Friday, October 1, 2010


Someone asked me about this on Facebook, so I thought I would share it here. P90X is a fitness and nutritional program that is built around three 30-day phases. You do a combination of weight lifting, cardio, and yoga (the program comes with like.. 15 DVDs). There are three different levels of the program: Classic, Doubles, and Lean. Classic (what I'm doing now) is the original program. Doubles is designed for professional athletes and involves two workouts on some days (cardio on your own in the morning, P90X in the afternoon). Lean (what we tried to do last year) is really designed more for women who don't especially want to hulk up or for people who aren't quite fit enough to do Classic. Ideally you should be able to do 90 days of Lean, then 90 days of Classic, and then 90 days of Doubles.

The premise of the workout program is this idea of "muscle confusion." Basically, if you always do the same workout all the time you'll 1) get bored pretty quickly and 2) you may plateau as your muscles develop to do the work more efficiently. When your brain sends signals to your muscles to perform an action for the first time, you tend to be less coordinated because you haven't fully developed all the neuromuscular connections required. Over time, if you repeat the action enough, you can actually develop NEW neuromuscular junctions so that you have finer and finer control over the motor movement. For example, I can't do all the fancy footwork with a ball that professional soccer players can because I lack those extra connections. But someone who has been playing soccer since childhood and plays very regularly now literally has more motorneuron connections linking their feet and their brain. This allows them to perform the motor movements involved in soccer footwork with greater precision and less effort.

So how does this relate to working out? Let's say I'm doing a basic bicep curl with 10 lb weights. Theoretically, after I've been doing this for a little while with 10 lb weights, I should have grown new myofibrils (muscle cells) and have greater strength. So now I can curl 15 lb weights, right? Yes and no. While it's true that lifting a heavy weight will stimulate my muscle cells to increase in size/number, it will also stimulate my brain to send more connections to my muscles so that the action becomes less awkward and more fluid... ie, more efficient. So in order to keep my muscles growing without getting TOO efficient at the motion, I need to change up my workouts (ie, challenge my muscles with a new motion). This is what P90X calls muscle confusion. Just as your body is starting to get used to performing a certain action, you change and ask it to do something else instead. It keeps you from getting bored, but also helps keep your body from hitting that performance plateau.

Isn't science so super cool?! :)

In the Classic version of P90X, your workouts are structured like this:

Week 1-3: Chest/Back & Abs, Plyometrics, Shoulders/Arms & Abs, Yoga, Legs/Back & Abs, Kenpo, Rest or Stretch
Week 4: Yoga, Core Synergistics, Kenpo, Stretch, Core, Yoga, Rest

Week 5-7: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps & Abs, Plyometrics, Back/Biceps & Abs, Yoga, Legs/Back & Abs, Kenpo, Rest or Stretch
Week 8: Yoga, Core, Kenpo, Stretch, Core Yoga, Rest

Week 9 and 11: Chest/Back & Abs, Plyometrics, Shoulders/Arms & Abs, Yoga, Legs/Back & Abs, Kenpo, Rest or Stretch
Week 10 and 12: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps & Abs, Plyometrics, Back/Biceps & Abs, Yoga, Legs/Back & Abs, Kenpo, Rest or Stretch

The whole program also comes with a booklet that talks about general nutrition for weight loss and then transitioning to a more athletic nutritional program. I started out trying to follow their suggestions, but I am really lazy and disorganized right now. They give you three ways to approach your nutrition. The first the based on portions (ie, they tell you how many servings of which food groups - like proteins, vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, snacks, etc - you should have in a day based on what phase of the nutritional program you're in). That's what we were doing.. but again, I'm very disorganized right now in the new house. The second way is a meal plan approach where they give you a sample week of exactly what to eat for each phase. And I don't remember what the third way is.

Other than giving you general good-nutrition guidelines (like lots of fruits and veggies, less saturated fat and snack foods), it takes away most of your carbohydrates and then slowly adds them back. Basically, you cut out carbs until you feel your performance starting to suffer for it, then you add them back a little at a time until you determine how much is exactly the right amount for you and your activity level. Obviously someone who is very fit and, say, training for a marathon is going to need a lot more carbs than someone who exercises more casually. So in that respect, it's customizable and that's pretty cool.

You can get more information from the company's website (

Any questions? :)

And may the peace of the Lord be always with you.

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