#199 The Slim-Down Lowdown
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"The word aerobics came about when the gym instructors got together and said, 'If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it jumping up and down.'"

Rita Rudner


3 Proven Workout Techniques for Weight Loss Success
By Steve Edwards

At Beachbody, we're not scientists; we're fitness trainers. We don't have a lab with a bunch of medical equipment where we hook our clients to various apparatuses and make them exercise to exhaustion while living on a diet of Slimming Formula and protein powder. Instead, we use scientific findings along with our experience of working with people in the real world who have needed to lose weight. We're always looking at the latest research, then molding it in a way to fit our clients' needs. This is how we've come up with many of our training terms and philosophies that seem unique. But they're not unique from a scientific perspective. They're only unique in how we've applied them to you and your individual needs. So let's take a look at some of our Beachbody fitness techniques and how they work to make you slimmer, fitter, and healthier.

Sectional ProgressionTM
Looking for the most time-efficient means of shaping the body, we came up with the Sectional Progression concept, utilized in all of our workouts, including our successful Power 90® program. If you played sports and spent time in the weight room, you've heard of something similar. Your coach probably told you to work one body part at a time until exhaustion before moving on to the next. Sectional Progression is similar.

Where it differs is that it's done circuit-style. You've probably heard of circuit training (prior to Beachbody) as well. Training in circuits eliminates the standard rest period most people take in the gym between exercises, so that each "weight training" session also has a cardio element. If you're only going to do one thing for exercise, circuit training is the most effective way to use your time.

The combination, termed "Sectional Progression," takes us through each body part to failure (or nearly), circuit-style. This combination is the most efficient way to exercise. If you have a very limited amount of time to exercise, Sectional Progression is where it's at.

Slim Training®
If you've ever seen a marathon, you've probably noticed one thing all the elite runners have in common—they're very thin. Too thin, perhaps, for some tastes, but, regardless, the process of running marathons all the time tends to make people very thin. The reason is that they do so much repetition that it limits the muscle's capacity for growth as well as using the body's stored fat for energy.

Utilizing a similar concept, we expanded on Sectional Progression by adding a repetitive element. By working the same body parts with less rest in between similar workouts, the body is forced into a different type of adaptation. Like a marathoner's body shows, repetition limits the amount of muscle growth that can occur. Wanting our clients to achieve a more well-rounded appearance than that of a marathoner, we reduced their massive number of repetitions and used a full-body circuit. This is done daily to limit the amount of resistance (weight) that can be used while working the entire body for a lean, slim look.

While very effective, this style of training can't be done all of the time. For this reason we made Slim in 6® a six-week program and recommend a recovery cycle in between rounds. A recovery cycle is a period of time when you reduce the intensity of your workouts—generally the weight and speed—to allow your body to recover, get strong, and become ready for another round of high-intensity training.

Muscle Confusion
Naturally, our newly-fit customers began demanding ways to continually progress along their fitness paths. After each training program and a recovery phase, our customers would launch into something newer and, hopefully, more intense, to continue their progression curve moving upwards.

Athletes train with what are called training blocks. These are periods of time of increased intensity with a recovery phase between each block. The more fit you are, the quicker the body adapts and the more often you need to move into the next training block. This is termed periodizational training, and we use it in P90X®.

The reason athletes train this way is that when you begin an exercise, your body goes through a period of time when it adapts to the new movements. Once it's adapted (learned how to do it efficiently), you get a growth phase* where your muscles respond to training and make enormous fitness gains. This period is short because your body is always trying to get more efficient. The more efficient, or better, you become at something, the less it affects you so, naturally, your results level off. This is called a plateau.

To offset the plateau effect and keep your results skyrocketing, the most advanced training programs alter what you do often. This is to keep your body adapting just as your growth phase begins to level off. If this sounds confusing, that's because you're not a sports scientist. And because it's confusing, we've termed this process "Muscle Confusion," because that's the state in which your body's response is highest and results come the fastest—the secret of success with P90X.

So there you have it—a synopsis of our Beachbody terms and why they work. Still confused? That's okay. The reason we've made these home fitness solutions is not to make you a sports scientist—though it's okay if we do—but to make getting in shape as easy as possible. So understand it or not, all you've got to do is Keep Pushing Play.

* It's important to note that a "growth" phase does not mean that you're going to grow. Growth is used to identify an acceleration of results, which should not be confused with muscle growth (hypertrophy). Hypertrophy may or may not be the goal of a training block, but the term "growth phase" is still used. In an attempt to lessen the confusion here, the latest edition of P90X has used the term "mastery phase" in place of a "growth phase" but "growth" is the scientific term.

For questions and/or comments on this article, please email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. Responses to your questions may be seen at Steve Edwards' Mailbag.

For Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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5 Quick Tips for Working Out in Small Spaces
By Jude Buglewicz

Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali once said he could train in a phone booth. His point was that commitment and determination are more important to reaching fitness goals than fancy equipment or spacious facilities. I thought about that when I lived in Manhattan and worked out in a place not much bigger than a storage unit—it was called a "studio apartment." For tips on how to maximize your workout when you've got minimal home-gym space, consider these options:

  1. Opt for fitness-friendly furnishings. Whether you live in a tiny one-room apartment or a palace crammed with wall-to-wall furniture, to get a decent workout, you need enough unobstructed space to do a push-up and take two or three steps without crashing into something. So if that's a problem, reconsider your priorities. If your living-room area doubles as your home gym, think about investing in space-saving or easy-to-move furniture: ceiling-to-floor bookshelves maximize vertical space; rollaway hinged-top ottomans provide extra storage; and most chairs, sofas, and end tables can be fitted with casters, making furniture easier to move out of the way when it's time to Push Play. Once you have enough space to roll out your mat, you're good to go.

  2. Do it longer if you can't go farther. P90X® trainer Tony Horton loves those traveling lunges where you take a giant step into a lunge three or four times in one direction before turning around and giant-step lunging back. I can barely do two of those in my narrow little living room before I crash into the wall or my couch. So instead of trying to keep up perfectly with Tony and Dreya—I'd get too dizzy—I pause the video at that point and just giant-step-lunge twice and then turn around and giant-step-lunge back at a speed that doesn't scramble my brains. You can do the same with most multiple-step moves. Just make them shorter but do them longer.

  3. Gear up. You can also modify moves that call for more floor space than you've got by shortening your steps and increasing the move's intensity. Grab lightweight dumbbells when you're lunging and baby-step squatting side to side. And do your crunches and chest presses and even push-ups with a balance ball. You'll use more muscles to stabilize your core trying to balance on the thing, resulting in a more efficient ab workout. The ball can also serve as a chair when you're watching TV, helping to improve your posture and making it easier to keep your fitness goals in mind. Trust me, you'll find yourself doing bicep curls and crunches instead of munching on snacks in front of the tube. Or give Fast 10® a try—you'll get a total-body workout using resistance bands, and the moves don't require much space at all.

  4. Substitute no-can-do cardio. If you're bruising your shins against the corner of the couch on a few of those Turbo Jam® kicks or you simply do not have enough room to do justice to some of the dance moves in Yoga Booty BalletTMLIVE, it's okay to jog in place for a few seconds or do jumping jacks to stay in your heart-rate zone. You can rejoin the action when it's safer to do so. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself and have an excuse to lay off exercising for a while.

  5. Just Press Pause. For the most part, Beachbody fitness programs require minimal workout space. Some moves, though, call for a wider area—or a way to compensate for not having it. When you're lying on your back with one leg straight up in the air, for example, and you're supposed to bend it slowly to the right and then over to the left—all the while keeping your leg straight and your shoulder blades flat on the ground—you may need to press Pause, turn around, or shift positions a couple of times to be sure you stretch both sides equally. I'm always pausing the video, turning, and readjusting my mat during the yoga and stretching workouts so I can watch the trainer and do all the moves to full extension. That's what makes video workouts so convenient—you have control over the pace of the action. And it sure beats jump-roping in a phone booth!

Yoga Booty Ballet is a trademark of Goddess in Training, Inc.

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