News Flash: Tony Horton of P90X Did NOT Invent Muscle Confusion.

So the other day I was up at some ungodly hour and I was playing Angry Birds on my phone while the tv was on in the background.

On my screen was Tony Horton and his P90X workout.  His testimonials of paid actors actual users were singing his praises about this all new way of working out called MUSCLE CONFUSION and how his approach to working out is so effective.  Then I thought to myself, wow what an awesome marketing team this guy has because I’ll be damned, I could have sworn that his method of training has been employed by others for well over 60 years.

In fact the man responsible for what Tony Horton has claimed to create is Tudor Bompa.  This is the man who REVOLUTIONIZED western training approaches back as early as the 1950’s and 60’s.  Tudor Bompa developed and employed a system called periodized training (where you cycle through various stages of carefully planned training protocols to illicit specific physical responses from the body depending on how you’re working out.  You cycle through phases of stabilization, strength, power, agility, and endurance).  This training method was first developed as a means of training elite athletes to be more proficient at their sport and to maintain a level of conditioning throughout the entire year.  And guess what, he even cites that it was through his study of the training techniques of the early Olympiads to be the influence on the final touches on this style of training as it was being developed in modern time.  His research and those of others of his time is where “muscle confusion” comes from.

Over the years, this same kind of training approach has also been proven and further developed as a means to training the “everyday athlete” (people who play recreational sports or workout consistently), those looking to transform their bodies, conditioning older adults, and the list goes on and on.  Some of the top level certification boards in personal training use this as the backbone to their approach to program design such as NASM and NSCA.

The theory and methods are simple, various rep schemes, number of sets, amount of weight, rest periods in between exercises, tempo of each rep, and rest days in between workouts will develop the body in different ways.  Starting the body off with high reps (12-25), moderate weights, multiple sets (2-5), performed as a circuit, with 60-90 secs rest in btw each circuit will help to stabilize the body, strengthen connective tissue (ligaments and tendons), build endurance in the muscle, increase fat mobilization, and set up a strong base for more challenging work.  You do that for about 4-6 weeks.  You follow that by going into 4-6 weeks of training that will build strength and increase muscle.  To increase muscle you perform 8-10 reps, with heavy/moderate weights that get you to controlled failure by the final rep, 3-5 sets, 2-3 min rest between each set, can be performed as a superset to challenge opposing muscles (this is even a variable because in NASM’s approach you can superset with the same muscle group but one exercise is a stabilization exercise and one is a strength exercise for the same muscle).  To illicit building maximum strength, you would lift heavy, no more than 1-6 reps, 3-5 mins rest between sets.  Interestingly, you won’t build much size during maximal strength work, but the gain in your body’s ability to lift heavier weights over time will be remarkable.  Therefore when you cycle back into the other phases of training, you can do so at higher loads.  Power training covers all your ballistic work like plyometrics (jumping and throwing are examples).  When training with power everything is explosive and you’re trying to create as much force and use as much energy as you can in as little time as possible.  The protocol is the same as maximal strength.  You’d do that for 4-6 weeks, and once you’re done, start back at the top with the stabilization phase.  But this time, it can get kicked up a notch by changing the difficulty of your exercises and by your ability to, by this point, lift a little more weight than you did the first time around.

And that’s it in a nutshell.  What millions of people have paid $120-299, do for a few months, get some results but have no idea how to do that away from the tv and dvd.  I actually saw a guy with a laptop doing the workout at the gym everyday for a year and a half.  There are SO MANY more exercises to do than the ones on the video.  And when you have the knowledge of this stuff on your own, imagine how free you become and how large the possibilities are.  Like everything else in life, you have to learn.  Learning about exercise and new moves to challenge the body is very easy (but your trainer would never tell you that).

So there you have it, Mr. Horton is not at all as innovative as HE wants you to believe.  Afterall, if you really knew the truth, and if you really learned how simple it actually is to do this stuff on your own, then he and Beach Body Fitness wouldn’t make millions off of you.

Empower yourselves ladies!

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