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P90X2 Review: Chest, Back And Balance

If you haven’t mastered Phase I, take caution– Phase II’s introductory workout: Chest + Back + Balance will challenge all the stability/core development you’ve been working on and may even make the finest of push-up masters question their dominance and skill. In other words, welcome to your first day of P90X2’s Phase II “Strength”. There’s no question Chest, Back And Balance is the advanced cousin to P90X Chest and Back but if there was ever a question as to why you went through the “build the base” workouts of Phase I, this workout will answer that question with a massive “pop quiz” sure to put your X2 Core, X2 Balance And Power and X2 Total Body to the test.

Here’s the lowdown:

Chest, Back And Balance Review

Overview

Chest, Back + Balance carries on the Phase I methodology of stabilization and core strength as if it had hooked up with Boot Camp and made a baby. It’s easily one of the most aptly named titles in the series as Chest + Back + Balance is a laundry list of 20 unrepeated push-up/pull up moves rotated from chest to back (etc.) with all pushups wrapped in a bright red bow of balance posture… A special gift just for you. And make no mistake, the pullups, while less “core-centric” have a few tricks up their sleeve as well.

Like a few of the other P90X2 workouts, be prepared to struggle with a few moves on this one if you can pull them off at all. Even if you’ve got a P90X base and are focused on dominating this workout, you may need to rethink your strategy: I’d been gearing up with balance postures all summer in anticipation of this release and while I did OK my first run-through, I met a few serious nemesis on this one. The keywords in this workout: “LOCK IT OUT”. Your butt, hips and legs need to become one with your core, IE- Locked.

As a note, there are some pretty high-impact push-ups here that if you have wrist problems you may need to modify. I’ll get to those in the Move Highlights section of the “The Workout” but most every pushup is done in an elevated stance, which means there’s lots of room for injury and crashing if you’re unstable. Be cautious and be safe.

Time

Chest Back And Balance is roughly 59 minutes from Tony Horton’s Intro to farewell but if this is your first outing, it may go a little longer based on your use of the pause and rewind buttons. The actual “workout” section is roughly 39 minutes. 13 warm-up minutes are spent with the usual stretches (including scapula stretching; dead-hanging from your pullup bar and making small lift movements with your lats) and glorious foam rolling. 7-ish minutes are spent with ballistic and stability ball cool-down stretches.

Warmup/Cooldown

No change here except the addition of the scapula stretch and table. Take longer to foam roll if you like– the stretching and rolling truly do work. I regularly receive sports massages (they’re not pleasant) and am often told how tight my back is– after two weeks of P90X2 stretching and foam rolling, I was told I was less tight and my muscles were “releasing” very quickly since the last visit pre-P90X2. In short, these moves work to get you right. Skip them to your own detriment.

The Workout

Chest + Back + Balance is split into 2 rounds with 10 moves a piece– 5 pushup/chest moves and 5 pull-up/back moves. with a nice little water break in between for you to refocus and hydrate. I think I’ve made it pretty clear– this workout is a worthy successor to P90X’s Chest and Back with the added bonus of not making you go through the same moves twice. Make no mistake– this workout is a challenge, particularly in the pushup department.

Back in the Phase I reviews, I mentioned this:

“…realize P90X2 is a new game and is prepping you for the power and explosive Phases to come. These moves are challenging… They’re deliberate, focused and designed to get your body working in total coordination. This will pay off in spades down the road. Trust this!”

I keep saying it but here’s where your diligence and focus through Phase I pays off. You’ll have to engage and hold your core to keep balance and straight-legged form in some pretty tough moves.

Move Highlights: (to be honest, 75% of this whole workout could be included, here’s the Top 5 based on difficulty according to me)

Core Crunch Chin Up

I’ve been doing these pull ups for a while but that doesn’t make them any easier– especially after using so much core for stability in pushups. In standard pull up position, elevate feet with straight legs to hip height. You’ll look like an “L”. Begin pullups locked into this form for max reps.

 Lever

Tough to describe but that term “locked out” comes into play here. With the body in one rigid line and elbows locked at 90 degrees with your upper back acting as a “lever”, you pull your body up to chin above bar and rock to a horizontal position, then back to vertical, all while keeping your chin above bar on the vertical.

4-Ball Push Up

Every stable platform is thrown out the window. Each foot is resting on a med ball as is each hand. The difficulty isn’t the pushup– the difficulty is locking out your body and keeping your core tight to be able to do the push up. Easily the toughest move of the workout.

The Impossible/Possible

Easily the second toughest move of the workout if by a single rep– as in, I was able to get some. Feet elevated on a stability ball while the hands are resting two (or as I tried, one) medicine ball. Like 4-Ball Push Ups, the difficulty is in remaining stable for long enough to a push up with good form.

Chattarocker

No necessarily super hard, but requires a lot of focus and core strength. In a standard P90X military pushup position, go down to a low chattarunga (elbows bent at sides). From there, use your feet to back (or “rock”) yourself back so you’re resting now on your forearms. Reverse that to roll back to low chattarunga, push up to starting position. Repeat for max reps.

Tips

Unlike its P90X predecessor, form is more important than reps here– especially in the case of so many elevated push ups. Once form is down, the reps will follow.

Modify: Don’t do what you can’t. Persistence is key but not at the risk of injury. Be aware of your limits and modify to improve them. If you’re not getting all the push ups you’d like while in balance postures, punch out a few more on the ground or with one or two med balls. But make sure you’re improving from week to week. In my case, I’ll be staying in this phase for longer than the minimum 3 weeks, no doubt about it.

Pay attention to your landings and wrists. With your hands moving from a floor platform to ball, be aware of where you wrists are in relation to your forearms and shoulders. Keep them lined up to avoid over extending. There’s a few plyometric-style push ups (Med ball Plyo Pushups and 3-way Med ball Plyo) where you’ll be seeing some higher impact. Measure your landing and don’t take all the brunt of your landing in your wrists.

The Verdict

Awesome. Chest, Back And Balance feels like work, refined. It’s not just challenging but honestly difficult. Chest, Back and Balance truly sets out to bring your stability in line with strength and while the two might not feel like they’re jiving at first it’s easy to see how they will in short order. 24 hours later and I’m sore in all the right places: Chest and Back. This one works you and isn’t after just the basics– this one wants you elite.

And while you may find yourself humbled in Chest + Back + Balance, you will improve. In fact, I was chatting with one of the lucky cast members (who’s also a cool guy) and he’s gone from 30 4-ball pushups to 60+ since filming took place last year. Tony Horton mentions he wasn’t able to do all the moves either… but he’s doing them now. Form and practice will get you there.

I’m excited to master it.

In the mean time, check out the details on P90X2 here, check out more P90X2 reviews here and feel free to spread the love via Facebook, Digg, Twitter or link if this was worth your time. Or hey, click the subtle link below if you want to give P90X2 a shot. Thanks for the support!

Beginning your P90X2 journey? Questions? Feel free to email me here or at coachdan74@gmail.com. Better yet, let’s get you the support you need to line up your nutrition goals right now. Make me your (free) Beachbody Coach right here and we’ll get crackin’!

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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Alan Fowler says:

    Great stuff, Dan.

    Thanks for the insight.

  2. Karen Wangensteen says:

    Starting Phase II tonight – God help me. I’m experiencing a bit of a tricep issue, but will do my best (and forget the rest)!

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Hi Karen! Oooooh, it’s gonna be good! Congrats on your graduation to Phase II! Be careful with that tricep– not that I’m a Doc but what’s wrong/what’s it feeling like?

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