What Do I Think of the P90x Trend?

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Lately, a lot of people have been asking me about the P90x workout program. So I figured I’d better do my research and write a review. If you have been sitting under a rock, and have not heard about the P90x, let me tell you what it is. It is a very intense 1-hour-a-day, 90-day program, which involves both diet and exercise. Per the website, the creators call P90x “a revolutionary system of 12 sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping workouts, designed to transform your body from regular to ripped in just 90 days.” I think that says it all.

Here is how it works. When you order the P90x program (you can order it at www.P90x.com), you get 3 instructional guides, 12 DVDs, and a virtual personal trainer.

Instructional Guides
1.   P90X 3-Phase Nutrition Plan: Food for fat loss and high energy.
2.    P90X Fitness Guide: Basic fitness information.
3.   “How to Bring It”: Instructional DVD for the whole program

Twelve Exercise DVDs
1.    Chest and Back
2.    Plyometrics: If you’re into basketball, you probably know of similar training programs to help improve your jump and athletic ability
3.    Shoulders and Arms
4.    Yoga X
5.    Legs and Back
6.    Kenpo X: Cardiovascular exercise involving a lot of punching and kicking
7.    X Stretch
8.    Core Synergistics: Exercise to build the core
9.    Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
10.    Back and Biceps
11.    Cardio X
12.    Ab Ripper X

Frankly, the most fun thing for me was figuring out where the letter ‘X’ went in each DVD title. But I do like that it does not require a ton of equipment. All you need is an hour a day, resistance bands and a place to do pull-ups. Sounds pretty easy, right? HELL NO!

Usually, when your muscles become accustomed to a particular workout routine, your strength training may begin to get less effective.  Well, this system is based on something called muscle confusion. Muscle Confusion is simply a fancy way of saying you regularly do something new so your muscles don’t get used to the same poses and the same routine. I think most people take a while to learn the proper way to do a particular exercise, so this certainly makes it difficult because you don’t have time to “get into” the habit of each exercise.

Now, let’s take a look at what the workout program looks like on a day-to-day basis. The program is broken down into three phases and two recovery weeks in between the phases.

Phase I – Weeks 1, 2, and 3
Day 1 – Chest and Back, plus Ab Ripper X
Day 2 – Plyometrics
Day 3 – Shoulders and Arms, Ab Ripper X
Day 4 – Yoga X
Day 5 – Legs and Back, Ab Ripper X
Day 6 – Kenpo X
Day 7 – Rest or X Stretch

Recovery Week – Week 4
Day 1 – Yoga X
Day 2 – Core Synergistics
Day 3 – Kenpo X
Day 4 – X Stretch
Day 5 – Core Synergistics
Day 6 – Yoga X
Day 7 – Rest or X Stretch

Phase II – Weeks 5, 6, and 7
Day 1 – Chest, Shoulders and Triceps, Ab Ripper X
Day 2 – Plyometrics
Day 3 – Back and Biceps, Ab Ripper X
Day 4 – Yoga X
Day 5 – Legs and Back, Ab Ripper X
Day 6 – Kenpo X
Day 7 – Rest or X Stretch

Recovery Week – Week 8
Day 1 – Yoga X
Day 2 – Core Synergistics
Day 3 – Kenpo X
Day 4 – X Stretch
Day 5 – Core Synergistics
Day 6 – Yoga X
Day 7 – Rest or X Stretch

Phase III (Part 1) – Weeks 9 and 11
Day 1 – Chest and Back, Ab Ripper X
Day 2 – Plyometrics
Day 3 – Shoulders and Arms, Ab Ripper X
Day 4 – Yoga X
Day 5 – Legs and Back, Ab Ripper X
Day 6 – Kenpo X
Day 7 Rest or X Stretch

Phase III (Part 2) – Weeks 10 and 12
Day 1 – Chest, Shoulders and Triceps, Ab Ripper X
Day 2- Plyometrics
Day 3 – Back and Biceps, Ab Ripper X
Day 4 – Yoga X
Day 5 – Legs and Back, Ab Ripper X
Day 6 – Kenpo X
Day 7 – Rest or X Stretch

Phase III (Part 3) – Week 13
Day 1 – Yoga X
Day 2 – Core Synergistics
Day 3 – Kenpo X
Day 4 – X Stretch
Day 5 – Core Synergistics
Day 6 – Yoga X
Day 7 – Rest or X Stretch

Review

Okay, so we have the program all sorted out. Now, here’s my opinion.

Length: I have never been attracted to an exercise program with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Many people using this technique have given it great reviews. But let’s put those great reviews into perspective. A person giving a 90-day program a great review on the 30th day does not give the complete picture. If a person that used the program a year ago gave it a great review, I would be more inclined to listen. What happens after the 90 days are up? Do you go back to your regular life, or do find another 90 day program to keep the momentum going?

Intensity: I am a fan of high intensity, no doubt. This is why I’ve always been attracted to boxing. But if you didn’t notice while reading through, the program requires you to work out intensely for 60 to 90 minutes a day, 6 days a week (Okay, I lied earlier when I said all you need is an hour. For some of the workouts listed, you need about 90 minutes). That requires a lot of commitment, and sometimes, life gets in the way. Most people I know do intensive workouts 3 days a week, and lighter workouts on the other days, so it may be difficult to keep such a high-energy program going for 6 days every week. But then again, if you are highly committed, and you can cut out 90 days of your life to focus solely on this, then I’m sure you can do it without any hiccups.

Recommendation: I believe the program model is built for the failure of the person taking it on. Yes, it is popular because it works, but it works for a period of time. And yes, you don’t need much equipment, but it removes the competitive factor because you work out in the comfort of your home. Exercising at home every day can be dangerous if you plan to keep on with high intensity exercise after the program is over. It takes away the planning aspect and allows you to relax a little too much.

My recommendation to make the most of the P90x program would be to add it as part of your workout, but do not make it your whole routine. How can you do this? Take a week in and a week out, or even a day in and a day out. Or schedule 3 times a week where you have to do the program, and do other exercises on the other days. When the 90 days are up, recycle and start again at day 1. This way, you are adding high intensity exercises to your routine but keeping it realistic for the long term.

Share your opinions. Have you tried the P90x program? What stage are you in, and how has it worked for you so far?

Suzanne Brume

Suzanne Brume

Suzanne Brume is a fitness enthusiast (or as fondly referred to by family, a gym addict) who has resolved to bringing awareness to living a healthy lifestyle. Her mantra? You can only live life to the fullest if you’re determined to live it well. On 360nobs.com check out her column: Bringing Fit Back and to check out where she started from visit eightsandweights.blogspot.com.

8 comments

  1. I don’t know much about the P90X (to say the truth, I’m just hearing it for the first time here :(…)
    I agree with your analysis about the program, especially the length and what happens after you’re done with it (when the 90 days is up).
    That said, I just got the new Insanity workout program (60 day ish), I just wanna see how it would ‘work out’ with me. Truth is, you can’t stay on these programs for long, like you said, I’ll inc. into my daily workout routine which is def less intensive and see how it goes from there.
    Interesting read, BTW.

  2. Hi Suzanne,

    My name is Ifeoma, fitness enthusiast and mom of two. I think we should talk .. Got a couple of ideas I ‘d like to run by a fellow female gym- rat (I’m assuming you are in Naija).

    On P90X, I have tried to do it but lost interest about 20 secs in…I always end up slotting in Charlene Johnson’s Cardio Party and then,out of pity for Tony H,Finish with the bonus Abs routine.

    Now,you wanna know what is Hard? Try Shaun-T and his Insanity. I died, then died some more . It is INSANE!!! But, you can actually see your 6-pack begin to peek out about half-way through( that is,if you had any to begin with). But what a price to pay…total VANITY INSANITY( ok,not exactly original but I couldn’t resist). Erm,what was the topic again??

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