R7D11 – Plyo Old School Style

This week:

RKC 10 minute 25 swings, 5 min TGU, 5 min C&P, 10 snatch
Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
RKC 10 minute 25 swings, 5 min TGU, 5 min C&P, 10 snatch
Vertical Plyo
Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
Pure Cardio
FOY Yoga With Tony

I know, it’s Friday but I need to post to have something to refer to. Yesterday I opted to go for Tony’s Olde Time Plyo from P90X instead of Vertical Plyo since I was a little irked by Shaun T, although not necessarily due to Vertical Plyo. I have to admit, it was VERY basic, but at the same time still a challenge and easily scaleable upwards. I can’t imagine that MC2 is going to be able to surpass the success of the original and from the look of some of the message boards it seems like it may suffer the same overcomplication that Insanity:Asylum does. I hope not, it would be great, in fact, epic to be able to refer to 24 DVDs with the quality and balance of complexity and brute simplicity that P90X has. So last night was very enjoyable, today is the gym party so I cannot imagine I will be able to do anything active since we still have to go to Costco and prep the toppings for the burgers. That said, maybe tomorrow I can fit a weight and cardio workout into one day for a change.

What is the best thing about P90X, it may not be Plyo, or the fact that Tony seems to refer to every DVD as the mother of all the P90X workouts or the X in P90X it is more like the fact that the workouts are as hard as you need them to be. Basic, simple and able to be crushed by simple hard work. They are also just as easy to follow for the first time user, regardless of the fact that they are probably nearing 10 years old now.

Next Week:

3×3 Clean and Press Ladders Plus Dice Roll Snatches
Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
3×3 Clean and Press Ladders Plus Dice Roll Snatches
Plyometric Cardio Circuit
Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
Pure Cardio
FOY Yoga With Tony


R5D27 – The Return Of P90X Plyometrics.

plyoI started my rest week yesterday with a return to the Plyometrics DVD from the P90X series. I had expected that I would experience it the way I did when I went through the program “properly” the first and second times.

I was mistaken.

If there was ever a time when I needed validation, this was it. I have complained incessantly about not doing enough work, feeling like I am not as fit as I was or bitching about only having to work out 20 minutes a day. Well, I was wrong. I apologize unreservedly and I will cease and desist immediately. Plyometrics was a walk in the park. It is a good thing I decided to call this rest week because as Tony related his story about hiring “Hot Shots” to do the video who were unable to keep up, little did I know I would be thinking the same of him a few minutes later. In fact, I got annoyed at the length of rest he was taking, irritated by the breaks and amazed at how little work he seemed to be doing. Not only him, but his cronies as well. When the video first started, rather than silence Tony I chose “NORMAL” from the choice screen. Normal indeed, it’s amazing that I seem to have exceeded the X in P90X! I finished the workout feeling like a thoroughbred that had been loaned to a six year old for a birthday party and forced to trot around a corral instead of being allowed to gallop through the fields. It was, in a word, frustrating. It was also exhilarating to know that my fitness level is higher than it was when I finished P90X even without the hour long workouts. Maybe HIT works after all?!

I am not going to lie, it was refreshing to follow along and not think about the workout. It brought back lots of memories from the early days and the times when I crushed the workouts and felt so proud of myself. I never did rock star hops, they were always too hard and I could never keep up with Dom during the tuck jumps. Not so today, I crushed them both.

Colour me proud.

Round 2. Days 9 – 11. Weekends are for working. Buying My Insanity.

I am finding this P90X thing harder the second time around. Not only, as I am repeatedly saying, that I am in worse shape than I was but also because I am skipping bits and pieces and therefore not quite getting the work I once was. It’s fine to say that I want to skip the cool down or the warm ups because I never did warmups in the gym before I worked out and besides it cuts 15 minutes off my workout, however, it means that I am missing 15 minutes of working out, no matter how easy that 15 minutes is. So I am finding that I am not improving at the rate I was the first time around. I am also finding that the one day between coaching where I have places to be during the evening is leading me to skip that day… This means I am ending up with 3 days off and 4 days on. Not conducive to massive results. So, tomorrow is Lent, the poor man’s New Years Resolution day (and by poor man I mean Catholic) and I am committing to 3 things:

1. I will work out 5 days a week, skipping only the 2 days that we coach.
2. I will absolutely not eat anything after 7pm.
3. I will stay off wheat completely again.

I am also committing to changing the P90X routines so that I can keep myself engaged and I will tell you why. This past Saturday morning I drove to Square One shopping centre and met a nice Indian lady in the Petro Canada parking lot. She gave me a package that will change my world, just as P90X did. For a while now I have been following FitBomb as I am sure many of you have. We were undertaking our first P90X journey at the same time but unlike me, his transition from P90X back into life went much better than mine did. In fact, the epic failure of G90X as I had called it forced me to look to other P90X grads to see what they had done once the dream was over. What I found was that the thirst for at home, gym free, cost free workout methods really catches you by surprise and you start to realize that maybe spending $70 a month on  a gym membership is not necessary. Having been enthralled by the relative ease of doing the workout at home, I realized that maybe transitioning back to the gym was not the answer, but in fact that P90X had finally liberated me from that jail. I was finally able to do a workout that challenged me, got me fit and healthy and that I was able to do on my schedule. The logical conclusion was that rather than look back, I should look forward to another challenge. Just as others before me, I decided that the next logical step after Tony was Shaun T. I remember looking at the BeachBody site and thinking that Tony represented the epoch of their system. That if you were fit and wanted to challenge yourself, that P90X was your ticket to the big time. What I had not realized was that Shaun T was busy doing for cardio workouts what Tony had done for weights. Only with more professionalism and less douchy-ness. I then began to make the connection that FitBomb made and realized that a combination of the excellent weight training of Tony and the Insane cardio of Shaun T may in fact be the perfect workout system.

I checked Kijiji and 2 days later was handing over $60 to a nice Indian lady at a gas station on a cold morning in Mississauga.

Rather than try Shaun T at this time, I realized that I would have to be at least 20lbs lighter if I was going to try some of the stuff I had read about. However, the lure of the shiny box was too much and halfway through Kenpo (which I now no longer find fun, but rather boring) decided that I would put the Plyometric Insanity disc in and see what the big deal was. Ten minutes later my heart rate was at around 160 bpm and I thought my heart was going to explode. Shaun T’s warmup had reduced me to a quivering mess and as I lay on the floor soaking in my humility I realized that indeed I was looking at the future.

You see, the problem with P90X as I see it is the cardio workouts. They are not terrifically difficult and you will probably find that even if you like one of them, you will probably not find the others to your liking. So you will need to replace at least 2 days a week, if not 3 with something else. For myself, I don’t mind the Plyo but the Kenpo and the Yoga are not my cup of tea. I would rather do the yoga (albeit a stripped down version) on rest day and replace it with a cardio workout that pushes me during the workout schedule.

So my plan, once I am past phase 1, is to replace Kenpo and Yoga with Shaun T. I haven’t found out which workouts to put in their place but with 13 DVDs I am sure I will find something.

Finally, I am scared to work out again… and I like it.

Round 2 Day 2 – Short Memory

If I couldn’t see them, I would be convinced my triceps are on fire. I forgot how painful things can be once you start to move them.

Today is Plyo, the workout that is glowingly referred to as the X in P90X. Of course, Tony seems to refer to several different things as either “THE X” or “THE MOTHER” of certain things. It’s his enthusiasm that really grates on my nerves at times. However, I know it is just Day 2 talking when I say I once again want to rip off his magnificently sculpted arm and stuff it all the way down his throat.

Plyo was tough, I think that regardless of wanting to try hard I was just not able to. My heart rate maxed out at below 150 which is a stroll in the park compared to the 160+ I could get to last round.

I know one thing for certain, it’s not because I am fitter than I was.

This is not the locust that Tony refers to when talking to Dom. But rather this is how I feel at this time even though I am actually laying on my living room floor weeping a little…

Being able to jump like a locust wasn’t ever high on my list of life ambitions. Even during University when I was able for the first (and last) time in my life able to dunk a basketball I never really put much weight into the notion that jumping high was somehow cool. My mindset has always been of power rather than mobility. I am far more impressed with someone able to shoulder press their bodyweight than a guy who can hang off the rim. However, jump over a car and I will buy you a pack of gum or something…

Round 1, Day 2

I Ran (G-Day 2 – Plyo Substitute)

Knee pain? Hip pain? Low back pain while running? Check your ITB.

Knee pain? Hip pain? Low back pain while running? Check your ITB.

As I was preparing to go down to the basement to do Plyo with Tony, the ever modest, humble Tony, I recalled something he says during the Plyo workout. “You should see me play hoops after doing this for a couple of months… Unbelievable”. Well, I wondered just what he could have meant by unbelievable and if there was an equivalent level of disbelief that I could test for myself. So I decided that I would go for a jog. Now, those who know me are familiar with my stature and know at first sight that although my body is designed for many things, running is not one of them. The last time I ran with any regularity was after I graduated University and was still playing club rugby for the Oakville Crusaders. That was many many years ago and also many many pounds ago. When I was playing last I weighed about 210lbs. I currently weigh in at about 255lbs, mostly due to a big push during the late ’90s when I gained about 40lbs of muscle over the course of about 2 years while trying to make a living as a personal trainer. Anyway, the point being that running is in my far distant past. I have tried over the last few years since my back surgery to run so that I could drop some weight but my runs were more of a walk with some really fast walking mixed in. I would call it jogging but that would probably be an insult to joggers everywhere. I developed shin splints, my tight hip/ITB tore at my knee joints and the whole experience was awful.

Needless to say, my expectations were low and as the rain lightly fell on my face I started out into the darkness to see if my 3 month affair with Tony had been worth it. With my iPod on and thoughts of Tony berating his minions I forged ahead, expecting the usual sad performance. However, I am happy to report that I completed approximately 2.25 miles only stopping at the 3 major intersections to stretch my ITB. Other than that, I RAN THE WHOLE WAY!!!! Unbelievable doesn’t even cover my feeling after I was done and even though the elusive “runner’s high” was nowhere to be found, I was definitely impressed with myself and can say without any uncertainty that P90X was the ONLY reason I was able to do what I did. I know it may not seem like much, but one man’s 2.25 mile jog is another man’s 350lb bench press.

So colour me tickled, I was very happy with myself. That was, of course, until I tried to get out of bed the next day.

Tony, I hate him, but I love him…

Day 72 – Sept 1st Already!???!!

Plyo – Sept 1 2009

Lucky it is late Labour Day this year otherwise we would be coaching today!

Post Approved

Today is Fake Friday for me. I have the rest of the week off to do the floors so this is my last day woohoo!!! There is nothing better than a fake Friday, especially if it is followed by a Holiday Monday, even if it has a horrible name like Labour Day. I think for the first time in many many years I am finally over the back to school feelings. I used to be very excited when it got to this time of year because it reminded me of going back to University and the feeling of freedom, excitement and the anticipation of a new year filled with new people and new challenges. Nowadays, I am filled with similar feelings but they are related to gym coaching so things are a little different. I think for years I didn’t have anything to look forward to in September and that is why I missed school so much. Now I am back into the “September Significance” things seem to be somewhat back to ‘normal’.

Someone (you know who you are) sent me this today, maybe as motivation, maybe as something I could snack on before my workout since I have been feeling lethargic…
Plyo was good today, I was in a great mood what with being off work all week and that made a huge difference.

I am concerned over what is going to happen the next few days with the floor install. From a P90X perspective I am not sure what I will be able to do, if anything. Time will tell, but for now I have to assume that it will have a detrimental effect on my finish date. Even so, I should be able to finish the 90 days before the end of September.


Unless Giant Gummy shows up at my door…

Day 65 – Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing


The Wolf is always behind you…

The Wolf is Always behind You

The theory behind P90X and indeed any weight bearing exercise is stress. Stressing the muscle, if not to force it to grow, at least to force it to adapt to changing workloads. Muscles, much like people, work best when they are faced with unpredictable workloads and stressors. It forces the body to adapt, it forces the mind to focus and it keeps us sharp in so many ways. Stress though is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is required for growth and yet produces chemicals and reactions in the body which can be harmful if overdone. It helps to bring out the best in our workouts and in our lives and yet we run the risk of defeating ourselves if we push too hard, or push in the wrong way. For that reason I tend to rely on my phlegmatic outlook on life to avoid any such risk. I am not afraid of stress nor am I afraid of work, however I am not the crazy little stress monkey that some of the people around me seem to be. In my physical life my relaxed demeanor if often misinterpreted as laziness. In fact, generally speaking my laid back attitude can often be misunderstood as being the approach of a lazy individual however I have learned along my journey in life that there are ways of getting my brain to do things the most efficient way. People often talk about “tricking themselves” into doing things a certain way and very often in the fitness realm we talk about the body the same way. We believe that tricking our body into thinking it is stronger than it is or that it is capable of more will give us the best results and in a lot of cases that is true. The theory of complete muscle failure depends on the ability of an individual to push their body beyond the point of it’s own capabilities. I find that fascinating especially when it relates to the rest of our lives. Stress is key for humans and animals alike, it is part of the fight or flight response that is hardwired into our brains as a preservation technique. For this reason it is critical that we stress our bodies in new and unique ways every week in order to keep things both interesting and challenging.

Stess also kills.

Stress is linked to so many illnesses, diseases and mental disorders that we question the existence never mind the value of it. However there is a subtle nuance that in my opinion is the difference between Dolly and, well, take your pick among Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs or the boy who cried wolf, all of whom starred famous, yet nameless, wolves. That difference is the way in which we react to the environment around us. Physical stress in the gym is very different from psychological stress because the stress in the gym, or on the road if you are a runner or a cyclist, is tactile, direct and ultimately controlled. The stress in your life from the crazy kids, the pressure to get married or get a job, the fact that your boss just quit, the bill payments and so on is not so predictable or controllable. It is the unpredictable nature of these stressors and the fact that they are 24 hours a day which is the real killer. However, the secret to managing these unpredictable stresses are to treat them just like you treat your physical stress. As difficult as it may be to do, each stressor needs to be dealt with in a window and left in that window. Far be it from me to tell people how to live their lives but doesn’t it sound reasonable that you should not be worrying about your bills while trying to deal with your kids, or allowing the stress of your relationships to interfere with the execution of your job? In an indirect (and evidently fairly convoluted) way this related directly to your workouts. Any physical program of conditioning relies on physical stress on the muscles. It would therefore not make any sense that you would spend all day sitting at work flexing your legs and arms because you are worried or stressed about your upcoming workout. You treat the stress of the workout during your workout time, not before, not after. This is something that comes fairly naturally to most of us and enables us to compartmentalize our workouts and enjoy them as a break from our routines. However, there are many people out there who bring the stress confusion from their lives into their workout schedule and spend the 20 something hours between workouts worrying about having to do the next session. That, simply put, is craziness. You should not wake up in the morning thinking about the workout you have to do that night. That kind of thinking will cause psychological stress which will ultimately affect your physical ability to perform.

Which brings me, finally, to my point.

The P90X program, or indeed any decent Personal Trainer workout will provide your body with a challenge and with the stress is requires to grow and to stay strong, flexible and durable. However, allowing your mind to stress about your workout during the day or the night before will only be counter-productive. This is a fairly common issue especially with people who are new to working out or who are taking up a particularly challenging system. The way to avoid this is very simple. Time management. Just as in your daily life, scheduling and time management will save you from the psychological stress of your workout. It allows you to put your workout both physically and psychologically into a slot in your day where it can remain, undisturbed and without interfering with the rest of your life until it is time to bring it out and get it done. This will provide you with the ability to separate it from the rest of your life and to prevent it from bleeding over into other aspects of your day. If you are the type of person who dreads their workout or who stresses all day in anticipation of it then you need to practice a little separation and time management.

Put the wolf in the cage and don’t let it out until it is time to fight.

(I am sure there is some subconscious reason for this post. I just don’t know what it is… It does seem a little odd, doesn’t it?)

DAY 58 – Put Down The Pork


The workouts are the easy part, the real challenge is writing about it every day!

Actually, looking at the scale this morning, the diet is obviously the challenge for me. Rest week obviously made my body think we were on vacation and didn’t have to bother losing any weight.

No-porkPlyo is one of my favourite workouts but for some reason tonight my legs were heavy and even with some recovery drink in my water I was struggling to finish the 30 second sections. I realized afterwards that I had not had a single vegetable all day and in fact the only living thing I ate was a banana early in the day. That explained it all, my body was short on hydration due to the low water content and high calorie density food I had been eating. It is amazing to feel the differences that small changes in your diet make, and it is frustrating to realize that you are having to torture yourself because you were too lazy and/or inattentive to eat some greens and fruit. I have always been a high protein type of eater, I knew from an early age that starch didn’t agree with me and that pasta made me fat. I love meat so I tended to stick with that and it worked OK for me when I would diet, cutting out the complex carbs was fairly easy. Nowadays I have found a more healthy approach and that is to replace the majority of the protein with fruits and vegetables which gives me much more energy and still enough protein to synthesize the tissue my body requires. For years I overloaded my body with too much protein, something that is very hard to quit doing but the more I learn about too much protein, the more afraid I get…

Hard to believe but there are less than 3 weeks left until coaching starts. One of my primary motivations for doing P90X was to get in better shape so that I could test the conditioning for the girls at gym. I don’t expect them to do anything I wouldn’t do as far as conditioning goes and so far over the years that has been the case. It is definitely getting harder to keep up but this year I think there will not be an issue…

Edit (Feb 15, 2011): Notice the lack of evidence given regarding the “too much protein” comment. It’s interesting to note how much information has come to light since this entry. In actual fact, I was always of the belief that too much protein was simply rejected as waste (although I am not sure how I would have explained this biologically). 2 1/2 years later, I am eating the same as I was here, but the protein outweighs the carbs by quite some distance. However, I still get the heavy feeling if I don’t get enough water. Hydration is a key element of any Paleo diet, and I still struggle with it. And by “it” I mean peeing like I am a in my third trimester.

Day 47-49 Weekends are fun! Program mixups are not!

I don’t want to fall into a pattern of losing touch with the proper schedule during weekends but for some reason last week’s mess with the wrong workout on the wrong day and then an extra day off really messed things up. It sent ripples of disturbance through this weekend causing me to perform a shortened Yoga workout on Sunday in order to set up for the real Yoga of rest week on Monday.

Friday was Day 47, I was already a day off schedule due to last week so it was supposed to be Yoga but actually I did Plyo since I switched them again, something that would come back to bite me. I do love the Plyo workout so it was easy to complete, enjoyable and easy to push myself. I did find that my legs were sore afterwards, something I was surprised at but I put down to the fact that I had pushed very hard during the lunges at the start. Saturday I did legs and back and found that my hamstrings were very tight after doing 30 minutes on the treadmill in the morning. Maybe it was the very hot weather recently but I find myself a little sluggish and with a very heavy feeling in my legs. I mentioned this last week but I thought for sure it would pass quickly enough. Not yet. I am thinking that on the days when I do double workouts that I am not replacing the glycogen well enough and that is causing me to hit the wall prematurely. It also would explain the lack of fullness in my legs and the sluggishness (I think). Saturday we went to the market early and I don’t recall feeling heavy and slow at that point so maybe it is the extra cardio after all. Sunday was supposed to be rest day on a normal week, this week it was supposed to be Yoga since I had skipped Monday and switched the Plyo and Yoga days. I checked the schedule for next week (REST WEEK 2 WOOHOO !!!!) and found that day 1 is supposed to be Yoga. I had really screwed myself. I knew I couldn’t do 2 days of Yoga back to back so I ended up doing about half the Yoga workout and some extra stretching to make sure I was not Yoga’d out by Monday. That workout was fine, the flexibility piece is getting easier, but the moving savasanas at the start are still a challenge, especially the last one with the half moon and twisting half moon.

I guess it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if you start to change stuff around you are going to run into problems with the schedule. The fact that it was an accident was little comfort when I realized what the changes had done. Anyway, I am going to be on rest week next week so I will have plenty of time to recover from the mix ups.

So there you have it, end of week 7 going on to rest week 2 and with only the last 1/3 of the program left to do. So far so good and I think this rest week I will try to post some measurements and some body part shots.

Don’t hold your breath.

Day 45 – The Turn

**Note to future self – That Nutrition course is bullshit, most of what you will hear is bullshit. Paleo is the answer to the lipid hypothesis lies and deceit. I can’t believe the state we are in due to the Canada Food Guide or the Standard American Diet – August 2011


Plyo – August 7 2009

Today is a milestone. I can’t believe that it is half over already and that I have actually managed to stick with the program. I don’t want to come off as arrogant or egotistical but I am certainly proud of myself so far and just a little bit impressed with my achievement. I feel younger and have less pain than I have in a long time and I am hoping that both those conditions will continue to improve. It is a great feeling getting out of bed in the morning and not having back pain, something which I can say I actually experience every so often now. I can’t remember any time since my surgery where I have had more than the occasional pain free day so this is a major improvement for me.

Plyo was fine, I am really enjoying it. Although today at the end of the workout I felt a little like I had not tried hard enough. During the workout my legs felt really heavy almost as if I was dehydrated but once I was finished I felt like I wanted to do more. It is a really weird phase that you go through when you are trying to modify your diet and you are missing something. Depending on who you are and what your tolerances for things are it can be a glycogen shortage, a deficiency of something like potassium or zinc or something as simple as dehydration. Whatever it is, you are robbed of short term energy so have a hard time being functionally effective during the workout but after a very short rest, usually 3 or 4 minuntes, you feel completely recovered. Very frustrating.

Personal Nutrition by Sarah Long

I have finally been studying for the Nutriton exam and learned a lot about carbohydrates today. Tomorrow I have to finish lipids and then get on to protein. I did about 25% of the course over 2 days, I think by the end of the weekend I should be over 50% done. The course itself is very interesting and raises a unique approach to nutrition that I think most people don’t realize is the way your diet should work. The theory is that you take all the calories and vitamins and minerals that you need for the day and find the foods that will give you enough of those requirements. That usually entails some lean protein, lots of fruits and veg for minerals and vitamins and some complex carbs to meet your glycogen store requirement. Once you have met all your requirements you will have a few discretionary calories that you can use for “free” food, stuff that you can eat because you already met your dietary requiremetns for the day. Those discretionary calories are what you would use to eat things like chicken wings or a slice of pizza but once you do the calculation above you come to realize that in fact if you are meeting all your dietary requirements you are already eating enough food that you won’t need to eat garbage like that. The actual calculations are a little complex due to the specific vitamin and mineral requirements for the specific individual and their lifestyle but the basic point that comes out of every calculation is the same: Eat what your body requires and you won’t need to eat anything else. You also probably won’t crave anything bad because cravings are basically a manifestation of some deficiency. Really fascinating stuff.