The 5 Fitness Commandments from the Creator of P90X

Courtesy Tony Horton / Photo by Anne K Fers

At 56, P90X creator Tony Horton is more chiseled than much of the population. Getting in Horton-worthy shape isn’t easy, and finding the motivation to rev up a grueling 60-minute workout program and give it your all can be intimidating. Horton’s philosophy, however, is that showing up is the bulk of the battle. And, you don’t have to perfectly mimic a fitness routine in order to get results — all it takes is 70 percent. In Horton’s world, getting in the best shape of your life boils down to three things: consistency, showing up, and not judging the workout. We caught up with the fitness guru who revealed how he stays fit, and how he personally handles days when he’s not feeling motivated — because yes, even he has them.

RELATED: Tony Horton’s “No Excuses” Bodyweight Workout

You Should Dread Some Workouts
“It’s about your attitude going in always, regardless of what it is. There are exercise routines that still scare the hell out of me. I go up to Mountain Athlete in Jackson Hole, and some of the premiere professional hockey players and free skiers in the world who are more than half my age are in there training four days a week. I only pop in for one or two workouts a year. It makes me nervous, but I just go, and I talk to the instructor and say, ‘Hey. Look, this is who I am. This is what I can do. I need to walk out of here feeling good, like I got a great workout in. I don’t need to walk out of here injured.’ And they’ll usually go, ‘OK.'” 

…And Try Impossible Moves
“There’s a sprint move called an A-skit that I love but it was like rubbing your belly and tapping your head when I was first learning it. It was like speaking Shakespeare while walking and chewing gum. But I loved it because I couldn’t do it. I love things that I can do: It’s impressive that I can do 25 pull-ups or 80 push-ups or something, but those are things that I’m already pretty good at. So at times I’ve just learned from myself that if I want to stay as young as I possibly can as long as I possibly can, then I get out of a rut or a routine to avoid the injuries or the plateaus, and start introducing new moves to myself.” 

RELATED: 11 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Workout

Quantity Is Sometimes Better Than Quality
“If you want to really thrive and go to the next level and have all the energy and enthusiasm that you need to be able to take on a much more interesting life, then you workout five, six, seven days a week. Consistency has so much more to do with it than anything else. And if I provide you with a particular exercise or a routine or a sequence and there is a little hesitation and it’s outside your comfort zone, well that means it’s probably going to work. I’m not asking you to do it perfectly, I’m asking you to attempt it the best way you can so that you don’t get hurt in the process and then come back again and again and again.” 

70 Percent Is Better Than Nothing
“There are days when yoga is just hard, even if I know the routine. And when plyometrics just feels brutal or mixed martial arts or doing sprawls and mixed martial arts just feels taxing.” Instead, Horton says he just doesn’t push himself as hard. “If you just show up, if you did 70 percent, it’s 70 percent better than you did if you would have done zero. Seventy percent is always better than zero percent. Some days you can go 90 percent. Some days you can go full throttle. A lot of days you can’t. It doesn’t mean that you choose to do nothing. What do you get when you say no? You get nothing. So I don’t choose those days. I go to yoga some days, and in the first 20 minutes I’m like the Tin Man in a rainstorm. But at the end, I’m always better because I showed up.”

RELATED: Tony Horton’s “No Excuses” Bodyweight Workout

Don’t Ever Do a Workout Twice in a Row
Horton changes his daily workouts each week “to prevent the typical boredom or plateaus or lack of results.” Here’s what his schedule usually looks like:

Monday: Plyometrics

Tuesday: Horton focuses on shoulders and his arms, plus core and functional moves and handstands. “It’s fun to work on all three of those things as opposed to a traditional routine.” 

Wednesday: Kickboxing and other cardio. But if he’s on a machine, it’s never on the same one for more than a few minutes. “It just makes it much more interesting, time passes quicker, you don’t get hurt, and you don’t get bored. You burn more calories when there is different muscle recruitment from the different machines.” 

Thursday: Upper body, including rope-climbing or a peg board, plyometric pushups and pull-ups, and anything rooted in gymnastics. “It keeps my 56-year-old body young.” 

Friday: Core, including box jumps. “It’s all about the mid section and keeping that strong and tight so that your back isn’t vulnerable. But at the same time, I’ll mix those types of workouts with a lot of plyo boxes. I usually line the plyo box on an angle so I’m jumping laterally, not only just forward. And then I have a slackline in my backyard, so I’ll jump over the slackline, too. As a skier, these are the kinds of exercises that are important to me that I can do.” 

Saturday: 1.5 hours of yoga. 

Sunday: Track workout or upper-body routine incorporating rope-climbing, rings, or parallel bars. “Or, maybe I’ll just do one or the other. It depends on how much energy I have.”

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