The P90X Exercise Program

Introduction to the P90X Exercise Program

Kids boast about the intensity of their P90X workouts on the social network websites.  Adults attribute stunning, almost unbelievable weight loss attributed to the success of the program.  The P90X exercise program is popular with adults and teens.  What is P90X?

P90X program advertisementP90X, or Power 90 Extreme, is a home exercise system developed by Tony Horton in junction with the fitness and nutrition company, Beachbody.  Horton developed the initial Power 90 program and honed the details of the program over the course of several years, introducing Power 90 Master Series and P90X, before partnering with Beachbody.  Beachbody had made several exercise programs themselves but decided that they needed a more rigorous regimen for people already experienced with Beachbody’s existing fitness programs.

Beachbody noted that there was a gap for people who already had extensive exercise experience.  They wanted a program that would allow their customers to “take it to the next level”.  Beginning in 2002, for two years, they consulted with various fitness experts and experimented with a variety of disciplines to find the most effective combination of moves and exercises that would promote rapid weight loss and physical fitness.  The result – the P90X program. P90X debuted to the public in 2004.

A core principle in the P90X program was a method called “periodization” or muscle confusion.  Periodization had been used by bodybuilders for decades prior to the introduction of the P90X program.  During exercise, the human body adapts to the specific movements incorporated in the exercise routine.  One means of adaption is muscle growth but the body also adapts in such a manner that a particular exercise, done the same way every time, will become less effective in building endurance and stamina. A method of cross training achieved through switching the exercise and incorporating a wide variety of new and varied movements counters this effect and shocks the muscles promoting rapid growth.

The P90X program was introduced in 2004.  P90X infomercials utilized documentary footage to show the P90X approach and the results that were achieved during their two year development phase.  The informercial won a Telly award in 2009 and a Moxie award in 2010.  In addition to heavy promotion via infomercials, Beachbody endorsed the product through an intense internet marketing blitz that included news releases and promotion posts in fitness forums throughout the Web.

P90X’s success was unparalleled.  The product quickly became Beachbody’s best selling product representing half of Beachbody’s $430 million revenue in 2010.  As of 2011, three million copies of P90X DVDs had been sold for an estimated $420 million.

What is the P90X Home Fitness Program?

Dumbell weightsPart of the attraction of the P90X program is its simplicity. Required gear for the P90X exercise program is fairly easy to obtain.  The program requires an exercise mat, dumbbells, a pull up bar, resistance bands, yoga blocks, and a sturdy chair. The P90X program’s 90 day exercise cycle combines a variety of exercise techniques including strength training, cardio, yoga, plyometrics, and stretching.  The program runs for 13 weeks and requires exercising six days per week.  There are three “rotations” in the P90X program – classic, lean, and doubles – that allow the individual to select which one of these rotations will best suit their personal goals and objectives.

The program includes 12 DVD workout videos.  Most workouts are less than an hour in duration (the “Ab Ripper” abdominal workout is performed after six of the workouts which adds about 15 minutes of exercise to the session).

The program also includes a nutrition guide containing three phases.  The first 30 days emphasizes higher protein and lower carbohydrates in order to supply the body with the appropriate nutrients as the body becomes accustomed to the intense exercise regime.  More carbohydrates are introduced during the 2nd phase while the 3rd phase increases the carbohydrates even more.  The nutritional phases coincide with the physical training routine.

The complete 13-week P90X program includes:

Week 1

Chest and back, pectorals, back, biceps, triceps, legs, shoulders strength exercises running for about 1 hour.  It also includes abdominal exercises.  Equipment required includes weights or bands, push up bars, pull up bar or bands, chair.

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 2

Chest and back, pectorals, back, biceps, triceps, legs, shoulders strength exercises running for about 1 hour.  It also includes abdominal exercises.  Equipment required includes weights or bands, push up bars, pull up bar or bands, chair.

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 3

Chest and back, pectorals, back, biceps, triceps, legs, shoulders strength exercises running for about 1 hour.  It also includes abdominal exercises.  Equipment required includes weights or bands, push up bars, pull up bar or bands, chair.

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 4

Core synergistic, full body strength training and runs about 1 hour.  Equipment required includes weights or bands, plastic plate, cardboard or towel.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 5

Chest, shoulders, and triceps, pectorals strength training and runs about 1 hour. Equipment required includes push up bars, plastic plate, cardboard or towel, chair.

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 6

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 7

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 8

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 9

Chest and back, pectorals, back, biceps, triceps, legs, shoulders strength exercises running for about 1 hour.  It also includes abdominal exercises.  Equipment required includes weights or bands, push up bars, pull up bar or bands, chair.

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 10

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 11

Chest and back, pectorals, back, biceps, triceps, legs, shoulders strength exercises running for about 1 hour.  It also includes abdominal exercises.  Equipment required includes weights or bands, push up bars, pull up bar or bands, chair.

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 12

Plyometrics, legs, full body cardio running for about 59 minutes.  Equipment required includes heart rate monitor, mat, stool or chair.

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Week 13

Yoga, full body stretch running for 1 ½ hours.  Equipment required includes yoga blocks.

Kenpo, body cardio.  Requires heart rate monitor.

Shoulders and arms

Is the P90X program effective?  Is it dangerous?

Iced kneeIs the P90X exercise program effective?  Is it dangerous?  Most experts agree that the P90X program is effective for weight loss but not quite as effective for muscle gain.  Like any intense exercise regime, the P90X program burns calories and hence, does indeed promote rapid weight loss as promised.  More importantly though, the program has kids and adults excited about exercise which in and of itself is a win for the American public.

The P90X program will not work for all people though.  The P90X program requirements are intense so it is typically not sustainable for adults or the elderly.  Similarly, overweight persons or persons with pre-existing injury will be unable to complete the program. Kids and teenagers can probably handle it just fine though.

Some believe that some of the exercise included in the program may be harmful to joints and tendons.  Muscle injury is common during the P90X cycle, especially if the exercises are done incorrectly or too much weight is used (a common problem with youngsters).

Since the program involves such a variety of exercise movements, the person does not have time to learn and practice the proper form for each exercise which introduces the risk of injury.  In addition, the quick changes between exercises can also increase the chance of injury according to American Council on Exercise.  The P90X video does note that you can pause the video between exercises but most users try not to do this.

Many expert bodybuilders claim the P90X program is merely a money making opportunity and that “Cardio, weight training, and proper nutrition and rest” is all that’s really needed to stay or get in shape.  For instance, the diet portion of the program relies heavily on protein powders, protein bars, recovery shakes, protein shakes, all of which are highly processed and nutritionally inferior to natural whole foods.  Detractors note that Beachbody ‘s primary business objective is the sale of nutritional products.

Some claim the P90X program is overkill and not really needed.  Six days of exercise per week is not sustainable.  An intense program such as the P90X also requires a large amount of sleep to allow for proper recovery. A proper diet with a combination of strength and aerobic exercise is just as effective.

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