Yesterday, I did Back & Biceps for the first time. Since I did a bonus Cardio X last week, that means that I have now done all the workouts in P90X at least once. That makes me qualified (IMO) to give a mid-term review of the program. I’ll give another one once I complete it.
P90X hypes itself as an eXtreme workout program. Is it? I honestly don’t know. I have nothing with which to compare it. I’ve never done any serious workout or training program in my life. I did a little exercising on my own in college, and was a fairly avid bike rider until I was about 30. But that’s been the extent of it. I’ve never belonged to a gym, never had a personal trainer. In other words, I’ve been a couch potato most of my adult life, and I was even a “wimpy kid” back in high school.
In spite of all of this, I’ve been able to do the P90X program and have fun with it. Now, is it hard? Yes, every single workout is hard, even the stretches. This is the part where I say, “if I can do this, you can too”. And I mean it. Now, can you go from being a couch potato all your life to doing P90X like a pro tomorrow?
Sorry, but the answer to that question is an emphatic “no”.
I started working on my own to get in better shape on December 26th, 2011. As I mentioned in previous posts, I bought a Wii Fit for my kids, and ended up using it every day for myself as well. At first my “workouts” were very light, but I slowly ramped up, adding more and harder exergames, as well as putting in more time every day on my workouts. After four months of this, I felt like I was ready for P90X. I probably could’ve started P90X a month earlier, but I know I would not have been ready back on December 26th.
Still, the extra month helped me get more ready. I was also working on improving my diet in those four months, and it was also a gradual process. I don’t think I would’ve been ready for the P90X diet after three. To be honest, I’m still not perfect about it. I’ve modified it in a way that works for me, but I’m probably not doing it quite well enough to get 100% of the benefits. That will certainly be true during the last phase, when it’s unlikely I’ll be able to do the carb loading. This means I also won’t get 100% of the expected results. So be it.
So, what I’m saying is that I believe that you can do the package if you spend a little time getting ready first. The P90X Lean program is even lighter and easier. No matter what, though, if you’re out of shape like I was, or even worse, then there will be some exercises that will give you problems. Maybe you’re too overweight to go full blast for an hour on the cardio days. Maybe you have bad knees. Maybe you have weak ankles, or limited flexibility. For the most part, I don’t think these things matter. What matters is desire. For just about every single exercise, Tony shows modified methods that are either less or more intense. He’s constantly telling you, “if you need to hit pause, do it”, or “if you can’t get down this far in the lunge, don’t”, etc.
Combine that with the Lean version, which is lower impact, with more emphasis on cardio and less on muscle building, and I believe that anyone can do it. Heck, one of the guys on the Plyometrics (Jump Training!) video has one leg. And even he only does the modified versions on, I think, two of the exercises.
Now, if you do the modified versions, will you get as much out of it? No, of course not. But if that’s all you can do, then you’ll certainly get more out of it than skipping the exercise completely.
You can also modify the program to suit your needs and abilities. Go on to the website, discuss your options with your peers in forums, and with your assigned coach. Just the other day, I listed the workouts that I would do if I was trying to turn P90X into a cardio program.
So, what have I gotten out of it? Too early to say, I think. In terms of muscle and appearance, I don’t think I’ve changed visibly over the last 30 days. I was already thin, so the “Fat Shredder” phase didn’t do much for me. But I can tell you that I’m noticeably in better shape. I can do more pull ups. I can lift heavier weights. I can stretch farther. These changes may not be all that visible on my body yet, but in time they will be. And if not, I honestly don’t care. I’m not trying to get into better shape to pick up girls. I’m trying to get into better shape because I want to live longer. Improved health is my primary goal. Improved appearance is a distant second.
I do have a few minor gripes, though. No program is perfect.
- I don’t like the menu. It seems too heavy on breakfast for my tastes, and Phase III is very unfriendly to diabetics. Hence my modifications.
- They move very quickly from one exercise to the next on most of the videos, and with little demonstration or explanation. In time, you learn to appreciate this. You don’t need an explanation of Mary Katherine Hamm Lunges or Fifer Scissors or Prison Push Ups, because you know what they are. And it would frustrate you and annoy you to have to sit through it every time. The first time or two through the DVD’s though, you end up doing a lot of watching and rewinding. Or, since it’s your first time through, you’re a little slow doing the exercise and putting whatever accessories you used away. I find myself yelling “wait! wait!” at the TV often the first time I do a workout.
- Some parts of the body seem to get a better workout than others. There’s not much on muscle building for lower body.
- It’s too short. I was surprised when I realized this about a week ago, but it’s true. Hard to imagine a 90 day program being described as too short, I know. But, yesterday I did Back & Biceps for the first time. I’ll only do it four more times before the 90 days are up. How much progress can you make in a given workout if you only do it five times? More and more I’m convinced that I’m going to take a week or so off after the 90 days are over, then do a second round. 180 days seems like the right number to me.
- Cardio is a little light, especially in the Classic version. Both Lean and Doubles have more cardio, but there are other workout programs such as Insanity that are much more cardio intensive. If that’s your goal, you should probably look at something else.
- Time. The shortest workout, Cardio X, is 45 minutes. Back & Biceps is 50. All of the others are around 60, and three times a week you get an extra 15 minutes of Ab Ripper X. Then Yoga X is even longer than that, clocking in at 92 minutes. You have to really work to work it into your schedule.
Those are the cons. Really none of those are major, at least to me. YMMV. A short list of pros:
- You can monitor your progress in nearly every workout and see your week-to-week and even day-to-day improvement
- It’s fun. Tony’s a good coach. He has just the correct amount of direction, discipline and humor. The workouts are intense, but always in a light-hearted manner.
- I do believe that anyone can do it.
- My blood sugar/blood pressure/cholesterol results alone are incredible. Ask my doctor.
- The day-to-day variety keeps it from getting boring. The last month before I did P90X I did a lot of cardio boxing. After two weeks of it I was bored out of my mind. Pretty much the same thing every day. By the end of the month, I hated it. There are some exercises in P90X that I “hate”, but only because they’re so intense, not because it’s hard to motivate myself to do them.
- I may not be able to see much of the results in the mirror yet, but I can feel them. There’s no flab in my legs or arms. If I press on my stomach, I can feel my ab muscles tighten. That’s a new thing for me. I’ve never felt that in my life. Feels a little weird to be honest. But, in a good way.
- Accessories are cheap. I’ve spent a little money on weights. The pull up bar was cheap as were my push up bars. But you can do most everything just with resistance bands if you want. And you don’t even need the push up bars. I probably won’t start seriously using them until my second time through. I currently just use them on a couple of the exercises.
Anyway, that’s my mid-term review. I say “Bring It”.
I was going to include the “How to Bring It” video. I know I watched it online before I started, but now I can’t find the entire video online anywhere. Strange. I’ll keep looking and update this post if I can find it.
UPDATE: How To Bring It Video