Sunday, March 28, 2010

Why Not Do Another Round of P90X Classic?

"Are you ever going to do P90X all the way through again?" M asked me after finishing tonight's workout. At long last, after doing months of ChaLEAN Extreme (and sprinkling in a mix of Insanity, P90X, P90X+, and Jillian Michaels DVD routines), M's thinking about starting her first 90-day round of P90X Classic. I guess she wanted to see if I might want to join her.

"I don't think so," I replied.

But her question got me thinking. Why not do another round? Plenty of P90X grads have repeated the program several times and continue to see improvements in their overall fitness. And God knows I haven't yet mastered all the moves introduced by Tony Horton -- especially the twistiest ones in Yoga X. So why didn't I repeat P90X immediately after finishing Round 1? And why don't I have plans to do another 90 consecutive days of P90X?

I can think of five reasons.

Reason Number One: I need more variety than what P90X offers.

This isn't a knock on P90X in particular (though I'm sure I'd start jabbing skewers into my ears if I had nothing but Tony's same old jokes to keep me company during my workouts for months on end). One major drawback of all home fitness videos is their repetitive nature. The same is true of Insanity, though perhaps to an ever larger degree. As the Fitness Ninja has pointed out, Shaun T's workouts -- despite being crazy-intense -- keep revisiting the same moves. Yes, P90X had enough variety to keep me engaged for 90 days, but I don't know that I could stave off boredom forever if I had to keep cycling through the same ten or twelve DVDs after Round 1.

Reason Number Two: P90X isn't the most efficient way to exercise. A bunch of P90X videos devote a hell of a lot more time to isolation moves (e.g., bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, etc.) than I care to spend. As I wrote in my review of Shoulders & Arms:
This workout is chock-full of isolation exercises that target just one muscle or muscle group at a time, so if you're already fit, trim, and looking to become a super-ripped bodybuilder, Shoulders & Arms may help you develop visually-separated, symmetrical muscles. 
But if your goal is to build mass and functional strength in the least amount of time, you'll probably want to focus on workouts featuring compound exercises (like Chest & Back). By recruiting more motor units per exercise, compound moves more efficient at boosting strength, torching calories and building muscle than isolation moves. They work larger groups of muscles at the same time, giving you more bang for your buck.
With work, kids, and other obligations, I can set aside only an hour each morning to exercising, so for me, maximizing my investment of time is key. If I'm able to work out three different parts of my body at the same time rather than doing three distinct exercises, count me in.

Reason Number Three: Now that I've whipped myself into decent shape, my priority is to maintain -- not gain.

I'm a big fan of P90X. After all, it got me from this to this in just three months. Those 90 days were all about getting stronger and leaner, and developing a strong base of health and overall fitness. It was about transition. But now, post-P90X, I'm where I want to be. I've met just about all the fitness goals I set for myself before Day 1, and I'm not looking to lose more fat or gain more muscle. (I was lucky, though, in that I was in a "sweet spot" when I began P90X -- I didn't have to lose more than 15 pounds to achieve leanness. I would imagine that if I'd been carrying around more weight, I probably would have stuck with P90X for another round or two.)

By the way, for those of you who've inquired into the matter, my focus on maintenance is also one of the primary reasons why I'm not continuing to post progress photos on this blog. The way I see it, I'm pretty much done with my attempts to "progress" further when it comes to losing weight and gaining muscle mass (though not when it comes to underlying health and overall fitness); if I were to put up new photos, they wouldn't look much different than the last set I posted. I promise you: There's really nothing to see. After all, it's not like I'm going to eventually look like this.

Reason Number Four: P90X is fucking hard.

Ninety days of P90X is not a walk in the park. As I've documented on this blog, for 90 days, my ass was handed to me on a daily basis. Frankly, I don't think I can (or, in light of Reason Number Three above, need to) sustain the high level of intensity that P90X requires. Plus, I've been trying (emphasis on "trying") to go Primal lately. For reasons explained by Mark Sisson in his book and blog (as well as in this interview with The Art of Manliness), he advocates intense -- but short and infrequent -- bursts of exercise, supplemented with lots of low-intensity activity. And I'm starting to see his point about P90X not being sustainable in the long term:
As it’s actually practiced, I think P90X is probably too much to do as a lifelong program. It isn’t even advertised as such, to Tony’s credit; it’s billed as a crash program designed to get you lean in 90 days (which it does well). To anyone currently doing P90X – do you expect to be repeating the cycles into your twilight years?
Reason Number Five: Kenpo X.

I really need to stop beating this dead horse.

It may not be obvious at first glance, but I tried to design my Monster Mash-Up routine to address each of the five issues above. It has plenty of variety, it focuses primarily on compound exercise routines, it's challenging enough to maintain my current fitness level without going overboard, and it contains no Kenpo X whatsoever.

So do I regret having done P90X? Not at all. If you're doing P90X right now, I think that's awesome. Stick with it, and you'll likely end up being amazed by your results. In my opinion, Tony Horton's 90-day program did everything it promised: It skyrocketed me off a fitness plateau on which I'd been stuck for years. In just three months, P90X turned me from a lazy guy with a gradually expanding waistline and a wasted gym membership to a health nut in the best shape of his life. It challenged me like nothing before. And frankly, I'm still doing individual P90X workouts here and there as part of my current regimen.

But that doesn't mean I want (or need) to repeat the full-on P90X experience anytime soon. Given the above, I've decided to make a slight change to the sub-header of this blog -- from "Yet Another Stupid P90X Blog" to "Yet Another Stupid Fitness Blog." I know -- it doesn't roll off the tongue as nicely, but whatever. My blog hasn't been singularly focused on P90X in a while, and now that I'm 500+ posts (!) into this endeavor, I think it's time I formally acknowledged it.