12 DVD workouts, detailed fitness guide, nutrition plan, tracking calendar, and online support
Although it has been available for years, the P90X® Extreme Home Fitness Training System experienced a significant boost in popularity last year when singer Sheryl Crow attributed her sleek physique to the ubiquitous infomercial product. Suddenly, P90X infomercials were airing round-the-clock and questions about its efficacy were pouring into the ACE offices. It seemed as if everyone has been thinking about trying P90X and wondering if it would deliver on its promise to get them “absolutely ripped” in 90 days.
It is clear from the infomercial that this is not an exercise system for beginners or those who have been sedentary (these folks are encouraged to try the less-intense Power 90 Program first). Nor does it equivocate when it comes to the time and dedication required to achieve results. This program, which features 12 DVD workouts ranging in length from 60 to 90 minutes, is not for the faint at heart (or the time-constrained). Included are workouts for specific body parts (e.g., chest and back, shoulders and arms, abdominals), interval-style cardio and kenpo (featuring martial arts–based moves) workouts, and stretch and yoga workouts. A detailed fitness plan dictates the order and schedule of workouts depending on individual goals.
We were impressed with the pre-workout instructions to perform a fitness self-test to determine appropriate resistance/intensity levels, as well as the coaching cues used throughout the workouts that encourage participants to work at his or her own pace and take breaks when needed. Even so, only an individual who is already somewhat fit should attempt this program because many of the exercises are very advanced and the workouts are intense.
Promoting the concept of “muscle confusion” to accelerate results, most of the workouts move very quickly from one exercise to the next, which necessarily increases the risk for injury. In fact, even the exercisers on the DVD start to show poor form when they get fatigued. Not surprisingly, host Tony Horton’s solution to participants’ fatigue is a whole range of supplements, shakes and bars. The practice of upselling is nothing new, but the recommendations to drink their shakes and take their pills can become a distraction. (To be fair, Horton does offer other tips, such as drinking enough water and getting adequate sleep, as well.)
We found that those who were able to stick with the program for the recommended 90 days were generally pleased with their results. They credit the variety and structure of the workouts, as well as the convenience of working out at home, for their enhanced fitness levels, and recommend keeping track of one’s progress and modifying the exercises as needed.
As advertised, P90X is an intense home exercise program that can produce results, but only for those who are somewhat fit already and can maintain a heavy training schedule and avoid injury. The intensity and dedication required may be discouraging to those who are less fit or who don’t have the time to exercise 60-90 minutes per day. Individuals with any physical limitations or who have been sedentary should be encouraged to choose a more appropriate program.
What we liked:
- Recommends a fitness self-test to determine appropriate resistance/intensity levels
- Coaching cues encourage participants to work at a self-selected pace and take breaks when needed
- Variety and structure of workouts enhance adherence and reduce boredom
- Participants are urged to track progress and modify exercises as needed
What we didn’t like:
- Most of the workouts move very quickly from one exercise to the next, increasing the risk of injury
- Upselling of supplements and foods is distracting
- Not appropriate for those without a baseline levels of fitness
- Intensity and dedication required may be discouraging to those who don’t have time to exercise 60 -90 minutes per day
April 10, 2009