There are three ways I approach working out — all in the span of about a week:
Monday: I’m pumped up. I’m ready to go, and I exercise without complaint.
Wednesday: The honeymoon phase of the workout program is over, and I’ve begun hurtling insults at the instructor.
Friday: I simply lay on the floor and refuse to do anything.
While most people aren’t as dramatic as I am, there is still a problem with those week-long, month-long, or 90-day-long exercise programs that bring out the insanity in even the best of us: monotony.
P90X’s secret to success — the secret to fighting that monotony — involves the science of Muscle Confusion. Instead of a repetitive, everyday DVD routine, 12 routines are cycled throughout the course, giving the user’s body no time to relax into the “plateau effect” — an act acquired by repetition. With the plateau effect, the user’s body gets used to a workout, and eventually stops losing weight. With P90X, though, the changing routines bring about continuous weight loss for extended periods of time.
The following nine tips have been adopted by current and past P90X users, and will help you fight the urge to quit P90X.
1. Exercise for a reason
You’re already setting a goal by starting the exercise program — you want to complete the 90 days of working out.
But often, wanting isn’t enough.
When beginning an exercise program, especially one as long as P90X, you need to find a reason to be fit. For example, do you want that beach-ready body in time for summer? Plan in advance. Let’s say you want to rock that swimsuit by June 1st. Count back 13 weeks — about 91 days — to March 2nd, and start.
Lauren Douglas, a UNLV student majoring in nursing, was training for a half marathon. But after she blew her ankle out, a half marathon wasn’t realistic.
“I was tired of being lazy, but I was hesitant to run again,” Douglas said. “So I started P90X.”
A BYU student focused on political science, Nathan Westover is entering his twelfth week of the program.
“For me, doing P90X was a new year’s resolution,” Westover said. “I just really wanted to get in shape for summer time. I’m actually really proud of myself for making it this far, and don’t plan on quitting anytime soon.”
By keeping a personal need in mind, you’ll want to turn on the workout even when your body screams no. Just keep thinking it’ll all be worth it when…
2. Before and After
Because it’s difficult to keep track of the shape you’re in, especially while you’re losing it, pictures are an easily-acquired comparison that can spark inspiration in others, and happiness in yourself.
3. The Schedule is Your Bible
Unlike many exercise programs, P90X doesn’t provide one routine for everyday use. Instead, there’s a different routine per day, every seven days.
P90X supplies the user with a day-by-day schedule, and deferring from this schedule will not help. The routines were not randomly thrown onto a piece of paper — experts sat and decided what would work best for the body; what would best lose weight and gain muscle.
“Even though I hate yoga, I don’t skip over it,” Westover said. “I’m not about only doing the routines I want. Because I’ve committed to this, I’ve been doing every single routine.”
4. Partner Up, Y’all
There are few things more enjoyable than complaining about something with a friend, and an exercise routine is no different.
The buddy system is detrimental in completing the 90-day workout. To trudge through, you need someone who you can easily get along with, someone whose schedule is compatible with yours, and someone who can make you laugh.
Douglas prefers working out alone, but Westover finds solace in exercising with a friend.
“It’s just easier [to work out with a friend],” Westover said. “If I really don’t want to work out one night, my friend basically says, ‘Well, I’m going to put this DVD whether or not you’re coming’ and then I feel bad. I do the same for my friend.”
By including a friend in your goal, your buddy can give you that much-needed shove when the last thing you want to do is work out.
5. Location, Location, Location
P90X isn’t something you can necessarily take with you to the gym and pop into a random DVD player. In fact, most people participate from the comfort of their living room, and that’s perfectly fine.
Though your carpet might not provide the proper support for running a marathon, it’ll do for some jumping jacks, push-ups, and weights.
6. First Thing’s First
For morning people, getting up before dawn is no problem. For everyone else, it sucks. It’s common knowledge that the earlier you work out, the better your day goes; if you can get it done early, you won’t procrastinate it for the rest of the day.
Though the earlier, the better, sometimes it’s just not realistic. Homework keep you up all night? 7 AM class? Your buddy can’t come? No fear! If you exercise any time between 12:01 AM and 11:59 PM, then you’ve exercised for that day.
7. DON’T SKIP! But If You Do…
The strict schedule keeps you exercising 6 days of the week. That is tough to do, and sometimes it is literally impossible to work out. On those days, try and move your one rest day to that day, and just carry on.
Determination is especially important if you go out of town. Douglas made it through the program about six weeks before a vacation halted her.
“When you’re on vacation, the last thing you want to do is work out,” Douglas said. “So after having stopped for a week, it was that much harder getting back into it when I got home. I just didn’t want to start the regime again.”
If there’s a week that’s unrealistic for you to work out during, tack on another day to your 90. P91X is understandable. So is P97X.
Safety covers a blanket of subjects in the exercise world, and in P90X’s case, that includes clothing, equipment, and endurance.
Proper attire, weights, and the right amount of food will propel you through your hour-long workouts.
“I made sure to have a good breakfast and lunch and some snacks throughout the day,” Douglas said. “The first couple days will get you if you aren’t hydrated, or if you may be out of shape. Water is a must!”
The important thing is to not over-extend yourself. P90X is a tough program that the user has to get used to. If you can’t finish 25 push-ups in 30 seconds, that’s okay. Tony Horton, the instructor, is good about constantly reminding the participant to take it easy; to not overdo oneself.
9. Don’t Get Lazy
Monotony is bound to set in, and you have to be ready for it. That can usually be solved by changing locations — move it to your buddy’s house, set up a projector and do it outside, or bringing in new people (maybe your friends want to join for a week or so).
When the workouts become boring, P90X is usually good about changing the routines you’re participating in, but the repetition will still be bothersome.
When the going gets tough (or boring, in this case) it’s time to focus on the reason you’re committing to P90X in the first place.
P90X is no easy feat, but the completion is monumental. Incorporating these suggestions into your three-month-long workout will fight the monotony, and yield longevity, success, and inspiration in others.