What’s Up With Extreme Workouts?

The woman in the next cubicle has started wearing sleeveless shirts just to show off her toned arms. Your three-year-old proclaims that when he grows up he wants to be stronger than Tony Horton. You notice the people at the gym aren’t gossiping; they’re – gasp – pumping iron. Could this have anything to do with the infomercials you watch while eating Doritos at 2am? Well, lick that orange stuff off your fingers; it’s time to get extreme.

Are Extreme Workouts Worth the Hype?

Home-based extreme workouts have flooded infomercials with before and after pictures. YouTube returns nearly 40,000 results for “P90X.” Rushfit has more than 56,000 likes on Facebook. If you’re wondering about extreme workouts and if they work, find out what the American Council on Exercise (ACE) had to say about three popular programs and my personal opinion.

The Moves

Metabolic Conditioning is the common routine in these programs. The training uses whole body movements with high repetitions and moderate resistance. With an increased heart rate and increased caloric expenditure (during and after exercise) participants should see weight loss and overall toning.

Program Comparison

ACE rated P90X as a well-rounded routine. I agree. The program’s several DVDs incorporate cardio, flexibility training, as well as muscle strength and endurance. Rushfit was top rated for skill-related parameters. The variety of exercise and integrated movements had Rushfit on top. Both P90X and Rushfit also afford adequate recovery periods and plyometric programs. Insanity was rated much lower on program design and progression as well as recovery. It is also considered less safe. P90X’s Tony Horton rated highly for overall coaching and delivery followed by Erik Owings of Rushfit and Shawn T in third with Insanity.


The biggest concern with these programs is that many users do not approach fitness as a long-term lifestyle. Just because the 60 or 90 days are up, doesn’t mean you get to stop exercising. I feel Tony Horton does a great job keeping participants motivated, but it’s still just a DVD. You have to show up and push play and work hard. Keeping track of your progress both by writing down your reps/weight and tracking your measurements is helpful. The P90X program recommends taking photographs to provide visual reminders of your progress. Whatever you do, continue setting goals.

Perhaps extreme fitness programs have gained popularity in recent years because people in general are so pressed for time. Combine that with gym memberships that get more and more costly and you’ll find active people looking for ways to get in shape from home. How can you get in shape and stay there? Make fitness part of your routine.

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