Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to do P90X (my tips)

Last Sunday marked my Day 90 (technically, Day 97 because I repeated half of a bad week). This was my second time to do P90X seriously, but my first time to complete 90 days (I got injured about Day 74 last time). I share my recent fitness stats at the bottom.

Here's what I've learned and recommend:
1. Follow a diet plan, either P90X's plan or something else that allows you to keep track of your calories and nutrition. I recommend (with a great iPhone app). Most people don't eat enough calories in their day and wonder why they don't lose weight. Many people don't eat enough of the right stuff (ex: protein) and don't realize that their reps/performance suffer as a result. Tony Horton often points out that most people don't even need to work out if they'd just eat right. Calculate how many calories you need to maintain your current weight (roughly 1800 for me) and know that if you eat less than about 1200 calories (varies per person) your body is going to go into starvation mode and you won't lose the weight or be healthy.

2. "Drink your water, people!" Get hydrated. You need to drink 64 oz. of water a day even without exercise. More with exercise. Are you drinking two glasses of water before you eat breakfast and get your first cup of coffee? Your overall health and fitness performance suffer if you do not! Do this:

Here are my tips on each workout:
1. Ab Ripper X - Do this first on your combo days. I struggle with good form when I do it while wasted after the first exercise. I don't want to come back at the end of the day, finish Ab Ripper and take another shower.

2. Chest & Back; Chest, Shoulders and Triceps - Get a combo pull-up/push-up bar like this one. I was fortunate to work in a basement that had a mounted pull-up bar, so I just used my combo bar for push-ups. Also, mount some bands from the ceiling for when you're "feeling wasted." I would try to do max reps on the pull-up bar, and then with whatever time was left do a few reps on the bands.

3. Plyo X - I saw an interview where Tony talks about how Beachbody doesn't let anyone wear running shoes in their workouts as the lateral movements will hurt your feet. Get some Trainers or go barefoot (what I do).
Also, consider subbing some Insanity exercises for Plyo X to burn more calories.My in-laws have Insanity and I borrowed Plyo Cardio Circuit for these days.

4. Shoulders & Arms, Back & Biceps - Consider using fitness bands for certain sets. You get a great burn, the isometric hold action is great.You also don't have the joint and bone issues with bands-- using bands for certain sets is how I was able to complete all 90 days injury free.

5. Yoga X - DO YOUR YOGA! People think the weight lifting and pull-ups are what P90X is about, but it's not-- it's Yoga! Yoga X is the hardest exercise. Watch these clips with Tony talking about Yoga.

He's one of the most flexible people in the world for how muscular he is. Why? Yoga. You're already doing some of the yoga exercises in the other workouts, so Yoga X day will help you do those better. It will also stretch you out, improve your push-ups, and help your breathing. If you have a problem doing "oms" at the end, then you also should have a problem signing in the shower or humming to yourself during the day as they're essentially the same thing.

6. Legs and Back - No advice here.

7. Kenpo X - Grab some wrist/ankles weights or handweights for these to get some extra burn. Also, consider subbing for Insanity Pure Cardio here if you just want the calories. The Kenpo stretch is money after the previous day's workout, though.

8. Core Synergistics - Just do it. Or substitute some Insanity core-crushing exercise. Core Synergistics is probably my least-favorite exercise.

9. X Stretch - Rarely did X Stretch. I tried to follow Tony's advice in this interview-- don't take any days off. On your off day, do something fit you love like biking, hiking, or something else. I would often do Jillian's 30 Day Shred Level 3 on these days.

(You can learn a lot from this interview.)

I came back from Turkey in February overweight and out of shape, roughly a size 35.
Going into my final week:
My weight: 163.6
Body Fat%: 17.6% (a little on the high side but better than I began)
Body water%: 56.9% (i'm not dehydrated!)
Muscle mass: 128.2
Physique rating: 5 (basically optimal. Could have more muscle mass, but I'm healthy)
Daily caloric intake to maintain body weight: 1779
Metabolic age: 27
Bone mass: 6.8
Visceral fat: 5 (1-12 is considered healthy, 13-59 excess).
I'm a comfortable size 32.

I can't do 130 pull-ups, but I can do many more than when I started. I wrote everything down for the first couple weeks, then I stopped. I kept getting "all jacked up about the numbers" instead of just "do my best and forget the rest." I kept mental track in my head of roughly how many I did last time, how many I thought I could do, and went for it. Keep pushing "play." 

My goal is to keep working to improve my body fat percentage and look better. So, I've started Insanity. I'm considering alternating weeks of P90X with Insanity to keep up the weight training.

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