P90X from a Women's Perspective

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

P90X: A Woman’s Perspective

Expectations: I started P90X with the desire to become more fit, stronger, lower my body fat ratio, firm up my lower body for bathing suit wear, and gain endurance/balance!
Background: I’m 5’3” and was a 20 lbs over my goal weight at the start of the program = def room for improvement.
Gear: Not much! I started with 5 & 10lb weights, a yoga mat and a pull-up bar. You can use more/less weights a yoga block and new work-out clothes are always fun! 

Support: Bombshell Dynasty Support Group!

Synopsis of my final thoughts:
Completing P90X has been a true feat of persistence, drive, and stick-to-it-ness. I am very proud of the strength that I’ve gained and the things that I’ve learned about how to keep my body in the best shape I possibly can. However, here are my observations and frustrations.

1. The Learning Curve
There are a lot of things I just hadn’t spent a lot of time doing before the program.
For example, I found out half-way through the program that I was not using the proper technique for pull-ups (something I have little familiarity with). Similarly, having only limited experience with kick-boxing, for the first two phases, I was mainly punching from my arm instead of my full body, and not using my glutes to maximize my kicks. It is sometimes difficult to understand exactly how/which Tony is using his muscles in the video, and if you don’t have surrounding mirrors, it is difficult to see your form, let alone modify! Pull-ups and Kenpo kicks are just a few of the things I had to learn, and had I previous knowledge of the best way to do these, I would have gotten much more out of the program.

Moral of the story: There is only so much you can glean from a 2D screen. Use mirrors! Or, have a workout Buddy critique your form. Take the time to watch Tony do and talk about the move before you try it, and listen carefully to his instructions! Feel free to take breaks to familiarize yourself with the material so you can do it better.

2. Legs and Glutes
The P90X workout focuses A LOT on the upper body and core; and much less on legs and glutes. If I were going to change this program for women, I would have a legs/glutes day instead of one of the shoulders/arms/chest/back days. Plyometrics (and Kenpo, for that matter) is great for your legs and butt, however, I’d prefer to also have a workout that specifically targets the glutes and legs as the main focus – not as overall endurance as the man focus. That being said, I feel like my glutes are stronger, but their strength has not increased as much as my beefcakey arms, shoulders, and back!

Moral of the story: Use Plyo and Kenpo to maximize your leg workouts. Get DEEP into all lunges and squats (add weight whenever you can), and kick focusing on the glute as the beginning of the extension (don’t default to the quads and hamstrings). Also, if you have time (and are crazy), add running. That will really help your legs/butt get leaner and stronger. Im also using Brazilian Butt Lift!!

3. Weight Loss
Weigh yourself every 30 days, but don't focus on the scale!!! A lot of that weight converts to muscle. Measure your inches!!!

Did I follow the P90X diet guide? The answer is yes, yes I did, starting in Phase 2. I went for the “Lean” diet with a slight calorie deficit (500k) and a strong determination. I cataloged each calorie (using www.myfitnesspal.com), and used the portion method with the meal options as ideas to guide my eating. Daily, I ate fresh, organic food (mostly raw veggies, fruit, turkey and lots of Greek Yogurt and Go Lean Crunch! Cereal). I did allow myself a good meal or an occasional beer, but almost no sodas (probably a total of 3 during the whole time), mainly water, tea, and occasional fruit juice (if I was really low on sugar). Listening to your body!!! I started eating more. It is virtually impossible to not eat or to operate on any significant calorie deficit if you “Do your Best” in each workout and have extra cardio three times a week. You need all of those calories (and more)!!!

Moral of the story: Don’t weigh yourself every day. Do your best in workouts, count calories (but don’t obsess about them), eat when you’re hungry (but only eat healthy things!). Add extra cardio (of dancing, running etc) if you want to increase your metabolism more and burn some extra calories during the day. If you start “bonking,” and can’t make it through your work outs, and a carb (whole grain). And, of course, DRINK LOTS OF WATER.

4. Have a Workout Buddy and Keep Pressing Play!
How do you maintain your enthusiasm for this program? It is very difficult to add an extra 1.5 hours of stuff to an already busy day. I have a full time job and have a pressing social calendar. At times, completing a workout was nearly unbearable...however, I had the good fortune of fellow X-er to commiserate from Day 1 to Day 90. Start your experience together, and call each other before and after workouts for encouragement and contemplation on how to achieve better results, use better technique, and make it through the day. 

Moral of the story: Have someone do the workout with you! S/he doesn’t even have to live in the same city for both of you to benefit. However, make you and your work-out buddy follow a somewhat similar schedule, and be sure there are XRewards associated with achieving small and major goals. (ie, plan a trip or event to celebrate your achievement).

5. Would I recommend P90X?
Absolutely! This is one work-out program I’ve been most successful at doing, consistently, at a high intensity for a full three months. That kind of accomplishment is tremendous.

I would recommend it to all ages, body types, ratios, providing that you have enough time to truly devote yourself to it! Part of this system is really trying to “Do your best (and forget the rest),” and if you can’t do that, then you probably should think of another way or a shorter type of work out. Anyone can modify the exercises to suit their intensity level. Even when you get Plyo down, you can always go deeper and jump higher.

6. My biggest Results
Legs: Legs are stronger, more firm.
Butt: Now able to do side-arm-balance with a leg raise.
Arms: Beefcake galore! Do you have tickets?
Abs: getting there!
Shoulders: People stop and stare lol jk!!

Nota Bene: I was NOT very flexible upon starting the program.
Hamstrings: Need a yoga block to get a few more inches in Seated hamstring stretch
Calves: Heels get much closer to the floor on Downward Dog
Back/Spine: Incredible difference.

FINAL THOUGHT: TAKE A BEFORE PICTURE!! You will be proud of your progress, believe me. Even if you don't share it with anyone, despite their yearning, you'll want to have it. Take pictures after each phase. :)