Six months ago, if you had described the various P90X workouts to me and told me that this one would be my favorite, I would have laughed at you.
But it is. I find myself looking forward to it on Fridays, and smiling all the way through it on Saturdays. And I’m still smiling and I finished it over an hour ago.
Why? Well, there are several reasons, I think.
One is that I’m just really starting to enjoy doing push ups. You may think that’s crazy, but it’s true. Doing push ups is the most basic measure of body health there is. When a Marine sergeant says “Drop and give me 20!” (or 50, or 100, or whatever it is), they’re don’t mean leg lifts, or crunches, or Groucho Marx walks. They mean push ups.
A second reason is that I think that it’s easier to measure how hard you’re pushing yourself and your progress on this workout than any of the others.
How do you know if you’re improving on the cardio ones? Well, if you’re completely out of shape when you start, and you reach the point where you can make it through the workout without feeling like you’re going to die, then I suppose you’ve made progress. But that’s not where I am. I have to use my heart rate monitor and see how well I’m doing. Even still, that’s more a measure of how well I’m pushing myself, and not of my progress.
For the stretches and yoga, it’s similar. You can tell if you’re improving because you don’t fall down as much and can stretch farther. But, the increases don’t come rapidly, and are often more mental than physical, at least at first.
Even on the other strength training days, I find it difficult to measure my intensity and improvement. They use a lot of weights, and I’m still struggling to find the right weight for me for each particular exercise. And even when I find it, I still can’t measure progress for a couple weeks. This week for most of the exercises on Shoulders & Arms, I did a lot fewer reps, but more weight. A few of them were even the opposite. More reps, but less weight. Hard to measure progress. And hard to measure intensity, too, when you do 3 or 4 reps, and then realize you need to switch weights.
But, for Chest & Back, it’s different. Most of the exercises are just variations on push ups and pull ups. You can look and see exactly how many of that particular exercise you did the previous week, and just do more this week. Every time you do that, you know that you either a) pushed yourself harder, or b) improved. And it’s probably both, but either of those is good. You get lots of endorphins during this workout. And as Tony Horton says, “That’s a beautiful thing.”
Of course, when it’s all over, and you’ve put it all on the mat (or carpet, in my case), then it’s time to start Ab Ripper X.
Tony describes Ab Ripper X perfectly, “I love it…but I hate it.” 15 minutes of pure torture. Actually, it’s not really. It builds up to it, but it builds up quickly. The first couple of exercises aren’t that bad. During the third one, I start to grimace, and it gets worse from there. But hey, there’s only 11 different exercises.
As I noticed last Saturday, my form was not the best this week in Ab Ripper X. Still not sure if that’s an effect of having a couple days off from this workout, or has more to do with having to do it after doing Chest & Back. But Ab Ripper X still kicks my butt, and I imagine I’ll be saying that every single time it comes up. Still, I’m just happy I don’t have to pause the DVD any more. Yes, on the two sit up exercises, most of my “sit ups” are more like crunches, but I’m still feeling it, and I’m improving, so I don’t feel guilty. I’ll get there. Some day.
Oh, one final note for Duane, if you’re still reading this: +5 on all the push ups again today, and +1 on all the pull ups. Have a great day!