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 Home Workout Revolution) 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 – 6/10

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 Home Workout Revolution (affiliate link) by the infamous Craig Ballantyne. I’ve interviewed Craig in the past the man is a badass when it comes to creating time-efficient home workout programs.

Home Workout Revolution has all the same benefits as P90x without being 60+ minutes a workout.

Plus, the HWR program  is only a fraction of the cost of P90x so you save a ton of time and money on your workouts.

I know I’m in the majority 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. Mike says

    Wow. I stopped reading the comments after about 5 because some of those fools seemed hell bent on tearing you up… I thought your review was honest (like you mentioned in the first few lines of the review). I’ve done P90x. I was dedicated for 90 days, got decent results, and guess what? I had 0 life outside of work and workouts. I looked good and felt good but I couldn’t show it off because there was no time…I’m right on par with you bro, p90x is for more advanced “athletes” (I was playing a lot of hockey at the time and it really did make a huge difference). looking for a challenge.

    Anyway… diet question for you… what’s your thoughts on Paleo/Primal type “diets” while doing HIIT type training?

    If I missed this earlier, my bad. Again I can’t read through 900 negative comments, it messes with my Chi…

    • Keith says

      Thanks Mike.

      I have nothing against paleo, that is, eating mostly wholesome nutritious unprocessed foods. BUT I really hate the whole “this is how our ancestors ate” mentality that a lot of people who follow paleo have. It’s like a fucking cult.

  2. Timothy Britt says

    What Keith is saying is somewhat true, if you *JUST* want to lose weight and get in shape, there are lots of alternatives. Heck, pick up a copy of the 4-Hour Body. You can drop 25 pounds a month with no exercise. Almost anyone will “look good” at sub-10% body fat. Now, let’s talk about where Keith slightly missed the mark.

    P90X is Holistic

    The key to fitness is being holistic. It should not be a superficial “I want to look good in a couple of months for Vegas” thing. That means increasing body efficiency, increasing metabolism, increasing endurance and stamina, increasing strength and bolting down mental workout morale and commitment. This is where P90X comes in.

    Mindset and Stamina are Important Too

    What some people don’t realize, including professional trainers, is that hidden inside the P90X workouts are HIIT modules. Sometimes they are branded as “muscle confusion” but that is just for laypeople. Most people only wear a fitness tracker or monitor vitals when they are actually doing the workouts, when they are prompted. But, do a few of the strength training workouts, monitor your heart rate during…and then monitor your heart rate up to 60-90 minutes AFTER the workout. You will see the effects of the long-duration HIIT. I’ve seen HR up from 50bpm resting and hovering at 55%-60% (fat burning) up to 90 minutes after a “non-cardio” P90X module. 4-Hour Body hacks don’t give you this kind of result. In fact, nothing else gives you this kind of result except 60-70 mins of HIIT.

    Force Multipliers

    When combined with a nutrition plan and the proper supplements, these effects create a force-multiplier effect. With simpler, easier workout plans you achieve a change in the way you look, but nothing about the way your body WORKS is changing much. When you workout using sustained HIIT, you increase stamina and endurance and you increase the efficiency of the body, which leads to sustained energy and a vastly more efficient heart. Doing low-intensity weight training 2-3x per week and eating “better” will not give you these results. Eventually, you will look the way you want, but the minute you fall off the wagon, you will immediately balloon, because nothing has been done to change the way your body processes and stores energy.

    There is No Shortcut

    If you are doing a low intensity workout and “dieting” when you fall off the wagon for 2 weeks, it will be that much harder to regain your confidence and foothold in your fitness, because you have not been mentally prepared for the work it will take to get you back where you want to be. With P90X this is not the case. These sustained HIIT programs give you the mental fortitude and confidence you need to get back on the wagon. Additionally, because you have changed the composition of your body and its efficiency at the core, falling off the wagon for 2 weeks after P90X will result in very little undesirable result, while 2 weeks off the wagon on a “cheating” program is enough to cause you to fully balloon.

    Just my two cents.

    • Keith says

      First of all not everyone will look good at sub 10% bf. That’s not true at all. If you don’t have sufficient muscle mass, you’ll just look super skinny and weak.

      So what makes you think weight training is low intensity? I’m not telling people to lift pink dumbbells for 10 reps and call it day, I encourage super heavy weight lifting which is very high intensity and very demanding on the body.

      And I’m not sure why you keep bringing up the 4 hour body. I don’t support the 4 hour body and Time Ferris, I think his stuff is mostly bullshit.

      • Jason says

        So..You’re encouraging those beginners who just want to get in shape and lose some weight to lift super heavy weights, right?

  3. Anthony says

    I just want to respond to some of the things you wrote. This is coming from a 48 year old male who was terribly out of shape and did P90X

    You Wrote: “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.”

    Being sore and tired from P90x stops by the third week. There’s enough stretching before and after each workout and then there’s also the stretch day to prevent soreness. If you’re still sore by the end of the first month you’re not even listening to the advice being given while doing the program, and if you’re tired you might want to check if you’re eating enough or actually sleeping at night.

    You write: “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.”

    I actually know a lot of people who do P90X and the ONLY ones who say this, including myself back in the beginning, are those who haven’t gotten to the end of their second week yet. The ones who say it’s working for them don’t do so because it’s kicking their ass, they say it AFTER they start to see RESULTS. Honest question.. Have you actually spoken to people who’ve done this program? If so have they actually stayed with the schedule, or do they take days off, not drink enough water, and then go back to it after they ruined any conditioning they might have achieved?.

    Look, I love P90X, but I’m also one of those people who believe you’ve got to do what makes you comfortable. Some people want the dvd in their home, other people want a personal trainer, others love the gym, and some like to work out at home on their own with no instruction because they already know what routines to do. It’s what works for you as an individual, but your criticism of the program doesn’t seem very realistic. It’s as if you saw the infomercial and decided you’d base this blog on what you viewed at three in the morning, .

    This is also coming from someone who fits into Category 1 – The group you think shouldn’t do the program. The again you have so many links to Home Workout Revolution in this one review, it sounds like someone is getting paid to redirect people instead of giving honest advice..

    • Keith says

      Hey Anthony,

      Look I get it, you got results from P90x and you love it, that’s great. I’m happy for you.

      But I stand by my points. Just like if someone lost weight by running 10 miles per day and only eating boiled chicken breast, do you support that even if the person got results?

      As for HWR, I mentioned it because I truly believe it’s a better alternative for most people. Yes I do make a commission if someone buys it, but I only promote products I trust.

  4. Bill says

    I think you made some good points, but “at the end of the day”, I think all of the Beachbody programs are mostly beneficial by simply getting people more active(NOT looking like Shaun T or Tony and most of his crew, wow). If they actually think the average Joe will “finish”, say, a 30-day Asylum program and look like a super-athlete, they have to be delusional. To even resemble someone like that, you (pretty much) need above average athletic genetics, the time for all the workouts, the money for all the healthy food, the willpower to finish it, etc. Even with that, pick a guy off the street, write down the number of pull-ups he does(3? 5? 7?). Do you think he’ll be doing 25+ after P90X? Hardly.

    I still think it’s better to try SOMETHING instead of nothing, but expectations need to be kept in check for most people.

    • Keith says

      Looking like shaun t or tony isn’t necessarily genetics. It’s just the cumulative effect of years of consistent training, having enough muscle and low body fat.

      This stuff isn’t rocket science.

  5. says

    Pretty funny article but I have to agree that p90x is not for everyone and has a lot of unnecessary workouts.

    Now…how did I know that the whole point of of the article was to offer “better” program and simply ride on popularity of the other?! Right here folks, in only 15min a day…LOL

    Comical, good luck with endorsements and trying to beat the Beach body’s marketing. Fitness for fat and lazy is a great industry, 68% of America is obese….lots of market out there.
    Eating right is more than half of the battle, any …ANY exercise will do you good, doesn’t have to be X latest fad.
    Good luck people!

    • Keith says

      Done correctly, you CAN get a great workout done in 15-20 min.

      I promote it because I believe it to be a better alt to p90x for most people.

  6. Heidi says

    Wow! I’m guessing you are a major nerd scorned. You must have tried P90x, failed because it’s too hard for you. Now in order for your balls to feel bigger you need to lash out.

    Here’s another pro to add to your list: discipline.

    I worked out at the gym for ten months and lost sixteen pounds.

    I’m seeing much faster results with p90x. It’s nice for people who want an easy way to follow a routine and who are ready to succeed with hard work.

    As far as P90x’s extreme branding, no where does P90x advertise “This is the only way to get in shape!”

    • Keith says

      What were you doing in the gym? Maybe it wasn’t a good routine, maybe your diet wasn’t great while you were in the gym.

  7. Chad says

    I would like to say a few things.
    1. Thank you for an honest post. It took me a little while for a “3rd party” review. I have done P90x and it is a good program. But yes, 7 days a week seesms a bit much. I’ve seen better results and felt better during my workout when I only worked out 3 days a week. (At high intensity)

    2. I also agree with not having to eat every 2-3 hours. I actually started intermittent fasting, or simply, eat when I am hungry. And that seems to work out very well for losing body fat and havent lost much of my stregnth. quite the opposite, I’ve gotten stronger.

    3. The cost of the program is relatively expensive for the average person. Escpcially when you get all the bells and whistles.. Some will argue that the upfront cost will net out over time when compared to monthly gym memberships. Which is true, but you can only do the same workout so many times.

    4. Yes you can get a great workout and have great results in 15-20 minutes. It not the time you put into being at the gym, its what you do in that time that makes the difference.

    Thanks again for your honest opinion.

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