“Don’t let your ego get in the way.” — Tony Horton
When I used to workout in the gym, my ego was ALWAYS in the way. I didn’t want to do an exercise I’d fail at (like pullups) or that would show my weaknesses (like anything having to do with flexibility or core). I stuck to the few things I could do well, and that’s it. I would do some squats and some bench. And then I’d play around on some of the machines. You wouldn’t catch me working on flexibility (which I stunk at) or failing at pullups. I wanted to look cool LOL!
But in the comfort of my own home, with no one watching … look out! I can work on all those things, and that’s why I’ve gotten in such good shape. I’m sure I look like a total fool sometimes. And that’s fine with me!! No one is watching LOL!
Don’t say, “I can’t”. Say, “I presently struggle with …..” — Tony Horton
If you’ve watched any of the P90X DVD’s, you notice that the cast demonstrates each exercise at different levels of intensity. One is doing the all-out exercise, one has a slight modification, and one is doing a beginner move. Tony says “Modify, modify, modify!” This is absolutely true!!
If you’ve watched any of the Insanity DVD’s, you probably notice that there are no modified moves. The people simply drop out and rest when they need it (which in a way makes me feel good because I know I’m not the only one dying LOL!).
But the key isn’t to ask, “Can I keep up with Tony and Shaun?”. They key is to ask, “Did I do better today than I did last time?” Every time we show up and press play, we are improving our fitness and getting closer to our goals. We may not be at the finish yet, but we are making progress.
With P90X, X2, and Insanity, we know how to match the workout to our ability level. And as our ability level increases, we know how to ramp up the intensity. That’s why we are able to see such amazing progress from Day 1 to Day 90 or Day 63. We modify where needed, and over time we get stronger and improve our weaknesses until we are able to perform the moves without modification.
Part of what makes P90X and Insanity so much better than going to a gym is that in the privacy of your own home, you can modify the exercises without worrying about what others think of you. You can do some very goofy-looking things (which are fantastic for your body!!) with no inhibitions!
I get questions / comments often from people who feel like they aren’t measuring up because it’s “already week 4 and I still struggle with _____” (you fill in the blank — it’s usually pull ups or ARX or something like that). They feel like if after 1 month (or 2 months or whatever) they can’t stay move for move and weight for weight with Tony Horton, who’s been doing this for years, that there must be something wrong with them!
Nonsense! We need to stop judging our progress by what the people on TV are doing! We need to look at where we started and where we are now. Let me tell you the things I modified during Round 1 of P90X (lest you think I’m some sort of workout stud and that all this stuff comes easy for me! LOL!):
1) One-handed pushups = I NEVER did an actual rep of this during all of round 1! I did them on my knees, always. For round 2 I started trying to do them the Tony Horton way, and I can now do at least 30 (see my YouTube video for proof — shameless self-promotion LOL). I never could have done that if I hadn’t done them modified for the first 3 months. Modify!
2) Pullups = I used a step stool for every rep during the first month. Then I was able to start doing some unassisted during the second month. Now I can do them with a weighted backpack. Again, it’s because I modified. And again, I have a YouTube video describing the ways I modified pullups if you’d like to watch it. Modify!
3) Ab Ripper X = There was no way I could get through all of those exercises and keep up with Tony for at least the whole first month. I modified! I started off doing 17 reps in the time that Tony did 25, and each week I tried to get 1-2 more reps on each exercise. By half way through month 2, I was keeping up rep for rep on all 25. For Round 3 and beyond, I’ve added other ab and core workouts like Killer Abs, Insane abs, ARX2, etc. Again, I improved because I modified and kept pushing to get better.
Don’t be afraid to modify gang! It’s not about ego. It’s about doing our best and forgetting the rest. Doing 15 modified reps is much more beneficial than 2 regular reps. Get the most out of your muscles, but don’t expect to be Tony Horton right away. Over time you will see improvement in your strength, your reps, and your form.
One of y’all said it best in an email to me (this is someone who was describing his first 2 days of P90x):
“It’s no wonder why you don’t see more Zero-to-Hero transformations in the gym. People are too afraid of ridicule and judgement to do what it takes to get it done.”
Keep Bringing it!!
I agree 100%. I am at the end of the fourth week and not where I think I should be but I am a lot better then the first day. I will not be in the condition I wanted by 90 days but my starting level was so bad I couldn't believe it. I have not missed one workout but did bad on some. I had to struggle to do 12 pushups on the fit test and now I can do 7 with my 38 lb son on my back. I wish I lost more fat during the first month but I didn't use MFP until the third week. It took some time to get used to the way things work but now it is all smooth sailing. After a while the workouts become a thing I look forward to instead of something to dread. It is an addiction, I wish I started working out 20 years ago.
@awaterz, I just try to knock out as many assisted pullups as I can, its the same way I built up my pushup rep count, by starting on my knees. As for the one-armed pushups I just do diamond pushups instead as I felt they were the most similar. Weirdly I have the same workout to do today, just waiting on my fiance completing her first post-pregnancy exercise then I can bring it! Cheers.
@vee coach w knows this already i had 2 major surgeries on my left wrist, shattered it bad, pins and fixator. so i can pound pushups, but have no flexion in wrist. do all pushups with tony push up bars. i to cant get wrist on med ball. i sometimes put tony push up bars on med ball. helps with stability. and i go pushups on med ball holding bars. try it. told a lot of people and they like it. just be careful. any program,i use pushup bars just for the grip... slight modification, but not always easier, greater range of motion..
danny, i find if i get to the point where i'm doing just 4 or so unassisted past a certain point in the video then i'll finish the rest out assisted to say 12. i usually get a good 'pump' from that. i've been *wasted* to the point where i knew i couldn't do 1 arm push ups a few times because i pushed so hard before it. it's halfway through the chest and back video isn't it? at those times i just do standard width (modify) and push out what i can. i think that's better than 2 or 4 sloppy one arm push ups. if you fall on your chest, who cares. get back up, modify and try again.
Come off your fingers and don't push with the entire hand. You could even practice leaving the ball without moving side to side. Small plyos on top of two med balls.
Hey coach! I'm having a huge problem with doing pushups on a medicine ball, and the 3 speed med ball push ups. My hands are always shaky and i'm somewhat'afraid' to lift my hands off the ball during the 3 speed med ball push ups. Any tips on this? :-) Thanks! P90X2 is really awesome!
Vee - Like Tony says, release the fingers first and the balls will stay put. Try just walking your hands over instead of jumping them over. All of these moves take time. Don't get discouraged and keep practicing!
I'm in my second round of P90X. I'm following the workouts as they are in the program. I have Insanity but I haven't worked those in yet. I was going to get through this round first. My numbers goes up every time I repeat a day. I am exhausted after every workout. I am still trying to do 10-12 reps on all of the weighted moves. Maybe I will up the weight and drop the reps to switch things up. Thanks coach
Great article coach! I get that same comment from my wife and family all the time. I've gone from 245 to 178. It's been 18 years since anyone has seen me at a healthy weight. Coach, can you tell my why I can push the upper body till I can't lift my arms any more and not be sore the next day but when I do ploy and legs I feel like I am 90 for 3 days? I wish I could get past that.
Chad - Are you only using the same lift days, day in and day out? Are you forcing yourself to move up in weight, even if it is lower reps? Are you using a full range of motion? Your upper body is most likely more conditioned to what you are doing. Try switching it up and really confuse your muscles. One-on-Ones are great for that! Do you have 30-15? That will leave you sore :)
It's been over a year for me now, and sometimes, I still take an extra break during ARX. With P90X2, I felt the ARX2 was a little less intense. I did ARX the first time in a while the other day, and boy, what an eye opener.
I'm in my last week of p90x freands and family are worried that im loosing to much weight , but I keep pushing play anyway! I can see the muscles coming out now! Cant wait to get bigger.and be healthy for myself and my family!
Don't worry about it Daniel. Lots of people have that response to people that are getting really healthy and fit. We aren't used to seeing healthy sized people! LOL Keep it up! You are doing great!
I still modify and have found that this was the cornerstone of seeing results as I was able to still perform my workouts until I became stronger. In fact some of the stability ball stuff is still a challenge. Just an FYI for the group I still struggle with getting higher numbers on pull ups. I found I was stuck at a self-imposed range of upper single digits and some times an occasional 11 would come out. Then I realized that I may have too much of a safety net as I was using the door frame pull up bar where I had to bend my knees to not touch the ground. I believed this may be causing some of my issues. I then purchased a ceiling mounted pull up bar and am now (past month) getting to 15-16 range and feeling stronger along the way. I figured it was the easy safety net of not being far enough from the ground and having limited arm width clearance. I now jump up to grab the bar and it then turns into intensity and desire.
You know Coach, for some reason I've modified moves during p90x but I never once thought about bringing down the reps in ARX. Kinda a duh! moment but never once did I think about that. Thanks
Hey Coach Wayne Question for you. I am slowly reaching my goal of 210 pounds. Far from being ripped like you but I know with time comes results. My question is after dinner I am still hungry and I have eaten a dinner consisting of veggies and chicken/fish for protein. Should I just go ahead and drink like 40 ounces of water to keep the hunger pains at bay or try something else.
Michael, water will always help. Do you have enough protein left for a protein shake as a final snack? If you have ~20g of protein left in your day, then a scoop of whey with water would be perfect.
Oh, I forgot to ask. Should I be doing as many unassisted reps (of anything) then continuing assisted to get max reps in that particular set?
As someone who was never been involved in sports it feels like I havent got that far at all. I still, - use a chair for ALL reps on the pull-up bar (although Ive only been using it for a couple of months), - can only do 4 one-arm pushups on my knees, - use less weight than the ladies in the P90X program, but I dont care as I have improved so much from a year ago when I was struggling through P90. Its been a learning experience and this site has been a godsend teaching me about nutrition, supplements etc. Big thanks to the Coach!
Thanks for the article Coach. I've been doing 8-10 unassisted reps on all of the pull up exercises. Should I be going to the chair to get those reps up? What is the minimum number of reps I should be doing for all pull up exercises? Thanks!
Dan - That is great. Assisted will still help you get more reps and increase your max unassisted. For all pull ups and push ups... MAXIMUM, MAXIMUM, MAXIMUM!!! Nice work!
"Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was your body" - TH So true. Modification and the desire to improve personal goals every day have been key to my success. Great article.
Awesome post Coach! There are times when I still have to check my ego before pressing play (and sometimes during the routine!). I'm a perfectionist and want to so badly do it better than those on the DVD. To say I've been humbled more than once is an understatement! I modify when I need to, but I still like trying to go rep for rep with Tony and the kids when I'm feeling "sprite", as Tony says! lol
Well day 1 / Fit Test done. Appropriate you posted this article on the same day! (for me anyway). I looked like such a weakling! and my face is STILL bright red. Felt a bit sick afterwards! but shakeology done now and v pleased and proud of myself. Day 1 is done!
no matter what i still struggle with pull ups. it's easily the most difficult part of my sessions. i might start out ok doing 8 or 10, but end up assisting < half way through the videos. the fact that i struggle tells me i'm doing it right and i have to remind myself that's OK. you have to make sure you're on that intensity level though. moving away from bands and getting a pull up bar was the best investment i ever made. i'd like to see the 260lb version of myself do what i can do now. it is all certainly an ego check. i see a lot of people in the gym and crossfit plateau (much more so in the gym). at the same rate some people thrive off of that environment. i prefer to push my limits further at home though in a very structured environment. if you want pure results you need structure. p90x is not magic it's just structure.
You got it Awaterz! P90X works when you work. P90X works better when you work better (and smarter)! Check that ego and BRING IT!
For anyone out there who is contemplating quitting on your fitness goals using P90X (or any other program), read, read, and read again this post! If I had said "I can't" do pull-ups on day 1, I would not have been able to do 8 unassisted pull-ups now. It took 90 days of "struggling with." Thanks, Coach Wayne.
30 one handers. That's impressive, Wayne. Also, random question: Would hulk juice with some added protein be benefitial after a workout. I couldn't see why not?
Jordan - give it a try and let me know. It is such a large variety of foods. You'd be getting tons of nutrients!