Firefighter fitness- Does P90X Measure Up? The Cons

  April 13, 2012

A few days ago I posted on the pros of the P90X fitness program for firefighter fitness.  I recieved some great emails (please keep them coming) from firefighters that have used P90X, some with success some without.  The purpose of these posts is to not tell you wether P90X is the “best” program for firefighter fitness (shortly, I will post on this) but to give you the pros and cons so you can make an educated decision if its right for you.  So, now that you know some of the pros, let’s look at the cons of P90X.

–Time Investment: The schedule requires at least 60 minutes a day for 6-7 days each week. Weight and abdominal workouts are 75 minutes combined. The yoga workout lasts 92 minutes.

–Teaching Technique- The videos show people performing the exercises but doesn’t spend a lot of time actually teaching the proper form. This is especially a problem because many of the exercises include lower-body movements (such as squats, dead lifts and lunges) that can be especially dangerous if they’re not done properly.

–Risk of Injury: This workout is extreme with plenty of warnings given at the beginning of each video. Tony repeatedly instructs users to “bring it!” Especially determined individuals with type A personalities are more prone to “bring it” too far to the point of injury. Increase resistance and reps gradually to reduce the risk of injury, and take care to use proper form.

–Sales Pitches- Beware of plugs for P90X nutritional supplements, says Comana. “Regardless of how safe they think their dietary programs and products are, people need to recognize that supplements are not regulated by the FDA.” Lastly, at the end of some (if not all) of the videos, the parent company likes to slip in advertisements for their back-end nutritional products. Pathetic. Tony’s even a little guilty of going a bit over the line “hawking” these products during the video. I came to work out guys – not to be pitched on something.

–Not for everyone– If you have a previous injury or are imbalanced in anyway, this program may not be for you. There are some movements that can potentially lead to overuse injuries (shoulder and knee tendinitis, low back pain).

–The speed of the workouts– P90X workouts follow a specific format which means you have to keep up with the videos. while this insures a good workout it can sometimes lead to improper form and “rushed” reps along with an overwhelming feeling of “trying to keep up.”

–While I like Tony’s personality, I can see why he might get on some people’s nerves. He does talk a lot. I guess this works out since there are other people I the videos that appear to be afraid to talk.

–The Nutrition guide– he nutrition guide was just about as helpful as the fitness book. This plan I am sure would help me lose weight – but I am not going to follow it. I’m sure I would lose weight if I ate berries and oats for the rest of my life, but it doesn’t mean I want to. Again, the design of the book is nice; I just see a lot of people wanting to follow this plan.

–Forget About Your “Beach Muscles”–The P90X program refers to the shoulders and arms as your “beach muscles” which is something that I’m sure will motivate many people. However, Firefighters, EMTs and paramedics need to have more than beach muscles. Here lies another problem, some of the workouts focus on particular muscle groups instead of full body exercise. These types of workouts don’t seem to match the demands of our job, almost every movement we do on the fireground or ems scend requires compound full body functional movement.

–Muscle Confusion doesn’t necessaryly mean muscle adaptation– It’s difficult to make significant gains in strength without eventually increasing exercise resistance beyond body weight. Although the P90X program does suggest using dumbbells for some exercises, even this can be limiting unless one buys a complete set which can be quite expensive and take up a lot of space. The plyometrics workout is hard on the knees and joints, so exercise caution with this workout and modify as necessary

This is not an all-encompassing list of the cons of the program, I know that I missed some. I’m not going to get into whether or not I find it valuable for all firefighters…that post will come shortly. For now, absorb these cons (and pros) and of course make some comments. I welcome all comments and emails with open arms and an open mind.

Stay safe and remember to “Train like a life depends on it.”

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