Life After P90X, Part II: Creating Hybrid Programs

By Steve Edwards

Whoever coined the phrase “variety is the spice of life” probably wasn’t a fitness trainer, but they could have been. Scientifically speaking, variety is one of the most important aspects of fitness. No matter how intricate your training program, if you do it the same way all the time, your body will stop responding to it. This is why despite the fact that P90X is one of the most unique and varied home fitness programs ever created, we continue to add wrinkles to it. Even then, Tony Horton is still only one person. By combining various trainers’ fitness programs, you can create an intricate web of muscle-confusing possibilities and make it virtually impossible for your training program to go stale.

Workout DVDs

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as tossing all your home workout videos into a basket and grabbing one each morning. There’s a right way and a wrong way to construct a hybrid training program. But you also don’t need a degree in exercise physiology to figure it out. Creating hybrid training programs only requires that you understand why the individual programs you’re combining work the way they do. Once you’re hip to a program’s structure, it’s a fairly straightforward process to mix and match workouts.

Step 1: Choosing similar programs

It should be obvious that the programs you’re mixing should have similar intensity levels. INSANITY® and Sweatin’ to the Oldies aren’t likely to play to the same crowd. The only time you may want to combine programs that are on different levels is if you’re working on something new. An X grad who can’t dance would choose a basic dance class if learning to dance were the objective. A high/low combination is preferable on many athletic levels, but only if the low-level program is something that you’re not good at. Using Beachbody® programs, I present a few examples:

Good

P90X + INSANITY
Power 90® + Slim in 6®

Bad

P90X + Power 90
INSANITY + Kathy Smith’s Project:YOU! Type 2®

Good high/low combos

P90X + Hip Hop Abs®
INSANITY + Yoga Booty Ballet® Classic
INSANITY + ChaLEAN Extreme®

The first two good high/low combos would only make sense if you were bad at dancing or yoga and had the desire to improve. The third would be a good combo for someone who was very cardio-fit but wanted to gain some muscle and was new to lifting weights.

Step 2: Isolating each program’s elements

Once you’ve chosen the programs you want to combine, the next step is to isolate each program’s elements from a physiology perspective. The most basic difference is whether the workouts are cardio, resistance, or recovery based. The time required to recover from similar workouts is the key to identifying them.

Cardio WorkoutEntry-level programs tend to be more simply structured. Power 90 includes Sculpt Circuit 1-4 (resistance workouts), Sweat Cardio 1-4 (cardio workouts), and a stretch (recovery) workout. However, entry-level programs also sometimes combine different training elements in the same workout. Slim in 6 has cardio and resistance in each workout. When this occurs, you’ll often want to abridge workouts in hybrid programs. For example, you can drop the band movements at the end of Slim in 6 if you’re combining it with a resistance-based program like Power 90.

Graduate programs often have workouts that target higher degrees of muscle breakdown, which requires more rest between similar workouts. Plyometric training, for example, shouldn’t be done as often as standard cardio. The P90X resistance workouts are only designed to be done once a week as opposed to the Power 90 resistance workouts, which you do three times per week. Always consider a workout’s intensity before adding it to your schedule. Creating a “harder” schedule is not necessarily better. If something isn’t on the original schedule more than once per week, there’s probably a reason you don’t want to schedule it more often.

Step 3: Understanding the styles of training schedules you’re combining

Power 90 uses a pretty standard training schedule. You do cardio one day and resistance the next. The schedule works by adding speed, resistance, and intensity over the course of the program. Slim in 6 uses something called Slim Training®, which is a progressive-overload style of training that’s only designed to be done for short periods between breaks. Daily intensity is reduced so that you can repeat a similar workout within 24 hours. This format lessens the amount of muscle you’re able to build but induces metabolic changes that lead to quick fitness increases. On a more advanced level, P90X follows the standard approach that Power 90 follows whereas INSANITY follows the Slim Training model.

Step 4: Setting a goal

OvertrainedYou can’t make a plan without an objective. People try it all the time, but these programs can seem muddled and may often lead to overtraining if you don’t have an objective. The most common mistake when designing programs is making them too hard. This is usually done for a noble reason; people are simply interested in whether they can do it and want to push themselves. They often can, for a while. But the haphazard “more must be better” approach leads to overtraining every time.

Tangible goals are gains in size, gains in strength, increases in various areas of fitness, reductions in body fat, and looking different. I don’t consider weight loss a tangible goal unless it’s for a strength-to-weight-ratio sport. I know that probably most of you target it, but your goal should be body-composition change and not weight loss. If your ideal body is slimmer than your current body, you will lose weight. But focusing on weight numbers and not training improvements is what causes most people to sabotage their programs before they have a chance to work their magic.

Step 5: Are you ready for your program?

The second big mistake people make when designing hybrid plans is not being physically ready. This is also usually due to the “more must be better” mindset. People often get impatient and create a hybrid before they’ve finished their original programs. In most cases, this is a huge mistake.

Our programs are designed to work over a period of time. Slim Training programs are designed for the biggest changes to happen in the latter stages, usually in weeks 6 to 8. P90X’s schedule attempts to create a peak at around week 12. Cutting these programs short to “make them better” will almost always make them worse because you don’t allow the physiological adaptation to progress into a mastery phase before you move into a new period of adaptation.

Here’s the litmus test. Before you sit down to sketch out a hybrid program, ask yourself if you’ve mastered the programs you’re going to mix. If you haven’t, you’ll be better off doing the individual programs first. Hybrid programs are not better. They are next-level, which only applies if you’ve reached the first level before you begin.

Step 6: Designing your program

Rather than try to cover every variable, I’ll use some examples of P90X/INSANITY hybrids and point out some of my logic.

Example 1

Block 1

  • Day 1: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back
  • Day 6: Pure Cardio & Abs (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 7: X Stretch

Recovery Week

  • Day 1: Core Cardio & Balance (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 2: Core Synergistics
  • Day 3: Cardio Recovery (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Pure Cardio & Abs
  • Day 6: Cardio Recovery
  • Day 7: X Stretch

INSANITYThis is P90X classic with INSANITY as a substitute for the cardio workouts. The recovery week is very cardio-oriented. Subsequent blocks would follow the P90X classic schedule and increase the difficultly of the INSANITY workouts. A program structured like this would offer similar benefits to those of P90X classic. The more difficult cardio workouts would make this program optimal for anyone who feels as though they’ve mastered P90X.

Now let’s take a look at how we’d design a lean schedule using these two programs.

Example 2

Block 1

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit
  • Day 3: Cardio Power & Resistance (INSANITY workout)
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: Pure Cardio & Abs
  • Day 7: X Stretch

Recovery Week

  • Day 1: Legs & Back
  • Day 2: Core Cardio & Balance
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Core Cardio & Balance
  • Day 5: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Cardio Recovery
  • Day 7: X Stretch

I set this up assuming people wanted to keep some of the gains they’d made during P90X classic but wanted to improve their cardio fitness. Over the course of this program, I would increase the INSANITY intensity and end up dropping the second Core Synergistics workout of the week in favor of another hard INSANITY workout. During the scope of INSANITY-style cardio, purely resistance-based workouts would act as recovery for the systems being worn down, even though a lot of muscular breakdown would still occur. If I had little interest in maintaining muscle mass gained during P90X, I would change the recovery week to something more traditional by doing more steady-state cardio (no max intervals), stretching, yoga, and lighter resistance training. Like this:

Recovery Week

  • Day 1: Cardio Recovery
  • Day 2: Core Cardio & Balance
  • Day 3: Yoga X
  • Day 4: Core Cardio & Balance
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: Cardio Recovery
  • Day 7: X Stretch

I hope you now have a pretty good idea about how to mix and match Beachbody’s programs to meet your goals.

Need Help designing the perfect program or Hybrid?  CONTACT ME.

Want to browse all the available Beachbody Programs?  VISIT THE STORE.

Related posts:

  1. Motivation and Consistency: My plan to complete all 90 days of P90X
  2. Gaining Mass with P90X
  3. P90X2 Coming this Fall. Pre Orders start in August.
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About Coach Jeff Witt

Jeff Witt is a Personal Trainer, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree, is a P90X Qualified Fitness Instructor and is a health and fitness writer. As a former Couch Potato himself, he inspires others to put down the TV Remove and to start living a healthy and fulfilling life.

One Response to “Life After P90X, Part II: Creating Hybrid Programs”

  1. One thing I would really like to reply to is that weight loss program fast can be carried out by the appropriate diet and exercise. Your size not just affects appearance, but also the complete quality of life. Self-esteem, melancholy, health risks, as well as physical abilities are afflicted in extra weight. It is possible to just make everything right and at the same time having a gain. Should this happen, a condition may be the culprit. While an excessive amount food and never enough exercising are usually the culprit, common medical conditions and traditionally used prescriptions can certainly greatly add to size. Kudos for your post in this article.

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