I work out almost every day. Whether it’s running, biking, swimming or hitting the weights, I try and get a good 40-90 minute sweat session in. The routine depends on the season, whether I’m training for a specific event and what my interests are on any given day.
About three months ago, Lucas and I decided to quit our long-standing gym membership and try and find ways to work out at home. I had recently completed 30 Day Shred (review on that to come soon) and was looking for a similar program that would give me specific direction.
I’d seen this on TV and on blogs and I decided it was time for me and Lucas to bring it:
Did you see how ripped all those people got? With some supportive words from Eating Bender, I got on the phone and sweet-talked the Beachbody people into a decent deal. (Truthfully, I’m sure I got ripped off, but I also ordered the pull-up bar, so I was pretty happy with the final package price).
Four days later, it was time to commit to 90 days of hell muscle-building. 86 days after that, we completed the P90X program and now it’s time for a review.
Note: The program has you do an initial fitness test and take before pictures. I did both. I have decided not to share the specifics of my results, because I’m just not comfortable making the pictures or numbers public. I will consider sharing some of the information over email — so contact me if you want. My husband Lucas is willing to share his pictures (brave man) so you’ll see some of his pictures and results below.
P90X is a revolutionary system of 12 sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping workouts, designed to transform your body from regular to ripped in just 90 days. You’ll also receive a comprehensive 3-phase nutrition plan, specially designed supplement options, a detailed fitness guide, a calendar to track your progress, online peer support, and much more. Your personal trainer, Tony Horton, will keep you engaged every step of the way, and you won’t believe your results!
So says the Beachbody Web site. And it’s pretty accurate! All 12 of the workouts were difficult, but I’ll rate each one on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being easy and 5 being extremely challenging.
- Chest & Back (Intensity Level 4)
- This is the first workout that you’ll do after the initial fitness test and it will let you know — very quickly — whether you’re really ready for an advanced program like P90X. It’s push-ups and pull-ups followed by … well, more push-ups and pull-ups. When you’re not pushing or pulling up, you’re lifting weights. The circuit is quick, intense and will make you sweaty and sore.
- For the first 30 days of P90X, I used resistance bands for the push-ups and pull-ups. I just could not manage even a half pull-up when I started, and the bands made it possible for me to really feel it. Lucas did the regular push-ups and pull-ups throughout the program.
- Plyometrics (Intensity Level 4)
- This is also called jump-training and is the same type of exercise used in Jillian Michaels’ workouts. It’s TOUGH. It’s jump squats and jump lunges and jumping jacks and more, just like that. I started sweating in the warmup, and found myself dripping and disgusting at the end. But that’s the sign of a good workout. I really enjoyed Plyo, but this was the exercise that left me more sore than any other.
- Shoulders & Arms (Intensity Level 3)
- Weights, weights and more weights. I used all my dumbbells here, from the 5-pounders on up to 15-pounders. Lucas used free weights and the resistance bands. This is a series of bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, rows, flys and more. It was less intense than some of the other weight-focused workouts, but because it forces you to use the same muscles for 60 minutes with no rest, it was very painful.
- Yoga X (Intensity Level 4)
- This one was a controversial workout in my house! When we started, I was a yoga nut and Lucas was a yoga virgin. The Yoga X program is 90 minutes, broken down into moving ashtangas (45 minutes) and balance poses (45 minutes). I loved the yoga a lot at the beginning, but started to get bored with it at the end. Lucas was overwhelmed at the beginning, and by the end, was rocking the advanced Crane pose:
- Legs & Back (Intensity Level 3)
- A mix of squats, lunges and pull-ups. This was a toughie, but one of my favorites … perhaps because I have pretty strong legs from running. I did find myself fast-forwarding through some of the moves toward the end of the program, because I just didn’t think they were doing anything for me (three-way lunge with two-kick option; toe rolls).
- Kenpo X (Intensity Level 2)
- This was one of the more disappointing workouts in the program, and to be honest — after the first few weeks, I started skipping Kenpo and did my own cardio workout (run, bike, etc). Kenpo is a watered down version of Tae Bo — a circuit of kickboxing, punches and more. It felt out of place in the P90X program, and while it was advertised as “high intensity,” I found it to be one of the easiest sections of the program.
- X Stretch (Intensity Level 1)
- This one is optional — you can choose between a rest day and stretch, and I almost always chose a rest day. When I did do the Stretch, I thought it was pretty good. Lots of neck and arm stretches, shoulder rolls, etc. Lucas was a big fan of this workout.
- Core Synergistics (Intensity Level 4)
- If you don’t find yourself saying “Superman! Banana! Superman! Banana!” after this one … well, you’re a better person than I am. Core Syn is a circuit of lunges, squats push-ups and cardio. It’s a decent little workout, but don’t actually do it that much over the 90 days.
- Chest, Shoulders & Triceps (Intensity Level 4)
- Ow. Ow. Ow. This one will make you sore the next day, because just like Shoulders & Arms, it’s the same muscles worked over and over and over again. Triceps extensions, should flys, chair dips and more. Push-ups, weighted arm circles. Once again, I used all my free weights but was able to build up the weights over the 90 days.
- Back & Biceps (Intensity Level 3)
- Get your heavy weights out! This one will have you doing curls, pull-ups, curls and … you guessed it … pull-ups. Because I used the resistance bands and later a chair for assistance on the pull-ups, I didn’t find this one terribly intense. However, poor Lucas did real, big-boy pull-ups and he was hurting.
- Cardio X (Intensity Level 3)
- I only did this workout once, because it’s optional. You can do it instead of Plyometrics, if Plyo is too intense, or in addition to the P90X program if you’re doing Doubles. It’s basically an easier version of Plyo mixed with Kenpo. Again, if I were to do Doubles, I’d probably go for a run or bike for a more intense cardio workout than Cardio X provided.
- Ab Ripper X (Intensity Level 4)
- Yup. Ab Ripper is the workout you’ll do most often and have the most conflicting feelings about. It’s also the only workout that made me cry. You do Ab Ripper X after many of the workouts, so you basically do it every other day. When I first started the program, I could not make it through even one of the individual exercises in the workout. When it ended, I could do more than the workout called for. It’s BY FAR the most frustrating workout, because it’s so difficult and it comes at the end of challenging exercises. It’s also the most fulfilling (for me, at least) because you can really see and feel the difference in your fitness level over the 90 days.
The Nutrition: Don’t look to either me or Lucas on this one. To be fair, the P90X nutrition plan is both sensible and easy to follow. You can choose from a very strict menu plan that tells you what to eat and when, and a flexible “eat from this list” plan. Lucas decided to stick with his regular eating habits. I gave both plans a shot, and failed at both. The exercise made me SO hungry, and I really struggled with balancing the hunger pains with trying not to throw away all my hard work. I binged more during this 90-day period than I did in the six months before. I finally gave it up and tried to go back to a mix of Clean Eating and calorie-counting, but in the end, I actually put on weight through P90X.
- I personally liked having a schedule laid out. I knew what workout I’d be doing every single day, and could plan ahead for it. While doing the program, I was working two jobs, and getting the exercise in was a challenge, but doable.
- If you’re looking for an intense, challenging workout, this is it. Lucas and I both came into the program in decent shape, and P90X kicked our butts.
- Great diversity — yoga, weights, cardio and more. I definitely felt like the program worked all my muscles, which was evident by the 90 days of soreness that I experienced!
- You don’t need a lot of equipment. We bought the pull-up bar, which I recommend. We also needed free weights and yoga mats, but we had those already. The resistance bands came free with our package, but that’s not necessarily the norm — you may have to sweet-talk your sales person.
- Empowerment! This will make you feel strong, both physically and mentally. If you can conquer 90 days of P90X, you will feel pretty awesome.
- Remember when I said I liked having the workouts scheduled for me? I disliked it, too. There’s very little flexibility with the schedule, so you’ll need to find a way to get the 60-90 minute workouts in. You’ll have to do some workouts when you’re really not in the mood for them. You’ll be sore from the previous day and have to push through the pain.
- Tony Horton is a great guy, and his characters are fun. The first time through. By the time you’re on Week 3 of the program, you’ll be screaming “SHUT UP! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP” at the TV, and grabbing the remote to hit mute. There is an option to limit the audio to cues only, so you don’t have to hear the incessant chatter, and I used that option a lot.
- The expense. By the time you get your DVDs, you’ll be out about $200. Maybe more, if you buy the supplements and bars (I did not). We justified it because it was about the same as our 3-month gym membership would have been, and because we plan to do at least two rounds of P90X.
And, drumroll please … are you ready for…
- I would call my P90X experience a success. An 8 on a 1-10 scale. I went from being able to do a quarter of a pull-up to one full pull-up, and 10 assisted pull-ups. I feel much stronger, and can see a lot more definition in my arms and lower legs, in particular. I also know my abs are much stronger, based on the progression I made through Ab Ripper X.
- I gained weight. I’d say I’m about 8 pounds heavier now than when I started. 8 pounds. Not exactly the result I was hoping for. As I stated above, I struggled with the nutrition, and found myself really overcompensating. When I started, I was following the P90X nutrition plan, which called for daily protein bars and shakes. When I stopped following the plan, I kept eating bars and shakes. But I didn’t watch my overall calorie intake. I’d love to say that some of the weight I put on was muscle, but I don’t see a major difference in my tone. I chalk some of this up to a decrease in the intense cardio I was doing before P90x. If I’d had time, I would have done Doubles, which is the regular program plus added cardio.
- I would definitely recommend this program to other women. I’d advise women to really push themselves on the push-ups and pull-ups, because that’s where you’ll see the most dramatic improvement.
- Brave boy. He’s willing to share his Before and After photos:
- Yeah, he was pretty hot before we started. But we can see a lot more definition in his arms and back in particular. He went from being able to do about 5 pull-ups to 10, easily. He increased the amount of weight he could lift, and the number of reps he could complete. His muscles are more defined than they were, and when we re-did his measurements, he’d gotten bigger where he wanted and smaller where he wanted.
Final Takeaways: We’re both really glad that we did P90X, and can take a lot of positives away from the experience. We’re also both planning on doing Round 2 of the program, to see what happens. I’ll be taking a short break before jumping back in, and my Round 2 will be more flexible, because I’m training for a half-marathon and will need to get back to running. I think we’ll both continue to do weekly Yoga, because we really enjoyed the 90 minutes together.
Questions? Email me at email@example.com. I’d be happy to expand upon this review, and maybe even share some more details of my results.