Fitness Friday: P90X3, The First 30 Days (A Preliminary Review)

Block 1 of P90X3 is officially in the books. (Not sure what P90X3 is? Click here. But come back to read the rest of this, K?)

My first impression of the program was that it would be a more condensed version of the original and wildly popular P90X. I was wrong. It’s a little the same and a lot different.

Here’s a brief description of each workout in Block 1 with my thoughts, so far.


Over all:

The X3 set up is very similar to P90X and P90X2. Tony Horton is leading a cast of three. One member of the cast is a graduate from the test group (to show you real people are doing this and getting killer results). One member is the modifier (shows how to do the move in a less intense way and/or with resistance bands instead of weights or a pull-up bar.) One member is usually one of Tony’s buff friends or a former cast member.

As a trainer, Tony is positive and funny.

(Or incredibly irritating, depending on your style of humor and how many times you’ve watched the DVDs.)

(If you’re a Tony-Hater, please take it elsewhere. I don’t have room for the negativity in my life.)

Each workout is exactly 30 minutes, which includes a short warm-up. There are either no breaks or very short breaks (like 30 seconds)—but Tony encourages you to hit the pause button whenever you, personally, need a break.

There is an optional Cold Start warm up, if you feel like a 2-3 minute warm up is not enough. I did this on Day One, and it was great.

The cool down/stretch at the end of the workout is not included in the 30 minutes, but each cool down/stretch is only about 2-5 minutes. So, easily, you are finished with your workout every day in about 35 minutes, including the time it takes to load the DVD into the player and turn on your TV.

Each week consists of six workout days and one rest day.

There are 3 Blocks, each lasting three weeks, with a Transition Week in between.

Block 1:

Day One, Total Synergistics: This is an all-over strength-training workout. It incorporates many yoga and core moves, some of them using additional hand weights. There are also a few pull-ups and push-ups.

Can beginners do this? Yes. All the moves can be easily modified by using no weights, dropping to knees or lowering reps.

Is it challenging? Yes. After doing this for 3 weeks, there were still a few moves I struggled with. As with many P90X workouts, you can add weights or reps, jump higher or push harder as you get stronger.


Day 2, Agility X: Jumping back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. That’s what you do here. You put two lines of tape on the floor and aim for them every time. Back and forth, back and forth…this one isn’t my favorites, but it’s a good, sweaty, cardio workout that gets the job done.

Can beginners do this? Yes. Easy to step instead of jump at any point.

Is it Challenging? Yes. The longer and higher you jump, the harder it gets.


Day 3, X3 Yoga: Tony took a lot of crap for the 90-minute (!) yoga in P90X. The X2 Yoga was down to 60 minutes, which a lot of people still complained about. This one is 30 minutes, just like all the other workouts in X3. For me, it feels a little rushed. I happen to like yoga, but honestly, I feel like I’m just getting started when it’s wrapping up. For everyone who hates yoga, this will probably be your favorite day of the week.

Can beginners do this? Yes. Yoga moves can always be modified. Though, I have to admit, the modifier on this one doesn’t really show the beginner how to modify. So, so a true beginner will have to figure it out on his own.

Is it Challenging? Meh. It’s okay.


Day 4, The Challenge: Classic P90X push-up/pull-up workout, but faster. This workout leads you through 16 moves, alternating between pull-ups and push-ups and ending with a “burnout session.” You pick your own number of reps and try to do that number until the end.

Can beginners do this? Yes. You can drop down to knees on push-ups, and use a resistance band or a pull-up-assist or a chair for the pull-ups. You can also choose a low number of reps.

Is it Challenging? Yes. Very. I was so sore the day after this that I could hardly do the next workout, which is….


Day 5, CVX: This one ties for My Favorite X3 Workout So Far. It’s like plyometrics (jumping) but you hold a weight the entire time. (I could hardly move my arms after The Challenge, so imagine the humor in watching me try to pump a weight above my head and jump simultaneously. I laughed at myself a lot that week, alone, in my basement. Picture that, everyone.) It’s different than Agility X, because the jumps are more varied and, of course, you’ve got weight in your hands.

Can beginners do this? Yes. You can easily step the moves instead of jump and use a light weight or no weight.

Is it Challenging? Totally. And fun. I love this workout.


Day 6, The Warrior: Tony Horton travels to military bases around the world and leads workouts for the U.S. troops. Apparently, this is the workout he uses for that. It’s your classic Boot Camp type workout. No weights. Just your body and gravity. This is the other one that ties for My Favorite X3 Workout So Far.

Can beginners do this? Yes, but probably more in the form of fewer reps and longer breaks. Full body movements with no weights are difficult. (Think Burpees)(Does anyone know how to spell Burpee? Cuz spell check doesn’t know.)

Is it Challenging? Very. After 3 weeks, I was never able to do completely what the cast did. I always had to stop before they did at some point. I like that, though…means there is room to grow.

(BTW, the key to a workout that’s right for you is one you (1) enjoy, (2) can do, (3) can grow with.)


Day 7, Rest Day: No workout (that’s me!) or do Dynamics (see below).


That concludes a full week of Block 1. You do this schedule for three weeks in a row and then move on to the Transition Week:

Day 1, Isometrics: Think holding lots of yoga poses for a minute each. I liked this one. It made me feel better about rushing through the yoga workout in Block 1, because you get to spend a little more time building strength.

Can beginners do this? Sorta. Again, yoga poses require a lot of balance and strength. It’s just one of those things that you try and try and try until you can do it.

It is challenging? Yes. But in a good way.


Day 2, Dynamics: This is harder than a stretching workout, but not quite as hard as a real workout. I understand why this is an option on your rest day. It’s definitely geared toward recovery and flexibility.

Can a beginner do this? Absolutely.

Is it Challenging? No, not really. But it’s not supposed to be.


Day 3, Accelerator: This is a cardio workout, incorporating a little bit of everything—jumping jacks, mountain climbers, speed skaters, walking push-ups, burpees, etc. It’s an all-over cardio workout. Good and sweaty.

Can a beginner do this? Yes. Cardio workouts can easily be modified to walk or step in place, do fewer reps or go to your knees in plank moves.

It is Challenging? Yes. I only did this workout one time so far, and I remember it being very difficult for me to finish.


Day 4, Pilates: This is classic Pilates. If you’ve never done it (it’s been about 15 years for me) then you will need to learn how to do the breathing thing. They don’t spend a lot of time talking about the breathing, but that is an important aspect of this workout. Think a TON of core work while holding your breath or greatly controlling your breath. You will feel muscles the next day you didn’t know existed.

Can a beginner do this? Yes. A lot of Pilates is done sitting with your legs and head off the floor at the same time. Resting one or the other on the floor instantly modifies most moves.

It is Challenging? Yes. Core City.


Day 5, CVX: See above.


Day 6, X3 Yoga: See above.


Day 7, Rest or Dynamics: See above


My overall impression so far:

1. Love the 30-minute workouts. I may never want to go back to longer workouts for the rest of my life.
2. Easy to double up the workouts if you need to skip a day.
3. Love the variety of the strength, cardio, balance and core moves.
4. I did not get sick of Block 1 before moving on, which means I will definitely go through the program again when I’m completely finished.


My personal results so far (After all, isn’t this what you REALLY want to know?):

Weight lost: 4.8 lbs.
Body fat lost: .9%.
Inches lost: 1 inch in my waist, 1 inch in my chest, 1 inch around my butt and .5 inch off each thigh.


The best workout program in the world can’t undo a cruddy diet. My diet is pretty much what it always is—avoiding processed foods and sugar. Eating whole foods. Lots of fruit and veggies. Shakeology every day for lunch.

(If you want to see a detailed version of how I eat, click here.)

If you are interested in buying P90X3, click here.

For a review of P90X3, Block Two (Days 30-60) click here.


Q4U: Well that’s what I’m doing right now…How are your fitness goals going for 2014? I want to hear all about it! Really, I do!


Disclosure: I am a Beachbody coach and will receive a small commission on the sale of Beachbody products if you purchase them through any of these links. Beachbody does not pay me to endorse their products on this blog or anywhere. I tell you about Beachbody products because I really use and love them. All opinions about this workout and every Beachbody product are my own. And I will tell you if I don’t like something. I promise.


Linking up with Jill Conyers today.

The Scoop on Balance is a blog comprised of posts from my former blogs God Speaks Today and The Amazing Adventures of Fitness Friday Girl. If you see references to these blogs, don't be confused. Also, if by chance you come across a dead link, would you please e-mail me or leave a comment and let me know? Thank you!


  1. Mark Allman says:

    Thanks for the great review. I look forward to doing this program. I have Gamma from T25 to do as well as I am thinking of doing a half marathon in June so I have got to work out what programs when. Just finished a 6 week kettlebell program. I wish I could out workout my sweet tooth. It just don’t happen. :) Keep it up Sandy… great results too!

  2. Sandy Cooper says:

    Wow, a half marathon??? Good for YOU, Mark!

  3. LOVE X3! I’m with you on never going back to hour+ strength training! How can you not like Tony? Corny humor and all! The best thing about this program is it’s real life doable beyond the 90 days!
    Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness recently posted..6 Ways To Create Happiness In Your LifeMy Profile

  4. Lori says:

    I did P90X for about 6 weeks and wound up at the doctor with a dislocated hip. I loved, loved, loved the Kempo and was so aggressive with my kicks that I pulled my femur right out of the socket. OUCH!! It turns out the ball at the top of my femur is flat allowing that to happen. TMI, I know. Sadly, I had to give up on P90X. I asked about the 10 minute trainer and he said no more Tony Horton at all. I was sad in spite of the fact that I’d always wished my doctor would tell me not to exercise. I’ve moved on to less intense workouts.

    As for eating, I’m starting Trim Healthy Mama. I just got the book yesterday, and even though I have read hardly any of it. I’m starting it immediately.
    Lori recently posted..Trim Healthy Mama It Is!My Profile

    • Sandy Cooper says:

      Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I injured myself and could not exercise or do P90X-type workouts any more. I thank God a lot for the ability to move. I’m so sorry your doctor said “No Tony.” :( Way to go on the Trim Healthy Mama. I’m not familiar with that, so I’m interested in hearing more.

  5. I’ve been doing my old standby – Jillian Michael’s “Ripped in 30.”
    It’s circuit training: warm-up, strength, cardio, abs x 3.
    I used to do the Shred but have moved on to Ripped. It’s a 4 week plan that increases in intensity and difficulty. I mute it and listen to music while I work-out. Week 4 has me dripping sweat at the cardio point of the 1st circuit.
    As for eating, I’m calorie counting and I use My Fitness Pal to log my daily calories. I feel like for the past 3 years I’ve wanted to lose 5 – 8 lbs but my current goal is 10 lbs. Counting calories naturally means I make better food choices. The hardest part of that is figuring out calories for home cooked meals. It can be done but it’s a hassle. Sometimes I estimate and try to round up to cover my bases.
    I’ve never tried any of the P90X work-outs. I’m at the point in my life where I don’t want to give more than 30 minutes to a dvd work-out. I still run and just signed up for a 10k in April. Even with running I like to keep it at an hour. I aim for working out 6 days a week and take Sundays off.
    Melanie Dorsey recently posted..Weekend Wrap UpMy Profile

    • Sandy Cooper says:

      It sounds like you are doing GREAT, Melanie! I agree about the 30 minutes. I love to work out, but when it gets too long, it just feels like I have to plan my whole day around it (making sure I’ve planned my eating just right to sustain the workout and then the shower afterwards). I like Jillian Michael’s workouts a lot (not as much as P90X, for many reasons, but they are still really good). I did Jillian’s 90-Day Revolution this summer and loved it. It’s her version of P90X and each workout is only 30 minutes. Lots of variety and each day you alternate working “front of the body” or “back of the body.” And the calorie counting—oy vay! That makes me insane! It’ so hard to micromanage my eating like that. I’ve heard My Fitness Pal is a great tool, though.


  1. […] For my review of Block One (Days 1-30) click here. […]

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