Monday, May 13, 2013


The month of May has been crazy busy. The first weekend, we were completely consumed with Seth's high school reunion (both for the music department and then for his class). This past weekend, was one of intense travel. We visited with friends in Cambridge, and then visited on mother's for Mother's Day.

Of course, I'm still making time for the important things, like exercise. I did finish up the Les Mills Combat program (quick review: slightly easier than most Beachbody workouts but lots of fun). I decided to check out the free Combat 30 Live workout that I had received because we got the program directly from Beachbody. Not that exciting, I hate to admit. Almost all the sequences were re-used from other DVDs. There were only a couple of new moves (hammer, something about bear claws?). Also, oddly, the workout featured no cool down whatsoever. Kind of odd. But whatever; it was free. I might pop it into the player when I want a quick moderate intensity cardio workout.

The most exciting news, is that I've started P90X. Well, kind of. The thing is the weather is nice now, and I don't want to commit to having to do an hour-long workout everyday after work (in addition to my workout at the gym). The main reason is that I like to go for a post-dinner 40 minute walk during the nice weather, and I don't want to give that up.

Solution: I've been doing the P90X workouts every other day or so. The program is more resistance training intensive, which honestly is what I need. I love cardio and would do it every day, but weights are what I really need.

The structure of P90X has you work a set of muscles in a given workout. (ex. shoulders and biceps or chest and back). You do a set of three exercises and repeat it. You then move on to another set of exercises which you repeat.

The P90X folks are big into tracking your weights and number of reps, which is quite legit. I was able to download the P90X app for free during a sale, and you can easily track all of your reps and the weight you use in the app. You can also check off your workouts when you complete them and indicate the level of intensity. As a bonus, the app has a place to track what you eat. Kind of a nice bonus -- this is the only Beachbody program to have an app, and I find it very convenient. I especially liked that I didn't have to load 90 days worth of workouts into the exercise scheduler I normally use.

I decided that my first time through all the workouts is just a trial, so I have not been tracking my reps and weights yet. I've usually been using between 8 and 10 lbs. I know in some places I might want to go slightly (only very slightly) heavier because you don't do a ton of reps. However, I want to be conservative because you do two sets of each type of move and work a limited number of muscles in each hour-long workout.

So far, I've tried the first four workouts:

1 and 2. Chest & Back and Ab Ripper X: Chest & Back was really hard. My chest is probably  my weakest muscle, and it showed. There were many many push-up variations (wide push-ups, triceps push-ups, push-ups on a decline). There was also work with a pull-up bar or a resistance band (hooked up over a door). For my first time through, I opted for the resistance band. A good move. I will try the pull-up bar next time, but it was good to try the bands for the first run through. This workout was around 55 minutes in length. For those interested in a full moves list, you can view one here.

Ab Ripper X was also quite a challenge even through it was only 15 minutes long. They people on the DVD were doing far more reps of each move than I could manage. I had to go more slowly to maintain good form.  There were lots and lots of crunch variations and some moves that definitely worked my hip flexors, perhaps even more than I wanted. By the time we got to the v-ups, I was pretty much done. Again, a complete moves list can be found here.

3. Plyometrics: I was amazing at this workout! It was all cardio, so I was playing to a strength. This workout struck me as an easier version of Insanity. Some of the moves were the same, but you did things at a much slower pace. There was lots of jumping but, again, in a bit of an easier way than with Insanity. There were jump squats, tuck jumps (done at half the speed of Insanity), some slightly lower impact running moves, and many other similar moves. I felt moderately challenges and definitely worked up a sweat, but there weren't any points at which I needed to take a break. This is a nice hour-long cardio workout. I would do it as part of the P90X program but also just whenever I feel like doing some good cardio.

4. Shoulders & Arms: I loved this workout! This was a strength training workout that make me feel like I was working hard but also being successful. The Shoulders & Arms workout focused on shoulders, biceps, and triceps. We used hand weights and our body for resistance. We would do one exercise focusing on each group (three in total) and then repeat those exercises (here's a moves list). I was very pleased because I was using weights that were almost identical to the woman on the DVD. I used 10s where she used 10s or 12s (which I don't have). I used 8s where she used them or 10s. For the biceps I could probably go slightly heavier. I have 10s and 3s, so I could hold them together and do 13s instead of getting 12 pound weights. I'll have to consider.

I think that doing these exercises is going to be great. I'm glad to be doing more weight work. True I don't really like doing weights, but they are so good for me! I also think that doing this program as a hybrid with Insanity would work very very well. Building some extra muscle should work very well for my obstacle course race in June. 

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