My Holiday Workout

Gang, like it or not the holiday season is upon us. Last weekend I kicked off my holiday feast fest at an annual Friendsgiving gathering. I stuffed my face and did not think twice. Just a couple of days ago, Eric already questioned what kind of holiday treats we’d be making and baking this year. I know the holidays are about much more than food, but sometimes my stomach needs reminding about that.

Because I don’t believe in completely cutting out foods or treats that you absolutely love (especially those you eat just once a year!) I’m going to happily enjoy my favorite cookies, pies and other sweet goodies over the next few weeks. However, I also don’t believe in gaining 20 pounds over the holidays. The only way to combat any pesky holiday poundage is to balance indulgent treats by eating otherwise very healthfully, and also, to grind out some ass-whooping workouts.

This post is about that whole whooping-of-the-ass part.

Eleven days ago, I began a hybrid, 30-day workout program that incorporates the P90X and Insanity Asylum workout DVDs. I’ve already been a P90X “graduate” about three times through now, and have also done their P90X Plus version. I’ve also completed the Insanity program, though this is my first time dabbling in their Asylum series (as the name alludes, it is – somehow – even tougher than the original series). All I know is P90X has always worked for me, and Insanity is a ridiculous cardio workout. The program, which combines the two, should make the difference from more-or-less maintaining my weight over the holidays to becoming as round as a holiday cheese ball.

Here’s a snap shot of the 30-day program (simply click to make larger):

If you are familiar with P90X and/or Insanity, you should understand the titles of the workouts and what goes into them. If you’re not, let me (as briefly as I can) break down my current week (Days 8-14) for you:

DAY EIGHT: P90X Back & Biceps/ARX
Back and biceps is a very concentrated strength workout wherein essentially you are doing nothing but pull ups and biceps curls for an entire hour. More specifically, you do 24 different exercises throughout – 12 focusing on back, 12 on biceps with very little to no rest between each. For the pull ups, you shift hand positions on the bar from set to set and do as many reps as you can. For the biceps, you’re mostly using dumbbells, focusing on completing 8-10 reps (for muscle size) or 12-15 (for lean muscle – I usually do 15 reps on each of these).

For the ARX portion, you follow Back & Biceps with P90X’s Ab Ripper X workout, which includes 15 minutes of non-stop abdominal work (13 different exercises, completing 350 reps total at the end). The Fifer Scissors will get you every time. Trust me.

DAY NINE:  Insanity Asylum Vertical Plyo
This workout is, more or less, 45 extreme minutes of jumping, lunging and squatting – all at high speed/intensity. No matter how good of shape I’m in, this workout humbles me every time. Power jumps, double jumps, and some kind of crazy jumping-switch-leg lunge that is nearly impossible for me to do (sorry for not drawing you a more vivid picture – just envision me flailing about and wincing from lactic acid buildup). Quite a few exasperated gasps escape me while doing this workout. I’d probably rather run 10 miles than do this workout – that should give you a little insight to the intensity.

DAY 10: P90X Chest, Shoulders & Arms/ARX
This is probably my favorite P90X workout altogether. It’s an hour long, tough mix of 24 exercises targeting the chest, shoulders and triceps. It’s got plenty of crazy push ups, things like weighted arm circles, push ups in the pike position, chair dips and an exercise where you lie on your side and push up your entire body using just your triceps on one arm. Each muscle group has eight exercises. No matter how many times I’ve done this workout, I’m always a bit sore the next day – a good thing!
Another round of Ab Ripper X follows this workout.

DAY 11: Insanity Asylum Speed & Agility
I tried this workout for the first time this morning. While it’s not as killer as Vertical Plyo, it’s still a great, intense cardio workout. You’re using an agility ladder throughout most of this 45-minute workout, focusing on quick feet/hands (picture drills like running tires and quick-moving hopscotch). I really enjoyed this workout, as it kind of reminds me of being in sports practice in high school – doing very specific agility work. I can definitely tell I’m much stronger at quick feet than power jumping!

DAY 12: P90X: Legs & Back/ARX
P90X’s Legs & Back workout is no joke. Essentially, you do 24 leg-focused strength exercises with a set of max-rep pull ups after every third set. There are plenty of lunges, calf raises and squats, but the exercises that make me squeal more than anything else are the single-leg wall sits: a minute of leaning against a wall with one leg bent at a 90-degree angle and the other sticking straight out in front of you. It is not fun. It is difficult to stand up afterward. Curses are uttered.

Another round of Ab Ripper X follows this workout.

DAY 13: Insanity Asylum Gameday/Overtime
Actually… I’ve never done this workout! But I have read an online breakdown of it and, well, now I’m terrified. The entire Insanity Asylum series is essentially like a sports practice, training you to be ready for “gameday” (whatever game that may be). So, the Gameday workout is the one where you’re supposed to leave it all out there and perform like you’re in a game (but, wait… didn’t I leave it all out there EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. leading up to this??? Yikes.) Apparently you do a “1-mile race” doing various forms of stationary running (OK, I can do that…), then you move to the “field” portion of the track workout and do a series of long jumps, then you move on to some basketball-inspired moves, then soccer, then tennis , then speed skating, then swimming (I’m assuming you’re “swimming” lying on your stomach), then surfing, then football, then rock climbing and finally baseball. I have no idea how I’ll get through this workout – it seems long and intense, but all those sports-related exercises may make it a lot of fun! Check out the review I’ve linked to to see each move more specifically.

(Yes sir!)

Those are just seven of the 30 days in this program. Eleven days in, I’m feeling good, definitely not burnt out and actually not run down at all. I’ll probably repeat the program after completing the 30 days, just to keep up the great workouts. While I do miss running in the winter (I usually just stick to weekend runs, as I’ve got a pretty paranoid fear of running alone in the dark), switching things up for a few weeks is great for the body and shocks them system so things don’t get stale or reach a plateau. I’ll report back after Day 30 to let you know how I feel at the end!

In the meantime, I cannot sing the praises of P90X or Insanity enough. I’ve been without a gym membership for about 2.5 years and had never been in as good of shape as I when after I quit. They’re not for everyone; they are serious workouts for people with an already good fitness base, but programs like these will give you results if you stick with it and put in the effort.

P.S. Beachbody (the company that owns the P90X and Insanity brands) has no idea who I am. They’ve given me no money to tell you about this program. If they’d like to fork over half a mill I certainly wouldn't turn it away… but rest assured these thoughts are all from my own, penniless head.)


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