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Charleston Personal Trainer Provides Advice For Beginners Considering P90X

I frequently receive emails from my readers asking me about my opinion of the popular home workout DVD series P-90X. Typically I’ll refrain from making a recommendation until I learn a little more about their current fitness level, individual goals, and needs.

After all, no workout program will be ideally suited for everyone.

In today’s post I’ll provide some practical advice for those considering starting the P-90X program.

Let me preface this discussion by stating I’m not an affiliate for the product and this will by no means be some sort of a sales pitch. Alright, with that out of the way let’s get to it.

More after the jump…

What kind of workout is P-90X really?

While many people have seen the infomercial on TV or perhaps heard a friend or co-worker talk about the program, it’s important to understand what makes it different.

The workouts in P-90X incorporate a variety of exercise equipment including the use of dumbbells, resistance bands, push-up stands, and a chin up bar. Basically the resistance work is mixed between free weight exercises and bodyweight movements.

The nice thing about the program is very little equipment is really needed. This makes it very conducive for home workouts with even a small space available for exercise.

While many home workout DVD’s focus on just one piece of equipment or bodyweight only movements, the P-90X program provides a lot of variety with different movements. It’s the variety of the movements and the altering of intensity that’s the foundation behind the “muscle confusion” concept that Tony Horton is always talking about.

In reality there’s nothing magical about “muscle confusion,” which is simply a term used to pitch the program, not a new idea. Fitness professionals will tell you that it’s essential to vary the overload stimulus placed on the body in order to avoid a plateau. In essence, you’ve got to switch things up in order to keep making progress.

The program is designed in such a way that the exerciser does have the ability to vary the overload stimulus and that’s a big plus. From a viewpoint of exercise selection and modalities used, the principals are legit.

Instead of promising “quick and easy” results like many infomercial products do, Tony Horton is upfront with saying it will take hard work and focused effort to see results with P-90X. There’s nothing gimmicky about it.

Horton is an excellent motivator and coach who’s stayed true to his beliefs and delivered an in-home workout program that actually DOES deliver results. I tip my hat to him for that and he’s got my up most respect as a fitness professional.

Overall I like the program and use many of the same exercises, variations, and principals with my Charleston personal training clients. But, and yes there is a “but” here…I wouldn’t recommend everyone to jump right into P-90x.

The reality is there simply can’t be a “one size fits all” home workout DVD program and I’ll tell you why…

The dilemma fitness trainers have with making home workout DVD’s that are a good fit for all exercisers and fitness levels…

Any fitness professional will tell you proper workout program design has its foundation in the unique wants and needs of the individual. The “unique wants” aren’t all that hard to sort out. The majority of individuals starting a home fitness routine are looking to lose fat, build lean muscle, or some combination of both.

Designing a workout routine to meet those objectives will be centered around a combination of compound resistance training exercises and cardiovascular work. So far it’s not all that complicated.

However, when you get into the “unique needs” of the individual, things get a little trickier. Each person will simply be different in regards to the most appropriate way to start a fitness routine. Obviously some people will be more overweight and out of shape than others. But it goes much deeper than this.

Before any of my coaches start a workout program with a client in my Charleston personal training studio, it’s mandatory to complete a thorough assessment and movement screen. A wide variety of factors not limited to blood pressure, prescription medications, previous or current injuries, health ailments, and other risks for exercise must be taken into consideration.

Then there’s the whole element of muscle imbalances and movement pattern issues. Quite frequently when an individual hasn’t been exercising regularly it’s common to see muscle imbalances such as upper and lower crossed syndrome from sitting too much.

The long and short of it is each person may need to address specific issues unique to their situation with corrective exercise before progressing to higher intensity weight training.

When making a home workout DVD it’s really difficult to set the intensity for all fitness levels. Yeah sure there are exercise modifications shown and you’ll hear the proverbial “work at your own pace,” but exercisers typically over-estimate their ability to do the movements correctly and the end result usually is one of two things…

  • Injury
  • Frustration, burnout, quitting the workout routine altogether

I can’t begin to tell you how many new personal training clients I’ve met with during a consultation who told me they tried P-90X and experienced one of the above.

Once again, I tell them the program is solid and to hold onto their DVD’s. They simply weren’t ready for it yet.

The time factor with P-90X

Another thing to be aware of before ordering or starting P-90X is be ready to carve out 90 minutes to workout 5-6 days per week.

Yes, you read that correctly 90 minutes! Do you really have to workout for 90 minutes, 5-6 times per week to see a body transformation?

The answer is a resounding no!

I’ve built an entire business model around 30 minute workouts and you can see my success stories page to see for yourself whether or not the workouts are effective. Granted, the majority of body transformations included additional cardio for 20-30 minutes before or after the burst training sessions and on days off, but this was built up to over time.

Rolling out of the gate with a 90 minute workout when you’re out of shape is going to be challenging to say the least. This is a recipe for big time soreness and issues with recovery, not to mention a high burnout rate.

All exercise is going to be a challenge and present some soreness when you’re first getting started. After all most people are starting from a point of previously being in-active.

The point is a 90 minute workout can be a bit much when starting out.

If your new to exercise and just starting P-90X I’d certainly say to progress at your own pace and don’t hesitate to stop the workout short.

Heck, even 15-20 minutes when just starting out is going to be an accomplishment. Over time you can simply look at completing more time with the workouts until you can do the entire thing.

The last thing I’ll say about the 90 minute workout factor is just make sure this is going to be feasible with your schedule. If you don’t have 90 minutes to exercise 5-6 days a week, set your expectations accordingly.

Sure you could always perform the program with the time you have available, but what’s most important is to find a routine you can be consistent with.

Who P-90X is best suited for…

While there’s certainly no age limitations for fitness, I’d say the program is best suited for younger adults who are already exercising, but not seeing a lot of results from their efforts. Younger adults are far less likely to have movement pattern deviations or imbalances to deal with.

This isn’t to say the program won’t work great for someone in the forties and fifties as well. I’d just caution against jumping right into it unless you’re already somewhat fit and have been exercising.

Bottom line is the program is pretty high intensity, that’s why it works so well!

But not everyone is ready to jump right into high intensity exercise.

My advice is to seek the counsel of a qualified and trained fitness professional who can assess your current fitness level and needs.

If feasible you may even want to complete a few personal training sessions to ensure you have proper form and technique on the exercises you’d be doing in the program.

After all there won’t be anybody there to coach and correct you when your training all alone in your living room.

A good coach can tell you what movements you may want to avoid for the time being and what an acceptable modification might be.

Certainly worth the investment in your time and money. Better to be safe than risk injury or burnout.

If you live in the Charleston area and would like a fitness professional to evaluate you before starting P-90X, we regularly do this at Shaping Concepts.

My trainers are very familiar with the program and the exercises that are performed. Even an assessment and movement screen would be helpful prior to jumping in with both feet.

As a wrap up, once again I think the P-90X program is solid and there’s a lot of positive things I can say about it. But as I’ve shared with you, it’s just not for everyone.

If working out at home is your goal, you may just want to spend some time building a foundation for physical activity before going full bore with 90 minute workouts.

Just be safe ya’ll and train smart.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs. Experience the Shaping Concepts difference today.

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Category: Fitness Training.