When the Tony Horton & Beachbody tag-team released Power 90 in the early 2000s, nobody expected it to evolve into the platform’s best-selling series.
Next came P90X, the unofficial 90-day “shortcut” to a ripped and aesthetic physique. Then P90X2 slid through the pipeline, designed for P90X survivors with athleticism on their minds.
Here we are now with the latest P90X installment — P90X3 — a program compressing the finer details of P90X and P90X2 into daily 30-minute workouts.
The question is: will P90X3 build muscle through what Horton calls “muscle acceleration?”
Stay tuned to find out!
Table of Contents
About the Creator – Tony Horton
Between the distinct voice, cheesy slogans (i.e., “Do your best and forget the rest”), and tight-fitting tank tops, you might not know Tony Horton by name … but he’s certainly no stranger.
You either unearthed your parents’ DVD collection and discovered P90X (amongst other things), followed one of his workouts in high school, or woke up to a Beachbody infomercial at 3 a.m.
So who is the genius behind Beachbody’s breakout hits?
Tony Horton’s career began with a connection at 20th Century Fox and a training gig charging $20/hour. His clientele later expanded to include stars like Bruce Springsteen and Billy Idol.
However, being a so-called “trainer to the stars” wasn’t enough for a motivated Horton. The fitness legend eventually partnered with Beachbody and released his hit programs:
- P90X3 (this program)
- Power 90
- Ten Minute Trainer
- 22 Minute Hard Corps
Note: Don’t confuse 22 Minute Hard Corps with Joel Freeman’s Core de Force.
Horton has since stepped back from the Beachbody craze to focus on building his own brands. But with more than five million copies sold (and counting), his BOD legacy is still in full swing!
What is P90X3?
Unlike the two P90X “episodes” before it, P90X3 isn’t a follow-up program for those hoping to continue their training journey alongside Tony Horton.
Instead, it’s a standalone program combining the training styles and results of P90X and P90X2 into a 90-day program, with workouts lasting just 30 minutes per day, six days a week.
In what Horton dubs “extreme fitness accelerated,” this “get ripped fast” program four-five goal-oriented training schedules (plus an Elite Block):
- Classic: a careful balance of cardio and resistance training for an aesthetic physique
- Lean: focuses on a leaner build that’s equally as functional
- Mass: the P90X approach to bulking and noob gains (getting ripped is an afterthought)
- Doubles: a twice-a-day program to maximize results on round two of P90X3
- Elite Block: leans on P90X2’s post-activation potentiation strategy to enhance athleticism and prevent sports injury if you’re amped up for weeks 14 and beyond
Each version also cycles through three “blocks” that’ll introduce you to more than a dozen P90X3 workouts that’ll maximize your results to their core.
Horton’s fourth P90X installment (or fifth, if you count the prequel, Power 90) has a long line of satisfied users raving about their results, such as shedding 43 pounds and sculpting six-packs.
But we’re also a bit hesitant to tout it as any better than P90X or P90X2.
Promising a full-body transformation that’ll leave you ripped in 90 days with 30 minutes of training a day (including a warm-up) definitely sounds unrealistic.
(Plus, if you can achieve the results of both programs through P90X3, why spend 60 minutes a day and six months following the two of them when you could really do it in half the time?)
P90X3 Details & Features
Horton describes P90X3 as an extremely efficient routine built around the latest scientific discoveries. But before we take the guru’s word for it, let’s sift through the finer details!
Whether you’re dead-set on following P90X3 or still deciding between a few Beachbody programs, all roads lead to the routine’s “Start Here” tab.
Here, you’ll find a generic run-through of this 90-day program, including:
- A P90X3 program overview (which claims P90X3 is an “advanced program” — we’ll touch on that point a little later on)
- A 17-minute “Get Started” video that details what to expect
- A completely skippable link to the Beachbody Nutrition Center you don’t need
- A few sentences explaining who Tony Horton is for our Gen Z friends
- A couple of P90X3 success stories that’ll leave you saying “WOW!” or “psh, yeah right”
Nothing on the Start Here page jumps out as a red flag or true life-upender. But if Horton’s voice brings positive flashbacks or 30-minute workouts fit your schedule, it’s definitely a contender.
If exercising in an abandoned warehouse or the Ninja Turtles lair doesn’t give you the creeps, the videos themselves are definitely a more modern spin on the old-school P90X.
Horton calls the first few days of P90X3 “humbling” while explaining that the modification-heavy program is for everyone, not strictly advanced athletes like the Start Here page suggests.
P90X3 emphasizes three aspects of training — variety, intensity, and consistency — and leans on an oddly uncited study suggesting that training benefits fizzle out after half an hour.
With all that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the P90X3 training sessions:
What Do You Need For P90X3?
Beachbody is notoriously misleading when listing the equipment you supposedly need to follow along with a program. But to get the most out of P90X3, all you really need are:
- Dumbbells up to 50 pounds (or resistance bands if you’re on the go or low on space)
- A regular old chin-up or pull-up bar
- Good cross-training shoes for balance and a stable base
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Version 2
Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds. Rapidly switch from one exercise to the next. You don't need multiple dumbbells cluttering up your home gym.
There’s really no need to buy into the name-brand craze and splurge on the Beachbody Chin-Up Max Bar or jump mats.
Regular P90X3 Workouts
Following in P90X’s giant, size 18 footsteps, the more condensed P90X3 also delivers plenty of training variety. Most of the four schedule options available feature the following workouts:
- Cold Start (12 minutes): a warm-up for a smoother transition into the day’s workout when the outdoor temperatures dip or fatigue is weighing you down
- CVX (35 minutes): a cardio and resistance fusion workout focusing on total-body power and endurance
- Total Synergistics (30 minutes): a full-body, compound exercise workout designed to enhance the body’s release of growth hormones, including testosterone
- Agility X (30 minutes): a foot-pounding workout emphasizing explosive power, acceleration, and change in direction
- Triometrics (30 minutes): a back-to-basics plyometrics workout bouncing between three intensity levels to limit rest periods while maximizing speed and power
- X3 Yoga (30 minutes): a short (for Tony Horton, that is) yoga session revolving around core strength, serenity, balance, and flexibility
- Pilates X (30 minutes): a balance and breath-controlled workout meant to improve joint and muscle health and stability
- The Challenge (30 minutes): a borderline ridiculous back-and-forth between push-up and pull-up variations
- Incinerator (30 minutes): a push/pull-style workout that fatigues your muscles with back-to-back exercises with a goal of hypertrophy and the dreaded muscle failure
- MMX (30 minutes): an MMA-centered workout combining the basics of karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, and other martial arts to improve every area of fitness
- The Warrior (30 minutes): a completely equipment-free workout that resembles the training style common in military members
- Isometrix (30 minutes): a unique combination of instability and isometric training designed to strengthen your stabilization and core muscles
- Dynamix (30 minutes): a fast-paced workout emphasizing flexibility and range of motion with near-constant movement
- Decelerator (30 minutes): an injury-preventing workout with the sole focus of protecting the muscles and joints upon landing
- Accelerator (30 minutes): a fat-incinerating workout that alternates between two speeds to boost training efficiency
- Eccentric Upper (30 minutes) & Eccentric Lower (30 minutes): resistance workouts honing in on the “negatives” of a lift to maximize time under tension and encourage greater growth hormone release
P90X3’s 16 workouts (plus a Cold Start) would be on the brink of overkill if it weren’t for its three training blocks also divided into 2–3 sub-blocks apiece.
It might be four weeks before you see CVX on your calendar again, and the Eccentric workout duo may not make its grand entrance until week five or later.
The anticipation of “what’s next?” is an exciting twist on a long, 90-day journey.
P90X3 Deluxe Workouts
The “Elite Block” schedule tacks an extra three weeks onto the end of the other four P90X3 training schedules in the form of three intense workouts:
- Complex Upper (30 minutes) & Complex Lower (30 minutes): post-activation potentiation workouts bouncing between heavy lifts and explosive movements, dragging strength and power gains to new extremes
- X3 Ab Ripper (15 minutes): a 15-minute core workout Horton claims can chisel out an eight-pack and washboard abs
Pre-BOD, you’d have to pay extra for these three workouts (and they weren’t exactly on the cheap). These days, a Beachbody On Demand subscription provides unlimited access to ‘em.
Tony Horton’s 17-minute “How to Accelerate” video is a decent intro to P90X3, though there’s no 1.5x speed option, and you’ll have to suffer through a few Beachbody/Shakeology ads.
If you really want to learn about the day-to-day of P90X3 and whether you’re cut out for the program, the Program Materials tab is your best friend.
This section is jam-packed with five PDFs and two links:
Fitness Guide (117 Pages)
The P90X3 Fitness Guide is a clunky 117 pages, which makes us appreciate that it’s a digital file and not a physical book even more (who needs a glossary when Ctrl + F exists?).
Once you overlook the 10+ page introduction, 64+ pages worth of workout guides, and 5+ pages of Beachbody ads, you’re left with about 38 pages of digestible need-to-know material.
In the official Fitness Guide, you’ll discover:
- The logic behind P90X3, including an overview of the research backing the program’s layout and training styles
- An overview of each workout and the exercises you’ll come toe-to-toe with
- How to best prepare for P90X3
- The Fit Test, which we recommend everyone take before committing to P90X3
- The four scheduling options to help you capture your physique and fitness goals
- A complete run-through of each workout, including modifications and rep counts
Even if you only read a quarter of this guide, you’ll walk away understanding why Horton created this routine, how to achieve more aesthetic results, and how to perform each exercise.
Do not skip this one!
Quick Start Guide to Nutrition (84 Pages)
If you’re a long-time Beachbody On Demand, you’re likely well-acquainted with the Quick Start Guide to Nutrition (and we’ll guess you don’t see it in a positive light either).
Before you wipe out the pantry, choose between the 2B Mindset and Ultimate Portion Fix diets, and spend your entire paycheck on Shakeology products, know that this is not the P90X3 diet.
We repeat: this is not the P90X3 diet!
For whatever reason (we could probably guess why), Beachbody insists on adding this massive guide to just about every popular program on the platform.
It looks like a knockoff Rachel Ray magazine with:
- A lifetime supply of Beachbody and Shakeology ads (if you’re a fan of the squirts or becoming a willing victim to MLMs, go ahead and spend!)
- Random diet and cooking tips to help you lose weight
- Two recommended nutritional plans, neither of which is sustainable with a high-intensity program like P90X3
- A list of recommended supplements that all happen to be under the Beachbody label
- Dozens of recipes that actually look pretty delicious
The Quick Start Guide to Nutrition could come in handy if you’re looking for a little kitchen inspiration. But otherwise, you probably won’t click on it (now or during your next program).
Nutrition Guide (57 Pages)
It shouldn’t have to be this confusing, but this is the real P90X3 Nutrition Guide that Horton spruced together to emphasize three things: flexibility, variety, and simplicity.
Horton begins the guide with a basic overview of the P90X3 diet, including:
- Whether cheat meals are acceptable (nope)
- How much water to drink per day (your body weight divided by two — in ounces)
- His thoughts on caffeine and alcohol (moderation, moderation, moderation!)
- Which supplements will help (would you believe us if we said they were Shakeology?)
(Why must we reinvent the wheel?)
Once you have a diet plan, you’ll turn to the chart that explains how many servings of protein, carbs, and fats you need with each of your five meals — three square meals and two snacks.
Now, you might be wondering: how does any of this translate into noob-friendly terms?
Well, the guide includes lists (along with serving sizes) of the best sources of carbs, fats, and proteins ranked in order of healthiness — the higher it is on the list, the healthier it is.
This creative yet simple strategy provides newbies with plenty of options and some much-needed perspective to guide them toward healthier dietary choices.
Horton ends the guide with a few food preparation tips, recommended recipes, and a more detailed macronutrient breakdown if those generic serving recommendations don’t cut it.
Workout Calendar (8 Pages)
The P90X3 Workout Calendar is a missed opportunity for one reason: Horton created four possible schedules to choose from, but the calendar only reflects the “Classic” route.
The sheet comes pre-filled-out in a day-by-day format. So once you crush through Day 1’s Total Synergistics workout, you can etch an X through the entire box (which is satisfying as hell).
You can also check “Y” or “N” in each box to track how well you follow the P90X3 diet. But the black-and-whiteness of this can definitely be off-putting to newbies more prone to cheat meals.
(Early research from 2016 also reveals that planned cheat days at the end of the week didn’t hurt weight loss and actually improved self-control and long-term motivation!)
If you are on the Lean, Mass, or Doubles plan, there are pages listing which workouts fall on which days. You’ll just have to block out the pre-written workout and replace it with the right one.
It seems like these alternative paths were a bit of an afterthought.
Worksheet (7 Pages)
Fast-paced programs like the P90X series create a challenge of their own: tracking your progress from week to week.
The P90X3 worksheets allow you to record the number of reps and the weight used for seven of the programs resistance training workouts, including:
- Eccentric Lower
- Eccentric Upper
- Complex Upper
- Complex Lower
- Total Synergistics
- The Challenge
Now, the launch of Beachbody On Demand signaled the franchise’s entry into the digital era. However, the company still has a ways to go, and the P90X3 worksheets are evidence of that.
PDFs you can type directly into do exist … just not here.
That means you’ll need to print out a copy of these seven pages and have a pen/pencil on hand to jot down your stats during rest breaks.
The official FAQ page is Beachbody’s attempt to silence any lingering concerns and convince you that P90X3 — or another BOD program — is right for you.
If you have a few moments to spare, you can read all about it here.
The official P90X3 Spotify playlist (51:25) is a flashback to 2015 that literally nobody asked for, but we aren’t complaining about either.
With upbeat hits like Sugar by Maroon 5 and Hideaway by Kiesza, this playlist will definitely speak to younger Millennials. (Grunge, rock, and punk fans are better off hitting mute!)
Of course, these might be Horton’s favorite tunes. But research also shows that hip hop (27.7%) and pop (20.3%) are among the most popular musical tastes for college students exercising.
By now, you likely have competing thoughts about P90X3. Half of you think, “Wow, this looks amazing!” while the other half figures, “Yeah, this seems a bit overhyped!”
Here are the answers to any questions you may still have about the latest P90X installment:
Will I Lose Weight with P90X3?
You can lose weight with P90X3, assuming you choose “weight loss” as your goal, follow your recommended diet plan, and push yourself during the workouts. It’s possible to shed 1–2 pounds per week with P90X3, with some users dropping 20–40 pounds by the end of this 90-day program.
What is the Best P90X3 Workout?
The best P90X3 workout for those who enjoy a good pump and ego-lifting is the 30-minute Eccentric Upper. With traditional exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, lateral raises, preacher curls, and ten reps per set, this workout will scratch your resistance training itch and encourage hypertrophy.
Can a Beginner Do P90X3?
A beginner can do P90X3, assuming they can also pass the P90X3 Fit Test. This short test includes pull-ups, vertical leaps, push-ups, toe touches, wall squats, bicep curls, in & outs, and jumping jacks. If you’re on the cusp, Horton does include noob-friendly modifications for most P90X3 workouts.
Is P90X3 7 Days Per Week?
P90X3 is six days per week, though you do have the option to replace your weekly rest day with the Dynamix workout. This 30-minute recovery workout focuses on flexibility and stabilization through 30-second exercises like the scorpion, glute lift, glide lunges, and side bananas.
Is P90X3 Difficult?
P90X3 can be difficult for beginners, especially those new to high-intensity training. Many users regard Agility X, The Challenge, and Triometrics as the toughest P90X3 workouts. However, keep in mind that, while P90X3 is a combination of P90X and P90X2, workouts are also about half as long.
Does P90X3 Have Modifications?
P90X3 has beginner-friendly modifications for nearly every exercise in every workout. For example, Horton recommends slowing your pace in Agility X, using a weightless ball for CVX’s press jacks, and not jumping during super burpees in the Warrior. Always go at your own pace and know your limits!
How Much Space Do You Need for P90X3?
You need about 20 square feet (4×5) of space to follow along with P90X3 at home, especially for the Agility X workout. Many Beachbody users report that P90X3 requires a similar amount of space to Shaun T’s Insanity and the original P90X. So make sure you have enough room to hold a plank and jump.
Can I Do P90X3 Without Equipment?
You can do some P90X3 workouts without any equipment, such as Agility X and Warrior. However, without a pull-up bar and dumbbells weighing between five and 50 pounds (or a resistance band set), it’ll be challenging to follow along with Horton, and your results may suffer.
How Long is P90X3?
P90X3 is a 90-day program divided into three blocks, each lasting three weeks with a transition week in between. Week 13 is victory week that Horton claims will rid your body of excess water weight for an even leaner look. There’s also an optional three-week “Elite Block” to maximize your results.
How Many DVDs Are In P90X3?
There are a total of eight DVDs in P90X3, each one featuring two workouts. The P90X3 Deluxe Kit comes with an additional disc featuring the three Elite-level workouts: Complex Upper, Complex Lower, and X3 Ab Ripper.
How Many Rounds Are In P90X3?
There is only one round in P90X3, though Tony Horton provides four unique ways to follow the program: Classic, Lean, Mass, and Doubles. Beachbody users satisfied with their results often continue P90X3 for another three weeks with the Elite Block schedule before starting over for round two.
What Comes After P90X3?
Nothing comes after P90X3, at least not officially. Many P90X3 survivors turn to Body Beast for hypertrophy, Insanity for cardio improvements, Focus T25 if you’re low on time, or P90X if you’re ready to take your training to the next level. Or you can repeat P90X3 for round two.
- All workouts are 30 minutes long (or shorter, if you remove the warm-up and cool-down), making the ‘ol “I don’t have time to train” excuse a bald-faced lie!
- With 16+ standard P90X3 workouts, your risk of boredom is practically zero. While training variety doesn’t improve body composition or strength more than a set schedule, one study from 2019 found that exercise variation boosts intrinsic motivation. So your odds of completing the full 13 weeks of P90X3 are that much higher.
- Horton designed four versions of the same routine tailored to your goals and schedule.
- P90X3 isn’t a one-trick pony, focusing on everything from cardio and mass-building to balance and flexibility.
- Even without a regular Ab Ripper workout, P90X3’s core focus will leave your abs sore and deliver the real possibility of a six-pack.
- Okay, it’s what we’re all already thinking: NO 90-MINUTE YOGA!
- P90X dropouts find it easier and more encouraging to follow.
- The arrangement of the nutrition guide and sorting foods in order of healthiness offers tons of insight to those used to yo-yo or fad diets.
- Positive results tend to be the norm, with some users reporting 11+ inches lost and 20–40 pounds of weight loss in 90 days. Though much of your early weight loss will be from dropped water weight, 20–40 pounds in three months is in line with — and actually slightly above — the CDC’s recommendation for “healthy weight loss.”
- It’s supposedly a research-backed routine, though Horton didn’t provide a link to any of the eight studies he described.
- You can realistically cycle through P90X, P90X2, and P90X3 forever and still see results, assuming you aren’t sick of Horton by then.
- If you struggle with any portion of the eight-part Fit Test, following along with P90X3 without modifications may be challenging. Research from 2014 suggests that 56% of active people have experienced an exercise-related injury in the past, and if P90X3 is out of your league, pushing yourself could sideline you for months.
- Using a point system to determine how many calories you should eat per day is silly, considering there are scientific equations offering more accurate predictions. For example, the NIH has a Body Weight Planner to calculate your caloric needs.
- Some of the modifications feel forced (i.e., “slower pace” or “limit range of motion”).
- Six days a week — with an optional seventh day — at a P90X intensity level could prove too taxing for true newbies.
- It’d be far easier to record reps and weight used if Beachbody would join the 21st century and use fillable PDFs or a data-tracking tool.
- Those who swear by the OG P90X aren’t exactly fans.
- It takes several weeks to work up to the more resistance-heavy training block.
Wrapping Up This P90X3 Review
P90X3 offers a taste of the best-selling P90X and P90X2 programs without dedicating six hours a week to training or needing several months of training experience under your belt.
P90X3 is an excellent time-saver, offers plenty of workout variety, includes more than enough core work, and produces positive results (i.e., dropping 20+ pounds in three months).
But it’s also not perfect, not by a longshot.
This P90X/X2 substitute may still be out of reach if you can’t ace the Fit Test, the modifications often fall flat, six days a week is still a huge commitment, and the weightlifting piece is flimsy.
Overall, P90X3 is worth a try if P90X and P90X2 are too intense for you or don’t fit into your schedule. Yet, if you’re a day-one beginner, programs like P90 or Power 90 are better options.