We all want to be in the greatest shape ever, but life has a tendency to prevent us from getting the results we’re looking for. Whether it’s a motivational problem, time constraints with the daily routine, or we just have a hard time finding a workout and dietary strategy that works, getting in the best shape possible is a real frustration to a lot of people. On top of all that, gym membership fees can really be a burden on a lot of peoples budgets. There’s a barrage of home gym devices in our culture who’s creators will lead you to believe they will provide the answer, but they generally wind up collecting dust in the corner until the next garage sale. For me the answer to all of that came with the Beachbody P90X workout system. P90X was first developed in 2002 by Tony Horton and the team at Beachbody. The idea was to create a program using muscle confusion techniques to get maximum results within the walls of your own home. the P90X system utilizes a variety of exercises like weight training, plyometrics, yoga, and cardio to impact the entire body in the course of a 3 block schedule lasting 90 days. Since then, The P90X2 was released in 2011, offering a more sports science method. Now P90X3 is here, and we’re going to put it to the test.
UPDATE: 12/30/14 – we’ve updated this review to cover the Mass Program too – Check it out!
What is P90X3?
With this new system, Tony Horton and his crew have attempted to combine the muscle confusion strategy of the original P90X with the muscle integration strategy of the P90X2. They tailored what was learned in the previous systems, and developed a hyper-intensive workout routine that takes only 30 minutes a day as opposed to the hour plus from the previous systems. With the addition of a basic nutrition system that is included as reading material, and available supplements, the Beachbody crew are providing a full scale attack on the body to get you in the best shape of your life fast.
P90X3 Required Equipment:
Today we’re testing out the P90X3 Base Kit. That includes the 16 workouts on 8 DVDs, the Nutrition and Fitness Guides, Workout Calenders, and some other merchandising materials so you’re sure to know all about the supplements and equipment available at Beachbody. Below, I’ve provided a cost analysis of the system if one were to do everything by the book and follow the P90X3 system as suggested by Beachbody.
- Base Kit: $119.85 (+$19.95 s&h)
- Necessity: Mandatory
- P90X Chin-Up bar: $59.85 (+$14.95 s&h)
- Necessity: Mandatory
- P90X Chin-Up Max: $39.90 (+$6.95 s&h)
- Necessity: Low
- Tony Horton’s PowerStands: $39.90 (+$12.95 s&h)
- Necessity: Low
- Standard Dumbbell set (5-50 lbs): Varies $59.95 – $499.00
- Necessity: High
- B-LINES Resistance Bands (Standard or Super Kit): $39.95 (+$5.95 s&h)
- Necessity: Low
- Yoga Blocks: $16.95 (+$5.95 s&h)
- Necessity: Moderate
- Beachbody Jump Mat: $19.95 (+$9.95 s&h)
- Necessity: Low
- Shakeology: $129.95 per 30 servings (+$14.94 s&h) – x3 for 90 days Totalling $434.67
- Necessity: Low –
- P90X Results and recovery Formula: $49.95 per 30 servings (+$6.95 s&h) – x3 for 90 days Totaling $170.70
- Necessity: Low
- P90X Peak Health Formula: $42.95 per 30 servings (+$6.95 s&h) – x3 for 90 days Totaling $149.70
- Necessity: Low
- P90X Peak Performance Protein Bars: $23.95 per 12 bars sent once a month (+$6.95 s&h) – x3 for 90 days Totaling $92.70
- Necessity: Low
- E&E Energy and Endurance Preworkout Formula: $29.95 per 30 servings (+$6.95 s&h) – x3 for 90 days Totaling $110.70
- Necessity: Low
If you purchase all of the suggested items through Beachbody.com, the 3 month system would cost a minimum of $1431.42 based on my figures above. But don’t let that scare you. Once your 90 days are done, you still have all of the equipment. I am also not a huge proponent for heavy supplementation. During my 90 days, I took a protein shake and a multi-vitamin and I still got results I can’t snub my nose at. I also gave the shakeology a try, but I’ll get into that later. As far as the equipment, I did just fine with just 5-25 lb weights, a yoga mat, and a pull up bar I picked up for under $20, all purchased at a local retailer. If you’re interested in more of the equipment and supplements, other kits are available at an adjusted price on the Beach Body website.
I was a little surprised to also discover that there are alternative workouts available for a price that include the latest version of the Ab Ripper X. The fitness guide does provide descriptions of the exercises, but I’ve concluded that the extra ab exercises are not all that necessary for this routine. You’ll get great abs by doing the regular workouts all the same.
I’m no stranger to the P90X system. Last year I gave the original P90X a try to get rid of some of that winter flab I had developed, so I’ll be using that system as a reference here. The muscle confusion technique involved in it’s development definately helped me lose the weight. However, with each exercise lasting an hour and upwards, and the additional 12 minute Ab Ripper X workout three times a week, it did become a real bother to block the time needed to stick to the program. It also didn’t take long before I found the exercises repetitious, and I began replacing certain workouts with a good old fashioned run instead.
The P90X3 lends a lot of great improvements over the original, the best being the time cut in half to only 30 minutes with no additional Ab Ripper workout. I could never bring myself to wake up more than an hour early every morning to do the original, and therefore a lot of my afternoons were spent working out. With the P90X3, it didn’t take me long to make the transition to morning workouts.
With P90X3, the user is given four different options for workout plans depending on their fitness goals: Classic, Lean, Mass, and Doubles. I went for the classic for starters, and now that my 90 days are up, I’m moving on to Mass to try to increase my muscle mass. That’s right. I’m still using the system, so they must be doing something right. There are 16 separate workouts with the P90X3, so there’s a much higher level of variety available than with the original. This is a huge advantage to anyone who has a hard time sticking with a regimented workout program. The workouts are all over the board, utilizing strength and resistance training, cardio, pilates, yoga, mixed martial arts, and the list goes on. One other improvement I’ve noticed is that these different training strategies are not targeted to specific workout methods, but they are used in a cohesive manner throughout the routine. The most noticeable advantage to this strategy is that it engaged my core more consistently throughout the program, and I was able to cut fat at a much higher rate than any other workout system I’ve ever used. I won’t go into detail here about each of the 16 workouts, but I will say that my favorites were the CVX and the MMX. CVX is a cardio routine with weight added to the mix, and the MMX is the mixed martial arts workout. Both were super intense and gave a great workout.
Workout sheets are also available at beachbody.com. These have been a great tool with the P90X programs from the beginning, and they’re really helpful in tracking your abilities and progress. There is also an app available for iPhone and Android devices, but I wasn’t all that interested in paying the $2.99, and I didn’t want to be sweating all over my phone in the middle of my workouts. The paper sheets work just fine. Tracking your workout is extremely valuable with this routine, because you are able to see what you’ve done and make improvements as time passes. You would be amazed how many more push-ups and pull-ups you’re capable of from the beginning to the end of the program.
For anyone that can’t handle workouts in front of a television (and this used to be me too) Tony Horton does what he can to keep you entertained. As with any other training guru, you’re going to get an element of personality that you may love or hate. In the P90X3, he adds the element of what he calls the “Beyoncification”, where he challenges his willing participants to add a dance move or two in the middle of their workout. He also seems to be a huge fan of the 3 Stooges and the Marx Brothers. Sure, after a while you’re getting the same jokes over again, and if that bothers you there are sound options on the DVDs where you don’t have to listen to it.
The included nutrition guide isn’t any kind of strict diet plan where you need to plan meals weeks in advance, count calories or points, or eat foods that you have a hard time choking down. It’s more of a basic set of guidelines with the concept of eating whole foods and cutting out the junk food. It also provides good suggestions on how to determine portion sizes, and what types of foods together will make for a balanced diet based on your daily lifestyle. When you’re doing a daily workout routine as intensified as the P90X3, the diet is really secondary. Your real goal is to provide your body with the right calories to supplement the routine.
At first I was put off by the concept of Shakeology. The idea of just drinking a meal from what starts as a powdered substance was pretty off-putting. However, I decided to give it a try, and I wasn’t displeased. My main concern was that I would be hungry again within hours, but with the Shakeology I soon discovered that hunger didn’t strike again until the next meal. By using the vanilla flavored shakeology, I was also able to add other ingredients of my choosing to keep it different and interesting, like fruits, cocoa powder, or even ground coffee if I needed that extra pick-me-up in the morning. One word for the wise though, make sure you ground that coffee up really well. It can be a little chewy if you don’t.
So here’s how I did this. On January 1st, 2014, I resumed the original P90X program after gaining some pounds over the holidays. I weighed 173.5 lbs, and I definitely had the spare tire around the midsection working it’s way out. After My 90 days on the original program I weighed in at 166.4 lbs, and then changed it up to the P90X3 system. 90 days later, I weighed in at 150.5 lbs, and had gone from a 34.5″ waist to 31.5″. I’ve had to buy a lot of new clothes over these past few months, so add that cost into the equation if you want to commit to the program fully. Do the math, and at the end of the 6 month period I’ve lost 23 lbs and took 3″ off my waist, so the results here have been pretty positive. I also have the natural build of a distance runner, so I haven’t really gained much for muscle mass in the upper body, although I have toned up quite a bit. I am currently adding protein and calories to my diet, and getting started on the Mass program. Perhaps that will do the trick for me.
New Years Resolution Update – The Mass Program:
The holidays are over, and it’s time to make that slide back to normality. How do you feel about yourself? There have been a few indulgences over that past few months that I know I failed to avoid, and I don’t doubt there are other people out there that have enjoyed their own fair share of holiday vices. Thus, the concept of the New Years Resolution! This is the perfect moment every year to choose a way to better ourselves, whether it’s kicking a bad habit, or just improving our general health and wellness. Real and positive results can take some time though, and if you’re like me and you enjoy outdoor activities during the warmer seasons, the time to start is now!
Over this past summer, we reviewed the benefits of the P90X3 workout system, and using the “Classic” workout schedule, we were very pleased to get noticeable results. However, the P90X3 system offers more than just one workout program, and depending on your fitness goals, there are three other schedules available:
Lean – For those who want to shed fat and get lean. designed with a cardiovascular workout routine for more efficient fat loss.
Doubles – A twice a day workout routine for those with a full hour every day and the physical ability to handle twice the workout. Designed to REALLY get you in shape, but you better be ready to put the work in.
Mass – The newest addition to the P90X series, a routine designed to increase the body’s lean muscle mass. Emphasizing more on the strength training aspect of the workouts P90X3 has to offer.
We completed our analysis of the P90X3 “Classic” 90 day program mid-summer this year, and because we enjoyed such impressive results, we have since decided to give the “Mass” program a try throughout the rest of the year. The P90X3 “Mass” program is not designed for someone who is just getting started though, and we highly recommend to anyone with a goal of using this system to gain more lean muscle mass to ease in, and acclimate to the system by first following the “Classic” 90 day routine.
The concept behind the “Mass” program is to utilize the same 30 minute workouts provided with the P90X3 package, but scheduling specific workouts in a different way than the “Classic” program to focus more on building muscle. As with the “Classic” program, the workouts still incorporate some of the same core and cross-training workouts as before, but they don’t have quite the same emphasis. Instead, you will endure a much more rigorous strength training program that includes mostly upper body and some lower body resistance training. As always, the chin-up bar and dumbbell set (or resistance bands) will be necessary to get true value from the program, especially this time around with the focus mainly on resistance training.
During The first 4 week block, the change of pace was most welcome after enduring 90 days of the “Classic” schedule. The “Mass” program still made use of the original P90X muscle confusion strategy with a good array of workout techniques. The first block does emphasize more on core training, which is not all that surprising. Without a solid core, the body will be incapable of supporting the heavy pushing and pulling required to build muscle. Upon the start of week 5, the beginning of the second training block, we realized what we were preparing ourselves for. During this phase, the Eccentric Upper and Eccentric Lower workouts made up the bulk of the routine in the program, both done twice a week, and making up 2/3’s of the full workout schedule. The Eccentric workouts use the theory of time under tension, requiring the participant to take slow counts during reverse resistance movements, and then explode up on the primary resistance movements. These workouts are challenging, but if you’ve prepared properly you won’t run into any problems getting through the full 30 minutes every day. The issue we found most prominent was the repetition in these specific workouts during the final 9 weeks in the program. One of our favorite attributes of the P90X3 “Classic” program was the interchangeability in routine, and this shift to a more repetitious schedule made it difficult to stay focused and continue for such a long period of time. Another challenge that we ran into was in diet adjustment. When you change your workout regiment with a focus on building muscle rather than cutting fat, the body needs to be supplied with more calories. All of our bodies metabolize differently, so we recommend easing into different eating patterns with a bigger, higher protein diet during those first 4 weeks. Otherwise all of those extra calories can go right into your gut, and you don’t want that to happen after all of the work you did on your core during the 90 day “Classic” workout. Thankfully, the P90X nutrition guide is provided with the program, so portioning can be made easier.
Once the initial 90 days were complete, I went from 150.5 lbs to a final weigh-in of 160 lbs. I did go through an adjustment period getting my diet right for this particular routine, but once I had it figured out the extra core workouts helped to keep me trim in the right places. I also naturally have the physique of an endurance runner, so I’ve always found difficulty building muscle in my upper body, which explains the draw of this routine for me. With 9.5 lbs increase in body weight, and very little change in my core physique, I think the evidence is pretty overwhelming that I have built up more muscle mass throughout my body.
Since concluding the 90 day routine at the end of September, I have made a few modifications to make the P90X3 my own. I’ve been cycling back and forth between the blocks used in the “Classic” and “Mass” programs, cutting through the repetition that has previously caused me to lose the drive to work out regularly. To better manage my time in daily routine, I have continued to do the workouts in the morning before work every day. Additionally, on two strategically placed afternoons a week, I’ve added a good old-fashioned upper body free-weight training routine that incorporates some of the most beneficial resistance moves from the P90X series. I continue to get better results than any other training routine I’ve ever tried, and in just 30 minutes a day with the exception of double workouts twice a week.
The P90X3 continues to impress us, whether using the “Classic” or the “Mass” program. I’ve been using the program for 9 months now, and because I’ve learned so much about the system and my body’s personal mechanics, I’ve been able to create a routine that works best for me as an individual. I am extremely impressed to continue discovering new ways to change and modify this system for what works to acheive great results. Whether you are already in great shape, or you’ve let yourself go this holiday season and you want to bounce back, we are confident that you will find the P90X3 a useful tool in whatever New Years resolution you’ve decided to challenge yourself with. After all, summer is just around the corner and we all want to look our best when that time comes.
- Daily workouts are completed in an optimal time, each taking only a half hour.
- Great system for engaging the core, leading to fast fat burning results and a cut physique.
- No membership fees, and doable within the home. Once you have your kit and the proper equipment, you're set for life!
- The recommended supplementation is a little overboard...and expensive! On the bright side, anyone can elect not to take the dietary supplements.
- Repetition. Although, this edition is better than those of the past, you're going to be training to the same videos over and over.