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P90X exhaustive guide and review; thoughts and opinions of a P90x’er graduate | It Starts With Ken

P90X: Extreme Workout So you’re thinking of P90X eh? Well I hope this guide can be of help to you.

When I purchased P90X, I never knew it to be the buzz word in the personal fitness world for the last couple years. So I was quite surprised that when I announced my adventure into throw-up land, many of my friends shared similar experiences of cold sweats, light-headedness and the occasional nausea.

Here’s the ugly truth. Easy, it is not. If you’re not fit to begin with (like I was, with no exercise regimen prior to P90X), there will be times during the first few weeks where you’ll either a.) throw up (or come close to), b.) pass out from exhaustion (or be near or past your body’s limits), or c.) curl up into a fetal position and wonder why you undertook this monster of a program.

Add to the fact that a.) each day is a different routine, b.) you have to keep track of your food intake, and c.) maintain your life that existed before P90X, and you have a potential host of issues that can derail your progress from the lack of planning especially in the earlier phases.

So let’s focus on increasing your chances of actually FINISHING the program, because, let’s face it, according to anecdotal evidence, it’s got a 33% success rate (in terms of completing the program). Personally, it took me three tries before actually succeeding in finishing the program. If that hasn’t scared you yet, read on.

I’ve broken down this guide into seven major areas:

  1. Preparation: Time Saving Tips
  2. Preparation: Nutrition
  3. Investment
  4. Results
  5. Additional Commentary
  6. Resources
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

Feel free to jump around between sections. There’s a lot to process but I hope by compiling all the info I’ve gathered throughout the net into one place, it’ll save you time.

Preparation: Saving Time

I think success with P90X has a lot to do with preparation. Dare I say even more so than willpower. So that’s where I’ll focus my thoughts on, since that has what brought me success with P90X. When everything has a time and place, everything falls in place. Once you’ve prepared yourself for the next 90 days, things become second nature.

It’s all about saving time. You don’t want to spend 5-10 extra minutes each day because you’re figuring out what to do.

P90X comes with a fitness guide that’s handy if you don’t work out in front of the TV (e.g. at the gym or on the road). However, I would recommend using the DVD’s. It sets the speed of the workout, the proper forms and I found Tony Horton yelling at me to be motivational.

For the first few weeks, you’re most likely to be confused as to what routine to do for the day. I recommend having a calendar you have access to and write down your routines. For me, I used Google Calendar synced to my Android. For each day, I knew exactly which DVD to pop in.

Mini Bonus: After 4 days of putting in and taking out DVD’s I decided to RIP them onto my computer. Now I just point and click to save time, using VLC Media Player to view them.

12/30/2010 Update: I used DVD Shrink to rip/backup  my DVD’s onto my computer. DVD Shrink is able to decrypt the DRM protected DVD. A quick search on Google should yield results on where you may get a copy of the free program.

When I know tomorrow’s going to a be a new routine, I briefly scan the DVD to see if I’ll be needing any particular equipment out. Each DVD has a brief section in the beginning on what tools you will need.

I do my routines in the morning* (and from now on forward). My reason, there are far less (i.e: zero) distractions at the start of your day than towards the end (in my previous attempts, I tried doing them during the evening, and that got me nowhere the results I’ve wanted).

And yes, this means you’ll have to get up earlier in the morning. Suck it up. Go to sleep earlier. You want to get super fit right? Speaking of which, you absolutely need at least 8 hours of sleep. Easier said than done though, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’ll definitely notice performance degradation.

I have to exercise in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing.
Marsha Doble

Mini Takeaway

  1. Use the DVD’s (or RIP them).
  2. Post your routines (whether Classic, Doubles, or Lean) on an easy to access calendar.
  3. Get 8 hours of sleep.

*This isn’t a steadfast rule. My main point is, if what you’ve done in the past hasn’t worked out, shake it up. Change things around. This will inevitably help you find a groove that works for you.

Preparation: Nutrition Plan

This is a sticking point for a lot of people, even for myself. I know for the first phase I didn’t really track my intake, and suffered from it with dwindling energy by mid afternoon. Again, planning is KEY here. You want to have food readily available so you don’t have to make choices (usually bad ones at that) at a time when you’re hungry. Since I had to eat 5-6 small meals per day (as recommended by the program), that means preparing food for the whole week usually on a Sunday afternoon. Cook up 4-5 easy to cook meals in large batches, then freeze them. Way healthier than any frozen dinner trays you get at the supermarket and an easier way to track your calorie intake.

To track foods individually for calorie tracking, I use a digital scale. I cannot recommend it enough that I think it should be a requirement. If you want to take your fitness to the next level, this is a MUST.

My typical breakfast never varies that much. I need that consistency for my stomach especially right after an extreme workout. For the other 2 meals, that’s where MRE’s come in handy. MRE’s (or Meal-Ready-to-Eat) can be a protein shake with fruits, or protein bars.

I highly recommend sticking closely to the suggested P90X diet. It ensures your body is getting adequate high quality fuel during those super intense workouts. You’re not going to get great results on a diet that consists of take outs and dine out foods.

Also, by the end of the day, I’ll have drank about 2-2 1/2 liters/64- 80 ounces of water. The recommended water intake is 1/2 of your body weight in ounces. I suggest having a liter sized water bottle. Drink two of those and you’ll know you’ve drank the minimum amount of water required.

The P90X diet doesn’t mean you’ll have to go hungry. It’s the opposite. With the super intense workouts, you’ll be hungrier often and you’ll need food more often. The difference, it’s high quality calories instead of those low quality snacks your boss so ‘nicely’ brings in every morning to work for his employees.

Mini Takeaway

  1. Eat smaller meals, between 5-6 times per day.
  2. Eat high quality sources of protein (the P90X Nutrition Guide breaks it down on how much to take, along with total calories, depending on your metabolism).
  3. Protein shakes are a Godsend.
  4. Drink your water (a glass of water’s around 8 ounces)!

Mini Bonus: I use myfitnesspal.com on my Android phone to track my caloric intake. A bit extreme to some. But for me, I actually need it to make sure I eat ENOUGH food at my required intake of approx. 2,600 calories.

Nutritional supplements are Covered in the Costs Section, which is in the next page.

About the author

Kenneth's a self-confessed technophile, WordPress tinkerer, sweat addict, compulsive list maker, avid photographer, and tea lover. If you wish to get a hold of him, you can do so here, or if you want to follow his professional work, here.

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