Thursday, January 23, 2014

P90X3: The Challenge Review

Day four of P90X3 and it was time for The Challenge. I will admit, I approached this workout with a bit of trepidation. I had reviewed my fitness guide and saw The Challenge was going to be all pull-ups and push-ups. Yikes! For this workout you need a chin-up bar for sure.


There were only eight moves in this workout, but they all packed a punch. The workout was done in class P90X style where you did two moves, then repeated them twice. For each set of moves -- pull-up and push-up -- we did two sets of both moves. In general, we spent between 40 seconds and a minute on each move. After each set of two moves, we had a one minute break. Here's what The Challenge entailed.
  • Wide Pull-up: With hands wide and palms facing away on the chin-up bar, bring your chin to the bar. Lower and repeat.
  • Standard Push-up
  • Chin-up: Holding the chin-up bar with palms facing towards you bring your chin to the bar. Lower and repeat. 
  • Military Push-up: Similar to the standard push-up except with hands under the shoulders instead of slightly wider. Elbows go back more than out working the triceps more.
  • Close Grip Pull-up: The same as the Wide Pull-up but with hands four to six inches across instead of wide.
  • Wide Push-up: Push-ups done with hands three to four inches wider than shoulders.
  • Vaulter Pull-up: Hold the chin-up bar with one hand facing you and one hand facing away. Do a pull-up and then lower. On the second round switch grip.
  • Staggered Push-up: Begin with hands staggered, one several inches ahead of the other. Do a push-up. Switch how hands are staggered after each push-up.
  • Burnout: One pull-up (any type) and then three push-ups (any type). Do as many sets as you can in two and a half minutes.


At the end of this thirty minute I was basically whimpering. This was definitely the hardest workout yet. I used a chair to assist me with the pull-ups, but man are pull-ups hard! Everything from the rib cage up was killing me at the end of this workout. By the Burnout, I couldn't even try to do another assisted pull-up and ended up doing lat rows with the pull-up bar as a weight followed by push-ups. The pull-ups were so hard, they left me longing to do a push-up -- a rare thing indeed for a push-up to be the "easy" move. It was fortunate that we had rests between each set to do some dynamic stretching. I usually dislike having a lot of rest breaks in between moves, but here it was key!

I should note that you can modify this workout. Instead of doing pull-ups, you can do lat work with a resistance band hanging from your door frame. This is, of course, way easier, but the work with the chin-up bar is really the heart of this workout. I recommend trying it as best you can. I can't do a pull-up unassisted, but I am working on it, putting as little weight on my legs for support as possible and letting my arms do most of the work.

As killer as this workout was, I am very glad it's in P90X3. I think that being better at pull-ups will be great when it comes time to tackle a tall wall at my next obstacle course race. The P90X workouts are some of the only ones that do a lot of work with a chin-up bar. Since I don't do pull-ups at any other time, I think that this workout is a great addition to my exercise schedule. The Challenge is a workout that I will do again and again and hopefully get better at. I would love to be able to do a few unassisted pull-ups by the end of P90X3.

Tomorrow is another cardio workout, CVX. I think that my uppe rbody will be in a world of hurt tomorrow and I will be very glad to not do any push-ups and pull-ups for a while.

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