The Complete Blog Series is Now in this post
Part 1: Getting started in 5,4…3,2…1.
It’s been too long since I’ve worked out with my personal trainer, L.A. fitness sensei Tony Horton. (Or “T-Whore,” as we call him on Yoga Days.) After completing P90X in May, I worked out intermittently over the next few months while attempting to find a good time to start P90X Plus, the next step. I finally saw my chance, and committed whole-heartedly to begin the 90 day workout schedule in September. And again in October. And finally, in November.
I did have good excuses for having to restart PLUS, including a punctured lung at one point. Though I had to start the program three times before I was good to go, in actuality I was probably getting myself closer to the shape I was in right after my first round of P90X, so I think it was for the best.
P90X PLUS is really only four new full-length workouts and a new ab based workout, and a little pamphlet that gives you your new workout schedule (The four new workouts DO take up most of your days, so it’s not as sales-man-esque as it sounds. They save that for the Total Body Workout DVD.) So, technically, if you want to follow their schedule, you’ll still need almost all of the original P90X discs.
As you’ll see from the write-ups on each individual DVD, the PLUS workouts are almost completely different than the original series. Most are around 40 minutes instead of an hour, they all use time limits instead of number of reps, and almost every single exercise engages the core. I’ll probably spoil most of the final conclusions by saying that, so far, I enjoy doing PLUS a lot more than P90X original for a lot of reasons, and that it’s better for my goals in Swing Dancing for a lot of reasons, all of which I’ll mention in this and the posts to come. (I still believe that you should do the original P90X first, though, to get you to a place ready to do PLUS).
Update on The Continuing P90X Pull-Up Bar Saga.
Those who read the first blog series on P90X might remember that I purchased the Ultra-Super Official Minimalistic P90X Tony Horton Pull-up Bar, only to find that it didn’t, for some reason, fit into the 1909 door frames of the vintage Baltimore row-house I lived in. I then had an opportunity to take it to a beach house I was going to be working out in for a week, and it didn’t fit there, either. Upon recently moving into a new apartment, complete with standard door frames, I have since found that, once again, there is no way to get it to work without a visit to home depot and a loss of our deposit. Luckily, though, our apartment complex has a workout room including free-weights and pull-up bars. Though they don’t have seven hand positions, they, at least, work.
Workout Breakdown: UPPER BODY PLUS/ ABS CORE PLUS
This workout is done twice a week most weeks, and sets the fast pace the new workouts will follow. The forty minute workout is four sets of the following pattern: crazy push-up, not-so-crazy pull-up, shoulder move, bicep move, and tricep move, each workout also adding something extra to engage the core. One is expected to finish the workout by doing the 20 minute Abs Core Plus, a new ab workout that, for me at least, produces much less cussing and murderous thoughts than Ab Ripper X.
“UBP” is, Tony says, what they call the workout. “They” is not the dozen or so people that were in the first P90X workouts, but Tracy, a textbook “hot soccer mom,” and Mark, a pasty-white sweaty shave-headed cop that turns red easily and reminds most of us what we look like working out, lest we ever forget ourselves and imagine that we somehow look like Tracy. What happened to Adam, Pam, Dreya, and the guy with one leg? I imagine the wealthy producers looking at how successful P90X classic was, and thinking that they need to cut down on royalty checks. I imagine one of them harboring a secret crush on Tracy, a mother of 6 (or 7 or 63 or something–it says it somewhere in the DVD) he can never win, because her family is her life. I imagine one of them owing Mark a favor after a Beachbody holiday party and a call to the police.
That said, I don’t have a problem working out with them for five workouts a week. They’re nice people, and work off of Tony well. Speaking of which, I’m very proud of Tony. Throughout the new workouts, he is a lot more comfortable in front of the camera, his jokes and attitude come off in a lot more positive light, and in this series he takes on only the role of a trainer. He never tries to upstage Tracy and Mark, or try to show off how fit he is as a 50-year-old man. He makes fun of his ego in endearing ways, and basically has all of the good qualities of P90X Tony without the bad qualities. His One-on-One workout series show him in a similar light.
As far as the workout goes, you practically need a heart-rate monitor for how fast-paced the moves go. Push-up moves like “Spider-Man Push-Ups” and “Double-Dip-‘ill-Do-Ya”are intense, the pull-up moves less so, and the weight-lifting exercises all follow time-restraints rather than rep counting. I noticed that the times, however, allow for people to get either 11 fast ones or 8 slow ones, so those wanting size or tone can still change their weights accordingly.
Abs Core Plus is almost nothing like Ab Ripper X. You hang on pull up bars for five moves, you stand for five moves, you hang out in plank for five moves, and you sit for five moves. (It’s a little more mixed up than that, though. You basically do 1 pull-up bar move, one stand move, one plank move, and one sit move. There are five sets of those.) The result is that over the past month I’ve been building my abs and core without even realizing it, it feels like. And, so far, it’s pretty damn effective. To give you an idea of how effective, after a few months of not touching Ab Ripper X, I did the month of UBP and Ab Core Plus. For the recovery week, there’s one Ab Ripper X, which I dreaded, thinking I would reach a new level of suck at it. To my astonishment, I did an Ab Ripper X worthy of my P90X Classic Month 3 workouts.
Another note about the Abs Core Plus, is how some of the moves work almost directly to improve certain aerial skills, especially the Woodchopper, which basically has one taking a weight from a squat and lifting it over their shoulders into the air, and the Throwing Discus, which works the twisting “hat-trick” and “Knickerbocker” muscles.
As good as these workouts are for those who have the right materials, they can fall pretty flat when traveling. The bands simply take a lot of getting used to, and you conceivably might have to do the workout five or six times (!) with the bands before you feel like you’re working out the right amount. Something that is neat, however, is that both workouts come with a “trainer track,” which is basically just Tony giving a commentary on how to do the moves better and giving tons of important safety information that you wouldn’t want anyone to miss, for instance, like those who just listen to the basic DVD without the trainer track.
After three weeks of doing this workout twice a week, it’s time for a break with the first recovery week. In the first series, the first three weeks were heavy muscle-building and the recovery week core strength. PLUS sort of flip-flops this by having the first three weeks spend a lot of time on strengthening core and building athletic endurance, and a recovery week of simple lifting, which means going back to our good old friends, The P90X arms and Back exercises. These flew by like a walk in the park, and even though my weights didn’t get much bigger, the effect that PLUS is having on my endurance was obvious. In this recovery week, this tall lanky dorky white guy also reached a new personal record of 13 Plyo-Airborn-Push-ups.
MONTH ONE CONCLUSION
On the whole, I’d say the new workouts move so damn fast that you don’t have time to get annoyed or bored with working out. Which is just what I like.
Since P90X PLUS totally changes the work-out format it used in P90X regular, I will too. Alternate Story-Telling Form, baby. (Which is journalism speak for “I’ll just put everything in a bunch of odd-numbered lists.”)
5 Things That the Second Month of P90X Plus Does
1. Sucks. By which I mean, sucks the life out of me. It might have been the weather, or the holidays, or the Plyometrics, but it was a rough month, work-out wise. I have upped my weights and improved my numbers and my shape some, but it just all-around felt cruddy this month. Month one I would strut to the gym. This month I crawled.
2. Is weird. Along the lines of number 1, I’d find myself getting too winded to do double-dip push ups, but then twenty minutes later I’d be doing the best spider man push-ups ever. I’ve been trying to recalculate my calories and protein and such to make sure I’m eating enough, and here’s hoping next month will be better.
3. Brings Plyometrics back. Month 2 replaces Intervals (see below) with Plyometrics, which I am happy to say I quickly found my old rhythm with. And, even after having done Plyo roughly 30 times so far in my life, I’m still tweaking the exercises slightly to get more burn–doing so gives me something new to look forward to with this old workout.
4. Reminds me that even new workouts don’t remain new forever. The novelty of the new workouts is fading, and I’m excited for another recovery week to change it up. But, after the first recovery day of Back and Biceps and Ab Ripper X, I want the PLUS workouts back.
5. Works. In my first recovery day, I revisited Back and Biceps, the first P90X exercise. I did noticeably better than my final P90X week of Back and Biceps–a sure sign of success. I attribute it more to my core and the push-up speed of P90X Plus than to my raging, almost frightening, guns. The Plus workouts has built up my core and gotten me used to faster push-ups. I think I pushed myself too hard, though, as it hurt a little to breathe the next day (all the chest muscles being sore).
Part 2: Inspiring Words from a Bench Warmer
A Brief History of Bobby White’s Athletic Career
Mid 1980s to early 1990s Played little league baseball as an outfielder prone to daydreaming. (Calvin and Hobbes, my favorite comic of all time, had quite a few episodes about this very subject). Played little-league basketball as “the tall kid who can’t play basketball,” also prone to daydreaming.
Middle school Played JV soccer as a stopper, known and somewhat admired for my daredevil desire to throw my feet randomly at my opponents legs. (Didn’t realize this was actually my desire to dance.) Managed to bench warm an entire game in a politically correct world where every kid was supposed to play every game, and on a team so bad it only won one game that year. Daydreamed on bench.
High School Soon gave up soccer for theater, started doing well in an activity for a change. Decided I was not meant to be an athlete, and was at that dumb point in your life when you think it’s as simple as that. Played chess. The chess master at school was also one of the best soccer players. I daydreamed too much to be good, though I did make some plays that were just stupid enough to be called ballsy. At the end of high school I went out swing dancing with some friends of mine.
College, Part 1 In a wanna-be-Oxford school, I was able to get up at 6 in the morning on three days in a row to try out for crew, decided against it the fourth morning. I was also in twenty other clubs and organizations at this point. Saw Hellzapoppin my first month at college. Decided I was meant to be an athlete.
College, Part 2 Picked up fencing as my PE credit, enjoyed it immensely, and wasn’t bad at it. I also played my part in an inter-mural basketball team against some thug-like seminary students, which were known for throwing elbows, lying about fouls, and generally un-sportsmanship behavior, and probably this very day are baptizing innocent babies with their dirty, heretic hands and possibly damning the poor souls to eternity of hellfire. Here I finally shone in the field of athletics, as I unapologetically threw myself knee-first at every opposing player, and brought a certain element of old-testament retribution to the game. I was thrown out after playing a quarter, if I recall correctly.
Conclusion Some days when I feel like crap working out, I happen to remember what my physical life was like fifteen years ago. I was uncoordinated, unwelcome on any team unless they wanted me for comedic affect, and had such low self-esteem for anything I did involving sports that I didn’t even try to see if I was any good. (It’s stupid, considering how high my self-esteem was for anything art related. I don’t think there was much of a difference for any of us, back then, athletes, artists or academics. I think a lot of it had to do with how supported you were in your endeavors, not what they were. For instance, when I was 18, I didn’t think “There’s no way I can pick a girl up and throw her over my back.” Quite the contrary, I was so excited to do so I was extremely unsafe and dangerous, but luckily those times are over and everyone I threw around is safe. I imagine there were quite a few athletes who simply told themselves they weren’t meant to be good at math, and therefore never even tried.)
Epilogue Today at the gym, I looked at a college-ish age athlete working out, obviously training for something. And, compared to what I was about to do in my P90X Plus, it was nothing. It was striking to think that when he looked at what I was doing, he might easily assume I was a hard-core athlete. I’ve never felt like one before, is all I’m saying.
Workout Breakdown: INTERVALS
The hell does Intervals mean? Replacing Plyometrics for half of the new P90X routine is a new 40 min. full-body and cardio workout called Intervals, where you do a move first in a relaxed, somewhat lazy way, then at medium speed, then full tilt energetic speed, all of it over the course of a minute. You do 11 exercises this way, then there’s a break, then you do them in reverse. The exercises range from lunging moves to plyo moves to core moves, and even two push-up type moves.
What’s so different about this exercise?Considering how much of the new workouts are devoted to core strength and upper-body strength, this exercise is one of the few to really engage the leg muscles directly. Also, Tony spends most of the introduction explaining how an interval workout burns calories and builds endurance better than a straight-up heart racing workout. (Okay, he actually just says it does, he doesn’t explain how). He makes it sound like a new thing, but actually, the original Plyometrics and Kempo were obviously designed to raise and lower the heart-rate, as are all the new workouts, just not as blatantly, I guess.
Is it any good?I do like this workout. It follows the general theme of the new workouts; which is work out fast, keep moving, and change up everything to keep it interesting. It works too, at least in conjunction with the entire program, as I noticed pretty clear improvement almost every time I went back to the workout. It also put me in great shape to jump back into the Plyo workout without any problems.
Part 3: Yes, I’m Wearing A Bra.
May I kindly direct your attention to Exhibit A: Yes, it is a picture of myself wearing a bra, which I did for Breast Cancer research charity, so I’d appreciate it if comments regarding my regalia are kept to a minimum. And yes, it’s very scary photograph, which was taken half-way through a rather impressive shimmy.
More importantly, though my stomach is a blinding whiteness, you can clearly see the light and shadow jig-saw across my stomach, showing the contours of what the jury cannot fail to accept as what is commonly known as a “6-pack.” It’s small and disappears in daylight and on strong exhales, but I now have photographic evidence of its existence.
Regarding the Breast Cancer Research Charity Performance
At London’s Good Night Sweetheart event, the co-founder Trish asked Peter Strom, Dax Hock, myself and a few other male teachers to put on designer bras to show off for an auction, of course to Burlesque music. Though we were obviously happy to do anything to go twoards Breast Cancer research, I think Kate put it best by saying: “Hey Guys, do you want to do this thing that involves you being funny and getting a lot of attention?”
To Work out or Not to Work Out
My first time through P90X, I was militant about keeping on schedule; I think I missed three workouts, and even added an additional week of exercises in order to complete it knowing I gave it all I could. Partly because of backlash to such a strict schedule, I then stopped working out so regularly, and more and more missed workouts, partially because I still have a bit of that old teenage defiance in me: If I feel like I’m forced to do something I’m not looking froward to, even by my own conscience, it makes me really not want to do it.
So, for P90X Plus, I did one of two things:
(1) I decided that I wouldn’t think of it as a 90 Day program with a goal to get to day 90. I instead thought of it as the first 90 days in a program that I would keep for a much longer time; a 365 goal.
(2) Having felt pride in following the first workout program to an X, I decided to not beat myself up about occasionally missing days in this one: I’m busy, on weekends I work long hours, and students/partners require priority over my energy and strength when I’m working. Also, sometimes I get sick, or (still) overdo workouts, and need a rest day.
So far, this change in mental attitude has worked great, in that I don’t riddle myself with guilt if I miss a workout (for good reasons). However, like Mark Twain himself often noted, I can do anything except in moderation. It’s often hardest to work out after a few days of not working out; that momentum is a lot easier to keep going than start. I think this is probably the number 1 reason why people don’t do well with keeping up with workouts. You almost have to be religious about it to keep up the momentum.
So, basically, I’m still, after a year, trying to figure out who to keep up a healthy mental attitude about working out. It’s very important when I realize, though, that my emotional state is not reflective of reality. By which I mean this:
A year ago, if I was depressed (the usual reason fro missing a workout) and really didn’t feel like working out, I might only work out once or twice in a week. Now, if I’m depressed, I might workout four or five times in a week rather than six. My mental attitude is the same in both situations, but I can accomplish a whole lot more today because of habits, confidence, and getting over the fact that working out is a not-fun way to spend an hour.
I think in a lot of my life I haven’t been able to mentally get over doing things I don’t want too, but know are good for me. It feels good to see I’m getting somewhere in fixing that destructive habit.
All of this reminds me of something I think about often when working out: Aside from getting my body into shape, I was not prepared for how much good working out would have on many other aspects of my life. Just as doing a squat is like practicing for a real life scenario where you’ll have to lift something with the knees, the act of working out itself demands overcoming certain parts of yourself that are great practice for when life makes such demands.
WORKOUT BREAKDOWN: Total Body Plus
P90X PLUS schedules the Total Body Plus workout one day a week. Tony spends the entire intro to this workout plugging all the things you should buy to get the most out of the workout. Luckily, the entire thing isn’t an ad. The workout itself, a glorious 45 minutes, (and that’s all you’re expected to do on the day!) simply sort of just adds legs to the Upper Body Plus workout. Push-ups and Pull Ups are present but not overbearing, there are squats a plenty, but it’d be hard to work out so much you’d not be able to walk the next day, which was always my problem with P90X Legs and Back. And, it has a refreshing way of being almost done before you realize it. I’d say the only flaw with this workout is it really doesn’t travel well. Both Pull-ups and Squats are really annoying with bands, not to mention mention balancing on one leg while pulling weights across your body is almost impossible, and all of that’s a good portion of the workout. Otherwise, well done, Tony Horton.
Though, I have to point out something. In the first push-up–the O-Crunch push-up– if I start off at the same speed as they appear to, and end with the exact same speed Mark does when the camera goes back to him, I get in about 6 or 7 less than he says he gets in. And this move is only 38 seconds–which means he would have to fly to get those push-ups in, then all of a sudden slow down when the camera goes back to him. Something’s suspicious.
Part 4: The Code of the Elementary School Playground
Bobby has recently finished his 90+ day P90X Plus program. These are his concluding thoughts on the PLUS program.
A year after I began working out hard-core with the first P90X program, I realized I have come a long way in my mental attitude towards working out. The physical results are obvious for me, but as I’ve mentioned before, it’s the mental changes that are probably the most important, especially since the only lasting power the physical changes have is dependent on my mental attitude. I found P90X PLUS, for me, at least, was an easier program to do mentally than the original. The downside is now, I’m spoiled by the forty minute workouts, and it’s hard for me to go back to a P90X classic day. But that’s only one of the differences between the programs:
Why PLUS is better than Classic P90X
1. The workouts are shorter. P90X regular had so many hour and a half days, that, along with showering and preparation,made it almost impossible to do anything BUT workout. Granted, it was only for three months you’re expected to keep that schedule, but I’m now looking for long-term workout programs, and I picture myself going back to PLUS a lot more often than the classic.
2. Every exercise switches up moves all the time. There’s no hour of doing nothing but push-ups and pull-ups, for instance. (I must add, though, I actually enjoy the original workouts for the fact that you fee like you accomplished something great by simply finishing the workout.)
3. Every move is geared towards building your core; and every work out is built towards building your cardio and fat-burning endurance. There was no question that my core, balance, and athletic endurance were better after PLUS than classic.
Why P90X CLASSIC is better than PLUS.
1. You get better bulk with Classic. A lot of classic is weight-lifting 101. It’s a lot better at building bulk than PLUS, whose time-based reps make for better leanness.
2. Classic has a wider range of workouts. Whereas PLUS has shorter workouts, you do them more often, and there’s only so many times you can do one workout before it starts to get stale and you look forward to working out even less than normal. Classic has twelve exercises, though, and just as you start to get tired of one, you move on to another.
3. For swing dancers, you can’t beat Plyo and Legs/Back Though Intervals PLUS and Total Body PLUS have a lot to offer swing dancers in terms of cross-training, if you want to be a guy who can throw a girl or make it through a fast song jumping and smiling, there’s no better workouts than Classic Plyometrics and Legs/Back.
4. You can’t do PLUS near as good without it. As they mention in the literature they email me every week, P90X Classic is not meant to have any particular focus; it’s not an athletic builder like PLUS, it’s not the ideal body toning that most women look for, and it’s not even geared towards incredible body building and bulking up. It’s a starting point, a way of getting your body a little bit of everything it needs before you start targeting on your goals.
Overall, that’s probably my main advice to anyone wondering if they should do PLUS over Classic; If you’re looking for something to give you more fat-burning/athletic results, try out PLUS. If you want to bulk up, there are specific ways you can do P90X Classic to maximize bulk. (It does involve you signing up for the P90X newsletter, though.)
Personal P90X PLUS moment of Glory
My apartment complex’s gym is small, so I try to workout when no one else is there, like noon or 9 p.m. so I can move everything out of the way and set up P90X camp. However, I was halfway through my workout one time when someone came in with their personal trainer for their session. I moved my stuff out of the way and continued to work out in my corner while I listened to the trainer give instructions to his client.
The trainer would demonstrate a push-up exercise, and ask his client to do ten. The client tried one, then complained and moaned, basically saying the trainer was crazy to ask him to do that much physical work. This guy complained so much that if I wrote a character in a novel that did as much, people would think he was a terribly-written character; no one would complain that much. This client was a man in his thirties, not really overweight, and a person who could easily put on muscle if he wanted to.
I finished my DVDs, pretty spent myself, and had noticed the other guy and the trainer were eye-ing me every now and then in some of the workouts I was doing. The trainer, probably because he was bored, and the client, probably because he thought I was crazy. Starting to pack up my stuff, the client’s moaning was at an all-time-high. Something in me stirred. I was immediately back in third grade on the playground, being picked almost last for dodgeball.
So, taking a cue from the code of the elementary school play ground, I quietly got down on the ground and proceeded to break my personal record of Plyometric clap push-ups by doing seventeen of them. I did it with an air of boredom, as if this was how I finished up every workout I do. These are from the p90x classic series, where you do a push-up and lift your feet and hands into the air, and clap while your body’s in midair before landing. Even though they’re not quite as hard as they look, they look really impressive. I finished them, got to my feet, and noticed the moaning man was just sort of staring at me. His trainer, I swear, asked me if I needed a trainer.
The Mental Work-Out
The fact that I could, when exhausted, do seventeen of those plyo push-ups is a good reminder of how much working out is all mental. Working out smart is much more important than working out hard, as anyone who’s ever tried to move a body knows. Making sure you push through certain workout pain but give up before other work out pain is a mental game. Realizing you are doing something almost solely for results that will come later, often much later, takes psychological power, not physical power.
Recently, I know a lot of people who tell me they are starting it, but I hardly ever hear of their continued progress. They break down, they realize it’s quite a large undertaking. (And it IS.) At the beginning, a few years ago, I too dabbled with P90X, and ultimately decided I didn’t have enough time to make it a priority. Then a friend of mine said “I’m the busiest person I know, and I still stick to the schedule,” and said it with an air of “so I don’t want to hear your excuses.” My first reaction was anger–what did he know about how busy I was? But I soon realized, regardless of who was busier, he was right.
If you really want to change, you MAKE time to work out. You Push play. And of course, it isn’t easy. But at least once you push play, half the mental battle is over. To this day I am very proud of how I stuck to the original program and made time to do it. That memory has continually renewed my spirits in tackling new projects.
So if you want to do P90X, or do PLUS, prepare mentally: Catch yourself if you find yourself looking for excuses NOT to workout. Plan your workout schedule for the next day before it happens, and try everything in your power to get it in; put on your gym clothes if you find it gets you in the mood; start off each workout by reading something inspirational, or looking at pictures of other people’s before and after pics (there’s thousands on the internet). Challenge a friend to do it with you, keeping in touch to talk about the experience. Reinforce yourself positively, not negatively: If you only make it through half a workout, but did your best, don’t beat yourself up for not making your goals. You worked out far more that day than you would have otherwise.
And, when you’re staring a beast like P90X in the eye, know deep in your heart that you can do it. But don’t stop there. Do it.
Workout Breakdown: Kempo-X Plus
As far as I can tell, there isn’t much reason to ever do the original P90X Kenpo X again, unless you just get bored with Kempo Plus. The Plus program is shorter, gets you sweating, and allows you to do more fun moves than the original Kenpo. I could do without the “throwing knives” move, which I can’t help but see as a pretty worthless recovery move following the high-energy Gladiator, but otherwise, it’s a great improvement on Kenpo.
Next up, as far as workouts go, I’ll being doing a few pieces on some of Tony Horton’s One on One workouts, which were made to freshen up the P90X schedule for people wanting new workouts. Also, at some point in the future I’m thinking of doing Insanity, known as “P90X’s evil twin brother.” It’s 60 days, though, instead of 90, and is done by Beachbody, who also did P90X. It is a weightless program, which means it’s main goal is probably muscle tone and cardio shape–results women tend to look for most in looking for an exercise program. For that one, I would love to have some of you guys do it on the same schedule, and help write about it. To give a different point of view (and help keep me motivated.)
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[…] P-LINDY-X PLUS: Bobby’s Complete P90X PLUS Blog. – Luckily, though, our apartment complex has a workout room including free-weights … thoughts than Ab Ripper X. “UBP” is, Tony says, what they call the workout. “They” is not the dozen or so people that were in the first P90X workouts, but … […]