View Full Version : is the "p90x" really effective or commercial bs?

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10/06/2009 5:00pm,
I'v heard alot about the p90x but I was wondering if it is just more commercial BS that I see commonly on t.v

"OMgz why buy this product for 29.99 when u can only buy it for 3 prices of 15 dollars!!!"

10/06/2009 5:43pm,
I dunno about how effective it is, but I can tell you it will certainly kick your ass. We add about 15 minutes of p90x style work after classes for the month or so leading up to tournaments.

10/06/2009 8:34pm,
P90X can be effective, but there is nothing magical about it.

Is it so hard to believe that if work out an hour a day for the next 90 days that you'll get into great shape?

Like any excercise program/diet the problem is sticking with it. Most people don't have the discipline to do it.

My sister and brother in law are both PE teachers and coach highschool sports. They made going through p90x their summer project. Even despite being athletes all there lives and having each other to motivate and support they stopped after a few weeks.

10/06/2009 9:26pm,
The other aspect is the weakness of any video training. A video can't tell if you're cheating through an exercise or not using the form to get the most out of an exercise.

Exercise videos do serve a purpose, and from what I've seen of the program it looks good. Not my choice though...I'd rather swim or work out with my trainer.

10/06/2009 10:15pm,
While you may not end up as ripped as the commercials, if you follow the video you'll be in alot better shape. If you're in really good shpe to begin with it won't make too much of a difference. But in my opinion, its definitely worth the investment

10/07/2009 12:53am,
Part of a 3 part critique of p90x from an RKC point of view- basically pointing out ways in which it inflates it's claims and misses some of the science it's trying to employ

10/08/2009 12:44am,
The only bit I've seen of this program is this little ad on a sidebar that was showing its founder or whatever in his before and after pictures. In the before pics you can tell that the guy has muscles. Essentially all he did was lose some fat to uncover them, bust out some sets for a quick pump, get dehydrated and then take some pictures body-builder style.

That's just the impression I'm getting. I could be wrong.

10/08/2009 7:43pm,
BTW. My brother-in-law who has a BS in Kinesiology and a Masters in Sports Performance Enhancement said the program was good. He didn't have any major problems with the excerises or claims.

But like I said, you have to do it. Go balls out for an hour at day for the next 3 months.

10/08/2009 8:30pm,
I wrote these critiques in an earlier topic

It may simply be the marketing I take issue with, but here goes.

1: It's a 90 day program, of course it's going to provide results. Any person following any decent program for 3 months is going to get results. The problem people have is sticking with the damn program in the first place. I know lots of people that keep falling off the P90X wagon after 1 month. There's nothing magical or exclusive to P90X on this one.

2: It's a system, not just a workout. Many people miss this fact. The system includes the DIET. If you follow the strict diet laid out in the program along with follow P90X, you'll get results. However, if you followed the diet and any other decent program on earth, you'd also get results, and I contend they may in fact be BETTER than the ones on the P90X workout.

3: Muscle confusion. Everyone has a hardon about this aspect of the program. Your body isn't dumb. You aren't "tricking" it into progressing because one day you did curls and the next day you did spider curls. It's just a mutation of the idea of progressive resistance. A GREAT way to "confuse" your muscles is by adding more weight or more reps to your workout every single time you step in the gym. Look at programs like Starting Strength, where you stick with the same movement for over a YEAR and STILL keep making progress, because every time you step into the gym you add more weight to the bar. It doesn't take anything overly complicated to make progress, just hard ass work, which most people would rather substitute by switching movements constantly.

4: Muscle group splits for beginning level trainees. I may just be old fashioned, by I fail to see the point in having an arms day when you don't even have any arms. Beginning level trainees don't need to focus entire days to muscle groups, they can work the whole body in one workout with simply a lower body movement, an upper body push, and an upper body pull. If you feel more volume is necessary, split between lower body and upper body. Save the muscle group splitting for more advanced trainees, and typically those with bodybuilding aspirations.

5: Ab ripper X. Most beginning level trainees spend WAY too much time on their abs trying to get a six pack through spot reduction, and really would benefit more from lowerback/core work to balance out the imbalances brought about by too strong of abs.

I will applaud P90X for getting people off the couch, but for the way the infomercials promote it and it's cultlike following, I just don't see what is so fantastic about it. I get tired of my friends telling me they're on P90X while they eat their 4th donut, or people in the gym talking about the great secret of "muscle confusion" and giving me a smug glance as I work on my front squats for the 6th week in a row. Oh when will I ever learn.

And here is a discussion on it


10/08/2009 9:33pm,
I'm trying to remember, programs like starting strength still "wave" the loads with planned "back-off" weeks, correct? And then rachet up the load again?

Sri Hanuman
10/08/2009 9:36pm,
I tried it. Didn't last 30 minutes. For cardio, fat burning, and toning, this program will kick your ass, it certainly floored me...

I must say, the instructor acts like he's on crack... in an entertaining way.

10/08/2009 11:58pm,
P90X is a very hard program, but it can easily be equaled by other programs(CrossFit, Caveman Training,....).

The big thing that gets overlooked is that it is NOT a beginners program. It is for intermediate to advanced exercisers. And please don't follow the dietary, it is horrible.

10/09/2009 12:04am,
Prepare for a long testimonial from a possible victim of brain washing:

I saw the commercials for P90x a couple of years back and thought it had potential, but I'm just not the kind of person that buys crap they see on late night infomercials.

Then last year my sister in law started the program. She was already a personal trainer and in great shape, but she still experienced major results. After the 90 days, she kept up with the nutrition program and has continued doing the workouts. She's also become a distance runner for the first time in her life and recently finished a marathon.

Basically she's become a fitness fanatic and does have the body of the people who they showcase in their commercials. Is it all thanks to the 90 day program? No, it took longer, but P90x sure initiated her lifestyle change. Actually, I'm pretty sure they tell you in the ads that the people who are really ripped are ones who went on and did a second 90 day session.

Fast forward to present and I've been doing P90x with my wife for 7 weeks now. We've both made some very noticeable improvements in strength and flexibility. I've also dropped 15 lbs without really intending too. The workouts are no joke, and actually remind me a lot of both football conditioning in high school, and the cross-fit classes I did in BJJ. They last anywhere from 1-1.5 hours including a ~10 min warmup and ~5 min cooldown.

In addition to strength training, the program focuses a lot on becoming a better athlete by improving quickness, balance, and flexibility, which I love.

No offense to Emevas, but a lot of your critiques towards p90x aren't very well informed. First off, muscle confusion isn't presented in any way as a substitute for increasing weight or reps. Basically, it's always being drilled into you that if you went over on reps, you need to add more weight. You keep a detailed worksheet for every workout that uses weights so you know when you need to increase. For body-weight exercises, its always about doing max reps.

The muscle confusion thing is very similar to high intensity interval training. Except, for example, instead of repeating the same 5 exercises for 5 sets, you're doing 12 or 13 similar but modified exercises for 2 sets. Depending on the day, those exercises are split between 2-3 muscle groups (biceps, shoulders, triceps, legs, back, etc.) Having done a lot of HIIT in the past, I was already convinced of its effectiveness so maybe this program just happens to be tailor made for me.

P90x is also divided into 3 tiers that are each 3 weeks long with a "rest week" (the rest day workouts are still hard) in between. The change in tiers basically increases the intensity, and mixes up the muscle groups that you were working on together. After having been through the first 2 tiers, I can definitely say that the 3rd week of each tier felt the easiest. I think that was more of a mental thing because by then I was familiar enough with the workout to know in my head that I was going to be able to finish. Even so, I like switching up the workouts every few weeks. It adds variety and, like I said, they increase the intensity.

Onto muscle group splits. Maybe its a difference in the way we were educated, but my weightlifting classes from 9th grade through college all advocated it. You might be able to do a complete full body workout in an hour, but you won't be working any single area as hard as you would have if you'd only focused on a few locations. Not to mention, the beauty of splits is that they give one part of your body time to recover while you work another. Someone working the same muscles every day is going to plateau or burn out.

I don't agree with you that a beginner should train any differently than someone who knows what they're doing. If anything, its in their best interest to pick up the right way from the start. It doesn't really apply anyway, since P90x isn't intended for beginners. It's meant for people who already have a background in fitness and want to get to the next level.

Ab ripper X. I agree with everything you said, and fortunately so does Tony Horton (the P90x guy). You only do it 3 days a week after your daily workout and it focuses on your entire core, all the way down to your hip flexors. The back gets enough attention on other days.

As for your first criticisms about the diet and needing to work out for 90 days, that seems pretty self evident. I can't see getting into P90x without full dedication, otherwise it'd be a waste of time and money. Both my wife and myself announced to our families and friends that we were doing it, and now we're pretty much obligated to see it through. It's definitely not easy, but looking back it hasn't felt like some insurmountable challenge either. We're already talking about doing another 90 days when the first one ends.

There's an even tougher version of P90x that adds 2-a-days and incorporates distance running into the mix. I think that might be the way to go, but I want to finish the standard version first.

Finally, some people have questioned whether the exercise videos are helpful. I did myself in the past, but I definitely think they are now. Even if I was doing the exact same program on my own, I don't think I'd be as motivated as I am when I'm watching 4 other people (always including at least 1 hot woman) do the workouts better than me. Horton is a great coach too, he gives really detailed instructions for all the exercises and explains how to modify them for an even tougher workout.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the long ass rebuttal. It's just that after reading the old P90x thread, I felt like it was lacking the perspective of someone who's both got firsthand experience with it, and actually expects to complete the program. I was going to keep it to myself but since the thread got revived anyway, I figured, "what the hell?"

10/09/2009 10:38am,
Barrett, I appreciate the respectful nature that you refute my points with, and I will attempt the same in my reply.

Regarding muscle confusion, my argument isn't in regards to how it is emphasized, but more the marketing of the concept as the key to the success. It's a concept that's usually employed by the uneducated that proposes change simply for the sake of change. If you take a look at a powerlifter, they have developed an incredible amount of muscle without confusing their muscles at all. They train for the same 3 lifts for a career, and yet have no issues putting on muscle.

I don't quite understand your parallel between HIIT and resistance training, as I'm more familiar with HIIT from a met-con standpoint rather than resistance training implementation. Perhaps you could elaborate?

As for muscle group splits, my education is less geared towards weight training classes and more authors such as Pavel Tsastouline, Stuart McRobert, Paul Kelso, Joe Hise, Perry Radar, Dave Tate, and many others in the iron game when it comes to training beginners. You bring up the point of hitting a muscle group harder on a muscle group split, but I ask why one needs to hit a muscle any harder than is necessary to promote optimum gains? Most beginners don't need a great deal of volume to progress, and abbreviated training tends to elict great gains in the genetically average and overtrained population.

This leads into the next point, in terms of the difference between beginners and non-beginners. It's not simply a question of "knowing what you're doing", it's a question of your physical readiness and work capacity. A beginner's body doesn't require concepts like linear periodization or conjugate periodization or rest pause, forced negatives, etc etc. A beginner, by definition, progresses from linear progression. A beginner program is different from a non-beginner in that it is based around linear progression, and it is these programs that helps build the necessary foundation for more advanced training. It's just like any other activity, novices do not train like experts, they train like how the experts trained when they were novices.

For ab ripper X, my concern is more an entire "ab workout". I feel that (much like the muscle group splitting), it's a large amount of focus on an already overtrained area for most Americans. I can see throwing in 1-2 ab workouts at the end of a well constructed program. I also do not feel as though the back (or really a great deal of the posterior chain) gets enough attention compared to the rest of the program, just based on the light resistance levels being employed.

As I said in the previous thread, the majority of my concerns is more in how the program is marketed, but in terms of technical issues, the majority of my concern is listed above.\

Self Critical: Starting Strength doesn't wave the weights, it's a straight weight program. The author does advocate "resets" though, where weight is reduced by 10% in order to rebuild momentum.

10/13/2009 1:10pm,
Barret, did you read my linked critique of p90x? In particular i'd like to hear your responses to how the author criticizes the timeframe on their periodization.

4/24/2012 11:56am,
As previously mentioned, anyone who spends 90 days adhering to a workout program of any sort, with little to no cheating, will see impressive results. The commercials for this product have got me pretty convinced that P90x is most successful at turning any devotee into a bit of a narcissist.