P90X vs. P90X2 vs. P90X3 – Is One Right for You?

P90X Comparison

The P90X Revolution!  The complete 90-day, home fitness system designed to get you in the best shape of your life.

The P90X system is based on the concept of “muscle confusion,” which means varying the workout schedule and introducing new moves so the body never fully adapts. This is similar to the periodization techniques athletes use to get their bodies in top condition. It also has a basis in science; research suggests that workout programs that offer variation bring greater benefits than those that do not.

As a NASM Personal Trainer/P90X Certified Trainer, I’ve chosen this program group (P90X, X2 & X3) to coach and train because the physical adaptability, safety in bio-mechanical movement and customized nutritional plan are all designed in one package that offers real and sustainable results.

A quick look at each.


The Beginning

Back in 2004, I was in a gym in Phoenix during a layover and was watching a guy doing something very different.  He said it was P90X.  I’d never heard of it.  As an avid exercise enthusiast, and as this was new, I of course quickly dismissed it.  Over the next 5 years, I watched the infomercials and began to look more closely.  You know the book “The Tipping Point” by Malcom Gladwell? – The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.  P90X was in it’s infancy and hadn’t reached that point.

In 2009, my daughter and I began the 90-Day fitness & nutrtional program.  The program uses Periodization (muscle confusion) in a 90-day Macrocycle, broken into Three 30-Day Microcycle’s.  We committed to each other that we were going to complete this. After Week One, we were both so sore that it was painful to move.  The Second Week the pain had subsided and we were getting the hang of it. The Third week was our strength week and the Fourth Week was peak.  That was the first 30 day cycle. Two more to go!  The Second 30-Day cycle, some of the exercises were changed up to prevent adaptation, yet still working the same muscle groups. Two things kept us going: The Father & Daughter element, and Tony Horton’s mantra “Just show-up & do your best”.  The days we felt good, we’d push hard.  The days we didn’t want to even be there, we’d “show-up” and give it maybe 70%. But we felt it was better than skipping it.  We finished the program!  I lost 25 pounds and my daughter was leaner than ever. We were hooked!

First Round P90X June 2009. Before, 90days after and still at it.

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Minimum: Lightweight Resistance Bands.

Optimum: Add Yoga Mat, Door Mount Pull-up Bar, Push-Up Stands, Light weights, Heart-Rate Monitor.

Schedule & Time Commitment

Monday:  Chest & Back = 52:50 + Ab Ripper X 16:07

Tuesday: Plyometrics = 58:36

Wednesday: Shoulders & Arms = 59:53 + Ab Ripper X 16:07

Thursday: Yoga X = 92:24

Friday: Legs & Back = 58:56 + Ab Ripper X 16:07

Satuday: Your Choice of Kenpo X = 58:46, X-Stretch 57:32, or Cardio X 43:18

Sunday: OFF

Watch the P90X Intro Video





I remember finishing the first P90X Cycle thinking “Now What?”  So we began again, and again…TEN P90X Cycles later P90X2 was released in Dec 2011.  I was getting all the pre-release workout videos and couldn’t wait to begin this new program.

In 2009, I was attending the IDEA World Fitness Convention.  The Conventional Weight “Machines” of the past were missing.  In their place was functional fitness equipment with focus on multi-segment movement and emphasis on core.  New Stuff – And this is what the P90X2 was about.  NASM (National Association of Sports Medicine) worked with Beachbody & Tony Horton to design P90X2 using the OPT (Optimal Performance Training) Model.  A perfect fit for me as my Personal Training is from NASM.

This next session, the whole family began.  Wife, daughter and son-in-law.  It was awesome with all 4 of us working out together.

The exercises were familiar to the P90x, yet the mechanics of the exercise were different.  For example, we would do plyometric push-ups on the stability ball (the big inflatable kind) and a wide variety of medball (the weighted balls) pushups, all requiring core engagement.  Arms & Shoulder days core engagment would be done through balancing on one foot (either resting on a medball or foot lifted off the floor). Yoga was shortened by half an hour.  Plyometrics seemed a little easier on the body.

Technically, this is the most challenging of the P90X programs.  Balance, Multi-segment movements, working metabolic and aerobic energy systems more aggressively, and of course the commitment. With that said, my greatest results have come through this program.


Minimum: Lightweight Resistance Bands. Stability Ball, 2 Med Balls

Optimum: Add Yoga Mat, Door Mount Pull-up Bar, Light weights, Heart-Rate Monitor.

Schedule & Time Commitment

Monday:  Chest, Back & Balance = 60:15 + X2 Ab Ripper 16:07

Tuesday: Plyocide = 56:48

Wednesday: X2 Shoulders & Arms = 53:04 + X2 Ab Ripper X 16:07

Thursday: X2 Yoga = 68:07

Friday: Base & Back = 56:26 + X2 Ab Ripper X 16:07

Satuday: Your Choice of Recovery & Mobility = 58:20,  X2 Total Body = 63:45 or X2 Balance & Power 63:21

Sunday: OFF

Watch the P90X2 Intro Video





So, it goes P90X3, then P90X, then P90X2? Isn’t that confusing?

“They’re all different, and they all build on each other in both directions by adding different fitness elements. If you’ve already done P90X and P90X2, you’re still going to be challenged by X3. But if you’re starting from scratch, I think it’s the best place to begin.”  – Tony Horton.

“Shorter workouts are a trend in exercise science right now and P90X3 takes that research to a different level. It has to do with interval training and compound moves and mixing different styles of training.” – Tony Horton.

So, we moved on to try the new P90X3 in Dec13.  My wife loved it.  Seriously, it’s 30 minutes start to finish including warm-up and cool down.  High Intensity, little down time but doable and you’re done in 30 minutes.  If you’re new, overwhelmed by the word “P90X” or time is an issue, this is the place to start.



Minimum: Lightweight Resistance Bands. Stability Ball, 2 Med Balls

Optimum: Add Yoga Mat, Door Mount Pull-up Bar, Stability Ball, Med Balls,  Light weights, Heart-Rate Monitor.

Schedule & Time Commitment

Monday:  Total Synergistics = 30 minutes + X3 Ab Ripper = 15 minutes

Tuesday: Agility X = 30 minutes

Wednesday: X3 Yoga = 30 minutes

Thursday: The Challenge =   30 minutes + X3 Ab Ripper = 15 minutes

Friday: CVX = 30 minutes

Saturday: The Warrior =  30 minutes + X3 Ab Ripper = 15 minutes

Sunday: OFF

Watch the P90X3 Intro Video


P90X – A great follow on to P90X3.  Yet, through modification of the exercises, the program is totally doable as as a starter for someone with a reasonable fitness base.  This is where I started and as of 2010 4.2 million others.

P90X2 –  A more technical movement form of P90X.  Bringing multi-segment movement in with emphasis on core stability to provide functional fitness.  This is where my best results have come from.

P90X3 – If your new to P90x and have a reasonable fitness base (can do a push-up, walk for 10 minutes and do downward dog) or you want to get in and get out, this is where to start.  Thirty Minutes a day, that’s 3 hours a week to lose that weight and get in awesome shape.





  • John says:

    Will X3 build as much muscle as P90X?
    And, if I lifted 2 days, cardio 2, and flexibility 1 with 2 rest days couldn’t that routine equal results close to X3?

    • Hey John, good question. I like the movements of X3 and you’re done in 30 minutes. Yet, I’ve found better results with P90X as the volume of exercise is greater than X3 which may contribute with these results.
      If you “need” to do “cardio”, like you “have to run” then go for it. The pace/interval of the P90X programs exceeds the “cardio” benefits one would get running for 30 minutes at aerobic pace. So, in answer to your question, (as a NASM CPT, PES) the design of P90X3 is better than your suggestion. With that said. Try your way for a month (one micro-cycle), then do the P90X program of your choice and see what suits you better. Hope that helps my friend.

  • SteroidsILove says:

    Very good article. I’m surprised to be the first person leaving comments here

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