Sunday, January 27, 2008

Final Thoughts On P90x

So its been about a month since my last P90x workout. And I've had some time to think about what I got out of the program. Personally, to get to the point, I think P90x is one of the best strength building workouts out there. For the money, about $120.00 for the DVD's or videos in VHS format, and another $100.00 to $150.00 for extra equipment like dumb bells or resistance bands and a pull up bar, you really can't beat it. P90x was truly like having a personal trainer come to my house each and every day and work me out. I got stronger and faster in record time. The only thing that didn't happen was I didn't lose a lot of weight while I was doing the program. I attribute that to two things. Number 1 was diet. For P90x to work the way you will see in the infomercial, on the website and elsewhere, you have to follow the diet. There is no getting around this. And I found this out first hand. You can see this in my photos.

The second reason, I didn't see the weight loss or muscular definition the program was famous for was I was also doing an average of 8 hours per week of triathlon training on top of my 6 to 7 hours of P90x specific work. The problem here was that with the additional activity, my caloric intake was greater and my body was probably in "starvation" mode thus not burning fat as efficiently as it could/would have had I not been doing the extra cardio work that is necessary for triathlon training. This extra cardio work also takes necessary energy,nutrients, and rest time from your body that would normally be used for actually building muscles.

I started P90x weighing in at 162lbs on day 1. By day 30 I was actually up to 165lb. By day 60 I had dropped back to 162lbs. And on day 90 I weighed in at 160lbs. From the pictures you can see the overall shift in where the weight was carried. But what is interesting is what happened after I stopped doing all P90x work and just went back to my normal triathlon specific work. Two weeks after P90x, I weighed in at 158lbs. And four weeks after P90x I weighed 155lbs. My only explanation for this is the increased muscle mass developed from P90x upped my metabolism which then burned fat more efficiently once I stopped doing the P90x workouts. My body must have deemed my caloric intake as sufficient and the additional recovery time allowed my body to burn off any excess body fat that was no longer seen as necessary to maintain the two different types of workouts simultaneously. This is just a guess, but it is the only explanation I have.

To illustrate, here are some of my P90x photos:

If you need more details or want to see more pictures, check out these links:

If you just want a quick overview of how the program is structured you should take a look at these two links:
Week 1

Week 1 Caveat

If you just want to know what I thought of P90X after a year, check out this link:
P90x One Year Later.

If you want to see pictures of what I look like now compared to what I looked like when I started, check out this link:What I Look Like Now.

If you have questions about P90X and Triathlon look here.


Gwyn said...

I notice there is a "stretching" DVD in the workout but you only mention it once. Is it not part of the routine? GS

ace said...

The stretching DVD or workout is done on the last day of the week or during recovery weeks (week 4, week 8, and week 13). During the normal workout phases, it is optional. But it is incorporated as part of the routine in the recovery weeks. I opted not to do it during my P90x experience because I already had an established yoga practice and substituted additional yoga classes instead during the recovery weeks. During the normal P90x phases, I took the 7th day off.

To be honest, I found this workout the least beneficial for me personally. The one time I did it I had the feeling it was thrown in as an after thought. In retrospect the stretches are valid though most are "relaxed" yoga postures. This is probably a good place to begin if flexibility is a problem or if endurance is lacking though strength might be adequate as per the P90x self assessment.

Some reviews I read indicated that the YogaX workout was too intense. And in that case StretchX could be substituted in place of YogaX. Both workouts really are designed to aid muscle recovery and develop the use of intrinsic balance muscles that many people do not have. Both workouts also help remove toxins from the body that have built up during the other sessions. The YogaX session also aides in building endurance that will be essential in later stages of the program.

Hopefully this helps.

james said...

I am trying to train for my first marathon. Do you think it is possible to do p90x and train for the marathon at the same time? Or do you think it will be too taxing for the body to run. I currently go to the gym about 5x a week with running, weights mostly with boxing mixed in.

ace said...

I had to think about this for bit before answering. My short answer would be yes it is possible to train for a marathon and do P90x at the same time.

But I'd have some reservations about that answer given my experiences with P90x and triathlon. Ultimately the answer really is going to depend on you, your goals, and your ability to listen to your body.

Even modified, P90x is hard. That is why you see the results some people are able to create using the program. But most stick with P90x exclusively for the 90 days. That being said, my concern and experience with the program while also trying to maintain other fitness goals simultaneously is that it is really hard to get the nutrient intake right and the rest necessary not to have one workout starve and/or steal from another. If you can do that, P90x will make your marathon a breeze I'm sure.

But you'll need to know going in that you will have to balance your training, nutrition, and recovery to get the best results. That means you'll have to skip some runs, boxing, and P90x to make it all work. Deciding which workouts to skip is the art within the science. Good luck.

Jawhny said...

I started P90X 3 weeks ago. I'm looking forward to my recovery week.
I have a blog as well. Just 90 days

here's my RSS feed as well. Just 90 days RSS FeedI'll keep an I on your blog

Jeremy said...

Hey Ace, I'm writing to you on behalf of We were wondering if you would be willing to provide a link to the P90X page in exchange for a great package full of P90X Plus goodies. You can send me an email at jeremy at trycm .com if you are interested and I'll give you more details. Look forward to hearing from you.

Fat Loss Blogger said...

Congratulations on your results Ace. As you mentioned, diet does play a huge factor and you really have to stay on top of that.

I just completed week 5, here are my P90X results so far if you want to check them out...

Congrats once again. :)

r2chi2 said...

It's interesting seeing how P90X affected you since you're already an active triathlon person. I just finished P90X a couple days ago, and was very happy with my results. I didn't quite get my 6-pack, but I'm pretty darn close!

I was wondering if you'd mind linking to my P90X Review. It's pretty comprehensive, and I'm excited to get some other workout enthusiasts reading. I've listed it at Any thoughts on what's a good follow-up challenge?

Robert Harden said...

Ace I have always been inspired by those who run in marathons. I've been doing P90X for 3 years now, and believe I am in the best shape of my life, yet I would not want to do a marathon as you have. Nice work. Here is a short P90X review for me. I'm also trying ChaLEAN Extreme right now, it looks very good, only week one though. GL!!

denverchiro said...

Thanks. I'm a triathlete and was considering the p90x dvds. I appreciate your insight.

Glenn Hyman

Steebo said...

Hi, I am a 26 year old male who weighs 120lbs @ 5'9". I was wondering this program would help me to gain weight? Obviously I am looking for muscle weight. Any info would be helpful.


ace said...

Steebo, I don't know you or your background but given your age I'd say strength based training should work for you. The thing about the work out is you will gain strength if you are doing the work. The question is what type of appearance will that strength take on and what do you want to look like. Bruce Lee is a good example of a very strong man who weighed no more than 130 pounds.

If you are looking to actually gain muscle mass the diet will be even more significant for you as you progress. I don't know whether you are a fast or slow gainer - which means I don't know how quickly the results you want will show. But what I can say is I think with the workout and actually modifying the diet for weight gain with the help of someone with expertise in nutrition could create the results I believe you seek.

I checked you blog and it looked as though you run a bit. If you still do personally I'd just do the workouts but not drop the calories. P90X does use a caloric deficit - meaning they cut some calories from your daily food intake. I'm not looking at the Nutrition Guide so I can't say with certainty (I loaned mine to a friend or I'd just look it up for you) but I think you should be able to say you wanted to gain 10 pounds in the 90 days and do the calculations on the desired weight of 130 pounds and eat accordingly. This means you'd be eating as though you already weighed 130 and your body should use the extra nutrients to build muscle tissue.

Steebo said...

Thanks for the reply Ace. You have good insite on training and I will keep up with your blog, as I train. Keep it up man!

Jeff said...

I did an Ironman triathlon with P90X. I recommend to not do both at the same time. To truly train right for a tri, you won't have time for P90X. To get P90X results, you can't incorporate that much tri training.

Ok.. you could.. but honestly, you'd have to have everyday completely consumed with working out and diet... nothing else. I'd focus on one at a time.

After my tri, my P90X workouts started showing a great deal more results.

ace said...

Jeff, I think you'll find we feel pretty much the same way about the program. And from the sound of it our results after deciding to focus exclusively on one training goal versus two were about the same.

I've had quite a bit of time to consider to effects of P90X on Triathlon training having almost 2 years since I did my first workout pass. First I will say I do believe it is possible to do both P90X and Tri training. I've said that all along. But what I've also said is there are caveats. The main one being the results you are looking for from the program. If those results are more on the appearance side, then I'd definitely tone down the tri specific work until I "looked" the way I wanted.

On the other hand if you wanted to use P90X as a basis for enhancing tri performance, then I think with some modification to the routine it could be done with great success for all distances.

Why do I say this? I say this because many athletes tend to overlook the importance of basic strength in triathlon and focus an overly large amount of time on endurance. And when I speak of strength I'm talking about a concept beyond lifting weights in the gym a couple of hours a week in the midst of swimming, biking and running throughout the week. When I speak of strength, I'm speaking about things like range of motion, connective tissue, power, balance, coordination, muscular access, and muscular endurance.

The more I consider the way time is or can be spent preparing for Triathlon of any distance, the more I feel that each of the three sports are techniques to be learned and mastered, and the results you see on race day are from the successful integration and application of full bodied strength and technique work. P90X can certainly assist in creating that. You simply need to know when, where, and how to apply it in the scheme of your other tri specific work.

Jeff said...

Well said.. I fully agree.

Joe said...

Ace -- I enjoyed reading about your experience with the P90X program. Thanks for putting it out there.

I also appreciate your unique perspective on mixing P90X with a tri-training program. I'm particularly interested in this comment:

On the other hand if you wanted to use P90X as a basis for enhancing tri performance, then I think with some modification to the routine it could be done with great success for all distances.

I am currently training for my 5th marathon. In need of some good xtraining, I plan to start P90X, so I'm wondering what modifications you might suggest.

In order to maintain 4 days of running, I'm currently considering removing the following from the Classic program:
* Kenpo
* Legs & Back

However, since I know running isn't hitting all of my legs, I thought about adding in the relevant portions of the Leg routine.

What do you think about this idea? Any other suggestions? Can you offer any advice on which parts of the Leg routine to hit and which to skip?

Thanks -- I appreciate your time and insights.

(Jeff -- wondering what you think as well)

ace said...

Joe,I think you are on the right track with the workouts you've deleted. Kenpo is really just a cardio element in the program for the most part and if you are running you can remove it without negative impact to your overall goals or fitness. If I were running a marathon, I'd probably skip the Plyo work and leave in the Legs and Back routine, or swap them weekly. The Plyo can get too your knees if you are doing a 90 day stint and aren't careful. Or if you leave in the Plyo, do all of the moves modified to take as much impact out of it as possible.

Personally I'd also substitute the Shoulders and Arms routine with the Core Synergistics work out. But that depends on if you are using P90x to augment training or attempting both simultaneously. Hope that helps. If you need more specific ideas let me know.

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder just how well this workout really works when all you find is advertisement for the product when you try finding a "real" review for it. Try finding anything written by someone not being paid by the company to tell you wether it's possible to follow this for three months. I notice it didn't actually do anything to your body at all. All of your pictures that I saw look virtually the same.

I noticed that the only real change in your body occured when you were exclusively training for triathlon, and had quit doing the workout. Interesting.
Also interesting that the company was so quick to try getting you to advertise for them, by offering you their ridiculous "goodies".

Anonymous said...

I've been doing p90x for about 8 weeks and also cross train. I haven't lost any weight (although I only needed to shave off about 5 lbs) I took a 4 day break last week, spent the whole time sleeping and eating and LOST weight. I too think the program has been too much for me and my body is in a bit of "shock" fat storage mode. I'm going to switch to a modified program of 3x a week and skip the cardio stuff to see what happens.