Why you should start P90X3; and a complete review (…it’s a workout program)

It’s that time of year again. You know, the time when years transition from 1 to the next, bad habits are shunned for good, and resolutions are made.


Let’s put aside for a moment that about 88% of those granite-clad and unbreakable New Year’s resolutions fail, and call this what it is. Some of us are big-time into fitness, some will join our tribe, and another group will join then fall off the fitness train after a variable period of time. Either way, a decent percentage of the population is working out this time of year. And whether you’re new to the game or just looking to freshen up your routine, most of us are keeping an eye out for a new program, exercise, or sequence of moves.


Here, I committed to P90X3 for 13 weeks and it was all for you guys.


Just so I can go through the grind, determine what was amazing and what Tony (Tony Horton – the always jovial host/trainer) would have been better left leaving out. Health benefits for me be discarded, I wanted to make sure you all know what you’ll be getting yourselves into if P90X3 is on your radar.


The above blatant sarcasm aside, below I report back on the benefits and shortcomings of P90X3 as a whole. If you’re looking for a step-by-step workout guide, this isn’t your jam. If you want to understand if this program is worth your time and some reasons why then trek onward trooper. Now – let’s get after it.



How I originally got into P90X



My college football career ended with a chronic injury that wouldn’t abate or improve unless I stopped playing football for good. There was also the chance of paralysis if the circumstances were just right. This news had me both in pain and convinced that the constant pounding my body took because of the sport wasn’t worth the risk. With big dreams and goals, I felt there was more ahead and I didn’t want to risk that on an off chance of playing in the NFL or by succeeding in college sports.



If you’ve played a sport in college you know this is a HUGE demand for your time and energy. So, when it all came to a sudden stop, the freedom was invigorating. I didn’t have anyone telling me what to do, where to go, or who to see. The time was mine. And after working out constantly for the past 6-8 years, I just stopped.



I sold it to myself by saying, “My back needs the rest. The inflammation, bulging discs, and other injuries won’t heal if I don’t rest, so I’ll just do nothing for a while.”


That was the attitude that earned me 65 extra pounds, a new wardrobe, and a total loss of confidence in my physical abilities that had been honed and built upon throughout my young adult life.




Searching for and posting this picture was an eye-opening process… I can’t believe this.




This lasted for the better part of a year. 



Eventually, I just got angry with myself for letting it get that far and decided then that my life wouldn’t be limited because I was too lazy or unmotivated to take ownership.



Did the injury go away with this decision? No. But I realized there are a thousand different ways to work up a sweat. My main focus in the early days was swimming. I hadn’t swum for exercise before but I knew this would limit the impact on my back and joints, in addition to train muscles that hadn’t been used… Ever. It was gloriously terrible and with every passing day, week, and month, I kept getting stronger and coming closer to the Division I athlete I had been.



Once I realized that stronger muscles led to increased abilities, and thus made different workout types available, I was constantly learning more about different ways to work out. I had a growing craving that got stronger with each additional lift or runs. I wasn’t losing a ton of weight (we’ll get to that in a later post) but I was getting stronger. The pivotal moment when I knew I was back happened after playing a game of pickup basketball, then walking without pain afterward (It’s the little things in life…). Definitely a welcome change.



This reopened my world to contact sports, heavier lifts, and new routines.



I’m not ashamed to say it was a college roommate who purchased the original P90X for himself. You know how late-night infomercials can be persuasive, right? Well, he gave it the old college try then fell off the wagon. I was intrigued, so P90X (one of the original versions of the series) was my new go-to program.



The variation in workouts, observed results, and even the personality of Tony had me hooked. Since then, I’ve been through multiple rounds of P90X, Insanity, and other variations of those and similar programs. Each of which had their benefits.



BUT – No program has impressed me more than P90X3.



P90X3 Overview



Truth be told – I had no intention of writing this article before beginning the program so I didn’t take the typical before measurements (i.e. waist, body fat %, etc…)



Some quick facts:


Program duration – 13 weeks

Cost – $139.80 (at time of writing on Amazon)

Days per week – 7 scheduled but 1 day is a recovery-type day

Time per workout – 30 minutes.

Max pushups done by Mike before (without stopping) – 38

Max pushups done by Mike after (without stopping) – 69

Max pull-ups before – 7

Max pull-ups after – 16

Weight before – 207

Weight after – 208

Earning the ability to workout in my garage, without equipment, while sweating like crazy, at 5:00 am so my workout is done for the day – priceless










A more reasonable before picture – from this past summer.



Our after picture – getting after it as a team!




Like the iterations before it, P90X3 works. Just take a look at the gains shown above and you can see that total body strength is what I gained most. This definitely surprised me because I’ve always thought that to gain muscle you need to lift big weights.



False. Tony has you squatting, lunging, and yoga-ing ‘till the cows come home, and all this created stronger muscles, greater energy, and more confidence. The heaviest weight used – a 25-pound dumbbell.






As Don King might say – Unequivocally, unquestionably, without an OUNCE of a doubt! – the best thing I can say about this routine is that no workout eclipses 30 minutes. There is a cool-down period at the end of most videos not included in the 30 minutes, but otherwise, all your sweating needs will be fulfilled in the half-hour.



These 30 minutes only ‘steal’ 2% from your day. Well-worth the time.






On top of that, there are a total of 16 different workouts covering Yoga, mixed-martial-arts, legs, upper body, …, and let’s not forget the core. We’re talking a change of pace for every day. Going through 1 round of this workout won’t leave you reciting Tony’s witty upcoming line, you’ll be too busy trying to keep up with the group.



This program introduced me to a few new moves and proved to me that orienting your hands a few different ways during a push-up, for example, can produce wildly different results.



Variety of schedule



P90X3 works in 3 separate 4 or 5-week blocks. What this means for you is that you start the program, do 7 different workouts the first week, then complete that circuit 2 more weeks. Just as you start getting into a groove, week 4 comes along as a ‘recovery week,’ but don’t be fooled… There’s no let-down in the workouts, just different muscles crying, is all.



Week 5 starts block 2 with a completely different arrangement of workouts. The same pattern ensues.



Maybe the most important piece of this pie is not the fact that you’re interested in new workouts, but that your muscles don’t get conditioned to a specific routine. By varying the workouts and the arrangement of those workouts, your body needs to adapt as well.



More variety, in this case, = better results.



Modified moves



You don’t have to be able to do a pull-up or push-up in order to start this program. Tony designates one of the actors in each video to demonstrate modified moves throughout the workouts.



If you’re not quite up to the P90X3 intensity level, don’t sweat it, there’s an option for all skill levels. If you keep after it, though, don’t expect to need the modified moves for too long.






These videos can go with you anywhere. If you have them on your computer or on discs, there isn’t a hotel room, park, gym, or in-law’s house that’s safe from your sweat flying about… Trust me – I’ve tried them all.






Maybe Tony’s ironic and witty humor during a workout isn’t your thing? For me, it brings a lighthearted mood to an at times crushing workout. If a joke takes my eyes away from the timeline counting down at the bottom of the screen for just a few seconds, that’s a win. Or – smiling while squatting? Also a welcome event.






Redundant at times



I’ve been through this program almost 4 times now, and when you start to anticipate how a certain actor will crush the next move, or how another will dog it, you know you’ve seen these videos a time or 2.



I wouldn’t say this drawback is unique to P90X3, but when you’re working with workout videos, there’s only so much variety that’s possible. If a live, unpredictable atmosphere is more your speed, you may find your second or third round of P90X3 to be redundant.



Either way, you owe it to yourself to get bored with these videos… 16 videos should keep you busy for a while.



Cardio not a focus



I have undoubtedly seen gains in muscle strength and size, however, my cardio has taken a hit. After 13 weeks with Tony and the crew, I’m always excited to hit the trails or jump into the pool for some hardcore cardio.



The program does include workouts in agility and cardio, but you’re limited in scope with 4 actors on a set. Tony can’t say, “go run a mile and jump back into burpees when you’re done.”



The good news here – stronger muscles should provide a solid foundation for improving cardiovascular fitness. Another thing? Now you’ve got a new mountain to climb. GOOD. Get after it.



Cost – depending on your budget, $140



I’m seeing P90X3 prices right around $140 on Amazon. Hey, ain’t nothing free in this world, right?



Depending on where you’re at financially, this could be the equivalent of 2 years worth of gym memberships or 1 hour with a personal trainer. It’s still $140 and only you know if that’s affordable for you.



I know 1 thing. Buying P90X3 wouldn’t be a waste of money, as long as you commit to the program.






This is my favorite video series workout program. You can’t beat the 30-minute workouts.



If you’re someone not used to exercising a sense of urgency in the gym, you may be skeptical about the quality and quantity of a 30-minute workout. Clara and I (pictured above) are here to tell you that there’s a ton of working out to pack into a half-hour. This program doesn’t waste time and it produces results.



This isn’t a new boot camp workout with a live group every day. But as far as video series go, you’ve got 16 rock solid workouts to laugh, sweat, and enjoy thanks to Tony and crew. If you’re looking for something new that works, I highly recommend P90X3. You’ll thank yourself in 13 weeks.



Thanks for reading!



Now that you’ve come this far, here are my humble requests:



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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!



– Mike

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