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Why P90X Is So Effective

Experts Say This Is the Most Effective At-Home Workout

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Self here on FitSugar!

Between infomercial-style ads for Pajama Pants and Ab Rollers, perhaps you've seen advertisements for P90X DVDs.  Or maybe you have a friend who suddenly looked a bit more taut and toned, who casually referenced the muscle confusion-based fitness craze.

The point is P90X is undeniably a major exercise movement.  But does it work?  A recent study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) says yes. And here's why.

First, it's obvious why ACE bothered to do this study. The organization loves to investigate the latest greatest fitness trends and, according to them, over three million copies of P90X were sold as of November 2010. And that was a year ago. Who even knows where that number is at now?


Everyone from famously buff Sheryl Crow to Bruce Springsteen has trained with creator Tony Horton, which lends him credibility upfront (especially if you're a Bruce fan from Jersey!).  The concept behind this type of "muscle confusion" is that the body burns more fat and builds more muscle if you mix up your exercises so regularly that it never gets comfortable with any single one.  For one thing, you're dodging that dreaded plateau.

"The basis of muscle confusion is to keep the body from becoming too efficient at performing individual and sets of exercises," explains Alice Burron, MS (Exercise Physiology), American Council on Exercise National Spokesperson and ACE Personal Trainer. "This type of inefficiency burns more calories because the muscles haven't yet adapted to the new workload. Overall more calories are burned, and as a percentage, then, more calories are burned from fat. That is, if a proper caloric intake is maintained in tandem with the workout."

Find out just why P90X is so effective after the break.

Bonus: Tony Horton Previews the Newest P90X Workout Series

The Study

For this first ever scientific study on P90X, ACE worked with The University of Wisconsin's La Crosse program to recruit 16 subjects, ages 19 to 26-years-old with circuit training experience. After tests to determine base heart rate, VO2 max (measuring how much oxygen a person can take in during a workout) and some practice runs specifically with the Legs & Back, Plyometrics, Cardio X, and Chest, Shoulders & Triceps DVDs, the subjects completed these 90-minute workouts with at least 48-hour breaks in between, while being monitored once per minute.

The Findings

According to the results: "Male subjects totaled 441 to 699 kcals burned per workout. The females expended a total of 302 to 544 kcals per workout. The Plyometrics workout proved to be the biggest calorie burner."  The DVDs "exceeded" fitness standards for weight loss.

One of the primary leads on the study, John Porcari, Ph.D., confirms that the this type of high-intensity interval training is probably the most effective way to get in shape.  That's partially because the workouts are effective and also because they're not boring.

Still, these experts do remind readers that a healthy diet is also essential to success.

Bonus: Try SELF's free sampler of P90X moves!

More about P90X and about ACE's "Does P90X Really Bring It?" study.

Related Links:
Sign Up For SELF's Jump Start Diet (With Moves from Jillian Michaels!)
Jennifer Aniston's Flat Ab Yoga Sequence
Why Sarah Michelle Gellar Skips the Scale

For daily fitness tips follow SELF on Facebook and Twitter.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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