Saturday, August 15, 2009

P90X And Triathlon

I get a large number of visits on this blog daily because of my experiences with the P90X work out program. And a few of these are from triathletes who are considering whether or not the program can help them with reach their multisport goals. I've tried to be as detailed as possible about my take on P90X and its benefits. For someone who doesn't have a lot of time and wants a strength program that is varied and well structured, I'd say it is well worth the investment of about $130 to $300 to assemble all the necessary equipment. If you want to know what I think about P90X then read the weekly posts. Sure you can look at the end result, but that won't give you the information you need about what it was like trying to do the program and maintain some semblance of triathlon specific work.  That, in a nutshell, was hard. Very hard.

But here's the thing. What I found doing P90X, and I'd wager you'd find this doing any coherent, focused functional strength program, is my endurance increased along with my strength. Translation, I was able to work longer, at a faster rate, more efficiently when it was all said and done. Did I look like the folks on TV? Nope. But honestly, I really didn't care about that. What I got from doing P90X for 90 days was a faster return to the level of fitness I enjoyed prior to my 5 year hiatus.

I've had quite a bit of time to consider to effects of P90X on Triathlon training having almost 2 years since I did my first workout pass. First I will say I do believe it is possible to do both P90X and Tri training. I've said that all along. But what I've also said is there are caveats. The main one being the results you are looking for from the program. If those results are more on the appearance side, then I'd definitely tone down the tri specific work until I "looked" the way I wanted.

On the other hand if you wanted to use P90X as a basis for enhancing tri performance, then I think with some modification to the routine it could be done with great success for all distances. 

Why do I say this? I say this because many athletes tend to overlook the importance of basic strength in triathlon and focus an overly large amount of time on endurance. And when I speak of strength I'm talking about a concept beyond lifting weights in the gym a couple of hours a week in the midst of swimming, biking and running throughout the week. When I speak of strength, I'm speaking about things like range of motion, connective tissue, power, balance, coordination, muscular access, and muscular endurance. 

The more I consider the way time is or can be spent preparing for Triathlon of any distance, the more I feel that each of the three sports are techniques to be learned and mastered, and the results you see on race day are from the successful integration and application of full bodied strength and technique work. P90X can certainly assist in creating that. You simply need to know when, where, and how to apply it in the scheme of your other tri specific training.


SwimCoachFinder said...

Are there some detail research sites that you can give us about P90X Triathlon.

Fred (aka ace) said...

Sorry, I'm not really sure I understand your question. But if you want research regarding P90X and triathlon, I'm not sure there is any though it would be interesting to see the results quantified.

Scott said...

Hey, Fred, I just wanted to pay you a compliment on the clarity and thoroughness of your writing. It's very informative and helpful. I'm more of a casual runner, but I'm starting P90x tomorrow morning and I was curious about the potential benefits to enhancing my performance over 5k and 10k. After reading your summaries, I have a pretty clear sense of the potential impact. There are quite a few personal reviews out there, but yours is exceptional - best I've seen.
Thanks for putting in the effort to explain your experience in such detail.

Fred (aka ace) said...

Thank you for the complement. Good luck with P90X and your fitness goals. Train well!

Chase said...

I'm in Phase 2 of my P90X and it is kicking me in the butt. I'm still working out in the gym so I think both workouts are catching up with me. I'm enjoying the referral rewards though. I actually made some some money with P90X. I'm looking forward to Insanity as well. Health is Wealth, pass it on...

frankstuart said...

This is my third season of triathlons (Olympic distance). I decided to kick it up a notch to a half Ironman next year but felt the need to get leaner and stronger in order to finish well. I am in the 2nd phase of P90x and have found my runs have improved in both time and energy. I can see P90X is helping me meet my goals. However I have put off tri training during the three month P90X cycle, other than a weekly 5 mile run, to focus on completing the program. My concern now is how to maintain the gains from P90X and incorporate the swim/bike/run training. My thoughts thus far are to cut out the P90X cardio workouts, the tri training will more than accomplish this, and cycle through the resistance training DVDs (two DVDs per week), and throw in some yoga a couple times per month. A side note, it was a struggle to get my heart rate into the zone with the cardio training in P90X. What was your work schedule like or did you follow the P90X schedule verbatim and add the swim /bike /run training on top.

Fred (aka ace) said...

Hey Frank,

When I was doing P90X in 2007, the first time I was working nights from 7pm to 7am Monday thru Thursday, I believe. I didn't do the Kenpo or the StretchX workouts at all opting to run and ride on the weekends. I was already doing an pretty intense yoga class twice per week at this time as well so I only did YogaX when I wasn't able to attend my normal class which was also 90 minutes. So aside from the adjustments and 2 swims per week, I was doing most of the P90X work and it took a real toll on my body.

Because of that after I finished and went back to specific tri training, I only do two strength workouts per week that are modified from the P90X routine. I do an upper body workout which resembles the Chest/Back and Core Synergistics programs on one day. On the other I rotate the Plyo and Legs/Back weekly. I still do yoga 2 to 3 times per week because I find it aids in recovery.

John B. said...

I've been a triathlete for several years and have done up to 1/2 IM distance. I started P90X 3 weeks ago as an off-season (I'm in Utah) strength program and am hoping it will improve my overall swim/bike/run performance. After suffering through a couple rounds of plyo and the strength routines, I don't see how anyone couldn't come out of P90X stronger and faster than before. I've slowed my tri-specific training down significantly but have substituted 5 or 6 mile runs for the P90X cardio routines. Thanks for your posts, however, extremely insightful.

Alberto said...

HI Ace:

I just found your blog and i am impressed. I just have a question about your posts on p90x.

You mentioned something about: You simply need to know when, where, and how to apply it in the scheme of your other tri specific training.

My question is about "when". I just run marathons and I want to try p90x, so that "when" is what I would like to know if I can start any time during the year or do you think there is better time during the year when to start it?

Thank you and best regards,


Fred (aka ace) said...

Alberto, thanks for your comment. I've had a bit of time to think about the "when" in my post and in your question. It pretty much boils down to how much time are you spending on your run specific work right now. If you were running 10 hours a week today and wanted to start P90x, P90x unchanged would add about 8 hours putting you at 18 hours total even during the recovery phases.

For the best results, you would need to cut your running down in both time and intensity to about 5 hours per week and do about 4 to 5 hours of P90x.

The key to this is recovery. All of your runs would have to be considered recovery runs and probably done at a slower pace/lower HR than you may currently train. I'm thinking in terms of optimal results and improvement in both your running and strength.

The other thing to consider is when you actually start doing P90x. The program is 3 months long so, I did it at the end of my racing season after a recovery period. And that is where my example of cutting down the running and P90x would be most appropriate.

If you want to start using it in a build toward a goal race, that is where you cut down on P90x even further to around 2 or 3 hours per week targeting only your particular functional weaknesses like core stability or range of motion in the hips or shoulders.

Trent said...

I started mixing in P 90 X workouts with tri workouts and withing three weeks my 1500 meter swim times have improved dramatically (about 3 minutes faster). In addition, I'm not flat out exhausted when I exit the pool.

If you want a killer workout, try swimming hard for a half hour followed by the P 90 X chest and back. It will make a 25-mile bike ride seem like a tricycle ride.

Full disclosure - my run times haven't gotten much faster (or slower), yet. That may be because plyometrics and the back and legs workout have my legs a little worn when my run workouts come around.

By the way, I've lost 8 pounds. That's a lot less pounding and a lot faster recoveries.

Thanks for the blog.