Saturday 5 September 2009

Nearly 40 and 40 pounds to lose - A Review of P90X Phase I

I have been an undergraduate student for over 20 years now. In that time my weight has been up and down a few times and with it my overall health. The last time I lost serious weight was shortly after starting here at UW. At that time I was just past 30 and in the worst shape of my life. I started slowly, with an exercise bike and riding 10 minutes a day; in under a year I was up to riding it 2 hours every day. Then I did Body for Life based on the book by Bill Philips. I went from 22.9% body fat to 11.9% in twelve weeks. Now it is 9 years later and I am in worse shape than ever before. I gained some weight after getting married and stopped working out as much, and then 4 years ago I tore my rotator cuff and spent 3 years off work, had a year of physiotherapy, surgery, and then another year of physiotherapy.
Over the last number of years I have read many books on health and fitness and though I learned a lot from them, I never seemed able to put anything into practice consistently. I tried doing Body for Life again. I tried some of the programs from Sylvester Stallone's Sly Moves. But nothing I tried seemed to last. Then a few months ago I was at the park with my kids. I saw some fathers struggling to keep up with their children, and while I was not there yet, I could see it would not be long before I would be in that shape. I am going to be 40 in less than 6 months and realized I needed to make drastic changes in my life. A friend at work has a fitness program he had bought and was not using - P90X from It was one of those infomercial products, but it seemed intriguing.

P90X works on the theory of muscle confusion; it has 12 different workout videos and over the period of three phases you will use all of them but one. There are three phases to the program. For Phase 1 and Phase 2, the first 3 weeks you do the same exercises then have a recover week where exercises switch up. The 4th phase you alternate the workouts from phase 1 and 2 twice, then a recover week, taking you to 90 days. The workout routines are:

1. Chest and Back
2. Plyometrics
3. Shoulders & Arms
4. X
5. Legs and Back

6. Kempo X
7. X Stretch
8. Core Synergistics

9. Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
10. Back & Biceps
11. Ab Ripper X

12. Cardio X (used as a less intense alternative for Plyometrics.)
The program can be done in three ways - classic, lean or doubles. Classic is traditional work outs, lean is done to tone up more and doubles is for those already really fit wanting to push it to the limit. The host of the series is fitness guru Tony Horton, who has been bringing fitness programs to us for over 20 years. He is fun, quirky and intense. The videos are fun enough that you want to keep working out, and intense enough that you can start to see results very quickly. The second part of the program is nutrition. There are two ways to do the food - calculate what you need and then do a meal plan from their food lists and recopies or do a portion plan and do your own meals. I chose the portion plan and the classic P909X schedule.

I pitched this three part series while I was in my first week of the program. In part I wanted the extra motivation to stick to it, in part writing about the program and results could help other students think about becoming healthier and living more balanced lives while in school and keeping that balance as they graduate and move on to the next phase of their life. There is a lot of support on the website. You can track your workouts, plan your food, use member forums, and chat rooms to communicate with others and get tips and help throughout your fitness journey.
My results in Phase 1 were well beyond my expectations - see chart for complete details. But in summary I have gone from 34.7% body fat to 21.4 in 28 days. My resting heart rate has dropped by 10 beats per minute. I have reached 7 of 13 goals for the fitness test and 7 of 14 for measurements. Phase 2 will end on September 21st. The next piece in this series will run the week after that.

Over all I cannot beli
eve my results so far. The workouts are a big commitment from between 50 minutes to 90 minutes a day, 6 days a week with an optional stretching routine on the 7th day. The follow-up pieces will run on September 25th and October 30th. Check back to see what transformation can take place with P90X. There are dozens of 12 week programs out there; this is just the one that came my way when I was looking to make changes, and based on the results from Phase 1, I am really glad it did. I feel better than I have in years, I have more energy, my sleep is more restful, and overall I am much healthier in just the first 28 days.
(First Published in Imprint 2009-09-04 the first in a three part series.)
(Graphic courtesy Peter N. Trinh.)
P90X Articles in order Phase I, Phase II, Gear, Phase III, Fitness Options.
(Disclaimer: I am asked frequently if I am a Beachbody Coach, no I am not, I am just some one who has used their products, P90X, 1on1 with Tony Horton and more and liked them and achieved good results. I am not paid by Beachbody or any of their affiliates. You can see my full disclaimer here.)

Other Fitness Articles:Fall 2011 Programs
Workout program March 2012
My Gear February 2012
Fitness My Retrospective

TRX Articles:
TRX an Introduction
TRX Force

TRX Force Tactical
TRX Essential Flexibility

My P90X Series:
Phase I, Phase II, Gear, Phase III, Fitness Options, P90X at 120 Days Out
Health & Fitness Book Reviews:The Primal Blueprint 21 Day Total Body Transformation - Mark Sisson
The Ten Commandments Of Lifting Weights - Jared Zimmerer
Toadally Primal Smoothies - Todd Dosenberry
Caveman Resurection - Jeff Pickett
40 Days to Optimal Health - Dr. Scott Morris
Eat Stop Eat - Brad Pilon
The Primal Blueprint - Mark Sisson
The New Rules of Lifting - Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove
Bench Press by: Sven Lindqvist
Sly Moves by: Sylvester Stallone
Fit for Eternal Life: A Christian Approach to Working Out, Eating Right, and Building the Virtues of Fitness in Your Soul by: Dr. Kevin Vost
Body for Life 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strenght by: Bill Phillips
Lose Fat Not Faith by Jeremy R. Likeness
Living The Good Life: Your Guide to Health and Success by: David Patchell-Evans
Dump your Trainer by: Ashley Marriott and Marc L. Paulsen


Krystal said...

Hey... I followed you here from the Cool Down chat room!

I have P90x, but haven't done it yet. I've done a few of the workouts in isolation (along with various other workout dvds that I have), but I haven't done the P90x program. But I'm so glad you're seeing results!

I'm doing INSANITY right now, and will probably order Rev Abs from Beachbody when it comes out.

Thanks for posting your results so far. I look forward to reading more good news at the 60-day and 90-day marks!!!

Anonymous said...

I would like to first congratulate you on your success in phase 1 of the P90X program. It takes a high level of dedication to commit to such an intense (and time consuming) work out program while simultaneously observing strict diet guidelines. There are some points that I would like to bring to your attention as things to consider passing on to your readers.

Firstly, the results that you are getting are what many would look atas ?unsurprising?. The reason this is unsurprising is because it has long been known that for weight loss purposes, high intensity interval training (HIIT) combined with light to medium resistance training is
the fastest and most efficient way to lose fat. In this context, ?high intensity? is intensity to the point of total failure (and occasional throwing up). The difficulty with HIIT is that self motivation in these exercises is difficult. Without a loud verbally abusive coach, very few people are able to attain AND maintain the required level of intensity. What I am getting at is that P90X?s training program does not seem revolutionary. Rather I see it as a successful delivery system for a program that has traditionally been
hard to swallow. So for others looking to get in shape, there are hundreds of other HIIT, plyometric, and weight training routines out there that will achieve similar results. If you?d like more information, I can refer you to some useful resources.

The other point I wish to convey to you is that while you are still in your P90X program, you should begin to plan out how to maintain your level of fitness and health. The biggest pitfall of a quick results program is that it is usually followed by a gradual drifting back towards old habits that led to the original weight problem. I suggest that you begin to plan out long range fitness goals following this program to continue overall progress in the long term. Important questions could be ?if I was eating out with friends, how can I reconcile this with my nutrition program?, ?in terms of priorities, how does fitness fit into my weekly schedule?, or ?what level of fitness can I expect to maintain without affecting other aspects of my life? All these questions should help you to work out a permanent spot for fitness and nutrition in your life.

I wish you all the best in you venture and look forward to further coverage of your progress.

Lu Dong
UW Engineering

SRMcEvoy said...

Thank you for your feedback. I do appreciate it. I know there are numerous programs out there, even 12 and 13 week programs much like this one. Currently on Sundays my free day I have been experimenting with other video's from the host of this one. My plan currently is to do P90X+ after this, 5 more workouts mixed in with these one's. He has a series called One on One that is a new video every month, on a subscription service. I now see P90X as the the beginning of working out every day the rest of my life. The results are giving greater motivation for nutrition and workouts.

Peace and Strength!
Yours, learning to be
Steven R. McEvoy

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Jeff Pickett said...

Awesome comments about wanting to keep up with your kids. I love hearing about other dedicated fathers who love their children enough to sweat it out a little and be around for them a little longer. Good for you and good for your progress!

SRMcEvoy said...

Thanks Jeff and great and good Blog. Life Isnt Over at 40

SRMcEvoy said...

One of my supports in making changes has been my Coach from Beachbody her has been a source of information and encouragement GetFitInNC. If you go to his site and click Jon you will automatically have him assigned as your coach.

Steven R. McEvoy said...

Still plugging away. Feeling better every day.