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Here, I committed to P90X3 for 13 weeks to find out definitively – Is it worth YOUR time?
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.
This poor fitness level 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 used swimming as an exercise in the past, but I knew that laps in the pool would limit the impact on my back and joints. Additionally, swimming would allow me 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 (I described how I lost 65 pounds for good in this post) but I was getting stronger. The pivotal moment – when I knew I was “physically back” – happened after playing a game of pick-up basketball, then walking without pain afterward (It’s the little things in life…). Definitely a welcome change.
This newfound fitness level 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 – not me buying the program out of some great intellectual move. You know how late-night infomercials can be persuasive, right? Well, my roommate gave it the old college try then fell off the wagon.
I was intrigued, so P90X (one of the original versions of the series) became my new go-to program.
The variation in workouts, observed results, and even the personality of Tony (my new workout buddy) 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. So let’s cut to the chase!
We’ll start with a P90X3 Overview
P90X3 DVD Workout Base Kit – Tony Horton
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 P90X3 quick facts:
Program duration – 13 weeks
Cost – $139.80 (at time of writing on Amazon)
Days per week – 7 scheduled days but 1 is an optional/recovery day
Time per workout – 30 minutes.
Max push-ups for Mike before (without stopping) – 38
Best push-ups for Mike after (without stopping) – 69
Max pull-ups before – 7
Best 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
P90X3 Schedule and Structure
There are 4 different programs within the P90X3 video series (all are available with the complete video set).
- Classic (pictured above) – This is the original version of P90X3 and the one that creator and host (Tony Horton) had at the forefront of his mind while developing the series. This is the version that I have completed multiple times and review in this post. It’s where you should start
- Lean – If you’re thinking that less muscle mass and more muscle toning is in line with your current goals, then the lean version is probably right for you.
- Doubles – I’ve tried this one before and it is as ridiculous as it sounds… 2 workouts per day – 7 days per week. If you’ve got the time, drive, stamina, and the goal to get in the absolute best shape of your life – this is your jam
- Mass – This version is for those looking to pack on as much muscle mass as possible. Think – less cardio/more strength.
Regardless of the version you choose, the workout program is broken down into Three blocks – each of which is 4 weeks long
The block structure is as follows –
Weeks 1-3 feature 7 different workouts that you’ll complete. So, every Monday is “Total Synergistics”, Tuesday is “Agility X”, and so on.
After you cycle through those workouts for 3 weeks straight (or – once your muscles are just getting used to those moves), Tony throws you a curveball…
Week 4 is a “rest” week that features some “recovery-type” workouts. I’m using quotes for a reason there because although the last week of each block is labeled as a recovery week, don’t get lulled into a false sense of security. You’re still gonna get your swoll on (workout hard).
Blocks 2 and 3 cycle in a similar fashion, just with different workouts and brand new ways to, “Keep your body guessing!” – Thanks, Tony…
What P90X3 Benefits Did I See?
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 about 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.
4- 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.
5- 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.
Downfalls of P90X3 That I Could Do Without
1- 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.
2- Cardio is 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.
3- 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.
Conclusion – Is P90X3 Worth It?
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!