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P90x Review: The Brutally Honest Truth About P90x

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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!”

Chris - December 1, 2016

Tried P90X for the first time back in 2009 and it did work great for the 45 days I stuck to it. Followed the diet plan (mostly) as well. The diet plan was nice because it gave me a strict guideline, but it does get repetitive and often takes longer to make the food than to workout.

Tried it on and off through the years, but never stuck to it. Just starting it again now and hope to make it the whole 90 days. It was kind of depressing to see that my starting weight I wrote down in 2009 is 30lbs less than today. But that just means the weight should come off faster, right?

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C Lawson - November 23, 2016

My experience with P90x is totally opposite from what this author has suggested. I’ve been working with this program for over four years and absolutely love it. Now, do I go 60 minutes six days a week, absolutely not, but I do workout 4-5 days a week for 20-40 minutes….certainly an abridged version of the program, but this fits my needs.
I’m 56 years old, lost over 25 pounds, and four inches off my waist and moved it to my chest. (I’m 5′ 8″ and 147#). Most importantly my percent of body fat has dropped significantly. I feel as though I’m in the best shape of my adult life. I set up a gym in my basement because I new that I had a better chance of working out each day by walking down a set of steps than driving 15 minutes to a gym. (Personal preference)
The variety of exercises is what has kept me motivated to continue, not to mention it is part of my daily routine. Some days I follow the program religiously and other days I mix it up, just depending on my mood or desire.
I will add that diet does play a MAJOR part in any fitness program. I eat smart most days, but allow a cheat meal and a cheat day most weeks. Quite frankly I eat as much as I want, but I eat the right foods. If you are not knowledgeable about what are the better foods to eat, spend a little time on the net researching this topic. I eat very little processed foods! Concentrate on meats, fruits and veggies, nuts, beans and whole grains.
The fact of the matter is that we all have our schedules, our foods that we like and dislike, and how much we will push ourselves to do something different that will result in an experience to move us to what each of us wants. It’s imperative that you find that mix that YOU can live with and that continues to help you “move the ball forward”. For me, I knew if I tried to make a dramatic change in my diet and workout program, it would be short lived. So my first goal was to make subtle changes and as I began to see progress, I would push a little harder.
This program fit my need, and still does today. Hopefully you will find it the same, but if not, that’s OK, there are many more out there. If nothing else, do something, just get started, and begin slowly.
Good luck in your endeavors and keep moving the ball forward.

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Just some guy - November 23, 2016

Ok, for everyone that’s talking to the author negatively, this is his own opinion, if you don’t like what you see why click at all. Whether he makes good or bad points that doesn’t matter, it’s his opinion in the end so why criticize the man for speaking his mind. He’s giving options other then the p90x to people with less time on their hands, no one said “wow what a nice guy” for that. And lastly it can be scary to some people you dumbfuck, some people are scared of that much commitment, some people are scared of doing that much work and eating healthy, so this nice guy gave an alternative to the p90x and gave some wisdom as well. I personally enjoyed this article, some stuff I knew, some I didn’t, either way the criticizers can go ahead and fuck off.

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caro - October 29, 2016

Brutal, but not very honest.
Your dietary info about fasting doesn’t apply to women. Do some research.
Your information about the types of people that do this program is obviously just something you made up.
Your heading about optimal ways to lose weight contains NO information about optimal ways, just ways.

Thanks for wasting five minutes of my time, including the effort to block such a stupid website.

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Craig - October 5, 2016

The author may already have some perspective on eating right and good exercise plan. I didn’t know how to eat or even know which muscles I needed to work before starting. My routine before p90x was, sit ups, push ups, and curls. My diet was eggs, wheat toast, and red bulls. Impressive, I know. I’m not going to stand on a mountain and scream about how great p90x is. I can tell you though, it taught me the basics that you may have read about or by trial and error. I won’t do p90x for years but it has me aware of so much more with eating and what real exercise is. You learned your way and I learned mine. Muscle confusion bullshit, yea I’ve read, don’t care because I’m not following Tony Horton to some other country to build our own community of p90xers. P90x is an instructional program that got me started on eating and exercising.

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Jessica - August 23, 2016

This article is way way way over the top, and not helpful at all. Why was this the first link in google? To only talk so negatively about a program that has changed many people’s lives, means he is really biased for some reason.

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Robert - August 10, 2016

Obviously, this author hasnt got involved personally with p90x. It’s a relationship with your body, not a simple means to lose weight or look good, those points are inevitable. During the program, you learn about yourself, your limits and how to increase strength and mental stamina. It’s unwise to take these types of reviews seriously without the personal touch of experience from the author demonstrating how it didn’t work for him or her. p90x is as much an educational facility as it is a workout regime. If you’ve fallen, get back up. Do one or all of the workouts and you’ll see results. And anyone who says muscle confusion isn’t real, or important, should study biology and physiology, because it’s obvious they haven’t a clue how it works.

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Phil - August 9, 2016

I did P90x a few years back after I was determined to get in shape. In combination with decreasing the amount of food I was eating (never followed the diet) I lost 85 pounds. Over the next few years, I gained all of that weight back. The workouts are too difficult to sustain. If you do end up losing a significant amount of weight you better have a game plan to maintain it right away or you can fall into a lazy trap and end up heavier than before.

I also was never able to go from day 1 to day 90 without missing workouts (usually more than one in a row). I was constantly starting over or substituting workouts with just running around my neighborhood. I also skipped Ab Ripper X as I was too drained after the initial workout to then put in a second DVD for abs only. The workouts can be so intense that it takes a lot of will power to stick to it. With that being said some of the workouts are fun: the Yoga is awesome but long as hell at 1hr 45min and Kenpo is fun as well. It’s worth trying if you want but if losing weight and maintaining it is what’s important, focus on what and how you are eating!

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Sab - August 8, 2016

See, the thing that really bothers me about this article is perpetuating how ‘scary’ p90x is, and how obvious it is that the author clearly never tried this routine.

Let me clear this up… P90x is not that bad. Like any work out it depends on how you apply yourself. Sometimes I’m tired and can’t really push.

Oh well- write down your reps/sets like any other work out and see if you can improve next time.

I strongly recommend this program for beginners who need guidance and the encouragement of visible results within a few weeks. It’s so encouraging and to know that while it’s hard as hell to do exercises at the beginning, but you WILL improve.

You can take each day at your own pace- just show up! You’re already a step ahead from not doing anything. Puking by pushing needlessly hard is stupid.

Trust your body and grow with it.

Also yoga was probably the most challenging.

It’s funny because all of these criticisms sound like the author googled the routine and decided to be nitpicky.

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