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
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
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.
You can eat 1 meal per day or you can eat 6 meals per day. It doesn’t matter.
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:
- You simply want to get in shape (lose fat and build a little muscle).
- You want to get in shape but are too lazy or embarrassed to go to the gym
- 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
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
- Exact meal plans for those who don’t know what to cook
- Good workouts for building endurance and overall conditioning
- 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!”