P90X3 Review: First Impressions

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(Editor’s note:  After you’ve read this entry, you can read my review of the Strength Phase of P90X3 right here; in fact, all my fitness-related posts can be found by clicking one of the tags on this post).

So, I’ve done P90X, P90X2, thrown in some Insanity (you can read my earlier fitness related entries here; they’re gold, Jerry!  Gold!), and I received P90X3 a few days ago. I had good results with the earlier programs and I thought I’d share some impressions of P90X3 after my first couple days.  These are very preliminary impressions, mind, based only on reading the materials and doing a few of the workouts.

P90X3‘s catchphrase is “Fitness Accelerated” and it is, in fact, accelerated.  The workouts are only thirty minutes long, and that includes a warm up that takes a few minutes.  That does not, however, include the cool down, which can run anywhere from three to six minutes.  Obviously the breaks between moves are necessarily minimal, so it’s pretty much go-go-go (it isn’t Insanity level go-go-go, though, and that’s actually a good thing in my book; Insanity is brutal, which is awesome if you hate yourself :-)).

If a short warm up isn’t your cup of whiskey, there is a longer one available: an optional workout called “Cold Start,” which you can stick in prior to any of the other workouts.  Essentially it’s twelve minutes of stretching, yoga, and mild exercise designed to warm you up on those days when you don’t want to hit the “real” workout without prepping your body a bit more.

Anyway, the thirty minute workout time is very appealing, provided, of course, that the workout itself is challenging and will ultimately bring the results you want.  Having done the program only a couple days, I obviously can’t speak to long term results, but I can speak to challenging.

I’ve done Total Synergistics and Agility X (using Cold Start once, before Total Synergistics) and I found both very challenging.  Tony packs a lot of work into the thirty minutes.  Total Synergistics is a full-body workout (kind of like Total Body from P90X2 or Core Synergistics from P90X) and Agility X is a cardio/plyo/speed routine that involves jumping at/on targets with a fair degree of precision (I think this may borrow from Insanity: The Asylum, but I’ve never done that so couldn’t say for certain).

So, I hear you asking, are these workouts as difficult as P90X, P90X2, or Insanity?  Well, I think they’re damned close, and they do it in half the time.  As I type this, I’m sore all over from Total Synergistics, and Agility X left me several times with my hands on my knees, gasping.  I consider those good signs and my hopes are high for the program.  I love the shorter time frame.  Love. It. Really makes it easier for me to fit the workout into the schedule.

Too, it looks to me that P90X3 has much more in common philosophically with P90X2 than it does with P90X, in that every move is synergistic, recruiting from lots of muscle groups all at once, and is designed around the idea of functional fitness (to be clear though, unlike with P90X2, the only equipment you need for P90X3 is a pull-up bar and dumb bells). Personally I like that approach much more than muscle isolation, but YMMV.   P90X3 goes a bit further down that road, too, in that the resistance workouts don’t appear to be limited to distinct muscle groups (i.e., Arms and Shoulders,  or Legs and Back, etc.), as was the case with the earlier programs.  Instead, P90x3 seems to work just about everything in various ways over the course of the program — a more holistic approach to the resistance component, I suppose.  Again, synergistic exercises.  Functional fitness.

Anyway, my verdict based on very incomplete data is this:  So far, I really like it and I look forward to continuing.  I’ll provide updates later on as I get deeper into the program.

If you have questions, I’m happy to answer them.

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42 thoughts on “P90X3 Review: First Impressions

  1. Thanks for being one of the first to get the word out, Paul … and love your writing style! (It’s gold, Jerry! Gold!)

    For context, can you tell us what your fitness goals are?


    • I’m mostly into maintenance mode at this point, and in that respect the 30 minutes is great. Sure, I wouldn’t mind some improvement from my P90X-P90X2 results, but mostly I’m looking for something that will allow me to maintain my current results while fitting easily into my schedule.

  2. I’m reluctantly going to order it after Jan 1.
    Will I still get P90X like results on X3 and 30 minute workouts?
    Can I run twice a week whike on it or will I overtrain?
    Thanks for responding.

    • Still too early for me to speak to results (I’m on day 10 at this point) and how they’d compare with P90X results. I suspect running twice a week will be fine, though.

      • I’d think that p90x3 is perfect for those who like to run/swim/bike on the side. I’ve started the program as well (just week 1!) and it’s definitely something I feel comfortable mixing in boxing on any day. I will always have an undying love for p90x but the 30 minute concept is exactly what I needed. I just don’t have all day to focus on my fitness. When I do get more time I’ll go back and do a P1 round but if I see good results with P3 then I may never go back!

        • Agreed. I think the program allows for some additional training on any given day. Have you tried P90X2 btw? It shares a lot of similarities with P90X3 (lots of core engagement in every workout, lots of synergistic/functional exercises) but is an entire hour. The downside of P90X2 for a lot of folks is that (a) it requires more equipments (stability ball, medicine balls) and (b) some of the moves are tricky. I really like it though.

          Still digging P90X3 after two full weeks. I was quite sore today, too (which is to say: It remains challenging :-)).

  3. Pingback: Upping my workouts by adding the new P90X3 | iFitnessShopper

  4. Hey there all!! Just thought Id add to the comments. I have only done the T25 with Shaun T, and I couldn’t do more than two weeks of it due to my knees really bothering me. It was way too fast and I just use the ab dvd now and some stretching. I did order the P90X3 and I am on the 4th DVD and pleasantly surprised Im sore from head to toe! Yes, in 30 min! I love the ability to choose which level you want to do….Classic, Lean, Mass….I have enough muscle, not looking to build, just burn off some fluff 🙂 and maintain what muscle I already have. I know this will do it and I can’t wait for results!!!

    • Kelly, I hear you. I’ve heard T25 is a “mini-Insanity” and Insanity wore on my knees a bit after a while. Agreed on P90X3 — I’m on day 11 and my knees feel great.

      • Thanks for the preliminary review. I could handle Insanity and P90x from a strength and cardio standpoint but by mid 40 knees couldn’t handle the plyos and a couple of leg routines for a sustained period of time. Is that different with p90 x 3? I want to get leaner and build more lean muscle mass. Just looking for thoughts and reinforcement before I go out and make the purchase. Thank you. Justin.

        • Justin,

          I was just thinking about this the other day: I found Insanity hard on the knees over time, too. P90X3 is (so far) not hard on the knees at all. Tony gets the heartrate up without all the super high impact plyo that we saw in earlier regimens. Give it a whirl, man. It’s worth it.

  5. Mine just came in the mail and I’m excited to begin. First finishing off ufc fit. I’ve done most of the programs….tap out, GDP, insanity, combat. For me, they are all good….i just like the variety every 3-6 months. My biggest problem is dieting. At 51, these programs are definitely a challenge, and allow me to work out first thing in the morning before the rest of the family rises and I go to work. The hardest for me is the first 10 minutes….always a struggle to keep me going, but I feel crappy if I don’t exercise for a few days.

    • Likewise. I haven’t changed my diet all that much (I drink too much because I’m a single malt Scotch guy) but I’ve still have seen great results. Basically, I’ve tried to cut down on the really bad stuff, but I don’t eat clean in any meaningful sense.

      In the end, I figured I wanted to get in better shape, but do so in a way that would be consistent with my lifestyle long term. I’m willing to exercise like a madman, but I know I won’t be able to maintain a really strict diet long term. So, a handful of incremental, positive, easy to maintain changes to the diet is about all I’ve done. But as I mentioned, I’m very happy with the results. 🙂

  6. I’m a P90X and X2 grad also. For the last year or so I’ve been in maintenance mode by plugging in Chest, Back and Balance on Monday and Arms and Shoulders on Friday (also switching this up with the bonus discs V-Sculpt and Chest, Tris and Shoulders as well as PAP Upper once in awhile). Occassionally I dip back into the Phase 1 workouts from X2. I go to a Yoga class every Tuesday for 90 minutes, run 4-5 times a week for about 5-7 miles and throw in Ab Ripper X and X2 2-3 times a week. I don’t do the lower body workouts as it crushes my legs so bad that I can’t run for a day or two and I am worried about over training. Don’t want to lose the real cardio conditioning by switching it up with any P90X or X2 Cardio. I have tried it and it’s just not as beneficial to me as running outside for distance and speed. What I like about X3 is the variety of workouts that I pushed aside in P90X and X2 such as Cardio, Plyo, Synergistics and Kenpo. I love the MMX and CVX in this series. I also like the Pilates DVD. I tried the Yoga and Isometrics when our Yoga class was closed over the holidays and found it a great substitute. I like the intense 30 minutes concept as it will allow me to focus more on long distance runs, half-marathon and 10 miler coming up next year. For maintenance, instead of a Mon and Fri resistance training days with P90X2, I am going to try 3 or 4 half hour resistance days and one Pilates day with P90X3. This combined with a day or two of Ab Ripper X or X2 and 4-5 days of running. However, the shorter workouts may allow me to go for longer training runs of 7-10 miles. Most of all, I am excited about incorporating Eccentric Lower into my workouts. This is less demanding that what I found in X and X2 for me but I feel it is just what I need to help strengthen my legs and improve my runs.

  7. I’ve completed days 1-5. Day 6 tonight after work.

    Every day has wiped me out except Day 3 (Yoga). I was dissapointed and afterwards popped in P90X Yoga X for 30 min (starting with Warrior 1 and ending after Warrior 3). The first 45min of Yoga X has me pouring sweat!

    I also miss the Ab ripper sequences so I will go to Ab Ripper X from P90X after Day 1, Day 4 and Day 6 workouts for the first block.

    Day 1 and Day 2 (Total Synergistics and Agility X) had me pausing to catch my breath. Day 4 The Challenge wiped me out.

    All in all, I’m very happy with the program and the 30 min allows for supplemental workouts.

    • See, I’m not a big fan of Yoga. I get why it’s necessary and I do it, but I’m glad for the X3 30 minute version. I miss the ab ripper too, though so much core work is incorporated into the regular workouts that I think it’s probably mostly redundant anyway.

      • Paul, I am waiting on my X3 to be delivered still. Is there no ab ripper? i.e. your’e not doing 15 mins. of abs every other day?

        • Ab Ripper is part of the “Elite Block” of workouts that you have to order separately (you get Complex Upper, Complex Lower, and Ab Ripper). So no, no ab ripper in the base workouts. There’s a lot of core work integrated into the workouts, though (at least in Block One, which I just completed) so I don’t miss it.

  8. I just started the program yesterday. New Years Resolution in full affect! I am fairly athletic. I had a baby 8 months ago and have been working out here and there for the last 6 months. Agility X almost killed me today and looked ahead to Challenge X and there is no way I can do that many pull ups and push ups. Anyone else feeling this?

    • Agreed that the block one workouts are challenging. I’m in week three (just did AgilityX this morning, in fact :-)).

      I think the critical thing with The Challenge is to pick the right numbers. You want it to be, well, a challenge (:-)), but you don’t want to sabotage yourself by picking numbers that are too high right out of the gate and never hitting them. You can always bump them up in later workouts.

  9. I have never done any of these P90-Insane workouts, but have been looking for something to get more fit. I specifically avoided P90 in the past due to the time commitments and lower body intensity. However, the P90X3 30 minute routines and supposed appeal to people of all fitness levels has me considering it. I am definitely of the lower level of fitness with chronic knee and foot issues. Are the exercise modifications enough to reduce the abuse on legs and feet but still give a good workout? I know it may take more cycles to get best results.

    • Wayne,

      At this point, I’m only into block one, which is the first third of the program, so I haven’t seen all the workouts. Of those block one routines, AGilityX and CVX would be the hardest on someone with foot/knee issues. I think you’d be fine doing the modified moves in CVX, but AgilityX would be a challenge (as it involves a lot of lateral jumping and abrupt changes in direction). That said, that workout can be modified by putting the jump targets (masking tape you put on the ground) closer together. In that way, you could make many of the jumping moves more like stepping/skipping moves, and that would reduce the strain on knees and feet. Over time, you could experiment with increasing the distance to see what you could tolerate as you progressed.

  10. I am liking P90X3 so far. I am on Week 2. Having done P90X, Insanity (2 rounds) and FocusT25, I believe that Tony Horton nailed it with the workouts. They are hard, challenging, you feel tired and sore, but it is nothing like Insanity when I was always between 85-90% of my maximum heart rate. There is a lot of core work, so I don’t think you need AbRipper. I need to change the workouts every 2 or 3 months because I get used to them. P90X3 was a good change after FocusT25. Like all Beachbody products, to get the results that you see with the test group people -or close-, it is 80% on your diet and 20% on the workouts. I saw results doing T25, modifying my diet and taking Shakeology. If I do a program and I don’t change the diet, I don’t see any results. I will do P90X3 using Protein Shakes (5 x week, 1 x day) instead of Shakeology and test if it works well.

    • “Having done P90X, Insanity (2 rounds) and FocusT25, I believe that Tony Horton nailed it with the workouts. They are hard, challenging, you feel tired and sore, but it is nothing like Insanity when I was always between 85-90% of my maximum heart rate.”

      Completely agree.

  11. I’m a veteran of beachbody. I did P90X 4 times. P90X2 twice, and Insanity once.

    I’m 6 foot five. When I first started I couldn’t do pull-ups hardly at all and had trouble curling 20 pounds 6 times.

    Now I’m 230 pounds and can still do pull-ups (albeit less reps than when I was 195 pounds) and can crank out 8-10 bicep curls on 40 pounds.

    I’ve just started X3 and I am very impressed.

    I feel like I can really push myself to failure without fear of burnout or injuries because of the shorter time frame.

    • I’m impressed, too, Ed. And congrats on your gains/progress. I think the taller you are, the more difficult pull ups are (because you have longer arms and the range of your pull is longer), so kudos on that.

  12. I have done p90x and tried insanity (too hard on my knees and back). I was wondering do you think I should have to get p90x2 before x3. Or is it ok to try x3 without doing x2?

    • You definitely do NOT need to have done P90X2 to do P90X3. You’ll be completely fine jumping right into 3.

  13. My wife and I are both 58 and have enjoyed doing P90X together each morning the last couple years. We tried Insanity and found the lateral jumping too hard on our knees. We both feel great but need a change in our workout routine, however, we don’t want to risk a torn meniscus with additional jumping. Would P90X be appropriate for us old folks?

    • Randy, I’m just wrapping up block one of X3, so I’ve seen about a third of the workouts. Of those, there’s a fair amount of jumping in Agility X (a lot of lateral jumping, in particular), and a little bit in CVX and The Warrior. For the most part, the moves are modifiable to stepping rather than jumping, so you should be okay. Agility X would require the most modification.

    • I just started block 2, which ups the intensity. I did Eccentric Upper yesterday and today feel the same way I did the very first time I did Arms and Shoulders in the original P90X. Sore, sore, and sore. 🙂

  14. Pingback: P90X3 Review: Block Two - Paul S. Kemp, Fictioneer

  15. thanks for all the reviews. I did the first day today. Very easy after just finishing t25. Im assuming its going to get harder. Way more sweat with t25 and insanity. some one asked if you can still run after doing this. I would say yes. I feel I can still go hit the heavy bag for 30 more minutes. Good luck all. stay fit

    • Thanks for the reviews Paul.
      Just wanted to follow up. I just completed my last day of p90x3. Work outs do get harder but are over before you know it. I looked forward to doing it every day. The pump after is great after just 30 minutes. I doubled my pullups/chin ups and pushups in 90 days. I also did do bowflex or hit the heavy bag after some of the workouts that I was not wanting to do after insanity or t25. I would recommend p90x3 to all my friends. Now they need a p90x4. good luck to all with your workouts

  16. I’m a few weeks in. I never made it past 6 weeks of p90x (although I made it six weeks several different times, haha) due to the length of the workouts + warm ups + showering after and preparing meals. This is much quicker. I LOVE the yoga on x3 bc it’s doable for someone with yoga experience. Having said all this, I don’t get the same pump that I would feel throughout the day on p90x. I agree with previous comments that this is great for people who cross-train. I don’t see how this alone could get the same results as p90x, but in only 30 minutes that isn’t really feasible anyway. Tried x3 with bands for a couple weeks and that did NOTHING for me, bought weights and the workouts got exponentially harder. If you have time and want drastic results, go with the original. If you want a sold workout in 30 min and can be patient with the results, go x3.

  17. I have never done any sort of P90 or T25 or workout videos. I started P90X3 about 5 days ago hoping to lose weight. I am a 6′ 240Pound guy. Total Synergistics and Agility X are brutal for me, I can barley do them. But I am trying my hardest to do everything. I did the Challenge, I can barley do one pull up on my own, I do use a chair for some help. I did enjoy the CVX, that is my favorite with the few days I have been doing the workouts. I just wanna know if you have any tips for me to help me achieve what I am going for.

    • Jake, I’m not a fitness expert, but it sounds like you’re doing great. The most important tip I have is to just stick to it and take to heart Horton’s constant reminder: Do your best and forget the rest. Few of us can do much with pull-ups at the start. Use the chair as you’ve been doing (or get a chin up max). Eventually you’ll be able to do a few on our own. Then you’ll be able to do five or six.

      Just stick with it, man. You can do it.

  18. Hi so i got the P90x3 already and i’m looking into which of the programs i should do (classic, lean, or mass). I’m 5’7″ and i currently weight 145lbs with approximately 11% body fat. What would you recommend?

  19. I am thinking about p90x3. I have a little got, but overall in decent shape. Just looking for some lean mass and to burn away my belly fat. What are your thoughts Paul? Is this the thing for me?

    • I guess it depends. If you like working out at home, like working out hard, and are committed to completing the program, then yes, I think it’s for you. And I think it *will* get you in much better shape. It’s really an excellent program. Even though I’m doing a hybrid right now (details here: http://paulskemp.net/blog/p90x3-p90x2-p90x-insanity-hybrid/) I think the P90X3 workouts and program are very, very good.

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