My 6 months with P90x

I started P90X at the end of July last year. I did the pre- fit test and passed (barely) and dutifully worked through 6 weeks of the routines, even giving the extra cardio workouts a try during one of the weeks. (That proved to be too much, so I stopped the extras after two times. Sheesh!)

But, during the middle of week 7, right after one of my workouts, my back seized a bit while I was simply in the act of sitting down. I immediately dropped to the floor and did some stretching. That afternoon I had to fly to a conference, spent the next couple of days in pain, but stretching as much as I could. By the time I got home, my back was feeling much better, and a couple of days later I resumed my workouts.


My back was tweaked a bit more than I thought, and in the middle of one of the routines it locked up big-time. I hit the ground, and from child’s pose, pleaded for the back gods to grant me a pardon. It wasn’t to be. I spent a number of hours over the next couple of weeks up close and personal with my chiropractor.

She said my hip flexors were super tight, and they were putting a strain on my spine, which caused my lower back muscles to seize to “protect” the spine. Her guidance: stretch, stretch, stretch the hip flexors, and modify the Ab Ripper belly workout. She told me not to do anything with full leg extensions (scissors, in-and-outs, bicycles, etc.); keep it to crunches only, and I should be fine until my back muscles and core get stronger.

I took a 4-week break — no exercising at all.

Then I started all over again with Week 1, Day 1, modifying the ab workout. And it worked. I haven’t had any back problems since.

This time through I added the cardio doubles routine for a couple of weeks, but stopped doing them because I couldn’t eat enough to keep my weight up. Losing weight was one of my goals, but I didn’t want it to drop like a rock. Rome wasn’t build in a day, and weight loss doesn’t have to happen all in one week either.

So after the aborted first attempt, the month off for back issues, restarting from scratch, a few days missed here and there because of travel and holidays, yesterday I finished Week 13, Day 7. Almost six months after starting.

During that time it was fun to see my body reshape itself. (No, I’m not going to post any before or after photos.) When I started I looked kind of like a shoe box set on end, perched atop toothpicks. For the most part my chest, waist, and hips were all about the same size, and my legs would have embarrassed a plucked chicken. Now? I still look like a shoe box set on end, but a bit concave in the middle (although my legs are still a bit scrawny — and probably always will).

Here are the numbers from my “before” and “after” body measurements:

  • Weight: Dropped from 189 to 178. (This was my weight taken first thing in the morning, not immediately after working out and sweating off a pound or two. Lowest weight during the 6 months after one of the workouts: 174.8 (yikes! too low). And remember, this was through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays for everyone in the family including me, all usually associated with lots of overeating and weight gain.)
  • Chest: 42 –> 40.5”
  • Waist: 39.5 –> 35” (yes!!!)
  • Hips: 41 –> 40”
  • Right & left thigh: 21.5 –> 22”
  • Right arm (bicep): 13.5 –> 13.75” (that extra quarter inch is really impressive. : )
  • Left arm (bicep): 14 –> 14”

And the numbers from my before and after “fit test”:

  • Resting heart rate: 70 –> 65
  • Pull-ups: 3.5 (what???) –> 14
  • Vertical leap: 14 –> 17.5” (white men can’t jump)
  • Push-ups: 32 –> 47
  • Toe touch: +2 –>  +8.5”  (as in, before I could reach 2” beyond my toes; after 8.5” beyond my toes) (Seated on floor, legs straight out, no bent knees, bend over at waist with arms reaching towards toes)
  • Wall squat: 1:15 –> 3:00 (this one really (pleasantly) surprised me. I’ve never had strong legs. Even a plucked chicken would be embarrassed by them)
  • Bicep curls: 15 reps @ 15 pounds  -> 35 reps @ 20 pounds (about a half-hour later I did 17 reps @ 30 pounds, just because)
  • In & outs: 45 –> 80 (I was hesitant about doing this during the “after” test, not sure what it might do to my lower back muscles given the nature of the move and my previous back issues. My back survived just fine.)

I won’t bore you with my “heart rate maximizer” numbers.

The most exciting moment: the morning I woke up and weighed less than 180 pounds.

So was it worth it?

Oh, yes.

I’ve never felt more fit in my life. Before starting, those 3.5 pull-ups in the fit test were horrid. I counted “got my eyes within an inch of the bar” as a good pull-up; and I took a break between each. After: all 14 were full quality: good form, the top of my shoulders even with my hands; no breaks, no squirming. I can do all the cardio routines without killing myself. I used to hate lunges and squats (thus the chicken-legs), but I don’t mind them at all anymore.

One thing that didn’t happen but I wanted to: I never did get those ripped, death-defying 6-pack abs. It might be the result of not doing the full-blown ab routines every time. Also, if I’d been willing to lose a few more pounds they might have shown themselves. But, I lost over 4” from my waste. I’ll take it.

So where to from here?

I’m going to take it easy, just doing the X-Stretch routine and the Cardio-X routine on alternating days for a few days. Then I’ll get back to it. (I’ve gotta find that 6-pack. I know it’s in there somewhere. : )

All in good time . . .

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