P90X & P90X Plus Review: Join the X-Men!

The Beachbody workouts have gained a lot of recognition and fame since their inception. Beachbody was established in 1998 in Santa Monica, California, by Carl Daikeler and Jon Congdon. The two were interested in helping others get fit, lose weight, and ultimately lead a healthier lifestyle. Their company would water the seeds that sprouted one of the greatest fitness revolutions of all-time, the P90X revolution. Welcome to our P90X & P90X Plus review!

P90X History

p90The co-founding duo teamed up with Tony Horton, a personal trainer and fitness enthusiast, who created the Power 90 Extreme (P90X) and P90X Plus programs. Before those two programs, though, there was the P90 program, which also featured Horton. In essence, these are all variations on the same concept: 90 days of training and self-discipline, in order to get fitter, stronger, and healthier. Research has shown that whether it be people battling addiction, looking for a serious change in their mental and physical well being, or basically anyone who is looking for long-term success in any endeavor, 90 days are the optimal time for re-wiring our minds and bodies to fit a task at hand.

Habits – especially ones which are deeply embedded – are hard to break. This is something which we all know to be true. According to many researchers, 90 days represent the tipping point – a time when the mind and body begin to seriously change, and follow in whatever direction you will point them. During a 90-day process, new brain patterns and physical habits can be created and maintained, while the unused, older ones are set aside. After 90 days of a certain type of behavior or activity, it is a lot easier for it to become second nature for the person in question. There are exceptions to every rule, but generally 90 days is the sweet spot.

Beachbody’s view is all about deciding to change, committing to that decision, and succeeding in changing for the better. Accomplishing this requires a lot of mental and physical endurance, and willpower. A lot of it. Therein lies another simple truth: there are many people who begin workout programs, but don't see them through to their end. Life happens, you know? The idea is to keep going, and if you do in fact stumble, pick yourself up and try again.

P90X Workout Breakdown

1The P90X program consists of 12 routines, with each month bringing a kind of escalation. The full set of DVD's will run you around $140 – not cheap, but not a deal-breaker, either. Unlike its predecessor P90, P90X is intense and, frankly, somewhat complicated. Furthermore, the P90X stresses following the provided guide and nutrition plan as more of a necessity than the P90 program does. While it's true that the goal of the P90X program is to build a new you in 90 days, that timeframe is only the beginning of what is hopefully a much more fulfilling and richer lifestyle. 90 days are meant to act as a sort of introduction. A way for you to learn something about yourself and about your capabilities. It shows you who you are, and what you can be. The P90X workouts break down as follows:

  • Chest and Back: A variety of push and pull exercises, providing the basis for a fit body and upper-body strength.
  • Plyometrics: Jump movements of all kinds, from basic hopping to veritable flying, which increase athletic abilities.
  • Shoulders and Arms: Growing the “glamour muscles” as Horton calls them, since they are ones which are usually exposed, using presses, curls, and other techniques.
  • Yoga X – Building strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, and peace of mind, one set at a time.
  • Legs and Back: Strengthening the body parts which keep us moving and upright, through squats, lunges, and pulls.
  • Kenpo X: Punches, kicks, blocks, and combinations, meant to work the body, step up endurance, and keep the cardiovascular system running.
  • Core Synergistics: Exercising multiple muscle-groups simultaneously, which stabilizes and strengthens the core, and helps to prevent injury and harm. These are extreme workouts, after all, and you need to take that into account.
  • Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps: According to Horton, these three are grouped together in order to maintain proper weight-lifting skills, taking energy and pushing it away from your body.
  • Back and Biceps: This workout is all about pulling energy towards your body, and using it to burn calories while working two major body parts.
  • Cardio X: A workout which incorporates many of the elements mentioned above: yoga, kenpo, plyometrics, core, and more.
  • Ab Ripper X: It’s called a ripper for a reason, folks. It is an absolute nightmare, especially in the first couple of weeks, but it is totally worth it since you are about to get that six- or eight-pack you’ve wanted. They say abs are made in the gym and revealed in the kitchen – I say both are accomplished with Ab Ripper X, perhaps the most famous of P90X workouts.
  • X Stretch: Before and after any kind of workout, there is – or should be – stretching. An essential, though sometimes neglected, activity which warms up muscles prior to blasting them, and then allows room for the body to become more flexible during the cool down.

Remember: it's important to avoid doing too much too fast. Engaging in that kind of a workout routine will only cause you to tap out early, and may cause you to quit. Excited though you may be to get on with the program and achieve that ‘new you’ you've dreamed of, this is not a smart way to go about things. Start slow and build up from there, or you may never complete your journey. Don’t be too eager, and always take things one day at a time.

The human body is an amazing machine. We sometimes watch sports or witness some event (modern dance or Olympic gymnastics comes to mind), and we think to ourselves: “how on earth are these people doing that? I had no idea that the human body was capable of such things.” Well, even if that thought has never crossed your head, you can’t get around the fact that the human body is a remarkable thing. So treat it fairly, push it to its limits – and beyond that! – but not too far beyond. Ready for some real thoughts on these workouts? Here is a general idea of what I thought of each routine. Keep in mind, I am not a first-day X’er, and I am saying this completely in hindsight. Just my opinion. We are all different, and your mileage will definitely vary.

P90X Chest and Back Review

chest-and-backFor this you will need some weights or bands, a bar, and a chair. This routine consists of a variety of push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, and flys. It is here to punish and reward, simultaneously. As I am writing this line, I am smiling, but I know damn well that smiling is the last thing you're going to do when you hit the mat for Chest and Back. This will build the chest you've wanted that pushups never could while hitting back muscles you may have never even considered engaging.

P90X Plyometrics Review

plyoHoly crap, can this routine make you move… and move you will, if you are interested in shaping up! Definitely one of the harder workouts in the P90X program. This is about speed and strength, and it brings a lot of both. It taxes you like nothing else, and includes squats, jumps, hops, and arm throws. Doesn’t require any special equipment, just you and your body. Of all of the P90X workouts, none made me as sore as Plyo'. This thing is a serious pain in the ass, but that sweet next-day burn makes it all worthwhile.

P90X Shoulders and Arms Review

saThis routine works your shoulders, triceps, and biceps. The shoulders are what connect the chest and the arms, so obviously you want to work those, and work them hard. This routine consists of different presses, dips, rows, curls, and other activities designed to work this specific group. This routine requires weights or bands, as well as a chair. One tip – make sure you have the proper range of weights or bands to challenge yourself during each exercise. Too much or too little weight will inhibit real progress. 

P90X Yoga X Review

yogaMy personal favorite. I did yoga for a while as a late teen, and highly enjoyed it. Truthfully, the Yoga X routine is what sealed the deal for me. Once I saw that yoga is present in this, I knew this was the solution for me. Body and mind, people. Once thing about this routine – it is long. I don’t think I ever did it from start to finish, during the initial 90 days. I believe it is something like an hour and a half, which is great if you have the time, but waaay too long for anyone else. In all honesty, Yoga X is probably the most complained about (and skipped) P90X routine, but it is absolutely key in terms of improving your fitness and aiding your recovery. You will get absolutely sick of hearing “do your vinyasa” by the end of the 90 days. Yoga X is critical to your success, though – take advantage of it. 

P90X Legs and Back Review

legs-and-backReady to lunge at nothing? Ready to squat like there’s no tomorrow? You'd better be. Legs and Back provides a routine that engages muscles you've probably been neglecting for years (unless you are a fitness guy or gal, in which case, apologies). But seriously, get ready to feel the burn. Squats, pull-ups, and lunges are make up the bulk of this unforgiving series of exercises. You will need weights or bands, a bar, and a chair for this routine. Oh, and the desire to sweat. Cripes…

P90X Kenpo X Review

kenpoAnother favorite of mine, which can actually pass for FUN! That’s right, I said fun. It is essential to have the occasional good time when you’re going through this program. With the Kenpo portion of the P90X, I got to feel like a martial artists for a while. I haven’t been in a position where I had to put my Kenpo skills to the test, thankfully, but it really does boost confidence (much like other fighting techniques). Punch, kick, and block your way to a better you. The sports portion at the end is probably the silliest portion of the entire P90X routine – Tony will have you laughing, guaranteed.

P90X X-Stretch Review

stretchNot only is this an essential part of every quality workout, it will also help you remain flexible and athletic for future workouts. These stretches are a long-term thing. Now, I know you could technically say this about every single one of these DVDs, but I honestly felt it more with this routine. Probably because I was never too flexible or athletic to begin with, and am still working on it. The X Stretch is helping me get there, and I am sure that the long haul will prove Horton right, when he says that flexibility is an all-important – and even better, acquired! – skill.

P90X Core Synergistics Review

syngergisticsAnother routine which incorporates different muscle groups, and which I found to be a godsend. Strictly after the fact, of course. During this routine, I feel the need to curse and yell at everyone and everything around me. It hurts, dammit. That whole “no pain, no gain” crap is true, unfortunately, and I always have the core synergistics portion of the P90X to remind me of that harsh fact of life. Squal, roll, run, push, pull, and abuse yourself until you are aching, panting, and moaning – all for the best of reasons. You’ll need some weights or bands for this one, just so you can punish yourself a little more! Core Synergistics is another routine that hits commonly neglected muscles – P90X isn't just about the glory muscles, and for that I am thankful. 

P90X Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps Review

cstCrap. It’s so easy to write about this stuff, but it's all bringing back vivid memories of all the times I swore under my breath when it was time to get on with this routine. It’s almost as if I want to take that DVD remote and skip, skip, skip. I believe I even did that on occasion, because this routines rips you to shreds and puts you back together, one activity after another. Hey, don’t judge me. This routine requires weights or bands, a bar, and a chair – again, use proper equipment if you want proper results.

P90X Back and Biceps Review

back-and-bicepsWhen I first popped in this DVD, I honestly didn’t understand why these two were given a tandem routine. But after doing them for a while, I think I'm starting to get it a little more. Seemingly, it's no different than the other arm and back workouts in this DVD set, but I see that there is a logic to the way Horton places these routines. It is something I only noticed later on, and it makes sense to me now. I still can't fully explain it, but it works. Once more, you will need your friends: weight/bands, bar, chair. These are joined by a towel, for those exquisite towel pull-ups…


P90X Cardio X Review

cardioI am a cardiovascular man. Give me some cardio, and let me feel my heart rate go through the roof. It makes me feel a lot more alive than lifting weights, and it fits my personality a lot more, I feel. Either way, the Cardio X routine was right up my alley, and it has a bit of everything in it, so it is another fun factor, as far as I am concerned. To be honest, I feel like Cardio X could have been even more challenging, as I made it through the video with relative ease right from the start. Of course, I struggled mightily with weight lifting throughout, so as they say – different strokes for different folks. If you're not into cardio, well, good luck.


P90X Ab Ripper X Review

arxYou know that line: “hell is the impossibility of reason”? Well, add Ab Ripper X to that definition. My abs are a work in progress, going from six- to eight-pack, and Ab Ripper X is the way to get them there. But dammit, it is never fun. Ab ripper, indeed. All you need for this routine is a mat, and an affinity for pain. Honestly, if you can make it through the video without pausing, cheating on reps, or skipping sets by the end of the 90 days, you should consider yourself a success. The 15-minute video took me about 30-minutes the first time I tried it, and while I never managed to keep pace with Tony and the rest of the fine folks in the video, I made plenty of satisfying progress.

P90X Plus Review

P90X Plus is designed for graduates of the P90X program who are looking to step up their game and take their workouts to the next level. The “Plus” factor is actually a set of four DVDs, where Horton adds more cardio, abs, core, and muscle building techniques. The P90X Plus program allows X’ers to add new routines and paves the way for many combinations which will be useful long after the 90-day program has run its course.

xplusThe “muscle confusion” idea, which was the basis for the P90X solution, is expanded upon in P90X Plus. Like the P90X, it involves equipment which is meant to be purchased separately, or through the Beachbody website. The equipment issue may seem negligible to some, but I found it to be pretty crucial. Get the best equipment you can afford, because it really does make a difference in your workout and in your end results. If you have the P90X DVDs and have already bought the equipment necessary for working with them, I'm pretty sure you won’t need to buy more gear for the P90X Plus.

The cost of the P90X Plus DVD set is about $60, which is not too bad, to be honest. Considering it provides you with several more hours of routines and techniques, it's fairly priced. Of course, if you factor in the equipment, etc., that price goes up, but Beachbody is very clear on that. They tell you straight up that some equipment will be necessary for taking part in the workout.

P90X Nutrition, Diet Plan, and Recovery Drink Review

Much like the workouts themselves, the provided nutrition guide and diet plan are unique for the P90X’er. Three phases are used in order to best fit the program and those who want to follow through. These are:

  • Phase 1: Losing fat and strengthening muscles.
  • Phase 2: Increasing energy and performance.
  • Phase 3: Fueling endurance and athletic abilities.

shakeSo, what does this mean in plain English? It means that this three-phase plan was designed to work alongside the P90X’er, and provide the necessary day-to-day nutrition as the workouts progress. Following the plan will allow you to achieve the best results, and if you want to look like someone in those “before/after” photos, you will need to stick to it. Is it absolutely necessary? No, I suppose not. The workouts are what count, but keep in mind that the body needs proper nutrition in order to build muscle and endurance. If you don’t follow some kind of plan – not necessarily the one provided by Beachbody – you will find yourself quitting the program early. Why? Because chances are your body will be unable to handle it. That is a hard truth. You can have all of the motivation and willpower in the world, but if you aren’t providing the body with necessary nutrients, it simply won’t cooperate with your mind. The P90X nutrition plan is customizable, and it is based on the idea that we all have different bodies, and that we all have different goals which we are trying to achieve. In order to get the results that you want, you have to commit. No way around that. 

A note on the P90X Recovery Drink: this drink is used as an after-workout meal replacement. It is designed to provide the body with the nutrients it needs for building muscle and heightening endurance. Is it a one-of-a-kind drink? Nope, there are many substitutes which can provide the drinker with a lot of the same elements. I suppose it does have some merit, since it was created by Beachbody, but in all honesty it is very similar to other kinds of drinks and shakes. In my opinion, it can be skipped. Go for a more affordable kind of drink, unless you feel that it is something you really need. Do your research, scour the forums, and see what others are saying about it. I have never been into the shakes and drinks thing, personally, so I am kind of biased.

P90X Before and After Transformation

I had done P90 prior to P90X, so I wasn’t shocked by the intensity of this workout. I read that only 30-35% of people actually complete the P90X program, so I guess I am one of the lucky ones. Not everyone has the time and energy to invest in such a demanding fitness regime. I was fortunate enough to have the support of my girlfriend – now fiancé! – at the time. I was already in okay shape after the P90, but the P90X definitely took it to the next level. She was all for me getting in better shape, which is pretty ironic because she only works out once a week, and still manages to look great. I hate that…

Anyway, my transformation wasn’t as dramatic as you’ll see in any of those before and after photos, because A – I was at a fairly low body fat percentage before P90X, and B – I didn’t follow the diet and nutrition plan thoroughly. I figured if I get to a second round of P90X (and that’s the plan) sometime in the spring, I will make a serious attempt to follow it through, diet and all. I am aware that winter is more ideal for home-based workouts, but I am feeling more up to a spring program.

P90X vs. Insanity

insanityP90X was created as an in-home solution for those who cannot hit the gym – a more extreme extension of P90. It emphasizes strength, resistance, fitness, and balance. It requires equipment, like weights or bands, a bar, a mat, and a chair or bench. Without those, there will be some exercises where you are literally standing around, staring at the screen. P90X is 90 days long, and an average session is a about 60 minutes long, with Yoga X being the longest at 90 minutes.

First introduced in 2005, Insanity is a lot more cardio-based. It was initially meant targeted at long- and short-distance runners, and for those looking to whip themselves into athletic shape. With Insanity, you can lose weight and burn fat, and do it fast, fast, FAST. It is not meant for those who despise running, jumping, and moving. Basically, imagine variations and takes on the Plyometrics routine from P90X.  Unlike P90X, it requires no special equipment – other than a mat or a towel, perhaps – which is a huge advantage. Insanity is 60 days long, and is split into two months, the first month having 45-minute-long sessions, and the second month having 60-minute-long sessions.

The Beachbody Insanity workout is often mentioned in the same breath as the P90X. This is a given, since they are both very popular. However, they are aimed at two different kinds of fitness enthusiasts. Pick the wrong one, and you’ll find yourself becoming annoyed, frustrated, and maybe quitting before long. There isn’t a clearly superior program – these are two different programs. Both are priced similarly, and they come with different bonuses or gifts. These can change, so I am not writing about any of them. Note that these two require time, and lots of it. If you don’t have the time to put into it, you will most likely miss out on the results you want. Bear that in mind, and realize that it takes time to build up to some of these levels of intensity, and rightly so.

Conclusion

Before getting started with any of these programs, we must note that you should consult your physician before committing! With that being said, P90X and P90X Plus are awesome. Agonizingly awesome. There is a fine line between love and hate, and I call that line P90X. If you're looking for a very rewarding and gradually-progressing program, which takes your diet, health, and long-term goals into account – P90X is the way to go. While some might say that $140 is too much to spend on a set of DVD's, I believe that statement is only true to those who will end up quitting the program. I feel there is probably not one person who actually finished the P90X program who will say it was not worth the money. See, I don't think it's about the videos, effective though they are. I think it's about being committed to a comprehensive program with a structure that will keep you honest and keep you going. Could you maybe make more progress by hitting the gym every day for 90 days? Sure. But that's not the point – no gym will provide you with the same structure, ease of access, and outlined plan as P90X. Heck, the financial investment acts as another incentive, if you require one. You definitely don’t want to spend money on the program only to not give it your best. Although, there is a 90-day money-back guarantee, so – as always – it is totally up to you.

Stay fit, stay healthy, stay pumped.

TRAIN.

Thanks for reading our P90X feature – for more on fitness, check out our Fitbit Surge, Blaze, Alta, and Polar Loop Original and 2 reviews here at EduMuch!

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