Today was round 2 of Back & Biceps, which is one of the new DVDS in Phase 2 of P90X. All I can say is WOW! I literally think that in this one video I performed more bicep curls than I have in the past YEAR! Round 2 DVDs are definitely more difficult than the Phase 1 DVDs and include some trickier moves that you really just can’t do unless you have the strength. I’ll get to those later. Back & Biceps is performed on the 3rd day of weeks 5, 6, 7, 10 and 12.
Bringing Sexy Back
The back portion of this video is mostly pull-ups, although there are a few moves that work the back using weights. First, let me start by saying that when I started P90x just five and a half weeks ago, I could pretty much just hang on the pull-up bar. I recorded 1/6 of a pull-up during my fit test, although basically all I did was hang there and barely move myself up an inch. Sounds better than zero right? This past Saturday when we did Legs & Back for the 4th time, I was able to do ½ a pull-up and ½ of a chin up!!! I basically can lift myself up to where my arms are at a 90 degree angle. To me, this was a HUGE improvement. Now all I have to do is pull myself all the way up. One of my big goals for P90x is to be able to do at least 1 pull-up. I was able to do one in elementary school when exercise meant hand ball tournaments during recess and Chinese jump rope at lunch. I should be able to do one now – although I weigh a whole lot more than I did when I was 10.
The workout begins each 4- move sequence with a different version of a pull-up (although there only is one water break so it’s basically just two long sequences of 12 moves each). We started with Wide-Front Pull-Ups, then Switch Grip Pull-Ups (alternate between pull-up and chin-up), Corn-Cob Pull-Ups ( pull yourself up and then move side to side like you’re gnawing on a massive piece of corn on the cob – needless to say, I stick with normal pull-ups here), Towel Pull-Ups ( loop a towel around the pull-up bar and pull yourself up with one hand on the bar and the other grabbing the towel – another one that I didn’t attempt), Chin-Ups, and Standard Pull-Ups (maximum reps – which isn’t many at this point because your arms and back are toast). Other moves that concentrate on the back without using the bar include Lawnmowers, Reverse Grip Bent-Over Rows, and Seated Bent-Over back Flys. Oh yeah, and Tony throws in a Superman sequence at the end. I’m guessing this move is used to target the lower back but it seems totally out of place in the workout. Or maybe he just wants you to remember that this workout is less painful than the Superman-Banana sequence in Core Synergistics.
Besides the 1/2 pull-up victory, it’s hard to me to gauge how I’m progressing with pull-ups week to week because I use the chair for help. Sometimes I push on the chair more, sometimes less. Sometimes it’s positioned closer to me, sometimes farther and sometimes I use one leg and sometimes I push off with both. I am getting more reps in and seeing physical evidence that my back is getting stronger, so I would assume that I’m improving!
The Gun Show
Ok, I know I’ve heard that if you do more than 10-15 minutes of sit-ups it’s basically pointless because you’ve exhausted the muscle and it follows the law of diminishing returns. I’m kind of wondering if this same principle holds true for biceps? Well, apparently Tony doesn’t believe that you can ever over do it, because this workout has an INCREDIBLE number of bicep moves. I read a blog post or tweet (not sure which) from a guy once who alluded that he couldn’t raise his arms to wash his face after this P90X workout because he was so ripped. I think maybe he meant he was so swollen, because after this workout it seriously felt difficult to raise my hands to my face to wash it in the shower.
Some of the bicep moves include: One-Arm Cross-Body Curls, Standing Bicep Curls, One-Arm Concentration Curls, Open Arm Curls, Static Arm Curls, Crouching Cohen Curls, One-Arm Corkscrew Curls, Curl-Up Hammer Downs, Hammer Curls, In-out Hammer Curls. Can you believe that I didn’t even list them all ? Each sequence usually involves a pull-up move, possibly a back move and then two bicep moves in a row. The hardest part of the workout is the end when the hammer curls never seem to end and then Tony tells you that the 2nd to last set of curls (In-Out Hammer Curls) count as only 1 move even though you are lifting both out and in (ie he wants you to do 30 reps and count them as 15). Then he finishes you off with the Strip-Set Curls where he asks you to get out 4 sets of weights and do 8 reps with each one, decreasing the weight each time. Exhausting!
I used 12 lb weights for the majority of the sets and switched to 10 lbs for a few of them. I think that during Phase 3 I may even need to get a heavier weight for some of the bicep moves because I’m already doing 12-15 reps on most of the sets. I’m a little intimidated by curling 15s though! I don’t want to transition to a heavier weight unless I can do at least 10 reps. Tony reminds us throughout the video that for lean muscle, go for 12-15 reps and for big, bulky muscles, aim for 6-8 reps. I may try adding the heavier weight in on a couple of the easier moves next time.
Back and Biceps is a killer workout that leaves you feeling like you really accomplished something. By the end of the Ab Ripper sequence, I was exhausted. This workout definitely reminded us that we aren’t doing a normal workout regime – we’re doing P90X!