Extreme Newsletter—Diet and fitness tips, recipes, and motivation

Issue #021 03/24/10 P90X Joins the Military!

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P90X and the Military - Part I

By Denise Michelle Nix

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steve Rosen was sitting on his couch in Duluth, Minnesota, late one night last summer. Lethargic, overweight, his belly full of Guinness®, he aimlessly clicked through the flickering channels until he found his attention being transfixed by trainer Tony Horton. The likeable and motivating voice, face, and body of the P90X Extreme Home Fitness training system guru seemed to be talking right to the 36-year-old St. Louis man.

Military Exercising: Push-Up, Boxing, Pull-Up

Rosen had seen the infomercial many times before. This time, he made up his mind.

"I woke up my wife and told her excitedly, 'We are going to get P90X!'" he recalls. "At that time of night, she was hardly as enthusiastic as I was."

Rosen felt he was ready to take charge of his life: "I was tired of being overweight. I was tired of being out of shape. I was tired of having no energy. I was tired of being lazy. I looked and felt lousy."

For many service members, boot camp, basic training, and the military's physical fitness requirements are just not enough to get and maintain the body they want. Being stationed in barren deserts and tiny towns (often in foreign lands) gives troops interested in health and fitness an even greater challenge, because temperamental climates, poor nutritional choices, and lack of free time can make getting and staying in shape seem as difficult to plan and carry out as an elaborate battle maneuver.

Military Sculpted BodyMany military men and women have found P90X to be just the fitness and nutritional program their bodies have been craving. While geared for those who want intense training, P90X does more than just sculpt muscles—it gives those who want change, challenge, and control exactly what they need.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kimberly McAuliffe, a 30-year-old from Tiffin, Ohio, currently stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, returned after a break from active duty to a full-time reservist position in 2006. During her time off, she quit smoking and renewed a love affair with food that left her with unwanted pounds, made all the more obvious by an unforgiving flight suit.

Just after New Year's Day 2008, McAuliffe began P90X—and never looked back. "Thanks to the program, I am in the best fighting shape of my life," she says.

McAuliffe and others agree that there are some hurdles to doing P90X while in the military, especially when it comes to equipment and to following the nutritional guidelines. But creativity and dedication can go a long way toward accomplishing P90X goals.

During 2 weeks at an Air Force base in South Korea, McAuliffe found the seafood-heavy local cuisine a turnoff, so she spent most of her mealtimes eating less healthy options on the base. That, along with a 14-hour, fast-paced workday, threatened to derail her. "It's hard to stay on target in these types of conditions, but it can be done!" she says. "Scheduling is sometimes a headache, but if you're committed, you make it work."

Because the heart of P90X's Muscle Confusion� technique is to mix it up, service people—who, by nature, seem to strive for excitement, adventure, and change—find that this program provides them with a variety of challenges, which helps them overcome the boredom that can arise from doing the same workout routine every day.

Interestingly, certain P90X workouts make more of an impression on military personnel than on civilians. Take yoga, for example. In recent years, the Eastern practice of contorted poses and long stretches has gained popularity among the general population, but many hardened soldiers still thought yoga was too "soft" to provide them with much of a physical challenge. But after a 90-minute round of Yoga X, even the most fit and strong service people admitted being surprised—and used the unexpected challenge in a productive way.

"I struggle on doing the Yoga X, but who doesn't?" says U.S. Marine Corp. Sgt. Archie Russell, a 26-year-old from Pearl City, Hawaii, who is currently stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. "I overcome it by just pushing through and forgetting about the pain."

"I feel really engaged and everything is sore the next day," adds U.S. Navy Intelligence Specialist First Class Michael Whitmytre, a 27-year-old from San Diego currently serving in Iraq.

U.S. Army Private First Class Cadet Richard Beard, 25, of Acton, Massachusetts, says he loves Yoga X because it's so hard, and he hates not accomplishing his goals. "To overcome it, I get mean and tough. I hate getting beat, and because of it, I push harder," says Beard, who's stationed at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

Service Person Doing Push-UpsAnother workout that's popular among military users of P90X is Core Synergistics, a total-body workout that really strengthens the body's core, and Ab Ripper X, a quick yet effective workout that helps build the much-desired six-pack.

"I love the Ab Ripper X because I love feeling the burn, and it's working wonders on my abs," says U.S. Army Lt. Tiffany Bujak, 24, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Convenience is a huge benefit of P90X for troops who are constantly on the move. A little space and a DVD player easily become a take-along gym. And most bases offer just about every piece of gear needed for successful workouts, some of which, like yoga blocks, yoga mats, and chin-up bars, participants find especially important to the program, whereas with others, they find they can get a little creative—like swapping compact B-Lines Resistance Bands for weights.

"Using what is required for the program makes it a lot easier to work out, rather than looking for another way to do the different exercises," adds Sgt. Russell.

"I've never traveled anywhere without my bands—they've been to Korea, Germany, France, and all over the continental U.S.," says Sgt. McAuliffe. "I might forget my toothbrush, but I have never forgotten my DVDs and bands."

While Tony Horton isn't a drill sergeant, McAuliffe and others say his approach and encouragement definitely help them succeed. "Tony is also an amazing motivator—he doesn't make you feel bad if you're struggling," McAuliffe said. "But he instead encourages you to keep pushing forward. To me, that is the key to keeping someone motivated to stay on track, even if they presently struggle."

Related Articles
"Gaining Mass with P90X"
"8 Misleading Fitness 'Facts'"
"Sore, Hungry, and Slow: 3 Signs That Show Your Program Is Working"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, March 29th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chat Room!

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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Endurance Athletes: Get Ripped in the Off-Season

By Steve Edwards

In today's installment of customizing P90X, we'll address endurance athletes. As you might have surmised, doing the Back & Biceps workout isn't going to improve your marathon time. And no week of P90X leaves you feeling ready to take on an Ironman triathlon over the weekend. So what's the deal? The question we most often get is whether the X is going to improve your finish times, or should you skip it in favor of more sports-specific training?

Endurance Athletes Swimming, Biking, and Running

The short answer is that P90X can improve every aspect of your endurance sport. However, it's important to ask yourself a few questions before you begin, because if you go about it the wrong way you can hurt your performance.

1: What are my goals in my chosen sport?

This question is vital because some of you likely do endurance events only to improve your fitness. When this is the case, you're best off doing P90X the way it's designed and suspending your sports-specific training.

Because you probably already have a decent aerobic base, you should respond quickly to the rigors of P90X. And while you'll be sore and tired in the short term, and lose some of your endurance fitness, you'll also make rapid body composition changes. These changes will help you should you choose to get back into your sport. However, with fitness as your measuring stick, doing rounds of P90X between rounds of endurance sports training will help you keep your fitness level high.

Things get trickier when sports performance is important. If PRs (personal records) are your ultimate goal, you'll want to consider how P90X can help you make it happen.

Working Out with B-LinesIn the strictest sense, you should do P90X in the off-season. Most endurance athletes would benefit from a period each year where they stopped (or mostly stopped) their sports-specific training and did a good fitness program. This is especially true if you need to lose weight, or you have weakness because it's likely your fitness results have hit a plateau after a long season where you did the same things over and over.

2: Which version of P90X should I do?

Your next decision is which schedule of P90X to do: Lean, Classic, Doubles, or some hybrid version. Here are some scenarios to consider.

If you're an overweight person who has a high percentage of body fat, choose the Classic schedule, because resistance training and gaining muscle are the quickest way to slim down and change your body composition to more muscle and less fat, which will help you more than any other type of training.

If you're fit with a lot of muscle mass, choose the Lean schedule. You'll benefit from strength training and explosive cardio (which put different stress loads on the body than running, riding, swimming, etc.) but you won't add more mass, which is good because strength-to-weight ratio is paramount in endurance sports.

Someone in between might choose a hybrid schedule, the simplest of which would be a program that begins with the Classic schedule and transitions to the Lean schedule.

The last example could also be used by anyone who's closer to their race program and still wants to try some outside training. In these cases, you could start with the Classic P90X schedule for a phase or so (time will dictate this), then transition to the Lean schedule for a phase, and then perhaps transition to a customized schedule to accommodate your sports-specific training needs.

In the off-season, I wouldn't recommend the Doubles schedule, which doubles up workouts, because the off-season is when you should make body composition changes, and also when you should rest. Endurance training is intense once you begin racing; when you begin to add miles into your program again, you want to be rested.

3: What if it's close to my race season?

RunnerMost race seasons are long, taking up around nine months of the year on average. Since no one—even a professional—can peak for the entire season, you should set up your schedule with early-season objectives you train through and late-season objectives where you want to set your PRs. Remember, the actual season doesn't matter—only your schedule does. You should choose to peak around times when you can focus and devote yourself to training, not an arbitrary date on the calendar.

Early season (your early season) is a time when you should be combining sports-specific training along with off-season training. These transition seasons are when you'll want to incorporate a Doubles-style training schedule.

As an athlete, your Doubles schedule should have sports-specific work. This means you'll want to alter the P90X schedule of your choice to incorporate your sport. As an endurance athlete, the general place you'll add this training is the cardio slot on the calendar. Remember that one of the two daily workouts is always an easy cardio workout, which is a perfect slot to do your early-season aerobic conditioning.

As we get closer to the actual racing season, there are many other considerations. We'll take these on per sport. Next time we'll look at scheduling P90X with running. Then we'll focus on triathlons.

Related Articles
"6 Ways to Avoid a Plateau"
"Life after P90X, Part II: Creating Hybrid Programs"
"Life after P90X, Part I: More Tony Horton"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, March 29th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chat Room!

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.

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Recipe: Salmon Burritos with Chili-Roasted Vegetables

Recommended by Tony Horton
Grilled Vegetables

Want to go south of the border with Se�or Horton? Tony's favorite healthy Tex-Mex salmon burritos pack a big protein wallop and are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And the chili-marinated veggies will have your taste buds saying, "Olé! "

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground dried chili peppers
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1-pound boneless salmon fillet (about 1 in. thick)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled, quartered lengthwise, then sliced 1/4 in. thick
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise, then sliced 1/3 in. thick
  • 1 red onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4 in.-thick wedges
  • 1 fresh poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 6 whole-wheat flour tortillas (10 in. wide), warmed
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two 12-by-15-in. baking pans with aluminum foil. Whisk olive oil, lime juice, garlic, ground dried chili, and salt together. Rinse salmon and pat dry. Brush flesh side of salmon with 2 Tbsp. lime-chili marinade. Set aside. In medium bowl, toss sweet potato, zucchini, onion, and poblano chili with remaining marinade. Arrange vegetables in single layer on baking pans. Roast vegetables for 10 minutes, then add salmon (skin-side down) to one pan and return to oven. Continue roasting until potatoes are tender when pierced and salmon is opaque but still moist-looking in center of thickest part, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove skin from salmon and cut fillet into six equal portions. Place each warm tortilla on plate and spoon one-sixth of vegetable mixture onto each tortilla. Top each portion with one piece of salmon and a little cilantro, cabbage, and sour cream. (Or you can omit sour cream to remove all saturated fat from meal.) Fold tortillas around filling to make burritos. Serve with a bit more sour cream (optional) and the lime wedges. Makes 6 servings.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
325 19 g 3 g 30 g 14 g 2 g

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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