P90X vs P90X2 vs P90X3

by | Jan 15, 2015 | 4 comments |

P90X, P90X2, P90X3, Insanity.  Which one should you do?  Exercise DVDs are great for at home workouts, however over the last 10 years, Beachbody, among other companies have saturated the “at-home” fitness market with DVD after DVD.  So how do you know which one is right for you?

In this article, we take a look at the most popular “at-home” workouts, and breakdown which one is right for you.

P90X – The Original “at-home” workout

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.

This was the first of the “at-home” workouts I tried, back in 2009.  My then fiance and I were looking at losing some weight, and get into shape, prior to our wedding.  We thought P90X would be a great fit, at only 90 days. I ended up losing over 30 lbs in 2 cycles of P90X leading up to our wedding day.


As I mentioned earlier, my wife and I decided to do P90X, prior to our wedding to lose some weight, and get into shape for our Honeymoon.   We weren’t terribly out of shape, but both of us could have lose a little.  My results were fantastic.  I’m 6’0″, and went from 205lbs, down to 185 in my first round, then down to 175 in my second round.  My wife saw similar results, losing 10 lbs in her first round, but was satisfied with her results, being 5’7″, 125 lbs.

Workout Intensity Scale: 8


Minimum: Lightweight Resistance Bands.

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


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


P90X2 – A more technical P90X

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.

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.

Workout Intensity Scale: 9


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

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


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



When P90X3 was coming around, the trend had been set on 30 mins or less workouts.  Following on the success of T25  by Beachbody trainer Shawn T, P90X3 took the concepts from P90X and P90X2, and shortened them into a 30 minute workout.

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.

Of all the workouts, P90X3 is definitely the easiest of the 3.  While only being 30 minutes, you still get a good, hard workout, but I did not notice the same results as with the original P90X or X2 for that matter.

Workout Intensity Scale: 6 to 7


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.


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



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.

So in the end, the P90X vs P90X2 vs P90X3 debate comes down to what you want your results to be like in the end.  Do you want a quick workout with nominal to decent results?  Are you already an athlete, or  have done X3 and are looking for more of a challenge, look to P90X2.


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  1. 3 years: 2019 = P90X3 2020 = P90X 2021 = P90X2 Results all good but… P90X2 is the superior of the 3. No comparison, when you add all the balance exercise and medicine balls trump push-up bars! The negative on P90X2 is the emphasis on the rumble roller. I substituted the Rest and Recovery Days with P90X3 Isometric and Dynamics. As Tony says you can do anytime!

    • P90X2 was great, loved doing that one, but haven’t done it in a long time. Now I’m thinking about giving it a shot again in the new year!

  2. X2 by far is the best!!! I got the best results from doing X2 more than any of the other workouts. I love using the medicine balls and stability balls in my workouts

  3. P90X one is my favorite. X2 was ok. I didn’t think x3 was that good. I got a much better workout from P90X. I don’t think you can get the same results in only 30 mins.



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