Saturday, March 13, 2010

Round 3 / Day 15: One-on-One with Tony Horton - 30-15 Upper Body Massacre + Killer Abs

In just 60 minutes, the One-on-One 30-15 Upper Body Massacre workout video perfectly encapsulates the very best and worst of Tony Horton.

First, the bad: Tony has plenty of time between exercises to indulge in his usual preening theatrics -- which, admittedly, have finally become more amusing than irritating to me. (Tony's like the loud, close-talking uncle who drops in for dinner and cracks stale, vaudeville-era jokes while poking a finger into your chest to punctuate his punchlines; it used to piss you off, but now you just roll your eyes and chuckle at how he can't seem to help himself.) And once again, Tony plugs his overpriced PowerStands, though to be fair, he also points out that if you bought a door-mounted P90X Chin-Up Bar, you're not going to be able to do all the pull-up variations in this workout.

But enough about the negatives. The good stuff vastly -- VASTLY! -- outweighs the bad. I kid you not: This is hands-down the best upper-body bodyweight resistance workout I've come across yet.

Details after the jump.

Why is this workout called "30-15"? Because the entire hour is filled with nothing but set after set of 30 push-ups followed by 15 pull-ups. To keep things interesting, Tony introduces a number of variations on these compound moves, but in the end, all the exercises are squarely focused on pushing and pulling your body weight, which -- after all -- are the best ways to work all your major upper body muscle groups.

After a short warm-up, we dive right into the workout. 30-15 consists of 12 different exercises: 6 push-up variations (again, done for 30 reps per set) and 6 pull-up variations (done for 15 reps per set). Each set is repeated once, for a total of 24 sets. Tony alternates between push-up sets and pull-up sets, so another way of looking at 30-15 is that it contains 6 supersets (of 30 push-ups immediately followed by 15 pull-ups), and each superset is repeated once before moving onto the next one.

Superset One:

We start with 30 good old fashioned Standard Push-Ups:

And then 15 basic Wide Front Pull-Ups:

Repeat the superset.

Superset Two:

It's elbows-in time. Crank out 30 Military (Close Grip) Push-Ups:

And then, because you're crazy, follow along with Tony as he performs 15 Level Pull-Ups, keeping his body horizontal when his arms are extended, and going vertical at the top of each pull-up:

As the image above suggests, Level Pull-Ups are fucking hard. I managed only 10 reps -- with a mid-set break -- the first time through; on the second set, I did 12, but they were spectacularly sloppy.

Repeat the superset.

Superset Three:

Next up: Wide Push-Ups. Ordinarily, these are easy -- especially compared with what you just had to do in Superset Two. But by now, if you're anything like me, you're exhausted at this point. (Not surprisingly, Tony isn't. And he's in his 50's.)

We then proceed to Close Grip Pull-Ups. Tony re-purposes a parallel grip from a cable machine to hoist himself up and over his rafter-mounted pull-up bar.

Looks like an awesome move, but I had to settle for the version of Close Grip Pull-Ups from P90X Chest & Back. (My rafter-mounted pull-up bar is similar to the one that Tony uses in his home gym, though, so I'm thinking about getting a parallel grip to replicate this move.)

Repeat the superset. Ready to collapse yet? Don't because we're only halfway done.

Superset Four:

Diamond Push-Ups. You know them from P90X Chest & Back, but this time, Tony does 'em with push-up stands.

At this point, even Tony's too tired to do 30 push-ups and 15 pull-ups per set. Instead, he dials it back down to 25 push-ups and 12 pull-ups.

As for me, I'm continuing to crank out 30 push-ups with each set, but my pull-ups from this point out rely heavily on the assistance of a chair.

Reverse Grip Chin-Ups are next:

And repeat that superset.

Superset Five:

Start with Staggered Hand Push-Ups:

And then try your damndest to get through a set of Switch Grip Pull-Ups:

Repeat the superset.

Superset Six:

Tony appears to just improvise the moves for the last superset. First up: Standard to Chaturanga Push-Ups, in which he moves from Standard Push-Ups on push-up stands to Military Grip Push-Ups on the floor.

Last move: Alternating Hands (a.k.a. Navy SEAL) Pull-Ups. You use an overhand grip with one hand and an underhand grip with the other. Switch after every few reps.

Finish up by repeating the last superset.

At the end of this punishing hour of exercise, I understood why this workout's called an "Upper Body Massacre." For the first time since Round 1, I'm confident I'm going to wake up incredibly sore tomorrow morning.

[UPDATE: I almost forgot to mention that I also did Killer Abs from the One-on-One series today. It's basically just Ab Ripper 200 from Power 90 and Ab Ripper X from P90X, back-to-back. (Note, though, that Tony does 20 reps of each Ab Ripper X move -- not 25 -- and he forgets to do a set of Crossed-Leg / Wide-Leg Sit-Ups.) Together, these previously-separate workouts hit all major core muscles, from the upper abdominals all the way down to the hip flexors. I'll post more details down the road.]