Tony Horton’s three rules for success at the gym—and beyond

Now that he's helped a trillion people get successfully ripped, the legendary P90X creator wants you to use fitness for greater happiness and success in life.
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Tony Horton wants to help you get happier, not just fitter. (Photo: The Big Picture)


Celebrity trainer Tony Horton is whipping people into shape even more efficiently than he used to. He recently released  P90X3, which packs his cult fave workout system into “extreme” 30-minute sessions. (Hello, HIIT.)

And as Horton tightens his methods, he’s also broadening his focus to look at how fitness success can lead to greater happiness and non-sweat-related achievements. “There are very few people who are not eating right and not exercising that are still having really productive, adventurous, happy lives. Health opens you up to improving all other aspects of your life,” he says. “Someone who eats right and exercises has more potential to be successful and happy.”

That’s the focus of his new book, The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life, released in February. In it, Horton zeroes in on three principles he says are essential to success, in fitness and life: variety, consistency, and intensity. “That combination is the foundation for everything, while the other laws help you get there,” he explains.

We asked him to tell us more, so you can increase your number of pull-ups and maybe get that promotion, too.

1. Variety. Mixing up your workouts prevents three things, Horton says. “Injuries, boredom, and plateauing or not seeing results.” And newness ensures you’re constantly challenging yourself, which naturally adds intensity. “Guys lifting weights, if you put them in a Pilates class, that will add intensity,” he says. “Gals stuck doing cardio and maybe yoga, put some dumbells in their hands.” And how often have you heard variety is key in other areas? It’s the spice of life, the key to a balanced diet, you totally get the picture.

2. Consistency. You know the whole “three times a week” convention? Horton recommends getting sweaty five to six. “If you’re working out three days, that means you have four days off—and the four days off win every time. You’re just not going to see the advantages and changes.” Just like you’re not going to learn Portuguese in time for your trip to Brazil if you get to a Rosetta Stone lesson every two weeks.

3. Intensity. While Horton says form should reign supreme, you need to push yourself as hard as possible while maintaining that form if you ever want to make real progress, he says. “You have to be willing to push that little extra quarter inch. You don’t have to go through the roof or throw up. Just be willing to go slightly out of your comfort zone.”

And it’s not hard to see how that will serve you after class—digging deep and being honest about what your “best” really is will serve your emotional well-being, relationships, and career trajectory. It’s like one of Horton’s favorite sayings, “Do scary things that won’t kill you.” —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, check out The Big Picture

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