P90X Is It Really That Good?



A few years ago, if you turned on your television at all you likely would have seen infomercials of a completely shredded man with great hair, cutting to VHS quality tapes of men and women working out in their basements, jumping around, doing pull-ups into their ceiling and who knows what else, all in the name of fitness.

The commercial would then show a beginning photograph of the either extremely skinny or somewhat overweight individual, usually with the complexion of someone who hadn’t seen sunlight in months, followed by an after photograph if the same person, demonstrating definite muscle growth and, poof, a tanner body.

Maybe they finally felt comfortable being outside with their improved body, or perhaps they hit the spray tanner before taking the “after” photograph. Regardless, these infomercials were for the workout routine P90X.

Since the introduction (or at least the infomercial boom, as the product did exist before going big time) of the workout method several years ago, popularity for it has dropped a bit, but there are still those who swear by it and others who make sure to always purchase the latest workout routine DVDs from P90X whenever an update comes out.

But in reality, is it really worth it?

Should you consider plunking down the hefty order fee for the series (or try to find it on YouTube before copyright infringement forces it down again)?

We’ve got all the answers and everything you need to know about P90X right here.

So keep on reading!

The Creator of P90X

When it comes to most workout routines, videos and other sold merchandise, the guys and girls on the videos are rarely the individuals who actually created the workout routine.

Sure, you have some of the major players in the world of fitness videos, like Billy Blanks with Tae Bo or Jillian Michaels with her lineup of workout content.

However, for the most part, if you’re picking up a video, it more than likely just features an extremely fit individual who is also able to read que cards on a studio set. That is not the case with P90X. Tony Horton, the guy with the excellent hair and personality on all of the workout videos, did, in fact, create the workout routine.

Tony managed to fit into the right crowd coming up. After graduating college, he worked random jobs, as most of us did. During this time, he lived in Southern California and, again, like much younger, fit guys, he decided to become a personal trainer. Eventually, one of his clients happened to be an executive at 20th Century Fox. Word tends to spread quickly in LA, and his client base grew to include individuals like Usher, Billy Idol, and Bruce Springsteen. His connections with major Hollywood players made it possible for Tony to begin creating workout videos.

Tony did work as a spokesperson for NordicTrack during the 1990s. Eventually, he went on to create his first real workout series, titled Power 90. This became the precursor to Power 90 Extreme, better known as P90X.

The Creation of P90X

The Power 90 exercise program was (and still is, as an updated version is available from Tony and Beachbody, the company he’s contracted with) a 90-day workout program, designed for people of all fitness levels.

With the program, Tony focused on cardio, light, yet challenging, weight work and some resistance training in the form of resistance bands (on the Beachbody website, Power 90 is marketed as a new version of P90X, but in fact it is the original, and the original DVDs are available on Amazon and eBay).

Power 90 did not break any sales records, but executives at Beachbody saw potential, so they approached Tony and requested him to create a workout routine for people in marginal to decent shape already, but who wanted to push themselves to the next level and really see their bodies develop.

So, Tony created Power 90 Extreme.

First a Word on Beachbody LLC

Before we go any further on P90X, we should probably say something about Beachbody. The company does have some of the highest grossing workout routines currently available, including P90X, Insanity, and Focus T25.

However, it does not generally sell to stores but instead uses an MLM (multi-level marketing) method.

Some will reference MLM as a pyramid scheme, as the only way someone makes money working for the company is if they enlist people to work under them to sell products, and then those people try to enlist people to sell the product.

Basically, money goes to the top and trickles down.

So just keep in mind, you likely will hear good things about the workout routines, and yet potentially bad things about Beachbody the company (and you likely have a half-dozen Facebook friends who are constantly trying to push workout videos, groups, shakes and other products on you all the time) (Cosmopolitan, 2015).

Back to P90X: What is it Exactly?

P90X is a resistance and cardio workout routine.

Often times you might ask yourself when should I change my workout?

Each day the workout, which is around an hour or so in length, focuses on a different area of the body. For example, on one day, the workout focuses exclusively on the chest and back. Another day focuses on shoulders and arms, while a third day is on legs and back. The entire, original P90X program contains 12 different “workouts.” The 12th “workout” is the Ab Ribber X, which is about 12 minutes of ab workouts that can be done in addition to the other workouts whenever desired. The workout videos also include cardio, yoga, and plyometrics.

Now, the principle of the workouts is referred to as “muscle confusion.” This is where the workout does not stay the same for long. So, while the first several weeks the chest and back workout are put together, after the initial portion of the 90 day workout period, it switches to back being placed with bicep workouts, while the chest is put with shoulders and triceps. The moves change as well in order to create this “muscle confusion” (more on this later).

Workouts do not revolve around sets of…followed by a given number. Instead, a set is timed. P90X recommends you write down your results after a session, so then the next time you’re back on the particular DVD, you can measure your results and try to beat your previous number.

Okay, So What’s the Deal with “Muscle Confusion”

Now, what exactly is muscle confusion, and is it actually something or is it just some marketing gimmick designed to sell workout DVDs?

Long story short, it is real and it is something, even if you don’t invest in P90X, you should bring into your workout.

Let’s use an example to better illustrate this.

Did you ever play a video game growing up where you figured out the pattern of how the bad guys would move?

You knew the route they would take and the timing, so every time you played the level you could get past them undetected, without any problem at all?

If you did, it likely got to the point where you wouldn’t even need to think about what you were doing. Your brain and muscle memory just took over. That is exactly what happens with your body if you perform the same workout routine.

Eventually, your body will expect certain lifts and moves. By not keeping your body off guard, it knows what to expect and will more or less go into cruise control. This drastically cuts down on your potential results. If you have been doing the same moves over and over, you’ve probably noticed a stagnant time at the gym.

You’re not getting larger muscles or seeing strength growth any longer. To jumpstart your workout routine, you need to toss in different moves your body isn’t use to, which in turn effectively “confuses” the muscles (Muscle and Fitness, 2014).

P90X does exactly this and is what helps make it so successful. After a few weeks of the initial workout run, it completely switches the workouts to slightly different moves, which confuses the muscles and allows you to continue building strength and muscle size.

So in this way, P90X does deliver on its claim for “muscle confusion.”

Do the P90X Workouts Work?…Depends on Who You Ask

When you put on “Disc 01: Chest & Back,” one of the first things you’ll hear Tony say in the introduction is “…the ultimate in push and pull.”

This is where some fitness professionals and physical trainers will say P90X could be better.

While not exactly the newest concept in workouts, many will tell you instead of breaking your workout down into upper body on one day and lower body on another (or in this case, chest and back in one, shoulders and arms on another and legs and back on a third), you should put all push moves on one day and pull moves on another.

In other words, if you physically push weight away from your body, such as a bench press, shoulder press and so on, these moves should be on one day, and all pull moves, like a curl, on another.

Because the moves work muscles in different manors it allows for optimal rest and recovery. There is backing to this kind of workout routine, but for the most part, it comes down to personal preference.

And, if you’ve ever done a P90X workout video, you’ve probably felt especially sore the next day (Men’s Fitness, 2017).

P90X Workout Options

P90X gives you a few options when it comes to the workout problem.

There is the basic program where you do one disc a day, plus the Ab Ripper (it says to do the Ab Ripper two or three times a week, but in reality you can train your abs every day, as it is just 10 minutes a day). There is an “extreme” option, that includes extra cardio on top of your resistance training.

Now, if you do decide to go with the extreme option, it is important to be mindful of your body and not over train. Over training can and will kill your potential results as it zaps all your additional protein, preventing you from increasing both your strength and size.

So make sure to listen to your body and slow down if necessary (BeachBody, 2017).

What Kind of Results Can I Expect and is it Right for Me?

P90X uses a combination of muscle confusion moves, high-intensity interval training and other calorie blasting moves to tone your muscles and burn fat (just make sure to follow the diet plan as well, because scarfing ring dings all day will always prevent you from dropping weight, regardless of what you do in the gym).

If you’re looking to tone your body, expose your abs and just look good naked, this is an excellent workout program and something that keeps it fresh, all without the need for a gym membership.

However, if you’re looking to put on massive size gains this likely isn’t the workout program for you. You’re not going to be using big weight.

You will blast and rip up nearly every muscle group in the body, but not with heavy weight, so if you want major muscle and strength gains, look elsewhere.

What Kind of Equipment is Needed?

The equipment is a small investment for P90X, but it isn’t that extreme. 

First, you will need a pull-up bar. You can purchase the specially designed pull-up bar from Beachbody (or that harassing social media friend you blocked from your feed a long time ago because you were tired of their “I just worked out and now I’m drinking a delicious Beachbody shake” posts), or you can pick one up from most stores that sell workout equipment.

These bars go in door frames and do not require drills (typically). As long as there are a few feet between the door frame and the ceiling you can use it.

On top of the pull-up bar, you’ll need dumbbells. It’s best to go with the adjustable options as then you can just buy individual plates as you grow in strength instead of brand new dumbbells. You’ll also need some resistant bands. In reality, you can be up and running for $50 or less (keep your eye out for garage sales as these are great locations to pick up cheap weight). You may end up paying more for the P90X workout series than the equipment.

If you buy the material directly from Beachbody the company will try to push the meal shakes, supplements,  protein bars and other products. However, you don’t need to buy these. If you simply follow a low calorie, high protein diet, you’ll basically be following the P90X recommended diet. Plus, there are far less expensive protein powders on the market.

Plus, gymjunkies.com offers less expensive and cleaner supplements on the market.

In Conclusion

The P90X workout series is a great series to get into if you’re already in decent shape and need a kick in the pants to go to the next level.

You can do it at home, which is nice, and while it does take a slight investment in equipment, it isn’t over the top. You won’t get huge or develop massive strength, but you will define your body, drop weight and see solid physical improvements.

You just need to stick with the 90-day program and watch your diet.

As long as you do this, you can, and likely will, see fantastic results. 

-Terry Asher

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Terry Asher

Owner & Founder at Gym Junkies LLC
After changing his best friend’s life by helping him lose over 70lbs, dropping him down to an amazing 7% body fat, Terry was inspired to be a full-time internet trainer knowing he could do the same for many more. In 2010, Terry published his own diet and fitness e-book that can be purchased on this website. Let Terry help you change your body for the better!
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