Friday, October 4, 2013

Fitness Friday: P90X for Women {PLUS Try a P90X-style Workout for FREE!}

Image by Beachbody
I had been doing exercise videos for a good six years before I stumbled onto P90X.  Mostly workouts from The Firm (which I've written about here) and Cathe Friedrich.  I felt pretty fit.  When 2008 rolled around, I found myself in a rut - it was the year that I came to terms with the fact that I could not safely carry a child (and should not even attempt pregnancy), and needless to say, my fitness level started to slip.  So when Daddy M (who, at the time, had some pounds to lose) floated the idea of doing P90X (and strongly hinted that an accountability buddy would be helpful), I said "why not".

After a full, three-month round of P90X, though, I was not in love.  Daddy M and I completed the "Classic" rotation and, while he had fantastic results, mine were just meh.  However, I returned to it in 2011 (after a sleepless year with Moose that saw me seriously pile on some pounds), and found a way to make it work for me.

Which is really why I want to share my experience here: because I get the impression that a lot of women have a meh response to P90X - particularly those who, like me, come to the program with a few pounds to lose - and I learned that it doesn't have to be that way.

To begin, if you're not familiar with the P90X workouts, you should know that it is predominantly intended as a strength and muscle building program.  The Classic rotation looks like this:
Day 1 - Upper body + abs
Day 2 - Cardio
Day 3 - Upper body + abs
Day 4 - Yoga (with an endurance toning focus)
Day 5 - Lower body + abs
Day 6 - Cardio
For as much as I thought I knew about exercise when I did my first round of the program, I didn't really get that, as a woman comfortably out of her teens, I would need more cardio to see real weight loss.  So in 2011, I did the "Lean" variation of the rotation:
Day 1 - Core Synergistics (a cardio/light weights & body resistance circuit)
Day 2 - Cardio
Day 3 - Upper body (heavier weights) + abs
Day 4 - Yoga
Day 5 - Lower body + abs
Day 6 - Cardio
Within the first few weeks, I was already seeing better results than the first time around, and decided to add some "doubles" - an extra cardio workout on the toning days.  I went jogging with Moose (in a jogging stroller) on Day 3 and Day 5, after my P90X workout.

My results were fantastic!  I wish I would have taken before and after pictures (I didn't take any before shots because I honestly wasn't expecting a lot . . .)!  If you're like me (female, have a few pounds to lose), I highly recommend this variation of P90X!

I do, however, have some lingering cons about the program:
  • It is incredibly time-consuming!  Now that I have two littles, and my law practice is growing, I know I can't reasonably expect to be able to undertake that commitment (60-120 minutes a day).  Were I to undertake another Lean rotation right now, in order to keep each day at 60 minutes or less, I would get my much-needed cardio in on Days 3 and 5 by only doing half of the weight workout (I've heard this called "halfsies" by other P90Xers) and then tacking on 20-30 minutes of cardio.  I would also substitute a shorter ab routine.
  • Beware of the risk of injury!  I ended up with biceps tendinitis in my right shoulder at the end of my successful 90-day cycle from all the (attempted and partial) pull-ups.  And my Morton's neuroma first reared its ugly head as I was finishing up.  As with everything, listen to your body and make adjustments if something starts not feeling right.
  • Ab Ripper X is not a balanced ab routine.  I hated ARX in the beginning.  It made my low back hurt every single time I did it, and I was nowhere near being able to complete all the repetitions.  I figured it was because I was so sorely lacking in core strength, but even by the end of three months, when I was matching Tony Horton rep-for-rep, I was still in pain.  I applaud the variety of lower abdominal moves in ARX, but I don't think it's balanced out with enough with upper-ab, mid-ab, and oblique work.  If I did another round, I would substitute another (or a variety of other) ab routine, both for time considerations (mentioned above) as well as in the interest of a well-rounded and less painful workout.
If you're curious about the kind of workout you can get with P90X, here is a {FREE} 30-minute workout from P90X creator Tony Horton.  It alternates cardio, body-weight toning and ab exercises, and feels a lot like Core Synergistics.

Have you tried P90X? What were your results?

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