P90X2 Plyocide: Death by Jumping
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P90X2 Plyocide First Impressions
Tony announces at the beginning that P90X2 Plyocide is, “death by jumping.” He quickly realizes that this could bum some people out, and says P90X2 Plyocide is actually about “life!” Too late, Tony! All the marketing materials have been printed and the DVDs pressed. You can’t change the name to P90X2 Plyolife now. Besides, I’m more likely to do a workout that I think could kill me. Blame it on my latent masochist streak. That which doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.
P90X2 Plyocide is about 55 minutes, and is the second workout in Phase I of P90X2. The recommended gear is a raised platform about 12-18 inches high, stability ball (for the warmups), a medicine ball (for the exercises), a foam roller (for the stretching), and tape (to mark out a straight line on the ground in case you can’t visualize straight lines). For this workout, all the recommended gear is optional. A basketball can substituted for the medicine ball, bearing in mind that doing so will decrease the intensity level considerably.
Tony is working out with two familiar faces. If you’ve done P90X+, you’ll remember Mark Briggs and Traci Morrow. Mark is sporting a couple of new tats, and Tracie is sporting a pixie haircut that would make Halle Berry jealous. Looks like no one has fallen off the fitness bandwagon since we saw them last, because they’re both as ripped as ever. Traci’s abs will give Tony’s a run for his money even though she is a mother of six. Joining the crew is Roberto, a Latino dude who looks a lot like Mario Lopez, without the super deep dimples. Tony flirts with him by trying out a couple of lines of gringo Spanish. Roberto indulges him, but looks more focused on what must be done in the minutes to come.
The warmups, stretching, and foam roller exercises are very similar to what has been introduced in P90X2 Core. I described them in more detail in the P90X2 Core review.
Plyocide consists of five rounds, with four different exercises per round. The first exercise in each round is not plyometric. The exercises last 45-60 seconds each and are not repeated, except the ones involving only one side of the body. This is good, because doing the same exercise twice was a minor annoyance for me in Plyometrics. If you’ve done Plyometrics from [intlink id=”164″ type=”page”]P90X[/intlink], you should have a good idea of what Plyocide is about. Lots of jumping, and then, more jumping. This is a high intensity, high impact workout. Finesse is not important, because there are a lot of gross movements involved. You don’t need to be a member of the Moscow ballet to do the jumps properly. You’ll get full benefits as long as you launch yourself off the floor. Plyometrics didn’t require any equipment at all, but Tony ups the ante in Plyocide by adding a medicine ball to the some of the exercises.
Plyocide is the only workout in P90X2 that could be considered cardio. There was a big gasp of shock in the BeachBody community when it was announced that P90X2 would not include a serious cardio component. When asked about it, Tony explained that P90X2 is designed to complement other BeachBody workout programs such as Insanity and TurboFire, so there was no need to design separate cardio workouts. I tend to agree with his view, because I don’t think it’s really possible to surpass the efforts of Shaun T in Insanity, or the Insanity: The Asylum (which I will be reviewing in the future). It’s also possible Tony just got sick of people pouring hate his notoriously un-hardcore cardio workouts (Kempo X, anyone?).
Breaking Down the P90X2 Plyocide Exercises
Wide Leg Tiptoe Squat. This is more a warmup than an exercise. Start in the standing upright position, the drop into a low squat. Touch the floor with your hands, then stand up all the way to your tiptoes and raise your hands over your head, reaching up as high as possible. Repeat 20-30 times. Heats up your gluts, quads, hamstrings, lower abs, and shoulders.
Killer Katherine Lunges. 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 the Plyocide version, a medicine ball is added. First, you will move the medicine ball from one side to the other over your waist as you leap and switch legs, then you will move it side to side over your head. Guess which version is harder? Do about 40 reps. You will feel it the most in every part of your lower body, but your arms and shoulders will be activated as well.
Fast Feet Chair Jump. You’ve probably done football drills, where you are running in place with your legs wide apart, and feet moving at a thousand beats per minute. Now do that while in the chair position (arms directly overhead, knees bent, torso slightly leaning forward). In addition, leap vertically on Tony’s cue. That’s this exercise in a nutshell. I don’t know why, but this exercise, and football drills in general, give me a bit of a hard time. I run, so my feet aren’t used to doing micro movements while the rest of my legs aren’t moving much. At least that’s my excuse. Works your calves, shins, and quads.
Slalom Line Jump. Basically, you are doing side to side hops with your feet together back and forth along a straight line (hence the tape) for 60 seconds. Your calves and lower legs will feel the burn.
Warrior 3 Lunge. This is more about balance than plyometric. Start in the lunge position. From there, move with one fluid motion into warrior 3. (Reminder: With your arms outstretched over your head, bend your torso at a 90-degrees angle to your waist. At the same time, raise and extend one leg behind you at a 90-degrees angle to your waist, with the other leg on the ground for support. If done correctly, your arms, torso and extended leg are aligned in a straight line and should form a “T” with the supporting leg). Repeat 10-15 times for each side. This requires serious balance and control. All the major muscles in your core and lower body will be recruited at one point or another during this exercise. Momentum is not your friend, because you will not be able to get into, or stay in, the correct position using just brute force.
Jack-in-the-Box Knee Tucks. One of Tony’s Tonyisms in P90X was: “This is the MOTHER of ALL workouts!” Unfortunately, he said that for every workout, so it became less a forewarning and more a punchline. His new line, which he used for the very first time for this exercise is, “This is the STEP MOTHER-IN-LAW of all moves.” He may actually have a point this time. Start off in the low squat position with your hands touching the floor, then leap vertically as high as possible and do a knee tuck at the top of the movement. Repeat 25-30 times. No matter what your physically condition may be, your body will need to pump a lot of blood and oxygen while you’re doing this move, so it won’t be easy. Works your entire lower body. This exercise deserves a place in Plyocide.
Think Drill. Basically, football drills with Tony giving commands to change movements or directions (set, move arms up/down or side to side, and fast feet). It’s like an intense game of Simon Sez.
Spartan Squat Lunge. Another lunge move, but with a twist. Start in the squat position. Bend over and reach across the your body and place a fist on the foot of one leg. Hop into the lunge position. As you do so, straighten your body and raise the fist into the air. Hop back into the squat position again and touch the fist to the foot. Repeat 15-20 times for each side. The modification doesn’t seem like much, but the extra torso twist and fist raise intensifies the exercise because it activates two large muscle groups, the core and shoulders.
Super Skater Kicks. You might remember Super Skaters from P90X’s Legs and Back workout. Start in a running stance. Bend over into a squat while putting the entire weight of your body on the front leg, and lifting the back leg off the ground as if you are speeding skating. In the P90X2 Plyocide version, instead of simply returning to the running stance as you come off the squat, you must bring the rear leg forward and follow through with a kicking motion. Do this 10-15 times, then switch the supporting leg. The back foot is never allowed to touch the ground during each set. If it does, Tony commands that you do two pushups for each time this happens. Tony loses his balance and toe taps three times. He shows off by doing six plyo pushups. It’s almost silly to admit this, but I did eight pushups because I toe tapped four times. It’s not as if the pushup police is going to bust down my door if I just ignore Tony’s command, but I feel a strange obligation to respect the integrity of the workout. It’s something I picked up from my days in the USMC. This is a low impact exercise, but works your entire lower body, and strengthens your core. You’ll need balance and strength to do it properly.
Depth Charge. You’ll need a raised platform that is 18-20 inches high, or a low chair. Step onto the platform. Jump off with both feet together. As soon as your feet touch the ground, leap vertically as high as possible. Repeat 20-25 times. The intensity of the exercise comes from the leap, so give it maximum height!
Frog Burpee Hop. This one will test your heart and lungs. From an upright standing position, hop into plank position and do a pushup, then quickly leap into the air and do a knee tuck, making sure your elbows touch the knees. The hopping, then jumping motions are definitely high impact and high intensity, and really cranks up the entire body. Another exercise worthy of P90X2 Plyocide.
One Leg Slalom. This is exactly the same thing as the Straight Line Slalom, but on only one leg. Hop back and forth on one leg along a straight line for 30 seconds, then switch legs. Your calves will do most of the heavy lifting. I don’t know why, but I still have trouble with hopping on one leg for more than 20 seconds. Still cheating a little bit by switching legs before time is called. Will have to work on this.
One legged Squats. Another low impact exercise that requires balance and strength. Stand in the upright position with one foot barely off the ground. The foot should be flexed, and as closely aligned with the supporting foot as possible. Squat down and touch the supporting foot with the opposite hand. Do not allow the raised foot to touch the ground or lose alignment with the supporting foot. There’s a tendency to let the foot rise as you bend to do a squat, but this would be cheating. Keeping it close to the ground makes the exercise harder and tests your balance more. Do 15-20 reps, then switch the supporting feet. Do two pushups for each time your raised foot drops, or falls out of alignment with the supporting leg. This exercise is not high impact, but not easy either.
Surfer Spin. With all the balancing exercises, it’s almost a relief to get back into simple gross movements such as a jump and spin, which is what this exercise is. Jump up, and spin 180-360 degrees, depending on how fast you can spin or how high you can jump, or your state of dizziness. Simple, but effective for working out those legs.
P90 Cross Hops. Imagine an X on the floor. Use tape if your imagination fails you. Hop back and forth with your feet together across the bottom left, then top right quadrant of the X, switch directions on Tony’s cue. Your calves, hamstrings, and quads will get worked. If you lift your knees up as far as possible, you will intensify this exercise by 100%, and activate the lower abs, too.
Wide Leg Jump Press With Med Ball. Grasp a medicine ball at chest level. Lower yourself to a high squat position. Leap up vertically as high as possible. Spread your legs at the top of the leap, and simultaneously drive the medicine ball up to the ceiling with your raised arms. Do 20-25 reps. A total body exercise that will ramp up the heart rate to a fierce level.
Launcher Lunge With Med Ball. Like the Atlas warmup exercise, but with a medicine ball. Stand in the upright position with legs spread apart, holding a medicine ball. Bend over to one side and touch the medicine ball to the ground. Raise your body up and drive the medicine ball to the opposite side of your body, almost as if you are pushing away it with both hands. Your non support foot will leave the floor. Another low impact move that works the entire body, including the lower back.
Toe Tap 360. Place a medicine ball (or basketball) on the ground. Hop side to side. As you land, tap the medicine ball with your toes, alternating the left and right foot. Move in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion around the ball, depending on Tony’s directions. This exercise is fun, yet will work you out. Some agility is required. A minute of it will make you breathe heavy.
Flying Tiger Kick. Time to channel your inner Karate Kid. Basically, this is a jump kick/back kick combo. Do a jump kick, then quickly follow through with a back kick with the opposite leg. Do fifteen reps on one side, then do the same for the other. When I was ten years old, I could probably do these for half an hour. Not anymore.
Set Sprint Plank Plyo Jump. Do a set, sprint in place, get into plank position, do a plyo pushup, or do a frog jump on Tony’s command. There won’t be any part of your body that is not worked, including your eyebrows. This is the last exercise, so push yourself hard! If you gave it your all during this workout, sheets of sweat will form all over your body, unless you’re Traci Morrow, who is either a mannequin or has super absorbent makeup. I could not see a single bead of sweat on her face or body even though Mark and Roberto are soaked. Freaky.
P90X2 Plyocide Cool Down and Final Stretching
The countdown timer shows 12:20 left in the workout, but Tony announces the end of the last exercise. What? But there’s enough time to do at least 4-6 additional exercises. Both the timer and Tony are correct. Believe it or not, the remaining time is devoted to cool down and stretching. Not just any old stretching, however, but new-fangled “Neuro-Integrated stretching.” Tony’s been studying the latest in sports science research. Traditional stretching, where you pull on the muscles and ligaments to draw them out, is so yesterday. The new thing is where you push and pull at the same time. That is, while you are pulling on one muscle, you’re at the same time are using its counterpart to push. It’s impossible to explain how this works on paper. You just have to try it for yourself when you watch the DVD. It feels really weird and awkward, but I’m going to listen to Tony’s advice because I trust him when it comes to fitness and strength training. He’s been studying with the best in the business, and is sharing his newfound knowledge through this program. Stretching this way is a lot harder than what I am used to. This is P90X2, so I should expect everything to be much harder.
Final Thoughts on P90X2 Plyocide
P90X2 Plyocide is about 20 minutes shorter than P90X Plyometrics. If I had known that in advance, I wouldn’t have held back on any of the exercises. Almost thirteen minutes is devoted to cool down and stretches. There’s a kinder and gentler Tony who seems to care a lot about recovery and injury prevention. I’m not knocking this, because it’s a good thing that Tony is spending more time teaching these things. I’m sure this will decrease the likelihood injuries. Nonetheless, I still wished the workout was just a bit longer.
P90X2 Plyocide is definitely more intense than P90X Plyometrics, but not as difficult as the routines in Phase II of Insanity. P90X grads will find it challenging, not so much for Insanity grads. I thought too much time elapsed before the start of each exercise while Tony is talking. For me, P90X2 Plyocide once per week will not be enough cardio. Looks like I will have to keep my Insanity DVDs handy while I’m doing P90X2. If you have a high level of conditioning and want to maintain it, you’ll probably need to integrate other cardio workouts into your workout schedule.
Having said that, I don’t believe P90X2 Plyocide should be attempted by people who are not already fit. If you don’t have the necessary stabilizer muscles built up to support your body during all the jumping, you’ll wind up hurting yourself and quitting. It’s worth repeating that P90X2 is an advanced program. Newly converted fitness freaks should begin their journey through P90X, or Power90.
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