HERE COMES P90X2! #476 09/08/11
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The Next X: What's New About P90X2?

By Steve Edwards

"How can you improve the world's number one fitness program?" is a reasonable question that I'm often asked when I tell people I've been working on its successor, P90X2. As Hollywood has quite clearly shown, sequels rarely live up to the original. But once in a while something bucks the trend, and we're fairly certain we've made The Godfather: Part II and not Staying Alive. In this series of articles, we'll be giving you a rundown on what to expect from the next P90X®.

P90X2™—The Next X: What's New About P90X2?

The working title of this project was MC2. That's for Muscle Confusion 2, and of course, there's going to be more of what made the original so special. But this time around, we're taking Muscle Confusion to a whole new level, maybe even times 2. To understand why requires a little bit of history.

P90X was developed to answer customer requests for a program more challenging than Power 90® and Slim in 6®, Beachbody's original blockbusters. So we set out to make the type of training program that an athlete would use to prepare for a season, except the sport we chose was life in general. Combining the theories of cross-training, progressive overload, periodization, and the specificity of adaptation, we began a series of test groups to try and estimate the tolerance of difficulty that general public could handle, or more appropriately, would want to.

Turns out this was more that we knew at the time—though the fact that we cast test group subjects because they outperformed professional fitness trainers should have given us a clue. The program was so advanced that many professional athletes began using P90X instead of their own team trainers. This we hadn't anticipated. We knew we had a solid program, absolutely, but we didn't count on athletes who make millions of dollars a year ignoring highly paid professionals and working out to a video. If we had we might have done things a little differently.

Tony Horton Extending DumbbellKnowing that the world was watching, we began P90X2 development by searching for a consultant. We traveled as high up the food chain as possible, where we found Dr. Marcus Elliott. His training facility, P3 (Peak Performance Project), is at the absolutely cutting edge of sport. Using the latest in equipment and applied science, P3's client list reads like, well, the front page of the sports section. Dr. Elliott signed on as head of our Scientific Advisory Board, ensuring we had the means to raise the bar.

That's not to say we weren't already succeeding. Anyone who ordered the P90X ONE on ONE® workouts could see we'd been experimenting with many new training modalities. Tony's newfound love of training on unstable platforms, honed by his relationship with functional trainer Steve Holmson, became, literally, the foundation of P90X2.

Access to P3 and Dr. Elliott also provided challenges. Because our customers are not primarily athletes, we needed to do a lot of homework to determine how to best integrate P3's elite systems into our demographic. Research was done, numbers crunched, theories were applied and tested, and test pilots (often yours truly) were beaten into submission. In the end, the collaboration resulted in a program that we think improved on our wildest expectations.

The Program

While it's still based around the periodizational principles of P90X, X2 has a broader scope. In short, it's more versatile, which is saying something, considering that P90X is by far the most versatile training program on the market today. Here are the 3 training phases of P90X2 and what you can expect from them.

  1. Tony Horton Using Exercise BallFoundation. The first training phase is about your foundation, as in your base, or more specifically your attachment to the ground. What we mean here is not just your legs but your entire kinetic chain. There's a saying that goes, "You can't shoot a cannon from a canoe," meaning that if your base is not solid, you're going to wobble like the visual this saying evokes when you attempt to do anything explosive. The goal of the Foundation phase is to help you create a solid attachment to the earth, so you do all other movements without compromising your form. When this happens, you'll look better, feel better, perform better, and be much more resistant to injuries
  2. Strength. Next, we take your strong foundation and strengthen it big time. This training phase will be most familiar to P90Xers because it's similar in structure to what you're used to. However, the individual workouts have evolved. You'll continue to work from instability or athletic positions, because this will help you integrate your strength gains more seamlessly into your real-world movements.
  3. Performance. Finally, we take all the physiological changes we've been making with your body and focus them on pure performance. The key to this phase is something called Post-Activation Potentiation or PAP (which we'll explain next time), and doing repeated series of movements called complexes. These workouts will destroy you in an oh-so-beautiful way. After a few weeks of PAP, your body can feel more springy, loose, and young. It almost feels as if, to borrow a phrase from King Arthur of Camelot, "You don't age. You youthen."

In conclusion, we think we've created an "Oscar winner." P90X2 is a training program anyone with a decent fitness base can succeed at. It can be done by someone who has only completed one round of Power 90 and still be challenging to the world's best athletes. It's versatile enough so anyone who sees it through to its end can achieve major increases in performance. And while it won't replace P90X (or make it feel dated as The Godfather), it should absolutely take your results to the next level.

Next time: The top 10 questions about P90X2

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Denis Faye, Beachbody Fitness Advisor, on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, September 12th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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9 Foods That Can Fool You

By Denis Faye

During my 1970s childhood in South Dakota, my mom used to order something called the "Diet Plate." Common in most Sioux Falls-area and greater-Minnesota region restaurants, it consisted of a scoop of cottage cheese, a couple of canned peach halves still dripping syrup, a hamburger patty, some iceberg lettuce, and a sprig of parsley.

While delicious by mid-20th century Midwestern standards, it wasn't nearly as calorie-restrictive as you'd think compared to the chicken-fried steak and baked potato my dad was eating across the table. Still, the perception was that this was diet food, most likely because each element in the Diet Plate had a vague resemblance to another healthier foodstuff (except the hamburger, that is). But that had to be there because this was South Dakota, and any other meat would be deemed un-American.

Chicken, Peanut Butter, and Yogurt

Today, it'd be nice to think we've transcended the Diet Plate. Sadly, this isn't the case. Even today, there are dozens of foods we fool ourselves into thinking are healthful, when in truth they do nothing but pad our hips and arteries. Here are 9 of the worst offenders on your grocery store shelves.

  1. Yogurt. It starts out as good stuff. Fat aside, there's the calcium and protein you find in all milk products, along with probiotics, which make it easier to digest for those with lactose issues. The only problem is that straight yogurt can be pretty bitter, so manufacturers load the stuff with sugar and masquerade those carbs as fruit in an effort to make the whole thing more palatable. Have a look at most flavored yogurt and you'll find the second ingredient to be sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. One container of Yoplait® Original Strawberry has 170 calories, with 5 grams of protein and 33 grams of carbohydrates, 27 of which are sugar. Oddly enough, these are the exact same nutrition facts for Yoplait's other, less healthy-sounding flavors, including Key Lime Pie and White Chocolate Raspberry.

    Solution: Buy plain yogurt and flavor it yourself. You'd be amazed at how far a handful of raspberries or a tablespoon of honey will go to cut the bitter taste. And while you're at it, choose the low-fat or fat-free stuff. You'll still get all the nutritional benefits.
  2. BreadWheat Bread. If you're reading this, you probably know enough about nutrition to understand that whole-grain wheat is better for you than refined wheat. By keeping the bran and germ, you maintain the naturally occurring nutrients and fiber.

    But for some reason, manufacturers constantly come up with new chicanery to lead you back to the refined stuff. One of their latest tricks is to refer to refined flour as "wheat flour" because, obviously, it's made of wheat. But just because it's wheat-based doesn't mean it's not refined. The distracted shopper can mistake this label for "whole wheat flour" and throw it in his cart. Another loaf of cruddy, refined, fiberless bread has a new home.

    Solution: Slow down when you read the label. That word "whole" is an important one.
  3. Chicken. Just because you made the switch from red meat doesn't mean you're in the clear. If you opt for dark meat—the wings, thighs, and legs—you're losing protein and gaining fat. Three ounces of raw chicken breast, meat only, has 93 calories, 19.5 grams of protein, and 1.2 grams of fat. Three ounces of dark meat, meat only, is 105 calories, 18 grams of protein, and 3.6 grams of fat. It may not seem like much, but it adds up.

    Solution: Go for the breast, and while you're at it, ditch the skin. It's nothing but fat.
  4. FruitFrozen or canned fruit. Any food swimming in juice or "light syrup" isn't going to work in your favor on the scale. Furthermore, most canned fruit is peeled, meaning you're being robbed of a valuable source of fiber.

    Frozen fruit is a little trickier. While freezing preserves the fruit itself, adding sugar during the freezing process preserves color and taste; so many store-bought frozen fruits throw it in.

    Solution: Read that ingredients list! You want it to say fruit, water—and that's it.
  5. Canned veggies. "What?" you declare. "There's light syrup in canned string beans, too?" Nope—actually, they add salt to preserve this produce. A half-cup serving of canned string beans has approximately 300 to 400 milligrams of sodium.

    Solution: Many companies offer "no salt added" options. If you can't find one to your liking, go frozen instead—no salt (or light syrup), or better yet, buy fresh.
  6. Peanut butter. Squish up peanuts, maybe add a little salt. How hard is it to make that taste good?

    Apparently, it's so incredibly difficult that many companies feel compelled to add sugar or high-fructose corn syrup into the mix. Why? I don't know. Some manufacturers, such as Skippy®, are up front enough to admit this and call their product "Peanut Butter Spread," but many others still refer to this sugary concoction as good old "peanut butter."

    Solution: Read the label. (There's a theme emerging here.) Considering real peanut butter has one ingredient—two ingredients, max—it shouldn't be too hard to figure it out.
  7. JuiceJuice. The range in the nutritional value of store-bought juices is massive. On one end, you have "fruit drinks" with just a modicum of actual juice in them. On the other end, you have fresh-squeezed, 100 percent preservative-free juices like Odwalla® and Naked Juice®. But no matter which one you choose, it's important to remember that it's never going to be as healthy as whole fruit. And if you're trying to lose weight, it's a flat-out bad idea. First off, it's been stripped of fiber, so you absorb it faster, which makes it more likely to induce blood-sugar spikes. Secondly, you consume it faster and it's less filling, so you're more likely to drink more.

    Solution: If you must buy it, go fresh-squeezed, but you're usually better off just skipping it entirely.
  8. Canned soup. As is also the case with canned veggies, you're entering a sodium minefield. Half a cup of Campbell's® Chicken Noodle Soup has 890 milligrams of sodium. That's 37 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)*—and who eats half a cup?

    Solution: Read those labels carefully. Most companies make low-sodium versions.
  9. Salad DressingFat-free salad dressing: Dressing by definition is supposed to be fatty, and thus highly caloric. You use a little bit of it, and in doing so, you get a healthy hit of the fats you need for a nutritionally balanced diet. Unfortunately, people prefer to buy fat-free versions so they can drown their greens while avoiding excess fat.

    Nothing's free. All this stuff does is replace the fat with carbs and salt, so you've basically gone from pouring a little healthy unsaturated fat on your salad to dumping on a pile of sugar. For example, Wish-Bone® Fat Free Chunky Blue Cheese has 7 grams of pure carbs and 270 milligrams of sodium for 2 tablespoons, which you'll never stop at anyway. Also, given that there's no fat or protein in this particular dressing, one can only imagine what makes it chunky.

    Solution: Make your own salad dressing. One part vinegar and one part olive oil with a blob of Dijon mustard makes an awesome vinaigrette. And here's another trick: Make your salad in a sealable container, add a tiny bit of dressing, and shake it up. It'll coat so much more than tossing will.

    And finally, make that salad with romaine lettuce, spinach, or some other nutrient-rich leafy green. As far as we're concerned, nutrient-poor iceberg lettuce should have gone the way of the South Dakota Diet Plate.

*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Related Articles
"9 Foods Not to Give Your Kids"
"Is Fro-Yo a No-No? 5 Healthy Frozen Alternatives!"
"7 Superfoods from the Sea"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Denis Faye, Beachbody Fitness Advisor, on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, September 12th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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P90X2—Pre-order Now!

Power 90® broke the mold. P90X® pushed the envelope. And soon, P90X2 will shatter the mold, crush the envelope, and ignite a sports science revolution. Here's a first look at the future of fitness.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Recipe: Curried Chicken with Couscous

Curried Chicken with Couscous

Here's a delicious dish that's relatively quick and easy to prepare. The exotic curry and coconut milk give a zing to your palate, the chicken delivers a wallop of protein, and the julienned carrots bring a dash of color to delight your eyes.

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups canned light coconut milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups uncooked couscous
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut in 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • 4 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups julienned carrots
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine water, 1/2 cup coconut milk, and 1/4 tsp. of the salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, gradually stir in couscous, then remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with fork. Combine flour, curry powder, and remaining 1-1/4 tsp. of salt in a ziplock bag. Add chicken, seal, and toss gently to coat. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Stir in carrots, raisins, and remaining 3-1/2 cups coconut milk; reduce heat and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring occasionally. Serve 3/4 cup curry over 1/2 cup couscous per serving and garnish each with cilantro. Makes 8 servings.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
460 31 grams 4 grams 52 grams 12 grams 6 gram

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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