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P90x: Weeks 10 & 11

16 Oct 2011

I have one more week left in the P90x Classic program. To finish off the program, I’m reverting to Phase 1: Fat Shredder of the diet plan to optimize results.

As well-organized and soundly developed the P90x program is, I’m not entirely sold on the effectiveness of the program to “take your fitness to the extreme” in 90 days. Maybe it’s because the Doubles program is better suited for me. Or maybe it’s because I started the P90x program after completing the Fast-Forward eating plan from the Cinch! diet.

If the goal is fat or weight loss, I’ve found that making adjustments–even just short-term ones until you reach your goal weight–is more effective than pursuing a specific exercise program. Although exercise has long been thought of as critical in weight management, the benefits of regular physical activity go beyond the scale.

From the P90x program, I have found improvements in strength, range of motion, and focus (thanks to Yoga X, probably now my most favorite routine in the entire program). The single and two-set structured resistance training sessions were a welcome change of pace from the multi-set routines I’m used to. To this day, I still feel sore after strength training and yoga workouts.

What I found lacking from the P90x program was the intensity of the cardio routines. Granted, this may be because Insanity’s routines combining cardio, core & strength put you through the ringer! With P90x Classic, you’re completing a heart-rate-elevating session just twice a week with Plyometrics and Kenpo X: that’s a total of 120 minutes. For some exercisers, both can be high intensity workouts. But over time, as your body adapts, Kenpo becomes a moderate-intensity workout, while Plyo may remain challenging. The first 45 minutes of Yoga X can get your heart pumping, particularly starting out, so if you include that, you have a total of 165 minutes worth of cardio. This fits into the newly updated recommendations on physical activity from the U.S. Surgeon General: 150 minutes of moderate activity (or 75 minute of vigorous activity).

Following the P90x classic program, beginners will have completed roughly 120 minutes of high intensity cardio and 45 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio.The more advanced will have endured 60 minutes of vigorous activity and 105 minutes of moderate work.

However, for even greater benefits, the Surgeon General recommends up to 300 minutes of moderate activity (or 150 minutes of vigorous activity). And P90x Classic just doesn’t make this cut, especially since your cardiovascular system will adapt to Kenpo X and the vinyasas segment of Yoga X. The Doubles version of the program would address this since you add three sessions of 45 minutes’ worth of cardio, bringing your total to 300 minutes. But that means you’ll be working out for a 2 hours 3 of the 6 weekly training days. At that rate, you can get as good, if not better, results from other well-designed exercise programs.

As I mentioned in a previous entry, one of the things you need to answer in order to determine the effectiveness of a program is whether or not it helped you reach your goal. With P90x, my goals were to test it out and see if it helped me improve fitness. I could see progress in strength, flexibility, and focus, but the Classic plan leaves room for improvements in cardiovascular fitness.

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