Tony Horton has become nothing short of a legend in the fitness community. His P90X programs brought weight training to the masses, and although folks in the strength and conditioning community might not agree with every single one of his methods, it’s hard to argue with the results. Millions of people have found success with the programs Horton helped to create.
Now Horton is taking military-style bootcamp workouts to the masses with 22 Minute Hard Corps. P90X3 included some military-inspired workouts, but this new program is the culmination of Horton’s passion for supporting the troops and creating a time-efficient workout program that’s actually effective.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Horton to learn more about the philosophy behind 22 Minute Hard Corps and how the 57-year-old trainer stays in such ridiculous shape.
STACK: What inspired you to create 22 Minute Hard Corps?
Tony Horton: Well you know I don’t have a military background, but my dad did. And I’ve been to about 50 military bases around the world. I’ve done a lot of domestic tours. I’ve taught classes at the Pentagon three times.
There’s been a departure here in Hard Core compared to P90X, X2 and X3. Those were programs that were obviously different because of the time frame, the types of workouts and types of exercises. But I thought it was time for a boot camp-style routine because of my strong affiliation with the military. And it was a time for a departure. You have to reinvent yourself once in awhile.
The workouts in P90X3 were only 30 minutes long. Now 22 Minute Hard Corps is even shorter. Why are your programs trending toward shorter workouts?
People have time constraints. A lot of people use the excuse of having to go to the gym and take a shower afterward and go from machine to machine and wait for the people and all that. You can go into a class for sometimes 45 minutes to an hour. It just takes up a lot of time. What that does is kills so many people’s ability to follow through with being consistent for the long term and not just for a period of time. We’re trying to get people to be consistent for a lifetime. It became 22 because it’s my favorite number. It was 20, it was going to be 20 minute hardcore. But I wanted a warm-up and a cool-down so that gave us the extra two minutes.
How did you cram a full workout into 22 minutes?
We really spent a lot of time and energy on sort of stuffing as much in as you could. But we wanted to get it back to basics. With P90X, X2 and X3, there’s a learning curve with more than half of those exercises. These are basic movements that involve a lot of muscle recruitment without a lot of equipment.
We’ve had three test groups go through it, and the results are off the chain. And there are people who are in pretty damn good shape and folks who are clinically obese who are sticking with it and loving it because the learning curve isn’t there. They feel like they’re contributing to the cause of supporting our troops. And you can say those words, but by actually doing it, it means something more.
What do your personal workouts look like?
There’s no typical workout day for me. Variety keeps it interesting so I don’t plateau. I make sure I work on my cardiovascular, strength, balance and flexibility by mixing it up with a combination of plyometrics, resistance, and yoga routines every week. Similar to the routines in 22 Minute Hard Corps, I enjoy total-body routines that target different parts of the body at once.
What are the most common mistakes you see people make when they attempt to lose weight?
Exercise is half the battle. Eating clean and healthy is just as important. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day. People should look at getting healthy holistically so they change their lifestyle permanently, and not temporarily with yo-yo dieting and intense exercise.
How do you create the nutrition plans that are included in your programs?
I’m a flexitarian. One great thing about eating in this open-minded way is that I’m constantly looking at nutrition from new angles. So when it’s time to come up with a new program, I sit down with the Beachbody Nutrition Staff to talk food. We look at the program and what we’re trying to accomplish with it. Then we just banter and share ideas. What have I been trying? What have they been trying? What’s the latest science? Next, we ping-pong ideas around until we have something solid. They go away into their labs to work their magic and come back with a fleshed out guide. It’s teamwork, pure and simple.
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How do you eat to stay lean and build muscle?
I eat fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and very complex carbs. I cheat very, very rarely … maybe 5 percent, I don’t have a cheat meal. I’ll have a cheat snack. Like a cheat snack for me is like a Snickers bar once every three months. I mean really, every morsel matters to me. I don’t count calories, I never have. I’m somewhere between 5- and 7-percent body fat. I don’t drink at all. That helps. I don’t drink coffee. Cheese is sort of a spice for me. And I cut out desserts about eight, nine months ago. Hardest thing I ever did. I mean key lime pie, brownies and chocolate mousse—are you kidding me? I was on a plane the other day and had a roll. You know what I mean? I’ve noticed that my energy is through the roof, I sleep a whole lot better and, you know, I’m a pretty lean guy.
Finally, what’s your most impressive physical ability?
It’s on YouTube right now. If you go to my fan page, you’ll see me go up a peg board, up this metal post that goes up to the roof of this stack, down a rope, back up the rope and down the middle post and down the peg board. That’s my most recent one. Check it out on the Tony Horton fan page on Facebook.
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