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P90x Review: The Brutally Honest Truth About P90x

In Reviews by Keith238 Comments

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!”

  • Jared

    Jealousy is a good indication that you are doing things the right way Keith, and it’s also a disease, get well soon.

  • Jake

    Wow, you are a dumbass and obviously uneducated.

  • Hemant

    There is nothing right or wrong. Nothing is bullshit or role model. Its just what works for you. Everything is relative.

  • mubi abbas

    i am a doctor and this article is bullshit!

    • Keith

      kewl

    • Knightlife

      You would think for a doctor you would know how to use some better language.

      • tOUSS

        Seems like he was trying to drive that point home. As a community college dropout, I’d say that most of the information in this article is unsubstantiated…

  • Matthew Barker

    WOW, just about every point made in this review is inaccurate.

    Muscle Confusion is very effective:
    http://www.burnthefatinnercircle.com/members/The_Truth_About_Muscle_Confusion_Training.cfm
    by stressing the muscular/skeletal system in different ways, we adapt by growing muscle and having stronger joints, it’s not just about doing more reps and more weights – this technique has been around for decades and almost every body builder knows about it.

    Daily exercise is very beneficial as long as you give specific muscle groups time to recover which Tony’s system certainly does. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html
    these guidelines state at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week and 2-3 days of muscle building activity – sounds a lot like P90X.

    • Keith

      only part of muscle confusion i don’t agree with is the wording behind it. You can’t “confuse” your muscles.

      • Anonynmous

        Keith, ‘muscle confusion’ is attempting to break a plateau in athletes who get stuck lifting the same weight and stop progressing.

        • http://www.fitmole.org/ Keith Lai

          in the end, muscle confusion is periodization.

          But beachbody has tacked on so many shiny layers on top of that, that it begins to lose it’s meaning and is more than a gimmick than anything else.

          And no, it’s not “common knowledge.”

          You can never assumer anything is common knowledge in fitness.

          You could say it’s common knowledge to simply eat less food to lose weight, but most people think it has to do with hormonal manipulation, meal timing, supplements, and weird metabolism “hacks”.

  • elle

    hater. bitter.

  • Matt

    Sounds like this article was written by someone that couldn’t handle the program. P90X isn’t a workout program for people that just want to lose weight and feel better about themselves. P90x is an extreme workout program for people that are already in realitively good shape and want to bring their workout to the next level. The only thing you are correct about is that you will get results from p90x. Incredible results if you follow the program as it was designed.

    I personally used p90x and went from 235lbs, to 190lbs by the end of the first round. I was below 5% body fat and toned in every area of my body.

    • Keith

      congrats.

    • sam

      you literally made the exact same point he was trying to make: that if you’re already in fairly good shape and want to up your routine, this program is great. if you’re a beginner and just want to lose a little weight and gain some muscle tone, this program is unnecessary. you weren’t even arguing with him, you were just re enforcing exactly what he said with different words.

      • Anthony

        Wow this dude is an idiot. Sounds like you fall in category 4…bitch ass that can’t hang in intense workouts and like spending $100/month to look cool in a gym. Bum

  • Dana

    I barely ever leave comments- I just had to write a short one on this topic. I think the post is very accurate- I fall in categories 1 or 2. I don’t think he is downing the program; he just being realistic.

  • Phil

    I think the author may have unintentionally written a huge advertisement for this system. As has been pointed out, P90X is for the more advanced user; someone who is seeking to add strength and conditioning to their (already well established) workout routine. The BodyWeightBurn link in the article is for a very useful system that utilises body weight and balance, P90X is intended to add bulk and strength that is more easily achieved through the measured use of heavier weights.

  • Michael

    I find the comment to be quite ironic. Keith is an idiot because your reading comprehension skills are nil?

    A wide verity of people read these articles with varying ambitions. The AVERAGE person is looking to lose weight and gain maybe gain a little muscle mass in the process so that is who this article is directed at.

    That said let me dumb this down and use less polite wording.

    If you are a fat slob this is not a program for you. You’re being too ambitious as this program is very intense. You’d be better off with a program aimed at weight loss not muscle strengthening.

    If you have just left the provirus group, you’re lazy, or just looking to gain a little bit of muscle this program isn’t really what you are looking for– it’s excessive.. Find a more moderate based program that isn’t going to push you too hard and ultimately discourage you.

    If you are a meathead that can’t comprehend a simple article or you’re physically fit looking to push yourself harder than this is the program for you. It’s intense, excessive, and will produce results.

    I hope this clears up any confusion. His article may have caused l.

  • Tommy

    I noticed the author kept ripping p90x, that is fine, but what was his alternative to p90x? Nothing really, as far as muscle confusion goes, it does exist.

  • Anonynmous

    A comment on his assertion that ‘muscle confusion’ has no basis in fact.

    Even though his comment seems to scream that he has no gym experience that goes beyond 6-8 months, I’m going to assume the article writer is a serious fitness-related enthusiast.

    First to show that ‘muscle confusion’ actually IS a real tactic that works, you must first know what a ‘plateau’ is and this article writer never goes into what a plateau is…..the author simple glosses over “if you can do 2 pushups when last week you could only do 1, then you’re stronger”. Yeah genius, we all get that, however THAT is not what ‘muscle confusion’ as a tactic is addressing.

    ‘Muscle confusion’ is addressing WHEN YOUR BODY STOPS getting stronger despite doing the SAME workout routine that was once giving your strength increases. This is called a ‘plateau’. Weight lifters and fitness enthusiasts reach plateaus when they workout long enough over many months and start to reach their body’s genetic potential in strength.

    ANYONE who has gone on a weight training program in their life knows that after the first 6-8 months of your first foray into lifting weights, you see INCREDIBLE strength gains. Every week in that first 6-8 months you seem to be adding a new plate and getting stronger. Then, seemingly, you hit a brick wall. Your bench press especially, you seem to be pushing the same weight. Many men get stuck at 225 pounds on the bench at the gym. I’d say that around 225 pounds is the plateau of the average man. I’m weaker than that, my plateau came at 185 pounds on the bench.

    Now, EVERYONE KNOWS, who’s lifted weights for at least 6-8 months, ideally 1 year, understands that once you hit that plateau, if you keep doing the same routine, YOU WON’T GET ANY STRONGER, GUARANTEED! Busting a plateau can ONLY be done by changing up your routine, PERIOD and everyone who has tried to tackle a plateau and did so successfully KNOWS that changing a lifting routine CAN WORK, aside from increasing calories intake or adding a training supplement, which diet/supplements are NOT in this conversation.

    Pure training changes done properly CAN bust a plateau and I don’t need a dang scientific study to know this because this is an experience of many, many weight lifters and fitness enthusiasts for DECADES.