What you need to know before you start P90X – Part 3

This is Part 3. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.


I’m going to devote this whole post to this one rule, because I believe it’s that important.

I had never done any yoga before P90X. I had been warned by my brother that I would probably want to use an alternative to Yoga X, because that workout is 90 minutes, and who has time for that, right?

As an alternative, I got the “Fountain of Youth” DVD from Tony’s “One on One” series. The first few weeks of P90X, though, I did do the Yoga X workout, primarily because I like to make my own decisions about such things, and I like those decisions to be informed.

Yoga X is, indeed, pretty long and boring, but it was necessary to introduce me to the moves and terminology. Tony’s One on One workouts are much less formal than  P90X, and he doesn’t often take time to explain things in them, assuming — usually accurately — that we should already know what he’s talking about and how to do the moves.

Let me say this here, because you may not know this about yoga … it’s hard! At least the way Tony does yoga, it’s hard, quite a workout. I remember the first time I tried floating my leg in the air from downward dog and then trying to swing it through. Not an easy task, and it got harder from there. That is one of the reasons I like it so much. I know it’s working my body and improving it.

Anyway, when I felt pretty comfortable with Yoga X, I moved to the “Fountain of Youth” workout from One on One. It’s a 45-minute routine that covers strength, stretching, and balance. And I was only finally able to do it all the way through without stopping … last week.

There is a part in the middle where we do a sidearm balance, three slow-motion pushups, a sidearm balance on the other side, then go right into an intense downward dog routine, and it has always made me take a break in the past. But I finally made it through last week, and to prove it’s not a fluke, I made it through today, too!

And this is about 18 months since I started  P90X.

I was noticing today how smoothly I can swing my legs through from floating them during downward dog, a move I found so difficult — even wondered if it were really possible for me — when I first started. Now it’s routine.

Here’s the real point: This is not an overnight conversion. There are no magic elixirs to help you get fit. You have to work it, and yoga is a big part of not only helping you get into shape, but also helping you gauge the shape you are in.

So, when you decide to dive into P90X, don’t skip the yoga. It’s probably the most challenging part of P90X, possibly because it’s the least familiar, and you may be tempted to write it off as some throwaway stretching routine, but it’s not. You can build endurance, balance, strength, all that, with yoga.

In fact, I have considered creating a hybrid workout series based on yoga, and I may yet put that together, test it out for a few months. That sounds like it might be a good thing to do after P90X2.

Okay, next post will be more P90X tips, Part 4.

What you need to know before you start P90X – Part 2

This is Part 2. You can read Part 1 here.


When I started P90X, I started with basic necessary equipment:

  • yoga mat and blocks,
  • pullup bar,
  • heart rate monitor, and
  • adjustable dumbbells.

You need all those, and the latter two are important enough that I’ve covered them individually.

But there are a couple other pieces of equipment that I wish I’d had from the beginning. Even though they are not required, they sure help a lot.

The first is pushup stands. You can use dumbbells for this, but dedicated stands are really nice to have, especially if they are Tony Horton Power Stands. Those things are brilliant, because they won’t tip sideways on wide pushups. Plus they are very comfortable. They are expensive, so rest assured, you can use either your dumbbells or a less expensive stand. But I do love my Tony Horton Power Stands.

[ NOTE: I don’t pay as much because I am a Team Beachbody Coach. Become a Team Beachbody Coach and SAVE 25% on all Beachbody products. I only did this because, when I added up the savings and subtracted the monthly, this saves me money. ]

You may be thinking, “Why do I even need pushup stands?”

It’s a wrist thing. When you do a lot of pushups — and in P90X you will be doing a lot of pushups — your wrists are turned at that 90-degree angle that could be bothersome. It was for me.

Using pushup stands allows your wrists to stay straight throughout the move. Plus, as a bonus, you now have that 6 inches the stands put you above the ground to intensify the pushup by going lower than you could if your hands were on the floor.

The second piece of equipment that I consider essential, even though I worked out without it for a long time, is an exercise mat.

I work out in my living room, on the carpet. Of course, this wears out the carpet, but, also, that means I am sweating onto the carpet. That can’t be good.

An exercise mat provides a better grip for my bare feet — I don’t wear shoes during workouts — and also extra cushion.

Finding a 6×6 mat proved impossible on a budget. I considered turning my extra bedroom into a workout room and tiling the floor with foam rubber gym flooring, but, again, that ain’t cheap.

As it turned out, the answer was right in front of me.

I had bought a 2×6 exercise mat to use for Ab Ripper X. It is a really durable and comfortable mat, under $20 (when I bought mine), and I thought, “I wonder if I could buy two more and tape them together?” I did just that and it works great! The only thing I try to do when I work out is turn the mat so I don’t stress the seams too much, but this thing has held up for 10 months now, and it’s still in great shape. I used Gorilla Tape to connect them, because I had it around, but I imagine any decent duct tape will do.

The only real problem with the mat is that it does tend to slide around a bit, and I need to adjust it every so often, but the benefits of it far outweigh that small issue.


All right, now, I don’t mean you need to be stupid about it, but even if you are being careful, when you are pushing your body, you can expect pulled muscles and some hyperextended connective tissue. You will know when it’s serious enough to quit.

I am not a doctor, but my rule is this: If it hurts when I work out, I may need to pay more attention to it as a medical condition. If not, well, let’s work out!

I have worked through many an ache and pain that, once I started moving, doing the workout, whaddayaknow? No more pain.

If you do feel intense pain when you work out, maybe you are really hurt, so give it a rest, see a doctor.

My doctor told me, though, that working through an injury, with modifications, i.e. babying the injured area a bit, but still working it, is the way to go.

That’s how I discovered using an exercise band to modify pullups, because I pulled a back muscle. Instead of saying “screw it” and quitting the program, I modified with the band and was able to keep pushing through.

Again, don’t be stupid, but don’t give up too easily, either.


This should probably be rule #1, but that ship has sailed — I’m on #8 now. Suffice to say, this little mantra that can be heard in the P90X infomercials is important, and will help you get your workout in every day (unless you skip the 7th day each week, X Stretch, which is optional).

To be successful at anything, you have to commit to it, and the way you commit to P90X is to follow the program without fail.

Don’t think you can get that workout in because you are too busy? Find a way to work it in.

Stayed out too late last night and don’t feel like working out? Do it anyway.

Someway, somehow, get your workout in. You’ll feel better for it, especially on those days where you really need to push through it.

Make P90X part of your lifestyle.


When I first started P90X, I did not know which shoes to buy for it. I searched the online boards, got all kinds of recommendations, mostly for either Vibrams or some kind of cross-trainer. I bought some cross-trainers, but really didn’t like them too much, plus my feet got HOT!

So I tried the shoes without socks. Still sucked.

Then I thought, “Why not try without shoes?” Great decision.

It seems very natural to me to work out that way. Of course, it’s best on a mat, okay on carpet, no bueno on hard floors.

If you are struggling with which shoes to wear, try none — you might like it! (Just be careful about stubbing your toe on dumbbells. Ouch!)


When I started P90X, I went on the 50% protein – 30% carb – 20% fat diet. I’ve already discussed why this is essential to  P90X success in Part 1, so if you are going to follow that diet, you may be surprised to find that eating that much lean protein is not easy.

That’s how I got to know low-carb protein shakes.

There are plenty of them out there. I prefer the type without artificial sweeteners, so I use Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Whey. It tastes great mixed with low-carb almond milk and mixes well with fruit, too, when I want to add some to the shake.

I’ve tried others, including premixed shakes, and some of them are really good, but I settled on Optimum’s product because it’s so much cheaper to mix them myself, plus I have more flexibility with the ingredients.

Wow, that went quick, and I can see that I’ll need a Part 3.

Insanity: The Asylum – DAY 23 – “Speed & Agility”

I took my own advice from the other day and took an extra day off. My body is just beat. I have minor pulls in several muscles. I have a weird intermittent feeling of coolness in my left hip. My right ankle feels weird.

Shaun T is always saying how your mind has to conquer your body, how even if your body doesn’t want to be there working out, your mind needs to make it work. That’s how you get better.

I buy that, but he also says to stay within your own skill and fitness level.

So, I took the extra day off, and will propel myself forward with my mind, because my body is only about 50% (if that) into it.

Shaun T's AsylumThe extra day helped a lot. I was able to recharge. I did a little Tony Horton stretching, from One-On-One Volume 3, but that’s it.

Even though the day off helped, though, I gotta say, I just don’t like this workout. And that’s not my worn out body talking. It’s really a matter of space.

I only have about a 6-foot-by-6-foot area  of padded floorespace to work out in. That works well for just about everything, but this workout, with that agility ladder, is too challenging logistically.

With a larger area, like they use in the video, I could just leave the ladder where it is and adjust my body to fit the exercise. But with my limited space, I need to move the ladder around too much, and sometimes I just can’t do what needs to be done, so I have to modify.

For the last iteration of this workout, I believe I’ll just skip the ladder altogether, and see how the routine goes without it.

Anyway, I feel pretty good afterward, no worse for the wear. I don’t have comparative numbers for “Speed & Agility”, but I do for my favorite Asylum workout, which I’ll do tomorrow, so I am looking forward to seeing if the numbers reflect how worn out my body feels.

How “in shape” do I really need to be?

Yesterday, Day 21 of The Asylum, was “Back to Core” again. Nothing exciting to report there, except that my lower right back pain is a bit more noticeable than usual today. This is a dull pain that is kinda like a bruise, in that it only hurts when I move a certain way, and it’s more annoying than actually painful. That pain has been there for about 18 months now — I first noticed it about 4 weeks into P90X — so I don’t worry too much about it, hoping someday it’ll just disappear.

Today, on Day 22, I have come to only the second (and last) “Rest” day of The Asylum. This day of rest has me thinking seriously about my relationship with this type of training program. Why do I do it? Will I continue with future volumes of The Asylum? (I assume there will be future volumes, because this one is called “Volume 1”.)

Shaun T's AsylumIt was pretty obvious to me from the first few days of The Asylum that this program is made for people who want to be in top shape. Of course, I would have thought the same thing about Insanity — in fact, I did think it, when Month 2 of that program started — but that program was primarily aerobics with a little bit of strength training. The Asylum, on the other hand, is more about sports skill development, and really — once you are already in Insanity shape — pushing the envelope of what your body can endure.

In all honesty, now that I think about it, this program would not be so difficult if there were more rest days. Pushing, pushing, pushing, every day, resting every three or four or five days — that’s rough for a desk jockey. Even an in-shape desk jockey. But, then, I think that is part of the point of The Asylum.

Whatever. That may be what professional athletes need to do. Keep pushing, even in the face of extreme fatigue. It is not, however, what I need to do.

The other side of the coin is that I had entered The Asylum, hoping that it would help melt away those last 10 pounds of gut fat. That is not happening. I am beginning to wonder if anything short of starvation would make that stuff go away. I’m eating right, exercising like a demon, but still it persists.

Having said all that … hell, yeah, I will continue with future volumes of The Asylum!

I just get too much of a sense of accomplishment from going through these programs. When I completed  P90X, I really felt as if I had done something meaningful for myself. Same with completing  Insanity.

When I complete The Asylum, I don’t think it will be the same feeling. It will be more of a sense of having survived something that few can endure, and being better for it. I mean, I’m in the best shape of my life, so I’m going to keep pushing my body to the limit.

When I complete this program, and after a well-deserved week off — actually, it’ll be about a week and a half of yoga and light aerobics — I’ll get into a hybrid of some sort, and start gearing myself up for P90X2, which should arrive in December. I already have a bit of an idea what P90X2 is about, because I subscribed to the One-On-One Volume 3 series, where Tony Horton tested out the routines that would become P90X2, so I’m pretty stoked to get around to using exercise balls, getting more balancing and core work in, and developing strength and more all-around fitness with Tony.

Yeah. This is all good.

I guess the answer to how “in shape” I need to be, is simply as good a shape as I am willing to push my body through. Not done yet!

My P90X – One On One – Insanity hybrid

After completing Insanity about a month ago, I felt great and ready to go into a hybrid of that program and Tony Horton’s P90X. However, when I scoured the internet for such a program, they all looked pretty much alike and rather uninspired.

Plus, I knew I wanted to include some of Tony’s One-On-One routines in my hybrid.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 4 weeks, creating my own hybrid. As it happens, I ended up with no P90X routines, so really it’s an Insanity / One-On-One hybrid, but it turned out nice.

It goes like this:

  • Day 1 – Steve’s 30/15 (based on One-On-One 30/15)
  • Day 2 – Plyometric Cardio Circuit + Cardio Abs from Insanity
  • Day 3 – Steve’s Shoulders & Legs (based on One-On-One Diamond Delts & Plyo Legs)
  • Day 4 – Pure Cardio + Cardio Abs from Insanity
  • Day 5 – Base & Back from One-On-One
  • Day 6 – Fountain of Youth Yoga from One-On-One
  • Day 7 – OFF
  • Day 8 – Pure Cardio + Cardio Abs from Insanity
  • Day 9 – Steve’s 30/15 (based on One-On-One 30/15)
  • Day 10 – Plyometric Cardio Circuit from Insanity
  • Day 11 – Steve’s Shoulders & Legs (based on One-On-One Diamond Delts & Plyo Legs)
  • Day 12 – Cardio Power & Resistance + Cardio Abs from Insanity
  • Day 13 – Patience/Hummingbird Yoga from One-On-One
  • Day 14 – OFF

Days 15-28: Repeat the above.

All in all, I am very happy with the program. I’m going to take a week off to recover, doing yoga and Core Cardio & Balance from Insanity, then I’ll do another 4 weeks of the above.

If you want to try it out, you’ll need some of the Insanity and One-On-One DVDs, and you can download my Excel worksheets (in PDF format) for the non-cardio / non-yoga days here: Worksheets For One-On-One-Insanity Hybrid (PDF).

Enjoy and let me know what you think.