My P90X Experience So Far

My wife is doing a 90-day fitness program called P90X, and I'm her workout partner.  I was already doing regular cardio and a little upper-body strength training, and I could use some flexibility, so we agreed this whould be a great way for us to be active together.  Now, I am a 6' 150lb guy with 11 inch biceps.  So here's how it's gone so far.
Day 1:  "Plyometrics" (lower body), 60 minutes
It was 5AM.  I hadn't had any food or water in 10 hours, and I'd been sweating all night in bed, so I was probably dehydrated, but I just went along.  There was a lot of squatting, lunging, and jumping.  At first it was easy, but after 20 minutes I had trouble doing all the repetitions.  At 30 minutes I was seeing spots and tasting blood, so we quit.  Conclusion:  I overdid it. 

That day I ordered a heart-rate monitor with one-day shipping so that wouldn't happen again.  My legs felt pretty worked out, not like noodles, but tired.
Day 2, shoulders and arms, 60 minutes
Getting out of bed, I discovered what the "P" in P90X stands for:  pain.  My legs could barely support my weight.

With lower body exercises, your body weight is all the resistance you need, but your shoulders and arms need dumbbells.  We didn't have any.  All I had was some small plate weights that fit onto bars, but the heaviest one I could keep a grip on was 8lb.  At the end of 60 minutes I hadn't broken a sweat.  Note to self:  buy some dumbbells.  Also, the instructor kept talking about writing down how much weight we were using and how many reps, but our package didn't come with hard copies of the lists of exercises.  Alice and I shrugged and chalked it up as a learning experience.

I spent the day in meetings, my legs gradually tightening, gritting my teeth every time I had to stand up or walk.  Every fifteen minutes, I pulled a knee to my chest or straightened my legs to stretch.
Day 3, yoga, 90 minutes
My first experience with yoga was like a Marx Brothers movie.  I must have looked like a newborn giraffe on drugs.  I've never felt so bewildered by my own body.  Namaste, bro.  Now get back up.

There were many poses where you're supposed to stand on one straight leg and hold the rest of your body in a certain way; lacking flexibility, I couldn't straighten my leg, which forced me to use my burning thigh muscles to support my weight.  Still, the stretches I was able to do felt good.

Conclusion:  I have no flexibility and terrible balance.  Clearly, I stand to benefit a great deal from this.  No wonder I can't dance.  Also, we need yoga mats:  the synthetic carpet allowed our hands to slide and gave Alice rugburn. 

As in the previous routines, there was a fair amount of squinting at the television trying to figure out what the hell he was doing.  It was worse this time, because three of the four trainers were wearing black pants.  It was impossible to tell which of their legs was in front of the other on the video.  Especially since my glasses won't stay on my face when I sweat.  Tactical error, sensei.

Throughout the day, my legs hurt whenever I got out of a chair.  I couldn't take stairs two at a time.  Patience, grasshopper.

Day 4, legs and back, 60 minutes
I knew I was in trouble when I got out of bed and my legs still hurt from the workout three days earlier.  Today's leg workout was more lunges.  I decided to be moderate and just stop doing reps when I felt my legs weakening.  That got me about a third of the way into most of the sets.  But we at least got through the whole hour, got our heart rates up, and familiarized ourselves with it.

What they call back exercises was all pull-ups.  Now, we don't have a pull-up bar, and we can't bolt anything to the ceiling, so we did a lot of standing around while they did chinups on the video.  Eventually I started doing bent-over-rows and other assorted lifts during those pauses.  I guess I'll have to jerry-rig a chinup bar in a doorway.
My take-away from these first few days is:
  1. The approach is "muscle confusion", but at first there will be an equal amount of mental confusion as you try to figure out the right way to do each move.  That's OK, you'll improve with familiarity.
  2. You can't do as much as the trainers, and you won't look as good as them doing it, but do it anyway.  Forgive yourself for your terribleness.
  3. You need some equipment or it's not going to be difficult enough, and if it's not difficult enough, it won't have any effect.
  4. If you overdo it, you'll take too long to recover, and it'll interfere with your ability to do the following days' exercises.


  1. I like the format changes. As per this system, it strikes me as something designed for failure. Some of these systems have a 30 day money back guarantee. If you follow their system and don't lose weight, they will refund your money. The problem is that no one could follow their system!

  2. Thanks Dave - by format changes I assume you mean the column-width tweaks and the text callouts.

    The P90X thing is wildly popular. More than half of the people I mention it to know what it is. There are many ways to fail - I have a coworker who quit because she found the trainer obnoxious.

    One advantage P90X has is that the focus is not on losing weight. You're more likely to move your weight around (from fat to muscle) or even gain (which I hope to do). They can't control your diet, so they just tell you you'll be stronger and more toned-looking. In addition to having better endurance and flexibility. So you either accept those goals and do it, or you decide it isn't worth it to you.