Anybody who has heard of the P90X range and wants the lowdown on P90X3, to establish whether it's the workout program they need.
I am busy - summarize it for me
About to launch into a 90 day workout program? You might want to invest 15 minutes reading an in-depth review about it first.
Part of a massively successful series
3 schedule depending on your goals
Nutrition aspect heavily simplified, so not off-putting
LOTS of content
iOS and Android App
Access to multiple programmes
On Demand you are paying for access to everything when you might only want one workout plan
Bought individually in DVD format, it’s expensive
Workout explanations are complicated. Possibly overly complicated.
Contains cross-brand promotion
Not suitable for those at a beginner/intermediate level
Simplified nutrition not suitable for advanced level athletes
P90X3 Review : Beachbody Workout Program
Workout Stats: P90X3
What You Get
Video, App, PDF
Multiple Optional Goals
Value for Money
What You Get
Video, App, PDF
Multiple Optional Goals
Value for Money
P90x as a workout series has been around since 2003. Tony Horton was hired by the people at Beachbody to create a workout plan for people who were already fit. The 90 day workout contained three different schedules for people to choose from:
Lean – for people looking to lose fat and gain muscle.
Classic – for people who wanted to gain muscle and improve their physical endurance.
Doubles – which is the Classic but with an extra shot of cardio each day.
P90X’s award-winning television adverts used raw footage supplied from the original customers of P90X doing the plan from within their own home. It was a massive hit.
The sequel to this,P90X2, came out in 2011. Followed by P90X3, which we’ll be reviewing in detail here.
P90X3 : What You Get
Beachbody went to lengths to ensure that P90X3 wasn’t billed as a sequel to the originals. This was a different concept. The busy professionals who were teh target market for the workout didn’t have time for 60 minute workouts, they were dropped in favor of more manageable 30 minute workouts.
Tony Horton revitalized the P90X brand with 41 workout routines and a nutrition guide for people to follow over a 90 day period.
To use this you get a membership via the Beachbody website, here you get:
The 41 workout routines along with access to the nutrition guide.
An app to track your workouts and progress.
Access to a community of like-minded individuals.
Access to a blog for tips and stories on what to do.
The app can be downloaded onto any android or apple device, making the accessibility really good in the modern day and age. This combined with the fact that the routines are now 30 minutes instead of 60 means that people can do these sessions on the go when they get a break from work or home life.
There is a section under the workout materials called ‘Getting Started’ which provides a handy checklist for you to confirm you have everything you need to go on with.
This guide gives you 7 steps for you to follow before you actually start your fitness journey. The second page of the guide lists the three blocks of the workout regime with each day’s workout given to you so you never have to worry about which plan to go for. The three blocks go over thirteen weeks which ends with the appropriately named ‘Victory Week’ which you end with your photo shoot to show just how much progress you’ve made visually.
This section also supplies you with a worksheet with which you can record your progress as your performance improves throughout the 90 day period.
Keeping track of your work like this is a sure way to add accountability to your own training – without which it is incredibly easy to keep yourself honest and on track.
There are exercise guides and calendars in order to help you fully understand what you’re doing, and what those exercises are trying to achieve.
The exercise guide in itself is a mammoth 114 pages, you can’t fault the preparation put into this programme at all. There is also a ‘Quickstart’ list with bullet points, which for some reason on my laptop wouldn’t load correctly and only showed the numbers of the bullet points, so I genuinely can’t tell you just what this page is about beyond the fact that is has 7 bulleted points. If they load on your machine then kindly add them into the comments below and let us know what they are!! 🙂
Then the 13 week workout schedule that was described earlier here. This is then followed by a few notes from Tony Horton, himself. Here he attempts to handle what he calls ‘the number one complaint’ to the training : the time it takes to to complete.
Which is where P90X3 differs from the first two iterations, as it is comprised of 30 minute a day workouts, rather than 60 minutes.
Tony Horton explains that as much work has gone into P90X3 as the first two versions combined, so we don’t have to worry about losing 30 minutes of training time per day, as it’s just that good. We’re here to see if this claim is actually true, so keep reading!
With the original P90X you were brought terms like Muscle Confusion and then Muscle Integration in its sequel – both of these sound a bit like marketing ploys. These terms are simply a fancy way of talking about how to train on alternate days to accommodate volume, and how to include different body parts within training sessions – just like any workout should do.
P90X3 has its own ‘Muscle’ gimmick with Muscle Acceleration. The explanation for Muscle Acceleration is interesting, as it first offers a description of progressive overload (and not a very good one in my opinion) and then uses studies on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) to sum it up. This doesn’t really make sense, it is just taking two important principles of programming (explaining them badly) and then files them under a different label.
The issue I have with the definition of progressive overload is that it states that you need to be constantly changing the variables, which isn’t entirely correct – the variables can be altered but not changed entirely.
The word ‘constantly’ gives the effect of doing something completely different each time. The idea of progressive overload is to add to your workout progressively, not just do something different each time. The best way to do this is to keep the workout similar each week but add a little more weight, a few more reps or a few more sets. This is measurable and progressive and you’re likely to get stronger, fitter and healthier as a result – as you’ll be able to prove it too.
The Workout List
Up next in this hefty guide is the workout list which is full of catchy names and over complicated explanations filled with references to hormones.
While I’m not saying this is wrong, it does come across as though it is an unnecessary way to explain something really simple and it only serves to add some mystique to the marketing of this product.
The workout descriptions are then followed by the schedules – these depend on which goal you’re after. The schedules include –
Classic – This is the one for total body fitness. This one should help you gain muscle and lose fat while generally getting healthier.
Lean – This one uses the word ‘toned’ within it. ‘Toning’ is an oft misused term as a muscle either gets bigger or it gets smaller, it can not ‘tone’. However, it means for people to maintain muscle mass and lose some fat whilst focusing on mobility and functionality.
Mass – This one is quite self- explanatory really. This is for those who want to put some muscle mass on. Correctly, this suggests that you will need to eat in a calorie surplus in order to gain muscle and it guides you towards the nutrition guide – which we’ll come to later.
Doubles – Here you will mix two of the schedules together in order to achieve more than one goal. It does suggest that you do a full 90 days on one of the other schedules first in order to acclimatise yourself to it.
In and amongst all of these helpful materials are suggested lists for equipment and supplements.
Obviously, this is where they take a chance to advertise all of their products for you to use throughout the 90 days – you can definitely use other brands of these products but there is no arguing that having the equipment will help. As for the supplements it all depends on how your nutrition is in general, but again – any brand will do.
Following this is a really handy and extensive exercise guide where each and every exercise is described with a brief summary box.
What is helpful here is that each exercise has a modifier, which helps the customer adjust it to their own means.
Team BeachBody Coach
The problem with fitness programmes like this is that they are very hands off – Team Beachbody Coach bridges that gap a little bit. If you feel as though you can’t commit, or you’re struggling with any aspect of the course you can ask for one of these coaches to help you for no extra charge.
A coach will help you either via the net or via the phone, so it looks as though it is incredibly accessible for most people.
Nutrition is quite possibly the worst part of being a fitness professional. It’s generally overcomplicated by everybody (fitness professionals and industry alike).
I do like that this programme comes with a nutrition guide and shock horror … it’s a simple one.
The guide itself starts with a note from Tony himself, and it offers a really simple way of eating in that you just eat when you’re hungry. He then goes on to explain how he doesn’t use calculators and wants you to incorporate ‘intuitive eating’. Basically eating when hungry but no bad foods, only nice ones.
There is a really simple calculator to figure out your calorie intake. This calculator surprised me a little as I tried it using myself as an example and it was basically very similar to the results I getf from complicated calorie calculators.
The P90X3 nutrition system adopts a very simple palm and fist size system. It caters for those with special dietary requirements by listing foods, and tweaked for grain-free, vegan, etc.
This guide is made for simplicity. However it does so at the cost of accuracy. I completely understand why it is laid out, and why it uses the systems it does – calorie and macronutrient counting looks scary and puts many people off so avoiding it makes it seem new-fangled and extra fancy.
In my opinion the accuracy of your calorific intake and the macronutrient balance is worth taking the time to figure out properly and then track. For those who only want to lose a little bit, or gain a little bit, then small adjustments need to be made. The simplicity of this system won’t cater for these individuals, and given that it’s these people the plan is aimed at, I feel that a lot of the target audience won’t find that suitable.
The aim of workout programmes like this is to bring the class environment and experience into your own home. This is particularly good for people low on confidence or who have crazy shift patterns and can’t make it to a regular gym class either due to the amount of people there or the time they have available.
The way that P90X3 gets around this is by giving you a supply of videos for each workout, which you can either watch online or via an app so you can do so on the go.
Due to the large number of videos supplied with P90X3, I’m not going to give you an in depth review of each one, rather I will give you a summary review of the whole thing.
The videos are laid out in such a way that they open with a run through of all of the equipment that you need and a brief intro into what you’re doing throughout the workout.
They are presented by Tony Horton himself, in a cheesy but engaging way that keeps you watching. It’s energetic and thorough. Granted his exuberance and energy might rub some people up the wrong way but you’re never going to please everyone.
The first video does the right thing in that it doesn’t expect you to have read through all of the primer materials I went through above. Tony talks you through them in case you haven’t already.
Each video will have the current exercise written in a box at the bottom center of your screen so that you know which one you are doing, it also has a timer for how long you have left on this exercise, as well as the name of the exercise coming next, so that you can get yourself and your affairs in order before moving on.
Very well organized, which you’d expect from a series that has run almost as long as Knots Landing
What is subtly clever about the videos is that the people demonstrating the workouts are people who have transformed their bodies from the first two iterations of P90X. This gives you a sense of community, as it you are in a class in a gym.
The inherent presence of someone who may represent your end goal, someone who has started where you are and not just the extremely fit person teaching you, makes it much more accessible to the average person.
As a coach myself, and one who mainly runs group sessions for like-minded people, I don’t think anything can beat the camaraderie created by a group of individuals who are all there to support each other through their sessions and their training.
However, in the face of this and keeping in mind that some people are too low on confidence to go to a gym and mingle with others in such a close way, I actually think this programme is very good. I wasn’t expecting to feel this way when I started.
The amount of information and work that has been put into this is excellent. Granted, as I said above, some of it is very “markety” with some fancy terms that don’t really mean anything but this can keep it interesting for the layperson and not bamboozle them with scientific terms. I can let that go.
The exercises themselves, and the annoyingly almost accurate diet plan, are fairly solid and will do well to get the average person up and running towards their fitness goals.
The format of this programme, a faux group class for within your home, is what stops it from getting completely top marks from me. I truly believe that in person (whether group or private), is the best way to go as you will get individualized plans which will help you reach your own personal goal rather than a generic one for many people.
Then again, I’m biased as a fitness coach. So with all of this in mind I would give this a very respectable, 7.5/10.
All content on this website is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice, it is based upon research and the personal and professional experiences of the authors.