[This is the tenth P90X2 review in a planned series. I will write additional reviews of the other routines as I do them.] If you have any questions about this workout, contact me at connectwithJade@getresponse.com.
Tony Horton has finally created a hardcore cardio routine. It’s a back workout. What? Yes, you read that right. Base + Back is ostensibly a back workout, but also includes a kickass plyometric component for the legs that is worthy of the overused tagline “extreme.” In terms of the sheer physical endurance required just to complete it, this is the most difficult routine in P90X2 so far (Phase III may change my mind).
Tony basically welded together the most brutal exercises from Plyocide with a bunch of crazy pullup moves. Thus, Base + Back will blast the two largest muscle groups in a single routine. A lot of blood and oxygen is needed to keep these muscles going. Expect your heart rate to go off the charts and your breathing to get real deep. You might even find yourself doubled over with your hands on your knees trying to catch air.
Two men and one woman join Tony in this workout. First is Garrett, who Tony describes as having the biggest arms in the P90X2 program. No lie. The dude is a beast. If you’ve listened closely to Tony’s musings in other workouts, you may remember that he made fun of a certain dude named “Garrett” who had no flexibility. The Garrett we meet in this DVD is probably the object of Tony’s derision because the guy can barely touch his hands to his knees during the stretching portion, let alone his toes. I reckon Yoga X is the most underused DVD in his collection. Then there’s Julie, who looks a lot like Monica from P90X2: Shoulders + Arms (tall and lean). Tony reveals that Julie is a mother of three, with the eldest being in high school even though Julie looks like she just graduated herself. What is it with Tony and motherhood? All the women who appear in the P90X2 are defined by motherhood, except the ones who are not. Call the PC police! Finally, there’s Brian, a mechanical engineer who has arms which make me think he’s been lifting things other than pencils and protractors. With Garret and Brian in the house, this is the beefiest crew yet in P90X2. They’re going to need all that muscle to get through the pullup exercises.
There are two rounds of five pullup and five plyometric exercises. The second round just repeats everything from the first round. I know I’ve complained about repeating exercises, but in this workout, it doesn’t bother me so much. The workout flows smoothly and quickly. Despite being a relatively short workout, you will get a powerful pump. It will take a bit of a gut check to move on to the second round after having finished the first.
Tony recommends that you pace yourself and do no more than twelve pullups with each set. This is sound advice, because if you try to max out everything during the first part, you will likely run out of gas and won’t be able to finish the workout.
The Main Event
No Kip Pullup. A pullup, but your arms are at the widest grip possible, and your legs are straight and held close together. I normally do pullups or chin-ups with my knees slightly bent to prevent kipping, but this version is even harder. For the first time, I really felt my lower back muscles engaged while doing a pullup. It’s a lot of work to keep your body completely rigid. Expect to do fewer pullups than normal.
Plyo Frog Squat. Squat down, touch your hands on the floor, leap up, repeat 20-25 times.
Wide Leg Close Grip Chinup. Basically a chinup, but your arms are positioned at the most narrow grip possible, and your legs are completely extended and spread apart. Keeping the legs spread apart and extended makes kipping almost impossible because you are diverting your core to maintaining rigidity and it is not assisting you with pulling up. If you’re tall and are using a doorway pullup bar, this exercise may not be possible
Chair Jump. Start in the yoga “chair” position (arms directly overhead, knees bent, torso slightly leaning forward). Leap vertically, then immediately return to the chair position. Repeat 25-30 times. Sounds simple, but this plyo move will require serious exertion, which means your heart rates goes up, and breathing gets heavier.
Chin Pull. Two chin-ups (then come off the bar) followed by two pullups. Alternate hand positions until your back is toast
Plyo Lunge Press. Like Katherine lunges, but with shoulder presses at the same time. 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 Back + Base version, dumbbells are added. Hold them at shoulder level and each time you switch legs, press the dumbbells above your head. In this exercise, you will feel it the most in every part of your lower body, but your arms and shoulders will be activated as well.
V Pullup. Do this pullup at the widest hand position possible. As you ascend, do not go straight up. Rather, move your body towards one hand. Alternate sides with each rep. Doing pullups this way forces one side of your back to work harder. A great move for those who have mastered basic pullups.
Surfer Spin. Jump up, and spin 180-360 degrees before landing on your feet, depending on how fast you can spin or how high you can jump, or your state of dizziness.
Kippy Cross Fugly Pull. This exercise is Tony’s subtle swipe at the CrossFit community. If you’ve ever seen a video of a CrossFitter doing pullups, you’ll know what I mean. These folks kip with total abandon. They sometimes look like flopping fish on a bar. For the very first time, Tony encourages kipping during a pullup. Kipping does help. A lot. I was able to squeeze out a couple of extra reps using my body’s momentum when normally I would’ve been toast.
Jack-in-the-Box Knee Tuck. This is the same exercise that appears in Plyocide that Tony described as the “the STEP MOTHER-IN-LAW of all moves.” 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. This exercise is not too bad in the first round, but at the end of the second, you will feel as though you’re wearing concrete shoes.
Base + Back is hard. Very hard. You will feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to complete the full workout, especially with no pauses. Pullups are already tough exercises to do, but when you combine them with plyometric moves, crazy is the only appropriate description. The first time I tried this workout, I was mostly breathing through my mouth. My heart rate was at 179 over 85% of the time. Sweat was coming out of my ears. I loved every minute of it.
I signed up to have my ass kicked, and when a workout delivers the boot like Base + Back does, I am happy. Call me a masochist, but staggering away from a workout is one of the best feelings in the world.Do you have any questions about this article or anything relating to health, fitness, and weight loss? Email me at connectwithJade@getresponse.com. I love to hear from my readers!