cardio workouts

Today I did the full Kenpo workout and what a blast that was.  Kenpo is a style of martial arts and the P90X workout uses a combination of jabs, kicks, hooks, uppercuts, sword movements, blocks, elbows, knee kicks, ball kicks, side kicks and three-direction kicks to work up a sweat.  If you’ve ever taken a cardio boxing or kickboxing class this is similar. I will admit I had no idea what I was doing and had a little trouble keeping all the hooks, jabs, uppercuts and kicks in sync.  But it was definitely one of the funnest workouts I’ve done yet.

What I liked:

  • It was fast moving and fun.  A little practice and you can get the moves down.  I didn’t worry about getting the kicks high at first but found even by the end of the reps I had better control and balance.
  • It’s a pretty good cardio workout. Move and lean your whole body into the moves and you’ll work up a sweat.  The trick is to do more that just move your arms around — get your whole body into throwing the punches and kicks.  I can see it getting easier over time though once you master the balance aspects.
  • The lunges and kicks are great for the glutes — yeah baby!
  • As with all the P90X CD’s, Tim Horton does a good job of working stretches into the beginning of the routine.  While he does add a short cool down at the end of the session I would also recommend you add some stretches at the end of the workout.

What I didn’t like:

  • Not knowing the moves made it a bit hard at first which probably took away from some of the cardio benefit I should have been getting.
  • Cool down and post stretches are a bit short.  You should definitely add in some post workout stretches to lengthen those muscles and help reduce soreness the next day.
  • I think over time I’d want a boxing bag or speed bag to add a bit of intensity (and fun!).
  • I was a bit disappointed with the insert of running on the spot, jump rope moves and jumping jacks (even the X jumping jacks).  This was a bit lame and boring.  Perhaps they are put in to kick up the cardio intensity a bit.  If so, find another way that fits in with the overall fun of the rest of the workout.  Boring workouts just mean you don’t do them well or at all.

How I did:

  • Can you say lack of coordination.  My first time with many of these moves I definitely had the flailing arm thing going on and did not have the best footwork.  However I suspect it just takes a bit of practice.
  • Finished the full 55 minute workout without too much difficulty.

I’m now way off my original ‘plan’.  While I’ve been doing workouts consistently I’ve mixed up the order a bit to suit both my schedule and mood.  S’okay by me though — it still meets my objectives of improving my overall fitness level.  Tomorrow I might try some Pilates (remember my dislike of Workout 5 – P90X Yoga!).  I have some old Winsor Pilates DVD’s I’ve pulled out.  Let’s see how they compare.

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As I near the end of the first week of P90X, I had my first exposure to Kenpo, which is essentially a boxing, kicking and martial arts style workout.  Having now gone through the first week, it’s easy to summarize how the P90X workouts are structured: they alternate between resistance training and cardio work.

So, for example, you do Shoulders & Arms (resistance training), followed by Yoga (some cardio, but also flexibility and stretching), and then Legs & Back (resistance training), and back to cardio today with Kenpo.

As a runner cardio is my strong point (flexibility and upper body strength is my obvious weak point).  So, having never done a Kenpo workout, I was looking forward to it.

The verdict? I was very disappointed with the Kenpo workout.  It seemed to me to be a bunch of shadow boxing, and not much else.  What went wrong?  I’m not sure.

I did the workout very early in the morning, so it’s possible I was tired.  My body felt a bit off, with not full energy, so that probably had a negative impact on my stamina.

It’s also possible that since I didn’t think much of the Cardio X workout, I was not expecting much from this workout, and if you go in with a bad attitude, bad things happen.

It’s also possible that I didn’t “bring it”, to use the words of Tony Horton.  It’s possible that I was simply going through the motions, while not fully engaged in the moves.  That’s easy to do in Kenpo.  Instead of swinging hard and crisp in the boxing moves, you just stand there and flail away with your arms, and you don’t get much of a workout.

This workout wasn’t great, but it’s possible that it was just me, so I’ll give Kenpo one more try, and then decide what I really think of it.

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