Monday, October 11, 2010

Tips and Tricks - Getting the Most Out of P90x Strength Training - Revised

As a P90X customer who is also a personal trainer I am always watching and listening for proper cuing during exercise classes and videos which helps people make the exercises as effective as possible and helps prevent injury. P90X trainer Tony Horton has a lot of ground to cover, considering how packed this program is with challenging, limit pushing, exercises that are considerably less common than your standard biceps curl. I thought he did a fantastic job, which is part of what makes P90X a great program but, I did come up with a few suggestions.

There are a few biceps curl exercises that involve twisting the weight up. I noticed when I started with P90X that if I wasn't really careful to control the weight I would feel in my shoulder or elbow. Really focus with these exercises on keeping the weight within a controlled range of motion. Back off if you feel any joint pain. Consider starting with a little lighter weight than you think you can do to make sure that you have the form right before you go all out.

Their techniques for doing assisted pull-ups are great but, I have another variation inspired by the assisted pull-up machine at the gym. Rather than having the chair in front of you, place it behind you. Your start position is hanging from the bar, knees bent, toes resting on a chair. If you are concerned about your grip then let one leg hang down ready to catch you if you slip. Be aware that it becomes much harder when one leg is off the chair. I find that doing pull-ups with the chair behind me is a lot more challenging than having the chair in front. I also feel that the angle of movement is better when the chair is behind creating a movement closer to an unassisted pull-up.

Decline push-ups are a great exercise that I modify by putting using a stability ball instead of a chair. 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 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. All the seated exercises work great on a stability ball too.

The one thing to take note of is when Tony gives the cue to "bend at the waist" on a couple of the exercises. If you look at the way they're all doing the exercises you can see that they actually bending at the hip not the waist. When you're doing any weighted exercise that requires you to bend forward always bend at the hip, not the waist, bend you knees and keep your back flat.

These are a few of the tips and tricks that have made a difference for me in working out with P90X. I hope they will help you get the most out of your workouts.

Laura Lawson is a certified personal trainer who is dedicated to helping people live better through fitness. Visit and to find out how you can get into your best shape ever.

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