Fitness

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Two weeks completed! Almost, I am about to do Yoga X on my day off, since I skipped it a few days ago and did Ab Ripper X instead.

To my surprise, I gained 5Lbs the first ten days! Disappointing, since I am hoping to drop 15Lbs during the twelve weeks. It turns out that this isn’t unusual at the beginning of each phase. The body reacts to soreness by storing water everywhere. I did reduce my calories intake a bit, and bingo, I am back down to 203.5Lbs. I know such small changes mean nothing, but it keeps me motivated. I hope to reach 195Lbs by mid July. That would be of course more than a 5Lbs fat loss, since I am also putting on muscle mass. I did replace Kenpo X by a systema class plus Ab Ripper X, and it easily made up for it. I was wondering about dropping Yoga this week, but I am committed to this program, and I can’t start cheating now.

Creatine: I got myself a kilo of creatine. It definitely seems to help getting a few more reps at the end, especially when doing abs. I didn’t load as much as product manufacturers suggest (20g/day for 5-7 days), but did 15g/day for five days. Now I take 5g 30 minutes before a workout.

Kenpo X: I have much to say about Kenpo X. Consider it a cardio workout, and nothing else. The P90X book calls Kenpo a “raw street fighting style.” I disagree. Do not hope to use your Kenpo X to defend yourself, or you might get in trouble. The punches are ‘stop-and-back’ classical karate style with a lot of tension. There are a couple problems associated with that. First, why hurt your joints by stopping your arm in mid air and pulling back? This sudden reversal of kinetic energy is wasteful and pulls quite a bit on your joints. Second, when you punch someone, you want the energy generated by mass and movement to transfer to your target, not bounce right back to you. Translation: You must keep a loose shoulder for your punch to be efficient. Instead of stop-and-back, I punch in a circular or elliptical motion. I do not slow down my punches at any time during this motion. If I was to hit something, most of the energy would be transfered. Same for the blocks. If you don’t have to block, don’t. Redirect attacks with circular motion. I try to keep constant motion during Kenpo X, no linear back-and-forth movements. You could do the same for kicks, but I left that part unchanged. After all, this is not a self defense workout, but a cardio one. I might post a video here later to explain those changes.

Legs and Back: Probably the easiest of the resistance series for me. Easiest doesn’t mean easy.. I think my daily bicycle rides, though short, helped me quite a bit. Not much to say here, just that it is a sound, classic workout, like most of the others.

X Stretch: I haven’t tried yet. The last day of weeks 1 through 4 is supposed to be either off or X Stretch. Since I skipped a couple days, I had to catch up during my day off.

After two weeks of training, I can’t see any difference in my body shape yet, and it is too soon for that. I am just happy to be sticking with the program. 1:15 of exercise a day actually takes much more time. Consider meal preparations (6/day), shopping, calorie counting on fitday.com, more showers, more laundry… So, I estimate more like a 2:00 to 2:30 daily commitment. I still try to go to my Systema class once or twice a week.

Two more weeks and I will be posting about the recovery week four and my results at the end of phase one. And now, on to Yoga X. I hate that one… Oh well…

I finally decided to get myself a new body! Well, sort of.. I have been practicing Systema for five years now, and reached a plateau which I deem to be physical. Problem is, I find it very hard to stay motivated as far as working out goes.. Forget going to the gym, although there is a lot of eye candy at mixed gender venues. Let’s face it, I need structure, something to stick to, a plan of some sort. So, I searched the net for something that would suit my needs.

Everything seemed to point to P90X. It is a very hard program, 90 days, about 1:15 a day of strenuous workouts, along with a nutrition plan that probably will make my French ancestors turn in their graves. The box came, containing twelve DVDs, a nutrition book and workout book. The only things you need are a pull-up bar (you’ll be doing a lot of those!) and dumbbells. I thought it would be one DVD per week, but you actually use different disks every day.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/JyeltCbZVqY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Looking at the nutrition book left me a bit puzzled. For the first month, I am supposed to eat 3000 calories a day, 20% fats, 30% carbohydrates, and 50% proteins. Let me tell you, that little fat and carbs is nothing. I find it difficult to keep them down, while consuming enough proteins. I don’t think I could do it without Whey protein powder. If you are thinking about getting into P90X, or any similar exercise regimen, plan on spending good money on quality food and supplements.

I am now 6’2”, 200Lbs. Not bad for a 43yo, but I could bulk up a bit, especially on the arms, and lose enough belly to see my six-pack abs (I know they are in there somewhere). I probably won’t have to lose any weight, just redistribute it. You won’t see my before photos yet, because I don’t like them. I will post them later, when I see some visible improvements. Who wants to see a half naked middle-aged Frenchman anyway, right?

Here is a brief overview of my first few days, and what I think of the different workouts:

Ab Ripper X: Only sixteen minutes long, you do it along with other workouts. I have always been good at abs, so no problem there, I can almost keep up with these guys, but for some reps in the last five minutes. You really feel a nice burn with these exercises, lower and upper abs, the later which I seem to have disregarded in the past, given the pain I feel now. There is only one way to get a six-pack, and that is to lower you percentage of body fat to at least 10% (15% for women). No amount of exercise will do it. Ab Ripper X though is certainly a good start.

Plyometrics: It’s all about jumping around, up and down. My legs are still sore from the day before last. One hour is pretty hard. I hit the pause button a few times to drink water and dry myself with a towel. Your heart rate goes way up, and you sweat buckets. I felt pretty good after, more from the accomplishment of finishing it than the workout itself. It’s a hell of a way to start the day.

Chest and Back: That’s when the dumbbells come in. I got a set at Goodwill for $23, the kind that use sliding plates. Bad idea… You end-up changing weights all the time, pressing the pause button every few minutes. A one hour workout takes one and a half. I need to get a few pairs: 10Lbs, 25Lbs, and 30Lbs, for now. 25Lbs is what I use the most right now. My friend Ted loaned me a pull-up bar you put on a door frame. It works fine, but I have seen better ones, allowing a wider grip, at Walmart, of all places. Right now I can’t do even one pull-up, so I put my feet on a chair. If one word defines “Chest and Back,” it’s “push-ups.” I did 23 on the first day, but I know I can go up to 30 on a good day.

Shoulders and Arms: Bring on the weights! Lots of curls, triceps, dips with a chair. It is hard (I suspect none of these twelve workouts will be easy..), but quite fun. My left shoulder is much weaker than my right, due to a dislocation a few years ago. My elbow joints hurt on the inside, I wonder what I could do to take care of that.. That is one workout however I will be looking forward to.

Yoga X: I’ll be honest here, the first half really sucks. I am as flexible as a cutting board and could do practically none of it. The book says it is based on Hatha Yoga, but the first half is more like Iyengar, which I do not like. I prefer a more dynamic yoga, without so many balance and holding poses (though I can stay in tree pose forever). I was almost going to give-up and replace it with something else, like Cardio X. The problem is that if I start making one concession, I will make others.. I really want to stick to the program as closely as I possibly can, without missing any days or avoiding exercises I dislike.

I just finished day 4, and will describe the last workouts of this week in a few days, namely “Legs and Back,” “Kenpo X,” which by the way is in my opinion practically worthless for self defense as presented in P90X (I only mention this because they did mention self-defense), and “X Stretch,” which you can do on your off day. Feel free to ask any questions or give me advise in the comments box below..