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P90x: Complete Review

13 Nov 2011

After finishing the program a few weeks ago, I’ve had a chance to look back and review the program in its entirety. If you’ve read my first entry, you’ll know there are five aspects I like to use to evaluate a fitness program. Here’s how P90x measures up:

Does it do what it claims to do? In this case, get you in the best shape of your life, thanks to “muscle confusion?”

The answer to this question depends on your fitness level. If you’re a beginner, the P90x home fitness program is progressive and adaptable enough to get you in great form. However, if you’ve never exercised before, you should check in with your doctor before starting the program.

If you’re a seasoned exerciser, the Classic P90x version may not be challenging enough for you in raising your fitness to the next level. You could try the Lean or Doubles variation, but if that doesn’t work, and you’re still set on a Beachbody program, try Insanity or Insanity Asylum. On the other hand, if you’re an athlete, you may find P90x to be a great off-season conditioning tool. It could serve as a “tune-up” for next season.


Is there one? Is it sound, well-balanced and sustainable?

There is a nutrition component to the P90x program, and it’s a sound plan. Like the fitness program, the nutrition plan is broken into three phases, starting with a fat-burning regimen, then an everyday eating plan, and finally a scheme ideal for athletes. There are recipes for those who enjoy cooking and tips for non-cookers who usually go out to eat.

If you’re the skeptical type, you may be annoyed by the push of proprietary Beachbody goods like the bars, recovery drink, and Shakeology. Keep an open mind. It wasn’t until my last month of the P90x program that I tried the recovery and Shakeology drinks, and I wish I hadn’t waited that long. The recovery drink is refreshing after the cardio-based workouts, and if you’re thinking about Insanity, it’s a welcome replenisher after max interval training. Shakeology can be a good meal replacement or snack on the run. For more, see my review of popular shakes.


How long does it take to do routines? Is the time commitment reasonable?

P90x claims to get you in great shape in as little as one hour a day six days a week. The truth is, two of the workouts (cardio-based) are about an hour each, three are an hour and 15 (strength + abs), and one is an hour and a half (yoga).

With the sort of time commitment P90x calls for, you may get in the best shape of your life with any other well-designed program.


Are the workouts challenging? Are they varied enough to hit all muscle groups and functional movements? Are cardio, flexibility, strength, and core work all integrated?

Challenging, yes. Varied, you bet. There’s also a core-focused workout: Core Synergistics and all programs integrate a thorough warm-up and cool-down with flexibility. But even with all the variety and integration, if you’re a veteran gym rat, you may plateau by the end of the second month.


Is it for beginning, intermediate, or advanced exercisers? What population, if any, should think twice or get a physician’s clearance before pursuing?

Like I said earlier: if you’re new to exercise and have been given clearance from your doctor, this can be a good program for you. Be sure to listen to the progressions mentioned throughout the workouts: for example, start with Cardio X instead of Plyo X until you’re ready for a higher impact cardio session.

As mentioned, if you are an advanced exerciser, the P90x Classic version may not be challenging enough. For a more intense option that integrates a greater portion of core work, yoga, and cardio, you may want to try the Lean version. If you can work in an extra workout three days a week, try the Doubles version instead as it is supposed to get you in peak fitness!

Lastly, as important as it is for you to consult with your physician if you are a beginner, you should also speak with your doctor if you have a recent history of injuries, broken bones or surgery of any kind.

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4 thoughts on “P90x: Complete Review

  1. My brother started this program six months ago as a dabbler of exercise. At first he found it hard, but he kept with it and he’s starting to look pretty good. He’s definitely stronger. He really likes it a lot.

  2. That’s good to hear. It’s an overall solid program, and I’m looking forward to trying out P90x 2.

  3. I started P90X with a shoulder injury. It wasn’t enough to show up on MRI, but I think it was a minor tear to my left labrum inside my rotator-cuff. My PT said I needed surgery or he was a rotten PT. My surgeon said, “give it 6 more months.” I was in serious pain. Six more months seemed like a death sentence. I told him, “I am going to start lifting and you’re going to have to operate or it’s going to get stronger. 90 days of P90X later the pain was going away. 90 more days (round 2) and it was gone. AND I was in CLOSE to the best shape of my life. Best shape came later with a full round of INSANITY as coach suggests! That got me a little too lean but KILLER-FAST! I swear by these programs! Thanks for the review!

  4. Thanks for the comment, Jeff. The healing benefits of exercise should never be underestimated! Especially not by health care professionals :).

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