BeachBody P90X Workout

Workout videos have been with us since Betamax was a thing, but Beachbody's P90X workout by Tony Horton took the idea to a new level. We're still living in the home-gym CD explosion it created.

P90X was endorsed by Michelle Obama and Paul Ryan: "both sides" do it. P90X promised three months of guided pain and dietary misery in exchange for your dream body … and millions paid 140+ US dollars for the chance.

The marketing phenomenon has since spawned a host of other packaged workouts. Some have eclipsed the original—but P90X is still a market favorite, if not the novel hit it once was.

It isn't for everyone, no matter what the infomercial says. In this article, we'll take a look at P90X and what it demands—and what it actually delivers—to help you decide if it's right for you.

P90X DVD Workout - Base Kit

What is P90X? 

P90X is a comprehensive 90-day fitness program you can do at home, or wherever you plug in your CD player. It combines Weight Training, Yoga, Pilates, Kickboxing, and Core training, along with a carefully-planned diet schedule for optimum results.

Each Basic package contains:

  • 12 Unique Workouts (one per CD disc)
  • 3-Phase Nutrition Plan • Fitness Guide
  • Fitness Guide
  • P90X Calendar and tracking worksheets
  • 24/7 online support.

Each day of the 3-month stint is pre-planned and has a video to follow. There are two sets of routines to keep you from getting stale, and to confuse your muscles into greatness.

The beauty of the system is you don't have to understand bio-mechanics or be a student of the barbell: just pop in the day's disc and try—try—to follow along.

It's upbeat and chatty, with a lot of video motivation. The host, I mean coach, is Tony Horton—he's a one-man energy show.

Pro Tip: Before buying, you might want to check out some of his online workouts to check out his act. It's works for many, but not all.

The workouts are broken down by body part and come one per disc, so that during a weekly cycle you hit everything, plus two different cardiovascular sessions. You also have Stretching and Ab workouts mixed in.

Initial Caveats

Prepare for Bombardment

Touters insist the program is great for either weight loss or strength gain. Of course, that's not fully possible, so it's a good time to mention that the parent company, Beachbody, is a marketing nightmare. You can avoid much of it, but fair warning.

Mind the Hype

Take increase claims with a grain of salt. Compare to what you know about life, and your body in particular. P90X is good but it's not magic.

You Need to Bring it

The workout can get amazing results, and this program works, but it depends up on you. It is not for beginners. You really need to be in some kind of shape to avoid burnout — it’s more than many people need.

It Takes Time

Each workout is at least 45 minutes long, and you have to do them in order. This was personally the bugaboo of this program for me.

Why P90X?

The initial appeal of P90X was not only the program, but the idea of getting a gym-quality workout at home. You can find all kinds of workouts today, so it's easy to take for granted now--but in 2005 it was a revelation to some. Like me, for instance.

P90X DVD Workout - Base Kit

The idea of working out at home was attractive. Here are some problems I've had with commercial gyms:

  • Distance and traffic
  • Lack of the right equipment
  • Crowded workout area
  • Showering/Dressing
  • Being restricted by hours of operation
  • Smell
  • Attitudes
  • Bad music

It just wasn't humanity at its best—me included. I couldn't afford a high-end club/travel lodge for working out. Heck the cost was already uncomfortably like a mortgage.

So I took the plunge…

The P90X Experience 

I bought into the P90X craze. I've done the program twice, and I keep the CD's for another cycle someday. Is it for everyone? No. Was it worthwhile … would I do it again? 

Yes, I would.

I'm a male in decent shape, now in my mid-fifties … I first did P90X about seven years ago. The excitement of starting it was the most fun and energizing part for me, but I still keep the CD's, and have sweated through two more cycles. I plan to do more.

Some things didn't work for me, but a lot did…

First Steps

"Not done…" is a P90X phrase you'll come to know if you participate, and it applies to getting started. The CD's are just the first expense. 

If you're trying to put on muscle, you'll need a set of dumbbells. You'll need a pull-up bar, too. If rubber bungee gym cords work for you, they might replace both dumbbells and a pullup bar. Your call.

You'll need a bench or an aerobic ball large enough to use like a bench.

Other accessories that come up are a yoga mat and a block if you need one. A Heart Rate Monitor is helpful: cardio is a big part of the system.

Don't forget the supplements … actually, that would be impossible: Beachbody Inc advertises continually throughout the program.


I ordered the CD's. I had a mat. I got a rubber ball for a bench, along with some rubber cords. As it turned out, I quickly abandoned the cords as too awkward, and got dumbbells. But cords were cheap, and they did okay for getting started.

Ok ... launch! The CD's are well-produced, and the studio gym and participants are all welcoming, attractive, and friendly.

The workout? It was fine … at first. And then more came, and more, and …

Shut up, Tony Horton 

Tony Horton is a human dynamo portraying a cheerful cyborg programmed to achieve. He's a wonderful voice of encouragement when getting started. You know he won't hurt you, he's kind (actually he probably is a nice guy). But this is before the betrayal. 

I'd like to say the weeks got better, but the training is misery and excess, so it didn't. The second phase is a variation of the first, and the third phase is a (scientific fitness! Researched studies!) combination of the two.

P90X Diet Plan 

The workouts are excellent, of course. That part isn't hype. It's the diet plan that didn't work for me, though I'm not sure it isn't just me. 

I've spent time learning about nutrition, and I eat omnivorously well, with an emphasis on veggies and juicing. I needed more protein, but I did that on my own.

The P90X diet plan could be great for someone else, but it was cumbersome, time-consuming, and a bit confusing for me.

Other Components 

There are elements you may want to personalize: 


The one real P90X miss is the Yoga workout. Tony Horton is not a yoga instructor; he simply moves from one pose to another.

It's too long at about 1.5 hours. If you're a yoga beginner, it's best to substitute in a simple practice tape from a qualified yoga instructor.


There are aerobic workouts in the P90X program, and you can substitute in your preferred cardio session.


There's a pretty good Ab workout in the program, but you can do your own thing too.


I was excited to experience this cutting-edge program, and hoped it would bring transformative physical change. My expectations were high.

And it worked. It did the job. I ended the first program of 90 days with a 5-lb muscle gain, a big jump for me as a hardgainer. I was marginally more fit, and much more resilient.

I wasn't doing nearly enough back and core exercises. I discovered Kenpo, and wondered why.

Finally, I realized spending an hour jumping around a room could get old, and was happy there was an online community to connect with.


  • Well-planned, comprehensive workouts
  • High challenge for peak fitness
  • Helpful, encouraging coaching
  • Eclectic group of demonstrators
  • High-quality production
  • Engaging community


  • Not for beginners
  • Requires homework to get started
  • Longish workouts (45 min+)
  • Lots of talk (can be turned off)


P90X is a landmark fitness challenge. The comprehensive program combines nutrition with many facets of working out: stretching, core, strength, stamina, abs.

But it can get old. If you aren't fit it's daunting, and beginners may burn out before seeing positive results. Depending upon your goals, there may be easier ways to reach them.

I responded to the challenge, though. I liked the instruction and the extreme standards. The experience got me motivated and engaged long enough to make progress. Other programs can do that, but the system worked for me.

If you're looking for a new fitness challenge, P90X is a standard of excellence.

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