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P90X2 Preview: Can it prepare you for all your training needs?

17 Feb 2012

I started P90X2 this week, so I have a ways to go in order to give a complete review of the program. Here’s what I know about it so far and what impact I expect it will have on overall fitness and training prep for other activities like obstacle races and running.

If you’re interested in just the application to obstacle racing and running, scroll down.

P90X2: What is it?
P90x2 is a three-month home fitness program that expands on fitness obtained from P90x. Depending on your fitness level and goals, the program can be extended to up to four months by adjusting the duration of the three phases and recovery.

P90x2, like P90x, comes with both an exercise and diet plan, both of which have been modified from the prequel.

The P90X2 Eating Plan

The P90x2 eating plan is broken down into three different levels of caloric intake:
1. 1,800 calories (most women start here)
2. 2,400 calories (many men may start here)
3. 3,000 calories (serious athletes or gym rats)

Each level contains three diet variations:
1. Standard (omnivores & vegetarians)
2. Vegan
3. Grain-free

Even though all this sounds very confusing, I found the diet plan to be a sound, even more straightforward “upgrade” from P90x.

There are two other things that you need to keep in mind in order to follow the eating plan and optimize results:
1. No alcohol for 90 days.
2. No junk food for 90 days.

For me, 1 is doable, 2 forget it.

I’m an advocate of the weekly cheat meals philosophy. Some people prefer a whole day of binge-cheat eating, thanks to Timothy Ferris. Some opt for anywhere from 1-3 cheat meals a week. I belong to the second group.

The P90X2 Exercise Program
Depending on how involved you want to get into P90X2, you may need a lot of equipment for the P90X2 exercise program, enough to outfit a small home gym. Dumbbells, resistance bands, pull-up bars, stability balls, foam rollers, medicine balls, and a plyo-box are all tricks of the trade for X2. You may need more than just designated space in your living room for your training aids.

The good news is that there is an exerciser on each of the workouts demonstrating the “travel” version of the workout using body weight and bands.

Other distinctions between P90X and P90X2:

  • P90X2 is an advanced program, while P90X can be completed by intermediate or advanced exercisers.

X2 is for X graduates and other exercisers who have extensive training experience. Expect stability ball-balance-simultaneous-dumbbell-raising moves in X2. You’ll either love or be annoyed by these circus act exercises.

  • You can be in great shape sticking with a program similar to P90X, but P90X2 takes you outside of the realm of traditional resistance training. P90X has a little bit of all traditional workouts we enjoy and are familiar with: strength, plyometrics, cardio, core, flexibility, and kickboxing.

On the other hand, X2 integrates a lot of balance work and training aids that will engage and expand your mind in a way many conventional training methods don’t. Some of the exercises in X2 take so much focus that it may feel like you are doing Yoga X each day!

  • X2 training sessions are shorter than P90X workouts. There are no 90-minute yoga sessions in X2. X2 yoga is actually 65 minutes long. All other workouts range between 60-75 minutes.
  • You rest/recover two days a week. Since the workouts can be more demanding than P90X workouts, two days of recovery are included in the program. On these days, you work on flexibility and mobility. You can probably designate one of these days as a complete rest day, but you’ll want to do at least one recovery + mobility workout a week.
  • No “cardio” in X2. Their reasoning is that most of the workouts (with the exception of recovery sessions) engage your total body, driving up your heart rate, and making you sweat a lot.

If you’re like me, you may enjoy cardiovascular training sessions like long runs, short runs, tempo, HIITs, etc. I still plan to work them in 2-3 times a week, which means I’ll have a couple of double session days.

P90X2 Workouts
Week 1-3 (The Foundation Phase: Core Focus)

  • X2 Core
  • Plyocide
  • Recovery + Mobility (or rest)
  • X2 Total Body & X2 Ab Ripper
  • X2 Yoga
  • X2 Balance + Power

This phase can be extended to last up to four weeks.

Week 4-9 (Strength Phase)

  • Chest + Back + Balance + X2 Ab Ripper
  • Plyocide
  • X2 Recovery + Mobility (or rest)
  • X2 Shoulders & Arms + X2 Ab Ripper
  • X2 Yoga
  • Base + Back + Mobility
  • X2 Chest + Shoulder + Tris + Ab Ripper
  • V Sculpt + Ab Ripper

This phase can last from 4-6 weeks.

Week 10-12 (Performance Phase: Power Focus)

  • PAP Lower
  • PAP Upper
  • X2 Yoga
  • X2 Recovery + Mobility (or rest)
  • This phase can be extended to last up to 4 weeks.

Recovery Week – As Needed

  • X2 Recovery + Mobility
  • Yoga

The P90X2 Application
There are at least a few workouts from X2 that may complement your training for obstacle course races, but there’s one thing to keep in mind.

You can get comparable results with other programs given that you provide a similar (and maybe even slightly less) time commitment. The key here is to have a sound, well-designed exercise program and dedication to stay with it.

Oftentimes, one or both may be missing, which often calls upon the need for a coach or personal trainer.

Moving on.

Obstacle Race Training
Can P90X2 prepare you for the Tough Mudder? Or even a shorter race like the Spartan Sprint or your backyard local mud run? Can it help with your running fitness?

X2 program designers say it can be used in conjunction with other exercise programs out there, forming a hybrid program. Since X2 was designed with the experienced exerciser in mind, they encourage some creativity on your part in deciding which workout fits in best with your training goals. There may be other sports-specific or activity-specific sessions you need to get in like your long runs, intervals, WODs, HIITs, and circuit training.

To use X2 alone to prep for an obstacle race or other sport would not be a good idea, but at least a couple workouts can help boost your training. My picks so far:

  • Recovery + Mobility: this can be a godsend on your recovery days where you can work on releasing and extending sore and tight muscles
  • X2 Yoga: a challenging way to maintain and improve your flexibility while breaking a sweat

If you are at least three months away from your race (obstacle or traditional run), and you’re an advanced exerciser, you may have time to go through the entire X2 program. But you may also be able to just include these two workouts into your current program.

Here’s what your “in-season” and “off-season” calendars may look like if you were to integrate P90X2.

OCR Training – In-Season
Sunday: Run
Monday: OCR Training
Tuesday: Run
Wednesday: OCR Training or WOD
Thursday: Run or other Cardio (i.e. HIITs)
Friday: Yoga X2
Saturday: Recovery + Mobility

Sample Training Calendar: In Season

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Run OCR Training
Run OCR Training

or similar WOD
Other Cardio
(i.e. HIIT)
X2 Yoga Recovery + Mobility


OCR Training – Off-season
Your off-season calendar will depend on your goals.

Are you working on strength? Weight loss? Here are some modifications to the calendar depending on your goals.

Weight Loss
*You can swap in Total Body X2 or X2 Core for your circuit training or bootcamp-like workouts to work on integrated strength (aka total body strength).

Sample Training Calendar: Weight Loss

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Spinning Class – 50 minutes Total Body X2 + Ab Ripper X2 Yoga Bootcamp Run/walk – 50 minutes Recovery + Mobility Rest

If you’re working on strength, you may be able to substitute Phase 2 workouts from X2. But I wouldn’t take my advice yet on that since I haven’t been there yet. Right now it’s just an expectation.

Based on what I know so far of X2, Recovery + Mobility is a great substitute to work on on your recovery day.

Sample Training Calendar: Increase Strength

Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Strength Legs, Back,
& Abs
Shoulders, Triceps
Back & Chest Legs & Abs Shoulders,
Cardio 25 min.
50 min.
25 min.
Recovery+ Mobility


For running (both for obstacle races and traditional races), you can work in X2 Total Body + Ab Ripper, X2 Yoga, and Recovery + Mobility.

These three workouts should help you improve on flexibility, core, and total body strength without affecting the improvements your looking for in running time or endurance.

Sample Training Calendar: Running

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Run X2 Total Body
+ Ab Ripper
Run Run X2 Yoga Run Recovery
+ Mobility


At first glance, it looks like Beachbody designed a good program with at least one or two workouts that can complement almost any of your fitness, sports, and activity goals. If you try putting X2 to the test, let me know what you think!


Related Posts:
Obstacle Race Training: How to Integrate P90x and Insanity
P90X: Complete Review
All P90X Posts


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