Monday, January 4, 2010

Tips and Tricks - Getting the Most Out of P90X Cardio

Cardiovascular fitness is an important part of an overall fitness program. In P90Xcardio takes a little bit of a back seat to strengthening. However, even though you're only doing cardio twice a week, the workouts truly deliver results. These are not your standard cardio programs either. You will be doing things you may not have ever tried before. This is why it's worth going over some tips and tricks that can help you make these workouts really work for you.

The P90X plan includes three great cardio workouts. The first one you will encounter, if you follow the "Classic" plan, is Plyo X. Wow. This is an intense workout. Buy yourself a heart rate monitor for this one alone. You will get your heart rate up pretty high and you will burn a lot of calories. The heart rate monitor will show you how many calories, which is very satisfying. It will also tell you when your heart rate is too high and that you need to back off a little.

One thing Tony says throughout the workout is to hit pause if you need to. I disagree with this recommendation. It's cardio. The goal is to keep your heart rate in a certain range for a certain period of time. Hitting the pause button makes no sense. It just makes the workout (already nearly an hour) longer. If you feel like you're working too hard (feeling dizzy or nauseous are good indicators) or your heart rate monitor is telling you your heart rate is too high, then just march in place or pace around the room until you feel better and/or your heart rate is back to a reasonable level. You may be disappointed that you can't do all the exercises in the Plyo X workout. Don't worry about it. You will build up. Just keep moving for the duration of the workout and follow along with Tony and the gang when you can. As you advance through P90X you will be able to do more and more of the Plyo X program. And I can attest to the fact that all your other activities will be easier after you've been doing plyometrics for a while.

The jumping in Plyo X may be a concern for some people. It's tough on the body. No question. I highly recommend you don't do this on a cement floor. I know a lot of people probably workout in their basements. Find a way to cushion the floor if your on a hard surface. They sell these flooring squares that may do the trick. They're designed specifically for athletic training environments and gyms. All that jumping is hard on your joints. Abuse to your joints is much harder to heal than the muscles. So, it's worth looking into.

Finally, for Plyo X there are several moves that have you reach down and touch the floor. When you do this make sure your head and shoulders stay higher than your hips. This will first of all keep you from getting dizzy and second it's better for your back. This is something you may not even realize you're doing wrong. You'll just get dizzy from these moves. I've seen it with my clients over and over. Bend the knees, lead with the hips as you lower, keep the head and shoulders up.

Moving on, the next cardio workout in the program is Kenpo X. It's kind of fun but, can be a bit tedious. The first segment especially is very repetitive. It can also be tough on the shoulders. If you have shoulder issues be careful when throwing punches in Kenpo X. Try not fully extending the arm in order to protect the shoulder and elbow. Like Plyo X this is a cardio program. So, the most important thing is to get your heart rate up into your training zone. The way to do that is not through aggressively extending on your punches it comes from using your entire body for each punch. Using your whole body, driving the punches from the hips, from the core not only gets your cardio vascular system going but it generates a more powerful punch and it will actually help protect the arm and shoulder joints.

Kenpo X does a good job of interval training in that there are definite high and low intensity segments. There are a couple of segments toward the end, specifically blocks and elbow series, where you really are at a low intensity level. I highly recommend getting low in your "horse stance" as Tony calls it. This will get your legs working more and will actually help keep your heart rate up even though you're not moving much. Probably the biggest thing to watch for in Kenpo X, unlike Plyo X, is making sure you're pushing hard enough to keep your heart rate in your training zone. Especially as your fitness level rises during P90X, you may find that you almost get too fit for Kenpo. So, make sure to focus on keeping the intensity up and keep and eye on your heart rate monitor throughout the workout.

Last up is Cardio X. I have to admit that I have only done it once. It is part of the P90X lean option but not the classic option which I have always done. I tried Cardio X because I was feeling low energy and thought I might do better at it than Plyo X that day. It turns out that it is a lot like the Core Synergistics workout. No aerobic dancing in this program. This is another case where you need to keep an eye on your heart rate to make sure you keep up your intensity. It is a good alternative to Plyo X if you really need something a bit easier. However, it's not a walk in the park either. You'll get your cardio training and some good core work too.

I hope you find this information on the P90X cardio workouts helpful as you make your way through P90X. As Tony would say... get out of your head about it, push play and as always remember to Bring It!

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