Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday's Workout

I woke up with sore hamstrings, so I decided to go easy on my legs this morning. After scouring my One-on-One set for a workout that requires zero lower body work, I popped in Tony Horton's "Diamond Delts" DVD.

Diamond Delts consists of three circuits of three shoulder exercises -- and each circuit is done twice:

Circuit One (2x)
  • Pike Presses
  • Military Presses
  • 6-Direction Shoulder Flies
Circuit Two (2x)
  • Pike Presses (again)
  • Seated Shoulder Flies
  • Bent-Over Shoulder Flies
Circuit Three (2x)
  • Deep Swimmer's Presses
  • Upright Row / Y-Presses (sort of like a dumbbell clean and jerk, if you were to muscle up the weight instead of exploding down below it)
  • Lying Rotator Cuff Backhands
This was the first time I'd done this workout, but quickly concluded that depending on one's fitness goals, Diamond Delts is either a fantastic shoulder workout or a totally efficient way to kill a half-hour. In some ways, this workout is illustrative of one of the key differences between Tony Horton's Beachbody programs and CrossFit, in that P90X, P90X+ and the One-on-One series are focused primarily on getting you "ripped," while CrossFit prioritizes general fitness over physical appearance.

Yes, Tony also talks a lot about the importance of functional fitness, and a bunch of his workouts do more than just make you look good. For instance, P90X Plyo certainly helps develop power and speed, and Yoga X is awesome for building balance, flexibility and strength. But P90X and its progeny also rely heavily on isometric moves and advocate doing reps to exhaustion -- methods that are terrific for bodybuilding (i.e., developing muscle size and definition), but not necessarily optimal for building power and strength. Instead, the aim is to spend 90 days getting that "ripped" look when you take the "after" photo.

Diamond Delts fits right into this training approach. It's a thirty-minute session devoted entirely to shoulder exercises, and the reps per set that Tony recommends are all in the 8 to 12 range. When Tony flexes his back and shoulders for close-up shots (which he does repeatedly on this video), he's making his point clear: Do what he does, and you can get shredded like him.

And that's fine. Tony doesn't pretend to be ego-free, and I'm not going to, either. I'll readily admit that personal appearance plays a role in my decision to keep exercising regularly.

But keeping up appearances isn't -- and shouldn't be -- the ultimate goal. Getting "ripped" is a nice side benefit to enhancing fitness, but it's not enough to keep me motivated. For me, working to develop my general athleticism--  including skills, agility, speed, power, accuracy, endurance and strength -- is a much more sustainable and satisfying approach to exercise.

Don't get me wrong: I don't regret being introduced to the gateway drug to exercise otherwise known as Tony Horton. But these days, a workout focused exclusively on getting my delts to swell up like a bodybuilder's isn't exactly what I want to accomplish. So I found today's session to be a little disappointing -- mostly because it didn't resonate with me given my current goals. (But also because I'm kind of tired of Tony's and Mason's schtick.)