A Review of P90X: Chest and Back
Right now, I want you to do something for me.
First of all, you’re probably slouching over your keyboard. Don’t worry. Everybody does it.
But, just now, I want you to stop slouching. Sit up straight. That's it.
But don’t just sit up. Thinkabout what's happening as you sit up.
Your abs have probably tensed a little. Contract them a touch more. That’ll help hold you upright.
Next, pay attention to your shoulders. Are they rounded forward? They probably are. It's a natural tendency to let them fall forward while you're at your desk, especially if you don't have great shoulder flexibility. So go ahead and roll them back. Feel the light stretch across your chest as you do so.
Now, pay attention to what that does to your back.
When you pull your shoulders back, you’re not only moving the shoulder joint, but you’re also pulling your scapulae, or shoulder blades, in. (This happens primarily with the help of those rhomboids I mentioned earlier, by the way.)
Pay attention to your shoulder blades. Try pinching them in towards each other. Pull your shoulders back and reallysqueezethrough your back.
Now, hopefully, you’re sitting with your abs tight, shoulders back, and your back strong. The muscles of your back are fully engaged. To counterbalance them and keep your torso straight, your abs are also engaged.
Feel the strength in this posture. Feel the stability. Feel how your back is active and engaged.
This is the feeling you want to aim for every time you do a pull-up.
Okay, but what if I can’t do any pull-ups?
Don’t feel bad. Lifting the weight of your entire body off of the floor and up over a bar is a hard, hard thing to do. Many people can’t do it, especially if they’re overweight.
One of the big ironies of doing body weight exercises to get in shape if you’re overweight is that, thanks to your higher body weight, you’re actually forced to lift substantially more weight than someone who isn’t overweight – and if you’re also out of shape, you’re forced to liftmoreweight withlessmuscle!
That being said, if you can't do a pull-up, I still would not recommend taking the alternative that Tony Horton shows you and performing pulldowns with a resistance band. I do not like resistance bands. I do not like them, Sam I am.
But that's not the only reason to avoid the bands. Like it or not, pulldowns do not work the back in quite the same way as a pull-up, and no matter how much you do, you will not get half the results by working with the bands. Plus, as is always the case with the bands, you’re not really getting the benefit of full resistance for the full range of motion. You’re just getting extreme resistance at the bottom and sort of ‘meh’ resistance at the top, which means that you're only actually working for about one-third of each pulldown.
What I would suggest is this.
Make sure you have a sturdy chair or footstool and take Tony’s other suggestion: keep one or both feet on the chair or stool and use that extra assist to help you up. This works by taking up some of your weight and thus reducing the amount of weight you’re actually lifting.
Another excellent way to work up to a full pull-up is to do a negative-only pull-up. The negative of any exercise is the downward or “releasing” motion. In other words, the positive portion of the pull-up is the part where you pull your chin up to the bar, and the negative is the portion where you lower yourself back down again. To do a negative only pull-up, simply stand on your stool or chair, grasp the bar firmly, and basically push up and off through your legs o jump up to the bar. Hold for a second at the top, with your chin just over the bar. Then lower yourself slowly for a count of ten.
If none of that works, you can try the next step down: body weight or inverted rows.
Video: P90X Review Day 57 of 90 - Chest & Back + Ab Ripper X
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