In this P90X® review, the Chest, Shoulder, and Triceps routine is covered in detail, and understanding this routine is critical if you really want to get a lot out of it. If you try to fumble your way through, you won't see nearly as many results as you will by performing these moves accurately and intensely.
Intensity is what you are after in this P90X routine - NOT heavy weights. There is no room during this workout to try to be a hero and throw around a bunch of heavy weights, because - quite simply - this workout is hard. You will get more results, lessen your chance of injury, and build up more strength and endurance by keeping perfect form with lower weights rather than trying to "cheat" with heavier weights.
Also, there are a lot of bodyweight exercises in this routine, and they are spaced out appropriately to really burn out your muscles, so even if you are normally able to do heavy weights on certain movements, don't let your pride get in the way when you have to drop the weight a bit in order to keep up proper form and/or the prescribed number of repetitions.
Slow-Motion 3-in-1 Push-up
This workout wastes no time in wiping out your pushing muscles! The 3-in-1 Slow-Motion Push-up is a slow 4-count on the way down, and then a slow 4-count on the way back up. You do that from a wide push-up position, a standard width push-up position, and a military style (hands close to body) push-up position.
Mental preparation will really help out here, because you are basically going to total muscle failure on the very first exercise of the workout. As with most push-up type of movements, you can drop to your knees to make it easier, or when you start to run out of steam. Go for as many reps as you can get!
In & Out Shoulder Fly
This is a basic front shoulder raise with a dumbbell in each hand, and then immediately doing a lateral (side) raise with the same weight. As always, you want to use a weight that will get you to your goal number of reps (8-10 for size, 12-15 for leaner muscles), so choose a weight that you can do that number of reps with while still keeping excellent form.
If you use resistance bands for this exercise, it is REALLY hard at the top of both the front and the lateral versions of this movement.
This is just a standard dip as you did way back on Day 3 of Phase I. By this point in the game, however, your shoulders and triceps (the primary muscles used in a dip) should be significantly stronger than they were before, so go for maximum reps, and don't be afraid to stop for a quick breather before knocking out a few more.
Also, if you are strong enough to do a large number of reps, try lifting one leg off the floor every 5 repetitions. That will make it even more challenging so you still get a lot of out of it, but don't have to do as many reps.
The Plange Push-up is kind of weird, but it does a great job of working your pushing muscles from a different angle than they are used to. Different is always good when it comes getting results!
For this movement, you keep your hands very close to your body, right near your rib cage, and you have your fingertips facing out away from your body, rather than forward as in a normal push-up.
The Pike Press is a GREAT exercise for your shoulders! Basically, you bend over at the waist, and go up on your toes while your hands are on the floor in front of you. As you drop down, you keep your face towards your legs and drop the top of your head towards the floor.
By doing this type of pushing movement from this angle, you are simulating a dumbbell overhead press, and you can really push to get the burn in your shoulders. When you start to get tired, don't drop down quite as far, but keeping on pushing until you can't do anymore.
The Side Tri-Rise was also done back in Day 3, and kudos to Tony Horton for bringing this awesome exercise back during Phase II of P90X.
Try to push yourself all the way up until your arm is totally extended, thus giving yourself the maximum range of motion, and getting the most out of the movement. Go to muscle failure on one side, then switch to the other.
This exercise has such a simple name, but it does OH SO much! Basically what you are doing is putting a towel, plate, piece of cardboard, or something else underneath one of your hands, and sliding that hand out before going down into a push-up. You then slide it back, do another push-up, then out for another push-up, etc.
This is an awesome exercise because it works the entire chest area, not to mention the triceps. You can make it easier by not doing the additional push-up whenever you come back to the standard push-up position.
If you've ever had a rotator-cuff shoulder injury, this is exactly the type of exercise that you can do to strengthen up that area. Be sure to use a very light weight, though.
With a dumbbell in each hand, you bring your upper arms up and parallel to the floor, and let your lower arms hang at a 90-degree angle, perpendicular to the floor. Picture a scarecrow and you'll have the general idea. From there, without moving your upper arms, you twist the dumbbells all the way up until your palms are facing forward, then all the way down again until they are facing backwards. Ouch!
Overhead Triceps Extension
This is a pretty standard triceps movement because it is such an effective exercise. Go for a weight that you can control throughout the exercise without letting your elbows flare out to the side.
Hold both dumbbells overhead with your arms completely straight, then unhinge your elbows, bringing both dumbbells down behind your head. Lift them both back up to full overhead extension and repeat. If you have dumbbells that have flat surfaces, you can keep the dumbbells touching during the entire exercise.
Two-Twitch Speed Push-up
Going back to slow-motion push-ups that were done earlier in this workout, now we also add in fast push-ups as well. You do 4 fast push-ups (all the way down and all the way up), and then you do 3 slow-motion push-ups, using the 4-count on the way down and on the way up.
Don't expect to get very many sets of 4/3, though, because this is really hard, and by this point in the workout your shoulders, chest, and triceps are really starting to feel the burn, and they fatigue quickly.
This is like a standard dumbbell overhead press, only you push up at approximately a 45-degree angle, rather than pushing straight overhead. This is one of those times not to try to be a hero! Even if you can do a straight overhead dumbbell press with a lot of weight, you will not be able to use a lot of weight during the Y-Press.
Also, be sure to not push your hands too far out to the side. The up angle should be as close as possible to 45-degrees, creating the "Y" appearance that gives this exercise its name.
Lying Triceps Extension
This is another classic triceps exercise, and it is very effective as long as you perform the movement with perfect form.
You are on the floor on your back with 2 dumbbells held up at arm's length. One at a time, you drop one of the dumbbells down to the opposite side of your head, close to your ear, being sure not to let your elbow flare out to the side. You can also do this exercise with both dumbbells at the same time by dropping them down towards the back of your head, but again, don't let your elbows move at all.
Another awesome push-up variation, you basically "hop" one leg and one arm out to one side, do a push-up, and then return to center briefly before going out to the other side and doing the same thing.
You can make this exercise harder by doing an additional push-up in the center position, or make it easier by just moving your hands to the left or right, not your legs.
Time to put the pride away, because you won't be doing this exercise with very much weight! Basically all you do is stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended fully out to both sides of your body. Without moving your arms at all (keeping your shoulders in a static contraction the entire time), you twist your wrist to bring the dumbbells perpendicular to the floor, then back to parallel to the floor.
If you choose the proper weight for this exercise, you'll get a lot of out if. However, if you try to use the same weight that you do for dumbbell front or lateral raises, you'll burn out very quickly.
Side-Leaning Triceps Extension
This is another overhead triceps movement, only this time you are sitting in a chair and leaning on the back of the chair away from the direction that you'll be pressing the dumbbell up overhead. The idea is that by leaning away from the direction of the exercise, you'll be able to push the weight up more effectively, only without letting your elbow flare out to the side.
Best to get the hang of this exercise before you try it, so don't be afraid to watch Tony and the gang on the video so you can do the movement properly.
This is just like it sounds, and yes, it IS that hard! Not only is doing a one-arm push-up difficult at any time, but by this point in the workout you arms and shoulders are so tired that there just isn't much left to give!
The trick to mastering this movement is simply to keep your feet or knees very wide for balance, and to only go down as far as you can while still being able to push yourself back up. Remember, even if you only go down an inch or two, you are still getting a lot of out it.
This exercise is basically doing the arm circles that are normally done during the warm-up sessions, only now you are doing them with dumbbells in your hands. Once again, light weights are called for here, and if you try to go heavy, you'll never last.
Be sure to focus on keeping your arms straight out to the side. There is a tendency when you are tired to bring the arms down towards the floor, or out towards the front of your body.
Throw the Bomb
This is a cool twist on a standard overhead triceps extension. You do one arm at a time, and with the other arm, you point forward as if you were pointing to a receiver down the field that you were about to throw a football to. Press the dumbbell straight up in the air and be sure to stop when you get to the top! You aren't actually throwing the dumbbell, but rather modifying the move so that you can put a slight hip twist into it.
The hip twist actually gives you a bit more power for the overhead extension, so go as heavy as you can while still getting to your goal number of repetitions.
Clap or Plyo Push-up
There are 2 version of this exercise, and you should try them both to see which is better suited to your present (but growing) level of fitness. The plyo version is basically just pushing yourself up off of the floor when you get to the top part of a standard push-up. The clap version is pushing yourself far enough off of the floor so that you can clap your hands and then get them back underneath you before you face-plant on the floor.
This is a hard exercise, to be sure, but at the same time, you can really get a lot of out of it, so be sure to give it your best. Go to your knees if you need to in order to get out a decent number of repetitions.
This is very similar to the Scarecrow that you did earlier in this workout, only this time you raise your arms straight out in front of you. From the up position, you then rotate at the elbow to bring the dumbbells back to your ears, then rotate forward to the straight arm position. Drop your arms briefly to your sides, and then repeat.
Focus on really good form during this exercise, as you are strengthening your shoulder joints, one of the most injury-prone areas of the body.
Front-to-Back Triceps Extension
This is a one-arm overhead triceps extension, only the front-to-back portion is thrown in to work the muscles from a slightly different angle. You basically extend the dumbbell up, then drop it down in front of your face, and then extend it up again before dropping it down behind your head.
Don't move your head in order to accommodate the dumbbell. Move your arm instead, since the entire point is to hit the triceps from a different angle.
One-Arm Balance Push-up
This exercise combines a push-up with the Yoga X one-arm balance pose. You do a standard push-up, then - while still in the up position - roll over to one side while stacking your feet on top of each other. Keep your hips up as high as you can by engaging your core muscles, and raise one arm all the way to the sky. Roll back down into the push-up position, do another push-up, then repeat on the other side.
As hard as this exercise sounds (and it is!), this is also a great time to perfect that one-arm balance pose. By the time you do that pose during the Yoga X workout, you are so tired that it is extremely challenging to keep your balance.
The Fly-Row Press actually combines 4 different exercises: the Dumbbell Fly, the Upright Row, the Overhead Dumbbell Press, and the Reverse Curl. You do the fly first, then drop your arms back to your sides before doing the upright row. Without coming out of the up position of the row, drop your elbows and push the dumbbells up overhead, then bring them down and do a reverse curl, ending the movement in the starting position for the next repetition.
Form is always important when you exercise, and if you want to get the most out of this movement, watch them do it all the way through and practice it, then rewind the video and do your full set.
Dumbbell Cross-Body Blow
This is the final exercise in this routine, and by this point, you are very, very tired. Grab two dumbbells of a reasonable weight, and then get on your back on the floor. In a pseudo-punching movement, you punch one dumbbell then the other across your body.
As tired as you are at this point, still take advantage of the fact that you have leverage because your back is against the floor. Use challenging weights, and crank up or slow down the speed of the movement in order to get the most out of it based on your strength and your level of fatigue.
This workout seems longer than some of the other workouts, but that is just because Tony Horton and the gang beat on the same muscle groups over and over again, and you never get all that much of a break.
That, of course, is why this workout is so effective, however, so be sure to give it everything that you've got. Whether you are a woman or a man, the muscles worked during this routine are the "glamour" muscles, so keep that in mind if you are thinking about giving up or putting forth a half-baked effort when you start to get tired!