P90x is in many ways the most complete, total body workout system ever created, and that isn't an exaggeration.  While none of the workout concepts are groundbreaking and you can perform most of the exercises at the gym with a good amount of homework, there isn't a more tightly organized and compact package on the market that can do what p90x does.  Led by celebrity fitness trainer Tony Horton, p90x is a proven system that will help you lose weight and increase your upper body strength, leg strength, speed and agility, balance, and flexibility.  Containing fast paced and non-repetitive strength workouts based on body resistance (push-ups and pull-ups) and dumbbell exercises, plyometrics, yoga, kenpo karate, and core work, p90x is made up of 12 diverse workout DVD's that are put into sequence 6-7 days a week for 90 straight days.  Each DVD is approximately 60 minutes. Complete with a nutrition plan and guide book, you have everything you need to get started immediately.  The workout is certainly advanced, but because many of the moves have modifications built into them and these mod's are clearly demonstrated on the video, this workout program can work for a lot of people of various physical fitness.  If you have any doubts, consult your doctor beforehand.


Circuit Weight training vs. Bodybuilding

P90x is not meant to be a system to bulk you up.  It is meant to create lean muscle, burn fat, and help reveal your six-pack if you follow the workout schedule and diet.  You won't build huge muscle mass because the weight training exercises involve circuit training, and not bodybuilding isolation exercises.  Most of the moves are synergistic in nature and call upon multiple muscle groups and the DVD is fast paced, moving one move straight into the next, with very few repeated moves.  Tony constantly suggests that you pick a weight that will allow the last 2-3 reps to be really hard, keeping in mind heavier weight with 8-10 reps are for "size" and lighter weight 12-15 reps are for "lean."  

Muscle Confusion

Although p90x is not a bodybuilding program, it does follow some concepts of bodybuilding in that specific muscle groups are worked heavily on one day, and then given adequate rest before working them again.  A third of the way through the program, the DVD order changes and focuses on different muscle groups.  For example, initially your strength workouts are Chest and Back one day, and Shoulders and Arms another day.  In the second phase of the workout, you change to Chest, Shoulders, and Tri's, and on the other day Back and Biceps. This changing up of the workout is called "muscle confusion" and is the basis of the p90x system.  P90x marketing claims that after doing the same sequence of workouts for about 3 weeks, the body gets used to the sequence and plateaus.  Therefore, change of routine is necessary.  Muscle confusion is not really a scientific term, but it does make logical sense and is a creative way of introducing new workouts and changing up the routine.

The Nutrition Plan

The nutrition plan is a three phase plan that follows the changes in the workouts, and the changes in your body over time.  The first phase is a high protein, low carb diet meant to burn fat.  The second phase is a balanced 40/40/20 protein/carb/fat diet, while the third phase is a carb heavy diet.  I would suggest if it is your first time doing p90x that you trust the program and follow the diet to the T, but in subsequent rounds, it is OK to just "eat clean" and focus on staying the second "balanced" phase of the diet as a goal.  If you don't follow the diet, you will not attain the maximum results - it really goes hand in hand with the workouts.

The Trainer

Tony Horton has a LOT of personality, for better or for worse.  For hardcore meatheads, he might be a little bit too goofy, but most people would say that he grows on you.  If you are a newbie to exercise, he will make you feel comfortable and laugh.  If you are an exercise veteran, you will probably still laugh!  I personally love him.  The bottom line is he knows what he is talking about, always gives good exposition on all the moves, and models good form.

Sustainability after 90 days

P90x is a program that can kick start your fitness journey by setting you straight for 90 days.  Afterward, many people take a short break and dive right back into a second round of p90x.  The program is set up so that it is ok to do it multiple times.  Beachbody also makes other programs including p90x+ and Insanity which many p90x graduates use.  The truth is many of the transformations you see online come from multiple rounds of p90x.  The more you do it, the better your form gets, the more weight you can add, and the more reps you can pull out on the body resistance exercises; until you can match the pro's on the videos, you can keep doing it and get the max benefit. At least that is my opinion!


At $120, p90x is very fairly priced.  It is less than a gym membership and can be performed in the comfort of your own home.


You will need a pull-up bar, a yoga mat, and either a set of dumbbells or a set of resistance bands.  I personally recommend the dumbbells.  When I started I did everything with 15's and 20's, but I soon found out I needed more weight for some exercises, and less weight for others.  I now have incremental weights from 8's on up to 35's and it gets the job done.  The resistance bands are great for traveling, but in general free weights will give you the max benefit.  Optional equipment includes power stands for push-ups.  You will need a good amount of space to jump around for some of the workouts as well!

A good beginner's approach

The mantra for beginners is FORM OVER REPS.  Especially the first time through a video, lower your weight and make sure you are doing the moves correctly.  


If you buy p90x from Team Beachbody, you receive 2 FREE bonus DVD's from the Tony Horton 1on1 series - a $40.00 value!