91 Days of P90X

Why 91 days and not 90?  Well TECHNICALLY speaking (which is really the only way I speak) when you sign up for P90X its 13 weeks of 7 days of workouts a week, meaning 91 days in total.  I’ve talked to a lot of people who tried P90X.  When I started asking them if they enjoyed certain workouts like Kempo X they would reply “Oh, I never did that one.”  This is a mistake, and one that I made when I tried P90X for the first time.  About 2 years ago I started on the program.  On the 4th week, I blew out my knee on Plyometrics.  I decided to continue on and cut certain things out of the program, and because I did that I didn’t get as much out of it.  This time, I did every workout in the 91 days and with only 4 exceptions (Christmas being one of them).  It was tough, but I have to say that is was worth it.  So with that, if you’re interested in trying it yourself, here are some of the things you have to look forward to, and some of the things that you might want to watch out for.

What I liked

Muscle confusion.  Muscle confusion refers to working a lot of different muscles by doing varied activities.  Humans are creatures of adaptation, mentally and physically.  Your body can adjust to new challenges very quickly, so doing the same 6 exercises in the same order week after week will cause you to plateau very quickly.  By contrast, forcing yourself to do a lot of different workouts and switching up the routine is the best way to get results fast.  Muscle confusion is at the center of the P90X program.

It teaches that you can do a lot with a little.  Even though P90X is a huge time commitment, you don’t need to make a trip to the gym for any of the workouts.  If you have weights and tension bands at home, you can do it all there.  There are a lot of pull ups, but the option with bands is always well represented for any exercise.  P90X is conscious of the fact that you don’t time to get to the gym every day.  Having the option to work from home sets you up for a greater chance of success from the start.

Plyometrics.  This is one of the toughest workouts I’ve ever done.  At the beginning of the program the second time around, I was really careful not to push my knee too hard because I didn’t want to blow it again. Now at the end, my knee feels stronger than ever before.  In addition, I feel all around more agile in all other physical activities.  It’s one of the biggest gains I’ve ever experienced in working out.  I’ll be integrating into my own routine going forward.

What I didn’t like

Tony Horton.  I don’t know why somebody didn’t say anything to him before filming, during filming, after filming …  I’m not sure if all the video’s were shot in a week time frame so there was no time for feedback, or perhaps this was the first time Tony has done a workout video.  Regardless, he is the thing that always turned me off about this program.  I give a very heavy warning to anyone considering doing this workout.  I thought it might be me at first, but I Googled and found many, many, many articles from other people complaining about a lot of the same stuff.  In an effort from changing the title of this article to something like “All The Things Tony Horton Does That Make Me Want To Stick a Fork In My Eye” and for the sake of brevity, I’ll skim over some of my top pet peeves.

He talks too much.  His jokes are bad, his impressions are bad, and his non sequiturs are rambling, incoherent messes that not only don’t lead to a point, but distract you from your workout.  I Wikipedia’d Tony Horton and read that he moved to LA to launch a acting/stand up career before “following his passion” to working out.  Right.  I’m sure that was all his choice.

Despite all the talking, Tony is horrible at giving verbal cues.  Since I live in an apartment I had to be doing some of the workouts in the gym.  I loaded my P90X video’s on to my iPod and listed to them there.  Since I can’t be watching the whole time, I had to be listening for cues which he doesn’t always give.  Now, you might think that mine is a special case, but I noticed it even at home doing Yoga X in front of my TV.  You can’t always be looking at the screen.  If you’re going to talk for the entire video, at least spit out some valuable information once in awhile.

The way he interacts with the women in the videos reminds me of Michael Scott in a first season Office episode.  I felt awkward even though what was happening was on the other side of a screen.  Whether he’s giving nick names like “honey pie” or raving about how “gorgeous” they are, it all comes off like he’s a creepy older uncle. It was just wrong on so many levels.

What you’ll get

I’ll say up front that this workout isn’t for everyone.  I don’t mean that in terms of level of intensity.  There are lots of options given throughout the workout to work with people at different levels of fitness.  I think anyone is capable of finishing P90X if they resist pushing themselves too hard.  What I mean by its not for everyone is it depends what results you’re looking for.

This workout is geared toward people that want to tone up and get more fit.  You will not gain big muscles doing P90X.  I always did higher weights with lower reps on the weight lifting days, and still I noticed that I lost a bit of muscle mass.  The upsides are definitely worth it though.  For any exercise that targets a very small muscle group, like a bicep curl or a shoulder fly, I’ve lost a bit of strength.  However, and exercise that uses a lot of muscle groups working together, such as  push ups or chin ups, I am much stronger.  These are the benefits P90X with bring; more energy, better muscle coordination and agility.  You will lose size, but I’ve always liked the idea of being stronger than I look.  If you share this idea, then 91 Days of P90X is something you should consider.

I have to reinforce something that I mentioned at the beginning though; if you’re going to do this, commit to it.  Do every workout, and do it for the full 91 days.  I can’t stress enough that this is a huge sink hole for your time  There are going to be a lot of days you will be forcing yourself to do the workout.  If you’re planning on doing it, plan ahead for those days you won’t be motivated.  Workout right in the morning before your brain has a chance to turn on and tell yourself you don’t want to.  Do it with a friend so that you can work off each others motivation.  Document your progress on Facebook or Twitter so that there is the prospect of public embarrassment if you fail.  Everyone is different, but really plan ahead and think of 2 or 3 different strategies that will convince you to do the workouts when every fibre of your being is telling you not to (because trust me, that day will come).