Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The final straight

The finish line lays dead ahead of me. Currently just having finished Day3 of Week13 on P90X, I have just 3 routines remaining before I achieve the status of completing the complete P90X program. Its surprising how quickly the time has passed, and I have to admit to being a little impressed with myself for reaching this stage.

So, 3 months of quite intense, almost religious training, what have I learned, what can I share with you about my experience that might inspire or inform you.

Let's have a recap of this whole trip now and see.
I found myself doing P90X by complete mistake. A conversation with Noel one weekend got me interested, and a week later I was getting stuck in. The first thing I should impress upon you is 'be prepared' before you start. Not in a physical way, but more making sure you are ready to start, and have all you need to get things going.

Equipment for the program is very basic, and one of the things that appealed to me about it. That said, increasing the amount of equipment and improving the quality of it will make a big difference, as I have found over the past 13 weeks. I shall explain.
Pull up bars are an option but one I was never going for (you can if you want) So I went the route of adjustable dumbells and a single resistance band from Decathlon. This was fine to start with, but as things progress it becomes routine and stale, so change is needed.
For pushups you can use push ups bars, but I didn't.

12 weeks later I have 6 resistance bands, including 2 epic beast strength ones, Nike push up bars, a yoga mat, a heart rate monitor. Sounds a lot, but its all very compact and hasn't cost the earth. Now instead of doing the same thing week in week out, I can vary between free weights and bands, and vary the resistance of the bands to mix it up a little and give more on good days.
In addition to the above I have now added a weighted training vest to the mix. Up to 10kg with 500g removable weights, it allows me to make jumping and moving of the torso and legs a little harder, and like the bands, allows me to increase or decrease the intensity. I will be using this for round 2 of P90X, but experimented with it today at half weight and OMG! What a difference it makes.

The crazy part about the vest is that it only weighs 22lbs. Since first starting to look after myself, I have lost almost 4 times this. However one 1 hour walk with the vest at just 11lbs made me realise how much strain I must have been putting on my heart, other organs and joints. I don't ever want to do that to myself again. That alone has been a serious lesson for me to take care of myself better in future.

The first few weeks were a struggle for sure, I won't deny it. To anyone in the early weeks, Phase 1, and finding it a chore, keep plugging on there, it gets easier. So easy in fact that you will probably need to do what I did and challenge yourself a little more to feel like you gave it your all.
By Phase 2 (week5) things are starting to make sense, form improving and confidence can start to sky rocket. This is the time to make sure you are not cruising along, and check the weights, reps and intensity are the best you can do, and not just what you can get by with. Underachieving is just cheating yourself, no one else.

At this point I should also say, make the most of Week4, the stretching and cardio routines are there as a break for your body, to let the muscles recover a bit, and for you to make sure all is well. Improving flexibility will help a lot in the coming weeks, trust me on this. X Stretch and Yoga are sheer genuis routines there to allow your body that much needed rest, while keeping the heat on a little.

By the end of Phase 2 I was really starting to feel alive. Craving more exercise, brimming with confidence, and a touch of arrogance creeping in. Not a good thing, as this is where intake and diet can start to slip a bit. I didn't gain weight, but it has left me wondering if my physicals gains could have been enhanced without all the naughty extras.
With the energy comes the need to do more. For me, getting the girlfriend started on the program, and doubling up routines by training with her in the evenings was the extra burn I needed. An average day would be 4-5 miles with the dogs, train, go to work. Come home, 4-5 miles with the dogs then train again. And it has really been no big deal to keep that intensity.

That said, for Phase 3 I decided to throttle back on the extra sessions, and just focus on solid, clean single sessions daily, giving it all I have, and making sure I am training on the limit of my ability. By this point the extra equipment is starting to come into play, and things such as push ups have changed completely. Extra inches of travel, extra focus on the muscles, and a perfect clean push up of any variety that can be done with bars. For £14 they are alone game changers. With the introduction of muscle confusion, and really pushing hard and digging deep, post workout shakes appeared, and the day after effect returned. Struggling to open doors and climb stairs early on.

Post workout aches are a beautiful thing. They are not a strain as such, but the can remind you of what day to day activities use which muscles. Try and push a heavy door open after a session on triceps and POW they are alive. Push through it, and enjoy that sensation. Pulling the same door open (from the other side) after a bicep session and BANG, feel that bicep bulge as you pull. Some people moan about the aches, some struggle to function with them. But for me, I love them, and strive to ache like hell the nest day.

So here we are, middle of the final week, end of Phase 3, and embracing the rest, while using this time to fine tune myself to start over again. Getting the weight right in the vest to start on Week1 with it, making sure my bands are insane enough to really cause some ache, and perfecting my push up technique with the bars.

Round 1 almost up. Most than impressed with the results of it, and eager to see what round 2 can deliver. A trip to Florida mid-way through Round 2 will add a little challenge for me, but I can't wait.

End of this week sees the much anticipated Day90 pictures, and already I know the change from Day1 - Day90 is crazy. I was never expecting or even hoping to be ripped, which is a good thing, but I'm sure for anyone who has not seen pics since Day 30, they will be impressed to say the least. Watch for them, coming this weekend.

So thanks for the company on this funtastic journey through P90X, and keep watching for Round 2. It all starts again next week :)
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