What You Should Know About a Workout That’s Popular With Firefighters

Last week I discussed whether yoga and pilates are good forms of exercise for firefighters. So I’m going to keep running with this topic and let you know what I like and dislike about lots of different exercise programs over the coming weeks.

There are SO MANY different workout routines and forms of exercise out there. None of these are the ONLY or even BEST way to do it. Spokespeople for certain workout regimes may state otherwise, but these people are often making money from their efforts, so it’s important to hear from a non-bias source who’s an expert in this area (and does not make money endorsing any workout/diet programs).P90X

Currently there are several informercial workout programs that are very popular. One example is P90X; a circuit-style program that includes high-rep resistance training and high intensity cardio intervals. One thing I appreciate about P90X is that it provides a lot of variety. This ensures that a person continues to get results if they stay with the exercise program for a long time. People are more likely to hit a “plateau,” in which they stop losing fat and/or gaining muscle, if they constantly do the same things (since eventually the body adapts to that stimulus and begins to lessen its response). Variety also reduces the likelihood of overuse injuries which occur when a person does the same repetitive motion over and over again. Lastly, it keeps people’s interest! People are much more likely to stick with an exercise program if it doesn’t bore them.

One thing I dislike about infomercial products, this one included, is that they instruct people to work out every day or almost all days of the week. From a scientific standpoint, that is not recommended. Especially for people just beginning a workout program, the body needs rest to repair tissues. Without it, you won’t be getting as much benefit from all your hard work. For each muscle group worked, there should be at least one day of rest in-between hard workouts. A cardio-only workout that isn’t very demanding for the muscular system (like running) may be completed more days per week, however, in a workout like P90X, the cardio and resistance training are done together (and all muscle groups are worked in each workout.)

So, if you do choose to undergo this video workout, which I do recommend, my advice is to complete a video only 3-4 times per week to avoid overuse injuries and let your body get more out of the workout.

In the comments below, let me know if you’ve tried P90X, or other workout programs like it, and what your experience was.

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By | 2018-06-01T07:58:32+00:00 July 31st, 2013|Uncategorized|11 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Karlie Moore has a PhD in Exercise Science and Nutrition and specializes in firefighter health. She has conducted fitness testing on hundreds of firefighters and has created the most comprehensive online wellness program for fire departments called the FitCulture program. Dr. Moore is also married to a firefighter and so understands their lifestyle and the health challenges associated with it.


  1. Jim Dickerson July 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Dr. Moore,

    We here at NORFPD have done a bunch of the “Beachbody” workouts…Insanity, P90x, focus T25, Les Mills Combat, and yes even the Hip Hop abs. As a structured workout that everyone on my crews can do at the same time they are great but they grow very monotonous after about the third week and let’s just say the instructor for one of them is the most arrogant people in the world (In my opinion) Best results for most of my personnel has been with insanity for the cardio benefit it was amazing results for alot of us, the other was Les Mills Combat which was a great blend of workouts and really engaged instructors (plus it’s kinda fun punching and kicking) really good gains and maintenance between changing up the two programs. Most we are doing at 0600 and done at 0700. The great thing about these workouts is they are scripted and if someone can’t make it in the morning we can leave up the calendar and they can do it later that day or skip it and be shunned…I personally also do a split weight program with two other members of my department one to get some weight on the little guy and the other to bulk up like myself. I also have been doing alot of MMA training and find it not only great for flexibility and focus but such a stress relief.

    As far as YOGA and Pilates they are great workouts and if some people think that stuff is easy and for (no offence but thinking like a meat head here) college women try it for a week it’s harder than leg day at the gym!

    Stay safe everyone and thanks Dr. Moore for having this info available to everyone!

    • Karlie August 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Awesome, thanks Jim for providing examples of other video based workouts that people can try. I need to drive over to the coast and work out with you guys sometime!

  2. Jon August 1, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Tried p90x, decent for winter workouts at home when the weather is crummy. I totally agree with the increased rest time Karlie. Good rest after hard workout can mean great gains and less injury. Plus a piece (not a whole bar) of good dark chocolate makes me feel better too:)

  3. MrpA August 1, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I never missed a day of P90X, and used it eight months after shoulder surgery and PT. It is exactly as the title states, “EXTREME”. I significantly increased strength (from 3/4 of a pull up to 8 reps), and flexibility (Yoga works, but I don’t like it.). The basic program did not include enough aerobics for my needs. So, after three weeks rest from completing the Classic, I started the Doubles program. I stopped after five weeks because it was too time-consuming with my work load.

    Regarding your dislike about the daily workouts and needing a day’s rest, p90x never works out the same muscle groups two days in a row. I was injury-free throughout the program.

    * Length of time for each workout; Cardio dvd is the shortest at 45 minutes. Yoga is the longest at 90 crazy minutes!
    * Stretch dvd has at least one unsafe exercise with knees.

    * Although low cardio, I LOVED the Kenpo dvd! Fun!
    * The variety of workouts is fabulous, not monotonous.
    * Even though Tony is a beast at the workouts, he offers modified methods for lower fitness levels. Example: resistance bands vs. dumbbells.
    * Workouts can be done with or without listening to Tony’s voice. 😉

    • Karlie August 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks for sharing, it is especially good to know about the unsafe knee exercise. That does sound really time consuming. They want to sell their product so they want people to get big results as quickly as possible. That’s understandable. From a health perspective though, working out every day doesn’t provide a whole lot more benefit than every other day, aside from calorie burn (so it could be very beneficial if a person struggles to maintain a healthy weight).

  4. Cory August 1, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I tried P90x and thought it took too long. If you add the an ripper x that will take an hour and a half. I found crossfit. I do it nearly everyday. The constant variation in workouts leaves my body sore often, but the results are better than any video based workouts I’ve done.

    • Karlie August 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Hey Cory! It does seem like Crossfit has the variation that P90X has, but is less time consuming (that’s bc of it’s high intensity). I welcome more of your thoughts about it before I post my likes/dislikes about Crossfit! Karlie 🙂

  5. kevin August 3, 2013 at 12:23 am

    I have completed P90x and admit that it is time consuming. I agree that it is not beneficial to work out every day( especially the same muscle groups) .
    That being said, most people do not master the moves and get the full workout as shown by the people on DVD. Much of the time spent working out is trying to master the moves and get into a rhythm. Once intensity is added and you get used to it, everything changes and the whole process starts over in month two and three. There is no such thing as muscle memory with this program.
    One of the more important things to remember is DIET. This accounts for at least 50% of this programs success. You cannot succeed with this program unless you eat CLEAN!

  6. bob August 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    i have not tried any, video workouts, but i think there is a copy of px90 on the shelf of several stations (collecting dust). crossfit seems to be the choice of pain along with lifting and running.
    i prefer tabata style workouts to save time, 4 exercises, 8 20 sec reps (at high intensity), with 10 sec rests between reps. done in 16 min! requires minimal workout equipment.

  7. Damian August 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I would have to agree that although P90 is a great workout tool it may not be ideal for everyone. I have completed this workout 3 seperate times but because I have a fast motabolism I needed to have an intake of 3000+ cal. a day while incorporating a weight lifting regiment. The first time I did P90, I did it everyday as instructed. However, I soon felt as if my body was unable to recover as fast as I would have hoped and it took a toll on my everyday activities. For me, I was going to school, working full time and trying to stay in shape. I would have to start my workouts at 5 am in order to have time for school and then work. I don’t recommend this schedule to anyone. You can see the same results if you workout about 3 times a week and eat relatively healthy. People sometimes become disillusioned when they don’t see rapid results. The truth is for the average person who has a family and works full time, it takes time and dedication. If working out becomes a hassle then maybe you should reevaluate your training schedule and find out what works for you. P90 is great but not ideal for everyone.

    • Karlie August 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Hey Damian, I really like how you said: “you can get the same results if you work out about 3 times a week and eat relatively healthy.”

      It may take longer to get the lean body that they show in the “after” pictures, but it is much more feasible for busy people and easier to stick with and enjoy.

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