Here is part two of my P90X Review. If you remember, last time I reviewed the Kenpo X routine, giving it a respectable 4/5. For the sake of continuity and comparisons, I’ll be using the same scale and parameters as I did in the last feature.
Today, I’m starting my look at the “resistance” routines, starting with chest and back (note that I will be reviewing Ab Ripper X in a separate post). For most people, this will be the first routine you try out with the program. It’s scheduled for Day 1 in two of the training schedules and is a pretty standard muscle group to zero in on, especially for men. Everything in exercise is connected. Working chest and back hits your arms and shoulders too, as well as your abs, and sometimes your legs. It’s important to keep these muscle groups tight for aesthetics as well as to give support to other muscle groups as you work them. My experience prior to P90X was mostly using dumbbells, barbells, and machines in the gym. The focus here is on push ups and pull ups with a lot of body weight exercises. A lot of trainers will tell you, and I’m a believer, this stuff works. That said…
Accessibility of the Routine: 2/5
Pull ups are hard. I don’t care who you are, they take it out of you. Push ups are usually pretty draining, too. Doing nothing but variations of those two movements for nearly an hour is not something to be taken lightly. I’ve been weight training for about 2 years now, and I still feel accomplished if I hit 8 pull ups at full body weight. They’re killer for results, but a bitch to break into. The other difficult piece is finding somewhere to do them. Not every living space has reinforced bars that you can use, and buying a pull up bar will run you $20-$50 depending on the quality you want. Any time that a routine wants you to buy equipment, that makes the follow through that much less likely.
Granted, there are customization options. There is always the option to drop to your knees for push ups. In place of pull ups, you can use a resistance band to do pull downs or rows. However, this again presents the need to purchase equipment. Also, I had a hell of a time finding anywhere to secure a resistance band that would give me enough distance, or stability, to actually do pull downs. On top of that, the resistance is very difficult to get right. With these two options, you’re left with either something extremely difficult, or something very low impact. The push ups are all standard fare, and it’s nice to learn the different types, but again, doing them over and over isn’t immediately accessible and may lead to frustration. It’s a simple routine, and one that isn’t terrible (for the chest, at least), but there were just too many barriers for me to have a truly successful back workout.
Effectiveness of the Routine: 3/5
I ran into the same issues here as a result of my issues with the accessibility. I wasn’t able to get in a really effective back workout. Had the equipment not been an issue, it really does seem like it would be effective. The chest routine absolutely was. I’m a guy that has trouble feeling any burn in my chest the day after, and this DVD has reliably given me that sensation every time I’ve done it so far. This is to be expected, though. It’s a chest and back routine. You have to feel it the next day(s) or it was a waste of time. That said, I’d rather put my money into a gym membership. The variety that is available at a gym makes this routine a poor substitute. I can absolutely get a deeper and more intense workout for my back using dumbbells and machines than I got from this workout. Yes, I can buy dumbbells or high-resistance bands to add intensity to these exercises, but I’ve already bought the video, and my gym membership is cheap. What saved this score is the fact that I felt the chest piece of it every single time and it was usually more intense than what I felt after a chest day at the gym.
Enjoyment of the Routine: 1/5
Ever wonder what it feels like to be in boot camp? This is the video for you! No, that’s too harsh. Tony really is a supportive character to have in front of you, and the group feeling is welcome, but it’s very cut and dry. Do your set of push ups. Do your set of pull ups/downs. Repeat with slight variations. Going back to what I said in the first part of this review: this routine, when done correctly, is HARD. Some people thrive on that and say, “Yes, more burn, make me work harder, it hurts so GOOOOOOOOD!”
I’m not one of those people. I do try to live by the mantra introduced in one of the other videos of, “You can do anything for 60 seconds!” but it’s only effective for so long. What’s more is that I get bored. I can push myself to do something new for 60 seconds, but pushing myself to do my 8th set of push ups takes a little more than creative motivation. There’s plenty to do, and the video moves along at a respectable pace, but it’s just not that exciting. I got bored and anxious and just wanted to be done. I did not have fun with this routine like I’ve had fun with others. Unfortunately, the resistance training videos in the series are the ones that really do suffer for this.
Overall Rating: 2/5
I wasn’t looking forward to this from the beginning. I like my gym routines, I’ve learned how to maximize them. All this video does is make me spend an hour repeating 2 exercises that I’ve already incorporated into my fitness life. If you want it, there’s value. If you’re ready to spend the extra money on equipment, there are great results. If you want to use this program, it is a very good and effective workout. My questions is simply: why would you want to?