Friday, January 1, 2010

P90X: The Essentials

Did Santa bring you P90X last week? Or are you thinking of getting P90X to help achieve a fitness-related New Year's resolution? If you're a beginner searching for information about P90X beyond the marketing hype you've seen on late night TV, look no further. Below is a crapload of links to all kinds of essential -- and non-essential -- P90X stuff, organized (albeit haphazardly) for your browsing pleasure.

Should You Get P90X?

If you're considering whether to order P90X, you'll no doubt want to read some product reviews. Mine's here, but I've also listed a bunch of my favorite reviews on the sidebar to your right. Fitness Ninja's rundown is the most recent addition.

In my personal experience, P90X was just what I needed as a beginner to break through a plateau in my fitness level. I'm definitely satisfied with my results -- as measured by both what I can do and how different I now look.

Still, P90X isn't the end-all, be-all of home fitness programs, and it may not be for everyone -- especially if you're shopping for a weight-loss program, or if you're looking to quickly "get ripped" despite having excess body fat. As I wrote a few months back:
Can anyone who diligently follows the P90X plan actually get "totally ripped" in just three months? My conclusion: Probably not. While some P90X users will get "totally ripped," it appears that users who enter into the program with more than 15 or so excess pounds of body fat shouldn't expect to see the same "ripped" results after just three months.
Also, P90X is geared towards those whose primary fitness goal is improve their physical appearance. P90X incorporates plenty of compound movements and flirts with yoga and plyometrics, but first and foremost, it's a bodybuilding/weight loss program. If you're already happy with the way you look, and you're more focused on improving power and overall athletic/sports performance, you may want to try Insanity or CrossFit instead.

For a very thoughtful, well-researched and comprehensive critique of P90X, check out Begin to Dig's three-part review. It's worth reading even if you're already sold on P90X.

Is P90X Too Hard for Beginners?

Take the P90X Fit Test. If you can meet the baseline standards, and your doctor gives you a clean bill of health, you're good to go. Otherwise, try Power 90 or ChaLEAN Extreme first.

From Where Should You Buy P90X?

My recommendation is to order it via rather than directly from Beachbody's website for the reasons stated here. But if you're intent on purchasing from Beachbody, I suggest ordering through Pam "the Blam" Moore -- not only because she's one of my favorite onscreen P90X personalities, and not just because she generously allowed me to interview her at length, but because a portion of the sale proceeds will go to support GO Campaign, a non-profit run by Scott Fifer, another P90X trainer you'll get to know soon enough.

And don't buy a pirated copy. It makes Tony Horton sad.

What About Equipment and Supplements?

As I explained in this post, there are reasons (primarily financial) to stay away from Beachbody's equipment and supplements. Note also that Mark Sisson -- the guy who designed the P90X-branded supplements for Beachbody (and got Tony Horton interested in personal training) -- has since distanced himself from his own chemical concoctions, despite his continued appearances in Beachbody's marketing materials.

If you're wedded to cushioned shoes, get some good cross-training shoes. Otherwise, try some minimalist shoes or go barefoot during your P90X workouts. (Just don't drop a dumbbell on your toes.)

As for my own P90X equipment, I use a set of Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells, a rafter-mounted pull-up bar, and Manduka mats -- all purchased from (You can read about other pull-up bar options here.)

I take a handful of supplements each day: 5 teaspoons of fish oil, a multivitamin, vitamin D (4000 I.U.s), creatine (5 g -- the same amount used in the P90X Recovery Drink), cal-mag citrate, L-glutamine, and quercetin with vitamin C. My recovery drink of choice used to be chocolate milk or a protein shake using this recipe, but since going paleo and experimenting with intermittent fasting, I generally don't have any recovery drink at all -- and  look, feel and perform great nonetheless.

What Should You Eat?

Following the P90X Nutrition Plan can be daunting. I was certainly put off by its strictness, and ended up crafting my own rules of eating during P90X. There's only five of them, so they're pretty easy to remember. Still, everyone's different, so I don't know if these rules'll prove successful for others. Whatever approach you take, remember this: Mind your portions, and try not to eat shit like this.
[UPDATE: This is how I now eat.]

How Can You Possibly Get Through 90 Days of P90X?

Stay safe, and prioritize your fitness. Schedule your daily workouts, and stick with them. Set your alarm clock for an hour-and-a-half earlier if necessary. Don't let anything get in the way of completing your workouts. Keep yourself accountable by letting family and/or friends know about what you're doing, and urge them to push you. I started this blog knowing that I'd feel guilty if I didn't post about my workouts every day, which meant I had to exercise on a daily basis so I'd have something to write about.

Frankly, I didn't get into this knowing that there'd be so much other P90X-related stuff to discuss, like Tony Horton's acting career, Dreya Weber's omnisexuality, Erik Stolhanske's film career, Maren's hardcore porn resumeMuscular Attorney Phil's lie-detecting capabilities, and Wesley Idol's super-shitty performance in Kenpo X. But learning random bits of trivia about the people behind P90X certainly gave me additional motivation to keep going.

And beware the saboteurs lurking among your friends and family. You'll know them by their proffers of pastries and fried food, or by their expressions of concern that you're working out too much. If you can, avoid/ignore them; if you're living with them, encourage them to join you.

Lastly, if you're having trouble finding time for lengthy workouts, you can shave off some time by skipping the cool-downs. (Some experts say that stretching's also unnecessary, but I enjoy it too much to abandon it altogether.)


I think I've rambled on long enough, so I'll just leave you with this: If you get P90X and you truly commit to getting through all 90 days, you'll see remarkable improvement, and you won't regret the experience. (But you will want to put Tony on mute for Round 2 of P90X. As my wife -- who cranked through an Insanity workout this evening -- put it: "It's no coincidence that Insanity doesn't have a 'silence' feature, but P90X does.")