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Does P90X3 Work? Workout Reviews (Complete List)

 

Originally Published: January 4, 2014

 

P90X3 MMX

 

Does P90X3 Work?

It has been almost a month since the P90X3 release and I have now reviewed all 20 P90X3 workouts here at HowDoIGetRipped.com. Does P90X3 work? I would say… Yes! Of course my reviews of the individual workouts do not answer the question alone as a full round(s) of P90X3 will ultimately provide your very own personal proof provided you press play on the workouts and just as important, if not more, focus on the nutrition aligned with your goals. However, the success stories from the beta test groups for P90X3 are quite impressive. My goal here is to simply demonstrate the efficiency-effectiveness of the X3 workouts based on my personal experience. I am all kinds of soreness after the past few weeks on X3!

Given that I am a science guy:),  I will leverage heart rate analysis for each workout to draw conclusions and comparisons including the data in my perspective. I have a Polar H7 Bluetooth enabled heart rate monitor synced to my iPhone using the Polar Beat Mobile App (used “jogging” setting as default). Warmup and cooldown time is included in the heart rate analysis (excluding Cold Start). I will also try to draw links to other Beachbody programs for additional perspective where applicable. I have graduated P90X, P90X+, P90X2, P90X One-on-Ones, 10-Minute Trainer, Insanity, Insanity Asylum Volume 1, Insanity Asylum Volume 2, T25, Body Beast, RevAbs, Les Mills Combat as we all as other programs and hybrids thereof. Nutrition targets during this review are consistent with Plan “E” in the P90X3 nutrition guide at 2700 calories per day. Supplements included E&E Energy and Endurance pre-workout, BCAAs intraworkout, P90X Results and Recovery Formula with MAX Creatine post-workout and Shakeology snack. I will also have a separate running post for my actual day-to-day accountability for my official P90X3 round. Bring it!

 

The Data Analysis Summary

 After ALL 20 of the P90X3 workouts (Base + ELITE), I have compiled data from the heart rate analysis to summarize my findings with regard to efficiency-effectiveness of the workouts (as related to heart rate impact). Of course there are many other benefits of the workouts unrelated to heart rate, calorie burn and heart rate zone, however, I have found the heart rate analysis to be strongly correlated with certain results from previous experience (e.g., weight loss, lean muscle). With that said, Cold Start, X3 Yoga, Pilates X, Isometrix and Dynamix may appear to be the least challenging of the P90X3 series with regard to heart rate analysis, but the mobility, balance, flexibility and strength you achieve with these workouts drives performance in the more challenging cardio and resistance workouts. I found that while performing a lot of the isometric-type moves, for example, that my left side was weaker than my right in terms of strength and balance. I attribute this to over-compensation to the right side given my history of knee injuries on my left side, and I believe strongly that P90X3 will help resolve some of the differences. Even though heart rate data may not clearly demonstrate in the analysis, some of the Iso- moves in these workouts were the hardest for me in the entire program! Note: There are a lot of total body focused workouts in P90X3 including compound circuits.

The table below summarizes the data collected from the heart rate monitor in addition to calculations to normalize calorie burn to total workout time and separate determination on percentage of workout in upper heart rate zones “4” and “5” (keeping in mind extra warmup/cooldown will impact this value). Click on the table to expand the view for easier reading. The two graphs below the table illustrate the findings and support the conclusions. You can see with regression analysis that there is a strong correlation between Average Heart Rate in the workout and normalized calorie burn in relation to total workout time (R2 = 0.99689). Also, regression analysis of Max Heart Rate as a function of Average Heart Rate further supports strong correlation with R2 = 0.96496 (y = 1.018x +  28.688). It is great to see that the top workouts in the analysis range from resistance focus to more traditional cardio impact. Note: I have completed many of the workouts multiple times and the heart rate data has been quite consistent for a given workout so I believe that the general trends in the table may be representative.

P90X3 Heart Rate Analysis Summary Review

CLICK TO EXPAND.

P90X3 Heart Rate AnalysisP90X3 Heart Rate Regression Review

 

For comparison, typical P90X, Insanity and Combat workouts provide me calorie burn ranging from 300 – 800 calories per workout (workouts up to 60 minutes in length) with average heart rate and zones similar to P90X3. So, my P90X3 results are within the range of some of the longer workout programs. Also, even though the maximum calorie burn shown here for me during X3 workouts was approx. 500 calories, we have members on the Team that have reported up to 700 calories burned in 30 minutes. With that said, yes, longer workouts with similar average heart rate should burn more calories. But, there is much more to the benefits of P90X3 than just calorie burn, or calorie burn DURING the workout (e.g., afterburn). Combined with a solid nutrition plan as outlined in the P90X3 nutrition guide, I submit that P90X3 DOES work in only 30 minutes a day… but check out the workout reviews for even more details!

 

Favorite Workouts: Eccentric Upper, The Challenge and The Warrior

Least Favorite Workouts: Eccentric Lower and Dynamix

Hardest Workouts (for me): Complex Upper (ELITE) and Complex Lower (ELITE)

Easiest Workouts (for me): Total Synergistics and The Warrior

 

The Workouts

P90X3 Incinerator Review
P90X3 Accelerator Review
P90X3 Pilates X Review
P90X3 Eccentric Upper Review
P90X3 Cold Start Review
P90X3 X3 Ab Ripper Review (ELITE)
P90X3 Triometrics Review
P90X3 Dynamix Review
P90X3 Total Synergistics Review
P90X3 Agility X Review
P90X3 X3 Yoga Review
P90X3 The Challenge Review
P90X3 CVX Review
P90X3 The Warrior Review
P90X3 Complex Upper Review (ELITE)
P90X3 Complex Lower Review (ELITE)
P90X3 MMX Review
P90X3 Decelerator Review
P90X3 Isometrix Review
P90X3 Eccentric Lower Review

 

Special Note: I performed Total Synergistics with resistance bands and then weeks later with free weight dumbbells to compare any differences in heart rate analysis and workout challenge. Results may be surprising, check them out… P90X3 Total Synergistics Review. I performed The Challenge (ALL push-ups and pull-ups) with and without a 20-lb weighted vest… P90X3 The Challenge Review. Also, I pressed play on MMX with and without weighted gloves (2-lbs each hand)… P90X3 MMX Review. Finally, it is worth a mention that since I have been doing the P90X3 workouts for awhile now I am seeing some progress in heart rate analysis where my max and average heart rates have been slightly lower than previous as I get more conditioned to these workouts. Good sign!

 

P90X3 Available Now

 

The Reviews

P90X3 Incinerator Review

INCINERATOR was my choice for the first workout I test drove for P90X3 when it arrived. It may in fact be one of the most challenging, but I am so excited to have this workout in the series. I am a PUSH-PULL kinda guy. Ha. (Hey now.)

“This is the one routine designed to burn you out. Exercise is one of the few times in life where failure is a goal. With incinerator, it’s your ticket to results, as you’re forced to Bring It until there’s nothing left to bring. In exercise terms, failure is important in defining your limits. If you never fail, you simply cannot achieve your potential. This push-and-pull-focused workout uses back-to-back movements engaging the same primary muscle groups. The first movement targets hypertrophy (muscle growth), and the last movement pushes you just past your limit. With incinerator, failure is your only option.”

After having a banana with natural peanut butter and then shortly after loading up on E&E Energy and Endurance pre-workout formula for energy (hey, it’s early here!), I pressed play on Incinerator for my P90X3 Incinerator Review. Keeping in mind that this is a resistance workout and not traditional cardio impact, I wore my Polar H7 with bluetooth sync to iPhone with Polar Beat app to track results in real-time including heart rate, zone, calories burned, etc.

So how did I do in only 30 minutes of Incinerator?

 

P90X3 Incinerator Review

 

P90X3 Incinerator Review

 

Wow. That was a rocker for 30 minutes (plus some extra cold start stretch time). 20 moves over the 30 minutes including a 1-minute cooldown providing calorie burn of 432 calories with average heart rate 151 beats per minute. This is good, especially since there are no cardio intervals or otherwise! I selected weights to target 8 – 10 reps. The breaks between exercises were just enough to get a little rest, drink and record weight/reps. Heart rate resided primarily in heart rate zones 4 to 5. For the Polar Beat app, zone 5 = “maximum” at 90-100% heart rate max, 4 = “hard” at 80 – 90% heart rate max, 3 = “moderate” at 70-80% heart rate max, 2 = “light” at 60-70% heart rate max and 1 = “very light” at 50-60% heart rate max. As I expected, my heart rate was most elevated in the highest zone during the resistance movements with dumbbells. The heart rate analysis is quite favorable for a workout, let alone 30-min workout time. I am still getting a sustained calorie burn even one hour plus after the workout!

P90X3 Incinerator included a range of exercises with dumbbells and body weight in a PUSH-PULL sequence. This included standard pullup variations and pushup moves as well as dumbbell movements from curls to press modifications on the floor. I did well using dumbbells ranging from 10 lbs. to 50 lbs. for some of the chest press. As a side note, body weight and resistance bands work well too and exercises can be modified for any fitness level! The workout ended with a killer 2 min 15 second burnout series consisting of pushups, plank holds, sphinx isometrics, one-legged plank balance and others. Love it, my heart rate was elevated throughout.

 

 

 

P90X3 Accelerator Review

I selected Accelerator as the second workout to test drive in the P90X3 workout system before starting my official round. I was particularly interested in Accelerator given the cardio focus for this workout, described as…

“By engaging both the aerobic and anaerobic pathways, Accelerator increases cardiovascular and muscular efficiency, resulting in more bang for your fat-burning buck. You achieve this by exercising at two different speeds, each targeting specific energy systems. This unique combination eliminates downtime associated with power-based workouts, while maximizing the consistency of traditional aerobic workouts.”

Just finished Accelerator and that was one of the most challenging 30-min workouts that I have done. This is a High Intensity Interval based cardio workout and there are multiple movements that target fast and slow speeds. Much focus is on accelerating through the movements with focus on form and repetition. Exercises include A LOT of plank balance modification, plyometric variations and compound series. Imagine plank walks in a circle clockwise/counterclockwise for one minute straight! No weights, only one or two short breaks and modifier moves demonstrated. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Accelerator Review

 

P90X3 Accelerator Review

Insane. I burned 476 calories in Accelerator in only 30 minutes (plus short warmup and cool down) with average heart rate 165 beats per minutes. Not surprisingly my average heart rate was higher than the Incinerator resistance-based P90X3 workout. Most insane to me though is the amount of time I spent in heart rate zone “5” at 22 minutes and 26 seconds, and recall heart rate 5 is maximum at 90-100% of my target heart rate max. That’s like 2/3rds of the workout! So who says you can’t get a killer workout in only 30 minutes? Love it. Even hours later I had a raging afterburn and could tell my metabolism was ramped for sustained calorie burn.

P90X3 Pilates X Review

I wanted to try next a workout focused on core, flexibility and balance. Pilates X definitely supports these mechanisms. I do not have a lot of background in Pilates, although I have certainly used some of the techniques. Pilates is very popular so I was excited to check out the P90X3 version, described as…

“A century ago, Joseph Pilates founded a style of training he coined Contrology. By understanding the importance of controlling the body through its core while centering on breathing and balance, he revolutionized how we can strengthen the foundation upon which our bodies can better function and endure the effects of aging. P90X3 takes Contrology into the millennia by combining Pilates’ fundamentals with modern science, resulting in a workout that builds core strength and muscle elasticity, stabilizes the joints, and creates a solid human platform to perform the activity we call life.”

Once again,  I wore the Polar H7 heart rate monitor with Bluetooth sync to my iPhone via Polar Beat mobile app. I was not expecting sustained elevated heart rate and immediate calorie burn typically found with the cardio and resistance workouts, however, I was surprised at how strong Pilates X is with regard to challenging your body in different ways.

 

P90X3 Pilates X Review

 

P90X3 Pilates X Review

This was a GREAT workout and I definitely found my weaknesses… mobility and flexibility! Calorie burn of 235 calories was more than I was expecting, to be honest, with average heart rate at 113 beats per minute. Most of the workout my heart rate resided in the “light” to “very light” zones ranging from 50-70% of heart rate max. I have completed various Yoga programs before and Pilates X felt to me a lot like a mix of Yoga, dynamic stretch and focused core discipline. Abs were worked hard. The exercises included a range of movements designed to test limits in these areas and I expect to see significant progress with my own mobility and flexibility during the course of my round. For me, mobility of hips and range of motion of legs are particularly challenging. Hey, at least I can do pushups and pullups all day… Ha! That is what I love about this program though as P90X3 is a total body solution in 30 minutes.

P90X3 Eccentric Upper Review

I was REALLY excited to press play on Eccentric Upper given that I am a big fan of TEMPO discipline by focusing on the eccentric (negatives) and concentric (positive) movements. For me, I have always found that when I hit a plateau I can throw in some TEMPO workouts and re-engage progress in my transformation. Negatives were one of my secrets to success driving me to be able to complete 40 unassisted, wide front pullups in a row (back in the day during P90X)! I feel the slow-motion repetitions and focus of TEMPO discipline engages other stabilizing muscles not typically leveraged and requires excellent form when completing the exercises. Common exercise science also suggests that the muscles are challenged even more, up to 30-40% more resistance under tension, in the negative mechanism promoting better, faster results. The Eccentric workouts are found in the Block 2 and Block 3 schedules for P90X3. My favorite TEMPO workouts to-date are Body Beast TEMPO Chest/Tris and TEMPO Back/Bis. Unfortunately, those workouts are long, around 60 minutes. Enter P90X3 eccentric workouts at 30 minutes workout time! Also, the lower body version of eccentric will be a great addition to the TEMPO library of workouts.

“Referred to as “negatives” in gym venacular, your one-word synopsis for these workouts will probably be “pumped”. Time under tension is the key to creating the greatest hormonal releases to induce hypertrophy, or muscle growth. In these workouts you’ll slow down the eccentric (or negative) half of each movement until you’re begging for mercy. Concentric is when the muscle shortens, eccentric is when it lengthens. During each exercise you’ll focus on the latter because it recruits more muscle cell motor units than the concentric half, resulting in the biggest testosterone bang for your time-under-tension buck. (And X3’s all about bang for your buck!)”

Okay, just finished and this is one of my new all-time favorite workouts! Loved this one. The workout consisted of a range of PUSH and PULL movements where the eccentric movement was slowed down to 3 seconds. So, concentric (positive, up) movement was NOT slowed down, but eccentric movement (negative, down) was 3-second count back to start position. This really challenges the workout and requires smart attention to form and weight used to complete the reps. Exercises ranged from multiple pushups including eccentric PLYO Pushups (!), variations of pullups, flys, dips and eccentric shoulder press modifications. I am pretty good at pullups and this one was a rocker (chair or band assistance works well as needed). Here is my heart rate analysis for the workout…

 

P90X3 Eccentric Upper Review

 

P90X3 Eccentric Upper Review

This was an awesome workout and you can see my heart rate was elevated throughout the workout even though there was no cardio in the routine. Calories burned was on par with other P90X3 resistance workouts at 415 calories with average heart rate 154 beats per minute. Almost 16 minutes was spent in Zone 4 or “hard” at 80-90% max heart rate. Awesome, and in only 30 minutes. As a side note, the main differences I see between Eccentric Upper and the Body Beast TEMPO workouts is that Body Beast is a longer workout, leverages slow motion for eccentric AND concentric motions and Body Beast is more focused on specific muscle groups vs. total body found with P90X3 Eccentric Upper. Both excellent workouts! I am excited to try Eccentric Lower…

P90X3 Cold Start Review

Typical P90X3 workouts have approximately 2 minutes of warmup for each workout included in the 30 minutes, however, for many people 2 minutes is not enough to get properly warmed up, especially early in the morning during cold winters! Enter the Cold Start routine, described as…

“Every workout should begin with a warm-up. And when you’re sore, tired, or in a chilly climate, a slightly longer warm-up can make the difference between a great workout and injury. Cold Start will increase your heart and respiratory rates, warm up muscle tissues, warm up joint synovial fluid, prepare your neurological system for movement, and get you psychologically prepared for the work ahead. Oh, and it feels really good.”

This was great warm-up and I will definitely use it as needed. I got a little bit of a sweat going, which is what you want. For me, the warmup in the standard workouts is sufficient most of the time but the Cold Start will be leveraged on days where I am really sore or stiff. The Cold Start warm-up is 12 minutes and 12 seconds. Most variations are 30 seconds each while the Yoga sequence is longer at 2+ minutes. Moves include lateral run, twist and pivot, safety jacks, roman lunges, side leg swings, swenson salutation and downward dog (Yoga sequence), groiner pushups (challenging move), hip/ham stretch, cat dog and vinyasa. I believe Cold Start can be as effective and useful for people doing P90X3 as X Stretch was in the original P90X. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Cold Start Review

P90X3 Cold Start Review

Not bad for 12+ minutes burning 78 calories with average heart rate at 110 beats per minute. Stretch mostly resided in heart rate zone 1 or “very light” at 50-60% heart rate max, as expected. The Polar Beat app called this workout a “recovery routine.” How did it know? Ha. Anyway, just what you want out of a warm-up routine… Bring on the workouts!

P90X3 X3 Ab Ripper Review (ELITE)

Ab Ripper X from P90X and X2 Ab Ripper from P90X2 are classic abdominal routines that have proven to get results time and again for those that have committed to the workouts and nutrition. And, yes, abs are made in the kitchen, however, the abdominal workouts will help build the ab muscles and strengthen core in addition to lower back so that when body fat is sufficiently low for a given body type the abs will pop. Conditioned abs and core, including lower back, will promote functional strength and performance. With that said, I was looking forward to X3 Ab Ripper, which is 15 minutes and part of the extra Elite workout DVDs for P90X3, described as…

“Welcome to the latest incarnation of abdominal hell, which not only focuses on your rectus abdominus (that’s where your washboard is), but also your transverse abdominus and internal and external obliques. This 15-minute trunk burner extreme is for those times when you absolutely, positively need to take your core strength to the next level. Think of X3 Ab Ripper as your eight-pack bonus.”

Okay, what just happened? Ha. I am not too proud to say that I had to some breaks in this one. X3 Ab Ripper is one of the most challenging workouts that I have done. There are a lot of modifiers for a range of fitness levels as needed. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Ab Ripper Review

P90X3 Ab Ripper Review

Even though calorie burn was only 141 calories, average heart rate of 120 beats per minute shows that this workout pushes you regardless. Heart rate zone was in the “light” to “moderate” range of 50-80% of target heart rate max. The most challenging moments of X3 Ab Ripper were related to the isometric holds and burnout series. For example, one series of moves included a standard “banana” position where legs are elevated parallel to ground with arms over head and then you sit up to a V-position (legs 45 degrees with arms parallel), hold, and back down. Oh yeah, and hold a dumbbell during the process. Oh yeah, and repeat for 10 reps. Man. I also enjoyed the bicycle burnout series at the end with 100 plus reps at different speeds as well as the dolphin hops. Again, there are modifiers for everyone. X3 Ab Ripper is officially my favorite abdominal workout in only 15 minutes. Now I just need to master it!

P90X3 Triometrics Review

Plyometrics is a great way to get the heart rate elevated, and, when leveraging interval discipline, can ramp metabolism for a sustained impact on calorie burn and progress. I first learned about this workout at the Leadership Retreat with Tony Horton and was looking forward to the finished product, described as…

“Old-school plyometrics is jump training. Welcome to Triometrics, X3’s state-of-the-art take on a plyo workout that goes far beyond simple jumping. “Plyometric” here means explosive. It’s a highly effective means of training muscular efficiency or power. The downside of this training is the time factor. The more explosive force that’s created, the more downtime you need. Triometrics’ proprietary formula utilizes three different difficulty levels for every exercise, each targeting a different physiological response while minimizing the downtime needed between movements. The result is a workout that increases speed and power in a fraction of the time you’re used to training.”

Done. This one is a rocker. Reminds me of P90X Plyometrics with less breaks and each move consisting of three speeds (hence, “trio”). Dreya from P90X is in the cast for Triometrics. There a a lot of balance moves including squats, jumps, and side-to-side dynamic moves. I really enjoyed this workout and, to be honest, my legs are shaking quite a bit right now after the workout. The Warrior 3 squats were the most challenging for me where you balance on one leg with a range of squats with arms in various positions. The “run stance squats” from P90X received an upgrade in intensity too. Again, though, there are modifiers dependent on fitness level. There is a longer 5 minute cooldown in this one. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Triometrics Review

P90X3 Triometrics Review

 

I spent most of the workout in Zone “4”, around 14 minutes, which is “hard” at 80-90% heart rate max. I felt like I was pushed throughout with average heart rate of 152 beats per minute. The heart rate trend shows that the workout appeared to progressively push me harder with max heart rates near the end of the actual workout. I definitely agree after going through the workout. You can see my heart rate also recovering in the 5-min cooldown at the end. The stats are right up there with the most challenging P90X3 workouts available. I am really enjoying the shorter workouts and the fact that there are many ways to modify to help anyone achieve their goals. Bring it!

 

 

 

P90X3 Dynamix Review

Dynamix is a workout that I have been looking forward to trying since I received the p90X3 kit and studied the fitness guide. Honestly, I still did not know what to expect with this workout before pressing play as it seemed to be a hybrid of stretch, Yoga, Pilates, isometrics and other focus areas. Described as…

“If you can’t move right, you can’t play right. Dynamix focuses on using your muscles, connective tissue, and joint function in symbiotic actions to actively increase range of motion, flexibility, and stabilization. When worked in harmony, these systems are your keys to free and easy movement.”

Wow. This one challenged me a lot. Similar to Pilates X, Dynamix found some weaknesses in my mobility and flexibility. The workout is focused on a range of exercises that are designed to improve in these areas leveraging dynamic movements. No statics or isometrics. Science suggests that the dynamic movements are more supportive of athletic and functional performance. I found the moves that allow you to, “activate  and elongate,” to be the most beneficial for me. Straightening my leg in some of these moves is a real challenge and pointing my toe down in side variations is near impossible at the moment. I was pleased to see “scorpion” back in the mix after P90X2 where you lay on your stomach with arms out to the sides and try to bring your leg around your back to touch foot to opposite hand. Good back stretch! Also, I like the spinal twist exercises. I look forward to much progress with Dynamix over time. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Dynamix Review

P90X3 Dynamix Review

For such a low impact workout with a lot of “stretching” I was surprised to see I burned 203 calories in 30 minutes with average heart rate at 111 beats per minute. That is pretty good, I think. Clearly my heart rate resided in the “light” to “very light” zone throughout ranging from 50-70% target heart rate maximum. I found this one fairly comparable to Pilates X, although if I am critical I would say that Pilates X is a little more challenging for me with regard to heart rate impact, perhaps related to less stretching movements. Dynamix will be in my workout rotation for years to come.

P90X3 Total Synergistics Review

Day 1 of the P90X3 program is designed to leverage Total Synergistics in 3 of the 4 versions of the schedule available including Classic, Mass and Doubles (Lean version has Accelerator for Day 1). The name reminds me of the Core Synergistics workout in the original P90X, which was primarily found in the Classic version of the workout schedule. Also, the name “Total Synergistics” sounds more like a total body workout, which would be a departure from very targeted muscles groups on Day 1 similar to P90X (think Chest and Back). Regardless, I know the program is only 30 minutes a day and created as such to maximize results in this period of time. Was looking forward to this one! Total Synergistics is described as…

“A full-body resistance workout featuring compound movements, which utilize multiple muscle groups in every exercise. With compound movements, the increased force to the body simulates the body’s ability to produce performance-enhancing hormones, such as testosterone. These hormonal cascades, as they’re called, trigger powerful metabolic changes and are one of the fastest ways to change your body composition.”

I enjoyed this workout, although I felt less challenged than some of the other P90X3 “resistance” workouts. I would also be less inclined to call this a total resistance workout relative to typical resistance workouts in the P90X systems including X and X2. In Total Synergistics there were a lot of balance moves creating instability such as pushup sequence, squats and Warrior Yoga movements. A lot of core focus and some resistance with curls, shoulder press in addition to several pull-up/chin-up variations with core engagement. I used resistance bands since I am currently on the road, however, my personal preference is free weights and I wonder if the workout would have been more challenging with weights. I will test this theory out though next time I have access to weights during this workout. A few of the dynamic resistance moves were difficult to master with the bands without the band dis-engaging from the feet (you really need to wrap them around foot to secure). I liked the balance arch press, glamour hammer and flying warrior moves. For bands, I used 20- and 40-pound variety, which for the Team Beachbody B-Lines corresponds to the maroon and green colors, respectively. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Total Synergistics Review

P90X3 Total Synergistics Review

Clearly P90X3 Total Synergistics was a great workout in 30 minutes but less intense than some of the other P90X3 workouts that I have tried in the program or other X programs. This was reflected in a calorie burn that was approx. 100 less total calories consumed in 30 minutes vs. other resistance and cardio workouts coming in at 329 calories. Average heart rate was also lower at 134 beats per minute and heart rate zone was mostly moderate for a majority of the workout at 70-80% heart rate max. Some people may be inclined to say that P90X3 is not that challenging or that this resistance workout is less resistance than expected or hoped. I would say, stay the course. This IS an outstanding total body workout and the program is designed to ramp intensity as the weeks proceed. For many, this workout will be a rocker. Total Synergistics is part of the science behind P90X3. Bring it!

UPDATE: I also completed Total Synergistics with free weights to compare the workout and results with the previous resistance bands modification. As I expected, I got a better workout with the free weights, although this could simply be a function of selecting more challenging weight or being more familiar with the moves in the workout. With that said, for me, Total Synergistics was more challenging with dumbbells. I used 15- to 50-lb dumbbells dependent on the exercise with 30-lb dumbbells being fairly common. Heart rate analysis is below and shows additional calorie burn and average heart rate relative to using bands.

P90X3 Total Synergistics Review Dumbbells

P90X3 Total Synergistics Review Dumbbells

Data indicates a calorie burn with free weights of 366 calories with average heart rate 141 beats per minute and most workout in Zone “4” or “hard” at 80-90% heart rate max. Comparing to the same workout in almost identical total workout time but using resistance bands, I found an additional 37 calories burned with average heart rate increase of 7 beats per minute when using free weights. Further, 49% of the workout resided in Upper Zones “4” and “5” vs. 21% for resistance bands version. Again, this may or may not be reflective of reality, but the data is consistent my previous experience.

P90X3 Agility X Review

Agility X is one of the workouts where you are essentially training for targeted peak performance leveraging a range of focused, dynamic moves to challenge your capabilities. Described as…

“A full body workout that requires floor targets to dictate movements, Agility X uses both aerobic and anaerobic energy, focusing on precision, power, flexibility, balance, and strength. As opposed to traditional cardio workouts, these targeted movements force explosion, deceleration, and proprioceptive adaptations, the sum result being an increased ability to move effortlessly for extended periods of time.”

Awesome. I rate this workout high on the awesome scale. A lot of fun and a great workout for anyone. Agility X reminds me of some of the performance-based workouts in the Insanity Asylum series. Instead of using an agility ladder, however, Agility X requires the use of tape as floor targets to create the workout area. Two pieces of tape are aligned parallel. The further apart and longer the tape, the more challenging the workout. I set-up the tape approx. 4 feet wide x 6 feet in length. You then mark an “X” at the top, center and bottom of each tape to create your target points for movements on each side. The workout consisted of many side-by-side exercises such as lunges, figure eight run variations, plyo jumps and many others in interval fashion. Several balance and decelerating mechanisms employed in this workout. Most moves used the “X” marks on the tapes as target points when moving from one side to the other. The burnout plank line plyo pushups at the end was insane where you perform a plank walk along the length of the tapes with plyo pushups on command. Again, there are modifications for a range of fitness levels. Good stuff. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Agility X Review

P90X3 Agility X Review

The heart rate analysis data supports a great cardio, performance-based workout with 415 calories burned in 30 minutes with average heart rate of 147 beats per minute. Side note, there is a 4-min warmup included in the workout and a cooldown at similar length added to the end of the routine. My heart rate mostly resided in Zone “4” and “5”, which is the hard to maximum range of 80-100% target heart rate max. The real-time heart rate data shown above also indicates the workout ramped in intensity from start to finish. Overall a great workout and one I look forward to again. To me, Agility X is one that will facilitate functional, athletic-type performance in athletes in training as well. You can make it as easy or difficult dependent on your goals and capabilities.

P90X3 X3 Yoga Review

I had mixed feelings with X3 Yoga coming up on the workout schedule. To be honest, I am not a big fan of Yoga. At all. I was first introduced to Yoga with P90X years ago… it was one of the best and worst workouts to enter my life. And 90 minutes of it, man… I have since also used Yoga from P90X2 and the One-on-Ones Fountain of Youth and Patience Hummingbird. You see, Yoga really DOES work and help with mobility, flexibility and strength if you get your mind right and give it a chance. This helps drive results in your other cardio, resistance and performance-based workouts. You need to focus and concentrate on the movements. However, I really do not like Yoga. I am more of a PUSH-PULL, throw-some-weights-around kind of a guy. But, if you look at Tony Horton himself he does all those things yet he is very good at Yoga, Pilates X, Dynamix and Isometrics. He gets it. This is where I will get the true benefit out of the P90X3 system, I think. And even I can handle 30 minutes. So, on to X3 Yoga, described as…

“X3 Yoga compresses thousands of years of teaching into 30 intense minutes, improving your musculoskeletal flexibility, balance, stamina, body awareness, and core strength. This flow-style practice, taking elements from Ashtanga, Hatha, and others, is perfect for filling the gaps in your fitness that other workouts cannot address.”

This is a great workout. Some will be looking for more than 30 minutes, and I feel that a stack with Pilates X, Dynamix or Isometrics may work well for those interested. But, for me, 30 minutes is enough. X3 Yoga hits a lot of the primary moves from P90X and P90X2 Yoga versions, but a little faster paced to achieve 30 minutes workout time. The dwell time in each pose was just enough to get what you need. My favorite Yoga pose was “Ted’s Chair” where you put your leg (pick one) on the opposite thigh and then squat down in chair pose with arms up. In the future I will try the advanced version of this movement where you balance on your triceps with back leg extended out behind you. The end of X3 Yoga consists of a series of balance and stretch moves to give you a lot of what you got in terms of efficiency-effectiveness from the original P90X. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 X3 Yoga Review

 P90X3 X3 Yoga Review

The heart rate analysis confirms what is to be expected, that the calories burned in X3 Yoga is less than the cardio and resistance workouts but still significant at 227 calories with average heart rate of 114 beats per minute. Most of the workout was in Zones “1” and “2” corresponding to “light” to “very light” or 50-70% heart rate max. You can see several sections of the workout where my heart rate was higher than the others, typically associated with the dynamic vinyasa series. Again, I liked this workout and feel much looser and balanced afterward. I need to work on my breathing though to really take advantage of the movements. I believe Yoga is an essential part of achieving total body health and wellness. Like Tony says in X3 Yoga, “Tip of the day – don’t skip this workout!” I agree, any thoughts of skipping Yoga and replacing with cardio or resistance will limit overall effectiveness of the program. Bring it!

 

P90X3 The Challenge Review

I can honestly say that “The Challenge” from P90X3 was the one workout I was looking forward to the most when the X3 schedule was released. I have been a fan for MANY years of Tony Horton’s One-on-One workout called, “Thirty Fifteen Routine”… or, aka, “30-15 Upper Body Massacre” for the earlier copies of the workout. I even got so good at it that I was using a 20-lb weighted vest to ramp results. Simply stated, for background, the Thirty Fifteen Routine concept is the ultimate upper body rocker focused on 6 variations of push-ups (target = 30 reps each set) and pull-ups (target = 15 reps each set) performed twice each. 60-min workout. Insane. Even Tony had to reduce reps in that workout down to 20-12, or something like that. One of the best workouts I know for upper body pump. Well here comes the P90X3 version, described as…

“What could be better than stacking push-ups and pull-ups? These two upper-body icons earned their distinction for a reason: effectiveness. In The Challenge you’ll use them in various ways, some that you’ve probably never seen, to strengthen every muscle in the upper body in a synergistic harmony. The result is not only increased muscle size and strength, but stabilization and functionality.”

Woah. Loved it. The Challenge is my new favorite workout. Everything I got out of the Thirty Fifteen Routine in half the time. There are less breaks in this version allowing for acceleration through the movements in only 30 minutes. There are 4 sets of push-up / pull-up variations and you are charged at the beginning with setting your own targets for reps throughout. Everyone is different in terms of fitness level and endurance so targets are set accordingly. For me, I selected 40 push-ups and 15 pull-ups as my targets. I performed to this level most of the workout but had to drop down at the end. I ranged from unassisted 25-40 push-ups and 10-15 reps on pull-ups. It will only get better! Exercises ranged from standard push-ups and pull-ups to staggered / vault modifications that were more challenging toward the end. There are 60-sec breaks between each of the 4 circuits and a 3+ minute burnout at the end. Overall, awesome workout. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Challenge Review

P90X3 Challenge Review

 

Calorie burn was 401 calories and average heart rate 146 beats per minute. Not bad for a resistance workout, all body weight, and no cardio impact. Heart rate zone was primarily moderate to hard at 70-90% heart rate max. Very effective and the pump is insane. I look forward to improving on this next week and eventually adding the 20-lb weighted vest. Again, there are modifiers for any fitness level and bands can be used for pull-ups as well as the chin-up max assist. For me, I am on the road today so leveraged the awesome power-up chin-up from Lifeline USA. Been using this for years while traveling – inexpensive, packs light and fits almost all doors (even a door I used in Germany). No excuses!

UPDATE: I also performed The Challenge with a 20-lb weighted vest to measure the influence of the additional weight on performance and cardio impact with heart rate analysis (one may or may not correlate the vest to carrying extra body fat around in the workouts). What a challenge! I targeted unassisted 20-10, so 20 reps for weighted push-ups and 10 reps weighted pull-up variations. First off, there were no doubts that I was carrying around the extra weight for 30 minutes, I felt it. The data will prove out if that provided greater heart rate and calorie burn. I was able to hit my 20 reps on all push-up variations without too much difficulty but the pull-ups pushed me to the limits. The 20-lb vest I selected was just the right amount of weight. I hit almost all unassisted pull-up reps throughout the workout with the exception of a couple assisted closed grip pull-ups. I added a total of 32 unassisted push-ups and 12 unassisted pull-ups in the burnout phase at the end of the workout. Next time I will leverage the 20-lb vest again but target 30-12. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 The Challenge Review Weighted Vest

P90X3 The Challenge Review Weighted Vest

The data shows calorie burn of 408 calories with average heart rate of 146 beats per minute with most of the workout in Zone “3” or moderate at 70-80% heart rate max. These results are almost identical to the same workout without the 20-lb weighted vest, where I noted calorie burn of 410 calories with average heart rate 146 beats per minute over the exact same total workout time period. The difference though was in the heart rate zone analysis where I spent more time in the Upper Zones “4” and “5” without the vest at 55% of the workout vs. 48% of the workout in the Upper Zones with the vest. Are these results surprising? Not necessarily to me, given that without the vest I was targeting many more reps so my heart rate was more elevated throughout. Without the vest I did approx. 480 total reps vs. 284 total reps. Of course that translates to more “downtime” or rest time with the vest. The reason that the total calorie burn and average heart rate came out the same is the added challenge of the additional 20-lb weighted vest even at almost 200 less overall reps. Insane. I am also confident that once I remove the vest in the future I will have broken any plateaus I may have established with push-ups or pull-ups, based on my previous experience and results. As a side note, I typically do not recommend a weighted vest unless you can consistently do 15-20 unassisted reps on pull-ups or push-ups. For me, 20-lbs typically cuts my unassisted reps in half. Also, please watch your form and stay safe whenever adding weight to exercises to increase the intensity and muscle build. Bring it!

 

P90X3 CVX Review

CVX is set-up to be an amazing cardio-resistance interval-based workout in 30 minutes, described as…

“Not your mother’s cardio workout, CVX combines resistance with intervals in order to increase the impact across every energy system. You’ll stress everything from power and anaerobic endurance to aerobic endurance. You’ll also strengthen your core. CVX provides a full body burn.”

This workout typically follows up “The Challenge” in the Classic P90X3 schedule, thus, CVX may be even more of a rocker for those already sore. A dumbbell weight selection or other type of resistance will be key and most likely you will need to select a weight much lower than you mentally believe is suitable. Tony says no greater than 12 pounds. Need to check the ego, ha. I will target a 10-lb dumbbell. You can certainly do the workout with no weight or something as light as a basketball, which is what the modifier leveraged in the workout. By the way, I believe CVX stands for CardioVascular Xtreme.

Okay, just finished. CVX was a really challenging workout. In fact, I would put this one near the top with regard to the “sweat factor”. Just made that up, but I will define the sweat factor as the creation of sustained sweat during the workout, which turns your shirt a different shade of color. I think the combination of cardio with resistance makes this workout one of the best total body workouts I have done in 30 minutes. Upper and lower body were pushed using a range of compound movements. I used a 10-lb dumbbell, and, trust me, it was enough for me. The dumbbell stays in your hand throughout almost the entire workout except for the breaks and some towel jumps. There are 4 circuits of 3 moves completed twice each with each circuit separated by 15-30 second breaks. The second set of each circuit usually increases speed and / or calls for greater range of motion in each move. The last set of the 4th circuit is designed as a burnout series for max performance. My favorite moves were found in the last circuit including Globe Squatters (plyo sequence with weight move from side-to-side over your head with squat-jump in between each rep) and Crescent Chair (think chair pose with arms straight up with dumbbell over head then lunge, back to chair). I felt like I had a tremendous workout and I was pushed hard, especially after The Challenge workout yesterday. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 CVX Review

P90X3 CVX Review

The heart rate data is definitely aligned with how I felt and the change observed in my shirt color! Calorie burn of 460 calories over the 30-minute workout (plus warm-up and approx. 3-min cooldown). Average heart rate was 157 beats per minute and almost the entire workout was spent in heart rate zones “4” and “5” or hard to maximum at 80-100% heart rate max. The intervals combination with resistance in multiple dynamic moves was unique and worked well. A lot of the moves involve overhead extension with weight so my shoulders are already sore! Look forward to this one again… maybe a 12-lb weight? Ha. Bring it!

 

P90X3 The Warrior Review

I anticipated that The Warrior workout will be a great option for those trying to get a focused total body workout at home and especially on the road without the requirement of resistance other than body weight (the “gravity” workout!). Hotel rooms get ready. Described as…

“The Warrior is a total-body workout, free of equipment, based on Tony’s 10+ years of working with the U.S. Armed Forces. You’ll circuit upper- and lower-body resistance with core and cardio work, essentially touching on every area of fitness in one workout – and it’s all been honed into an uber-intense 30-minute blast. When you need a one-size-fits-all workout that can be done anytime, anywhere, this is your drill.”

Excellent workout. Train like a warrior! The Warrior focuses on 4 rounds consisting each of upper body, interval, core and explosive lower body exercise. There are 30 second breaks in between each round. I was surprised at how much each muscle group was hit in this workout. Each move was approximately one minute.  The upper body moves mostly targeted the chest, shoulders and arms. Most challenging for me were the elevator pushups where there is isometric hold on command at 1st (low), 2nd (middle) and 3rd (high) floor. Interval and explosive lower body blocks included plyometric variations, burpees and cardio targets. There were a lot of plank balance and isometrics in the core exercises. The Fifer Scissor Twist was killer with one minute of reaching arm to opposite foot while leg is straight up above you, hold for several seconds and switch to other side. The workout finishes strong with a burnout series with explosive depth charges (squat down slowly, explode up and repeat) – my favorite move! Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 The Warrior Review

P90X3 The Warrior Review

Heart rate data indicates calorie burn of 367 calories during the workout and cooldown at average heart rate of 142 beats per minute. Most of the workout resided in Zone “3” or moderate at 70-80% target heart rate maximum. Great overall workout for the entire body. I really enjoyed this one. It wasn’t the most challenging of the total body, resistance or cardio workouts in P90X3, however, as usual, you can modify for your specific fitness level and get results. Next time I hit the road again, The Warrior will be in my workout collection. Train like a WARRIOR!

P90X3 Complex Upper Review (ELITE)

I have been a big fan of the P.A.P. training approach from previous experience with the P90X2 program. P.A.P. stands for post-activation potentiation. P.A.P. training specifically leverages weighted resistance exercise prior to explosive movements to increase the amount of power produced. In conditioned athletes, “loading ” a muscle actually activates “muscle cell motor units” and typically allows you to lift more weight with more explosive power. You have a short window after the resistance exercise to maximize performance and P.A.P. takes advantage of this performance acceleration!

PAP-P90X2

I had great results from the P.A.P. workouts with P90X2. With that said, I was looking forward to Complex Upper, which is part of the extra Elite workout DVDs for P90X3, described as…

“To be elite, you must be efficient – and complex training is first and foremost about efficiency in all areas: musculoskeletal strength, muscle elasticity, dynamic movement patterns, core functionality, and mobility. These complex workouts are designed around the science of Post-Activation Potentiation, which requires a weighted resistance exercise followed by an explosive movement. Studies as far back as the ’60’s confirm that a heavy contraction exercise done prior to an explosive movement enables activation of high-threshhold muscle cell motor units (how we define muscular efficiency), which translates into absolute strength or power. Done strategically, these workouts – to put it simply – make you move better. They’re the definition of higher, stronger, faster.”

Okay, done. Now I would definitely characterize P90X3 Complex Upper as an advanced workout. Of course there are modifications and ways to adapt for any fitness level, but the moves are quite challenging. To me, it’s like X3 The Challenge on steroids. Ha, imagine that for those that have completed The Challenge. Awesome. There are 4 rounds of 5 moves. Well, actually, 5 rounds of 5 moves if you include the final burnout series. All 5 rounds leverage the same 5 moves. There is a 60 second rest between each round. Moves include slow mo chin-ups (12 reps at 3-sec up/3-sec down), X Plyo Pushups (8 reps, plyo jump between pushups track in X pattern), lunge thrust press (12 reps with dumbbells and plyo jump in between each rep), W Pull-ups (12 reps where pull-ups target right-down, center-down, left-down and repeat) and Push-up bird dog crunch (pushup with balance isometric at top, opposite arm and leg followed by crunch between each rep). Man. This one pushed me to the limits. I was able to complete all of the pushup series including Plyo in addition to the lunge thrust press with 25-lb dumbbells. However, pull-ups were killer. I managed the first few rounds but then needed assist to finish off the last reps in rounds 3, 4 and 5. I am pretty good at pull-ups but still a lot of room for improvement here. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Complex Upper Review

P90X3 Complex Upper Review

 

Impressive calorie burn at 433 calories and average heart rate of 151 beats per minute in this 30-minute workout plus warmup/cooldown. Spent most of the workout in Zone “4” or hard at 80-90 percent of heart rate maximum. I felt every bit of this my friends. Overall I would say this was the toughest workout for me so far with P90X3. I like it better than P90X2 P.A.P. Upper, especially given the effective workout in only 30 minutes. I look forward to doing this one again in the Elite block. Bring it!

 

 

 

P90X3 Complex Lower Review (ELITE)

Similar to Complex Upper, I was looking forward to Complex LOWER given my success with P.A.P. workouts in the past (P.A.P. = Post-Activation Potentiation). Complex Upper did not disappoint by pushing me to the limits. Complex Lower is also part of the Elite workout DVDs for P90X3, described as…

“To be elite, you must be efficient – and complex training is first and foremost about efficiency in all areas: musculoskeletal strength, muscle elasticity, dynamic movement patterns, core functionality, and mobility. These complex workouts are designed around the science of Post-Activation Potentiation, which requires a weighted resistance exercise followed by an explosive movement. Studies as far back as the ’60’s confirm that a heavy contraction exercise done prior to an explosive movement enables activation of high-threshhold muscle cell motor units (how we define muscular efficiency), which translates into absolute strength or power. Done strategically, these workouts – to put it simply – make you move better. They’re the definition of higher, stronger, faster.”

These P90X3 workouts keep getting better. For me, after completing all of the extra Elite workouts, I can honestly say that they have been the most challenging. And, of those, Complex Lower is my new nemesis in Beachbody workouts. In general, I am not a fan of legs workouts given all of my knee injuries including multiple ACL, meniscus and cartilage tears in both knees (right knee has ACL tear that was never repaired). I understand the importance though of legs workouts and cardio impact, including Plyo, in my recovery for strengthening the overall structure of my knees. With that said, it doesn’t mean I have to like it!

Complex Lower is a rocker. Seriously. Similar to Complex Upper there are 4 rounds of 5 moves that punish you… this time though the focus is on the lower body and there is no burnout series at the end given time constraints. The rounds consisted of Knee Drop Squat (one-legged squat with resistance at 10 reps each side), Bounding Split-Squat (lunge to press plyo with weight move from front to back of room at 16 reps), Triple Speed Skater (triple jump side-to-side at 16 reps), DS Double L (deadlift, squat and lunge with weight each side and repeat 10 reps) and The Stabilizer (side plank with arm up and leg up for 5-sec count at 5 reps each side). Insane. The timing of moves is critical in this one. I used 30-lb dumbbells for Knee Drop Squats and that was plenty for all 4 rounds. Used 20-30-lb dumbbells for DS Double L and 25s for Bounding Split Squats. Over time these numbers will improve during the Elite Block. The most difficult move was the DS Double L, and, probably the most effective given the compound nature of the exercise. The Stabilizer was tough for me similar to some of the Pilates X and Dynamix moves. I was sweating A LOT in this one. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Complex Lower Review

P90X3 Complex Lower Review

 

Here you go, hard data proof that Complex Lower did the job for me. Calorie burn was 457 calories at average heart rate of 159 beats per minute. The real-time heart rate data further supports that most of the workout resided in Zone “5” maximum at 90-100% heart rate max for 18+ minutes. Insane. This is right up there in intensity from heart rate zone perspective with Accelerator (no weights) and CVX (weights). I look forward to this challenge again. Need to bring an extra towel next time. After completing all of the Elite Workouts for P90X3 including X3 Ab Ripper, Complex Upper and Complex Lower, I definitely recommend checking them out to supplement your P90X3 or any other hybrid. As always, there are modifications for the broad spectrum of fitness levels. Bring it!

 

 

 

P90X3 MMX Review

The MMX concept is a workout that has been rumored to be in production for years, and the moves have been leveraged in live workouts by Tony Horton including previews at the Coach Summit and bonuses for P90X Certified instructors. It was exciting to see MMX make the P90X3 lineup as one of the dynamic 30-minute cardio-based workouts. Many familiar with Kenpo X from the original P90X fell in love with the martial arts workout, but were looking for greater intensity. This led many, including myself, to add weighted gloves, reduce breaks or double-time moves. Some even wore hoodies during the workout to ramp intensity. Ha. Les Mills Combat was since introduced by Beachbody demonstrating a range of martial arts discipline (I enjoyed Combat!), but now enter the 30-minute P90X3 version, described as…

“This is a Mixed Martial Arts routine where submission is not an option. Combining karate, kenpo, jiu-jitsu, judo, and tae kwon do, this martial arts-based cardio workout does a lot more than increase your heart rate. In MMX you’ll burn fat by taxing your upper-body strength, core power, leg endurance, and flexibility. Plus, you’ll learn a new way to let aggression out.”

Kenpo X. What is Kenpo X? Wow. MMX is Kenpo X accelerated big time with many more dynamic moves. This one challenged me and I am confident that I had a better workout in 30 minutes versus almost one hour of Kenpo X. MMX has many complex series of punches, kicks, lunges and best of all, floor sprawls. The floor sprawls were a great addition to the workout where you essentially perform a burpee between punches and kicks. One of the sprawl moves has you spinning on the ground in a circle from right to left and back between punch combinations. The “superman” variations were pretty cool too where you lunge and punch, then back to the starting position. This workout has a 5+ minute warmup to ensure you are ready for what is to come. I had to laugh during the warmup when Tony references the importance of warmup especially for those in cold Minnesota. Ha, I know what he means as I live in Saint Paul! There are several 30 second breaks between sets and the workout finishes with a short cooldown. Good stuff. It is important not to overextend your punches and kicks in this workout. I may add the weighted gloves next time to give an additional edge to MMX. Also important to keep the core engaged and focus on the movements. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 MMX Review

P90X3 MMX Review

I am actually impressed at how good of a workout MMX is in terms of cardio impact for a short martial arts focus. Calorie burn was 468 calories with average heart rate of 157 beats per minute. Heart rate zone was primarily in Zone “5” for 17 plus minutes corresponding to maximum performance or 90-100% heart rate max. This would be a great stand alone workout or addition to hybrids. Train like a warrior!

UPDATE: I also performed MMX with weighted gloves at 2-lbs each hand. This is a strategy that I have used in the past to ramp intensity of Kenpo X, for example, from the original P90X.

P90X3 MMX Review Weighted Gloves

MMX with weighted gloves seemed to be much more of a challenge, for a workout that was already a rocker and only second to Accelerator with calorie burn and heart rate challenge from my complete P90X3 analysis. I felt that my arms and shoulders got a much better workout. I liked that I needed to modify floor sprawls given the bulk of the weighted gloves such that only fingertips could touch the ground in the sprawl and rotation position. This increased intensity of any combinations with floor sprawls. Here is my heart rate analysis…

P90X3 MMX Review Weighted Gloves

P90X3 MMX Review Weighted Gloves

To me, these results are quite surprising, to be honest. In contrast to my review of The Challenge with a 20-lb weighted vest, using the weighted gloves with MMX did not reduce my reps at all so I figured that the heart rate analysis would be more reflective of the added weight challenge. I went all out in MMX with 4 pounds of weighted gloves and the heart rate analysis is almost identical to performing MMX without the weighted gloves. Ha. I guess that is why you do the experiments. Calorie burn for MMX with gloves was 475 calories (vs. 468 without), average heart rate 158 beats per minute (vs. 157 without), max heart rate 194 beats per minute (vs. 188 bpm without) and time in Upper Heart Rate Zones “4” and “5” was 72% (vs. 75% without). Very interesting. With that said, as I mentioned, my upper body felt more challenged and the max heart rate and calorie burn was a little higher with the weighted gloves. Regardless of this data, I recommend adding weighted gloves to MMX if you are looking for additional challenge. As always, be especially careful with form and extension of the joints during punches and other moves with added weight. Stay safe and train like a warrior!

P90X3 Decelerator Review

Decelerator is one of the final three P90X3 workouts left in my review of the workouts, and with Accelerator near the top after 17 workouts with regard to intensity, I was more than intrigued. The focus on form and acceleration / deceleration in these workouts can be surprisingly challenging and the benefits are much greater than just a strong cardio workout. I also hope to leverage the deceleration benefits for increasing the strength and stability of joints supporting my problematic knees (ACL tears, meniscus and cartilage trauma over the years). Described as…

“Most athletic injuries occur on landing, not during takeoff, which is why a University of Southampton study concluded deceleration training is a must for general fitness training programs. Decelerator focuses on this type of training, using strategic angles to force loads on different parts of your anatomy, thus increasing your ability to stabilize and protect muscles, connective tissues, and joints. It also focuses on the strength and explosive power associated with launching into a move, creating a balance between your ability to go up strong and come down safe.”

This was a challenging workout with many similarities to P90X2 where movements create instability for balance, strength and functional performance… except in only 30 minutes. All body weight. What goes up, must come down! The focus is primarily on the down mechanism of the exercise with eccentric (negative) counts in many cases. I really enjoyed Decelerator. There are a range of moves that alternate between lower and upper body challenges. Plyo movements are included where the return to floor is controlled via the eccentric pathway mentioned. The most difficult move for me was the Crane Cracker Pushups. These are ridiculous. You do a pushup and then while at the bottom of the pushup put your right knee/leg over your right elbow and straighten left leg behind you. Then return to plank and back up, repeat other side for one minute. Insane. One of  my favorite exercises was Good God Squat where you squat in chair pose with arms straight up with flat back… while on your tip toes perform squats with arms up. The Elevator Pullups were my favorite. Similar to Elevator Pushups from The Warrior, there are 3 levels of range of motion – bottom, middle and top (chin above bar) floors. A lot of isometrics. I was able to complete the entire minute but it was a challenge. My heart rate was most elevated in the Crawly Plyo Push-up where right knee touches right elbow, plyo jump to left side (left knee to left elbow) and repeat for one minute. Most of the lower body exercises involved jumps to deceleration back to ground level. Last move I believe worth special mention is the chin pulls with vault grip and knee crunch to chest… was able to hit 13 each grip variation but it was killer. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Decelerator Review

P90X3 Decelerator Review

Calorie burn was 401 calories during the workout and warmup/cooldown with average heart rate 147 beats per minute. Heart rate zone was primarily in Zone “4” or “Hard” at 80-90% heart rate max. Numbers are a little lower than some of the other cardio and resistance workouts but the benefits of the deceleration are real and I believe will make a big impact in performance for many people, including myself. I felt challenged throughout the workout, although some of the Plyo lower body movements were less intense. My balance improved during the workout as I focused more on the eccentric pathway. As always, there are modifications to suit a range of fitness levels!

P90X3 Isometrix Review

To be honest, I was not looking forward to Isometrix, even though it shows up as a workout in most recovery or “transition” weeks in the P90X3 schedules between blocks. The reason? Isometric movements, if done correctly, can be really tough and I have found with my reviews of P90X3 workouts that  the Iso- work pushes me to the limits in areas of weakness, especially lower back synergies with the core (Insanity Asylum ‘Back to Core’ was a great workout to improve in this area). I suppose this is good, right? Fair enough, I understand the importance so bring it on! I anticipated though that the workout will feel less to me like a recovery workout. Isometrix is described as…

“A strong foundation is essential for overall fitness, so Isometrix combines isometric contraction with instability to make your core rock solid. Isometric contractions occur when the muscle neither shortens nor lengthens and the joint angle does not change, building static strength. Adding instability to the mix requires your body to fire its stabilization muscles. When training these two simultaneously, you create an unshakable platform to work off, heightening the affects of movement training that you’ll target in other workouts.”

Isometrix was a tough 30 minutes for me. It went very slow in a fast way. As Tony says, the hardest part of Yoga is taking out the flow. The three keys to fitness are commonly characterized as speed, balance and range of motion. This workout was designed to focus on balance via isometric discipline. Excellent workout and I was able to complete most of the movements but I was shaking and surprisingly sweating a good amount by the end. The workout consists of a series of sets alternating between plank work on the ground and balance moves standing up. The moves are each 45 second isometric holds, no breaks other than time between setup for successive moves. A lot of the standing moves are similar to exercises and modifications found in Yoga X from P90X (think, Royal Dancer, Tree and multiple Warrior poses). A few of the moves worth mention are the plank holds in sphinx position with opposite arm extension (sphinx is when elbow is on ground at 90 degrees parallel to shoulder plane). Killer. Bounded dog with leg extension was the most difficult for me where you essentially pose in downward dog position and grab outside opposite leg with opposite hand (select a side, then later repeat other side) and then extend other leg for 45 seconds. Talk about serious focus on the core, upper and lower body! For standing balance moves, as expected, several isometrics dialed into one-legged variations. I like the segment called “Inner Balance” where you stand on one leg and close eyes for 45 seconds. Harder than it sounds. The workout finishes up with a 30-second burnout in Crane position (hands on ground, knees on elbows balanced off ground). I actually was able to nail the Crane, so maybe next time will try that crazy version of  the “Ted’s Chair” thing from X3 Yoga. Ha. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Isometrix Review

P90X3 Isometrix Review

No surprises here, similar to X3 Yoga, Pilates X and Dynamix my calorie burn was lower at 247 calories and average heart rate of 119 beats per minute, mostly in heart rate zone “2” or light at 60-70% heart rate max. The benefits of this workout are not found in the cardio impact, however, and I believe that if I can master some of these non-cardio and resistance workouts in P90X3 I will be much more well-rounded and stronger for my other lifts and cardio challenges, including Mud Games and Tough Mudder this year! I also found during Isometrix (and some of the other “balance” workouts) that my left side was weaker in terms of strength and balance relative to the right side. I attribute this to over-compensation to the right side given my history of knee issues on the left side, and strongly believe that P90X3 will help resolve some of these differences.

P90X3 Eccentric Lower Review

As mentioned in my Eccentric Upper Review, I am a big fan of TEMPO-style workouts and especially movements that leverage “negatives” to work the muscle up to 30-40% harder and break plateaus. However, I have limited experience doing these types of workouts for the lower body. I have tried a modified Body Beast Legs workout where the dynamic timing of sets was switched to a TEMPO discipline, similar to Body Beast TEMPO Back/Bis and TEMPO Chest/Tris, and that was T-O-U-G-H. Enter P90X3 Eccentric Lower…

“Referred to as “negatives” in gym venacular, your one-word synopsis for these workouts will probably be “pumped”. Time under tension is the key to creating the greatest hormonal releases to induce hypertrophy, or muscle growth. In these workouts you’ll slow down the eccentric (or negative) half of each movement until you’re begging for mercy. Concentric is when the muscle shortens, eccentric is when it lengthens. During each exercise you’ll focus on the latter because it recruits more muscle cell motor units than the concentric half, resulting in the biggest testosterone bang for your time-under-tension buck. (And X3’s all about bang for your buck!)”

Great workout, challenged my lower body. 30 minutes, no breaks. I did not find this one as difficult as some of the other resistance workouts but if you select your weight correctly it is definitely a strong workout. There are the usual suspects with a P90X3 “eccentric” twist to the exercise including weighted squats, lunges and kicks where the eccentric (negative) mechanism of the movement is a slow 3-second count down and explosion back to the starting position. My favorite move, perhaps in the entire P90X3 program, is the Cross Reach depicted in the P90X3 image of Tony at the very top of this review page… Used a 15-lb dumbbell, on one leg and 3-sec count down to front reach with dumbbell followed by explosion back, all on one leg the entire time for 10 reps each side. Awesome move. I also liked the Hip Flexor splits where you leverage pushup stands or the ground to raise your body off the floor, split your legs in horizontal V-position and then open and close legs (3-sec count close, explode open). That one challenge your upper body as well. Here is my heart rate analysis…

 

P90X3 Eccentric Lower Review

P90X3 Eccentric Lower Review

Consistent with how I felt during the workout, calorie burn was moderate at 357 calories with average heart rate 138 beats per minute and heart rate zone primarily Zone “3” – moderate at 70-80% heart rate max. Good workout and I am certain I will see increases in weights next time I press play on Eccentric Lower. Bring it!

P90X3 Available Now

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Premiere 5 Star Diamond Independent Beachbody Coach, CEO and Founder of TEAM RAGE, Mike Nowak Fitness, HowDoIGetRipped.com and How Do I Get Ripped, LLC. You are about to learn how I went from out-of-shape busy dad with significant travel, 2 kids and a wife to losing 20 pounds, 16% body fat and 7" off my waist while getting paid more income from home than my Ph.D. in Science & Engineering. Retired my Ph.D. career to focus on FAMILY & FITNESS!

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Hey Mike, Thats really a wonderful detailed review of P90x3. I was wondering, if after completion of the complete schedule, block 3 can be repeated again and again as the ongoing workout schedule, as it has almost all workouts.

    • Hello Muzammil!! Thank you for the comments and question! Yes, from my experience P90X3 Block 3 serves well to continue moving forward for maintenance or growth depending on your goals. If you see a plateau in results (leaning, adding muscle or both) then you may want to revisit the workouts and nutrition. Hope this helps! How have the results been?

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