P90x Review: The Brutally Honest Truth About P90x

P90x reviews

P90x review time.I don’t do a lot of reviews on my site but today I’m going to tackle the granddaddy of home workout programs, P90x.

First let’s get this out the way: Unlike most P90x reviews this is not going to be some feel-good story filled with fairies and unicorns about how P90x has changed my life.

Quite the opposite.

This is going to be a brutally honest P90x workout review and analysis of its system and methodology.

Let’s get to it.

Muscle confusion is (kinda) bullshit

Yeah that’s right, I said it.

In P90x, muscle confusion basically states that you must consistently switch up your exercise selection to continue to burn fat, build muscle, and avoid plateaus.

There is some truth to this but a lot of the theory behind muscle confusion is bullshit.

Your muscles can’t get “confused.” Sorry to break the bad news. As a human being, you and your thoughts can get confused (like when you go to Bangkok and find out half the girls there are dudes). But your muscles can’t get confused. Making your workout more confusing doesn’t result in a more effective workout.

Your muscles can ONLY adapt to volume and load. This means that if you want to gain more muscle, you need to be progressively push more weight and/or reps. For example, this can be as simple as going from only being able to do 1 push-up to being able to do 2 push-ups. You progressed from 1 to 2 so your muscles will automatically get stronger. And when you’re able to do 50 push ups, you’re going to have much stronger muscles.

See what I mean? You progressed from 1 to 50 so your muscles are now bigger and stronger. Boom! Logic and common sense FTW, none of that muscle confusion silliness.

P90x review: The workouts  are overkill and unnecessary

P90x workout review

With P90x you workout 6-7 times per week depending on whether you take the 7th day as a Rest or “X Stretch” day.

Day 1 – Chest&Back, Ab Ripper X

Day 2 –  Plyometrics

Day 3 – Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X

Day 4 – Yoga X

Day 5 – Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X

Day 6: KenpoX

Day 7: Rest or X Stretch

7x per week workouts. Fuck…

Professional athletes train 5-7 times per week, so why would an average Joe who simply wants to lose weight and look better need to workout every single day.

The answer – there is no need to train 7 days per week. This is just all part of P90x’s extreme branding. Obviously you’re going to be tired and incredibly sore from doing P90x so people inevitably say it’s “working” for them.

Even if you’re an advanced trainer, I can almost never recommend training 7 days per week. Granted some of these days are more relaxed than others (yoga and stretching) but still, training 7 days per week is unnecessary especially if your goal is to simply look and feel good (which is probably what most are trying to accomplish).

Will P90x get results if you do it? Yes absolutely, but it is by far one of the least optimal approaches to losing weight.

When it comes to fat loss, one of the best approaches to working out is to simply train 3-4 times per week to mainly preserve muscle mass, and to let your diet create the majority of the calorie deficit and burn fat. P90x takes the opposite approach – it tries to use the workout to create a calorie deficit/burn fat and the diet to sustain energy.

It’s much easier to eat 100 less calories than it is to burn 100 calories via exercise.

P90x review: Dieting not made easy

P90x diet and workout

I’m not going to dive into the dieting section much since it’s a very very typical eat every 2-3 hours, 6 meals per day  “eat clean” diet. You’ll also get the and exact meal plan to follow in the diet section.

And I am not a fan of these typical diets mostly because they’re restrictive, allow no room for error, and makes you form a bad relationship with food.

Not to mention the fact that the whole “You need to eat breakfast and eat every 2-3 hours.” saying is complete myth. Sorry, eating every 2-3 hours does not boost your metabolism.

You can eat 1 meal per day or you can eat 6 meals per day. It doesn’t matter.

Check out a sample day of how I eat here.

Dieting is a lifestyle change but do you really want to live a lifestyle where you have to eat every 2-3 hours on the clock and can only eat a specific list of foods. Of course not, that’s lame. You want to live a life where ice cream and doughnuts are regularly involved.

I really like how Nate Miyaki’s approach to dieting, Feat Your Fat Away where you get to feast on food every night and still  lose fat. His approach makes it super flexible and easy to lose fat.

Why do you want to do P90x?

Serious question: Why do you want to do P90x? Just be honest.

Most people who do P90x fall into the following categories:

  1. You simply want to get in shape (lose fat and build a little muscle).
  2. You want to get in shape but are too lazy or embarrassed to go to the gym
  3. You want to get absolutely ripped and need an intense workout program to help you do that.

People in category 1 are typically the beginners. They end up doing P90x because they simply believe it’s the best option. They constantly hear their friends talk about it, they see the infomercials, and what the hell, it’s the New Year so I may as well give this new workout a shot, right?

Those in category 2 have probably already tried losing weight in the past with no success. Perhaps they went to the gym and had no idea what they were doing or perhaps they had a bad experience with a personal trainer that touched them in weird places. Now they simply want to stay in the comfort of the home and maybe give this P90x thing a shot.

Category 3 people are those who are already familiar with working out but want to give themselves more of a challenge. These aren’t beginners, but they want a workout to push their body to the limit.

To be completely honest, the only people who should do P90x are category 3 people. If you find yourself in category 1 or 2, P90x is going to be overkill for you. There are much better options out there.

Conclusion: P90x gets results but it’s not the optimal solution for weight loss

P90x2 reivew

I know what you’re going to say.

“But Tony Horton does P90x and he’s ripped.”

“But my friend’s uncle’s second cousin did P90x and he lost a ton of weight.”

“Shut the hell up, obviously P90x works since so many people have used it and got in shape.”

And you’re 110% right. If you follow P90x to the letter, you will get results. You will lose weight and look better, guaranteed.

But you don’t need to do P90x to lose weight and get in shape. If you truly want to improve your conditioning, then P90x may be right for you otherwise it’s a bit pointless.

In fact when you talk to people who do P90x, all you do is hear them bitch and moan about how tough the workout is and how it’s kicking their ass. “Oh man, P90x is so hard but I know it’s working because I’m so sore.” No shit Sherlock, if you do any intense workout that you’ve never done before, you’re going to be sore. And people always tend to equate soreness to results even though it’s not true (but that’s another article altogether).

My point is – P90x works but it’s not optimal if you simply wan to to lose weight and get in shape. There are just so many more effective and simple options out there. Whether you’re looking for a great at-home workout routine (I like Bodyweight Burn) or you can just go to the gym 3x per week and do a few simple strength training workouts.

And boom, you’re done. There’s no need to train 6-7 times per week…absolutely no reason at all.

Remember, use your diet to lose weight and your workout to build/maintain muscle.

P90x review breakdown

Pros:

  • Exact meal plans for those who don’t know what to cook
  • Good workouts for building endurance and overall conditioning

Cons:

  • Over the top and unnecessary workouts if you simply want to lose weight and look/feel good
  • Absolutely no science to back up muscle confusion
  • Diet plan is laughably cliche – your typical eat 6 meals per day, eat clean stuff
Overall P90x score – 6.5/10

Need a more better home workout routine than P90x?

So if P90x isn’t as great everyone else makes it out to be, what are you suppose to do use for a home workout program?

There are a ton of great options but one of my favorite programs is Bodyweight Burn by Adam Steer.

It’s a fantastic program that allows you get a great workout in as little as 21 minutes. To some that might not seem like a lot but if done effectively like in Bodyweight Burn, sometimes that’s all you need.

I know I’m in the minority when it comes to doing more negative P90x reviews, so PLEASE leave any questions or comments you have in the comment section below. I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you have. As Tony Horton would say, “Bring It!”

Comments

  1. Richard says

    Hi, ‘Great reading everyone’s thoughts on P90x btw….I’m just thinking of starting P90x, after finding Tony Horton online, whilst I was searching for golf flexibility exercises – I recognised p90x – the lyric – from the Bruno Mars song, & looked up a few more references and here we are (Am I the last person on the planet to not know of P90x? But then I’m in the UK & these ‘get ripped quick’ exercise programs aren’t that popular here) I’ve been reasonably active in my life – cycling, swimming, golf, job and kids etc. But now at 50, I’m 180 lbs, 5, 11 and in need of an major overhaul. I took my ‘before’ shots last night – and now have all the motivation I need to get – slimmer, healthier & fitter. My kids couldn’t stop laughing – thanks Kids. What I wanted to know was – how important is the dietary change to eat 6 x a day? I don’t mind working out, I’ll eat well, but I just don’t want to eat 6x a day. That seems ridiculous. Will it massively kill my P90x results?

  2. Cassie says

    This was such a good article! I was weighing whether or not to do p90x. I have been running for a few years and lately I’ve realized I really need to switch it up; you can’t just do straight cardio 6 days a week. I got really lean when I first started running but now I’m pretty much just average again, probably because all I do is run haha. So I think I will do p90x after this article. I want to do something that will improve my running (I want to get faster and run some races) as well as get lean muscle. Thank you!

  3. LV says

    I got the P90X DVD’s to hit my core and back muscles, and for flexibility. It is a very good routine for that.

    I stay pretty active, and I enjoy going outdoors and to the gym though too. Just to get out of the damned house.

    Your article was great. It let’s people that haven’t seen a thousand training programs come and go through out the years, realize there is nothing wrong with mixing and matching to your lifestyle and goals.

      • Zac says

        There might not be research but it can help to eat smaller meals every 2-3 hours, now i know what youre gonna say that theres no research and maybe there is maybe theres not, but in reality it is smarter and easier on your body to eat smaller meals every few hours then to eat one big meal a day or big/medium meals every 6 hours. You have to understand that eating smaller meals every few hours puts a far more less amount of stress on ones digestive system. When i used to work on the oil rigs i would eat about one large meal a day (with little granola bars here and there whenever my foreman wasent looking) and that put alot of stress on my stomach, colon, and liver. And sense i ate one huge meal a day, or two maybe three ,if we were lucky and got our shit done early, medium sized meals and these all lead to me being diagnosed with ulcer colitis (small holes in my colon, sorry) due to the stress of big meals on my stomach, now I have to eat every few hours of small meals to not overkill my digestive track, and i have now been doing better then ever and ive been working iut more and it seems to work fairly better, ive lost a dramatic amount of body fat and it feels as if i have a constant supply of energy throughout my day, now that im off the rigs and an administrator. So moral of this long story is that for some people i know myself and a few friends of mine we have found that eating small meals every few hours is better for us in a widespread of health areas.

        • Zac says

          Now we all know stress can equal more fat production. And when you eat smaller meals theres alot less stress on your body. Less stress = less fat

        • Keith says

          There’s nothing wrong with 6 meals per day but there’s nothing necessarily right about it either. Whether it’s 1 or 6 meals per day, it’s up to the individual.

        • says

          Ha! See your one of the smart people who use logic over knowledge. Who need scientific proof when science proofs itself wrong at times. I wise man tool me use knowledge as a tool to better understand your body. Listen to your body it will tell you what it need.

          • james says

            the person advocating frequent smaller meals as being less stressful on the digestive system has inflammatory bowel disease. You cannot assume his subjective findings are globally true. Im a physician and for healthy digestive tracts Ive never come across the idea that the GI system is stressed by moderate to large sized meals…whatever “stress” means in this instance.

      • Rob says

        yes, there is sold science behind eating samll portions, 6x a day. I direct your attention to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2/05. And also the following…(please take down this post, your a sophmore on the subject)

        REFERENCES
        1.↵

        Jenkins DJA, Wolever TMS, Vuksan V, et al. Nibbling versus gorging: metabolic advantages of increased meal frequency. N Engl J Med 1989;321:929-34.

        2.

        Jenkins DJA, Khan A, Jenkins AL, et al. Effect of nibbling versus gorging on cardiovascular risk factors: serum uric acid and blood lipids. Metabolism 1995;44:549-55.

        3.

        Powell JT, Franks PJ, Poulter NR. Does nibbling or grazing protect the peripheral arteries from atherosclerosis? J Cardiovasc Risk 1999;6:19-22.

        4.

        Taylor MA, Garrow JS. Compared with nibbling, neither gorging nor a morning fast affect short-term energy balance in obese patients in a chamber calorimeter. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2001;25:519-28.

        5.

        Wolever TMS. Diet and blood lipid levels: effect of “nibbling. ” CMAJ 1991;144:729.

        6.

        Bray GA. Lipogenesis in human adipose tissue: some effects of nibbling and gorging. J Clin Invest 1972;51:537-48.

        7.↵

        Bellisle F, McDevitt R, Prentice AM. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr 1997;77(suppl):S57-70.

        8.↵

        Farshchi HR, Talor MA, Macdonald IA. Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and fasting lipid profiles in healthy obese women. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:16–24.

        9.↵

        Brobeck J. Food intake as a mechanism of temperature regulation: 1948. Obes Res 1997;5:641-5.

        10.↵

        Farshchi HR, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Regular meal frequency creates more appropriate insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles compared with irregular meal frequency in healthy lean women. Eur J Clin Nutr 2004;58:1071-7.

        11.↵

        McCrory MA, Suen VM, Roberts SB. Biobehavioral influences on energy intake and adult weight gain. J Nutr 2002;132:3830S-4S.

        12.↵

        de Castro JM. The time of day of food intake influences overall intake in humans. J Nutr 2003;134:104-11.

        13.↵

        Keim NL, Van Loan MD, Horn WF, Barbieri TF, Mayclin PL. Weight loss is greater with consumption of large morning meals and fat-free mass is preserved with large evening meals in women on a controlled weight reduction regimen. J Nutr 1997;127:75-82.

        14.↵

        Schoeller DA. Limitations in the assessment of dietary energy intake by self-report. Metabolism 1995;44:18-22.

        15.↵

        Schoeller DA, Bandini LG, Dietz WH. Inaccuracies in self-reported intake identified by comparison with the doubly labelled water method. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 1990;68:941-9.

        16.↵

        Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids. Part I. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2002.

        17.↵

        McCrory MA, Hajduk CL, Roberts SB. Procedures for screening out inaccurate reports of dietary energy intake. Public Health Nutr 2002;5:873-82.

        18.↵

        Livingstone MB, Black AE. Markers of the validity of reported energy intake. J Nutr 2003;133:895S-920S.

        19.↵

        • Keith says

          Ok…I’m not going to go through each of these studies but I know most “6 meal per day” studies are heavily flawed.

          Please check out the articles on intermittent fasting I have on my site where I do cite the appropriate scientific sources to back my claims. If you need further proof, check out guys like Martin Berkahn, Brad Pilon, Alan Aragon, and countless others who have proven that a high meal frequency is not needed to lose weight.

  4. Shannon says

    Working out, training, being active for 3.5 hours a week? That is not too much..that is not even close to being on par with proffesional athletes!!

  5. Eddie says

    Any workout you do six days a week you will see results. I live 2 35pound. Dumbbells for one hour every day throughout the week Monday through Friday and three weeks I started to see results calls and effect

    • Keith says

      no that is not true. What if you workout 6x/week but eat like crap, that completely ruins all results from working out.

  6. Mike Mytee says

    Can i just ask – Given the HUGE success of P90X around the world and Tony Horton’s long list of experience and qualifications, what qualifies you to challenge the concept? I mean you may have a fitness website and all but what is your background?

    BTW – I think the muscle confusion comments you have made are silly. Of course muscle cant get confused as a mind can, but the concept of training different muscle groups is age-old! EVERY successful athlete works out that way. It keeps your body guessing and gives you maximum results (and not that the muscles are actually guessing either!).

    Personally, given the poorly written article with swearing, poor grammar and random pictures dotted throughout i find it difficult to take you seriously. I haven’t done P90X so i am not a convert who is defending it. I am simply saying that you don’t seem the type of person to take this seriously and as such are not offering sound, impartial advice to people who are looking for a way to change their lives!

    Yes some of the concepts may be ‘gimmickee’ and yes you may not agree with eating 6 times a day. But the fact is, you cannot deny the science behind the nutrition and given its success, i would say it works pretty well.

    To add to this, ultimately people are looking for a way to get healthy. So by discouraging people with an article like this is a little unfair. It doesn’t contribute to the fitness community and only serves to put people off who would otherwise have made a decision to get moving, eat well and get healthy!….Quite irresponsible when you look at it like that really!

    • Keith says

      So I’m not allowed to challenge someone just because they put something out there? It’s a review, my opinion. Feel free to make your own decision.

      • Rob says

        You are allowed. However, akin to the fact freedom of speech does not allow you to yell “fire” in a crowded threater. You cannot represent facts based on “you said so”. You have show no proof – beyond the fact you “said so”. Starting to get the picture why everyone here thinks your a goof?

        • Jc says

          Chill
          That’s just his opinion
          Take it or leave it
          Why the fanaticism?
          I wish people felt the same way about politics and would challenge our representatives. There are so many wrong things going on in our country!

  7. Justin says

    P90X has worked wonders for me. Just some advice for people just starting out with it, take the first week or 2 to get acclimated to it. If you start guns blazing, you’ll be too sore to continue. Do each workout and wait a few days before the next. After 2 weeks, you should be good to go and start the 6 days a week.

  8. Kevin says

    I’m a male, 35 years old, P90X graduate. I think it’s an excellent workout routine. I didn’t follow the diet at all, but for 90 days I followed the workouts exactly as laid out for the classic p90x schedule..

    I actually gained weight during the 90 days, but I was OK with that. I usually tend to be on the thin side and I was mostly doing p90x to build muscle mass and increase fitness, especially in areas that I typically neglect.

    The 7 day workout routine is incredibly well balanced. There are many different workouts, from jump training to weight training to yoga. I learned a lot of new moves that I still use when I work out (even though I’m not currently doing p90x). I became much stronger and overall fit, and more flexible than I’d ever been (the yoga and stretch routines are great for flexibility).

    I’ve worked out semi-regularly for the past 20 years. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but almost always doing something. P90X took my fitness to the next level. I agree that it’s not for people who just want to lose some weight or look a little better. But if you’re serious about pushing yourself into the best physical conditioning of your life, then this is a good workout option to check out.

    Also, one of my favorite things about P90X is that the workouts can be adjusted to be more or less challenging. When you start out, you can take it easier, do modified versions of the moves (which Tony often shows you), etc. But as you get in better shape, those same workouts will allow you to keep pushing yourself harder and harder. Because of this adaptable difficulty, my wife and I were able to do P90X together side by side, on the same TV, even though we have different levels of fitness.

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