Friday, July 06, 2012
The Tour, P90X, & A Guy Called Wiggo
To me, by far the most interesting storyline in this year’s Tour de France involves Bradley Wiggins. On the road he might be deemed a boring racer but when you lift the hood and see how’s he’s prepared for this year’s race it’s a fascinating story that brings back memories of creating P90X.
I’m inspired by training systems. Not just the day-to-day efforts that athletes use to prepare for events but the entire scope of training for a goal. During our P90X development Tony was generally focused on making the hardest and most creative workouts he could while I was strategizing how we’d integrate them into a system. A lot of how it came to fruition was stuff I’d learned from the Tour.
In fact, I have a memory intrinsically linking the two. While Tony was putting the hurt on the first 90X test group in LA I was in a hotel in France digging through data I’d been compiling from un-official test groups through our Message Board community attempting to do the opposite. I vividly recall a conversation with my colleague Isabelle, about stress tolerances of athletes vs lay people. We were both in Europe on different agendas but each had Beachbody projects foremost on our minds. She was there working with some Olympic athletes in Italy, but also had a program she was working on for us. I was there for the Tour, to witness Lance Armstrong attempt tp re-write history while trying to create a fitness program that might do the same.
Armstrong won his Tours by forever alerting the template cyclists used to train. Instead of logging thousands and kilometers and then racing into shape, his team devised a periodizational training plan focused around one big peak, the Tour de France. In his mind, no other race really mattered.
This is exactly what we were trying to do with P90X, alter the template for home fitness. Instead of making another sweat-fest cardio program, the idea was to systematically break down your body and build it back up over time, targeting all of your physiological factors in one program. On this balmy night in Grenoble my challenge was how to modify the training system we’d created for the broadest demographic. This required some hedging on the tolerance levels of regular folks vs athletes to accommodate the greatest number of people without injuring or overtraining them.
The results of that trip were that Armstrong made history, I wrote a couple of articles on the Tour, cancellation of Isabelle’s proposed Beachbody program leading to her wedding our CEO, and P90X Lean. All of which comes full circle around a guy called Wiggo.
Maybe he’s the P90X2 of cycling. Riffing off of Armstrong’s template only took Wiggins to the podium of a grand tour. Not satisfied, he’s re-shuffled the deck of cyclist training card with an audacious new plan using a coach with a swimming background. Like P90X did with home fitness, they’ve scrapped pretty much every traditional notion of how to train for bike racing. No “base miles”. No “racing into shape”. Not even Armstrong’s throw away races. Just blocks of training followed by a test race taken seriously, periodizided to include a few minor peaks leading to a major one.
Preliminary results are stunning. He’s won every race he’s targeted as a test, something even Armstrong never managed. And if he can indeed parlay that into a Tour victory he’ll have once again altered the training template for those harboring Tour dreams. And while he still has many detractors who dig up his past failures or say he’s peaked too soon, most of the industry “experts” said we’d never sell P90X.
Of course he hasn’t done it yet. That’s precisely while I’m watching. The first big test is tomorrow. For me, the drama will be more than what we see on the grimacing faces of men pushing their bodies to the limit. It will be the validation or failure of a new training system, which is something that excites me even more than sport.