P90X is a 90-day Beachbody home fitness program, created by personal trainer and world-class motivational speaker, Tony Horton.
There are two other variations of the P90X: the P90X2 and P90X3. The X2 version is designed to help you build on your progress from P90X, with 12 new workouts that focus on agility and athletics.
P90X3 features 16 30-minute workouts – half the length of the original P90X workouts. It also includes a set of pro-grade resistance bands.
So, which program is right for you?
In our P90X review, we’ll walk you through each of the workouts in detail, and take an in-depth look at the nutrition and fitness guide that accompanies each kit.
We’ve also included some important comparisons between the P90X and Insanity, to guarantee you find the best home workout program for your personal fitness goals.
What’s Included with the P90X Program?
- Worksheets: P90X worksheets help you keep track of your performance during each workout. They’re in a similar style to the Body Beast worksheets, but don’t tell you how many reps to perform. They also don’t have space to write how many reps you perform with each arm during arm workouts, which is something that’s available with Body Beast.
There are 7 worksheets to choose from: Chest & Back, Shoulders & Arms, Legs & Back, Core Synergistics, Chest Shoulders & Triceps, Back & Biceps, and Ab Ripper X.
- Fit Test: There are many ways to measure your results on the P90X program. If weight loss is your goal, you can use callipers to measure body fat. If you want to gain muscle, the tape measure could be a better option.
The Fit Test is designed to measure improvements in your overall strength, mobility, and fitness level, by measuring your resting heart rate, and performance across a range of exercises.
This includes the number of pull-ups you can perform, height of your vertical leap, and maximum number of push-ups before reaching failure.
- Fitness Guide: A complete guide to getting the best results from the P90X training system. Includes sections on how to measure your progress, supplements, a workout guide, and how to continue your transformation after completing P90X.
- Calendar: A simple calendar overview of when to perform each workout, depending on which of the 3 training blocks (months) you’re at. The calendar highlights the ‘Adaptive and Mastery Phase’ of each block (first 3 weeks),
in addition to the ‘Recovery Phase’ (4th week of each training block).
The only downside is that it’s not as easy to follow as the other Beachbody calendars we’ve seen. For example, PiYo and Body Beast both have the workouts written on the day in the calendar. With P90X, you use lookup sheets to find which workout you need to follow each day.
- P90X Plus Worksheets: As with the standard worksheets, the P90X Plus Worksheets are slightly more difficult to follow than Body Beast. But they still allow you to record your progress.
For each week and exercise, there’s enough space to record the number of repetitions. If the exercise requires additional resistance, there’s also space to record the weight used. Body Beast takes this a step further, and allows you to record the reps per arm for exercises such as dumbbell curls.
- Nutrition Guide: The tagline for the P90X Nutrition Plan is ‘Eating for Power Performance’. This means eating foods that boost your endurance and levels of natural energy.
The Plan is a complete guide to the 3 nutrition phases of P90X: Fat Shredder, Energy Booster, and Endurance Maximizer. This includes how many servings of each food type to have each day, recipe ideas, supplements, and quick, convenient meal options.
What Exercise Equipment Do You Need?
One of the great things about Beachbody workout programs, is they make great use of your body weight for resistance. This means you don’t need much exercise equipment.
P90X is somewhere between the two. You don’t need to buy a workout bench, but they do recommend you have access to:
- Heart Rate Monitor: Before starting P90X, it’s worth investing in a good quality heart rate monitor. This is a useful indicator of your overall fitness level, and is required to complete the P90X Fit Test.
- Yoga Mat: One of the required pieces of workout equipment for most P90X workouts, including Ab Ripper X and Yoga X.
- Dumbbells: Used in a combination of pressing, curling, and fly movements for upper body workouts. Also used in lower body workouts, for exercises such as squats and lunges, to train your leg muscles (hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves).
- Resistance Bands (Optional): This depends on your strength level. P90X workouts require either dumbbells or resistance bands. For more control over the resistance, we prefer the recommend dumbbells.
- Chin Up Bar: Important for developing a strong, muscular back. Having access to a chin up bar, even if it’s a doorway chin up bar, will help train your lats, biceps, shoulders, and forearms.
- Tony Horton’s PowerStands: Although there are many different types of push up stand available, these are made by the creator of P90X, Tony Horton. Power Stands are used in many of the upper body workouts, to train your back, triceps, chest, and shoulder muscles.
Most of the exercise equipment listed above is for the P90X and P90X Plus workouts. The P90X PRO Team workouts only require a set of dumbbells, but all 3 types of workout are included with the program.
We’ll have a detailed breakdown of what to expect from each workout later in our P90X review.
P90X Workout Program – Features Summary
- Get lean, bulk up, or grow stronger, with an endless variety of mix-and-match routines
- Muscle Confusion technique accelerates the results with new moves and routines, so your body never plateaus
- Collection of 12 highly diverse and intense DVD workouts across 12 DVDs
- Also includes a comprehensive nutrition plan, workout calendar, fitness guide, and How to Bring It DVD
- Recommended tools include a chin up bar and resistance bands or dumbbells
- Optional tools include a yoga/exercise mat, push up stands, and a heart rate monitor
- Created by Tony Horton, personal trainer and world-renowned motivational speaker
P90X Workout Guide
How to Bring It (13 min.)
A quick introduction of what to expect from the P90X program, with a focus on muscle confusion for faster results.
There are three versions of the workouts to choose from: P90X Classic, P90X Doubles, and P90X Lean. The How to Bring It video walks you through the benefits of each, then introduces you to the nutrition plan, created by Carrie Wiatt.
Chest & Back (54 min.)
With a 54-minute duration, Chest & Back is one of the shortest P90X workouts. For exercise equipment, you’ll need Power Stands, dumbbells or resistance bands, and a chin up bar, to strengthen, tone, and grow your chest and back muscles.
A combination of push and pull exercises, this is designed as a high intensity upper body workout. The warm up is shorter than in Cize or Insanity, but features many of the same exercises, designed to elevate your heart rate and warm up your muscles.
Breathing and stretching exercises follow the first warm up, lasting just over 6 minutes. Adding in the time for a cool down, this leaves you with around 40 minutes of resistance training.
Tony Horton does a great job of explaining each exercise, including the best tempo to perform each rep with. Multiple camera angles help capture the full range of motion, and how you can use a chair to assist with exercises like pull ups if required.
Plyometrics (59 min.)
Plyometrics is performed as part of the Classic and Doubles versions of P90X, but not included with Lean. It’s always performed the day after your chest workout, as an explosive cardio routine to improve your athletic performance.
A yoga mat to cushion your landing is all you’ll need for fitness equipment, but it’s worth mentioning there’s a lot of jumping involved. This could be an issue if you have knee or lower back injuries.
A ‘modified’ version of each exercise is performed on the video to show how you can still see good results, with minimal impact on your joints. A good quality heart rate monitor is recommended.
Shoulders & Arms (60 min.)
As with Chest & Back, the first 10 minutes of the Shoulders & Arms workout is mostly to warm up and stretch your muscles.
Shoulders, biceps, and triceps are all trained without the use of a workout bench. This means there’s a focus on correct foot placement and posture to transfer the power through your muscles while standing.
Tony explains the benefits of each rep range (8-10, 12-15), and the importance of maintaining good form and breathing. You’ll need a variety of resistance band tensions or dumbbell weights to get the most from this workout. Enough to make dumbbell presses, bicep curls, and tricep kickbacks equally challenging.
Yoga X (92 min.)
Most Beachbody workout programs involve an element of yoga. Although it doesn’t play such a major role as in the PiYo program, P90X yoga is designed to improve your strength, balance, flexibility, and breathing.
A yoga mat is required to ensure your hands and feet are cushioned against the ground, and yoga blocks can be useful for anyone with reduced flexibility in their hamstrings or lower back. Each yoga pose is demonstrated and explained clearly, so you don’t need any past experience with yoga to benefit from this workout.
Whether you follow the Classic, Doubles, or Lean variation of P90X, Yoga X is performed on day 4 of each week. It’s treated as an ‘active rest’ day between the resistance training for your upper body at the start of the week, and lower body workouts at the end.
Legs & Back (60 min.)
Unless you’re following the Lean variation of P90X, your back muscles are trained twice per week: once with chest, and once with legs.
The legs and back workout can be completed with a chin up bar, and set of dumbbells or resistance bands.
Kenpo X (56 min.)
A challenging cardio workout that uses punching and kicking to improve your balance, endurance, and coordination. Doesn’t require any exercise equipment, and during the Adaptive and Mastery Phase of each training block, will be your final workout of the week (unless you choose X Stretch instead of rest).
Each stretch and exercise is very low impact, and the first 10 minutes is entirely stretching and held poses. Once you get to the main cardio, your main focus is on foot placement and boxing, which helps improve your coordination.
The pace is continuous, with few actual rest periods (countdown timer on the screen throughout the video, showing the time until next rest). This helps to keep your heart rate elevated, and burning more calories. Tony also does an excellent job of explaining how to get the most from each exercise, and is a great source of motivation.
X Stretch (58 min.)
Most P90X workouts include an element of stretching, usually as part of the warm up. But this is the only one dedicated entirely to stretching your muscles, to help prevent injury and improve mobility.
As with Yoga X, a yoga mat and set of yoga blocks would be useful to see the best results.
Some of the stretches are more basic and require no previous experience. However, in addition to these basic stretches you also have some that require a certain level of flexibility, such as shoulder stand.
To some extent, whether you perform X Stretch as part of P90X is down to your personal preference and ability. It’s listed as an option instead of taking a rest day on day 7 of each week. This means you can either exclude it completely, or only perform those stretches which you’re able to achieve, and work up to the more challenging ones.
Core Synergistics (58 min.)
A full body conditioning workout that uses dumbbells or resistance bands to train multiple muscle groups at the same time as your core. This is performed during the Lean variation of P90X, or during the recovery phase of the Classic and Doubles variations.
It’s a workout that requires a certain level of strength and flexibility already. Some of the exercises, such as Banana Rolls, are incredibly challenging, and require you to switch between multiple positions without using your arms or legs.
There’s also no ‘modifier’ version of the exercise, but you do get plenty of time to practice, as Core Synergistics is performed twice per week during the Recovery Phase.
Chest, Shoulders & Triceps (57 min.)
Following the warm up and stretch routine, you’re straight into the resistance training. The focus is initially on slow motion push ups, that train your triceps, chest, and shoulders.
Tips are available throughout the workout for how to achieve the best exercise form and posture, whether you’re using resistance bands or dumbbells.
Throughout the workout you’ll switch between two types of training: maximum rep sets and fixed rep sets. For maximum rep exercises, such as chair dips, you perform as many reps as possible. For fixed rep sets, such as lateral raises for shoulders, you select a resistance that’s challenging enough for your muscles to fail at a specific number of reps.
This is one of the P90X workouts that includes different push up variations, so we recommend investing in push up stands to increase your range of motion.
Back & Biceps (52 min.)
A combination of pulling and curling exercises, designed to build muscle and strength in your back and bicep muscles. Following the warm up and stretch routine, exercises are performed back-to-back, with only a few seconds rest in between.
Most of the exercises have a simple movement that’s easy to master, but there’s a couple of exercises that require some practice. One is switch grip pull ups, where you perform 2 reps of pull ups with an overhand grip, then switch to 2 reps with an underhand grip. This is all without dropping down from the pull up bar, and performed until failure.
The only exercise equipment you need is a set of dumbbells and a pull up bar. If you’re travelling and don’t have access to a set of free weights, you can perform the full workout using resistance bands.
Cardio X (43 min.)
A low-impact cardio routine that’s performed throughout the P90X Lean program, and during the second half of P90X Doubles.
Cardio X contains elements of the high-mobility cardio from Kenpo X (boxing), yoga poses, and core strengthening exercises from Core Synergistics. Some of these exercises assume a certain level of flexibility, such as bringing your leg over a knee-height stool while standing.
Unfortunately, there’s no modifier available, which is probably why this workout is performed later in the program. This gives you time to build mobility and flexibility during Yoga X and X Stretch.
Ab Ripper X (16 min.)
Aside from ‘How to Bring It’, Ab Ripper X is the shortest of the P90X workouts. It’s designed to strengthen and sculpt your core, including your abdominal muscles and intercostals. The only fitness equipment you need is a yoga mat.
P90X Plus Workouts
This is a set of home workouts you can perform in addition to the main P90X program. They’re designed to be performed alongside P90X, but aren’t allocated a specific day on the training calendar.
P90X Plus worksheets are available online, via Beachbody on Demand. These allow you to record the number of reps and the weight used in each exercise for each of the 12 weeks.
Interval X Plus (40 min.)
A cross between HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and steady-state cardio, Interval X Plus switches between 3 different speeds: recovery, medium, and full-out.
Kenpo Cardio Plus (40 min.)
More advanced than the original Kenpo X workout, Kenpo Cardio Plus will help you burn fat through a series of self-defence moves that develop your balance, stamina, and agility.
Upper Plus (45 min.)
An intense upper body workout that targets your chest, back, biceps, triceps, and shoulder muscles. Requires all the standard P90X fitness equipment, including chin up bar, power stands, and dumbbells or resistance bands.
Total Body Plus (45 min.)
As a full body workout, you’re combining multiple dumbbell exercises into a single movement. One example used in the video is dumbbell deadlifts to bicep curls to standing shoulder presses.
Instead of following the standard 8-10 or 12-15 rep range that you would in other P90X workouts, these exercises are based on time. This means you’ll perform a continuous set of reps for 1 minute before switching exercises.
As the video begins, some of the tools Tony recommends using include a pull up bar, power stands, and a set of Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells. You can also use resistance bands.
SelectTech are the bestselling adjustable dumbbells from Bowflex, that allow you to quickly adjust the resistance, without needing to buy different weight sets. You can find out more in our SelectTech dumbbell review.
Abs/Core Plus (20 min.)
As an upgrade of the Ab Ripper X workout, this new core routine targets your abs from 4 new positions: hanging, sitting, standing, and plank.
P90X PRO Team Workouts
If you want to try P90X with a 14-day free trial, Beachbody on Demand gives you access to all the P90X workouts online.
This includes 11 PRO Team workouts, which focus on all aspects of fitness, from strength and conditioning, through to fat burning cardio.
P90X Nutrition Plan by Beachbody
In addition to the P90 Workout Plan, you’re also supplied with an in-depth guide to the nutrition you need to experience the best results.
Created by Carrie Wiatt, nutrition expert and founder of LA-based Diet Designs, the P90X Nutrition Plan takes a balanced approach to portion control. You’re encouraged to consume more calories than you might with the PiYo or Cize home workouts, due to the intensity of the exercise.
Choose Your Diet Phase
In a similar way to the Body Beast workout plan, P90X nutrition follows 3 phases: Fat Shredder, Energy Booster, and Endurance Maximizer. This is compared to Body Beast, which has two ‘Build and Bulk’ phases, followed by a ‘cutting’ diet phase, which is more suitable for bodybuilding.
- Phase 1: Fat Shredder (50% Protein, 30% Carbs, 20% Fat)
A high protein diet designed to assist with muscle growth and strength, as well as fat loss.
- Phase 2: Energy Booster (40% Protein, 40% Carbs, 20% Fat)
A balance of protein and carbs for added natural energy, with lower levels of healthy fats.
- Phase 3: Endurance Maximizer (20% Protein, 60% Carbs, 20% Fat)
Lean protein, low fat, and complex carbohydrates for improved athletic performance.
The P90X is a 90-day home workout program, but that doesn’t mean you should stick with each diet phase for 30 days, or even rotate them in order. But it’s important to follow the macronutrient ratios if you want the best support for your training goals.
Choose Your Approach to Nutrition
One of the great things about the P90X program is how the nutrition plan caters for busy lives. You can choose from one of three approaches, depending on how much time you have for meal prep.
The Portion Approach is for meals that just require a couple of steps, with minimal cooking and no need to follow complicated recipes.
The Meal Plan Approach requires a bit more time in the kitchen, but means you can enjoy a variety of healthy recipes that help you stay on track with your calorie targets.
The Quick Option Approach is similar to the Portion Approach, with meal ideas that require very little time and effort. Perfect if you’re in a rush!
Calculate Your Daily Calorie Target
As with most Beachbody nutrition plans, there’s a bit of setup required when you first get started with the P90X. But calculating your daily calorie requirement is one of the most important steps to achieving your fitness and weight loss goals.
Fortunately, there’s an easy-to-follow formula that considers your resting metabolic rate (RMR), daily activity burn, and calories required for exercise.
Essentially this comes down to: (Body Weight (lbs) x 12) + 600. So, if your bodyweight is 140 lbs, your daily calorie target is 2280 calories (1680 + 600).
With your daily calorie target calculated, the P90X Nutrition Plan has some useful advice about how to avoid junk food, keeping a daily journal, and the importance of accurately measuring portion sizes.
There’s even a useful P90X hydration schedule, to guarantee you’re drinking enough water to support muscle recovery and athletic performance during your workouts:
- 12 oz. water 2 hours prior to exercise
- 8 to 12 oz. water 15 to 30 minutes prior to exercise
- 4 to 8 oz. water every 15 minutes during exercise
Choosing Your Sports Supplements
As with the Body Beast program, P90X has a couple of supplement recommendations through the nutrition plan. The P90X Results and Recovery Formula is one example, designed as a post-workout recovery drink that boosts glycogen levels, to be consumed within 1 hour of finishing your workout.
In addition to the Results and Recovery Formula, P90X also recommends:
- Shakeology: Beachbody, LLC owns Shakeology, which is why you’ll see their products advertised throughout all Beachbody workout and nutrition programs.
- P90X Peak Health Formula: A high quality multivitamin packet, designed to assist your body with getting the nutrients it needs to maintain peak performance in the P90X workouts.
- P90X Peak Performance Protein Bars: Each bar contains 20 g of protein, with no trans-fat. They’re available in several great-tasting flavors, including Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Fudge, and Wildberry Yogurt.
E & E Energy and Endurance Preworkout Formula: Contains a blend of nitric oxide boosters, amino acids, B vitamins, and natural energizers, to improve your energy, endurance, strength and focus.
Choosing Your Food
If you’ve tried one of the Beachbody home workout programs before, you’ll be familiar with the food group and serving system.
Each approach from Step 2 encourages you to include a certain number of servings for each food group, as part of your daily meal plan. The main food groups are:
For each food group, you have an allocated number of servings per day.
How Much Does P90X Cost?
If you were wondering about the price of P90X, expect to pay around $140 for the Base Kit. This includes the 12 DVDs, nutrition plan, workout calendar, fitness guide, and How to Bring It DVD.
Tony Horton has also created two other variations of P90X: P90X2 and P90X3. The base kit for each of these programs costs about the same as the original, at just under $140.
An upgraded version of P90X, called P90X Plus is available for just under $70. This includes 5 new extreme workouts not found in the original P90X program.
You’ll also want to consider the cost of any exercise equipment you need to buy. For P90X, this means a pull up bar and possibly set of resistance bands. A good quality doorway pull up bar shouldn’t cost much more than $50.
An alternative to the P90X Base Kit is to stream the workout and nutrition program online, via Beachbody On Demand.
On Demand is a subscription service, whereby you sign up to a membership option that gives you access to:
- Over 600 Beachbody workout programs
- All-access to every Beachbody workout
- Fitness guides & workout calendars
- Meal plans & recipes
- Free personal coach
- Access to fitness & nutrition experts
The most affordable membership level is $39 for 3 months, which also includes a FREE 14-day trial. The 6-month plan is $59, and the cheapest 12-month plan costs $99, saving $57 over the quarterly billing.
A 12-month membership includes the portion fix container system and a 30-day supply of Shakeology supplements. This is in addition to the all-access subscription you get to the online workout material and nutrition guides.
Customer Reviews – Does P90X Work?
An important part of any P90X review is to consider the feedback from other people who have used the program.
Did they find it good value for money? Is the pace of the workouts easy to keep up with? How quickly did they see results? These are all important questions, and can help you decide if P90X is the best home workout program for your fitness goals.
But reading through dozens of customer reviews can be time consuming, which is why we’ve created a quick reference guide to the pros and cons. These are taken from the thousands of P90X reviews currently available on Amazon.
Note on DVD quality:
A number of customers have reported poor quality P90X DVDs that skip or freeze during a workout. Most of these reviews were from a few years ago, when P90X was only available in DVD format.
Now, Beachbody have their On Demand service, which allows you to stream dozens of Beachbody workout programs straight to your smart device or TV. This includes all variations of P90X, and the original P90 program.
- Exercises in P90X are challenging for all levels of personal fitness, from beginner to expert
- Each 50-minute workout DVD includes an additional 10 minutes showing you how to properly warm up and cool down
- Requires only a small amount of relatively cheap gym equipment (dumbbells, pull up bar, yoga mat, resistance bands. Push up stands and heart rate monitor are optional)
- Includes a complete nutrition plan to support recovery, lean muscle gain, and weight loss
- Combining resistance training with plyometrics, yoga, and stretching means you get a complete total body workout
- Reasonable time commitment (no more than 60 minutes per day) means the P90X workouts can still fit into busy schedules
- Frequent changes in exercise selection means exciting workouts that shock your muscles for faster results
- Many people report impressive weight loss results, even while gaining muscle. In the P90X reviews we read, customers mentioned losing 10 pounds in 30 days, losing 7 pounds in 2 weeks, and losing 20 pounds in 10 weeks.
- Excellent for improving overall fitness, muscle tone, and strength. But Body Beast is still the best option for bulking and bodybuilding.
- 24/7 Online support from the Beachbody fitness community, where you can ask questions and boost your motivation
- Complete home workout system helps improve your flexibility, and boost weight loss results with its combination of strength and cardio training
- P90X Exercise calendar is a useful quick-reference guide
- Most of the negative reviews relate to damaged discs, which meant the P90X workout DVDs skipped or froze. Customer services sent new copies in each case we read about, but there’s a 30-day return window on Amazon, so check the quality as soon as they arrive.
- A handful of customers received just the DVDs, with no fitness guide, meal plan, or calendar. But this was a very small number of the worst 7% of reviews.
- The price makes it one of the more expensive Beachbody workout programs. At the time of writing this review, the P90X Base Kit was listed for just under $140 on Amazon, with free shipping and handling. The Ultimate P90X2 Kit, which includes the equipment you need to get started, was priced closer to $370.