This week, questionable company Beach Body, announced that they were in the process of creating P90X 3.  Having done and completed both P90X, P90X Plus, and P90X 2, one would think that I would be jumping at the chance to undertake a third round. This may only be a partially true assumption. While I am truly curious about what lies ahead for Tony Horton and the gang, I wanted to also look back at the impact this program has had on the those who are both inside and outside the fitness community.

Many people do not realize that this program was initially put on the market in 2004. I would say that it did not hit its real stride until a yr or two later. I was first exposed to the program in 2007, and I will share what it did for my life.  I began the program in earnest from day one. I was a pretty well-conditioned individual at that point, holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’d trained often, but my life began to get crazy (married kids, job far away) and it was limiting me to about two days per week.

P90X offered me a solution for all of this. Regardless of when I got home, I was able to use my own space, quickly change, and work out. The routines were tough, and I felt immediately, that in spite of what anyone said, I would not recommend this program to a beginner. It simply required too much base level conditioning for a sedentary person to complete. I grew to love all of the various dvd’s (except kenpo x).  P90X had allowed me to make significant gains in muscular endurance and overall cardiovascular health.

Naturally, I went on to buy just about anything that resembled this program as time moved on. I mentioned them before. I’d also completed Insanity twice. On the whole, I was a very fit person. I continued to do Beach Body programs (adding in dead lifting) until fairly recently. I have a feeling many others, like me, were able to find themselves athletically through these programs. It set me up to be an active person on a daily basis, regardless of the fact that I was starting many dvd’s at ten pm.

There came a day earlier in the year when I forced myself to stop and re-evaluate. I had been exposed to some other theories and books that started to hold a heavier influence on me. It was as if Beach Body had taken me as far as it could. I was great in the realm of their exercises and their demands, but the holes in my armor began to show themselves.

I lacked absolute strength. The kind of strength that you get by loading up a barbell and working until you are shake. I also discovered that kettle bells build a more insane core than any routine I could ever hope for. I thought I was a stud until this point. I picked up quickly, but have to admit that I felt like the new kid on the block for more than just a day here.  If anyone is looking for alternate ways to get strong, please check out http://www.dragondoor.com. I have no affiliation with them monetarily, but they offer amazing and refreshing insight into the real world of building insane strength.

In full review, P90X was a launchpad for me. I tended to stay in the comfort zone of that launchpad a bit too long, which led to a major false sense of security. They are great workouts though, and if you have not tried them, they are worth your time. Maybe they will light the same spark in you as they did for me!

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The feeling is not uncommon. Your legs ache, your arms feel extra heavy, and let’s not get into how sore your glutes are. Clearly, you’ve been through a challenging workout in the last twenty-four hours. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that we are human after all, and although we might have played Superman when we were doing those squats earlier, the real effects are about to occur now.

This is a phenomenon known as “delayed onset muscle soreness”. There are many reason behind why it occurs, but let’s talk today about how we can better deal with this temporary source of pain.  The answer is not to avoid it by working out lighter either. Usually, it’s a sign that things are repairing themselves in your body, and potentially growing. Use this soreness as your badge of honor for the day!

We live in a culture that loves to pop a pill for everything. Advil has even marketed itself as an effective form of pain relief for muscle soreness in its recent advertisements. Unless you have done some serious damage and likely need medical attention, I would not go the painkiller route. Highly esteemed pharmacist and nutritionist Dr. Hickey made it very clear on a recent radio broadcast that although painkillers remove the issue in the short term, they can actually weaken the joint that they are directed to. Plus, if we took these pills for any small thing, we’d end up building up a tolerance to these items, and perhaps having a harmful level of their bio-accumulated ingredients in your body.

What do we do then? Though there have been those that put down stretching and argued against it, I would have to say it is a necessity. If you don’t stretch, the body remains very tight, and the range of motion in each joint is lessened. That means that any activity the falls outside of this small range will create either soreness or injury. I try to stretch any muscle that I will be working, both before and after exercise. I would advise you to do a light warm-up before the first stretch of your day. It may reduce the soreness levels that you have.

Stretching is not the only weapon we have against soreness. I love the foam roller! They are cheap, easy, and effective. The key to foam rolling is to focus on areas that were worked (or are going to be) in your workout, as well as any spots that are problematic frequently. Go slow on the roller and don’t shift your weight quickly from side to side. Most people report the best results when thy either stop on the “hot spot” or slowly slide through it.

Once in a while, a trip to the masseuse is a nice treat that can help lower soreness levels greatly. I also make monthly trips to chiropractor (covered by nearly all insurances and $20) to ensure that my spine is properly aligned, and that my posture is where it needs to be. When everything is in balance here, we are in prime shape for all physical activity. One more item of note would be an “electro stim” unit which is about $30 on amazon. Apply the pads to the sore spot and let it twitch away.

I hope this was helpful in avoiding hitting the pills, and finding productive ways to ease your soreness. Until next time, be well and stay safe!

Like many people in the fitness community, I enjoy a good challenge! I was genetically given a body frame that is extremely slight for someone who is well over six feet tall. I am able to shed fat with extreme ease, but have always lacked true size. This is typically not a problem for most people, who put size on for cosmetic or pure, raw strength reasons. My case is different, as I have a Crohn’s disease diagnosis to work through, and I recently rehabbed a neck injury.

Crohn’s afflicted people are often very underweight, and will lose large percentages of their body weight when the disease flares up. Doctors fear the worst because these patients are often grossly underweight to start with, and during a serious bout…they are losing even more weight. I decided this was not going to be me. I want a bit of a cushion in the event that something goes wrong.

I began looking into an amazing book by Dan Johns called Mass Made Simple.  The exercise routines in the book and clean weight gain techniques are excellent, and this item is a steal at under ten dollars at the kindle store. Basically, each week you add a new protein/fiber source to your diet for six weeks. You also do TONS of high rep squat sequences, as doing so will aid the body in naturally releasing human growth hormone. The large size of the quad muscles is what brings this on. You also work your entire body using complexes that stress many different movements without ever putting the bar down. I also listened to some amazing eating methods from “The Mike Dolce Show”. Type that into google, listen and absorb the words of a weight/nutrition expert!

I am a very fit person, who has conquered program after program in my pursuit of better fitness. I even reached the pinnacle by earning a black belt in jiu jitsu, and I’m working on my second degree each day. Mass building was a whole new story! I could barely walk after these workouts, and I even threw up after the third workout day. This type of insane load and volume work was enough to drive me to the brink, and I love it.

It also made realize that there is no replacement for good technique. When you are on rep number 30 of a squat weight that exceeds your body weight, it better be clean. Good technique also allows you to take the most from each exercise. If you are unsure of how to do a move, watch videos, look at a pictorial progression, and read explanation. The best thing (if possible), is to have another member of the fitness community assist you.

I know this was all over the place, but I wanted to share the small piece of my journey. I’m up 5 pounds in a short period of time, and I want to try to gain ten more before this cycle is closed out. Definitely check the book out to learn more, and please give “The Mike Dolce Show” a listen. If you want help with bulking, I can let u know anything further that I know. We can go through this together!

The world of fitness is truly not what the general public sees on their collective television sets each week. Hollywood has dramatized the way we view working out and the type of working out that is typically done. While this may alienate some of you, my intent is always to provide an honest assessment of what I see, and not pander to any special interests.

“The Biggest Loser” is probably my number one offender. I’m shocked that there has not been a fatal vascular incident of some type on this show. They eschew the idea of progressively breaking someone into a healthy lifestyle for the glamour of pushing a crew of highly sedentary and obese individuals to the point of danger. On top of this, one of the famed trainers loves to scream at these clients for not immediately turning into super athletes by simply stepping into her gym. This is not how professionals should act, and once again the allure of high ratings replaces the true advice on form and duration that should be given. Worst of all, are the embedded product endorsements! They openly talk about the wonderful choices at Subway, and how “good ” it is for you! This isn’t real advice, it’s recognizing your sponsor. I could think of about 100 food items that I could place ahead of Subway when making recommendations, but these so-called trainers will compromise their own knowledge for a higher paycheck.

“Celebrity Fit Club” is perhaps a bit better in a few respects, but once more the drama rises to the top, and the folks who go there in serious pursuit of weight loss are often the ones who get the least air time. I like the idea of giving the clients reachable goals, and I also appreciate the the fact that there is someone on hand who handles the mental aspect of transformation. I do feel at times though, that some of this advice is contrived or rehearsed.

There are plenty of others, but my point goes beyond all of this. How many clients do you see weight training? How many of them are smiling or enjoying the workout? How much actual training is going on? I look to the world of power lifting and see a coach like Marty Gallagher (look him up please!), who wrote a masterpiece of a book named, The Purposeful Primitive. He took five extremely obese clients, used no outside supplementation, had them eat easy-to-find normal healthy food choices, and created champions. Nearly all of them went on to place in AAU weight lifting competitions. Most of them had never done a squat in their entire lives! This is who we should see on our sets each week, but his calm and thoughtful nature don’t make for amazing shows. He has set these people up for a lifetime of amazing health.

Those within the fitness community know what the true fit life is like. My fear is that these shows have turned people off to attempting a healthier lifestyle because of their severe and over-dramatized nature. It is our charge to welcome newcomers with friendly, open arms and ensure that they are training safely and properly. Until next time, stay fit and be well!

As I posted last time, I’m trying to heal up from an injury which can be mild torment for an athlete who has tons of time during the summer. At first, I was devastated. I had visions of my body crumbling like an old statue that has finally succumbed to the oppression that time has placed on it. Immediately after the initial shock wave of extreme pain shot through my neck, I picked up the nearest item and threw it in frustration (it was a shoe, so you can bet I looked totally ridiculous as I held my neck with one hand and tossed a shoe with the other). It seemed as if the thud made against the wall acted as some time of subconscious alarm clock. 

I began to awaken to fact that feeling angry or upset about this was not going to help me mentally or physically. As I enter my twelfth year of martial arts, I thought back to all of the mild nagging injuries that I got when I was new and ended up on the wrong side of almost every sparring session. They were like battle wounds, and gave me one more obstacle to say I had surpassed on my odyssey towards a black belt. This was going to have be treated as one of those blockades to circumnavigate. I had choices; move through this with grace or trudge through it and feel badly for myself.

I could not be more pleased to have selected the former. The next step for me was not sulking in a corner, but finding the right kind of care for my injury, and in the days that passed I worked with my new chiropractor to make significant gains. She even commented on how well my body responded to the treatment. I feel as if this was no coincidence. Our mind clearly has an impact on our physical health, which is why you see people with chronic disease suffer flare-ups during overly stressful periods of time. 

Now I have heard the sedentary folks around me comment with little barbs like “See…that’s why it doesn’t really help you to work out!” or “You could have broken your neck! See what happens when you overdo it!” I have learned that nothing I say will change people of this mindset, and err on the side of “breathing through the negativity”. I don’t need to feed a negative comment with another negative comment. That doesn’t create the environment I wish to maintain in my home. 

If I were to address these comments, it would likely remain positive in nature (although I don’t because it allows them another chance to heap on negative). I would simply state that I would take all of the injuries and all of the associated pain all over again if you gave me the choice. Exercise, fitness, and martial arts in particular have impacted my life in ways that are hard to describe in mere words. I have improved my life in pursuit of what is right for my body. I hope you liked this one. Please give me some feedback, stay fit, and be well!

After many years of really good luck (including 12 yrs of mma), it finally happened to me. I was in mid-dead lift and inhaled some type of dust or other similar irritant, leading to a sudden cough, which brought on a turn of my head. The shooting pain the fired through the right side of my neck dictates the rest of the story. Under a load of over 200 lbs (it was an 8-12 rep day), I had done some type of damage here.

Most of my prior injuries were deep bruises or simple muscle pulls, but this one felt structural. Those would heal with a bit of rest, this didn’t seem to be headed in that direction. After a torturous following day of work, I was diagnosed by the chiropractor. She told me I had a subluxation of my c3 and c4 vertebrae in my neck. In simple terms, things were completely misaligned now, and the muscles were seriously inflamed.

After a week of multiple visits of cracking and popping things back into place, I began to feel like I was doing a bit better. I was still shelved for martial arts for at least another ten days and from any type of full contact engagement for longer, but cleared for light exercise. It was tough to realize that I had very limited options, as weights were out of the question.

I was given a book called “The Naked Warrior” that limits its scope to body weight work. In this program, two exercises are done without a direct or concentrated time routine. Pistol squats (look them up because they’re awesome) and one arm push-ups (it’s a slow buildup to this) are the highlight movements. They require an extreme amount of full-body bracing and allow the participant to ease progressively into the exercise.

While these movements are excellent, it’s the idea of “greasing the groove”  (GTG) that really worked for me in the scenario I’m currently facing. You only focus on two moves during a two/three week cycle, which allows you to remain focused and perfect those moves. The most interesting part is found in the frequency in which these moves are done. It is recommended that you do mini-sets of no more than five reps as often as is comfortable in your daily schedule. You should attempt to get a fairly high number of mini-sets in though. This allows you to remain fresh each time you approach the moves.

I found the mini-set idea to be a great option for my neck injury. I would not be fatiguing myself. Additionally, the author is clear that it’s okay to fluctuate the amount of mini-sets done throughout a day depending upon your physical level of wellness. I am currently working on getting a better handle on the pistol squat and one arm push-up, so I did a GTG with tricep and chest dips, as well as calf raises. I wanted to steer clear of my neck, while working on areas that have been weaknesses for me.

Pavel Tsatsouline has created a great program that lets you sprinkle your reps throughout the course of your day. I highly recommend it to anyone who is transitioning between cycles, injured, or looking to learn some great body tension ideas that will help you through your everyday lifts. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a comment. Until then, stay safe, be well, and I’m glad to be back.

As a member of the fitness community, I’m sure we’ve all heard people talk about what they wish to do with their body, and/or the current routine that they are working with. We’ve probably also seen upstarts dream big and go way too hard in the first month or two. Today’s article is going discuss the ideology behind a fitness plan, and how you should really be planning to reach the goals that you’ve laid out for yourself.

A clear objective is the first step to any exercise plan. Whether it’s adding a certain amount of weight to a specific lift, or going a further distance on runs, these flexible landmarks need to be clearly defined from the outset. I’d say the biggest stumbles that occur with objectives lies in those who create vague ones like “I want to run more” or “I want to do more pull-ups”. You can reach these kind of goals by day two if you really think about it, and since that’s not what you’re looking for, you’ll often end up lingering in the same program for far too long. This will either create imbalances or limit gains due to General Adaptation Syndrome.

The other conundrum that jumps off of the page is a goal that is totally unrealistic. Beginners are renowned for this, and it is very problematic. It often discourages the person because they continue to fall short of the goal, or it isn’t happening fast enough for them. The result usually leads to workout overload during the early weeks/months, which lends itself readily to injury. I have seen this too many times, and frequently that person ends up leaving the fitness community. They are very tough to get back as well.

I make goals like, “I would like to add 20 pounds to my deadlift”, or “I want a 3% drop in my body fat.” These are clear, and I know when I have attained them. I also can plan for success for goals such as these with clarity and understanding. If my goal is to add pounds to my deadlift, I’m not going to do that by running and doing cardio work for a majority of my time. I would have to line up accessory lifting work that traditionally benefits this lift, while allowing enough other work for my body to remain balanced. Likewise, if my goal was to reduce body fat, I better not be pounding down steaks for dinner every night and asking for dessert.

There are also going to be times when the goal is appearing further away than you wanted it to at that juncture of the workout routine. Don’t be afraid to redraft the path that you need to take to get to that objective. Sometimes we consult with someone and get some new ideas, or we see that a particular action is not bringing the rewards we anticipated it would. These things are bound to happen through your fitness career, and I find myself doing these subtle tweaks. In fact, the most successful people are the ones who set up a solid plan and are adept at knowing how and when to make the small alterations that might add up big time later.

What happens when I get to that goal? Time to reassess how you got there, and what you would do next time to extend this goal. I then begin the process of setting up an entirely new goal to reach, because fitness is a journey without an end. We just reach new and exciting landmarks along the way. Stay fit and be well!