P90X2 Balance and Power: A Complete Body Workout Starting with the Core
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P90X2 Balance and Power First Impressions
P90X2 Balance and Power could have been called P90X2 Core, Part II or P90X2 Total Body, Part II. In keeping with P90X2’s emphasis on core work and multiple muscle group conditioning, P90X2 Balance and Power includes about twenty-four exercises that will push the limits of your core strength, and work out your entire body at the same time. Expect to feel the burn from head to toe, but especially in your midsection. Just like P90X2 Core, every exercise in P90X2 Balance and Power will recruit your core muscles. Recommended gear are a foam roller, stability ball, medicine ball, and weights or resistance bands. Weights are better choices over bands in this workout. This is the same recommendation for all the workouts in Phase I of P90X2. In the prior six months, I’ve been transitioning from using weights to resistance bands for a number of reasons. However, since starting P90X2, I’m back on the weights. Many of the exercises in P90X2 Balance and Power are simply too awkward or ineffective when done with resistance bands.
Tony is joined by Steve Holmsen, a daredevil ski instructor, Dan “the Man,” who Tony introduces as a extreme fitness buff, and Kit, Tony’s sister. Steve helped Tony develop many of the exercises in P90X Balance and Power. I recall from a One On One workout that Steve also introduced Tony to the foam roller. Dan was in the military. Add a few points. Air Force. Subtract some points. Kit, she is the spitting image of Tony, including the ripped abs. Maybe it runs in the family, or maybe they both work their asses off. I have an urge to meet their parents. People who are cool enough to name their daughter Kit are worth admiring.
The warmups, stretching, and foam roller exercises in P90X2 Balance and Power are the same as the other P90X2 workouts, and have been previously discussed in P90X2 Core. There are two additional warmups–weighted squats and mountain climbers.
Breaking Down P90X2 Balance and Power
Sphinx to Plank Plyo Bounce. Get into sphinx plank position with your forearms resting on top of the stability ball. Quickly push up so that your hands land into a regular plank position on the stability ball. Push hard enough and you can create a bounce that will assist you with this exercise. Repeat 15-20 times, or until your triceps or core gives out.
1-Leg Plyo Squat Reach. Start off by standing on one leg. Lower yourself into a one-legged squat, reach down and over and touch the supporting foot with the opposite hand. As you return to the standing position, leap vertically and reach to the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch your support leg. This will activate your core and entire lower body.
Russian Twist. P90X2 Balance and Power introduces this badass ab exercise.The name sounds like a vodka cocktail, but it’s nothing you want to order unless you’re drunk for pain. Sit on the floor with your knees bent in front of you, feet raised off the floor. Hold a medicine ball between your knees. Grasp a dumbbell with both hands at chest level and do side-to-side twists with it, making sure to keep the medicine ball in place and your feet not touching the ground. Perform 25-30 twists. This will work your lower, middle, and upper abs, and obliques.
Sphinx to Plank Roll-Up. Get into a sphinx plank position with your forearms resting on top of the stability ball. Do a pushup into a regular plank position, then return to sphinx. Repeat 15-20 times. The sphinx pushups will work your triceps, while balancing on the stability ball will recruit your entire midsection.
4-Direction 1-Leg Squat Hop. Start off by standing on one leg. Do a one-legged squat, reach down and over and touch the supporting foot with the opposite hand. As you return to the standing position, hop forward. Repeat, each consecutive time hopping left, backwards, then right until you complete one rotation. Do two rotations for each leg. Activates your lower body and core at the same time.
Forearms Alt Side Plank. Begin the exercise in sphinx plank position with both forearms resting on top of the stability ball. Do a side plank arm raise while balanced on one forearm. Alternate sides until you have done 20-24 reps. The wider you spread your feet, the easier the exercise becomes. Mostly works you core, especially the obliques.
Decline Sphinx Plank Press. Get into a sphinx plank position with your lower legs resting on the stability ball and your forearms on the ground. Keep your body rigid and balanced. While maintaining your balance, press up into a regular plank position, then return to sphinx. Repeat 15-20 times. Blasts your triceps and core at the same time.
Weighted Katherine. To do regular Katherine lunges, get into a low lunge position where one leg is in front with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle (quads parallel to the ground), and the other leg is behind, also with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle (quads perpendicular to the ground). Leap up and land with the legs switched. In this exercise, you will be holding 15-20 pound weights on each hand. Do about 30 reps. Jump as high as possible, and land as low as possible into the lunge position. You will feel it the most in every part of your lower body, but your arms and shoulders will be activated as well.
Plank X-Crunch. Start off in the plank position, feet wide apart for balance, and hands placed under the shoulders. Simultaneously straighten and raise you right arm and left leg off the floor, while maintaining balance on the right leg and left arm. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds. Now bring your left knee and right elbow together so that they touch. When you complete this motion, straighten the same arm and leg again and hold for 1-2 seconds. Return to the plank position and do the same thing for the opposite side. Do 20-24 reps of this exercise, alternating sides. Works mostly the core, especially the obliques, but also activates the shoulders and gluts.
Renegade Row with 1/2 Lolasana. Before P90X2 Balance and Power, I had no idea what a Lolasana was. This was one of the tougher exercises to master in P90X2 Balance and Power. It requires a very good pushup stand (the ones you get from Beachbody are the best because they don’t collapse from side to side), or dumbbells. Start in the plank position with each hand resting on a pushup stand or dumbbell. With a smooth rowing motion, lift the pushup stand or dumbbell to chest level, and lower to the ground. Quickly follow up by hopping and retracting your knees and legs towards your body. You should end up in a balled position, with your knees tucked into your chest, and your hands holding you off the ground. Complete the exercise by smoothly extending your legs out into plank position again. This exercise requires a lot of core and arm strength to do properly and smoothly. I’m still working on the smooth part. There’s a modification to make this exercise easier, but I hate doing modifications. I must do each exercise the way Tony does it, or my self esteem suffers.
Glut Bridge Roll Out. We’re now officially half-way done with P90X2 Balance and Power. Lie down with your shoulders resting on the ground and your feet balanced on the stability ball. Your knees should be slightly bent, and your core rigid. Bend your legs so that the stability ball rolls towards your butt and your gluts are further elevated, then return to the starting position. This exercise doesn’t sound like much, but your gluts, hamstrings, and lower back will get worked.
Over/Under Boat. Start in the boat position, sitting with your legs extended and feet about 18-20 inches off the ground in front of you. Your torso is rigid and leaning back slightly. While holding an elastic band or a towel with both hands, bend your legs, tuck your feet underneath the band, and resume the boat position. Then, bend your legs, tuck you feet over the band, and resume the boat position. Perform this exercise without your hands or feet ever touching the ground. Do 20-30 reps. It will work your lower abs and upper thighs.
Warrior 3 Row Press. It wouldn’t be a P90X2 workout unless there was a Warrior 3 exercise in it. Start off in a modified Warrior 3 position with a dumbbell in each hand. The dumbbells should be hanging in your arms at near floor level. Lift the dumbbells to chest level using a rowing motion. As you do so, pivot you torso so that you are in a one-legged standing position. Quickly transition and perform a shoulder press with the dumbbells, then return to the modified Warrior 3 position. Do about 8-12 reps, then switch the supporting leg. Activates your lower back, gluts, hamstrings, upper back, and shoulders. Not bad for a single exercise. This is what P90X2 Balance and Power is all about.
Split Lunge. Basically, lunges with one of your legs balanced on a stability ball. Do about 15-20 reps for each leg. This exercise doesn’t look that hard, but it’s not easy to keep your balance on a slippery stability ball. Hold weights in your hands for additional intensity. Split lunges will activate your quads and hamstrings.
Crawly Crab Press. I’ll do my best to explain this exercise, but I think it is impossible to visualize unless you have done it before. Start by lying on top of the stability ball with your shoulders as the main point of contact. Your knees should be bent, and your feet flat on the ground. While maintaining balance on the stability ball, twist your body to one side so that your torso is lifted off the ball and held up with one elbow. The other hand is reaching towards the ceiling. Twist to the other side and do the same thing with the opposite arm. Repeat 16-20 times, alternating sides. Add weights to the hands for increased intensity. You don’t need to add much to feel it working. Crawly Crab Press works your entire core, as well as the shoulders.
Lateral Plyo Pushup. Another opportunity to show off how badass you are with pushups. Start in the plank position, with a single medicine ball underneath you. Do a plyo pushup so that your hands come completely off the floor and your body is shifted slightly to the right. Land with the right hand on the ground and the left on the medicine ball. Repeat, but this time, land with the right hand on the medicine ball. Do about 20-30 reps, alternating sides as you land. Try to keep the medicine ball in one position the entire time (your body is moving side to side, not the ball). Your chest, arms, and shoulders will scream in agony.
Lunge Kneel Knee Raise. Start in the kneeling position while holding dumbbells at shoulder level. Rise to the standing position, and as you do so, bring the rear knee forward and raise it up to chest level and simultaneously press the weights over your head. Repeat 8-12 times, then switch sides. Works your entire lower body, core, and shoulders. Looks easier than it really is. This is a full body move that will get the heart rate up.
X-Plank Spider Twist. Get into plank position with feet wide apart and hands underneath the shoulders. Twist your body to one side and move your non-supporting hand and its opposite foot until they touch (for example, if you are resting on your right arm, touch your left hand to your right foot). Do about 20-26 reps, alternating sides. This is a more hardcore way of doing oblique crunches.
Dumbbell Row to Side Plank. Grasp a dumbbell on each hand and get into plank position. With a smooth rowing motion, lift one dumbbell to chest height, then quickly transition to a side balance position. Raise the dumbbell towards the ceiling while keeping your arm as straight as possible. The other arm is supporting your weight. When done properly, there should be a straight line from the raised arm to the supporting arm. Lower yourself back into plank and repeat this exercise for the other arm. Perform about 20-24 reps, alternating sides. Works your shoulders and back, but also recruits your core.
Dumbbell Super Burpee. Start in the standing position with a dumbbell in each hand. Raise one foot off the ground, lower yourself into plank position, and then do a pushup on the dumbbells. Return to the one-legged standing position, curl the dumbbells, then press them over your head. Repeat 6-10 times for each side. This exercise will quickly wear you out because it involves every major muscle group in the body.
Plank Ball Crunch. More fun with the stability ball. Be thankful this is the last exercise, because it will waste your core. Get into plank position with your hands resting on the floor, but your feet balanced on top of the stability ball. Bend your knees and roll the stability ball towards your hands while raising your butt. If you’re flexible, you can touch your knees to your forehead. Push the stability ball back to the starting position. This exercise sounds and looks easy, but the balancing on the stability ball will keep your midsection flexed for the entire duration. Your core will be begging for mercy after about 20 reps.
Final Thoughts on P90X2 Balance and Power
I will assess P90X2 Balance and Power on what I think it is designed to do. It is a mainly a core workout. Every exercise will activate your gluts, lower back, lower abs, mid abs, upper abs, and/or obliques. There is a lot of balancing exercises as well. The addition of the stability ball jacks up the intensity in every exercise. Your core will be in a continuous state of flex as you perform the exercises. For example, Sphinx pushups, which already require a lot of core strength, become twice as hard while performed on a stability ball. Exercising on flat surfaces now seem ridiculously easy. For these reasons P90X2 Balance and Power succeeds.
I said at the beginning that P90X2 Balance and Power could be called P90X2 Core, Part II. P90X2 Balance and Power picks up where P90X2 Core leaves off by adding weights to intensify the core exercises. This is a great, but I feel that my upper back and biceps are missing out a bit, at least in P90X2 Phase I. There is not a lot of pull-up work in Phase I, compared to two days each week of hardcore pull-ups in P90X. Some people will love this, but I don’t because pull-ups were one of my strengths. I hope my lats don’t atrophy from lack of use. I don’t feel my biceps are getting much work either.
I’m looking forward to moving on to Phase II to see if all this core prep work has helped [Afterthought: it helped a lot. Without the preparation from Phase I, I don’t think Phase II would have been productive.]
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