Well – a few reasons. These may or may not be true for you. Bear in mind these opinions are based on research before I start the actual program. Let’s see if I have the same answers at the end.
1) Focus on building strength
I want to lose weight, but I also know from past experience that losing weight without some strength training makes me feel like crap. At first I feel great. But then progress starts levelling off, I start feeling tired and clumsy… I still feel like a slightly smaller fat person. I don’t feel great. This is still true even if I’m doing cardio.
Whereas when I do strength training too, I feel great. I lose inches even without losing a pound. Then when I lose some weight as well, I look fantastic. I actually feel slim. Instead of just getting smaller, my shape changes to look like someone slim. Also – I sleep better. I have more energy. And I can eat more while staying slim.
So what’s not to like? Well for me – it’s doing the actual exercise. That bit kinda sucks. For me anyway, since I’m not the sporty type. Actually, gradually I’ve got into it a bit and I kind of enjoy it now. But still, I find it hard to get started a lot of the time. Which is why I want a program that tells me what to do – to make this all easier for me.
P90X is not so much focused on cardio (it does do some), but is especially focused on building strength. It won’t make you build huge muscle – especially if you’re a girl. Even if you’re a guy you’ll find that the folks who want to build size don’t choose P90X, or they customize it. But that’s fine for me – I want strength, not muscle size. So, great. P90X works for me.
2) Rigid plan to stick to
I saw you pull that face. Stop it. Listen…
I don’t like rigid plans, either. Not in my day-to-day life. I like having some choice, and picking what I enjoy. But unfortunately when I do that exercise never makes it to the top of my list. Exercising is very good for me, and it can be quite fun in a way. But I’d still rather read a book, play with my son, watch TV or just sleep. Especially sleep. What can I say? Exercise is – a bit boring.
So, since I know that I need to exercise, and I know that I don’t really want to, the best solution is someone who makes it all easy for me. Imagine if someone just told you what to do to be completely healthy, you didn’t have to think about it, you could just do what you were told and you’d be fit, healthy and slim in no time? Great, right?
Exactly. So, that’s why I like the fact it has a rigid plan. I don’t want to think about this stuff, I just want to do it. And then go do something fun.
Again, I own up. I get bored easily. I need to keep changing things around, moving them up, setting myself new targets. And I gain strength pretty quickly so the workouts I have get easier very rapidly. (NB. I don’t think is because I am super-athletic, I think it’s because I started from such a low point).
Plus resistance training is not that varied, really. You can buy a book with 100 different exercises in, and it seems like lots. But then every DVD or routine you find will be made up of about 20 of those same 100. It gets dull. And repetitious! Everything in resistance training is about reps – which means doing the same thing over and over. Do the same move 8-10 times. Pause, then do them again. Pause, do them again. Take a day’s break, then do all 3 sets again. Dull…
So: mixing it up by buying a new program every now and again is a way to keep me interested. And picking something that seems like a challenge makes it a bit more scary, a bit more exciting, and promises better results too. So I feel motivated to do it, and I’m more likely to stick with the program.
Does it really make a difference which program I do, or how often I change? Not so much – except the difference between carrying on or giving up. Which is all the difference in the world.
4) Nutrition plan as well as an exercise plan
Actually, this is only half a reason, because the nutrition plan seems crazy complicated, which is making me have to think about it, which I didn’t want to have to do. But that’s partly (mostly?) because I have silly diet needs, being gluten- and dairy- intolerant. Picky, huh? If you’re less awkward than me, it might be easier to follow. So, let’s ignore that aspect …
Doing lots of strength work builds muscle. Your body needs the right ingredients to build muscle. But losing weight is about cutting the amount you’re eating, which limits the ingredients your body has. If you get this right, you build muscle, lose weight and look fabulous. If you get it wrong you gain no muscle, feel tired and crap, or worse still you get injured. So, as much as the nutrition plan (or any diet plan) annoy the hell out of me – I need this guidance right now. I wouldn’t get it right on my own.
5) I can use resistance bands instead of weights
Tony Horton is not an idiot. He knows that while he’s advertising this to super-fit people who want to take their exercise to the next level, that’s quite a small audience. And most of them can probably design a workout themselves. Most of the people actually buying this program are going to be people like me, who aren’t super-fit but would quite like to be. Who probably don’t have loads of equipment, and can’t do the really hard moves.
So, he’s designed the program with plenty of modifications. Easier versions. Harder versions. So for someone like me, I can still do the program and see benefits. And then second time around, maybe do the exercises in the non-beginner version, and feel like a pro. And then maybe later still, do the really hard versions (well, I can dream!). This is great, and it’s a good sign of a well-designed workout program.
However, as well as the strength adaptations, I also don’t have a full set of weights. I don’t take this stuff that seriously. I don’t have the storage space. And man, those things are big and ugly. Plus, I can’t cart them around everywhere, so I’d have to leave them right next to where I work out, which is my living room. Which means my 4-year-old son would try to pick them up and probably hurt himself. And… well anyway, I don’t have a full set of weights and I’m not likely to get them anytime soon.
Here comes the great news. You can do a resistance workout without weights. Who knew? You still need the resistance, but you can get it from stretchy rubber bands. In pretty girly colours. Hurray!
Okay, I’m just being sarcastic now. But actually, this is great news. Light-weight, small, easy to carry and store, but they’ll still give you a decent workout. I’ve got a set of 5 bodylastic resistance tubes, and they range from 3lb to 19lb. Plus you can double them up (or treble them, or more) to get even higher weights.
And the P90X shows you how to do all the exercises with the resistance bands, which is great. So do lots of other workouts, too, but not all. (You can see loads of resistance band workouts for free at http://www.liveexercise.com/, but then those ones aren’t nearly as well-designed as P90X, and don’t have the different levels to work at. And their banter is pretty annoying).
So – not a unique feature of P90X, but still a plus.
So those are my reasons. Notice that none of the reasons were “P90X is WAY better than any other plan out there”. If you’re doing 6-days-a-week solid resistance exercises for 90 days, and eating the right stuff, you’ll end up looking great on nearly any plan. There are some crap programs out there, but there are plenty of other good ones too. It’s really about what works for you – this time around.
Next time, when you’re bored, you might pick something different. I probably will.
PS. “Muscle confusion” – is it real? Well, so far as I can tell (and I’m not a biology expert): partly. A wide range of exercises is good, that use different muscle combinations in different ways. Changing up your levels is good. “Muscle confusion”, per se, seems to be marketing hype. But probably helps avoid you getting bored, and helps you stick with the program. It’s not a lie, but it’s not a unique breakthrough either. In my non-expert opinion.