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P90X Workout Secrets

P90X Video Workout Session

Picture courtesy of BeachBody

Got Tony Horton’s P90X fitness DVD’s and having a hard time making it through the workouts?  When Tony’s cheerfully counting out the reps and everybody on the screen is smiling and following right along with no problem, are you flat on your back gasping for air?  Well, you’re not the only one that’s wondered how in the world anyone can possibly make it through 60 minutes of P90X without suffering a stroke.

Although this is my 4th time through the program, I still struggle.  I hate it when Tony’s doing bicep curls with 45 pound weights and pumping them out counting 1-2-3-4 like a military Drill Sergeant.  Meanwhile,  I’ve got half the weight and slowly counting ooonnnnneeee, gasp, gasp, ttttwwwwwoooo, gasp, gasp, and so on.

There’s no doubt that this is a tough workout – but then you knew this going in.  So let me share some of the workout “secrets” that allow me to make it through an entire P90X workout without passing out.

Secret # 1.  Take Mini-Breaks.  When you first start out, it’s critical that you pace yourself and take as many 30 sec to 1 minute breaks as you need in between the exercises.  Many of the workouts, especially those with weights, consist of 4-5 exercises that you repeat making a total of 8-10 sets before Tony calls a break for anywhere from 30 seconds to a full minute.  That’s not enough when you’re first starting out because you haven’t built up your cardio yet.  If you’re “bringing the intensity” like Tony wants you to, you need to hit the “Pause” button and take what he calls “mini-breaks” after each set.  As you build your cardio, you’ll be able to reduce the number and length of your  mini-breaks.

When I started, it usually  took  me an extra 15-20 minutes to finish a routine because of all the extra breaks I had to take.  But here’s the real secret – don’t let your breaks last more than 1 minute because you’ll start to cool down.  Your break should last just long enough for you to catch your breath before you hit “Play” and jump right back in – which brings me to the next point.

Secret # 2.  Breathe.  The P90X workouts are as much cardio workouts as strength workouts so make sure you don’t hold your breath through any of the exercises.  Take deep, full breaths in order to completely fill your lungs with the oxygen your muscles need to keep going as well as to fully expel the waste gases (mainly CO2) from your body.

The key to taking a deep breath is to maintain a straight posture.  When you’re tired, it’s natural to want to slump over.  However when you do this, your lungs are compressed resulting in shallow breaths.  Your lungs can’t get rid of all the CO2 and bring in enough fresh air to feed your muscles if you’re taking shallow breaths.   So stop, straighten your spine, and take as many full, deep breaths as you can during your workout.

Secret # 3.  Stay hydrated.  The P90X workouts are designed to be non-stop, cardio-pounding, strength building workouts.  If you’re bringing the intensity, you should be dripping with sweat within the first 10 minutes.  As a result, it’s important that you keep your body hydrated.  Here’s the key – take small but frequent sips of water throughout your workout.  Don’t wait until Tony calls a break and then try gulping your water all at once.  If you do, you’ll soon be throwing it back up.  Keep your water bottle close by as you exercise and take small sips frequently during the entire workout.

calendar to track workouts

My Workout Calendar

Secret # 4.  Keep track.  This is perhaps one of the best “workout secrets” ever – and it’s built in to the P90X program.  In every workout, Tony is constantly telling you to “write it down.”  How much weight did you use?  Was it too much or not enough?  How many reps did you do?  As Tony says, “How can you know what to do if you don’t know what you did?”  Use the P90X worksheets for every session that has them.

Secondly, keep of your progress overall.  One of the things that motivates me is tracking my workout sessions on a “scoreboard” that I can see from across the room.   I went down to the local office supply store and bought a desk calendar.  You can get the store brand (in my case, from Office Depot) for about $4.  I then hung it on the wall right next to my “workout corner.”

As you can see from the picture on the right, I just completed Week 6 of the program (I did Kenpo X on Saturday).  Every time I complete a workout, I take a marker and place a big red check on that day.  It really motivates me to keep going and fill up the entire month with red checks.

If you do this, there’s no lying to yourself.  Note that I missed the first 3 days in February (no check marks) but then tried to do 3 workouts on Saturday.  That didn’t work out well and is not recommended.  Also, I missed a workout on Friday the 10th but made it up by doing 2 workouts on Saturday.  Not ideal but I was fighting to get on track and work out out every single day.  My scoreboard tells me that I finally accomplished my goal of working out every single day on Week 5.

Secret # 5.  Stay with it.  To get the results you want, you’ve got to be consistent.  You’ve got to work out every single day.  As Tony says, “keep showing up.”  Keep popping in the DVD to your video player and pressing “Play.”

Went on vacation and missed a week?  No problem.  Pop in a DVD and start back in.  Sick with the flu and got set back a couple of days?  No problem.  Jump back in when you’re feeling better.  Totally slacked off and haven’t worked out in a couple of months?  Do what I did and buy yourself a desk calendar – write down the routines on each day – number the weeks – and then start over at the beginning.

No matter where you are, keep going.  No matter where you left off or what the reason was, jump back in.  Keep pressing “Play.”  Keep pressing “Play.”  Keep pressing “Play.”

The real “secret” to success in ANYTHING is to keep working at it.  If you really want to lose the fat and build the muscle, then stay with it.  The P90X program works – but only if you work it.  These workout “secrets” will help get you there.

Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach andPersonal Fitness Trainer (NESTA)

P.S.  Be sure to get my latest Fitness Blueprint called “Little Things That Improve Your Health.”  This ebook is packed with loads of helpful information on how to build a better body and you can get it FREE – no email, no cookies, no catch.  Download and enjoy!

Email Me:  Hiram Perez   

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You can get the P90X Fitness Program from a number of places including  Shop around for the best price or for a place that offers free shipping.

P90X DVD Workout - Base Kit

  • Get lean, bulk up, or grow stronger, with an endless variety of mix-and-match routines to keep you motivated
  • Muscle Confusion technique accelerates the results process by constantly introducing new moves and routines so your body never plateaus
  • Collection of 12 highly diverse and intense DVD workouts across 12 DVDs
  • Also includes a comprehensive nutrition plan, workout calendar, fitness guide, and How to Bring It DVD with an overview of the P90X system
  • Personal trainer Tony Horton will keep you engaged every step of the way
P90X is a revolutionary system of 12 highly intense workouts on 12 DVDs, designed to transform your body in 90 days. P90X includes a "How to Bring It" DVD for a quick overview of the complete P90X Extreme Home Fitness training system. To get you started, you will also receive a comprehensive 3-phase nutrition plan, a detailed fitness guide, and a calendar to set your workout goals, track your progress, and stay motivated.

List Price: $ 139.80 Price: $ 139.80


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  1. Have you heard of P90X? | abysmalfitness - [...] P90X Workout Secrets ( [...]

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