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October 27, 2008

Week One

The comments and emails I get (most of which come from my good friends on Spark People) often ask about different diet and exercise products.  I do check them out from time to time to see what's good and what's just junk.  One product that I've been getting more and more questions about is P90x.p90x

The P90x program is a series of DVD workouts that you do in specific order to maximize what they call 'muscle confusion'.  The idea is that, unlike other exercise programs where your body learns the moves and then stops getting the full benefit from them, you never do the same exercises long enough for the body to fully adapt to them.  You are switching things out so often that you should never plateau.

In order to minimize plateau effects, I already switch my exercises out every six weeks or so, I was very interested on how they were doing this.  Also, I've been craving more intensity in my workouts as they seem to have gotten flat lately.

So I picked up the P90x series DVDs (around $200/new or $70/used on Amazon.com).  Also, I picked up a pull-up bar that they recommend.  While I can't so the pull-ups just yet, it can also be used as a push-up bar on the floor. 


So this was my first week on the program.  And I've got to tell you, the intensity is really high.  Here's a breakdown of what I've been going through...

Day One - Chest and Back/Ab Ripper

This was a back-to-back workout day.  One for the Chest and Back and then the Ab Ripper X.  The chest/back exercises were very challenging.  If it wasn't for the fact that I focus pretty hard on my chest already, I don't think I would have been able to keep up with them. 

Most of the chest exercises were different forms of push-ups and pull-ups.  So I was glad I got the bar.  Using some sort of push-up bar keeps your wrists straight rather than bending them at 90 degrees and risking injury, all while giving you a better range of motion. 

The one thing I did miss was using free weights.  They used them but not as much as what I'm used to.  

For those of you that are like me and currently unable to perform even one pull-up, they show alternate ways of simulating each move with an exercise band.  I didn't have a good place to anchor my band, so I just used the lat bar on my Bowflex.

At the end of the Chest and Back I was pretty drenched.  In fact I'd already drank more water that I normally do during a strength workout.  Now it was time to move on to Ab Ripper X.

This was something I dreaded.  Admittedly, I don't like to work my abs...so they are the weakest part of me.  I have this fear of over developing my abs.  I've seen people that have done it.  That bulging six pack looks fine without a shirt, but put the shirt back on and you can't tell the difference between a bulging six pack and a big ol' beer belly.

So here I am trying to do these really serious ab exercises with my under developed abs...after an already intense session with my chest/back.  I looked like a fish flopping around on the mat.  But I kept with it and didn't drop out.  Did what I could...pushed as far as I could safely go.

Good for me...

Day Two - Plyometrics

Wikipedia defines 'plyometrics' as:

A type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in a specific sport. Plyometric movements, in which a muscle is loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence, use the strength, elasticity and innervation of muscle and as it was supposed to be surrounding tissues to jump higher, run faster, throw farther, or hit harder, depending on the desired training goal. Plyometrics is used to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, often with the goal of increasing the height of a jump or the speed of a punch or throw.

The P90x definition seems to be to spend as much time as possible in midair.  Because of problems I've had with my knees I've tried to avoid anything high impact.  But with my recent bent toward running, I'm stuck wondering how much I can really do with my knees.  So I gave this workout my best.

NOTE:  If you are prone to knee injuries, you will want to do the 'modified' versions of the exercises.  They are still intense but are much lighter impact.

By the end of it, not only was I drenched, but I knew I'd need to wipe down my mat as well.  This was all sorts of serious intensity.  The big proof was when I got up the next day and felt it in EVERY PART of my legs.  From gluts to calves, I was sore...real sore.  Like I was the day after the first 5k that I ran.


Day Three - Arms and Shoulders/Ab Ripper

Despite being sore, I dutifully got setup to do Arms and Shoulders.  And while you can do this session with exercise bands if you chose, I was happy to see more free weights in this session.  The one problem I had with this DVD was there isn't enough transition time from one exercise to the next.  I had to use the PAUSE button quite often, where I rarely had to on the other DVDs so far.  Of course some if it was just me moving slow because I was sore.  Ouch...ouch...ouch

Like on Day One, this was a back-to-back workout session.  By the time I moved on to the Ab Ripper, I was nearly spent.  Plus being so sore, I had problems getting into the start positions on each exercise.  Again....total fish flop on the mat.  But I did go all the way to the end.

Day Four - Yoga

Okay...I have come clean about this.  I've always believed that yoga was one of the more wussy workouts.  It's just posing in different positions.  How hard can that be?

Well, I want to officially apologize for everything negative that I've ever said or even thought about yoga.  Yoga is hard...and the P90x's Yoga X is intense...really intense. 

If you try this, I recommend you get a good yoga mat.  I put my yoga mat on top of my main mat for maximum comfort.  You might want to get a couple of yoga blocks too as it make reaching toward the floor easier.

NOTE:  I didn't discover this until the next day, but there was an unexpected benefit from the yoga.  I threw my back out about a week and a half ago and was about to make an appointment with the chiropractor to get an adjustment.  The morning after doing yoga, I realized that I'd put it right during the workout. 

Day Five - Legs and Abs

While I have always done a day of leg exercises, there are two that I've stayed away from....lunges and squats.  Of course this is MOST of what they hit on this day. 

By the time I finished with the two workouts, my legs were shaking.  This was the best lower body workout I'd had since I was in high school.

Day Six - Kenpo

Okay...by this point I'm sore from head to toe.  But I tried my best to 'bring it' on this new workout.  Make sure you have plenty of room.

The workout consists of blocks, punches, and kicks...and of course combinations.  I followed along the best I could...had to backup several times on the DVD....and some of the combos I never could quite get. 

The next day brought a new soreness in my lats (latissimus dorsi) from all the punches and blocks.


Day Seven - Rest or Stretching

I had planned on running this day at the Airport 5k.  I had to cancel.  The tops of my calves were too sore, I'd strained my left hamstring, and I could barely walk...much less run.

Week one = sore

What's Next?

I have to do two more weeks of the same.  Now I might not report back again until those weeks are complete and I move on to the next phase.  But that's just two weeks off so you won't have to wait long to find out what's happening.

Progress Report

It's a funny thing. I feel that my body is changing but the scales have a different story to tell.  However, I did pick-up some off session shirts and pants and found that size 32 pants and a size LARGE shirt seem to be where I'm at currently. 

In addition, my arms feel different...and I could be fooling myself but I think I look different too. 

But that darn scale...well...I don't want to focus on that too much.  But darn it, just the same.

Happy Halloween

Look closely at this cat and remember...don't humiliate your pets this season.  They know where you sleep.


"I will destroy them for this..."

NOTE:  Friends visiting from Spark People be sure to check out the home page to get your humor fix.  And those of you that are hitting the site from elsewhere, check out my page on Spark People.

October 14, 2008

Random Stuff (again)

Sometimes I just don't have enough to make a full blown blog.  But I do have a bunch of smaller disconnected thoughts that I like to give time to as well.  So here goes...

On Vacation

Thanks to my annual Halloween vacation, I'm free to go back to the YMCA and attend my old 'Stay Fit' class.  Had a killer workout.  I'll probably be sore for a couple days.  I checked out their website a couple of days ago, expecting that my picture and blurb would have been replaced by now, but found that it was still there....


It was nice to see everyone there again. I even got a couple compliments on my progress.  One member told me that he didn't recognize me at first.  I really miss seeing the staff.  They all seem genuinely interested in talking to me about how I'm doing. 

Run Fat Boy Run

I had pushed my long run up to 9 miles then I messed up my ankle a while back and had to stop for about three weeks.  After that, I've been starting over and increasing my miles again...more slowly this time.  I'm up to five miles on my long run.  Not too bad. 

Last weekend I did another 5k (3.1 miles).  They didn't have chip times so I have no idea how well I did.  I have my gun time but I was pretty far back and it took me a few minutes just to get to the starting line.  But it felt good to run another race after having been out of the game.

The 'Lung Strong' race is this coming weekend.  I'm thinking of doing the shorter 5k option (I'm not ready for the 15k yet).  I'm not decided yet.

Race Day Pictures

I finally located my camera's USB cable.  So I can show some of my race day pictures.  Here's a couple from my first 5k. In this first one you can see me a bit behind the woman in the lime-green top.  I'd just passed several people and was trying to catch up to her on the final few yards.  At this point it was me, then her, then the finish line.


Then here is me using up the dregs of my energy in a last stitch effort to pass just one more person and finish strong.  Notice the Token Fat Guy shirt.....


And here's me crossing the finish line.  Oh...where's number 231?  Crying her eyes out over being smoked by Token Fat Guy!  Not really....I'm sure she's fine.  NOTE:  The displayed time is my gun time.  My chip time was only 33:27.


Now let's look at last weekend's 5k.  I'm the guy in the back in the red/black.  I'd already started my death run.  According to my wife I almost knocked some one over.  Sorry about that.  When it happened, I had thought I neatly side stepped her.  But I was a sweaty mess...so I might have been sloppy about it.  The funny thing about this finish is the numbers.  I'm wearing 902...the woman in the red/black is wearing 903.  Anyway, you can see I'm behind a few people here. 


This one's a bit blurry....I guess I was just moving too fast (joking).  Anyway, I'd pushed passed this group of slow pokes and had a pretty good speed going at this time. 


And 902 passes up 903.....


No finish line shot.  And I did pass a couple more on the way there.  The area around the finish line was pandemonium.  This was a WAY bigger race than my first 5k.  My first race had 463 people that finished.  The one from last week had 819 people finish.  No telling how many people couldn't finish either race.  I saw people drop doing both of them.

Extra special thanks to my lovely wife, Heather, for coming out and taking pictures for me.

Anyway, that's all I have for this week.  And if I don't do another entry before Halloween, have a happy one!


NOTE:  Friends visiting from Spark People be sure to check out the home page to get your humor fix.  And those of you that are hitting the site from elsewhere, check out my page on Spark People.