My Thoughts & Recommendations On p90x

Just about done with 8 weeks of p90x and I wanted to jot down a few thoughts as many people have been asking me about doing the program. This will be a rough brain dump of things I’ve done, tried, and bought so you can learn from my mistakes and research.

The Program

The program.. Works. Do it. To a certain degree, doing ANYTHING is better than nothing, but this is a good program. It’s varied, interesting, and Tony is not a cocky annoying trainer. He’s actually funny at points and I think the people he puts in his videos are a good mix of insanely fit people and people that have just finished the program. He provides good advice for those that are getting started.

My advice for those getting started is to go EASY at the start unless you’re in great shape. If you burn yourself out early, you’ll be hurting early and may end up quitting before you catch your stride. This actually happened to me when I tried it 5 months ago. I pushed too hard the first few days, ended up in pain, then got the flu, and walked away from the program for a few months. Do it the right way.

The Diet

I have never been a very healthy eater. I don’t eat garbage, but I’d eat 2-3 meals a day without a lot of thought about what I was eating. I’ve been lucky to have a high metabolism, but I”m getting older and my weight started getting a little higher than I’d like it to be. However, this program REQUIRES you to eat. If you don’t eat, you’re going to hurt and be hungry. My advice is to try and follow as much of the diet as you can. At least — eat 5-6 times a day. Get some protein bars and shakes. I recommend the Cliff bars (Thanks Mark for pointing them to me) as well as the Beach Body / P90x bars. The protein shakes are also good as snacks and meal replacers.

You can also experiment with some of the p90x / Beach Body supplements. They actually have a pretty insane thing that will let you “try” their stuff for 30 days. If you don’t like it, return the empty boxes / bags and they’ll refund your money minus S&H. I have been trying the Shakeology, after workout drinks, and the bars. My view so far is that the bars are great. The after workout mix is “ok”, but not much better than Gatorade that I was using for the first month. Shakeology is EXPENSIVE, but interesting. VERY thick, VERY filling. I’ve been using it as a lunch replacement and it definitely fills you up – just not sure if it’s worth the $. It’s also a little hard on the stomach (which is what I had read it was).

Tools & Equipment

To do p90x, you’ll really just need a few things: “Bands” or dumb bells and a chin-up bar. When I started, I got a $30 chin-up bar and a $50 set of cheap dumb bells that have weights that slide off and on. So, you should be able to get going for under $100.

Now, as I’ve marched along, I’ve found the following things have been good investments:

1) Bowflex Adjustable Dumb Bells: The idea behind adjustable dumb bells is that you are often needing to quickly switch weights and the dumb bells I had made it a little slow to take weight off and on as the workouts were going along. I sometimes had to pause the DVD to give me time to switch the weights. I looked closely at the Bowflex as well as the PowerBlocks version. The Bowflex versions retail for $400 and the Powerblocks retail for $300 (both go from 5 to 55 pounds). The review of the Bowflex dumb bells are “ehhhhh” — primarily because they can break if you drop them on the ground. I liked the Bowflex version for a few reasons — they feel more like real dumb bells and they have more adjustable weights at the lower end (5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55) vs. 5/10/15/20/etc. for Powerblocks. I probably would have bought the Powerblocks but I found a guy selling almost new Bowflex dumb bells for $200 and felt it was a great deeal. So far, I really like them. Honestly, I RARELY go above 25 pounds for the exercise I’m doing. You can save even more money if you buy some of the adjustable dumb bells they sell at Sears or other stores that adjust from 5-25. Powerblocks also makes a cheaper version that goes from 3-24 pounds for around $150 which would work VERY well for most people.

2) Perfect Push-up: I got the older version for $20 (they make a newer version which is $40 or so). I do like them — allows you to go a little deeper into your push-ups and I think is easier on the wrists.

3) Perfect Pull-up: I JUST got these today and it’s a GREAT find. I wish I had these earlier. The fit into ANY door way (the one I had before needed a door frame so I had to use it in my garage door) and allow you to do pull-ups THREE ways. Personally, I HATE pullups. I could barely do 1-2 to start and have been doing most of the pull-up workouts with a chair to help (which DOES work, trust me). However, the perfect pull-up allows you to do the same workouts two other ways as you work yourself up to being able to do real pull-ups. I’d recommend it VERY highly. You can check it out at . I bought it at Target for $20, but found them on ebay with a few good attachments for $35 delivered. I haven’t tried the bands, but I think they work well too.

4) Yoga Block and Mat. Invest in a Yoga Mat and get a Yoga Block as well. Makes things more comfortable and allows you to do more of a stretch. You can get a decent mat for $10-$20 and a block for ~$10.

Few Other Thoughts:

Even if you don’t share them with anyone, take pictures before, during, and after the programs. Listen to Tony and write down your reps and weights as you do the routines. I’d also recommend doing the fitness test (I wish I had, but only did a basic test to gage my body fat %, flexibility, and weight. Measure your biceps, waist, etc. etc. and write it down. It’s motivating – and helps you know what you should be pushing to do weightwise.

I also bought the Workout Xtreme-Fit Tracker program to track my reps / workouts. It’s ok. Probably a waste, but I’m a geek and liked the idea of it.

I found this guy who created a free excel spreadsheet which is pretty damn good:

I recently also saw this additional spreadsheet this which is probably even better than Pauly’s:

I think that’s a great document to keep track of your stuff.

It’s probably also worth going to and create a FREE account. You can track your workouts there. They will also assign a “coach” to you that you can ask questions of. It was interesting when I placed an order for supplements, my coach sent me a message later that day telling me how much she thought what I was doing was the right thing. I am assuming that the coaches get paid a percentage in some sort of MLM scheme for things purchased by their “clients”, but I could be wrong. Regardless, it’s a good community of people — all trying to get in shape.

On that note, it’s good to talk about the program. Find people that are going through the program (I was surprised at the # of people I knew that have either done the program or are thinking about it). It’s good to keep motivated. It’s a BIG time commitment (I think), so staying motivated in the face of work, kids, other personal stuff, etc.. DO it.


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