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What it takes to do P90X, Paul Ryan’s killer workout



P90X consists of 12 DVDs, each of which focuses on training a specific series of muscle groups.

The DVDs include Chest and Back, jump training, Shoulders and Arms, Yoga, Legs and Back, cardio kickboxing, stretching, core training, Chest, Shoulders and Triceps, Back and Biceps, cardio training and an extended abdominal workout.

The standard home fitness package by Beachbody costs $119. Since its creation in 2005, the company says P90X has sold more than 3.5 million copies. Want to sign up? Visit .

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Updated: September 24, 2012 3:20PM

We’ve seen politicians run campaigns and cut budgets.

Now, they also run laps and cut body fat. Fading fast are the days of politicos smoking cigarettes and eating fast food. Today, if there’s a chicken in every pot, it’s probably skinless and only the leaner white meat .

Why the sudden spotlight on federal fitness? Paul Ryan, that’s why. The hot topic around the Wisconsin congressman is not just that he’s been tapped as the GOP vice-presidential contender. There’s a lot of interest in Ryan, a former personal trainer, and his devotion to P90X as well.

In recent days, veep hopeful Ryan’s participation in the rigorous fitness program has become a major point of interest. To some, P90X sounds like a pharmaceutical order, some type of robot — a hush-hush government initiative perhaps? But to those who have sweated in its name, P90X is a hell of a workout.

Created by fitness guru Tony Horton, P90X is an exercise regimen designed around “muscle confusion,” shifting workouts so that the body is not allowed to plateau (adapt to the workouts). The program was developed for home use and for those with some level of fitness. (An additional part of the program includes a nutrition plan to assist participants with health and proper diet.)

Spanning 13 weeks, P90X has a schedule that requires six days of exercises and one potential day of rest. Within three months (the 90 in P90X), one will perform pull-ups, push-ups, jump training, cardio kickboxing, resistance workouts and even yoga.

Required equipment is kept to a bare minimum. Instead of machines, benches and weight racks, P90X participants may acquire a set of dumbbells, resistance bands and a pull-up bar. The successor to P90, the program is broken up into three phases with recovery weeks and special adjustments for users.

“What’s great is that the top experts in exercise science have put together a program based on muscle confusion to give you great results fast,” said South Sider Lupe Ramirez, an AAFA Certified Personal Trainer and Beachbody coach. “There’s no trick — it’s not magic.”

Politicians and elected officials exercising is not unheard of. Presidents have jogged — especially for the cameras — shot rounds of golf and played bball. President Obama often shoots hoops and he and the first lady have long worked out with Chicago trainer Cornell McClellan.

However, the 42-year-old Ryan takes fitness to a new level on the Hill. The seven-term congressman stands 6 feet 2 and weighs in at 163 pounds. News reports peg his body fat as being between 6 and 8 percent, putting the Republican in the company of the leanest athletes. Ryan not only practices P90X but has gotten colleagues involved as well. Reportedly, the Janesville native and nearly a dozen others until recently were jumping into the extreme workouts every morning.

Not for the faint of heart, P90X requires about an hour per workout. (The yoga DVD runs closer to 90 minutes and the Ab Ripper is under 15.) P90X works not only the body but the mind as well. It calls for a level of determination more herculean than the muscles that eventually develop. For every health-conscious soul who starts the program, there is a multitude that quits it.

Many who have performed the P90X workout have agreed with several of the regimen’s self-proclamations. As suggested, P90X strengthens the core muscle group of those who participate. Many lose weight and tone their bodies by doing it. “You’ll absolutely feel that you’ve earned your new physique,” said Ramirez. “The hardest part about P90X is pressing play every day.”

But what does this say about Paul Ryan? Will he tackle the campaign with the same ferocity needed to endure Horton’s gauntlet? Is his stance on issues going to be solid due to his chiseled abs and superman core? Will he pull up the nation’s economy with a wide-grip on the bar or go for the assisted chin-up and a chair (if you’ve done P90X, you know what that means!)

We’ll see in the next few months if Ryan’s devotion to physical fitness will make him a ferocious national campaign competitor. But fitness advocates everywhere hope that if the Republicans win the White House, the workload doesn’t mean those extreme Hill workouts would be replaced by Lincoln Room love handles.

Chad Hunter, a local freelance writer, successfully completed P90X in November, 2011. He is an avid lifter, novice runner and trained in various forms of martial arts.

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