Sunday, February 9, 2014

P90X3: Accelerator Review

The transition week at the end of block 1 of P90X3 introduces a few new workouts Isometrix, Accelerator, and Pilates X. (These workouts are on days one, three, and four of the transition week.) Today, I checked out the second of these new workouts, Accelerator, a super awesome cardio strength workout. While it was slower paced, some parts of Accelerator reminded me of what I loved about Insanity -- you can get a great cardio workout and still feel you're working your muscles. Hard.

Accelerator did a great job alternating between standing cardio moves, which involved a bit of jumping, and moves done on the floor in plank to work the upper body. By the end of this workout my shoulder were saying, "Enough!"

One thing I really liked about Accelerator was how much Tony Horton changed speeds during each move. Most moves lasted for a minute, allowing us to start at a moderate pace and then speed up and slow down multiple times. Tony remarked that this is similar to how one performs in sports in real life. Totally true; it was very helpful to train this way.

Here's a list of all the moves in Accelerator with explanations (inspired by the text in the P90X3 fitness guide). My notes about each move follow in parenthesis. The warm-up was integrated into the workout, so the first two moves listed are considered the warm-up for Accelerator. If you want more of a warm-up, you can always do the Cold Start before beginning Accelerator.
  • Speed Salutation: Standing with your feet together, sweep your arms up, swan dive forward, put your hands on the floor, jump into plank, and transition into Upward Dog. Push your hips up into Downward Dog, jump in, and reverse swan dive to standing.
  • Twist and Pivot: With hands together and elbows high, parallel to the floor, step and pivot your feet twisting your torso so that the arms follow. Adjust speed according to cues.
  • Foot Pursuit: Run in place with high knees. Speed up and slow down on cue.
  • Get Up/Get Down: From standing, bend down, placing hand on the floor and stepping back into plank one foot at a time. Return to standing. Do a push-up at the bottom of the move when cued to do so. (This was basically a slow burpee. We did increase pace as we went on and you needed to move it a bit to get the push-up in and return to standing in time, but this wasn't nearly as hard as a "real" burpee.)
  • X Jacks and Punch Jacks: Do jumping jacks with either arms up in a V so the body is like an X or with arms punching directly above head. Alternate jack types and speed on cue.
  • Balance Burpees: In a wide squat, place hands on floor and jump back into plank. Do a push-up and lift an arm into a side t-stand, rotate back to plank and do a push-up, then do a t-stand to the other side. Put your hand back on the floor and jump back up to squat position. (I liked this move a lot. They switched up the number of push-ups and did other slight variations during this move.)
  • Slalom Hops: With two markers on the floor, jump laterally over them, twice to each side, back and forth. (I usually roll up my warm-up jacket when time comes to have a marker on the floor. This was a problem for this move, since you needed two items; plus the jacket was a little tall and wide for such an agility move.)
  • Mountain Climbers: In plank, run your knees towards your chest one at a time.
  • Spin Tops: From a deep squat, jump in alternating directions 45 degrees. Switch between high and low.
  • Plank Walkers: In plank position, follow cues and move left, right, forward, and back. (This was fairly tricky to keep up for a minute. The shoulders and chest got very tired. It was fun to move in all the different directions though since I've only done plank walks left and right before.)
  • Joel Jumps: Lay a towel on the ground. Stand on one leg on one side of the tape. They jump forward, alternating legs. Reach the alternate hand down to touch the ground. Jump over and along the line switching sides and legs. (This move was revisited from Agility X. It's not overly hard. Since the Accelerator workout is harder than the Agility X workout, this move was a nice one for a bit of recovery.)
  • Plank Circles: In plank, crawl clockwise, then counterclockwise, changing directions on cue. (Doing this move properly requires a fair amount of space, which was a bit of a problem for me. I wasn't able to quite rotate a full 180 in the space where I workout. This meant I sometimes had to change direction a bit earlier than the cue. Like the Plank Walkers, this move definitely worked the shoulders and chest because you spent a full minute in plank position.)
  • Roadrunner: In a deep lunge, alternate feet in a skipping motion or in a low plyo jump. Keep low never allowing your head to come up.
  • Double Trouble Climbers: In plank, pull one knee at a time towards the opposite triceps. Lower to forearm plank on cue and pull knee up and out to the side to the same triceps. (This was a fantastic move. I've done a lot of climbers before, but adding the low plank component made this move new and exciting.)
  • Diamond Hops: Place a small marker on the floor and begin and to hop clockwise or counterclockwise, changing on cue.
  • Swimmer's Planks: In plank, alternate lifting your arm and opposite leg. When you lift your arm, performs a front or backstroke motion. (You can modify this move by doing a lift with your arm instead of a front or backstroke. It's actually a bit harder to balance when you do the front stroke instead of the lift. I alternated between doing a lift and a stroke until I got a hang of the form and balance.)
  • Speed Skater: On your right leg, jump to the left foot, crossing your right leg behind you. Alternate between single and double hops on cue.
  • Plank/Sphinx Combo: Start out in plank, then lower down into forearm plank. Alternate between plank and sphinx with additional leg lifts on cue.
  • 3 Squat Hops: Starting in squat position hop three times in one direction, then switch. Alternate between three shuffles in each direction and three high jumps on cue. (This move was fun! I loved jumping as high and as far laterally as I could.)
  • Donkey Kicks: Start with hands on the floor and your feet tucked in a crouch. Kick both feet off the ground and as high up as you can into a V. Lower one foot to the floor and cross the other in front of it, kicking to the side with the same hand as supporting leg in the air. Switch sides. (Woah -- this move is crazy! I remember seeing it on the ad for P90X3 and thinking that P90X3 would certainly be an interesting program. The participants in the DVD seemed to get their legs at differing heights. Tony almost got himself into a full handstand. I was a bit lower with the other two men doing the workout.)

I loved this workout. It was a great thirty minutes of cardio and a nice challenge. I think it was the best cardio I've felt that I've gotten from a P90X3 workout. This might be because I really liked the combination of floor work with standing work, as it reminded me of some of the best Shaun T workouts.

Accelerator, like Isometrix, seems to be only done during transition weeks if you're using the Classic P90X3 calendar. Kind of a shame because I like this workout better than some of the other cardio workouts I've seen in P90X3. For example, I think this workout is much better than Agility X.

This would be a good workout to do on days when I need a quick cardio fix with a nice balance of resistance work. I was sweating at the end and felt I had worked all my systems and muscles. Excellent addition to the program!

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