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

Issue #012 01/19/10 LOSING WEIGHT WITH P90X®

Trainer Tip: Focus on consistency first,
and worry about ramping it up later.

Tony Horton

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Losing Weight with P90X

By Steve Edwards

P90X is not a weight loss program, yet most people lose weight by doing it. This is because most of those people begin the program with more body fat than they're happy with, and getting ripped means they've lost body fat and weight. But some people want more. They want nothing but to be lean. Last week, we covered how to get big with P90X (see "Gaining Mass with P90X" in the Related Articles section below). This week, we'll do an about-face and discuss how to get small. Such is our privilege by designing the most versatile workout program in the world.

Man with Tape Measure

Choosing the right schedule

P90X comes with three scheduling options: classic, lean, and doubles. Both the lean and doubles schedules are designed more for weight loss than the classic schedule. However, losing weight has a lot more to do with how you do the program than which option you choose. You can lose weight doing the classic rotation as well, provided you follow the guidelines we're about to go into.

What lean and doubles do is prohibit too much mass gain by having you do so much volume you can't fully recover between workouts, or by having you avoid the heaviest resistance workouts altogether. If you wish to get lean, beginning with the lean schedule and progressing to doubles is what I would suggest. However, once you've done both of these, a round of classic, done correctly, will actually enhance your body's ability to stay lean. Conversely, you can gain weight on any P90X schedule if you don't do the schedule correctly.

Foundation

We'll follow the same format we've used for all the articles in the series on customizing P90X (see the Related Articles section below). In each article, we've discussed the importance of building a solid foundation. With regard to getting lean, however, you can start customizing your program to get lean as you build your foundation. Unlike sports-specific training, you don't need to first do a round of X as designed. In fact, the guidelines for getting lean will lay a great foundation for anything you'd like to do later on.

Hypertrophy (and how to avoid it)

Man with WeightOur discussion of mass was all based around how to induce as much hypertrophy (or muscle growth) as possible. To stay lean, we still need some muscle growth. Adding muscle to your frame is the best way to raise your resting metabolic rate, and in turn lose weight. But we also want to be careful not to create too much hypertrophy.

The way we do this is by doing a lot of repetitions for each exercise. In most programs this is pretty simple. You just use lighter weights and bang out the reps. The X is different because you're challenged with numerous movements that make it hard to do any reps, like pull-ups. This is where things get tricky.

The key to getting lean is to use enough weight to fail at the end of each set. I should repeat myself because this is important. Actually, just read that first sentence again. Got it? Good, because one of the concepts I have a hard time instilling in Xers (and women doing any of our programs) is that you've got to push yourself using weight—adding weight as necessary—to get lean.

The next step is deciding where to fail. If you read the mass article, you read that failing at around 12 repetitions was at the high end for hypertrophy. To gain mass, the number of reps we targeted got lower throughout the program.

Anything over 12 is technically targeting muscular endurance. However, up to around 25 reps, you will still be building muscle. This is the zone we want to target. Throughout your program, you should increase the number of reps you can do, not by lowering the weight you lift but by getting stronger! This means you should choose a weight that allows you to do at least 12 reps per set before you fail.

What's very important is to do this for the movements of which you can't do at least 12. This can be hard because you've got to use props, and you don't want to make the moves too easy. We'll use two examples; you'll have to figure out the rest based on these, which shouldn't be too hard to do.

  1. Man Using Chin-Up BarPull-ups. We tell you to use a chair when you can't do pull-ups, but it's how you use the chair that's important. You need to make sure your upper body is doing most of the work. Placing the chair farther from your body, and only propping one foot on it, is the simplest way to accomplish this. You should move the chair away so you can do at least 12 pull-ups but still fail at your upper target number (we'll get to what the upper target number is later).

  2. Push-ups. Push-ups are easier because even if you do them on your knees, they're still hard. However, sometimes we tend to get lazy about this and stay on our knees. Once you can do regular push-ups on your toes, you should begin each set in this position and go until you reach failure, then finish the set on your knees. This will get you the burn you're looking for.

It may take a little while to get all of the X movements dialed so that you can do high reps until you reach failure. Stick with it. Perhaps you should even go through each workout and practice. Because once you do, you'll be on the road to lean.

Periodization

No alterations are needed to the periodizational aspects of the program. You have three choices and all of them will work.

Progressive overload

The progressive overload principle is hard at work, but as I said above, the rep schemes should be backward from "normal" in that once you can do a certain number of repetitions, you'll want to increase them. For example, to begin the program, you'll target 12 to 16 reps for most exercises. Start with weight that causes failure at around 12 reps minimum, and stay with this weight until you can do 16 before adding more weight. As the program progresses, you'll want to target up to 25 reps per set, so the overload progression is toward endurance and away from hypertrophy.

Recovery

Recovery is still important, but the more repetitions you do, the less stress you're placing on your body and the less recovery you need. This means that even though the individual workouts will feel very hard, you can recover from them more quickly than you could if you were using heavier weights.

Putting it all together

WeightsHigh-repetition resistance training may be technically less intense than using heavier weight, but it won't feel like it. This kind of training induces a wicked pump, and you may be very sore as your body adapts to the training. Also, the individual sets tend to be quite long (you may need to hit pause from time to time), and form can fail you. Make sure you keep good form as you get tired. Don't be afraid to drop weight in the middle of a set. Sometimes it's good to have two weights ready before you begin (or lighter bands) so you can switch mid-exercise. It takes getting used to, but hang in there and keep pushing yourself, and soon you'll be ripping off reps faster than Tony and the gang!

Your diet

Obviously, diet is important if you want to be lean. You'll be hungry, especially as you adapt, and it's important that you don't overeat. It's probably more important, however, that you don't undereat. You'll be churning through the calories, and undereating is a great way to find yourself in a plateau, both mentally and physically.

In general, P90X Nutrition Plan caloric calculations are ample for some weight loss. If you aren't losing weight, try zig-zagging your caloric intake by eating less on some days and "normally" on others. This forces you into a caloric deficit without depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to recover.

Here is a schedule using P90X classic. Lean has fewer resistance days and less explanation is necessary. But as I said earlier, you can get lean using classic as well.

Block 1
Weeks 1 through 3

  • Day 1: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Kenpo X
  • Day 7: Off

Targeted number of reps: 12 to 16 (focus on the higher number)

Recovery
Week 4

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Kenpo X
  • Day 3: X Stretch
  • Day 4: Core Synergistics
  • Day 5: Yoga X
  • Day 6: X Stretch
  • Day 7: Off

Targeted number of reps: maximum

Block 2
Weeks 5 through 7

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Kenpo X
  • Day 7: Off

Targeted number of reps: 16 to 20

Recovery
Week 8

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Kenpo X
  • Day 3: X Stretch
  • Day 4: Core Synergistics
  • Day 5: Yoga X
  • Day 6: X Stretch
  • Day 7: Off

Targeted number of reps: maximum

Block 3
Weeks 9 and 11

  • Day 1: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Kenpo X
  • Day 7: Off

Weeks 10 and 12

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Kenpo X
  • Day 7: Off

Targeted number of reps for weeks 9 and 10: 20 to 25
Targeted number of reps for weeks 11 and 12: 25 (try to max out each exercise)

Related Articles
"Gaining Mass with P90X"
"Sore, Hungry, and Slow: 3 Signs That Show Your Program Is Working"
"Customizing P90X® for Skiing: How to Structure a Short Training Cycle"
"INSANITY® and the X"
"Customizing P90X for Specific Goals: Part I"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 25th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

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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Cammie Lusk Wins $1,000 with P90X and Shakeology®

After the onset of multiple sclerosis, Cammie Lusk couldn't walk, and as her energy drained away, she slipped into a depression. After trying P90X and Shakeology, she's found the strength and energy to be the mom and wife she wants to be.

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6th Law of Exercise: Sports

By Tony Horton

Take the attention off of weight, inches, and body fat percentages and put the focus on MOVING—from dancing, rock climbing, and mountain biking to table tennis. I love that Ping-Pong! Think in terms of "can do" instead of "look like." Sports are fun and help develop balance and coordination—which in turn accelerates your results. Jump, kick, run, spin, throw, skate, shoot, hit, score, compete . . . PLAY!

Tony at the Beach

Every Sunday, I head down to the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica and meet a group of friends for a 2-1/2-hour fitness extravaganza. We do a crazy combination of pull-ups, handstands, swinging plyometric dips, 15- and 25-foot rope climbing (hands only and sometimes upside down), and tons of wacky push-ups—we even throw in a backflip or two. We finish with a rendition of Ab Ripper X. Anyone who has attended one of the Santa Monica Fitness Camps has seen it firsthand. It's extreme, with a capital X. I love it, because it hurts me so good. This is NOT a routine I would do alone. I show up every Sunday morning to hang with the crew. As hard as the workout is, we're there for the camaraderie, laughter, and encouragement.

We look at Sundays as opportunities to incorporate sports into our weekly fitness routines. What started out as push-ups, pull-ups, and dips has turned into gymnastics for old guys (thanks to Chuck Gaylord). Doing sports is the main reason I stay fit. On the occasional Wednesday night, I meet up with a group to go rock climbing. Every fall, I get together with ski buddies and come up with ways to get our legs ready for the hill. Where do you think the Plyometrics workout in P90X came from? I also use the Plyo Legs routine in Power 90® Master Series to prepare for ski season.

Tony Training Group of PeopleTo me, there is nothing better than the great outdoors. My sports involve cool, crisp air, gorgeous views, and climbing up or ripping down mountains. When I'm skiing or rock climbing, I'm one with my surroundings. I'm happy as a clam and at peace with the universe. I also try to mix in other sports, like inline skating, Ping-Pong (trust me, it's a sport), basketball, and mountain biking. These are sports I love that help me stay in shape. I encourage you to get involved in SOMETHING athletic—anything that would be fun and enjoyable for you. Try to care a little less about weight loss and more about accomplishment. There are so many different kinds of sports to choose from. Set a goal, take a class, or sign up for a race, anything that gives you a reason to focus on "can do" and not so much "look like." If you shift to an athletic mind-set, you won't obsess as much about calories, inches, and your weight. "Can-do" numbers like reps, range of motion, and resistance become more important. Athletes care about improving their games, not how they look in their climbing gear.

If you can find one thing/sport that you really enjoy, then your day-to-day workouts will be less of a chore and more of a means to an end. Sports will also give you the opportunity to connect better and share with a partner. Whether you're single or partnered with someone, it will give you a chance to meet like-minded folks. The people I know who have a regular sport pursuit are consistently fit over time, are rarely depressed or anxious, and meet tons of amazing people in the process.

For some of you, the excuse of time or money or the fear of looking uncoordinated in front of other people can keep you from trying something athletic. There were tens of thousands of Power 90 and P90X customers who had those same fears. They stepped through the door anyway and found a brand-new and exciting reason to stay fit and healthy.

Peace,
Tony H.

Related Articles
"5th Law of Exercise: Reality"
"4th Law of Exercise: Purpose"
"3rd Law of Exercise: Intensity"
"2nd Law of Exercise: Consistency"
"1st Law of Exercise: Variety"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 25th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

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: Spinach-Stuffed Salmon Fillets

Spinach-Stuffed Salmon Fillet

Here's a quick and easy recipe suitable for fine dining. Super-high in protein and with a good dose of fiber courtesy of the spinach, this dish provides flavor and crunch. Don't freak out when you see the 24 grams of fat in the nutritional information below—it's heart-healthy fat from the salmon and almonds, including the precious omega-3s. Not a fish fan? We still recommend that you get your omega-3s—try a good supplement like Core Omega-3™.


2 5-oz. salmon fillets, fresh and preferably wild
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
5 oz. packaged baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
Cooking spray

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make a slit 2/3 of the way through the center of each salmon fillet, making sure not to cut all the way through. Season each fillet with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the spinach, tomatoes, and almonds. Spoon 1/3 cup of the mixture into each slit. Arrange fillets on broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes and spinach mixture is heated through. Serves 2.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 8 to 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving): 8 to 10 minutes

CaloriesProtein FiberCarbs Fat TotalSaturated Fat
49948g 8 g26 g 24 g 1 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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