I am only 1/3 the way through P90X3, but the workouts are so diverse I figured I better get kicking on the review now while phase 1 workouts (weeks 1-3) are still fresh in my mind!

Overall Impression

P90X3 is only 30 minutes a day.  For some people, that's awesome.  For others, they might miss the original 60 minute P90X concept.  In fact, at first Tony Horton pushed back to Beachbody when they asked for a 30-minute a day P90X.  That is, until they presented him with research that said the most effective time of your workout is the first half hour.  With that in mind, cramming the most effective, integrated exercises into those 30 minutes will yield the best results, perhaps even more than doing 60 minutes of more spread out work.  

The good news is that P90X has not only adapted, its creator has as well.  Tony has never been more fast and on task as in P90X3, so even though the workout is only 30 minutes, you get a more packed 30 minutes than anything in P90X 1 or 2.  This is also means fewer jokes and breaks!  Don't worry, Tony is still hilarious as ever, but doesn't ramble.

You might wonder...so, 30 minutes does that include warm-up and cool down too? There is little to no warm-up built in, unless you decide to do the 7 minute "Cold Start" warm up that is available to you on every DVD.  The cool down is an additional 2-3 minutes after the 30 minute workout.  So, basically 30 minutes is either all main set, or short warm-up and main set, and every workout is followed by an additional short cool down after the main 30 minute set.

So, what I found is that even though it's only 30 minutes, it is great, hard work.  Additionally, I feel like this DVD series has the best aspects of both X1 and X2.  X1 was the most awesomely integrated series of workouts that hit every muscle group over the week.  It is no wonder it completely changed the face of at home workouts!  But many of us have been doing P90X since 2004, and it feels a little tired and slow, even though it can still be quite effective.  X2 was refreshing because it was new and different, but at times had the feeling like it was just being too new - the moves were show off-y, and had a lot of balance components that made them very difficult, plus you needed a ton of equipment which was impractical for a home workout.  P90X3 takes the "back to basics" look of P90X1, but includes some of the great innovations of sports science over the past 10 years to introduce a great variety of new moves and concepts.  The synthesis is something that is true to the original P90X formula, but freshly packaged.  

So, the combined power of P90X tradition with new research and innovation, all in a 30 minute package, means this is an A+ workout in the making! The only complaint I have had from some customers is that it isn't difficult enough for them.  Yes - this is no Asylum in terms of feeling like you were hit with a Mack truck at the end of your workout, but the workouts are smart, and best of all since they are only 30 minutes, you can hybrid with another program and double up if you really felt the need.  A lot of my long distance running friends are excited to finally have a program that allows them to do P90X and a distance run in the same day!

At the end of the day, P90X3 is about practicality.  The make-up of the workouts themselves and the fact that it is only 30 minutes makes it doable by a larger chunk of the population than the previous incarnations of P90X.  Yet, it still pays homage to the things that made P90X work in the first place: hard work, variety, and an A-class personal trainer.  Personally, I am loving every second of it!

Total Synergistics

This new take on core synergistics literally works every muscle in the body.  It includes pushups, pullups, isometric holds, dumbbell lifts, and cardio/leg moves.  While it doesn't have the same feeling as when I did day 1 of P90X (i.e. Chest and Back completely destroying me!), I had the feeling of being well-worked.  Some of the highlights for me are Brannon boat, a great ab move using leg lifts and crunches combined with boat pose, and the chin-up circle crunch - a chin-up followed by a leg swing and crunch while in the upper position.

The workout is a continuous sequence of moves without repeats, and basically alternates between an upper body strength move and an "other" move (abs...legs...isometric hold, etc.).

I liked that I was able to perform all the moves, full reps, without modifications, but it never felt easy.  To me, that is an excellent place to be in a workout and a great day 1!

Grade: A

Agility X

This was a fascinating one.  First of all, full disclosure: you need two pieces of tape on the floor to make a 4' x 4' workout space.  This comes in handy to have actual targets for your feet to land on as you perform the various moves.  The workout includes a series of jumps, lunges, squats, and pushup type moves, most of which require precision and quick foot movement.

Like Total Synergistics, this workout is built on lots of consecutive moves without repeats.  In terms of intensity, it is somewhere between Plyo X and Asylum's Speed and Agility.  I love the idea of doing plyometric, quick moves that have specific floor targets.  What makes this workout difficult is that each move is 60 seconds.  The old mantra "you can do anything for 30 seconds," no longer holds, but I think this is a plus.  By the end of each move, you have very little left.  There were times in this workout where I had to stop and grab my knees to catch my breath, it's definitely a different way for Tony to work you!

One cool thing about the workout is that I did it 3 times, and I can barely tell you anything about it, in terms of the names of the moves and what they were (there was something about a grape vine??).  To me, that is a good thing to keep it fresh - the moves are so innovative and clever that they aren't something you can just memorize and get bored with.  It's like every time you watch it you are doing it for the first time!

The only con to this workout is the amount of space needed and having to lay down the tape each time you do it.  If you had a dedicated workout space, this would be no problem, but taping my living room carpet once a week is not ideal.  The major positive of this workout was seeing Tony Horton in a different light - even possibly channelling a little Shaun T! Tony admits he hates doing cardio, but he is not scared of making you go your hardest for 60 seconds at a time for 30 straight minutes.  This workout is about quickness, precision, explosive moves, and heart-pumping cardio.

Grade: B+

Yoga X3

What can I say...the original Yoga X was 90 minutes, Yoga X2 was 60 minutes, and now we finally have a fan favorite - 30 minutes of yoga! Yet, you still move through all the classic Tony Horton yoga moves including warriors 1, 2, and 3, triangle pose, right angle pose, crescent pose, half moon, twisting half moon, AND there is still a stretching and balance component.  I honestly am not sure how this all fits into 30 minutes, but it does and you will feel great and not be bored, as so many people said of the past.  The truth is, you are just holding the positions for less time and moving straight on to the next move immediately.  Because of this, you have to pay attention, and if you have never done a P90X yoga DVD before, you might get frustrated the first few times through.  If you have done Yoga X, you will have no problem with this workout since you are familiar with the moves and Tony's cueing.

It's possible that this workout was a little short changed being only 30 minutes, but at the same time, the no. 1 complaint by all P90X users is that yoga was too long.  So, I can tell you, this is a nice little mid-week break - don't expect to feel wasted at the end, and you will definitely not think it's too long!  Look at it as active recovery and working on strength, cardiovascular endurance, and balance.

Grade: A-

The Challenge

This is a great "back to basics" workout and something a craved in P90X2, but never got.  It's literally only pushups and pullups!  You pick a number and try to stay with it the whole time.  Bobby Stephenson is back, which was a huge plus for me, and his numbers are 12 pullups, 24 pushups.  New to the cast is young hotshot Sean (who calls out 18-40!), plus a ripped Alice who uses the bands.

There is nothing magic about this workout, but it's one of the best of phase 1.  You literally only are doing pullups, chinups, close grip pullups, and navy seal pullups paired with standard, military, wide, and staggered pushups.  Each move repeats, so you are looking at 16 moves with practically no breaks.  Then there is a little fun pyramid burnout at the end for good measure.  The only other thing to say is that Tony is always at his best when he is grabbing the pullup bar - it unleashes the character we love!  Also, with the new chin-up max device, it makes modifying pullups easier than with the old chair method.  Overall, this is a great basic, yet tough workout!

Grade: A


This is a new one for Tony Horton.  It is 12 cardio moves, all of which are repeated, that are performed while holding weight of some kind.  Tony says you can grab anything "from a helium balloon to a 12-pound weight."  I have done it with a 10 lb. or a 12 lb. weight each time and can tell you, you will be toast after doing it! Anything over 12 is probably too much as he suggests.

This workout reminded me of Plyo X a little bit, not only in content but in sequencing.  You do a sequence of 3 x 1-minute moves and then repeat the 3 moves before taking a short break.  There are 4 complete sets of this, so 24 total exercises.  On the repeat of the move, Tony always asks that you intensify by going deeper or more often than not, going faster.  Some moves are simple like performing a jumping jack while shoulder pressing the single weight, and some are quite difficult, like performing plyo alternating lunges while swinging the weight in an arc pattern above your head and shoulders.  There are some classic TH moves like towel hopping and globe squatters (formerly hop squats around the world).  

Overall, I'd say if there is one workout that defines what P90X3 is, and one workout that would be my desert island workout of phase 1, it would be CVX.  It has everything you would ever want in a P90X workout - resistance (the dumbbell), cardio, humor, and Traci Morrow is in the cast!  Plus one of Tony's greatest new lines about "mad cardiovascular scientists" comes into play, and he, as you would expect, makes a reference to picking up an alley cat as your weight (rrraaaahhhhrrr!!)

Grade: A+

The Warrior

This is another new concept workout from Tony, though only new to DVD, certainly not new to Tony's live workouts.  You might not know this, but Tony spends a lot of time touring military bases around the country performing body resistance workout sessions with military personnel.  This workout, the Warrior, is based on these military base workouts.

The formula is simple, and actually something we have already seen in 10-minute trainer: upper, cardio, abs, lower.  That sequence is repeated over and over again with new moves each time until you are a sweaty mess!  There is no equipment needed and there are some great moves that I've never seen before in this one.  One of the highlight moves for me was the "super burpee."  This is down, squat thrust into a pushup, knee in, pushup, knee in, pushup, up, power jump.  Ouch! Try doing that for a minute!

This is a bit of a surprise on Day 6.  The normal P90X formula is that the Day 6 workout is something lighter, but you are doing some of your hardest work of the week with this one.  After The Challenge, and then CVX, this is a tough workout to complete on a Saturday, but one of the great additions to the P90X family.

Grade: A

Can't wait for the rest of P90X3!!