Women and P90X: What Can a Woman Expect?
Judging by the number of women coming to this site searching for a female-centric review of P90X , there are a lot of questions:“Can a woman do P90X?Is P90X effective for women? What kinds of success can women have with P90X?”Given that I recently completed 90 days and have been a woman most of my life, I thought I would weigh in on this one. (Multiple highhats!)
First, a little background:I’ve been active pretty much all of my life.My mom is a dyed-in-the-wool gymrat, and has been since I can remember (I totally remember sitting in the back of the Buick when Mrs Garber from church told my mom about this awesome new song for jazzercise, “Eye of the Tiger .”I remember being quite sure Jane Fonda was someone my mom actually knew in real life.) If I was looking pale or pasty, she would lock my brother and I outside to go run around until the sun went down. I was in ballet and gymnastics and all sorts of stuff as a kid. In highschool , I did cheer and dance and track.After highschool, I went to the gym regularly and watched Ms Fitness USA for hours on cable (though I never had the tenacity to actually train for it.)In 2000, I started cheering again with a competition-level charity squad called Cheer SF , while being concurrently addicted to spinning (studio cycling). After my stint with Cheer SF, I discovered Bikram and, after that, Ashtanga yoga…
Despite all that, as I get older it seems harder to keep my size down.I’m used to being the one who everyone thinks is “too skinny,” only it’s been a good 10 years since that’s been true.About a year ago, my boyfriend saw the P90X infomercial and we decided to embark on a 90-day fitness challenge. We would each do our own workouts and see who had the better results.
For me: walking to work (2 miles), doing 90 minutes of Ashtanga Yoga and then taking a cardio kickbox or weightlifting class, for a total of about 3 hours of activity, 5 days a week. I had pretty good results- my goal was to wear the 24” corset to Folsom Street Fair and not look spongy. I think I did an OK job of it. (This despite a very pricy-yet-assy trainer at the Van Ness 24 Hour Fitness… if you are thinking of getting one, please get in touch first so I can help you find a decent one!)
For him: Rob was no stranger to the concepts of P90X, so he put together his own P90X-esque plan and self-motivated at home.
I had better results that first 90 days and Rob realized he needed a little more structure.Knowing spending $100+ on P90X would force him to motivate, he began the program in November, and I started following along in December/January, but really hit my stride of six P90X workouts per week in January and registered for MillionDollarBody.com on February 13, 2008.
So, that brings me to spelling out what, for me, are the measures of success (these can– and probably SHOULD– be different for everyone):
-Size/measurements (and, yes, weight)
-Being able to do cool stuff like pull-ups, arm balances and whatnot (you may notice that “being able to do cool stuff” is the theme that runs through my fitness pursuits. I might be 34, but I can still do the splits.)
-Feeling good (including being confident in the way I look, how my clothes fit, having energy- I recently went off the anti-depressant Wellbutrin and knew that fitness would be a major component in my success there.)
I started at about 140 lbs; my “goal” for the past 10 years has been “about 127” (for no real reason other than it would be nice to get back to my post-highschool weight)So, that is where I started- here are my thoughts:
The Program: I started mid-cycle on P90X, so we switched to P90X+ midway through.When we did the first fitness test, I think I was able to .25 of a pullup, but was OK in other strength tests like push-ups and wall-sits from my yoga background.Cardiovascularly, I was lacking, despite that foray into the world of “cardio kickbox.”
P90X consists of six workouts per week, mostly strength training, two cardio workouts, and a yoga workout.I did P90X “classic,” but there are options that have you mix up the same workout DVDs into programs called “P90X Lean,” and “P90X Doubles.”
The strength workouts are really the core of this program.The workouts are really hardcore- I was one of those people who doubted you could get a good workout from a DVD.In fact, I get a better strength workout with these DVDs than I did with my last personal trainer.(Who really, truly, sucked.Wish I had that $600 back! See previous disparaging comments.)The workouts are very heavy on pull-ups and push-ups, which might be intimidating to some women.As I mentioned, I was able to do .25 of a pull-up.I started out with bands, and then progressed to the P90X Pull-up Bar.I am happy to say that I can now do 3 pull-ups in a row with just a little “body-English” cheating and can complete the whole workout with one foot on the back of a chair.Push-ups are easy enough to do on your knees, but you need to make a mental commitment to do as may as you can on your toes before going to your knees- For some reason, I find the psychological crutch of doing push-ups on my knees hard to overcome, so it really is a mental game to see progress here.
Note about P90X Plus: I really dislike the overuse of the Upper Plus program in P90X+.You do it twice per week.I notice a lot of people have concerns that P90X will feel repetitious.I’m here to tell you that it really doesn’t– unless you are doing P90X Plus as written, and then you might want to tear your eyes out vs. do Upper Plus again.
I do LOVE the Abs/Core Plus workout in P90X+.It has a lot of hanging ab work, which can take some building up to, but it is a great workout for those of us who hate crunches.(In fact, I hate crunches and some boat-type ab work because it makes the front of my legs go numb.This was a huge issue for me with Ab Ripper X.Numb legs suck.)
About the Cardio Workouts: The cardio workouts in P90X are Kenpo X and Plyometrics.Plyometrics will kick your ass and give you a great cardio workout.It will likely also take you several weeks to build up the confidence in getting through the whole thing, but you will.
It took me a REALLY long time to get to the point with Kenpo X where I felt like it was even worth my time cardio-wise.Emphasis on proper breathwork is essential.Do not watch the redhead; she is half-assing her way through the entire thing.I made the mistake of mimicking her for the first several times and literally had to flail like Fraggle on crack through the “breaks” to even get my heartrate in zone.Even with proper form, I still do use the “breaks” as an opportunity to really spike my heartrate with intense jumping jacks/running in place, etc.- this workout has a lot of downtime that you have to commit to fill.
A note about P90X Plus: The Kenpo Cardio Plus workout in P90X Plus is crap.Rob talked about it in his review from a “martial arts practitioner” point of view.I’m just talking about it from the perspective of someone who is looking for a good cardio workout.It has no flow, the moves go by so fast that is nearly impossible to do them with proper form… just not a well-thought out workout at all.
Interval X Plus:
Personally, I don’t feel like half the movements in this thing are true “interval” moves. Nor do I think that 30 second intervals are enough to feel intervals (in either the exertion or recovery sense of the word.) I am used to one minute all-out effort, 1-or-2-minute recovery. But, it’s like “slow jogging” and then “all-out Olympic sprinting.” I am not sure how I can kick some and then kick a little more and then LIKE TOTALLY REALLY KICK!All in one minute and feel the difference in between. My cardiovascular system doesn’t work like that.Plyo or a nice 150-min-188-max-BPM-max interval run for 50 minutes is better.
Yoga:Oh, you really want me to go there? I hate the yoga in the P90X system with a hatred that I can barely explain.I love yoga as much as I hate Yoga X. In fact, if I didn’t love yoga so much, I might not think Yoga X sucks as much ass as it sucks. And, it sucks a lot.Mucho.Many the ass.I won’t do it.I’ll pop in a different tape, do yoga on my own, or go for a jog. Yoga is supposed to be about exploring the flow in life and ending up places you never thought you could end up, not about doing “runner’s pose” 49 times in a row. Tony doesn’t even know the difference between “cow” and “camel.” He might be good at other stuff, but he is NOT a yoga instructor.
The Results: My boyfriend had great results firming up with P90X without changing his diet at all. For me—I got about 70 days into it and felt exactly the same.Scales and measurements concurred.
For me, having about 15 lbs of fat to lose, it really will come down to the diet. The months I spend doing P90X as written without severe diet changes didn’t produce results. In the past 3 weeks, I have changed my diet in a major way.I’ve did the 6-day express plan and a really structured food plan, and am down about 8 lbs. And- in more exciting news- I actually havea picture that I am willing to use as a “before!” Woop!
I am 100% off of Wellbutrin. I feel strong.I can do cool stuff. Now, I just need to lose the fat.
(Ladies, did you really think eating whatever you want and lifting heavy weights would solve all your problems? Me, too!Not the case, sadly.)
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