Last week I received my new toy: Chalene Johnson’s new workout series PiYo! Piyo is as it sounds, a hybrid between Pilates and Yoga. After spending 90 days of hardcore lifting and sweating with Tony in P90X3 and 2 months of a random mixture of workouts, I was ready to get back to my original love of yoga. Piyo has all ready received all sorts of acclaim so this was an obvious purchase for me.
PiYo touts that with no weights or equipment, your body will gain strength, flexibility, and lean muscle. The 8 week program takes you through a combination of 8 workouts: Define Lower Body, Define Upper Body, Sweat, Core, Buns, Strength Intervals, Drench, and Sculpt. Because I ordered the program through teambeachbody.com (versus beachbody.com) I was able to get a bonus disk called Hardcore on the Floor, which is an optional swap for Core on some of the days. There is also an extra HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) thrown in there.
Much like the other Beachbody programs, PiYo comes with a nutrition guide/eating plan to help you reach your goals. I’m trying to follow the eating plan better this go round… I may have indulged a bit on my Canadian vacation, and I’m still getting rid of the some of that week of semi-gluttony. 🙂
MONDAY – DEFINE LOWER (25 minutes)
I was soooo very excited to come home to my yoga mat Monday afternoon! The first day of PiYo you are actually scheduled to follow a video called Align: The Fundamentals. However, I was too pumped about receiving the DVDS the previous Friday and completed that video right then. 🙂 Align is an interesting video and one I wish some of the other BB programs would incorporate into their routines. Align basically teaches you the moves before you are expected to do them, also addressing form and which muscle groups upon which you should be focusing. Even having done yoga for years, I actually learned a couple of things, or rather found new ways of approaching certain poses. You only do Align once, so come Monday I jumped straight into Define Lower.
Hmm… well, I knew going into PiYo that I’m in pretty darn good shape. I’m more flexible than most, and perhaps these two points were working against this particular workout. Admittedly, I was bummed when it was done. While using lots of Warrior poses, tons of squatting, and lunges galore, I ended unsatisfied. IT WAS A GREAT WORKOUT, especially if you are just getting back into shape, but having the best leg muscles and flexibility of my life, Define Lower wasn’t close to enough intensity… at least when being compared to P90X3.
Chalene does a great job of teaching you the routine in an add-a-move format. You do one move for a while and then add a move to create a sequence. It’s all very fluid, using yoga (and yoga-ish) poses while keeping the pulsing momentum of pilates. I can see folks potentially being frustrated by not quite knowing what’s going on if they don’t have a background in yoga, but for those people I would simply suggest watching the workout first.
TUESDAY – DEFINE UPPER (35 minutes)
This is when I got bummed… According to the workout guide, Define Upper is supposed to be a 35 minute workout.
Not. Even. Close.
Define Upper literally starts where Define Lower left off. It was obviously filmed in one big session, and in editing they divided it into 2 workouts. There is no warm up, nothing preparing you for an arm workout. It just… starts. Super strange and very amateur feeling. That being said, the workout is closer to 18 or 20 minutes. The only way it would be 35 minutes is if you did Define Lower AND Upper in combination, which according to the Facebook PiYo for Women group is what a lot of people do.
Upper has some cool moves including PiYo push ups and crunch push ups, which I enjoy tremendously, but it just doesn’t push you like I’m used to after the past 5 months. Honestly, I ended the workout concerned that I was going to lose the muscle I worked so hard to build in my arms with such a pansy workout (comparatively). I can totally see lots of people being sore after this workout who are just starting out, but for anyone who already has a healthy muscle build they just aren’t going to feel the muscle fatigue needed to keep that up. It also seemed like about half of the minuscule amount of time was actually a core workout versus upper body.
All of that said, I was humbled by Define Lower. I have spoken to my incredibly bad wrists before, but PiYo (and yoga in general) is killing them. I have battled extreme tendonitis in both wrists for over a decade – the result of playing flute and typing – but the pressure on my hands is truly reaching a new level of pain. Tuesday evening I ordered a pair of WAGS Gloves, which I will blog about separately as I see how they work out.
WEDNESDAY – SWEAT
And OOOOOH did I sweat!
7 minutes into Sweat, the first drip fell from my nose. I was soaked, something that isn’t a regular occurrence for me. This redeemed PiYo in my eyes. After two consecutive days of “eh”, Sweat kicked my butt, and that was welcome.
This is flow cardio; you add to each sequence one move at a time until you have built a 4-5 move routine that doesn’t slow down, doesn’t give much time for breath, and left my wrists ACHING. I had to adjust many of the moves to, including the MANY tricep (AKA military) push ups, use my fists instead of the palms of my hands. An overabundance of low lunge moves left my hip flexors mighty sore the next day, and I am all about sore. 🙂
Immediately realizing how wonderful Sweat was, I made a decision: the two Define workouts simply won’t fly. Week one is supposed to have 2 rounds of Defines, and the wondrous agony of Sweat confirmed for me I needed something more hardcore for at least one of those rounds. Therefore, instead of a second round of Define Lower and Upper, I would replace them with Eccentric Lower and an upper body workout from P90X3. And so my PiYo/X3 Hybrid was born.
The heavens opened, the angels sang, and my shirt stank.
THURSDAY – NADA
Because I did Align the Friday before, I actually was ahead a workout for the week. An energy zapping day at work called for sushi instead.
FRIDAY – NADA
I say I did nothing. I bounced around at a band party like an idiot the first half of the day and then was attacked by a nap Friday afternoon. I’m sure I burned plenty of calories. Having completed 2 weeks of summer band and a successful week of clean eating, a Chuy’s Grandma’s Rockin’ Rita was a necessity.
The PiYo schedule had me resting on Friday, so I figured this was an acceptable swap.
SATURDAY – ECCENTRIC LOWER
A return to P90X3 was welcome. 🙂 I love that silly program! I love the dumb jokes! I love that I know what I’m doing. 🙂 You can see my write-up of Eccentric Lower here. I woke up today with sore hamstrings, sore quads, and a butt that requires a ton of pigeon today.
SUNDAY – DEFINE UPPER + 1/4 of THE CHALLENGE
Today I got to try out my new fancy gloves that arrived yesterday! My next write up will be on the gloves. I added extra reps to the PiYo arm moves, especially the crunch push ups. Even with the gloves, my wrists are sill inflamed enough that I need the power stands for my push ups. I kept them close to my yoga mat the whole time for quick use. The added reps made Define Upper closer to what I have come to expect from workout.
Still having some energy in there, I did 2 sets of regular pull ups and regular push ups followed by 2 sets of chin ups and military push ups. An added bonus of some dolphin pose and I was done.
KNOWING ALL OF THAT…
I was impressed with the cardio element but disappointed with the toning as it didn’t leave me with a tried and true burn or fatigue. I did, however, really like how much it focused on my hip flexors which are ridiculously tight. I’m excited to see what Week 2 brings as it mixes in 2 days of Core in place of the 2nd round of Define. Hopefully the gloves will help me some regained freedom on my hands again, but more time is needed before we see those results.
On to Week 2!
Oh my… This week has been a dietary nightmare. This was our last week of school (heavens open, angels sing) and with that comes a plethora of baked treats and excuses to eat out. The idea of packing a lunch for the 176-180th time had zero interest for me, and my rebellion led to some tasty, very much non-vegetarian outings this week. While most of the cookies/brownies/etc found their way into the hands of others or the I-Can’t-Eat-Another-Cookie receptacle, I am reaping the consequences in this sluggish state in which I find myself. I was super good this week and did every workout on the specified day! What a novel idea! 🙂
Wednesday I rocked the Challenge. Last time I did it, my numbers were completely unrealistic choices. This week I was far more conservative, and it paid off as I was able to do do every push up and every pull using correct form, unlike last time in which I ended up on my knees. 😦 After the Challenge, I went out with my dude on one of our “ironic” dates… Those are a whole other story. 🙂
Thursday, I came home and went all out on my X3 Yoga. I pushed every move to the limit, and the result is a sore butt. 🙂 Woohoo! After feeling like a badass, I went out for a friend’s birthday dinner and had the most delicious martini.
Today was Triometrics. Perhaps not my best performance. I got home late last night, plus the last day of school is always an energy drain. I took a quick power nap and then made my way through the workout with a few more pauses than usual. I will, however, give myself props for doing a couple of the moves plyo for the first time! Yes, I’m on Day 75, and there are still moves in which I having “firsts” in terms of success of completion. I was going to double up and do a second workout today to balance out some of the calorie excess of the week, but as I drank my protein shake outside, it was just so darn pleasant! I instead opted to mow to avoid wasting my first weekend of the summer on yard maintenance. 🙂
All of that being said, it IS the last day of school, and that in and of itself warranted a tasty beverage, this time a Lime Cactus Michelob Ultra – only 90 calories of awesomeness. 😀
GOAL FOR TOMORROW: Stop eating like a moron.
May I just say that I’m super pumped to be starting the new block! 🙂 Part of me is slightly bummed that block 1 is done solely because I had finally figured out a lot of the moves just in time to get something completely different. But different can also mean exciting!
Tony describes “eccentric” as the part of a move in which the muscle lengthens. This whole workout focuses on the lengthening of the muscle through the “negative” part of the move, example being the down part of a push up. I had just commented to my sister last night (who BTW is doing P90X3 also right now with her husband) that I was going to miss The Challenge, but I can assure her and everyone else that Eccentric Upper picks up where The Challenge left off. To make these moves achieve an eccentric focus, the push ups take a 3 count down with a 1 count up while pull/chin ups also use a 3 count lowering and 1 count back up.
- Standard Push Ups – All of my push ups were done with power bars on my knees today, except the burn out. Tony suggests that you suck it up and do it on your feet with a smaller range of motion to engage more core. Next time I’ll try that.
- Standard Pull Ups – I did a strange version of assisted… I was really trying to wear out my arms today. (I was successful FYI.) Knowing that the bulk of the energy was to be spent on the lowering, I used the chair to get up and then lifted my legs on the way down so that I was lowering my full body weight.
- Military Press – Push weights above your head and close together then slowly lowering until triceps are parallel to the ground. I have enormous shoulders, so I used my lighter 5lb weights.
- Military Push Ups – I’m really focusing on making my elbows graze my sides as I do these.
- Chin Ups – See standard pull ups.
- Deep Swimmer’s Press – Starting in a half curl position with arms parallel to ground, quickly complete the curl up then twist arms up into a press. Slowly lower back down to half curl.
- Fly Push Ups – basically wide arm push ups
- V Pull Ups – Technically these are wide arm pull ups in which you pull your chin to one hand lower and then pull up to the other hand. I instead used the bands and did a basic wide arm pull up band pull. You quickly pull the bands down and then slowly allow them back up. I really felt this in my lats.
- Upright Hammer Pull – like an upright row with a bicep twist up at the top
- Staggered Push Ups – I was just happily pushing away and missed the fact that you were supposed to 5 then switch which hand was in front… Instead I did all 10 before I realized my mistake, requiring me to then do 10 on the other side. BONUS! 🙂
- Rocket Launcher Row – Standing in a wide lunge and leaning your weight over your front leg, these are like military rows as you pull the weight into your arm pit keeping the elbows close to your sides.
- Lateral/Anterior Raise – Holding the weights like hammers with thumbs up, extend your arms to shoulder height out to the sides, lower, then do the same in the front.
- Plyo Push Ups – No plyo for me. I don’t trust my wrists for this right now. Instead I did 15 regular push ups.
- Vaulter Pull Ups – just like those from The Challenge
- Pterodactyl Flys – In another wide lunge, body leaning forward, lift the weights to shoulder height out to the sides.
- Rocket Launcher Kickback – Wide lunge, body forward, tricep kickbacks… I did this with 8lbs… Should have done 5.
- Flip Flop Combo – Curl up, hammer down slowly.
- Tricep Skyfers – These are kind of like tricep dips… Actually, they are tricep dips, but you make a stomach-up table with hands on your power bars, 1 leg up in the air, and then dip down.
- Kneeling Preacher Curl – In a lunge with one knee on the floor, curl those biceps!
- Burn out – Burn out for this was a push up/pull up combo again. This time it was 1 military push up then 1 wide arm pull up, followed by 2 of each, then 3…
I love The Challenge, and I love this one as well. I have always been exceptionally conscious of my arms; my upper arms like to hoard body fat. By the time I was about 24 I was definitely noticing an increase in their circumference. I can hear my mother saying, “Oh my gosh! You never had fat arms!” And while it is true that I never had arms that waved in the wind or were the size of small tree trunks, shirts that fit my body were obviously tight on my upper arms.
The thing about arm and leg fat… well all fat in general… is that it has to come off of everywhere for it to come off the places you want. I started speed walking a 3 mile trek everyday, which allowed me to wear my cute little green polka dotted shirt with the tuxedo pleats(!), but it wasn’t until I started doing yoga that a little pose called Downward Dog changed my arms. And then a couple of years later, my dude introduced me to P90X Shoulders & Arms and then the muscles started to chisel out. 🙂
I ended with half of Ab Ripper X before I decided I was exhausted. 🙂
I woke up this morning feeling far more rested than I have the last several. The good thing about being exhausted is that you finally reach a point that your body can no longer object to sleep. I didn’t sleep ALL night, but I did make it more than 4 hours, and that’s a start. 🙂
My butt and inner thighs are still mildly sore today. Nothing compared to what I would get when I did P90X Legs and Back, but there is definitely some muscle work going on. When I climbed out of bed this morning, the first thing I noticed was that my “good” ankle was incredibly sore… Bummer. My good ankle, strangely enough, is on the leg with the worst balance, and I’m guessing that as I fought for the Half Moon and Twisted Half Moon in yesterday’s X3 Yoga I overworked maybe the one healthy tendon in my entire body. 😛
The whole “challenge” is that you pick your number of reps that you plan on doing in pull ups and push ups and then commit to sticking to that number throughout the workout, despite how exhausted you may be. I was pretty conservative: 8 assisted pull ups (read with chair) and 16 knee push ups.
- Wide Pull Ups then Normal Push Ups ….. REPEAT
- Chin Ups then Military Push Ups …… REPEAT
- Close Grip Pull Ups then Wide Push Ups …… REPEAT
- Vaulter Pull Ups then Staggered Push Ups ….. REPEAT
The victory of today was that I did ONE full on chin up all by myself without the aid of a chair! I tried to do a second and was unsuccessful. My arms were totally exhausted by the end of this. BUT WAIT… That’s not it!
Just as you the routine comes to an end, Tony invites you to an additional 3 minutes of burn out! You are supposed to pick your favorite move of each and then do a rotation of 1 pull up then 3 push ups… REPEAT…. until the 3 minutes is over.
I’m actually pretty proud of what my arms already look like. Kelly Ripa has been my “arm crush” for years, and I spent a lot of this past summer working on getting my Ripa arms. 🙂 Knowing that, there was a little pride on the line with The Challenge. I really think I’d actually get a better, more complete workout if I get some bands before next week’s Challenge as I’m simply not able to capable of performing the pull ups or chin ups to any sort of satisfaction.
Just to be absolutely ridiculous, my jello arms and I rounded out the day’s beat-down with Ab Ripper X. 🙂
Here’s to having a body as young as my sense of humor!