Tony says: Chest and back is push and pull to the extreme. What’s nice about it is the variation of hand grips, distance, push-up bars. If you can eliminate that mindset that ‘I can’t, I can’t do pull-ups.’ Forget I can’t and say I presently struggle with, and if you keep that mindset then over the course of time, someone who’s dream was to do 2 or 3 can turn into 20 and more. Some folks are going to have to dig down and see what they’re made of for the second round of this thing. But in the end they’re going to discover that this is a world class upper body workout, guaranteed.
Overview: Chest and back, as Tony Horton says, is the mother of all P90X workouts. You’re hitting large muscles that work in diametric opposition, pushing with the chest half and pulling with the back half. You’ll be doing a wide array of push-ups and pull-ups, with some bent over rows and other variations thrown in to keep it interesting. If done correctly, this workout should leave you pumped, your muscles engorged with water, your body slick with sweat and knowing that some sweet, sweet soreness is coming your way the next morning.
The routine is simple: there are two sets, each composed of the same 12 chest and back exercises. Tony advises that you go slow on the first half, conserve some strength for the second, because otherwise you’re liable to burn out early and have nothing left for round 2. I agree: use the first half as an aggressive warm-up, testing yourself, building up a burn, but not exercising till failure. It may be hard to rein in that enthusiasm, but trust me, you’ll have round 2 in which to really go all out.
The exercises themselves are classics. The back exercises range from wide grip and close grip pull-ups and chin-ups, with some bent over rows thrown in for good measure, while the chest exercises consist for the most part of a series of different push-ups. This keeps this workout simple, clean, and focuses on blasting your muscles with basic techniques, not advanced tweaking.
The workout is about 50 minutes long, including a 10 minute warm-up and a 3 minute cool down.
Remember! You have to do the Ab Ripper X after this workout. My suggestion? Do it first, get it out of the way, and make sure you do it!
The warm ups in P90X are for the most part identical in each workout, so you will quickly become familiar with this routine. They consist of starting off with high knees, jogging on the spot, jogging with wide knees, jogging with heels to your butt, jumping jacks, and then running lunges. These moves are not meant to be performed in an extreme way, but slow and steady.
From there he moves into a stretching section, where you begin by rotating your head and stretching out your neck. What follows is a series of chest stretches, done slowly and powerfully, but I always opt to use the wall to stretch out my pecs. A yoga stretch is thrown in to strech out your lats, and he finishes off with a series of arm rotations, arms extended out straight and simply spin in tight and then large circles. From there you do some ballistic stretching like huggers and shakers, some backstroke arm spins, some reachers. The last stretches are a shoulder/tricep stretch, where you pull your arm across your chest and then reach behind your back, stretching out each in turn, and a final neck stretch.
Remember: you’re going to do all of these exercises again in Round 2, so don’t go all out, don’t go to failure. Save a little strength for the next round.
Standard Push-Ups: These need no explanation. Back straight, remain aware of your hips, don’t sag, keep good form.
Wide Front Pull-Ups: Palms facing away, shoulder width apart. Set a goal, and try to reach it. If this is too hard, set a chair before you and place a foot on it. The closer the chair, the easier the pull-up. Remember, chin has to clear the bar for it to count as a rep.
Military Push-Ups: Hands closer together than a standard push-up, right by your torso. Elbows should rub your sides as you go down and go back up.
Reverse Grip Chin-Ups: Palms facing you, sufficiently close that if you extend your thumbs toward each other they touch. Same as the previous pull-up, use the chair if necessary.
[Water Break] This doesn’t mean flop on the couch. Do some ballistic stretches for these 30 seconds.
Wide Fly Push-Ups: Place your hands wider apart than for a standard push-up, but be careful that you don’t go so wide that your wrists roll. Keep good form, chest to the ground, back straight, hips locked.
Close Grip Overhand Pull-Ups: Palms facing away, as close as the last pull-up so that if you extend your thumbs toward each other they just barely touch. Use a chair if necessary.
Decline Push-Ups: Put your feet on a chair or table, and do standard push-ups. Be aware of keeping your back straight, hips locked, and maintain good form.
Heavy Pants: The first variation on the push-up/pull-up theme. Select a pair of heavy free weights, stand bent at the hips, back straight, torso parallel to the floor. Extend one leg slightly before the other, grab the weights and pull them up into a row, both at the same time.
Diamond Push-Ups: Place your hands together so that they form a diamond between finger tips and thumb. Do a push-up with your palms placed below your chest, legs kicked out wide, elbows flaring out.
Lawnmowers: Enter a deep lunge, place the corresponding elbow on the forward knee, and do a series of rows with one arm as if pulling the cord of a lawnmower. Keep good form, and do both sides.
Dive Bomber Push-Ups: These are insanely tough, especially since you’re going to maximum reps. Start on all fours, butt in the air, and then dive down as if scooting under a low fence. Come up once on the other side, head going as high as possible, hips driving toward the floor, and then reverse as if scooting back out.
Back Flys: Sitdown on a chair, then lean over, back flat, pull your shoulder blades together and do your rows with weights.
This round is the same as the first, but reverse the order of each pull-up/push-up so that what was second now goes first,and what you did first goes second. So if the initial order was 1,2,3,4, now you go 2,1,4,3. Otherwise the exercises are exactly the same. Now is the time to go all out, but remember, you’re only half way, so pace yourself!
Having finished the last of the Dive Bombers, you go into a 3 minute cool down that consists of ballistic stretches and some yoga poses. It’s easy, simple, and important to do. And with that, you’re done with the mother of all P90X workouts!