Why P90X Wasn't the Workout for Me

by - Friday, November 15, 2013

So during my furlough, you may remember that I mentioned I was going to experiment with P90X as a way to start rebuilding some of the strength and endurance I'd lost while recovering from my stress fracture.


At the time, I still wasn't really able to run without pain, and I needed a workout with a set plan that would keep me on track and coming back each day. I liked that P90X followed a strict schedule. I figured that would help me get back into the groove of regular workouts.

I stuck with P90X really well for the first couple of weeks, but after that, it was just sort of all downhill. I couldn't find the motivation to do workouts that I didn't like or agree with the philosophy behind them.

Crossfit gm

One of the biggest things I didn't like about the P90X program was the length of each workout and how few muscle groups you actually worked out in that time.

Each DVD was at least 60 minutes long, many were longer than that, closer to an hour and ten minutes, and the yoga DVD was even 90 minutes. That's a lot of time to carve out of your day, so once my furlough ended finding the extra time became a challenge.

But what really got me was how you spent that hour+ of your workout time. Each DVD focused on a very small set of muscle groups. So in 60 minutes, you'd only workout say your biceps, triceps and shoulders and then in the next workout, you'd tackle your chest and back.

To me, that seemed like a giant waste of 60 minutes. In 60 minutes, I can do so much more. I could run six miles or take a CrossFit class that targets all of the major muscle groups in my body at once. I could take a spin class or BodyPump or pretty much do any other workout that would give me a full body workout in the time that P90X focused on two or three muscle groups.

Working out with a personal trainer. Tackling lots of muscles at once

P90X just wasn't giving me enough bang for my workout buck. We all only have so much time in our days, and I'd rather spend 60 minutes doing a complete workout in that time.

Another thing that really irked me in one DVD (and now I can't remember which one) was how Tony Horton -- the workout leader on the DVDs -- was talking all about building the "show" muscles. These are the little muscles on the front of your body that are mainly for show and vanity purposes.

It literally went against every single thing I had every learned in a CrossFit class, or even believed in myself personally. In CrossFit, one of our coaches used to call the muscles on the back of your body (think back, glutes, hamstrings, etc.) your "Go muscles." They are important muscle groups that power your body through the day and drive many of our movements.

Winter Throwdown
CrossFit I miss you

But they are muscles that are often overlooked during workouts because we focus on our "show muscles" (abs, pecs, etc.). These muscles are on the front of our bodies, and yes, while obviously important to train them, doing so at the expense of the "go muscles" will leave you completely imbalanced.

Now I know P90X had a DVD dedicated solely to the back muscles, so Tony wasn't disregarding them completely, but it really grated on me the way he kept focusing on the vanity and the importance of the show muscles in the other DVD.

So at the end of the day, I just gave up on P90X. I didn't want to spend my time doing a workout program that didn't jive with my personal (and somewhat educated) view on physical fitness. There are a lot better ways I could be spending my 60 minutes of workout time.

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  1. I like that you are willing to stick with what you know and what you feel is right versus what is just a popular workout. I also bought P90X a while ago, and after 2 weeks, I ditched it. I hadn't thought as much about why, but after reading a lot of what you said, I'm sure the length of time and some of his commentary contributed to it. His yoga really annoyed me. That was probably my biggest annoyance...

  2. Thanks for the detailed review. This one has always intrigued me so now I won't bother with it. I think 60 minutes for a few muscles is just a way to sell more DVDs!

  3. I ordered P90X when I hurt my last year since people seemed to like it. However, the workouts were really long, as you said, and I couldn't get over the fact that I could run so much and get a much better workout. Even though I couldn't run, I didn't like the workout much because it didn't feel like I was doing much. I'm sad I wasted the money on it!

  4. Thanks for the great review. This definitely doesn't sound like something I'd have ANY interest in doing. I already never planned on it only because of the length of them, PLUS I felt they were beyond my fitness level. Now that just solidifies that I don't think they'd be right for me.

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