In this very, very, very long post, is the second half of the complete P-Lindy-X blog I did for Lindy Bloggers February to May of 2009; This also includes the final entries and conclusion, several of which have not been made public yet. If you like the workout stuff, I will be doing a three part series on P90X Plus, Tony Horton’s follow-up workout series, soon.
WEEK 5: Bobby discovers new muscles (The Groinuals)
In many ways, I think the second month can be the hardest part of P90X because of motivation—you might be seeing your first results, but the novelty of working out is wearing off; and for me, a continuous string of weekend workshopss has made it particularly difficult to balance everything.
The first month is officially over, and my results are good, but not incredible. There are a few reasons I can think of why; First off, perhaps I’m not eating as much protein as I should be, though I do eat every few hours when possible. (And, as I’ll mention more next week, perhaps my eating is just off, period). Another reason is perhaps I am just getting used to the exercises and, though I feel like I’m bringing it now, it will take a while of bringing it to get to the good results. Finally, perhaps I am simply expecting too much too fast. It’s HARD to get into incredible shape, and it takes time.
It is especially hard for a body type that has a lot of ectomorph in it. My personal trainer, Marty Klempner, explained the body types to me, and further research has shown that he knows what he’s talking about: Ectomorphs are lean, tend to have long limbs, have fast metabolism, fast growing hair, and have a real hard time putting on muscle. (My fellow ectomorph swing dancers are Karla Heiny, David Rehm, Todd Yanacone, etc.) The other types are mesomorphs, who have slower metabolism and are naturally muscular or curvy, for the ladies. These will see the best results after any workout program. And finally, endomorphs, who are those who have very slow metabolism, short limbs, and have a very hard time losing weight.
Though most people are on a scale, or are combinations of these body types, its easy to see that I am, for the most part, a textbook Ectomorph, (though I am by no means an extreme Ectomorph). What this means for my workout is that results won’t be through the roof; in fact, every muscle I do end up with will be hard fight. So, maybe I shouldn’t be so disappointed, but proud of what I have done so far.
Workout Breakdown: LEGS AND BACK
There are a few things you should know about the Legs workout. First off, there are things called wall squats. Then there are things called one-legged wall squats. Then there are toe-roll squats, one legged squats, and sneaky lunges. But, you can’t deny this workout is incredible for swing dancers. But don’t take my word for it. I asked swing dance mastermind Nick Williams if he wouldn’t mind writing up his thoughts on the Leg Program, and this is what he had to say:
“Legs and Back are often overlooked by swing dancers. They figure with all the dancing they do, they don’t need to work out the legs. This workout will not only be able to improve the legs for dancing, but also work the other muscle groups that your dancing has been ignoring. Followers will be able to sit into their swivels with ease, and leaders will be able to balance on one leg for some “fantastical” (new word) kicks. Not only that, but before legs and back, I could barely do any pull-ups. I thought I had a strong back, but I was wrong when it came to lifting myself up. The Legs and Back combo are perfect for training for aerials. Leaders use this muscle combo for most tricks. It will allow for better balance and more powerful, dynamic aerials. Followers will be able to jump high and land softer with the combo of Legs and Back and Plyometrics. They will also be able to hold their shape better thanks to the Back workout.
My dreaded workout in the Legs and Back workout is the wall squats and single leg wall squats. Most people will agree with me. I had muscular legs already, but wall squats showed me that they were nowhere near strong enough. I must tell you, my thighs look amazing after all those squats. Also, I had no idea my hamstrings and glutes were so ignored in my daily routines, but this works them out beautifully. If you’re one of those people who think they have strong legs, try adding weights to this workout and you’ll love the results. Of all the workouts, I’m not usually very sore the next day because legs have always been my strong suite, but maybe I just need to work harder now.”
Choice Tony Horton Quote: I have to say, when Tony announces it’s time for single-leg wall squats, then bites his hand with a crazy smile on his face, I crack up every time. Also, when he sing-songs “Happiness is this right here,” you know exactly what he means.
Workout Song: Speed-squats. “Sabotage,” by the Beastie Boys. Play.
The Next Day, my legs can be sore, but not too bad. Also,after the first time you do it, you’ll discover that there are these strange muscles that exist inside your butt or thigh that you never knew existed, and which will hurt when you try to walk. Also, be careful on this workout; there was one time last year when I wanted to bring it harder on this workout, and decided to sit more into the squats rather than keep my shoulders over my knees; I couldn’t walk the next day. So, bring it in small increments and really pay attention to how they move their bodies in all these squat exercises.
I finally broke down and bought a heart rate monitor. I’m glad I did…I worked as hard as I usually do in Plyometrics and the monitor alarm went off three times, saying my heart rate was dangerously fast. Then I realized it was automatically set for a forty-year old person. So, I learned how to program it. But it does help keep me aware of how hard I’m working. I’m going to try to wear it a few times while swing dancing, just for gits and shiggles. $60.
Ugh. More protein.$50
TOTAL COST SO FAR: Approx. $1,065
WEEK 6: Bobby defends attackers with HAMMER-SWORD!
I’ve made a huge mistake. Well, not huge, my Other Personal Trainer, Nick Williams tells me. In fact, he seems to think I’ll be fine. Let me explain; when I originally undertook P90X, I decided to only do the workouts and concentrate on the protein regiment, not messing with the intricate meal plan, which requires experience working with NASA. The book, of course, tells you that the meal plan is a CRUCIAL part of P90X; and I’m afraid my results aren’t near as good as they’d be if I had done the meal plan.
P90X veteran and Lindy Hop Champion Nick Williams, however, thinks I’m overreacting, and he’s never really followed the meal plan to a T either and gotten great results. That said, however, I’ve started cooking. Don’t worry, I won’t force you to eat any of it.
First off, the power bars are simply too annoying to eat more than two of them in a day. So, I’ve dug through the nutrition guide, and chosen two meals I can easily cook and stomach, with the intent of eating them a lot. Here they are, and I have to say, I’m very pleased with my choices. They don’t taste like much, but what little they do taste is good and my body likes them a lot more than protein bars.
CHICKEN SCRAMBLE. One can of chicken, a bowl of egg whites, and vegan Italian cheese. Stir and fry. Serves 1,803.
“SAUSAGE” “BISCUIT”. One veggie sausage patty (Morning Star Maple Flavored Sausage is my choice), one whole grain English Muffin. Combine in whatever way you feel necessary.
Workout breakdown: KENPO X
Most P90Xers I talk to would say that Kenpo is probably the easiest of the classic P90X routine, and many say the most fun of the workouts. Other people think it’s a waste of an hour. I go back and forth. If I throw my body into every move like you’re supposed to, it definitely gets me sweating, using my core, and helps me let out some pint-up aggression, most of which is caused by the other work-out videos. (It also helps me do contra-body dance movements.) When I check my heart rate monitor, though, it takes a lot of work to keep it anywhere near my zone, which is good evidence that it’s not that useful. Its primary use is probably as a fat-burning workout.
What it definitely does, though, is give people just enough martial arts training for them to think they can do Kung Fu, and actually be totally ineffective at it. Another down side to this workout is you have to do it four times before you get comfortable with all the movements so you don’t have to spend half the reps trying to figure out which hand should be hooking, and which should be jabbing.
Here are a few tricks I’ve heard of: If you have the money, Nick Williams recommends replacing the P90X Kenpo with P90X Plus Kenpo, a more recent exercise Tony created that ups the stakes and gets the workout done in only 40 minutes. I’ve done it with him before and liked it a lot.
Or, a professional work-out reviewer recommended simply putting in your own preferred cardio work-out in place of Kenpo; such as running, kick-boxing, or playing with children. They seemed to think it wasn’t a problem, and from what I can tell, it might even be more useful.
Afterthought: I was in Denver, staying at a house with a circle type patio in the middle of their back yard, surrounded by small trees. I did Kenpo on it on a windy day, and had a great time, because I basically felt like I was in my own private Bruce Lee-like training nature circle of death. It was one of the few instances where traveling with a workout was much better than doing it at home. Also, the guy in the back looks like he’s hardly doing anything. How is his heart rate 160? Is he a really-good-looking 85?
Choice Tony Horton Quote: (Hurts hand while sticking it in front of a block) “Oww! See? It works.”
Workout Song: Let’s go with old school. “You’re the best (Around)” by Joe Esposito, from the Karate Kid soundtrack.
The Next Day, I feel maybe a little more invigorated and energetic. That’s about it.
I had to buy some 12 pound weights because I want to up some of the 10 pound exercises, but 15 pounds is too much. I think, for getting better results, it’s an unavoidable cost. $25.
TOTAL COST SO FAR: Approx. $1,140
I’ve currently stopped rating energy bars, mainly because there are so many that simply taste like sawdust. The Clif Builders Bars are currently the only ones I can stomach regularly. However, as I’ve mentioned above, I’ve started upping my natural-ish food intake; Here’s what I love to eat:
Canned White Chicken or Canned Dolphin-Safe Tuna. One who can cost about $1.50, and carries 30g protein (if you eat both its servings at once). My Personal Trainer, Marty Klempner, lives off of these things. It might seem weird to eat them right out of the can, but after one or two, I got used to it and found it rather delicious. My dinner sometimes is simply a piece of fruit and a can, and it’s hard to get a meal cheaper than that. Warnings: there’s good canned Chicken (I prefer Swanson) and there’s bad canned chicken. (Stop & Shop canned chicken) Also, if you go the Tuna route, don’t eat too much too often for mercury reasons.
Blue Diamond Salted Smokehouse Almonds. Meth, in nut form.
V8 Fusion. Okay, so this isn’t a protein substance, but it is a great thing for those, like myself, who don’t eat a lot of vegetables. It’s a combination of carrot juice and a bunch of fruit juices that cover up the carrot juice, and it’s a good source of your daily servings of both veggies and fruit. There’s three or four flavors, but the Acai berry is my personal favorite.
WEEK 7: Bobby Stretches Extremely
The second month of P90X goes like this: Day 1: Shoulders, Chest and Triceps, Day 2: Plyometrics, Day 3: Arms, Day 4: Yoga, Day 5: Legs, Day 6: Kempo (a martial-art type cardio workout), and Day 7: Lying in the fetal position, whimpering (rest day).
I wonder a lot these days if movies and television have wired my generation to think that things come easier than they actually do. Every guy is destined to meet that quirky, witty girl, who also happens to have a perfect body. That promotion is just a bold risk and charismatic smile away. Or, think of the training montage, for instance. In almost any sport or martial arts movie, like Rocky 1 through 13, half of the movie is spent with a down-on-his-luck hero getting kicked around by the enemy, and finally deciding that it’s time to stick up for himself. Then a five minute 80s song plays while we see our hero get stronger, pump iron, drink raw eggs, download all he ever needed to know about kong fu through a portal in the back of his head, and perfect the crane kick.
Obviously, as an audience member, we don’t want to see the months of hard-work—the montage is much more affective entertainment tool. But, at the same time, it implants many of us with the romantic ideal that getting into good shape should be a fast, dramatic experience with an inspirational soundtrack. When, in reality, getting into shape can be boring, annoying, smelly, painful, and anything but romantic.
Training montages don’t really capture the really impressive bit. The impressive moment comes when the out-of-shape guy with a full schedule and a family pushes play on the workout program. The impressive moment comes fifteen times during a workout, when you get to the point where you have to work HARD to do another pull up, or push up, or lunge, or hold that yoga position, and you grit your teeth and do it. The impressive moment comes when you realize how many hundreds of hours you’ve spent trying to accomplish something, something a training montage could never do.
Workout breakdown: X STRETCH
When rest day comes around, usually the last thing I want to do is put in the optional Stretch X DVD, taking yet another hour of my life and spending another hour with Tony Horton. But, at the Balboa on the Potomac event, my friend Heather Ballew and myself decided that some good stretching would be great before a dance. And we were right. Also, for a dancer, it is probably more crucial to do the Stretch than other P90Xers, because of flexibility. Stretch-X focuses on flexibility, not to mention teaches you a stretch for every part of your body for the next time you feel tightness or start to pull something. It’s also important to remember that as you build muscles doing all the other workouts, you can lose flexibility.
Workout Song: Finally, I don’t have to just listen to music when I work out. For this video, I watch Simpsons episodes I’ve seen; I know what happens in them, so I don’t have to worry about keeping up, but it does keep me entertained while I stretch. Probably doesn’t make for the most useful stretch experience though, because my mind often wonders from the stretch and to the episode.
That night, I feel great for dancing.
Total abs ripped: 4,054
Hopefully, I’m done buying stuff for a week or two, except for protein. $50
TOTAL COST SO FAR: Approx. $1,190
WEEK 8: Bobby battles Superman and Banana Boy
While in my second month of P90X, I was at Boston Tea Party, where a group of fellow p90Xers spent probably a half hour at the midnight breakfast buffet talking about p90x and boring onlookers. Among the group were Nick Williams, Mickey Pedroza, Dave and Kim, and myself. We discussed the women in the video we think Tony wants to make out with, the exercises we love or hate, the recovery drink, and techniques for working out.
Though it had to be totally the most inane conversation for anyone else in the area to be a part of, it got me really pumped up to workout the next day, and to vent about all the things I’ve been thinking and feeling throughout this process. I was inspired by those who had done the program, and hope, in turn, I said something that inspired those in the group who were just starting. It reminded me of how great it is to share something like this with someone. P90X involves things I’m beginning to love, things I hate, things I’m proud of, things I’m new to, things I can’t understand. It’s changing me, both physically and mentally. And somehow, cracking silly workout jokes with friends is reflective of a great feeling of community. I work out alone, in a small room, where all my struggles and personal battles take place. But I’m not alone. And that gives me strength to go back and struggle more.
Workout breakdown: CORE SYNERGISTICS
Core Synergistics is one of my favorite workouts (and not just because it sounds like a bullshit name, but is actually a pretty accurate description of the workout.) You start off feeling good, might not even feel like you’re working hard, and before you know it, you’re covered in sweat and rolling around on the ground. (Sounds like a great date—ZING!). The workout is about 40 minutes of various core exercises, including a few sets of yet-even-more-kinds of push-ups, imitating the act of putting boxes on a shelf, running with weighs, walking around in push-up stance for a minute, and Dreya Rolls, which are my personal favorite P90X Workout ever, despite the fact that Tony obviously only included them in the video in the hopes he could make-out with Dreya. Don’t do it, Tony; a gymnast might be fun for a fling, but she’s got high maintenance written all over her. Go for Pam. They call her Blam.
One of the exercises is called a Prison-Cell push-up, which is what you do when you’re incarcerated. You jump down into a push-up position, do a push-up, bring a knee into your stomach, do another push-up, bring the other knee into your stomach, and then do another push up and jump your feet back into your hands and come back to standing. Repeat. (7 weeks into the program, I can do 7 with a few tiny breaks, while Adam in the video pumps out 18 or so.) This got me thinking that Tony should do an entire workout series for criminals (P90-TO-LIFE -X), all of which are exercises that can be done in confined spaces and help felons. The Kenpo exercise can be geared more towards avoiding stabbings, the Yoga could be a little more aggressive, the use of horizontal bars in the area could surely lead to great exercises, and the heavy lifting exercises could include weaker cell mates. The video would include Tony’s new cell mates in place of the normal P90X crew. At the Boston Tea Party, I told this idea to My Other Personal Trainer, Nick Williams, who immediately impersonated Tony Horton: “We call him Tiny, but he’s not.”
But I digress.
The only problem with this workout is it takes up a lot of space, and needs some small weights to really get a lot out of some of the exercises, so it doesn’t travel the best. I actually owe the program another day of core synergistic because I tried to do it in a dorm room-sized space one time without weights, and felt like the workout went badly enough that I just as well might not have done it and just did an ab-ripper instead.
The Next Day, all the abs along my stomach and side poke out. It’s a good feeling. (Perhaps this is why it’s one of the last workouts of the program before you take your after pictures.)
Total abs ripped: 6,148
Hopefully, I’m done buying stuff for a week or two, except for protein. $50
TOTAL COST SO FAR: Approx. $1,240
WEEK 9: Bobby does 7,200 crunches
At the writing of this post, I had begun my final month of P90X, which starts off with a First Month workout week, followed by a Second Month work out week, and then repeats that, ending with a final recovery week.
I started off the third month reaching two big personal goals: I did a complete Ab-Ripper X workout without taking any breaks, and I did a really good, complete Plyo workout without taking any breaks.
For the Ab-Ripper goal, I was afraid that it would be awhile before I could do it all without breaks, because my back could never last through the little Bermuda triangle of Scissors/Hip Raise/Hip Pop, which takes place in the middle of the workout. But I did it, and though my form got a little sloppy towards the end of some of the work outs, and though it hurt a LOT finishing up the Hip Hops, I stuck with it. I never expected to get through it all, but, late one night, tired of taking breaks, I just tried to keep going. It somehow worked.
Completing Plyometrics with a hard workout and without a single extra break was equally surprising for me, but only because it happened at 8 in the morning—a time I usually dedicate to drooling. When I usually do Plyo, I stop after the fifth set of excercises, because I think the sports bonus is a bit of a joke and doesn’t do much for me. I’ve done that without breaks for awhile now. But today I knew we’d be traveling from ten in the morning to ten at night, and there was no other time to do my workout. So I woke up at 7:30, laughed at the thought of doing plyometrics, shook the house a bit, and decided early that I was going to go straight through the sports bonus. It was a great way to start the month.
Workout breakdown: SHOULDERS, CHEST, AND TRICEPS.
This is the workout that kicks off the second month of P90X. (Basically, for the second month, all the other workouts are the same, except for two replacement upper body workouts; this one, and next week’s featured workout.) And, right from the beginning, it steps up the intensity, letting you know that your second month is going to require a lot of work. Aside from the month 1 chair dips and shoulder flies, it’s got all new sets of push-ups, as if you expected that Tony Horton ran out of push-up ideas. There’s one armed-push ups, Pike presses (sort of like doing push ups while staying in downward dog position), and, of course, the flash and trash of the push-up world, the Plyometric Push-Up.
Let me tell you about these. Near the end of the DVD, it’s time to do Plyo push ups, and Tony steps up. “Bob’s going to do them on his knees, Vasquez’ll do them hard core, and I’m going to show you extreme.” He then gets on the ground and pushes up into the air, allowing his feet to come off the ground, claps, and comes back down. He does twenty of them. He basically does a push up while simultaneously pushing his feet off the ground, so he’s midair when he does his clap. What you probably don’t realize the first time you see this incredible feat, is that for the previous forty minutes Tony has been doing nothing but checking up on people, maybe getting in one or two reps himself, and not even breaking a sweat. He works a lot less in this workout than other ones, it seems to me. Granted it’s a pretty awesome thing to watch, and after I’ve done my three (Third month update: 8!), I’ll sit and watch him do the rest, amazed at this ultimate body-builder’s stupid-human trick.
Also, this video gets props for including a middle-aged woman who is a lot more like the average human than the circus aerialist Dreya. And that middle-aged woman brings it.
The Next Day, you feel pretty chiseled. That’s the good thing about the month 2 exercises, they really make whatever muscles you do have bulge out.
TOTAL ABS RIPPED: I realized there was a terrible error in my calculations over the past month. The real number is 7,329
Hopefully, I’m done buying stuff for awhile, except for protein. $50
TOTAL COST SO FAR: Approx. $1,290
WEEK 10: The guns (and small arms) show
At the writing of this post, I began the second week of my final month of P90X, which starts off with a First Month workout week, followed by a Second Month work out week, and then repeats that two-week chunk, ending with a final recovery week.
This weekend, one of my closest friends, Andrew Thigpen, came to visit, and jumped in on a few exercise days. Having him present turned on the testosterone-fueled male mindset of me of trying to impress him with how hard I work. The result was the best Plyometrics workout I’ve done yet. I worked so hard I felt like I was going to throw up afterwords…so maybe I worked too hard. But at least I know I can work too hard, you know?
Anyway, as Tony mentions in the videos, having friends around helps a lot in a workout—you give each other support, you have a healthy competition that helps each of you push yourselves, and you share in the post-workout exhaustion of having worked hard and accomplished something. I had that experience with only a few workouts with a friend; I can only imagine what its like with, for instance, people in the armed forces who go through boot camp, and perhaps combat, with each other.
Workout breakdown: GUNS (BACK AND BICEPS)
This is probably the least exhausting workout in the series, at least for everything but your biceps. It introduces some new pull-ups, like the Corn-cob pull-up and the towel pull-up, but otherwise, it’s almost all curls. It’s a nice mid-week break.
Total abs ripped: 8,376
For the final month, I’ll be completing most of my protein regimen to the GNC brand Wheybolic Extreme 60 Shake (which is rated below.) The final phase of P90X cuts the protein regimen in half, I believe in order to stop adding mass and shape up the available mass into lean attractive muscles for the after pictures. So, I’ll get most of my daily dose with this expensive protein shake. $50
Last week, at a Balboa workshop, I had to get a taxi to and from a gym to work out so that I could get my hand on some weights. And this time I was pumping iron in loafers in front of a bunch of non-dancers. $30.
My Other Personal Trainer, Nick Williams, showed me his trick for traveling; he put all of his p90X onto his ipod, and bought an athletic arm strap. He then just listens to the exercises being called off, and if he needs to see what they are, he just looks at his arm. In order to test this, I needed to go to the Apple store to get an arm band for my ipod. I had a gift card, which apparently they could only run off in this one register. That register, however, was occupied for the next fifteen minutes because someone was paying with a check, and the Apple store isn’t apparently ready for that kind of technology yet. The piece of elastic and Velcro cost me. $35.
TOTAL COST SO FAR: Approx. $1,405
GNC WHEYBOLIC 60 EXTREME (CHOCOLATE). After my last experience with powdered whey beverages with the words “extreme” in the title, I was very hesitant to try this particular brand recommended to me at GNC. It’s expensive, looks like a computer in Sweden designed it, clumps in milk, and is actually pretty damn good. Also, it packs in 60g of protein into one drink, and apparently that’s a special kind of protein.
WEEK 11: Bobby get’s Wacky
Over the past few weeks, a few important things have happened. First, I was shopping in the grocery store, about to pick up my favorite $1 food, a box of Swiss Cake Rolls. Over the past year, it has been a ritual that every few weeks I get a box and I was long overdue. But I suddenly thought to myself. “No, I’d rather have a healthy, great-looking body than a Swiss Cake Roll.” It sounds silly, even melodramatic; but anyone who knows what it felt like to say that knows what an important step that was. To celebrate, I got a box of Swiss Cake Rolls. (Just kidding).
The next important thing to happen to me was that certain foods or drinks have become undesirable. My taste buds, now used to other things, find them too surgery, too fattening, or just not at all what my body wants. I’m like this with empty carbs now. Potato chips, fries, and pizza crust seem like they’re just a waste of taste.
Finally, on the workout side of things, my body is now finding exercises not as much of a chore. Perhaps I’m just used to the burn, or getting over the “Oh, crap, I have to workout now!” state-of-mind. I find myself calmly pushing play now, as if it’s just another part of the day.
So, even if my physical results are not through the roof, I am, without a doubt, changing. And that’s pretty nice to feel.
Workout breakdown: CARDIO X
Cardio X is a collection of all the low-impact cardio exercises from the rest of P90X, and the whimsical backup music that comes with them. You’ve got your warrior one through three yoga, a collection of Kenpo moves, a collection of the small jump plyo moves, and a core-synergistics finale. The only new move is Whacky Jacks (“ ‘cause they’re wacky”), but those are pretty fun if no one is watching. All in all, a mild cardio workout. Over the 36 minutes of non-yoga work out, I averaged 130 heart rate, and sometimes got it into the 150s, a pretty good zone for fat burning. But, it’s not anything more impressive than a thirty minute jog—more muscle groups, maybe, but less scenery.
Special Note: There’s a version of P90X called doubles where you add the cardio workout three times a week in the final two months of the program.
Only protein this week $50
TOTAL COST SO FAR: Approx. $1,455
WEEK 12: Bobby sees the finish line
I mentioned earlier that I feared I had made a huge mistake in not following the diet plan. At the time, I don’t think I had made a huge mistake. Now, however, might be slightly different. During a week-long Balboa camp at a beach house with friends, I limited my protein to the meals I ate and the after-work out shake. I didn’t think this would hurt, and thought it would be about right as far as my third month regimen went. However, upon returning home, I noticed…wait a minute, have I LOST muscle mass? I stepped on the scale, and found that I had more or less lost ten pounds somehow over the previous few weeks. A similar friend had also lost wait during the same period. The sad thing is, I’m afraid some of the weight I lost was muscle. My next days pull-up reps showed me I might be right—my numbers were less than the week before.
However, I refuse to think that one week of only slightly less protein, and still doing p90X workouts on schedule would have affected me so much. So, I put this question to anyone out there who might know. Is it possible a week of different diet, but still working out, could destroy a lot of muscle?
The other thing I’d like to mention is that this week, while at the week-long Balboa camp, I began my last body building week of P90X, and how fitting is was that I got to do almost all of the exercises with Nick Williams, the first person who introduced me to the workouts. We also had six or seven other people at the camp join us for some of the workouts, including some hilarious Ab Ripper X workouts (see below). I can safely say that I held my own next to the half human, half clydesdale horse on a lot of the stuff, and would even like to think that inspired him to bring it on some of the workouts. He especially inspired me to work harder, and I had some great workouts with him.
Workout breakdown:AB RIPPER X
Throughout this series, you might have noticed that I’ve kept a count of the “total abs ripped.” That’s because, three times a week, there is an additional ab exercise called Ab Ripper X, which is 16 minutes of nothing but various crunch exercises (11 exercises, 349 reps total.) And, it’s not just abs, but the entire core; your legs and back get a workout, too. It’s also an opportunity for the video production crew to show off Adam, a shirtless black guy who, as Kate says, “is made of nothing but abs.” He is the official goal of every dancer I know who does P90X. “Yep, Adam’s body is what I’m shooting for.”
The first few times I did this exercise, I wanted to do all the reps, regardless of the time. I took an average of 30 minutes the first couple of weeks to get them all done. As I mentioned, by the end of the second month I was doing it a few times with no breaks. My results? Well, there’s a different story. Core Synergistics actually gets me more ripped looking than Ab Ripper, but doing Ab Ripper three times a week defiantly helped me be able to do a Core Synergistics workout.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a few new people step in and try out ab ripper when I do it. It’s slightly actually nice seeing even very fit people sit down and proceed to curse, laugh, and usually give up half way through and just lie there. I don’t mean to make fun of them, ab ripper is HARD. And I’m completely honest when I say how helpful it is to have them around. It’s a reminder to those of us who have done it for awhile of how far we’ve come.
Workout Song: Okay, this is one of the best song experiences. Every time it comes around to mason Twist (the final exercise), I take a quick second while he’s talking to put Animal Collective’s song “My Girls” on my MP3 player. (Technically, I do it before the Leg Climb, because the song has a two minute intro before it gets going.) Then, when the song gets going, it has the perfect timing for the Mason Twists. I hit the mat in rhythm, and even add claps when appropriate. It helps me get through them.
Workout Tips: On the scissor kicks, think about flexing your butt to keep the legs up. And on the mason Twist, try to do it Adam style, by keeping your legs straight (“boat” position.) If I do Ab Ripper a few hours after my regular workout, this is usually possible. I haven’t been able to do it yet if I Ab Rip right after a regular exercise.
The Next Day, I have a new found love of the smaller things, because I don’t have to do Ab Ripper X.
Choice Tony Horton Quote: I imagine most people have Tony’s complete AB Ripper dialogue memorized after three months. “Ab…Ripper…X…Let’s climb our legs.” “We got cruchy frog.” “40 times…we might even do a little extra.”
TOTAL COST SO FAR: Approx. $1,455
WEEK 13, 14 and CONCLUSION
Week 13 was my final recovery week, followed by an additional week of exercises I felt were necessary to make sure I gave the complete P90X program all I had. I owed one Yoga and one Kenpo, not to mention there were a few times when traveling made a some other workouts less than optimal. So, my final week of P90X went like this: Day 1: Shoulders, Chest, Triceps; Day 2: Yoga; Day 3: Back and Biceps; Day 4: Kenpo; Day 5: Legs and Back; Day 6, rest, Day 7 Core Synergistics. I did the Ab Ripper 3 more times, mainly for the after photos, not because I got any enjoyment out of it.
Day 97: CONCLUSIONS
“You have choices in life,” Tony Horton says in one of his non-P90X workouts. “Some people wake up with coffee and bagel. I wake up like this.” It’s easily said, but even easier to think of excuses as to why you can’t work out in a day. The first time I attempted P90X a year ago, when I only got through the first month and a half, I had a lot of excuses for why I needed to skip a workout. One of the things I’m proudest of is that I didn’t give myself excuses this time. Whether I had a 9-to-5 job and full weekends of swing dancing, or whether I was a full time Lindy Instructor who had thirteen hour days at dance events, whether I was sick or tired, there was only two times where I didn’t get in the day’s workout. I didn’t keep up with a few television shows, I didn’t get to see as much of my friends as I wanted, I didn’t sleep in late as much as I would have liked. But after having done it for three months, I can honestly say that it wasn’t that bad; even if my skinny body will take a lot more work before it produces bulging muscles, it was worth it.
Also, it gave me an enjoyable, if overblown, sense of superiority over buff guys in gyms who stopped working out after only 30 minutes.
One of the most important changes that happened to me over the course of p90X is that I stopped looking for an end point. At the beginning, I said to myself, “I’ll get through the 90 days, then, man, imagine the break I’m going to take from working out.” Then, slowly, over time, I started thinking about what I wanted to do next. The imagined break I planned on taking was no longer going to be a month, but two weeks, then one week, then a few days. I want to keep going, especially because I just now feel that I’m getting the hang of working out, and it’s just now becoming a habit, and its one I want to keep.
I originally was going to reward my hard work with some form of (probably close-fitting) clothing, but now I think I’m going to order P90X Plus and maybe buy some heavier weights. Before then, I have a plan of my own devising I’m going to try out for a month, the big thing being it’s all new exercises to give me something new to do. It involves a collection of independent Tony Horton workouts, including his recent Plyo Legs Workout, a 40 minute intense Yoga (yes!), and a new ab workout. After summer traveling, I plan to start P90X Plus. For a person who once found working out profoundly boring and intellectually un-stimulating, it feels good to recognize that my body at least looks forward to working out.
By the way, I don’t think I ever personally thanked Naomi Uyama for the name “P-Lindy-X.” It was a joke name she made up, and it stuck.
Anyway, I’ll be sure to rate any new workouts I try out, and will probably do a smaller, less intense journal on P90X Plus.
Total abs ripped:
Protein for the last two weeks. $100.
While traveling, I bought a water bottle in order to make recovery drinks easier. $5.
TOTAL COST SO FAR: Approx. $1,560
Obviously, most of the things I have bought are usable for quite awhile. I now have a mini-gym, complete with work-out mat, pull-up bars, push-up bars, weights, heart rate monitor, and yoga equipment. My DVD player has served a lot other uses, as well. But, if you didn’t have this equipment to begin with, like I didn’t, I’d recommend getting them to get the most out of your P90X experience. The real cost, however, was in time.
TOTAL TIME COST:
For each workout, there is preparation, shower time, and take-down time. When adding in additional grocery and sports store shopping, I allotted about an extra twenty minutes for each workout. This means that, including Ab ripper, three days a week are about 1:40, Yoga is about 2, and Kenpo and plyo are merely 1:20.
After three months and two weeks of working out, this comes to roughly 135 hours dedicated to working out. Though it seemed a lot when I had to do it every day, I realize that’s only a few days worth of waking hours for improved health and energy, it seems pretty cheap.
Muscular: Around the second month, I increased the weight I was using for bicep exercises by around 5 pounds. Around the third month, push-ups and pull ups became noticeably easier, increasing my numbers greatly from my first month reps. I still can’t do the thirty the guys in the video do, but I’m a lot better off than where I began.
Overall, though, I don’t think my results were off-the-hook for a few reasons. First off, and this is a very important one, P90X is meant to be a sequel to an introductory program called P90, or at the very least, a workout regimen geared towards those who are already in excellent shape. I thought I was in excellent shape because I’m a Lindy Hopper. But I quickly got honest with myself. If we’re not throwing around a partner twenty or thirty times a few times a week, then all we do is a few nights a week of mild to high cardio exercise; nothing that really qualifies as an incredible work-out. So, going into it, it would have helped if I was in a little bit better shape. I also believe following the meal plan to a T would have produced better results.
Also, as I mentioned in one of the posts, I have the curse of having a body type that doesn’t produce a lot of muscle. Basically, I worked really hard to get the results I did, and if you think they are less than impressive, then don’t worry, you might easily get better visual results than me.
Flexibility and Balance: One of the most obvious gains for me was in flexibility and balance. Where once I could barely touch my ankles when I started, now I can touch the ground and am well on my way to putting my entire hand on the floor with straight legs. And, I attribute my cushy gym mat and all of Tony’s balance exercises to giving me much better balance. In the beginning, I could do crane for only a few seconds. On my last Yoga, I did it for the entire 60 seconds without faltering.
Speed dance trial: In order to test endurance, I danced as many swing-outs as I could at a fast tempo.
Results: SUCCESS. In a trial test of dancing as many swing outs as possible as long as possible and as fast as possible, I danced for TWICE as long after completing P90X, on top of which, my dancing was more controlled and I felt my breathing was more relaxed. I even danced at a SLIGHTLY FASTER TEMPO in one of the test videos. (I did not practice speed swing-outs between this time, in fact, at a quick glance, I like the way the first ones looked a little better, so my technique might have even gotten slightly worse.)
Strength Test: Perform two different basic swing aerials with as much power as possible.
Results: SUCCESS. I certainly felt more solid on all of the after aerials, and felt I had a lot more power. Nina, Kate, and two or three other people I’ve done aerials within the last few weeks have also remarked on the difference.
Balance Test: Do as many free spins as possible.
Results: SUCCESS. The video taping process, however, was not. The files were deleted in transit. I noted great improvements in balance throughout P90X.
I was surprised at what might be the most important results: P90X taught me how to push ahead, despite pain, or general not wanting to do something. It taught me how to train my mind to go the extra step. I realized this in dance practices, when, tired and spent, I’d go just a little bit harder, for a few more minutes, and it was a good feeling. And, because of a few mistakes I made in P90X, I knew that the time to stop was when form was starting to go and working on something became destructive rather than constructive.
This has applied to everything in my life; when I’m tired of doing something, I ask myself, how much further can I go before I’m REALLY done. The result is that I feel I’m constantly building my endurance to all things in life.
A Note on Results: A big reason for doing P90X originally is because of how it would help my dancing. I think it’s important to mention here that, obviously, these results were successful physically. But, I did work on it an hour a day. P90X won’t make you a better dancer; but what it will do, is make your body a better tool for your dancing. So, even though I’m going to keep up with the working out, the next big step is to use this cross-training to make improvements in all of my dancing.
Tony and I didn’t get started on the best foot. I called him “Prickishly Annoying” (to my credit, I mentioned he was to such an extent that he often became charismatic), and he bossed me around in my house an hour every day.
But, around the second month, I stopped, well, caring so much, and he amazingly responded by not being as prickishly annoying. By the end of the workout, Tony was more than bearable; often times, he was downright enjoyable to spend time with. Perhaps it was his persistence. He never wavered; he told the same jokes over and over again, regardless of whether or not I laughed. He always pushed me to “Suck it up” during the rock-star hops, and was always apologetic for yelling during Yoga. When working out with friends, we found it oddly fun to quote him before he said, which brought us together in a strange way. For instance, I’m going to use an Ab Ripper quote right now. Tony Horton; “I hate him, but I love him.”
It simply can’t be denied that Tony Horton is incredibly good at what he does. He knows all about fitness, and is ham enough to make a 12 disc series of workouts not at all boring. I now can’t wait to dive into his newer workouts, especially his one-on-one series, where it’s just him and a camera, where I’m sure he’s going to say some hilarious things.
So, even though I started off this blog on the wrong foot, I’m going to end it on the right one.
“Thank You, Tony Horton,” I’ll say. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
I’d like to thank Lindy Bloggers for their support, and Nick Williams for all his advice and help. I’d also like to thank Kate Hedin, for all her support, Marty Klempner, for his advice, as well as Nina Gilkenson, Sommer Gentry, and Abigail Browning for their help in the experiments of the project. I’d also like to give a shout out to all the people who have done P90X with me during the process, for their motivation and inspiration: Andrew Thigpen, Jen Scricco, Javier Johnson, Adam Spleen, Marcus Koch, Barble Kaufer, Abigail Browning, and Nick Williams.
RANDOM INSIGHTS FOR THOSE DOING P90X:
Since I began this project, I can’t count the number of swing dancers who have told me they’re doing P90X. Here are some things the veterans, and I, have learned from doing the program:
Bands. I had a hard time getting great workouts form the bands, but do believe that I am starting to get the hang of it. They actually adding lot of endurance to the arms workouts because standing around with a band is a lot easier than standing around holding 50 pounds. However, I recommend trying whatever way possible to do pull ups on a pull-up bar whenever possible; a pull-up is a full body exercise, and no matter how you use the bands, it’s hard to get more than an arms and shoulders workout.
Ab-Ripper. It took me awhile before I realized what they were doing with the Oblique V-ups that makes them all in anguish. First off, play with the angle your body is from the floor. Finding the oblique sweet spot depends on this angle. Second of all, they go down really low and come up really high. Thirdly, they keep the elbow propped on the floor really close to them to make it harder. Finally, like all the ab exercises, keeping your legs straight increases intensity. Other ways to intensify Ab Ripper X: try to keep your upper body off the ground on the scissors, keep your legs straight on Mason Twist, Let your torso down first and then your legs at the end of each V-F Roll-ups.
Kenpo-X. I mentioned in the Kenpo write up that Kenpo X isn’t the most taxing workout, but there are definitely a few things you can do to get a lot of good exercise done. First off, do Kenpo in front of a mirror and try to get your hips and core into it as much as possible. Kick as high as you can, get as low as possible in your horse stance, and explode with all your movements, trying to find a calm between.
Side-Tri-Rise. I’ve always noticed that Side-Tri-Rises aren’t hard for me like they apparently are for Tony. I talked to Nick Williams about this, who had a similar experience. We came to the conclusion that these should be easier for swing dancers because these are basically swing-out and toss-out arm muscles we’re working. However, it’s also easy not to do them as hard as they do on the video; so, make sure your shoulder never touches the ground when you do them, make sure you go at the video’s pace, make sure you try to straighten your arm for a full rep, and make sure you keep your hand close to your shoulder (the further out, the easier it is.)
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