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

Issue #014 02/02/10 P90X® HYBRID PROGRAMS!

Trainer Tip: Strength and power start at the core.
Your core strength, which comes from your abdomen, back, and trunk, is the center for most of your power, agility, and balance. That's why we bust out the crunches, lunges, and squats. Strengthen the core and you've got a lot more 'umph' to rock out the outer, sport-specific muscles.

Tony Horton

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Life After P90X, Part II: Creating Hybrid Programs

By Steve Edwards

Whoever coined the phrase "variety is the spice of life" probably wasn't a fitness trainer, but they could have been. Scientifically speaking, variety is one of the most important aspects of fitness. No matter how intricate your training program, if you do it the same way all the time, your body will stop responding to it. This is why despite the fact that P90X is one of the most unique and varied home fitness programs ever created, we continue to add wrinkles to it. Even then, Tony Horton is still only one person. By combining various trainers' fitness programs, you can create an intricate web of muscle-confusing possibilities and make it virtually impossible for your training program to go stale.

Workout DVDs

Unfortunately, it's not as easy as tossing all your home workout videos into a basket and grabbing one each morning. There's a right way and a wrong way to construct a hybrid training program. But you also don't need a degree in exercise physiology to figure it out. Creating hybrid training programs only requires that you understand why the individual programs you're combining work the way they do. Once you're hip to a program's structure, it's a fairly straightforward process to mix and match workouts.

Step 1: Choosing similar programs

It should be obvious that the programs you're mixing should have similar intensity levels. INSANITY® and Sweatin' to the Oldies aren't likely to play to the same crowd. The only time you may want to combine programs that are on different levels is if you're working on something new. An X grad who can't dance would choose a basic dance class if learning to dance were the objective. A high/low combination is preferable on many athletic levels, but only if the low-level program is something that you're not good at. Using Beachbody® programs, I present a few examples:


Power 90® + Slim in 6®


P90X + Power 90
INSANITY + Kathy Smith's Project:YOU! Type 2®

Good high/low combos

P90X + Hip Hop Abs®
INSANITY + Yoga Booty Ballet® Classic

The first two good high/low combos would only make sense if you were bad at dancing or yoga and had the desire to improve. The third would be a good combo for someone who was very cardio-fit but wanted to gain some muscle and was new to lifting weights.

Step 2: Isolating each program's elements

Once you've chosen the programs you want to combine, the next step is to isolate each program's elements from a physiology perspective. The most basic difference is whether the workouts are cardio, resistance, or recovery based. The time required to recover from similar workouts is the key to identifying them.

Cardio WorkoutEntry-level programs tend to be more simply structured. Power 90 includes Sculpt Circuit 1-4 (resistance workouts), Sweat Cardio 1-4 (cardio workouts), and a stretch (recovery) workout. However, entry-level programs also sometimes combine different training elements in the same workout. Slim in 6 has cardio and resistance in each workout. When this occurs, you'll often want to abridge workouts in hybrid programs. For example, you can drop the band movements at the end of Slim in 6 if you're combining it with a resistance-based program like Power 90.

Graduate programs often have workouts that target higher degrees of muscle breakdown, which requires more rest between similar workouts. Plyometric training, for example, shouldn't be done as often as standard cardio. The P90X resistance workouts are only designed to be done once a week as opposed to the Power 90 resistance workouts, which you do three times per week. Always consider a workout's intensity before adding it to your schedule. Creating a "harder" schedule is not necessarily better. If something isn't on the original schedule more than once per week, there's probably a reason you don't want to schedule it more often.

Step 3: Understanding the styles of training schedules you're combining

Power 90 uses a pretty standard training schedule. You do cardio one day and resistance the next. The schedule works by adding speed, resistance, and intensity over the course of the program. Slim in 6 uses something called Slim Training®, which is a progressive-overload style of training that's only designed to be done for short periods between breaks. Daily intensity is reduced so that you can repeat a similar workout within 24 hours. This format lessens the amount of muscle you're able to build but induces metabolic changes that lead to quick fitness increases. On a more advanced level, P90X follows the standard approach that Power 90 follows whereas INSANITY follows the Slim Training model.

Step 4: Setting a goal

OvertrainedYou can't make a plan without an objective. People try it all the time, but these programs can seem muddled and may often lead to overtraining if you don't have an objective. The most common mistake when designing programs is making them too hard. This is usually done for a noble reason; people are simply interested in whether they can do it and want to push themselves. They often can, for a while. But the haphazard "more must be better" approach leads to overtraining every time.

Tangible goals are gains in size, gains in strength, increases in various areas of fitness, reductions in body fat, and looking different. I don't consider weight loss a tangible goal unless it's for a strength-to-weight-ratio sport. I know that probably most of you target it, but your goal should be body-composition change and not weight loss. If your ideal body is slimmer than your current body, you will lose weight. But focusing on weight numbers and not training improvements is what causes most people to sabotage their programs before they have a chance to work their magic.

Step 5: Are you ready for your program?

The second big mistake people make when designing hybrid plans is not being physically ready. This is also usually due to the "more must be better" mindset. People often get impatient and create a hybrid before they've finished their original programs. In most cases, this is a huge mistake.

Our programs are designed to work over a period of time. Slim Training programs are designed for the biggest changes to happen in the latter stages, usually in weeks 6 to 8. P90X's schedule attempts to create a peak at around week 12. Cutting these programs short to "make them better" will almost always make them worse because you don't allow the physiological adaptation to progress into a mastery phase before you move into a new period of adaptation.

Here's the litmus test. Before you sit down to sketch out a hybrid program, ask yourself if you've mastered the programs you're going to mix. If you haven't, you'll be better off doing the individual programs first. Hybrid programs are not better. They are next-level, which only applies if you've reached the first level before you begin.

There's one exception to this and that's training for a sport or an upcoming event. There are times when you'll want to mix and abridge programs before you're ready, but that's a different subject. Check out the articles on customizing P90X to learn about sports-specific training using P90X.

Step 6: Designing your program

Rather than try to cover every variable, I'll use some examples of P90X/INSANITY hybrids and point out some of my logic.

Example 1

Block 1

  • Day 1: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back
  • Day 6: Pure Cardio & Abs (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 7: X Stretch

Recovery Week

  • Day 1: Core Cardio & Balance (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 2: Core Synergistics
  • Day 3: Cardio Recovery (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Pure Cardio & Abs
  • Day 6: Cardio Recovery
  • Day 7: X Stretch

INSANITYThis is P90X classic with INSANITY as a substitute for the cardio workouts. The recovery week is very cardio-oriented. Subsequent blocks would follow the P90X classic schedule and increase the difficultly of the INSANITY workouts. A program structured like this would offer similar benefits to those of P90X classic. The more difficult cardio workouts would make this program optimal for anyone who feels as though they've mastered P90X.

Now let's take a look at how we'd design a lean schedule using these two programs.

Example 2

Block 1

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit
  • Day 3: Cardio Power & Resistance (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: Pure Cardio & Abs
  • Day 7: X Stretch

Recovery Week

  • Day 1: Legs & Back
  • Day 2: Core Cardio & Balance
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Core Cardio & Balance
  • Day 5: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Cardio Recovery
  • Day 7: X Stretch

I set this up assuming people wanted to keep some of the gains they'd made during P90X classic but wanted to improve their cardio fitness. Over the course of this program, I would increase the INSANITY intensity and end up dropping the second Core Synergistics workout of the week in favor of another hard INSANITY workout. During the scope of INSANITY-style cardio, purely resistance-based workouts would act as recovery for the systems being worn down, even though a lot of muscular breakdown would still occur. If I had little interest in maintaining muscle mass gained during P90X, I would change the recovery week to something more traditional by doing more steady-state cardio (no max intervals), stretching, yoga, and lighter resistance training. Like this:

Recovery Week

  • Day 1: Cardio Recovery
  • Day 2: Core Cardio & Balance
  • Day 3: Yoga X
  • Day 4: Core Cardio & Balance
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: Cardio Recovery
  • Day 7: X Stretch

I hope you now have a pretty good idea about how to mix and match Beachbody's programs to meet your goals. If you have any specific questions, or want to run your hybrid program by someone, you'll find many examples of these on the Message Boards.

Related Articles
"Losing Weight with P90X"
"Gaining Mass with P90X"
"Customizing P90X® for Skiing: How to Structure a Short Training Cycle"
"Customizing P90X for Specific Goals: Part I"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, February 8th, 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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Help Us Help Haiti

By now, we've all seen the horrific images on television of the destruction in the wake of the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12th. Beachbody® wants to help. From now until February 15th, Beachbody will be matching up to $60,000 in donations made by Beachbody employees, Coaches, or customers to a number of Haiti relief efforts. Click here for more details from Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler, and please donate today.


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One on One: Tony Comes to Your House

Go behind the scenes for the making of One on One with Tony Horton. Tony and director Mason Bendewald give you a taste of what goes into the making of One on One in this classic clip from the introduction of the series.

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8th Law of Exercise: Sleep (and Stress)

By Tony Horton

Stressed out, sleep-deprived people don't eat right and don't exercise regularly. Stress depletes your energy, strength, and desire, while poor sleep habits affect your moods and immune function, along with your cognitive and motor performance. Burning the candle at both ends makes it impossible to be fit and healthy.

Stressed and Insomnia


Do you realize that if you took the fear and anxiety out of every "stressful" situation in life, the end result of that situation would greatly improve? You can panic and freak out all you want, but time will still pass and life will happen, whether you stress out about it or not. So why not choose patience or curiosity? Patience is a virtue, and who wouldn't want to be virtuous in a stressful situation? To be curious means asking the right questions to help find solutions. When does fear, worry, or anxiety ever help a situation? Stress occurs when we are incapable of moving through a situation logically, peacefully, positively, productively, and gracefully. It take a lot of energy to be stressed out. Allowing stress to overtake you means you're having a tough time dealing with reality. Don't let stress get your goat. Stand up, take a deep breath, and see if you can deal with reality under pressure. I like the parable about the 10 people standing in line at a bank. Three robbers come storming in—screaming, yelling, and waving guns around. They terrorize the place and steal everyone's jewelry and money. What's the moral of the story? Ten people experiencing the same event will have very different reactions to it. Some will never recover, while others will have a crazy story to tell at cocktail parties. How do you respond to the events in your life?

I like Byron Katie's 3 Kinds of Business Theory:

  1. God's Business. The things that happen in this world that are out of my control.
  2. Their Business. The choices other people make based on their life experiences so far.
  3. My Business. The choices I make that shape my life.

Don't waste your time on gossip, ridicule, envy, self-pity, anger, guilt, arrogance, impatience, regret, manipulation, jealousy, fear, worry, and anxiety. It's too stressful, and it destroys the energy you need to stay healthy and fit. If you choose understanding, truth, clarity, patience, devotion, gratitude, acceptance, wisdom, and forgiveness, you will have peace of mind and all the energy in the world to do whatever you want.


Sleep does more than make you feel rested. Two recent studies with healthy volunteers demonstrated suppression of immunological function in participants after one night of modest sleep deprivation. The activity of certain white blood cells and the production of chemicals essential for immune system performance significantly decreased. After a good night's sleep, most immune functions went back to baseline levels. About 40 percent of adults experience sleepiness that interferes with daily activities. Most U.S. adults get less than 7 hours of sleep per night during the workweek, while research has determined that certain parameters of immune function are enhanced by more than 7 hours of sleep.

Another study showed that the leading cause of traffic accidents in this country is NOT alcohol but sleep deprivation. If you don't have enough energy to stay awake to drive your car, how will you have enough energy for a 6-day-a-week workout plan? We're not sleeping enough hours, and the limited time we spend trying to sleep is filled with so much mind chatter that we never get the rest we need.

Meditating on the BeachMy Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary defines sleep as follows: the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored. In the Taoist philosophy, there's a belief in yin and yang energies. These are opposing energies that create balance. Exercise is yang energy. Sleep and rest are yin energy. There must be proper balance between vim and vigor (yang) and inward calm (yin). If you don't get enough sound sleep, your body will NOT receive the proper restoration it needs to complete or succeed with any fitness program. So TiVo® American Idol and go to bed!

Tony H.

Related Articles
Newsletter Archive
"7th Law of Exercise: The Plan"
"4th Law of Exercise: Purpose"
"3rd Law of Exercise: Intensity"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, February 8th, 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.

Submit A CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

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10-Minute Recipe: Power Yogurt Breakfast

Power Yogurt Breakfast

This easy-to-prepare, fruity, creamy treat will get your day started off right with a good blend of protein, carbs, and fiber. If you want to really amp up your breakfast, add a scoop of your favorite Shakeology® flavor. Frappuccinos don't have anything on this breakfast!

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 Tbsp. wheat germ
3 strawberries, sliced
1/2 banana, sliced
1 tsp. shredded coconut, toasted
1/2 tsp. honey (if desired)

Add wheat germ to yogurt and stir to combine well. Top with strawberry and banana slices, then sprinkle with shredded coconut for a delicious garnish and added texture. If you crave extra sweetness, add honey. Serves 1.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving, including honey):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
363 20 g 7 g 58.5 g 7.5 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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