P90X, the intense home fitness program by Beachbody, has become wildly popular for its convenience and quick results. Not for the faint of heart — the “X” stands for extreme — the 90-day cycle requires strength training, toning, and cardio workouts six days a week for an hour at a time. If you can stick with the plan, the fitness guru behind P90X, Tony Horton, says you’ll be “absolutely ripped” by the end, thanks to the plan’s rotation of 12 different types of workouts.
“There’s no way after two to three weeks that you’re not feeling stronger and you’re not seeing something happening to your body,” Beachbody co-founder Jon Congdon says. “If you’re overweight, you’ll see a quick change in your waistline.” Also, he says, P90X is convenient and affordable. “It’s a home fitness program so you don’t have the expense of joining a gym.”
The P90X workout schedule is intense — and it might not be suitable for people with a lot of weight to lose or certain health conditions that make exercise difficult. Before you start any exercise routine, you should check with your doctor.
If you do decide to give P90X a try, you’re buying a series of 12 workout DVDs that take you through one of 12 hour-long routines six days a week. “It works in three phases,” Congdon says. “You do three weeks of intense bodybuilding exercises, and then a week of “recover” exercises, which are easier. Then another three weeks of intense exercises and a week of recover and then another three weeks and one week of recover.” The first three weeks in each cycle include new and challenging exercises. “Each time, we introduce new moves and routines so that your body doesn’t plateau and you don’t get bored,” Congdon says, explaining the secret to the success of the P90X workout.
Getting Started With P90X
Anyone can follow the P90X workout schedule — you don’t have to be a super athlete or in super shape, its founders say. However, Congdon says, if you’re totally out of shape you might want to start with P90, which is a little easier, and you should always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Another option, he says, is if there’s an exercise or movement you can’t do, you just don’t do it.
“It’s important that you listen to your body and stop and take lots of rests,” Congdon says. The exercises are pretty intense. “Some people say they feel like they’re burning more calories just watching it.”
The videos are the same for men and women. “We have a lot of couples who have done it together,” Congdon says.
The program also includes a nutritional program designed by nutritionist Carrie Wiatt. It’s not necessarily a weight-loss diet, but it teaches you what to eat to burn fat and build muscle.
Your results will depend on what shape you’re in when you start the program. If you have significant weight to lose, you will, Congdon says. More importantly, he continues, you’ll strengthen and tone your muscles and look and feel better.
“By the end of the program, you’re eating nearly 50 percent complex carbs every day because your body is such a machine and you need fuel to sustain it,” Congdon says. Nutritional supplements are part of the P90X workout program as well, but they are optional.
Like Having Your Own Personal Trainer
Mike Z. Robinson, an ACE certified personal trainer and owner of MZR Fitness in San Luis Obispo, Calif., agrees that the P90X workout is very popular because it’s fun, challenging, and provides results. “A lot of people get bored with their exercise regimens, so when they get something that consistently pushes them and they’re getting results, then it’s a win-win,” he says.
For most people, P90X is like having a personal trainer at a much reduced cost. “There are several key similarities between using P90X and having a personal trainer — the workouts are constantly varied, and motivation and exercise programs are prescribed on a daily basis, just to name a few,” Robinson says.
Although at-home workouts like P90X save the cost of a gym membership, not working with a live trainer can also be a drawback. “The danger of P90X and similar programs is that there is no one to be watchful of your moves, which decreases the likelihood of your getting injured,” Robinson says.
Also, home fitness programs are only effective if you’re motivated to stick with them and make the commitment. “Accountability is one of the main things that people struggle with when it comes to fitness,” Robinson says, “and there is no accountability with these types of products. If you are consistent and do the work, then the program will be successful for you, but you must do it.”