Chest & Back

The P90X Chest & Back routine was my introduction to the P90X program and it is no laughing matter.  I found out very quickly just how extreme it really is.

There are a ton of push-ups in this routine, so if you don’t like push-ups, your in trouble. Exercises in the P90X Chest & Back workout include: Standard Push-ups, Wide Front Pull-ups, Military Push-ups, Reverse Grip Chin-ups, Wide Fly Push-Ups, Closed Grip Overhand Pull-ups, Decline Push-ups, Heavy Pants, Diamond Push-ups, Lawnmower, Dive Bomber Push-ups, Back Flys.

What I liked:

  • The pace is perfect, you don’t get bored with any particular exercise.  And if your not strong enough to complete a particular exercise yet (Dive Bomber Push-ups are just not in my repertoire!) you are not waiting to long for the next.
  • Lot’s of encouragement.  Tony Horton keeps up an entertaining motivating banter throughout the routine.  Just enough to keep you moving, not enough to be annoying.
  • While P90X is an extreme workout, there are plenty of reminders to go at your own pace and examples of how to make each exercise a little easier.  Don’t get me wrong this is still not a routine for beginners or someone who does not already have a basic level of good fitness.  I was not able to complete all of the push-ups in my Day 1 – Chest & Back workout but with a little modification (putting my knees down) I still managed a great workout.
  • You don’t need a lot of equipment.  While we have a pretty fully equipped home gym (complete with smith machine), each routine uses a small amount of equipment.  Basic equipment throughout the videos include dumbells, a mat and a stool or chair.
  • The workout is slow and steady giving you time to learn the move and keep good form.  This is not a rush and see how many you can complete approach.
  • It’s tough.  While I don’t want to build a lot of bulk, I want something that is going to make a difference and require me to push myself a little harder.  This workout definitely fit the bill, and I think that even over the next 6 months it will continue to be challenging as I’m able to complete more of the exercises at a higher level.

What I didn’t like

  • Push-ups.  OK just kidding but if you don’t then skip P90X.
  • I didn’t make sure to have a list of the exercises printed out before my workout so had to scramble to write down the names of the exercises, my weight and reps.  Make sure to print the P90X worksheet for your workout before you begin.
  • The workout is long – almost 60 minutes.  I’m not used to working out quite that long.  I’m not so dedicated that I like to workout 60-90 minutes per day.  I’ll have to see how long I can keep up this level of commitment.  Again I’ve adapted the schedule a bit, planning on doing only a 30 minute cardio on lighter days so that may make it more tolerable.

How I did

  • Overall I was happy I was able to finish the program, even if I had to skip a couple push-ups.
  • I adjusted many of the more difficult push-ups by doing some on my knees.  I was not able to complete any Decline or Dive Bomber Push-ups in my first workout.
  • Since I could not do straight pull-ups and chin-ups, I used the suggested resistance bands as an alternative and that worked great.

I did wake up sore in my upper arms for the next couple of days but back and chest were fine. Next routine – Cardio X

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There are three different P90X programs or streams:

  1. Classic
  2. Doubles
  3. Lean

The Classic program is the program most people will do.

The Doubles program is, as the name implies, almost “double” the amount of work you do in the Classic program. Once you are into the Doubles program you may do a resistance workout in the morning, and a cardio workout in the afternoon.  Double workouts are only appropriate if you are super fit, or if you have a lot of time on your hands (since you will be working out for more than two hours per day), or you are a serious athlete getting ready for the season.

The Lean program is focused more on leaning out, or weight loss.  This is done by replacing two workouts: In the Classic program you start with a Chest and Back workout (resistance training), and the next day you do Plyometrics.  In the Lean program you start with Core Synergistics (core and cardio), and on day two you do Cardio.  So the Classic program has one more upper body workout; the Lean program has an extra Cardio workout.

I’ve chosen to start with the Lean program (since this is a site about how to lose weight).  Note however that the purpose of P90X is to get fit, not just to lose weight; that’s just a side benefit.

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