I have been asked many times about the programs I do, and so I have put together a comprehensive review of P90X for all those curious people out there who are thinking about giving it a try.
The primary principle of P90X is Muscle confusion: Doing the same thing over and over develops what is called muscle memory. Muscle memory is the ability that muscles have to adapt to rigorous and repeated motion, which then causes an eventual plateau, where the muscle is not tearing, therefore not growing. Muscle confusion changes up the movements not only throughout every hourly workout, but every 30 days so that your body can never quite reach that full adaptation of your muscles, causing you to bypass the plateau and continue to progress!
P90X also comes with a complete 90 day Nutrition Guide, designed to encourage healthy, clean eating habits at proper portions to facilitate muscle growth and the torching of fat. The guide, like the program, follows three phases of eating schedules: the first is designed to shred fat with high protein, low carb meals and snacks, the second is developed for building and maintaining stamina with a healthy increase of carbs, and the third phase balances out the two in an easily maintainable meal plan that can be followed well after the program is complete.
The Creator: World class fitness expert and celebrity trainer, Tony Horton is in my personal opinion, THE greatest fitness motivator out there. Tony has a phenomenal attitude towards fitness, and is so enthusiastic, its hard not to get excited about your results when hes jumping around and making you laugh. Tony Horton makes exercising fun like no one else I have ever seen! Moreover, Tony knows what he is talking about, and passes his knowledge onto you in simple, easy steps; Tony gives you the tools to succeed.
Who it is for: P90X is for anyone who is looking to transform their life, health, diet and body through hard work and sweat. It is not for the lazy, or negative. Tony will demand your positive thinking, and your dedication. This program is for people who want the capability to work out at home or at the gym, on the road, or anywhere else! P90x is for man, woman, young and old, as Tony would so put it. Anyone can be successful with P90X.
How it can be done: P90X comes with 3 schedule options: P90X Classic, Lean, and Doubles. Classic, is as it sounds, the basic program, where you will be working out from 60-90 minutes per day. Doubles follows the same schedule as class, with the addition of an extra cardio cycle on every resistance day, meaning that you will be working out from 60-120 minutes per day. Lean substitutes upper body workout days with extra cardio, and for that reason, seems to appeal primarily to women. (Note: Women lifting weights will not bulk up! This will be the subject of an upcoming post, so be sure to check back!)
Strengths: P90X is flexible! Whether you are looking to drop weight and body fat, or build muscle, whether you are looking to increase your strength or stamina, Tony can show you how. You can take it anywhere! All you need to work through the program is a set of weights or resistance bands, a yoga mat and a pull up bar. Don’t have a pull up bar? No problem! You’ll be shown how to use resistance bands to do the same exercise. Not flexible enough to complete the move, not strong enough to perfect form, or worried about a past injury flaring up? Listen, and Tony will show you how to modify to your personal needs. Whatever your goals are, P90X can get you there.
Weaknesses: If it can be considered a weakness, this is not a program that is recommended for beginners; it may require being eased into. Most people who start on with P90X without any earlier fitness experience often find themselves getting half way through the videos initially. (I did not have this problem, personally, but it does deserve to be addressed). I think the only real weakness with this program is that it relies on personal motivation. You do not have a personal trainer accountable for your results, YOU are responsible for getting up, and pushing play. However, I find the P90X mentality overcomes this weakness for most!
To further review the benefits of this program, I am going to review all 12 workouts in detail.
Chest & Back
The Workout: When you start p90x, you jump right in. There is no easing into this program!Chest and Back utilizes body resistance by alternating sets of push ups and pull ups, with one or two moves that involve weight resistance. This workout runs in 2 rounds: The first is meant to test yourself and your goals — how many can you do of each type? (write it down!), and the second is designed for the user to bring all they have, to hit their goal or max.
Bry’s Review: Chest and Back is not a bad combination, and it is certainly versatile enough to take anywhere. Its simple, classic, and old fashioned — the tried and true. It is also sure to exhaust your upper body strength by the time you have finished; you know you have gotten a solid upper body workout. As a general rule, I manage to do 20-30 reps a set for push ups, 15 per set of pull ups. It definitely can be an overwhelming experience the first time around, but sticking through will ensure beautiful chest and back muscles in no time at all. And though its not really relevant, I really love how Moraine, the woman, brings it just as hard as the boys!
The Workout: Plyometrics, or jump training, is widely agreed to be the most difficult P90X routine. It is without a doubt the most intensive cardio of the program, as well as an exhaustive routine for the legs and lower abs. Plyo works in cycles of 3 moves for 30 seconds, followed by 1 move for a minute. This cycle is performed twice before moving on to the next round after a 30 second water break. The rounds include low and high impact jumping techniques, as well as options as to how to modify in the case of knee injury.
Bry’s Review: Now, I struggle with cardio due to my lung problem, so at first, Plyo kicked my butt. Like most people I’ve talked to, after completing plyo for the first time, I was a hot sweaty mess on the floor, panting, and the next day both my quads and lower abs did not want to forgive me. But a few weeks into the program, I became convinced that this workout was worth its weight in gold. I could jump higher, move faster, and my cardio had improved exponentially. If you struggle with plyo, I beg you to stick with it, because you will LOVE the results!
Shoulders & Arms
The Workout: Shoulders and Arms is classic weight lifting, the perfect compliment to Chest and Back as the classic body resistance. Each round follows a rotation of shoulders, biceps, triceps, performed twice before a quick water break and the next round. As Tony explains, the shoulder is the link to chest, back, and arm workouts, so it well deserves its own attention. By switching up the moves in a repeated cycle, Shoulders and Arms delivers a great calorie burn, and helps strengthen the key body parts for all other upper body work.
Bry’s Review: Before Shoulders and Arms, my traps had never experienced any sort of resistance training, so I think I was the most sore I have ever been after a workout with this one. Its certainly not my favourite of the series, but Shoulders and Arms is definitely a sufficient and thorough workout.
The Workout: Yoga X is 90 minutes of Yoga, broken up into 45 minutes of Ashtanga salutations, and 45 minutes of balance postures, with a focus on balance, core strength, and flexibility. Yoga X is a steady workout that is intended to burn cardio while strengthening key muscles, in ways that weights and cardio simply cannot achieve on their own. It is also the staple that Tony swears by as the ‘fountain of youth’ as flexibility is key for maintaining motion while increasing muscle size.
Bry’s Review: Yoga X receives extremely mixed reviews within the Beachbody community: some people love it, and some just hate it. Those who hate it usually complain that it is slow, and boring, but in truth, they invariably spend longer complaining than it would actually take to just suck it up and do it. Personally, Yoga is not my favourite thing to do, and I also find it painstakingly slow and repetitive! But, Tony swears by it and for this I take his word. Sure, it is slow, but it is there for a reason: the flexibility and stability learned with Yoga X enhances the results of all the other videos. If 90 minutes of yoga is too much (Which it is for me), break up the 45 minute sections, and do one in the morning, one at night.