Tony Horton, the chiseled face and torso behind the extreme workout program P90X, doesn’t care if you lose 10 pounds. He’s not about helping you get ripped abs in five minutes.
Instead, Horton wants you to get hooked on health. All you need is “a body, Mother Earth and gravity,” said Horton, whose popular DVDs and infomercials have attracted a cult-like following.
You may also need some guidance, which, of course, is where Horton hopes P90X comes in. The challenging DVD series contains 12 workouts based on “muscle confusion,” or surprising your body with different workouts to help alleviate boredom, prevent injury and overcome plateaus, Horton said.
A few days before leaving for his latest Armed Forces Entertainment Tour in Europe, where he exhausted U.S. troops with his workouts, Horton talked about his own training and the coming newer version of his program, called P90X2.
Q: How is your bicep?
A: I’m about 98 percent. Thank you for asking. [Last May] I was doing iron cross pushups on rings — the feet are on a stability ball and the rings are attached to the pull bar above — and the bicep tendon pulled off the bone. It was the best thing that ever happened. It was reattached in a spot where I can open my arm a little more. I have the best range of motion I’ve had since I was 12.
Q: Did you work out when you were hurt?
A: For a three-month period, I worked out every day but five. I did lower body, cardio, core, plyometrics, one-arm VersaClimber, treadmill, one-arm rowing, whatever I could with one arm. I had a 40-pound weight in my left hand and a 3-pound weight in my right. At the six-week point I was at where most people are at 12 weeks.
Q: Why didn’t you rest more?
A: People work out for different reasons; aesthetics, athletic, mind-body, but on the actual day you exercise, you’re improving your health, power, strength and quality of life. You’re doing everything you can on that day to prevent illness and injury later in life. It’s the fountain of youth — internal face cream — and if you don’t participate, you’re aging faster.
Q: Which workouts do you like best?
A: I’m a slow-twitch guy. I like about 18 seconds of absolute ridiculous intensity; then I sit down and watch someone else kill themselves. If I have to do cardio, it will be five or six pieces of equipment, three minutes on each. At my age, 53, cardio is not that important. There’s not that much cardio in P90X2.
Q: What’s your workout today?
A: A 55-minute interval routine, spending three to five minutes at each machine. I’ll go from ski machine to slide board [skate simulation] to VersaClimber to treadmill to rowing machine to jump rope. Do a minimum of 40 minutes and don’t rest for more than 30 seconds between machines. Keep heart rate between 55 and 85 percent of maximum. VersaClimber is a nightmare, but it works well. The ski machine and the [lateral] slide board are my wheelhouse. It’s a mixture of things I’m good at and things I despise.
Q: P90X really kicks your butt. Do we need a more intense version?
A: P90X is an introduction to extreme fitness. P90X2 is to help continue the muscle confusion. It’s more variety and it ups the ante in terms of supersets, which are three or four movements done back to back. The sequence is a power move, an endurance move and an isometric move. You should only do P90X2 if you’ve gotten through P90X. If you do CrossFit or are an Ironman athlete, jump right in. You’re still going to die. [Laughs.]