Let's be honest...you might live under a rock if you have never heard of P90X. This is the "original" workout that came out 10 years ago. P90X3 came out last year and was extremely popular since the program was condensed into 30 minute workouts. P90X2 is like the step brother of the P90X family that was shipped off to military school for kicking too much ass. This program is the real deal from a butt kicking standpoint. P90X2 is geared more towards sports performance and is more of an elite training for athletes, which is one reason why I wanted to try it! I still play quite a bit of volleyball and at a fairly competitive level so for me, it was mainly to improve my performance on the court. Move faster, jump higher, and be in better physical shape to avoid injury.
There is no strict calendar to follow, which makes P90X2 very unique when comparing it to other programs. It is broken up into 3 phases and although each phase has a recommended schedule for each week, they don't say to do each week for a given period of time. You are the judge of when you're ready to move on to the next phase. Each phase helps prepare you for the next group of workouts which is really nice.
I started this workout after completing 2 rounds of P90X3, followed by a "rest" phase where I did PiYo. So I was in decent "P90X shape" coming into this workout. By that I mean, Tony makes you do a lot of pull-ups and push-ups along with quite a bit of balance work... just to give you an idea of where I was at with my workouts before starting.
Phase 1 - Foundation
This Phase is geared towards teaching you most of the moves. The warm-ups stay pretty much the same in all the workouts so you quickly learn all the moves you'll be doing during that part of the workout. One thing that I really enjoyed about this program was that the warm-up was very comprehensive, so you do a lot of moves to get warm, then you stretch, and you foam roll in nearly all the warm-ups. The foam rolling piece is nice because normally I'm too lazy to do that...so it forces you to spend some time improving the quality of your muscles not just size and endurance.
There are 6 workouts that you use in Phase 1, plus a bonus 7th workout Ab Ripper that you add on a couple of days. The schedule is setup so that you workout hard 4 days a week. Those workouts include high intensity core work, plyometric work, total body strength and a balance and strength workout. In between those workouts you mix in yoga one day and the other two days you can either take as rest days or do the Recovery + Mobility workout, which is a fantastic workout and something I tried to do at least once a week.
I really enjoyed this Phase and I ended up doing it for 4 weeks before moving on. Here is a little video of me me doing one of the moves in the Balance + Power workout. This will also give you an idea of the space you will need, which isn't much!
Phase 2 - Strength
Phase 2 is similar to Phase 1, so you will go hard 4 days a week, 1 yoga day, and 2 recovery days. The intense workouts in this phase were some of my favorites out of all of the X2 workouts. I used to be a gym guy before I moved into doing home workouts. I wasn't good at actually getting TO the gym, but I did enjoy throwing some weight around while I was there. A big piece of the Phase 2 workouts is using a lot of dumbbells, push-ups, and pull-ups. Stuff that most guys (and some ladies) like!!!
The awesome part of this program, and what sets it apart from just lifting weights "normally", is that you are rarely standing on 2 feet when doing lifts, or when you are doing push-ups you are using stability balls or medicine balls to balance on. This really engages all those stabilizer muscles and core muscles. As you progress through each phase, you definitely notice your balance improves with the moves that you are doing. I never upped my weight all that much but I did notice that I did more reps and my balance was much better.
Phase 3 - Performance
Once again, this phase is 4 days of hard workouts, 1 yoga day, and 2 rest or recovery workout days. The 4 days that you are "on" you use just 2 workouts, P.A.P Upper and P.A.P. Lower. P.A.P. stands for Post-Activation Potentiation. If you want to look into what that means exactly, here is a link to an article on the topic, Post-Activation Potentiation. To summarize: the goal of this type of training is to improve your explosive power as your muscles fatigue. My real life application of this is playing volleyball. This type of training will help me to be able to jump as high in my last game of the night as I was able to jump in my first game.
If I'm being honest, this was my least favorite Phase. After the 2nd week, I found myself bored with the workouts and the schedule. I did 3 full weeks following the X2 schedule but in the 4th week I ended up switching to using P90X3's Complex Upper and Lower workouts which are also based on PAP training. This gave me a little more variety, which was nice.
Overall I really enjoyed this program, especially the first 2 phases and all the different workouts and moves. I definitely saw my strength and balance improve. I loved the complex nature of all the moves and it really challenged me. The only downside was the workouts did get a little long. For the person that just wants to get in and get it done, this wouldn't be the best workout for you. For someone that is transitioning from working out at the gym, I think it would be great from a timing standpoint.
I would say this program is geared more towards strength and improving muscle endurance. My goal going into it was to actually put on some weight, which I was able to do without gaining any body fat. I don't know if I would recommend it to the person that wants to lose a lot of weight. It is probably better suited for the person that wants to drop some body fat % points, get a little stronger, improve muscle quality and improve sports performance. No matter where you are with your fitness, this program WILL challenge everyone. If you're more advanced, you will likely be able to move through the phases faster...but there is something for everyone with this program!
I'll start with my before and after pictures (before pictures are on the top, after on the bottom). I try to be as fair with this as possible, no flexing (except in the flexing ones), similar lighting, same time of day. When I started, my weight was the lowest it had been since right after college, 157 lbs. After finishing X2, I was up to 165 lbs!!! I personally see a difference in my back, shoulders and arms...and a little bit in my chest. If you're looking at the flexing pics, I definitely see more definition in my shoulders and back. Overall I'm pretty happy with my the changes!
Some of the coolest numbers that I like to track are girth measurements and also the Fit Test numbers. I love that I basically maintained my waist measurement while adding 8 lbs. Based on the measurements, it seems my arms, thighs and butt got most of it. With the Fit Test, the before numbers were actually my after numbers after I completed my first round of P90X3. I set a goal at the beginning of X2 (with one of the Challenge Groups that I was running) that I wanted to be able to do 25 pull-ups and 100 push-ups without breaking. I fell a little short, but definitely saw some big gains in both of those areas. Another area that I didn't really notice getting stronger but based on the numbers from the "Ab In and Outs" my core strength/stamina definitely improved.
The last thing that I want to point out is the cardiovascular work that these programs provide. So many people think they need to go pound the pavement or hop on an elliptical in order to work their heart. NOT TRUE. Before I started any P90X workouts my resting heart rate was 62 which is good, but you can see how much it improved. I will say X3 is a better cardio workout due to their being less breaks and shorter breaks. My heart rate maximizer numbers from a year ago were: Immediately after - 172
After 1 minute - 107, After 2 minutes - 107, After 3 minutes -79, After 4 minutes - 85. Basically what this test has you do is go all out with jumping jacks for 2 minutes to get your heart rate up then once you are done, you monitor how your heart rate recovers. The change here is crazy!!! After 2 minutes of basically sprinting, my heart is now able to recover to the point of my resting heart rate.
If you want to live longer, your heart muscle needs to be stronger...and this workout definitely works that muscle too.
If this program sounds like something you are interested in trying out, I would love to chat with you.
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.