Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tips and Tricks - Getting the Most Out of P90X Strength Training

As a P90X customer who is also a personal trainer I am always watching and listening for proper cuing durning exercise classes and videos which helps people make the exercises as effective as possible and also keeps them from injuring themselves. This is a tall order for P90X trainer Tony Horton, considering how packed this program is with challenging, limit pushing exercises that are considerably less common than your standard biceps curl. All in all he did a great job. However, I did catch a few spots where I felt that I could add some additional pointers.

The Corkscrew Biceps Curl is a biceps curl variation I don't do with my clients because I feel that it's ripe for injury in the elbow and shoulder. It is very important on this exercise, even more so than others, to stay in control of the weight. Go light on this one to start and really get a sense of how far you can twist before you feel any discomfort in your joints. Once you hit that edge of safe range of motion, back it off a half an inch or so. Learn that safe range before you increase your weights. If you try to muscle up too much weight right off the bat the momentum from the move can cause you to wrench your shoulder or elbow. It is never worth pushing yourself to the point of injury and since there are more than enough opportunities to build up some big guns in P90X it's more than worth it to be conservative on this exercise.

The techniques for doing assisted pull-ups are great but, I did come up with another variation. I borrow this from the assisted pull-up machine at the gym. Rather than having the chair in front of you, place it behind you. Rest your feet on the chair with your knees bent and just the front of your foot resting on the chair seat. Notice when they are doing unassisted pull-ups, a lot of times they'll bend their knees and cross their ankles behind them. This is basically the position I'm talking about, except, your toes are resting on a chair or stool and your ankles are uncrossed. I find this position more difficult than when the chair is placed out in front of me. This is a good thing because you are trying to build up to being able to do pull-ups without the chair. So, the more you can challenge yourself the stronger you will get and the closer you are to doing the exercise unassisted. If you rest only one foot on the chair and let the other leg hang, the intensity is increased. When you do assisted pull-ups, use your legs as little as possible and focus on doing as much of the work as possible with your back and arms.

Decline push-ups are a great exercise that I modify to make even better. Instead of putting my feet on a chair I use a stability ball. This is a great way to do it for a couple of reasons. First you can adjust exactly how far you are extended off the ball. This allows you to be able to do the exercise whatever your current level of strength and fitness and allows you to build up the intensity and difficulty over the course of the program. The second reason I love using the ball for this exercise is that it adds instability and forces your core muscles to engage even more than with your feet on a chair. This also offers an even higher level of difficulty to build up to. The further you roll out, the more unstable the ball is and the harder your core has to work to keep you on the ball and doing the exercise with good form. Once you're out to just your feet resting on the ball, that is a really tough exercise.

These are a few of the variations and adjustments that have made a difference for me in working out with P90X. I hope this will help you get the most out of your workouts. Following the P90X program closely is important for success but, there is still room for adapting the program to make it work a little better for you and to allow you to grow and progress.

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