Sunday, February 9, 2014

P90X3: Isometrix Review

Three weeks of P90X3 down, and it is time to change things up! This week begins the fourth week of the program and the transition week, which will take me from block 1 to block 2 on the training calendar. The transition week has a few new workouts and some workouts that I have already done. It will lead into block 2, where I will be doing completely different workouts from block 1.

To recap, the first three weeks of P90X3 and block 1 have looked like this according to the Classic schedule, which I am doing:
Classic Schedule Block 1:
Weeks 1 - 3:
Week 4 (Transition Week):
  • Monday: Isometrix (New workout)
  • Tuesday: Dynamix
  • Wednesday: Accelerator (New workout)
  • Thursday: Pilates X (New workout)
  • Friday: CVX
  • Saturday: X3 Yoga
  • Sunday: Dynamix (or Rest)

I'm kind of naughty, and have allowed myself to get ahead of the schedule, so even though today is Sunday, and I should be finishing week 3, I've already done a few of the week 4 workouts. The first one I tried is Isometrix.

Isometrix is, as the name implies, an isometric workout that has you holding positions for an extended period of time. This lets you focus on strength and balance. The workout seemed heavily influenced by yoga. The moves were challenging, but you won't break a sweat. This is not a cardio workout, and while you need strength to do the moves, you won't be building muscle. Like X3 Yoga and Dynamix, this is a great supplementary workout on days when you are doing another cardio or strength workout. The moves in Isometrix will help you become stronger and more balanced which can support your work in other areas and sports. As always, I hope that doing this workout has a positive impact on my running.

During this workout, you hold almost all of the moves for around 45 seconds. That may sound short, but don't let the time fool you -- 45 seconds can be hard. Try the workout if you don't believe me.

Here's a list of the moves in the workout. I have explanations for each one, explained similarly to the P90X3 fitness guide. My notes about the moves, as needed, follow in parenthesis. All of the moves were done in groups of two. You did two moves on the left side and then two moves on the right. So for purposes of reading this moves list, divide up the moves into sets of two that you do one after each other on the left and then the right.
  • Plank, Arm Reach: In plank, extend one arm parallel to the floor out in front of you and hold.
  • Standing Leg Extension: Standing on one foot, extend the other leg straight in front of you and hold. (I was not able to get my leg very high in this move. Some of the participants in the DVD had their leg parallel to the floor. I was probably at more of a 75 degree angle and had to keep my knee a little bit bent because of my tight hamstrings.)
  • Plank Arm, Leg Lift: In plank, extend one arm in front of you and the opposite leg in back of you. Arm and leg are parallel to the floor. Hold. (45 seconds in this move feels like a million years! I had trouble balancing the entire time, but, of course, found this move easier with legs slightly wider. While they don't offer a modification in the DVD, you can do this move on one knee if you have trouble balancing or can't hold the position for the full time.)
  • Chair with Leg Extended Forward: With your feet and knees together and knees bent in Chair, extend one leg straight out infront and hold.
  • Forearm Side Balance: Lie on your side propped up on your forearm. Push your hips off the floor and hold in a t-shaped position.
  • Royal Dancer: Stand on one leg. Bend the other knee and grab that foot behind you with your same hand as leg. Lean over extending the same arm as standing leg and creating a bow-shape with your back. Hold. (I love this move. It really makes the quads feel a nice stretch. I find that standing in this position is not as hard a balance move as I might anticipate.)
  • One Arm Sphinx: In forearm plank, extend one arm out in front of you and hold. (I had not taken the time to put out my favorite mat for this workout. On this move, I regretted it, as I began to get forearm rug burn, and had Seth bring me the mat. I strongly recommend a yoga or plyo mat for this workout.)
  • Tree Pose: Stand on one leg and pick up your other leg placing the sole of your foot high on your upper inner thigh and rotating the knee out. Hold with arms in prayer position or held above you. (I like this balance move and enjoy doing it with arms extended above my head. When I am looking for an extra challenge, I also look upwards.)
  • Side Arm Balance: This is a classic t-stand. On your side, hold up your body into a straight line with the arm supporting you fully extended. Have hips stacked one on top of the other. You can stagger the feet for greater ease. (At this point in the workout, my shoulders were starting to get fairly tired from all the plank and balance moves. 45 seconds was definitely beginning to seem long enough.)
  • Warrior 3: On one leg, extend the other leg behind you and parallel to the ground, leaning your torso forward until it too is parallel to the floor. Extend arms straight past your ears and hold. (This is definitely a more advanced balance move, but still fairly do-able for me. Plus, I was glad to not be supporting my weight on my shoulders in plank.)
  • Bound Dog: Start in Downward Dog. Lift one hand and grab the opposite ankle. Hold. (Or in my case, get your hand as close as you can to the opposite foot. Doing my best...)
  • Inner Balance: Standing on one leg, lift the other foot off the ground. Close both eyes and balance. (Keeping your eyes closed makes this a much more interesting and challenging experience. I did not realize how much I rely on my eyes for balance until I tried to stand on one leg without them. It was a very curious sensation to focus on balance just by the way my body felt in space and making micro adjustments to keep from falling.)
  • Bound Dog Leg Lift: With wide legs in Downward Dog, lift one arm and grab onto the opposite ankle. Then lift your other leg off the floor behind you. (This would have been a great move to have a modification for on the DVD. I literally could not balance in this move at all. Every time I tried to lift the leg I wasn't holding onto I fell. I ended up just doing Bound Dog without the bonus leg lift. I will have to try this move a few more times to see if I can get it.)
  • Moon Dog: Stand on one leg with the other leg off the floor behind you. Lower until your leg and torso are parallel to the floor. Reach your arms out towards your ears and hold. (I found doing this move against a wall a good way to practice as I got comfortable with the balance. Moon Dog works your standing leg a lot!)

Isometrix was a very interesting workout. I can't say that it was my favorite, but I definitely think it has merit. I likened it earlier to X3 Yoga and Dynamix. I like both of those workouts better than Isometrix, but I see where the isometric movements fit in and how this workout differs. It certainly offers more floor work to strengthen the upper body.

This might not be a workout that I revisit after I finish with P90X3, but it's one that I am glad is included in the set. I think I worked some different muscles when doing a lot of these balance moves. My lower legs were a bit sore the day after this workout probably because of all the stabilizing muscles I was using for the "first" time. I think that this workout has the potential to be one that grows on me. I certainly want to focus on learning some of the moves a bit better in my next time through the workout.

We actually won't see this workout again until the next transition week for the program at the end of block 2, week 8. If you're doing the Lean calendar though, this workout is featured weekly in block 1. I might try to do this workout again before week 8 to see if I can get those couple of tricky moves down. Isometrix is different than most of the workouts I do, so I think it's a nice one to have and a good addition to the program, though I can't say I am too disappointed that it won't be featured overly much.

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