March 15, 2010 posted by

Synergy & P90X Plus

I’ve been doing a combination of P90X Plus along with riding, running, and climbing to try and bring my training back into focus. All the hubbub surrounding the Mexico trip, along with the small injury I suffered beforehand, put a kink into the schedule. With a month before a planned trip to Europe I’m trying to round out my overall fitness prior to departure, which will complete my base training for a planned big year ahead.

This is slightly different than the plan I drew up and began in December. But as I said then, it’s almost never the right course of action to complete a training program without some alteration. What happened, besides the slight injury that altered my climbing training, was that I began putting so many miles into running that my other fitness suffered. The main problem was lack of consistent sleep. With my aging dog requiring a lot of attention it’s been rare to get more than a few uninterrupted hours of sleep over the last few months. This kind of thing can wreak havoc with recover and training, especially volume, needs to get adjusted as necessary when it occurs.

The key to regaining lost fitness and keeping what I’ve gained in other areas is synergy; finding a training schedule that concurrently taxed many energy systems at once. For this I’ve been using the 90X Plus workouts. Sometimes it’s best to training energy systems separately because it builds strength more efficiently. The down side with this approach is that you then need some time to integrate this fitness together. When you have less time training synergistically, where you train across styles and energy systems, is more apropos. Crossfit follows this model, as does P90X Plus.

The downside to X Plus is also its upside: synergy. Because you train a lot of systems at once, including the kinetic chain, it’s a very efficient system for getting overall body fitness quickly. But because it’s training so many things together the workouts don’t plug into the 90X schedule very well, making it harder to use to affect targeted body composition changes, especially where hypertrophy (size) is concerned.

This style of synergistic training creates, as one of my bodybuilding friends put it, “skinny fit guys”—a club he has no interest in being a member of. I, however, am a poster child for the skinny fit guy club as I feel fat no matter how fit I am because nothing improves your strength for gravity sports as much as losing weight. Right now, my goal is to get as skinny and as fit as I can in three weeks time.
pic: romney showing the advantages of strength to weight ratio gained by training many systems at once.


  • GREAT pic, and I know what you mean about the skinny fat group. I right now am finished with my 2nd round of P90X and moving on. If thats your house I love it! I grew up hiking and repeling and miss it. We have a place in the city you can do the indoor climbing like that too but never seen it in an home.1. I hope your dog gets better2. Your injury heals3. You have a great trip to Mexico

  • Hello,nice post thanks for sharing?. I just joined and I am going to catch up by reading for a while. I hope I can join in soon.

  • I must say I'm a huge fan of the X and have also done X+ a few times. My biggest concern is also strength to weight ratio. My only concern was that whlie X+ would maintain my strength gains I made during the X, I was unsure If id actually make gains in my strength by doing X+. But you raise a good point as I'm mostly training for sport (wrestling/grappling). Do you think the X+ style of lifting is more beneficial for a sport like that along with the sport specific training i'm doing?

  • Great Articles but a few questions.1. How exactly is X+ working on strength as it works more towards circuit training, dont you need longer breaks for power? By strength do you mean Power?I am currently on my last week of the power phase, no injuries so far and doing great. Thanks.

  • Should be good for wrestling for sure, at least in phases, since it works on a lot of the subtle strengths that help in a sport like wrestling: core, balance, kinetic chain strength, static strength. Hassan, yes strength is power but in this sense we're talking about strengthening a lot of areas concurrently, which always compromised some gains you'd make if training something specifically. Does that make sense?

  • Steve,Great comments and very useful information. I have been reading your blog for almost two years. I have a similar problem to yours. I do adventure racing, and I want to concentrate in off-road cycling (1 to 3 hour events), and ultra trail running (100-160k). I have been doing one round of Insanity, and now I want to combine 3 days of P90x with 3 days of Insanity. I was thinking about doing double sessions the days that I do X, and recover the days of Insanity (single). I wanted to do some recovery/yoga, but I think I can only fit some traditional stretching. Time is a bit of a constraint (we have a 9 months in the house). Any suggestions or tips are welcome, but I am trying to figure out ways to be able to train endurance with explosiveness. Thanks

  • Carlos,Nice to meet you. You ask the age-old quandry, well, for multi-sport athletes. My goal is the find the answers but there isn't a lot written on this as the physiological differences needed for a one-hour mtb race and a 160k run are night and day. Not many train across paradigms like that. One suggestion is to follow what I'm doing, pick what works and eliminate what doesn't (such as bouldering with ankle and wrist weights!)One thing you need to be careful of is overtraing because, though very short for you, the demands of Insanity and X are so different from the demands of your sports. It's possible to overtrain at the central nervous system level by combining too much anaeorbic work with super high volume. I know, I've done it many times trying to push this boundary. Often the place to begin in assessing these priorities is to target your weaknesses as a priority in the off-season and bring your strengths back up to speed as your big events approach.

  • I train in my sport year around. 3-4 days a week at the moment. Followed by 1 day of X strength training, 1 day of insanity or plyo of some sort, andone day of another X strength training. You mentioned to maybe use the synergy work in just phases, but would my time be better suited doing something like one day upper+, one day insanity, one day total body+, then the rest of the week sport training? OR just keep it the way im doing it and doing a month here and there of synergy work?

  • Sorta, Its more like strengthing muscles that need to gain strength without working more on specific power training.

  • I think the best schedule is to train hard for non-sports stuff during the off-season hard, focusing on weakenesses. Then transitioning out of it at the beginning of sports season towards full sports specific training building towards a peak.

  • This pic is actually a pretty common occurrence for a man dressed in a Ritte kit.

  • Steve,I really enjoy reading your blog. I'm on week 6 of P90X and combining with cycling and hiking as part of a modified doubles program. I try to keep the rides down to an hour and the hiking to a interval workout using my heart rate monitor but I guess I'm compromising the strength and size aspects of P90X. I don't mind joining the fit skinny guy club since I figure I can always get mean after I'm lean.-Scott

  • I play basketball, and I have to shoot everyday or else my form goes bad and I am unable to hit shots in games. I also need to maintain a good cardiovascular exersice because of obvious reasons. For Basketball there is no off season until July. I don't want to lose the mucle mass I have gained doing p90, but I also need to gain endurance I have lost focusing on the 90 days. What would be the best way to integrate sprint training in with p90 as well as shooting, which is a moderatly low intense exersice anyway?

  • Hey Steve,I need some help on finding a good schedule for a 1/2 marathon training. I am now doing a P90X/Insanity Hybrid with running after cardio and resistance. Don't know if it is too much workout? Was thinking of doing P90X+ and running after the cardio & resistance. Would this be OK or too much on my body?Thanks, Sandra

  • Sandra,Ask on the Message Boards. It's be far the quickest way to get answers. Use the Fitness Forum.

  • Nice to find the post related to my searching criteria.

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