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. Ismael says

    When I started reading the article, I though, oh great a guy just hating on p90x. But I found myself relating to everything you wrote surprisingly. I had tried doing p90x several times but always gave up because my muscles were in too much pain and i couldnt get to the next workout.

    Thankfully beachbody released a new workout series called p90x3, only a 30 min workout a day. I find its perfect for someone just starting out and trying to lose weight. i even find myself doing two workouts a day sometimes.

    awesome post thanks.

  2. Geons says

    It might have many cons.But as per my experience when I started P90X i used to do around 15 pushups and 1 or 2 pullups. After 90 days I was able to do 100 pushups straight and 15 pull ups.I didnt knew that 6 meals per day is not necessary though.Anyway i got into much better shape and able to do more pushups and pull ups. I dont know whether any other program would make me more fitter.I believe any type of exercise (done in proper form) routine will make u fitter and stronger.

  3. Zelink says

    This review is honest, but the thing is, it’s all based on your opinion. First let’s start with “muscle confusion”…Of course muscles don’t get confused, muscle confusion is just a term to explain the idea to the general public. And there is some science. Think about it, our bodies are designed to adapt to the environment, and they do adapt to your workout as well, not only weight size and etc. For example, the more you run the better you become, the less strain on your muscles it will put, and the less calories you are gonna burn. That’s a common sense thing you can easily notice. And you probably have noticed that every time you change a workout plan you get fast results at first, then they slow down. The thing is, i went to fitness for years and yes, i did get results, but when i started p90x i got faster, better results in less time and for less money. I was intending to go by every one of your points one by one, but the thing is, i went to fitness, worked out as hard as i could, ate super cleanly and supplemented, and i still get better results at home without eating as clean as before. If you say the workouts are overkill or too hard… No, they aren’t. There are guys that weighted more than 150 kg’s and they did the program, why can’t you? It’s not the workouts, sure they are tough, but they get a lot easier. It’s you!!!!
    There are hundreds of thousands of people that did it (i gave it to a lot of friends and it worked great for them too) and got awesome results. It works, and it works better. And there’s one other thing, the harder you work, the more you’l get. That applies to everything in life. Bodybuilders work out every day for hours(some for 5 straight), that’s how you get better.
    I won’t be surprised if my comment isn’t even approved though.

    • Keith says

      Then they should pick another term! It’s gives off the wrong idea that muscles can be confused and provides misinformation.

      • Lizzy says

        Zelink, I couldn’t have said it better. Love it!! Wonder if Keith even tried the P90x program or is he just bad mouthing it to sell another. I call BULL SHIT Keith maybe if you try it, do the movements in proper form you will seethe excellent results we all did.Now I’m sure this comment wont make it. Anyway I said what I wanted to say. Cheers

  4. Taylor says

    I agree with Zelink. Muscle confusion is lot a literal term…it’s used to help the average Joe understand the concept. Anyone who takes this term literally…well…may benefit from doing some basic research before they begin any exercise program. Also, eating many meals a day may not speed up your metabolism…but it’s not meant to. There is science to support that this is (overall) best for your body because it maintains your blood sugar levels for sustained energy and greatly reduces chances of binging off of craving.

  5. says

    Ok, quick question. I got off the couch 3 years ago. I have done almost all cardio. No weight training, no stretching (very inflexible). I will be running my 10th marathon in a couple of weeks and I completed an Ironman triathlon 4 months ago (I was training 22 hours or more per week for 2 months, peaking at 29 hours/week-all swimming, biking, running). After my upcoming marathon, I will be hitting my “off-season”. I will take a week off of everything, but will want to do some non-running activity before I move back into a running centered routine in the spring. My plan was to simply back off of exercise (maybe 3-6 hours on non-structured activity a week), but my weight is already starting to creep up and don’t want to lose all my fitness. P90x just showed up in the Amazon Gold Box and I am debating getting it since it would be a completely different workout routine and may help with general fitness. I would not be able to commit to the full program since I would have to move back to a running regime for a May marathon and a June ultra 24 hour race. But I could likely do 30-45 days. Would it be a good program? I basically need something other then swimming, cycling and running. Thoughts?

  6. Brae says

    I completely understand this article. A few years ago I went to the gym and started seeing a slowdown in results. I stopped going. Since returning a few months ago with a better understanding of biology and fitness I incorporate a lot of P90x exercises into my routine but I’m eating much better and seeing a lot better results. weight loss for me means, 70% clean eating, 20% cardio 10% weights.

  7. James says

    It sounds like you are hating on p90x a bit. I say let people be the judge of the program. You keep saying it’s not the most effective but no program is perfect.

  8. Julia says

    While it might be true that the intensity of the program is “unnecessary”, it depends on each person’s desire to get fit as soon as possible. It is a difficult program but not impossible to achieve. You’re not required to do exactly as the pros on the videos do, which would be ridiculous. Tony himself says do what you can, but do it.

  9. roxanne says

    I bought P90X on impulse a few months into my pregnancy (about 5 years ago). Since then, it has been looking pretty collecting dust on my shelf.
    Only recently have I decided to finally put myself to the challenge but I’m not interested in following the nutrition plan. At all.
    I am curious to know if embarking on this gruelling 90 day venture will be worth it according to my specific needs:

    1. I weigh 127 lbs and am only interested in losing 15 lbs
    2. I would love to tone up in the legs and stomach
    3. To build upper body strength as I currently have zero

  10. Mohamed Salih says

    Thanks to P90X, I reduce my 8 kg weight within 2 months and especially Abs i was never think my abs will reduce in my life. But My Abs are now normal and My body is fit without going Jim. I am sure that after finish my P90X second schedule my family can’t recognize me. I study a lot from P90x. No pain No gain guys lets do it……

  11. Jason says

    Thanks Keith. I like to see a good balanced critique of a fad. Like many of the above comments from others and yourself, we see that P90x has some real true results – however, how many will want to/be able to “stick with it” in the long run.

    This is just another exercise equivalent to a extra rugged “DIET” – Works great now – but how long is someone going to be maintaining it?

    I consistently go to Gold’s gym. My progress is not as extreme or speedy, but I am getting stronger by the month.

    Jason

  12. Charlotte says

    I just started p90x Monday, today is Thursday (1-22-15) and the first disk KILLED me! I didn’t work out Tuesday & Wednesday bc my stomach hurt SO bad! I’ve never in my life exercised I’ve always be flat stomach toned. Until I had a child :p so I decided to lose 15lbs. I just finished Cardio 30 minutes ago. It’s hard, but it’s not supposed to be a breeze losing fat like it is gaining it. I’ll continue to push myself. I’ve seen so many people with awesome results! This is one guys opinion, opposed to the thousands who’ve lost weight.

  13. thedab says

    I’ve been interested in the p90x for a little while, and a coworker and I are planning on doing p90x3 (I might jump the gun and get started on my own first).

    I appreciate the fully honest review, thanks for writing it. On the topic of “muscle confusion” – that’s not the right term, you’re right Keith. I had a trainer briefly for a while last year (mostly because I didn’t know a thing about what I was doing in the gym – now I do) and it’s about working different muscles to give others a chance to “breathe”, basically – working too much of one muscle isn’t good. So yes, they should definitely not sell the term “muscle confusion” because scientifically, it is bullshit.

    That said, I’m prepared to buy the program and invest the time and money needed to achieve results (for me, it’s strictly about looking good, not losing weight). And let’s not forget, any form of exercise is good, even if it’s not an ideal form of exercise.

    Great article though! Gave me lots of food for thought! Also, very funny. :)

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