A Review of P90X: Kenpo X
This is the second in a series of reviews of the individual workouts within the P90X program. For all other reviews of the workouts, as well as a review of the overall program, please see the links at the bottom of the page.
I am a long-time fitness enthusiast who’s completed P90X twice. While I haven’t found the program to be the transformative experience it’s purported to be, I find it to be overall beneficial and very effective at keeping me on track fitness-wise when I don’t have reliable access to a gym.
Before I started on P90X the first time, I noticed that there was a dearth of workout-by-workout reviews, leaving me with little idea of what to expect from the program. I aim to correct that, and to give you an experienced exerciser’s perspective on the benefits and disadvantages of P90X.
Today we’ll be focusing on the sixth and final workout of the week: P90X Kenpo X.
What is P90X: Kenpo X?
I'm not really sure what Kenpo X is, but one thing's for sure: it ain't Kenpo.
What is really is is a roughly 45 minute cardio workout, with a long 12 minute warmup and stretch session followed by a little over 30 minutes of cardio, which is loosely based on some Kenpo and Karate moves.
What this workout won't do is turn you into Bruce Lee, so don't start picking fights or claiming you've got a black belt thanks to P90X. Kenpo X is just a good cardio workout that steals ideas from kickboxing and mixed martial arts to get your heart rate up and work the kinks out.
The only complaint I and many others have had about Kenpo X is that the last third of the workout is very easy, almost too much so for most people. I'll give you some tips later on how to make it more challenging.
Now, on to the nuts and bolts.
The Kenpo X Workout
As I mentioned above, P90X: Kenpo X runs about 45 minutes, with a 12 minute warm-up and stretching session followed by a little over 30 minutes of active cardio and a super-short 2 minute cooldown.
The warm-up is a little light on warming up but heavy on stretching and some yoga-like lunges. At this point your legs are likely to be a little sore and in need of a good stretch, though I wish Tony had moved more of the stretching to the cool-down rather than sticking almost all of it in the warm-up. Stretching might loosen your muscles, but it also weakens them a little, giving you less "oomph" going forward.
Following the warm-up is the first active segment of Kenpo X, lasting about 8 minutes. It's all about the upper body here, with a series of increasingly complicated punches and punch combos. You'll be doing jabs, cross-body punches, hooks, and uppercuts.
Next up is the first 1 and a half minute break, which is more of a very active recovery than a real break, with some jogging in place, make-believe jump-rope, and jumping jacks.
The next 8 minute segment brings a little lower body movement into play, with some punches as well as some knee kicks (picture grabbing an opponent by the collar, yanking his head down, and kneeing him in the face, and you've got the gist of the move), front kicks, and side kicks.
Then, after another break, it's straight into kicks, throwing in some back kicks and then repeating it all with a series of three-way-kicks for a smaller, 5 minute segment.
After another break, you'll have a relaxing and somewhat disappointing blocking session. Imagine raising your forearm to block a series of punches coming from different directions and you've got it. The only real challenge here is holding yourself in horse stance, or a wide squat, for the duration. This one is also short, lasting another 5 minutes.
Then it's quality time with your ankles for another jumping-jack-filled break, and afterwards you get to combine the upper and lower body moves you learned earlier for 10 minutes of mixed kicks and punches.
We wrap it all up with some inexplicable elbow moves, wherein you jab an imaginary opponent behind you in the face with your elbow, and then a final series of high punches at super-duper-turbo speed.
Two paltry minutes of cooldown later, and congratulations! You're done for the week.
Enjoy your rest day. Sort of like Christmas, it only comes once a week.
Some Tips For Getting the Most Out of Kenpo X
1. Start out Slow
For those of us who aren't so coordinated, our first run-through of P90X: Kenpo X needs to be at roughly half-speed.
Why? Because if not we'll just keep punching ourselves in the face, that's why.
When you get into the more complicated series of moves, like the jab-cross-hook-uppercut combo that takes place in the first upper body portion of the workout, it's easy to tangle your arms up like a pretzel.
In my case, it's also easy to hit yourself in the face hard enough to knock your glasses off.
P90X: Bringing back awful childhood memories of schoolyard bullies in an hour a day.
The same goes for any of the mixed moves. Go through them slowly the first time. Your face will thank you, and so will that lamp over there that you've just stopped yourself from kicking over.
2. Stay tight
The secret to getting a good workout out of these moves is to pay close attention to your form. Keep your stance and abs tight, and keep the moves tight and economical. Don't flail. Aim.
3. Put some power in it
While you don't want to throw a shadow punch hard enough to lock out your elbow, or a shadow kick hard enough to lock out your knee, you can and should put a little force behind the blow if you find that you need to get your heart rate up a little more.
Alternatively, if you have a punching bag and know how to use it without hurting yourself, you'll kick your workout up several notches. Just be careful, and mind your wrists!
4. Modify, modify, modify
Most of the Kenpo X workout is mild compared to most P90X workouts. However, the part where you may struggle comes at the "rest" breaks, which aren't actually breaks at all. First you'll jog in place, then you'll jump rope, then you'll do jumping jacks, and finally you'll do "X" jumps that'll have you leaping well clear of the floor.
During the first half to two thirds of the workout, however, this might be rough for you and you might need a little more of a break to catch your breath. If that's the case, just stick with jogging in place or jumping rope at whatever pace allows you to catch your breath without cooling down, and just let those crazy people on the screen go ahead and do their jumping jacks.
5. Make room
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I thought I'd mention it, just in case: Kenpo X is not a workout to be done in confined quarters. You won't be leaping around much, but you will need plenty of room to throw a few kicks without damaging your furniture or your feet.
So, make sure to clear a space, and make sure it's more space than you think you need.
Kenpo X: More fun than a barrel of ninja monkeys
In sum, Kenpo X is a fun workout as long as you disengage your brain from the idea that it might have some resemblance to a real martial art. It's also moderate and almost relaxing by P90X standards, so go ahead and breeze through that finish line for the week.
Then, if this is your first week, pat yourself on the back. You've done it. Did you ever have any doubts?