P90X Day 2: Plyometrics

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
This was my second day with P90X. The first day of P90X was very tough. Apparently I missed a few spots with the Sportscreme last night and I really felt it during the Plyometrics warm up. Ah, nothing makes you feel fatter than your sore chest and ab muscles hurt while the fat over them moves while doing jumping jacks.

Plyometrics is all about jump exercises. It follows the same basic format as the other videos. A few minutes of warming up and stretching, the exercise routine, then a cool down and stretching series to finish things off.

There wasn't any moves in this DVD that I couldn't do, but it was hard to keep up with some. Getting as high or jumping as fast in some cases wasn't possible and in some cases, jumps turned into big steps as my heart rate was getting too high.

Recovery Drink Options

When you exercise, your muscles use up stored glycogen. Glycogen is what your muscles use for energy. Glycogen consists of glucose molecules.

The point of a recovery drink is to restore the glycogen in your body after a work out and studies have shown that it's best to do this 30-60 minutes after your work out because that's the prime time to trigger glycogen restoration.

Carbohydrates are our main source of glucose, so it's important to consume carbohydrates 30-60 minutes after working out so your muscles can recover. Other studies have shown that adding protein along with the carbohydrates will increase glycogen restoration. Different sources indicate that ratio of carbohydrates to protein should be somewhere between 2:1 and 4:1.

P90X Day 1: Chest & Back Workout

Monday, April 13, 2009
Today was the first full workout of the P90X program. It doesn't start out easy, the first day consists of a lot of push-ups and pull-ups then the Ab Ripper X workout.

Push-ups and pull-ups aren't easy for me so this was a very hard way to start. The pace of the exercises in addition to the amount makes it very difficult. At one point, I thought I was going to throw up but I kept going.

For a few weeks before I started P90X I tried working on my chest by doing push-ups and chest presses, but I still had a hard time.

I've always hated push-ups and there was only one time in my life where I remember being able to do a lot of them. I knew that going into this, as well as knowing that P90X involves a lot of push-ups so I tried to work my way up before doing the program.

Are Egg Yolks So Bad?

One of the most important parts of the P90X Fitness Program is the diet that comes along with it. To get the ripped results of the people you see in the videos and promotional photos, you need to reduce body fat and you can't do that with exercise alone. So watching what you eat is very important to get the best results.

I'm planning on doing 2 rounds of P90X to get the results I want and in the first round I'm not really following the nutritional program. My diet isn't that bad, but I know I can improve so I've been working on doing so.

My P90X Expectations

Sunday, April 12, 2009
I have to be honest, I'm not expecting much from the P90X program. It's not that I don't think the program works, it's that I don't think I'm quite ready for it.

P90X was meant for people who are already in reasonable shape and want to push it even more to get bigger and more ripped. It is actually the next level to the Power 90 In-Home Boot Camp which is also from Tony Horton and Beach Body. The transformation videos I've seen from people who were in about my shape and got really cut from the program seemed to start with Power 90 then did P90X.

Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells Review

When I decided to start getting back in shape the first thing I wanted to add to my exercise equipment was a set of adjustable dumbbells for some more upper body exercises. When looking for some more ideas for dumbbell exercises I also started learning about P90X and an adjustable dumbbell set looked like a good idea for that program.

I had a set of weights and bars but I wasn't using them often. They can be a bit cumbersome when you need to switch to different weights for different exercises and I wanted something that I could easily fit under my desk to throw in a few sets throughout the day when I needed a break.

When I decide to purchase something that's fairly expensive, I try to do a bit of research to make sure I'm not wasting my money. This time was no exception. After looking around at various options I decided on the 2 x 25 lbs Bayou Adjustable Dumbbells.

Now that I've used the set for some time, I wanted to share my opinion.

While an adjustable dumbbell set might look expensive at first, when you compare it to a comparable set of hex dumbbells, it's cheaper and saves a lot of space.

The two other sets I looked at where the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells (2009 Model) and the Powerblock Classic Adjustable Dumbbell Set.

I have to say, that the SelectTechs are cheaper too.

The nice thing about the SelectTechs which are the same length no matter how much weight you adjust it to. This can make certain types of exercises more cumbersome.

The reason I went with the Bayou set was there were some good reviews online and it seemed to have a good design. I emailed Bayou Fitness with some questions before I purchased and they were quick to respond. The main reason though was price. The Bayou Adjustable Dumbbell Set was available in a set of two 5-25 lb weights. I didn't want to spend over $300 on a set of dumbbells and I thought this set would be enough for a while. had the Bayou Adjustable Dumbbells for around $155 which included shipping.

The Bayou Adjustable Dumbbells have a simple design. There are 4 2.5 lb plates on each end of the chrome dumbbell and you pull then slide a pin on each side of the dumbbell to select the weight you want. The weight is adjustable from 5 lbs (bar without any plates) up to 25 lbs per dumbbell in increments of 5 lbs. The pins operate independent of each other so you could adjust the weights in increments of 2.5 lbs but that would make the dumbbells be off balance. For some exercises, such as hammer curls, that might not be a problem, for others it could put strain on your wrists.

There is a plastic base that holds each dumbbell and provides a little sticker to help you remember the weight settings. If you adjust the pins to set the bar to 15 lbs, when you pick up the bar it will come off the base with 2 plates attached and 2 plates left on the base. The weights are just held by gravity and the resistance of the base. If you lift the bar off at an extreme angle, it's possible to dislodge some of the weights that are left behind and they can fall out of the base. This only happened to me once at the end of a workout session when my arms were pretty tired. Luckily I was able to keep the plate from crashing on my foot.

At first, one of the dumbbells in the set was hard to adjust and very difficult to put the bar back in the rack. I adjusted the position of some of the plates and eventually got it to work better, but from time to time I still have a hard time putting the bar back. Since the plates are only sitting on the base they can tilt at the top sometimes and if they aren't properly aligned the bar won't seat properly.

The weights are quick and easy to adjust but maybe one out of 10 changes still gets stuck which slows things down. Sometimes the pin will have a hard time sliding to a different weight setting or the bar won't slide down into the base as mentioned above. To make things quicker, I was hoping it would be possible to use one hand on each pin but that's not possible, you need your other hand to hold down the bar, otherwise the bar will lift slightly which locks things up.

The plastic base seems strong but lightweight and I was concerned that lifting up the weights when at 25 lbs, the base would come along with it, but that wasn't the case. There are a couple of holes in the base that I believe are meant to screw it down to a flat surface if you decide to build a stand.
Overall, the set works fine and I'm not inclined to return it, mainly because I already put the boxes out for the recycling truck and don't want to deal with the hassle of shipping them back.

One of the reasons is that I don't expect the 25 lbs per hand to be enough for some exercises for much longer. That's my own fault.

The main reason though is I think they're overpriced for what you get. When I research a new product I usually do a very thorough job and I put in a lot of time before I made this decision, but that wasn't the case. The $155 seemed like a good way to get a decent adjustable dumbbell set when the competition was starting at over $300. Unfortunately, I completely missed one of PowerBlock's sets which goes up to 24 lbs per hand (pictured left).

The benefits of the PowerBlocks more and this set is adjustable from 3-24 lbs in 3 lb increments which is more versatile.

The PowerBlock set.

More likely, I'd go with one of the PowerBlock Sport 9.0 Stage I that goes for a little over $400 including shipping.

When I outgrow the Bayou set, I'm probably not going to invest in a new set of adjustable dumbbells right away. While I like working out with weights, I've always liked the machines at the gym better. With weights, I see a lot of people not using good form and cheating a bit. Because of the physical weight you can use the momentum a bit. You've probably seen people doing this, or have done it yourself. For example, during curls they swing their arms like a pendulum instead of using their muscles to do all the work. You can't really do this with weight machines, or resistance bands which are a lot cheaper. Good form is important to get the best results and if you're working with resistance bands you can't really cheat the same way you can with weights.

So I decided to order the Ripcords Exercise Bands Black Sniper Edition. This set of resistance bands simulates weights of 3 to 62 lbs per hand. Ripcords also offers a lifetime replacement warranty in case a band breaks. The set also includes a door hook that allows you to use your bands instead of a pull up bar.

The bands are also very portable since they are small and the shipping weight is only 5lbs. Easy to store in a suitcase or a desk drawer. In hindsight, I should have just gone with the bands over the adjustable dumbbells. I would have had more resistance and saved $100. I'll have a better idea of that after I've received them and used them for a while.

The Real Secret to a Flat Stomach is Not Crunches

Saturday, April 11, 2009
This is something I learned a while ago that I found very useful. If you want to lose weight around your midsection and get a flatter stomach, you might think you need to do a lot of sit-ups, crunches or other abdominal exercises. That's not the case.

Something like an Ab Roller, one of those stomach tazers or anything like that isn't necessary. Those things won't help you get a flat stomach, or at least they're not the most effective ways.

If you already have a flat stomach, and just want to work towards 6 pack abs, you'll need to do crunches and exercises to work your lower abs and obliques. There's no avoiding that, but if you're not quite there yet, and you want to slim down around your waist there are better ways to do it.

P90X on the Cheap

Friday, April 10, 2009
The price of the P90X DVDs isn't so bad, but along with it, you'll need some equipment. It's not too bad, especially when you compare it with a typical gym membership.

But what if you were on a very tight budget and wanted to start the P90X program? How little can you actually get away with spending?

The normal P90X equipment consists of a set of dumbbells, an exercise/yoga mat and a pull up bar. Beachbody, the distributors of P90X, sell this equipment on their website. What they have is pretty pricey in some cases, but there are alternatives I'll review in the rest of this post.

Getting Back In Shape

Thursday, April 9, 2009
"I'm not fat, but I'm not skinny." You've probably heard a lot of people say that and you might have said that yourself. From comparing the different people that have said it, you realize that people have a very distorted view of their own physical fitness.

If you want to have a good idea of where you stand, try computing your body mass index (BMI). If you have a normal weight, your BMI will be in the 18.5 - 24.9 range. 25-29.9 and you're overweight. Over 30, you're considered obese.

This is just a rough guide. If you were 6' tall and 250lbs but completely ripped, it wouldn't mean anything, but for most people, this should give you some idea of where you're at.

Even at my heaviest, I have never fallen into the obese category, but I could stand to lose a few lbs. I'm definitely overweight according to my BMI index. Now, I have two choices. I can gain 6 inches in height, or I can try and lose around 25lbs. I'm already tall enough and can't figure out how to get any taller, so I'm going to have to lose some weight.

This is one of the things I started to push myself to do and I'll use this blog as a record of my progress and things I learn along the way.

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