May 11, 2008 posted by


While I was concocting the doubles routine for the 90X book Tony asked, somewhat rhetorically, “does it really do you any good to train longer than an hour or so?” He was hesitant about adding a doubles segment to something so intense and it was a good question. For most situations you can’t benefit much from training more than an hour a day at all out intensity. In almost every case you can come up doing one workout well is far more effective than compromising two workouts. And if workout one is hard enough than compromising workout two is inevitable. So why did we do it?

There are, basically, two scenarios where adding a second workout can be beneficial. Both have caveats attached to them. One is to improve your body’s ability to utilize stored fat for fuel. The second is to train for specifically for an endurance sport. Since 90x is designed to train for endurance sports (it’s better used as an off-season conditioning program) we added it for the former.

While we were designing 90X I was running groups of our members through various programs using our existing workout programs: Power 90, Pour Half Hour, Slim in 6, Slim Series, and a few other odds and ends. During these “test groups” we found a scenario where most of our members, at one point or another, could benefit from a phase of training designed around improving fat mobilization. But keep in mind that they earned it by maxing the regular program the first time. For most people, adding doubles to the X won’t be beneficial until you’ve gotten so good at it that you adapt very quickly. So most people don’t need doubles. They should be earned by plateauing on a program first.

It’s the type of training a lot of highly trained athletes will try when they need to lose weight. It’s done by, essentially, adding an aerobic workout (low intensity consistant output that’s always under one’s AT) to a training program. This session is best done after a period of fasting (such as in the morning) when the body is low on stored glycogen. There are other ways to accomplish this as well. Cyclists will often do intense sessions sans nutrition to force the issue. While effective it’s a bit more dangerous. Our version is easier and safer. The only danger is that some muscle mass will be compromised unless the diet is perfect. Doing doulbles one must always be willing to lose a little size for a trade off of building a better engine for more intense training later.

For myself, I’m doing it for sports specific training. All of my objectives are in the endurance realm. If I don’t ride, run, or climb than I won’t have the specific strength to do these things no matter how strong my engine is. In theory, I should only do X in the off-season. But my seasons are weird, and different each year. Right now I need build some aerobic base and I can’t run, hence the virtual Giro. And while I’ll certainly compromise some strength gains by adding this I need some long days to get ready for long days. One thing about training an hour intensely is that it doesn’t get you ready for doing 12-24 or more straight hours of intensity. And that’s what I’m ultimately training for.

pic: Romney learning the art of drafting on stage 2 of our “giro”.


  • Enjoying a Negroni on the rocks, shaken, and catching the late showing of Lebowski. Perfect way to end the weekend.Bar’s over there.

  • Did day 2 of the Virtual Giro and I felt pretty knackered. Bob and I headed into the mountains and spent some time on the hippie bikes. The trails were great, conditions were perfect and we got to do some fun technical stuff. It’s like nirvana.We’ll just have to see how my legs do on this virtual giro. I should look at the schedule to see when I have to do what.~R

  • Steve: So definitely do Cardio X, during doubles, on an empty stomach to maximize fat mobilization? What’s the best email for you? You can email @ sterlingpurdy@hotmail.com

  • Oh, yeah. Cardio X was designed specifically for 90X doubles. I meant to mention that in the blog.

  • So Day 3 of the Virtual Giro started with a round of P90X chest/shoulders/tri and ARX. Then I hopped on the civilized bike and did about an hour easy on it. It was strange being on the bike and wondering about how it was making my arms tired when I was leaning on the bars. Crazy.Tomorrow is Plyo and then I am hoping to join the local MTB ride. We’ll see how my legs feel for that, because the hippie bike almost always feels harder than the civilized bike.Steve, how was the trainer? Exciting?~R

  • The trainer was friggin’ boring but I should be happy to be getting any exercise at all given my schedule here. Have the gym reserved in 10 minutes. Plyo and another session of indoor pedaling. Missing “bike to work” festivities at home. Didn’t see anyone biking to work here in LA.

  • Hi Steve,I’ve been amazed at how well pool work (doing Yoga warriors in the jacuzzi, then standing Yoga and running laps in the pool) has helped my recovery from Plantar Fasciitis and a herniated disc in my back. I also did doubles with P90X to train for the Catalina 50 mile ultra and it really helped – I liked having the stength. What specific injuries are you recovering from Steve?Beautiful day in LA yesterday – I hit the strand in Manhattan Beach at lunchtime on the blades – great way to break up the day.:) phil

  • Day 5 of the virtual giro. My knees are feeling it a little and I’m fairly tired, but overall it’s going pretty good. I’ve done more riding this week than I have done in the last month. Crazy. Or, maybe not so crazy.I’m kinda interested in seeing how all this plays out because I wouldn’t normally train this hard and would be taking more days off. We’ll have to see what my body says.~R

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