Tony Horton) keeps things moving along by challenging you to set goals for the number of reps you complete throughout the workout. You are also encouraged to write down the results so you can track your progress.

Day 2 is Plyometrics. There is really nothing to say about this workout other than you will feel this. Basically this was an hour of jumping. And landing. The sets are timed in 30 second and 60 second intervals. In this sense you could look at this workout as a fast twitch leg workout. What is also emphasized is hip rotation, waist twists and several forms of squats. Just like in day one, the movements all give you a real sense of integrating your core with all the moves. But just like the day before the entire hour is also very aerobic at an intensity that should see your body burning calories for the rest of the day.

Day 3 moves back to strength work focusing on shoulders and arms. The workout follows same format as Day 1. Because there were smaller muscle groups involved, this workout was not as physically taxing. But that isn't to say it wasn't challenging, because it was. And instead of repeating every two exercises this workout repeats every 3 sets. The exercises are pretty standard. You'll do curls and flys and tri extensions, all to close to failure as long as you can maintain form. Also just like day one, you will set goals and track your results for future workouts.

Day 4 is Yoga. I was a little skeptical about a yoga DVD from a guy who looks like he just got a botox injection. This is probably my own yoga snobbery coming out. I've been doing yoga for a couple of years now and know its many benefits. I just didn't think someone who came from a strength based fitness background would understand the practice. I also didn't think they would grasp the complexities of linking asanas for maximum results. I will say it here. I was wrong. The yoga in the P90X series is as good as any yoga class I've experienced. And not only is Tony Horton muscular, but he is really flexible. What this means is that he has done yoga and incorporated it into his own personal fitness program. That being said, just like all the other workouts in this set, the yoga is challenging. At this point if you have developed any stiffness or soreness from the routines, the yoga session should help you recover.

Day 5 is legs and back. This brings you back to the strength work. You won't need any weights for this workout although you could use dumbbells for some sets to add intensity. Honestly, the first time you do this workout, I wouldn't advise it. After the first thirty minutes my legs were quivering. There are so many types of squats in this workout it is almost unreal. From reading on the site I learned that this workout had been modified for the DVD from its original format. It started out as just a leg workout but the test groups felt it was too intense. The back exercises where added to allow the legs to have a break. Thank God for the test group. The workout will test those with even superior leg strength. Alternating between the back and legs is a good solution. At the end of the workout I was tired, but I wasn't trashed. As I found with the workouts from earlier in the week, my strength and aerobic capacity were being worked at the same time with functional, challenging movements. This is exactly what I wanted when I purchased these videos. I wanted to develop strength and do it functionally. After the first five days I knew I was getting exactly what I wanted.

The next two days are Kenpo and Stretching. I opted not to do the Kenpo in favor of a 5 mile walk. My legs were still recovering from the day before and I had wanted to ride my bike more than I wanted to do a video workout. But the stretching, like the yoga earlier in the week, was also very good. I got some relief from some muscles that had definitely been pushed to their limits.

One thing I will point out is that while the workouts are strength based, you will get an exceptional cardiovascular workout from each daily session. In fact after one week I can see that while the strength movements will challenge everyone, it is the cardiovascular component of each and every workout that will really leave you breathless and is probably equally responsible for the remarkable physical transformation this program promises. I want to stress that you should already be in pretty good shape before attempting this program. I can't emphasize this enough. If you are inactive and don't have a good base of cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength already, I wouldn't use these workouts as my starting point. They are extremely demanding. This is one of those times where the words "Buyer Beware" have tangible meaning.

Personally, I found the workouts very intense and engaging. They were similar to some shorter body weight personal workouts I had devised and was already doing, so I don't see boredom being a problem. What may pose a problem, however, is if you are a cyclist or a triathlete. For me these workouts while intense and highly aerobic only take up about 7 hours of my week. On average, I typically train anywhere from 9 to 14 hours which leaves me with a shortage. Because of this I decided to focus on the P90X program for the alloted 90 days and fill in any perceived training shortfall with my normal triathlon workouts. I think this will allow me to focus on the goal of building strength and endurance while also maintaining my swimming, biking, running technique. All in all though, so far, so good. I can't wait to start week 2 and keep pushing play.

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