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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2010 issue 10



"BRING IT" with P90X

With all the questions that I receive about this topic, I figured it was about time to chime in with my thoughts.  It's usually something like... "what do you think about that P90X thing?"... "have you ever tried it?"… “will it really make me lean and ripped?” 

Let me first start by saying that I am in favor of absolutely ANY workout that people will actually do, since motivation is an important key to success!  I believe that the "P90X Movement" stems from the fact that most people just want to be told what to do!  Seriously… that’s why personal trainers are in business.  To really understand how to develop a fitness program, how much of what exercises to do each day, and to keep up the intensity within a specified timeline, requires a bit of knowledge and determination.  P90X takes that piece out of the puzzle and tells you what to do and when to do it.  All you need is a few pieces of equipment, a few gallons of sweat, and loads of desire to reach your goals!  With proven results that entice people to stick with the "program", P90X gets people to keep it up long enough to get into the "addiction" period of working out... where you start to feel guilty when you miss a day.

So what is P90X?  P90X is a very popular weight loss system created by Beach Body, a company that offers other weight reduction DVD programs such as "Hip Hop Abs", "Turbo Jam", and "Insanity".  It is marketed toward men and women to assist with losing unwanted body weight, toning up and “getting ripped.”  The P90X weight reduction system basically involves a series of DVDs that offer exercise routines, online support and a 3-phase nutritional plan. P90X is offered through the official website for three monthly installments of $39.95.  I picked up my P90X set from someone on Craig's list for 1/2 the price and you can find similar bargains on eBay as well.

P90X is basically a circuit training program that is cardio-heavy. You will be doing routines that involve quick repetitions with very little break in between (30-60 seconds max). If you are looking to gain a significant amount of muscle, this program is probably not for you. You will get stronger and develop muscles, but not as much as possible with a comprehensive weight training program. The main goal of P90X is to get you "fit" and looking good.

The key to this program’s effectiveness is stated to be “muscle confusion,” which basically means that numerous exercises are incorporated and encouraged to keep different muscle groups doing different things as much as possible. This way there is no “plateau” effect. Therefore the muscles do not get used to the routines and they continue to develop.  

Diet is an important factor as well and the full P90X program includes a nutrition component as well. Whether you're trying to lose fat or bulk up, a good portion of your results will be from your diet!

The workout programs that come with P90X are mostly named after the muscle groups that they work out. 

  1. Chest/Back - 52:00 - Almost entirely push ups and pull ups.

  2. Plyometrics - 60:00 - Each exercise is about 30 seconds long, but you are jumping around for a solid 50 minutes. This is basically a HIIT workout.

  3. Shoulders/Arms - 60:00 - working your shoulders, biceps, then triceps.

  4. Yoga X - 1:34:00 - If you've never done Yoga before, this will kill you the first few times. It takes tremendous core strength and balance to get through some of the routines.

  5. Legs and Back - 60:00 - This workout is filled with lunges and they will work the heck out of your legs.  The back portion is all pull ups.

  6. Kenpo X - 60:00 - Kicking, punching, knees.

  7. Stretch X - 60:00 - Great for increasing flexibility and reducing soreness from the previous workouts.

  8. Core Synergistics -  This is a tough workout designed to utilize all the muscles in your core.

  9. Chest, Shoulders & Triceps (Phase II) - 58:00 - Instead of a lot of "regular" push ups, you do a lot of crazy things like one arm push ups, clapping and plyo push ups (where you get completely airborne), and balance push ups.

  10. Back & Biceps (Phase II) - 56:00 - It's nice to have a change in the routines during this phase.

  11. Cardio X - This is an optional workout designed for people who are on the "lean" program, meaning they are more concerned with losing fat than gaining muscle, so they do extra cardio.

  12. Ab Ripper - 16:00 - This is done three times a week, and follows the strength training. It focuses more on your core than other ab workout videos.

You are going to need at least 1 hour a day for P90X, 6 days a week. 1.5 hours is more likely when you factor in setup, breaks, and ab ripper. There is a time graph at the bottom showing your progress and how much you have left to go, and a time indicator for each individual exercise.

You will need to invest some money in additional equipment to use this program. The three main things you need are a pull up bar, a yoga mat, and either a set of dumbbells or resistance bands. Without these you can't participate in 80% of the exercises.  Optional equipment for P90X would include push-up bars, yoga blocks, heart rate monitor, sport bottle, and a towel.

Nutrition is key to this program. It is possible to achieve the results you want by not following a good diet, but it will be much more difficult. You can work on your abdominal muscles for three months straight and really improve, but if you don't reduce your body fat, you will never be able to see your abs because they are covered up by a layer of fat. Good nutrition also keeps you from crashing during the workouts.

Here are the three phases of the nutrition program that are recommended:

Phase I - Fat Shredder Phase (day 1 - 30) - 50/30/20 (protein/carbs/fat) The first month is designed to add muscle, so it calls for lots of protein. Although they call it the "fat shredder" phase, unless you are very overweight, you will more than likely lose a higher percentage of fat after the first month, once you have put on muscle during this phase.

Phase II - Energy Booster Phase (days 31-60) - (40/40/20) - Since you are increasing your carbs here, you should have more energy to complete the workouts.  You should start to see a decrease in body fat percentage here if you haven't already. 

Phase III  - Endurance Maximizer (days 61-90) - (20/60/20) - By now your body is used to the program, and all the extra carbs should mean better workouts.

So my overall take on P90X is that it is a great program for people who want to get super-fit in a relatively short amount of time and are willing to work hard to get it. P90X calls for a pretty heavy lifestyle change for many people.  If you're a beginner to exercise, P90X might be a little too challenging.  Beachbody also has a less intense DVD series called Power 90 that might be better to start with. You need drive and self-control to really get the most from the P90X program, but if you put some effort in, you will be amazed at the results.


Partner Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Partner Split Squat

It's almost wrestling season, and even though this exercise is pretty much the first half of a double-leg takedown, it is still very functional for leg strength and power applicable to many sports!  Power lunge, split squat, whatever you want to call it... the resistance added to this motion will certainly burn your quads and really challenge your leg and hip power in general. 


Target:  legs, hips (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals)

Count:  2 count

Description:  Start by stepping between your partners feet with one leg, and staggering your other leg behind by about 3 feet.  Drop down with your head to the opposite hip of your lead leg and wrap your arms around your partners legs, just above his knees.  Your partner should lean over a little to assist with weight balance.  The exercise is performed by driving with your legs and lifting your partner off the ground explosively.  Bring him back down slowly and in control before immediately exploding up into the next repetition.  Continue for the desired reps.


Salt is a compound of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride.  The sodium helps maintain proper fluid balance between the water in and around your body's cells; thus, you do need some sodium - about 1,000 milligrams per day.  Many Americans, however, routinely consume up to seven times that amount.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day (a teaspoon of salt is about 2,300 mg).  You lose sodium when you perspire heavily, and some athletes lose more than others.  Most active people, though, can get adequate sodium from the amounts that naturally occur in foods.  If you will be exercising moderately hard for more than four to six hours in the heat, you should purposefully consume salt.  You should also consume salt if you exercise intensely for shorter periods.  For example, the sodium in the sweat of professional football players varied widely from about 1,500 to 11,000 milligrams during two-hour summer practices (Greene et al. 2007). 

The daily value for sodium seems low for sweaty athletes.  Consuming a low-sodium diet may be less of a priority if you routinely train hard and sweat heavily, have normal or low blood pressure, and have no family history of hypertension.  If you have low sweat losses, however, reducing your daily sodium intake is likely a wise health investment.

Cutting Back
If you want a diet that is conducive to low blood pressure, your best bet is to buy foods in their natural state, such as raw unsalted peanuts, fresh (not canned) vegetables, and so on.  Plan to eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein.  Here is how foods compare in terms of sodium content:

Commercially prepared foods are the biggest contributor to sodium in the diet, so eating more unprocessed foods is the simplest way to lower your salt intake.  (Fast-food eaters commonly consume more than 5,000 mg of sodium per day.)  If you are overweight, try to lose a little weight to lower your blood pressure.  Eating less of the following foods will also lower your sodium intake and may contribute to a greater reduction in blood pressure:

  • Commercially prepared foods such as frozen dinners, canned soups, and instant meals unless they are labeled low sodium.  Processed foods account for 75% of the sodium in the American diet.
  • Table salt
  • Obviously salty foods such as salted crackers, chips, pretzels, popcorn, salted nuts, olives, and pickles.
  • Smoked and cured meats and fish such as ham, bacon, sausage, corned beef, hot dogs, bologna, salami, pepperoni, etc..
  • Cheeses, in particular processed and low-fat cheeses, some of which may be higher in sodium than the regular form.
  • Seasonings and condiments such as ketchup, mustard, relish, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, steak sauce, MSG, and garlic salt.
  • Baking soda, seltzers, and antacids.  Also, some laxatives may be high in sodium.

To add flavor to your foods, experiment with herbs and spices.  Some tried and true combinations include the following:

  • Beef:  dry mustard, pepper, marjoram, red wine, or sherry.
  • Chicken:  parsley, thyme, sage, tarragon, curry, white wine, or vermouth.
  • Fish:  bay leaf, cayenne pepper, dill, curry, onions, garlic
  • Eggs:  oregano, curry, chives, pepper, tomatoes, pinch of sugar.

ref.  Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

It's Go Time!

Trick or Treat?  If you've been one of my loyal readers, I'm hoping that you'll say trick!  Well, I take that back, many of us consider a fully exhausting, gut wrenching, sweat dumping workout, to be a treat!  However, there's still a whole month before Halloween, but as I'm typing this October issue of the eNews, that's really the first thing that comes to mind.

I'm a big kid and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  No, it's not about all the junk food (although I do have a bit of a chocolate addiction).  I'm a big fan of all the creative decorating, the spooky songs, and basically the whole scary theme.  Although Halloween often gets a bad rap because of all the candy... let's look at the positive side.  You ever wonder how many miles that the kids walk/run in one night?  Countless blocks, up and down driveways and sidewalks, for a few hours at least... that's quite a bit of interval training!  Shoot, I'm thinking about putting a pedometer on my daughter this year to see what kind of distance we're talking about : )

As I mentioned, I admittedly have a bit of a chocolate addiction.  However, understanding my weakness, I set a strict rule for myself to only allow myself to have a few pieces on the weekends... and believe me, I enjoy those few pieces!  Have a fun and safe Halloween this year, try to be disciplined with the candy, and make sure to keep up the workouts.  Summer will be here again before you know it! 

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"If I fail, I try again, and again, and again..."
- Nick Vujicic

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