For more info on Xtrain, see My Intro to Xtrain.
I said I would give updates as I go through the 90 day undulating Xtrain rotation, so here is update #1. I LOVE it! For me, at least, these are the best workouts ever. I just finished the 3rd week, so major differences would not be obvious, but only 3 weeks in, there are differences. Primarily in my arms. But my legs and glutes, too. And even some in my shoulders. I’d like to see more in my shoulders and back; hopefully by the end of the 90 days I will see more results there. What I am seeing is more muscle definition, but it’s more than that. My muscles are more solid—particularly the biceps, triceps and glutes. What can I attribute that to? Well, obviously the workouts, but I think the 100 Rep Challenges play a significant part. I had initially planned to only do each 100 Rep Challenge every other week—I’d be doing them every week, but since there are 5 challenges, I’d be divvying them up (3 of them one week, the other 2 the next week). Well, I’m doing all of them every week, except the two shoulder challenges; I trade them off—though I did do the scarecrow 100 Rep Challenge twice in the first week. Plus I’m doing the rear delt bonus every week, too. I always have a problem with taking things slow. However, I do have a plan. After the first month, I am going to stop the challenges completely for a few weeks—then reintroduce them. I’ve been doing some research on the idea of 100 rep challenges and apparently, they are pretty effective. They increase capillary density in the muscles, which improves recovery time. This increases circulation in your muscles so that when you are lifting heavy, you are getting better results. There are all kinds of recommendations on how to use 100 rep challenges. For a week or two every so often to shock your system. Every time you work out. Regardless of how often they recommend you include them, it is recommended that they are done to get better results. Since muscle confusion is important in any strength training program, I am going to back off of the 100 rep challenges for a few weeks then come back to them. I like them so much that I might come up with some 100 rep challenges of my own–squats, calf raises, etc.
Another thing I will note is that I am loosely following the rotation and it’s about to get looser. I guess I am messing up the whole “undulating” quality of it. See, I really love these workouts. I had some serious DOMS after Bi’s & Tri’s, then after Burn Sets: Chest, Back & Shoulders I again had serious DOMS. However, Burn Sets: Bi’s & Tri’s and the regular Back, Chest & Bicep didn’t give me DOMS nearly as severe. So, IMHO, the ones that gave me the most DOMS were more effective workouts that hit the muscles harder and/or in new ways. But the rotation doesn’t distribute them evenly (the undulating quality, I guess). In the 12 weeks of the rotation, Burn Sets: Chest, Back & Shoulders only makes 5 appearances (regular Chest, Back & Shoulders gets 7 showings) and the order is swapped with the Bi’s & Tri’s workouts (the Burn Set: Bi’s & Tri’s getting more appearances than the regular Bi & Tri workout). So as you can see—the workouts I think are most effective for me, appear less frequently in the rotation. My initial idea was to swap them. Then it would still be undulating. And I will probably still go with that idea; however, so far I’ve been swapping them evenly. I did the regular strength workouts week 1 and the Burn Set workouts week 2. This was how the rotation lays it out anyway, so no deviation there—but then in week 3 the real undulation starts. Well, in week 3 I did the regular strength workouts, just like week one. And week 4, I’m doing the Burn Set strength workouts (just like week 2). Not very undulating. But I am going to fix it! I will start swapping them around similar to how the rotation lays it out after week 4 (but putting the emphasis on the workouts I feel are most effective). I will say that undulating or not–Xtrain is still doing the job. I’ve been in an almost constant state of DOMS the past 3 weeks.
There’s more to my playing with the rotation. For the first 4 weeks of the rotation, the cardio workouts are Hard Strikes and All Out Low Impact HIIT. If you follow the rotation strictly, you don’t get to do Super Cuts and Tabatacise until week 5! Well this was unacceptable to me, so I did Super Cuts and Tabatacise in week two. These are cardio/HIIT/metabolic weight training workouts—so I personally don’t think it is as necessary to undulate them as it is the strength workouts. I could be wrong. But I have plans! I’m going to keep playing with them in the rotation because I personally do not feel like I am getting enough cardio the way the rotation is set up. So rather than take the recommended rest day, I am just adding another cardio day. In addition, I plan to add in cardio from outside the Xtrain program—all Cathe workouts of course! Crossfire, To the Max, Afterburn and maybe even some Cardio Supersets and Athletic Training. She uses the Low Impact Series workouts anyway for the other 90 rotation, so it can’t hurt for me to squeeze some of my other favorites in a few times, right? I also plan to use some of Cathe’s other lower body workouts outside of Xtrain. Xtrain has 2 lower body workouts and they are used every single week of the 90 rotation. Yes, she varies the premixes, but IMHO it isn’t very undulating. So as I get further into the rotation I will swap one of them out each week for one of her other lower body workouts (and she has a lot!).
This leads me to the final thing I will touch on in this update—playing around and mixing things up. Now that I have done all of the workouts, I am playing with the premixes. I do adore Cathe’s premixes and there are 140 for me to toy with in Xtrain. This week I did All Out Low Impact HIIT premix 16—the extreme premix. I also used 8 pound dumbbells instead of the 5 pound dumbbells Cathe and crew are using on the DVD to up the intensity. That did the trick! Wow! I was definitely in my anaerobic zone though most of the workout. On Saturday I did Cardio Leg Blast premix 13—another extreme premix that clocks in at 87 minutes. WOW! I definitely got the extra oomph I was looking for there! I got some seriously intense cardio and leg work from that. Today my legs, especially my hamstrings, are so sore. And today was Super Cuts Extreme premix 5. I love Super Cuts, but just like the others I’ve done the extreme premixes of, I wanted more when I did it. The Super Cuts extreme premix did the trick, too. It wasn’t as intense as the All Out and Cardio Leg Blast extreme premixes, but still an excellent workout. I also plan to do Burn Sets premix 8—upper body split. All that is, is doing both workouts all in one workout: Chest, Back, Shoulders, Bi’s and Tri’s. These are all relatively long premixes so they have to be done either on weekends or when I have a day off (holidays), so I’m working them in and obviously shifting around the workouts in a given week to make the premixes fit. So I still do every workout the rotation lays out for the week, just not in the order they appear. Another premix I plan to do is Hard Strikes premix 12. This one is an hour long, so I can do it on a work day. What is unique about it is that it includes the heavy bag tabatas—and I don’t have a heavy bag! I think even without the heavy bag, I will get an excellent workout. Here is why—first, in Cathe and other trainers’ kickboxing workouts, they frequently do a lot of fast punches. Shadow boxing with weighted gloves is an excellent cardio workout. That’s exactly what I would be doing during the heavy bag bonus—shadow boxing tabata style! We’ll see how it turns out. If it ends up being a good idea, I will update the Hard Strikes review.
So this is where I am 3 weeks into Xtrain. I am loving it and looking for ways to not only keep it interesting, but to increase the burn. I’m seeing results–and feeling them, too–lots of soreness!