So, here is the obligatory “my P90X experience” post/page. If you are only interested in computers, hacking and infosec feel free to move along – I won’t mind 😉


So, I’ve been trying to stay fit for most of my life – never really liked being a slob or having a lot of gut to carry around. Problem is I was diagnosed with Degenerative Spine Disease back in 2003. That sucked for a while, and required quite the pain management regiment. At some point it got pretty nasty where I has to take pills that would manage the damage that my pain relief pills inflict on my liver/kidneys (as if these guys don’t get enough punishing…).
The only thing that really worked for me outside of drugging myself to kidney failure was exercise – specifically for the core muscles to keep my spine out of harms way (i.e. the three vertebrates that decided to get close and comfortable with each other down there).
For some time (couple of years) my main regiment was burpees. Don’t ask me how I got to do them, but with my travel requirements, and the lack of will to go back/forth to a gym that worked best for me. Here’s a quick video that shows how-to:

My personal regime was 10 descending sets (completed to 10 total pushups on each set for a total of 100 pushups – 55 burpees and 45 regular). Worked great, didn’t require any equipment, and besides the funny looks from friends when you share a hotel room with them you are pretty much ok.

The loot from a night of adventures in Berlin

If you are asking yourself “why”? You need to remember two things:

  1. I don’t want to be a fat slob.
  2. In my line of work I actually need to get a little physical sometimes…

Although computer security by itself can be a fat-mans-heaven, red-teaming still requires some movement 🙂 (one of the best moments I was fortunate to share with a good friend was spent on top of an I-beam in a closed, condemned old building in Berlin a few years ago, while watching a bunch of hackers trying to squirm their way through the lower levels as we were taking in an amazing view of the city and the fresh air).

So, time goes by, and I really wanted to step up the burpees regime to something that covered some more “ground”. Enter P90X. Yeah – the one you saw on infomercials late at night jet-lagged in a hotel…

My personal experience

First things first – the program consists of  a workout regime, complemented with a nutrition plan. I stuck to the workouts (somewhat…) and threw away the nutrition thing. My “diet” still consists of foods that are categorized “tasty”. That would pretty much do it. Oh, and to burn the fat off the “unhealthy” foods – a decent amount of CH3CH2OH (alcohol/booze/moonshine/beer/whateveryoucallit).

The biggest single slice of pizza I have witnessed yet

Having that out of the way, let’s talk goals – I was going for lean rather than size. Having only 2 sets of weights kinda put a kink in that (in a funny way), but using an elastic band solved that problem (and is CRITICAL for travel…).

Last but not least – I made the mistake of only getting a heart-rate monitor for my last few weeks of the program. Big mistake. At least for me it was really a motivator to keep logging exercises and track them online (I’m using the Garmin FR-70).

So, how did it work out? Actually pretty good! I did have some lapses where I didn’t catch up with the program completely, and had to repeat a week or two, but overall I managed to stick to the regime. The beginning was a little rough (my wife keeps reminding me of the grunting and drunken-sailor cussing I was throwing back at the TV), but the notion of muscle confusion, and the excellent mixture of Yoga, cardio and strength training really does work well.

Overall I must say I got a little addicted to this and was looking forward to sweatin’ out a little at the end of a long day of work (or right before it). Having completed week 13 yesterday I already managed to squeeze in day 1 of week 1 from the P90X-Plus program. If there’s anything to it I’ll probably update this page once that’s done…

Stay healthy, and bottoms up everyone!

Update: September 2012

Well, a lot have changed since I last wrote this page. First – I had the pleasure of completing P90X+. It was a great breath of fresh air, with slightly more focused work and shorter workouts (average at 45 minutes, vs. 60-90 minutes of P90X).

Nothing changed in terms of eating habits – whatever I like, I eat, and my only restrictions is that it’s got to taste good.

Then came the decision to try out Insanity. I header quite a bit on it, and looking at the workouts it seemed like something I could tackle (with an added bonus of absolutely no equipment needed – easier when traveling!). Insanity turned out to be a really challenging workout, that made me feel great (it’s mostly cardio workout, less strength training or upper body work). I stuck with it for a whole 4 weeks, until I was forced to realize that I’m missing the point… I wasn’t putting enough focus on my core and upper body, hence my back is less protected. During week 5 of Insanity (mostly recovery) I pulled some stupid muscle in my back, which wouldn’t be an issue unless it kept bugging me for almost 2 weeks (during which it turned really bad, had me using topical ointment to relieve the pain – while I’ve been avoiding any kind of painkillers for years now). This came in the worst timing, as I had a week of travel coming up. So – lots of rest, no workout at all, and my back allowed me to travel. Then I went back to basics when on the road – burpees. Back was fine, I completed my sets normally. All good.

Dumbells, push-up handles, pull-up bar, non-slip mat, resistance band

Back home I went back to kick off week 6 – just to realize that I’m getting back issues again halfway through the workout, and really not liking it after completing it. Aha! Not enough back/core/upper support! A day’s rest, a few burpees, and back to P90X…

So, with a somewhat stiff back, and an understanding that sometimes what looks good on TV may not work that great for YOU, I’m back with P90X. It’s been truly rewarding since I (re)started, no back issues whatsoever (even after a session on Plyo, as well as 90 minutes of Yoga…). As always (for me) the focus here isn’t bulk but more tone and agility (hence: 12-15 reps rather than 6-8, and use of light weights – 20lbs dumbells).

For me it seems like this may work out nicely (pun intended), and after completing this round, I’m probably going to find some combination of P90X and P90X+ schedule for maintaining a healthy lifestyle (i.e. down to 3-4 workouts/week, maintenance mode…).

8 responses to “Workout?”

  1. Hi Iftach

    First of all, thanks for sharing. Ever since I started to work (meaning now – almost most of my life) I’ve been neglecting the benefits of good physical exercise and replacing it with a brain addiction to data, problem solving and a lot of mental activities that required me mainly to only utilize the movement of my fingers (and obviously not forgetting the exclusion of any porn-related activity hahaha).

    I hope one day you will try the food change. I tweeted today “If life means evolvement of consciousness, how much you let yourself evolve, how much did you evolve today? Let go, live, be love, evolve” and I must admit that after half a year of moving to a diet which consist almost entirely on vegan diet (I have craves for goat cheese) the shift of my consciousness was pretty drastic.

    I found that the only advantage it has on all the tasty food out there is that it provides to you freedom – it provided me with a mental freedom to be able to evolve in ways I was totally unaware of, and because the priceless virtue it gave me by expanding my consciousness I today can resist all the food types that drive my senses wild but eventually are unhealthy for our body, our brain, and our consciousness.

    And now I think I should take a look at this P90X, and see if it will turn me into the Brad Pitt I was destined to always be 🙂

    “Live high, Live mighty, Live ridiculously – taking it easy” (Jason Mraz)

  2. Really nice post Ian.
    I was interested in your P90X workouts before and I was going to ask you about them on Twitter but you got ahead of me 🙂
    When I do sport it’s mostly running but lately I’m gaining some interest about this program.
    Could you explain what equipment is needed in order to follow the P90X program?

  3. Sure Liran – that’s the “easy” part. First of all you can take a look at their website, but generally you just need a set of dumbells, a pull-up bar, resistance bands, and a mat.
    I also have a set of push-up handles (look for “the perfect pushup” on google).

  4. Thanks for the reply Ian,
    The push-up handles looks nice and not so pricey, they really make a difference?
    About the dumbbells, a set of how many do I need and how I determine what should be thier wight?
    Is there any store (can be online) you can recommend getting all the gear from?

    Sorry for the questions overload 🙂

  5. My pleasure Liran.
    Yes – the pushup handles really make a difference, especially on pure-pushup routines (outside of P90X). Engages more muscle groups and it “feels” better.
    Re dumbbells, I would recommend the kind that you can adjust by adding/subtracting weights. There are the fancy ones from Bowflex (Selecttech) but they seem a bit bulky (although I never tried them).
    I personally recommend shopping at a local sports store. Shipping dumbbells may cost you a small fortune (shipping is charged by weight…).

    • If you want compact, easily adjustable weights, go for original Bowflex, not the cheap imitations. The weights are not accurate and sometimes they literally fall apart, which is REALLY not desirable when it comes to weight. I have a sets of Bowflex 552’s and they are great, even though they have quite a hefty price tag.

      If you wanna go cheaper, go for a couple of really simple dumbbells where you can add or remove weight elements manually. Try to have your “common” weights ready, so you don’t have to break your rythm while working out to adjust weights.

  6. Just tried the burpees workout for the first time yesterday and man it was nice.
    I did 10 decending sets like the video says, although this is a rather quick workout you can feel your heart pumping and your lungs burning by the time you finish the last set.

    Again thanks for sharing this.

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