P90X catapulted Tony Horton and the Beachbody brand into the limelight in 2005, marketed as a 90-day “muscle confusion” program that’d leave you ripped in three months.
Six years later, Horton released P90X2 to a raving fanbase.
He describes the program as an equally challenging extension of P90X designed to build a more solid foundation while also improving athleticism. Or, P90X cranked up a few notches.
But does P90X2 really work? Let’s find out!
About the Creator – Tony Horton
Tony Horton was the face of the fitness industry in the early to mid-2000s.
The stand-up comedian turned celebrity fitness trainer launched his record-setting program P90X in 2005. Within a decade, the program was a household name with 5+ million sales.
The legendary fitness buff went on to create other Beachbody breakout hits, including:
- The original Power 90 (which inspired the P90X franchise that followed)
- Ten Minute Trainer
- 22 Minutes Hard Corps
Horton has since stepped back from creating training programs to launch his own fitness brands: TH Life and TH Care. But his Beachbody legacy lives on to this day.
What is P90X2?
P90X2 isn’t P90X 2.0 the same way P90 was a Power 90 redo. Instead, P90X2 is the “next step” in really transforming your physique and putting your athletic performance to the test.
By now, you’ve successfully escaped the inferno that is P90X.
So the next 9–16 weeks (it varies) will use your newfound strength and endurance to improve your body composition further and turn into a powerhouse athlete.
These 50–60-minute workouts are a satisfying blend of cardio, balance, strength, agility, and core training that are only possible with an “unstable” foundation.
Expect tons of medicine ball and stability ball exercises that push you to your edge and leave your muscles quivering as you train your body in brand new ways.
(Warning: P90X2 is an advanced routine. We recommend completing P90X first and acing the P90X2 Fit Test before planning out your next 2–4 months of training.)
P90X2 Details & Features
P90X2 earns rave reviews from athletes elite enough to survive the original P90X and still decide, “hmm, still not intense enough.” To be clear, P90X2 is not simply a P90X reboot.
Welcome to the P90X2 motherlode!
The Start Here tab is basically Tony Horton’s P90X2 elevator pitch. While the legendary Beachbody trainer still has your attention, SchmoozeFest 2021 is officially underway!
Here, you’ll discover mostly skippable content like:
- An ultra-brief program overview
- A ten-minute video called “How to Bring It Again” (looks like Horton never retired his ‘ol P90X catchphrase)
- A pointless link to the Beachbody Nutrition Center
- A quick bio explaining who this “Tony Horton” fellow is
- A success story or two to really rope you in
If you’re already decided on P90X2, feel free to ignore this tab entirely and click over to the Workouts or Program Materials sections instead.
Otherwise, the “How to Bring It Again” clip paints an accurate picture of the program. That’s where you’ll settle the P90X vs. P90X2 debate and catch a glimpse of your upcoming workouts.
What Equipment Do You Need?
That depends on who you ask. The Program Overview tab recommends 16 pieces of equipment to follow P90X2 as Horton intended, while a more realistic list is in the program’s Fitness Guide.
All you really need to tackle P90X2 are:
- A chin-up bar
- Dumbbells ranging from 5 to 40 pounds
- A stability ball
- Medicine balls weighing at least 8 pounds
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However, if your purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge is still pending, Horton could convince you that you need the following equipment as well:
- Resistance bands with a door attachment (in place of a chin-up bar and dumbbells if you’re training on the go)
- A foam roller
- Push-up stands
- A yoga or jump mat
- Yoga blocks
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Also, don’t feel obligated to buy equipment branded with the Beachbody name and logo. They’d probably argue you need Beachbody tomatoes, forks, and napkins if they existed!
The P90X2 base package includes 12 workouts that Horton introduces you to as you progress through the phases. In other words, you won’t repeat the same pattern again and again.
The 12 basic P90X2 workouts include:
- X2 Core (57 Minutes)
- X2 Plyocide (57 Minutes)
- X2 Recovery + Mobility (58 Minutes)
- X2 Total Body (64 Minutes)
- X2 Yoga (68 Minutes)
- X2 Balance + Power (63 Minutes
- Chest + Back + Balance (60 Minutes)
- X2 Shoulders + Arms (53 Minutes)
- Base + Back (56 Minutes)
- P.A.P. Lower (63 Minutes)
- P.A.P. Upper (53 Minutes)
- X2 Ab Ripper (17 Minutes)
If you’re a Beachbody On Demand subscriber, you’ll also have access to two additional “Deluxe & Ultimate” videos that you can swap in during phase two:
- V Sculpt (54 Minutes)
- X2 Chest + Shoulders + Tris (52 Minutes)
The P90X2 workouts cap out at about 68 minutes, though most training sessions sit in the 50–60-minute sweet spot. If energy is a problem, a shot of pre-workout or caffeine will do.
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P90X2 is one of the more flexible in the BOD franchise, allowing you the freedom to remain in phases longer if you’re still chasing results (i.e., muscle gain and fat loss in phase two).
Here’s a better look at what to expect with each phase:
Phase One – Foundation (3–6 weeks)
Though you survived P90X without battle wounds, your body still needs to adjust to P90X2.
The foundation phase focuses on building a solid base to prepare you for proper form and explosive movements a few weeks from now.
In phase one, you’ll train five days per week with tough yet manageable workouts, including plyometrics, core work, and balance.
Phase Two – Strength (3–6 weeks)
With a noticeably stable foundation and 3–6 weeks under your belt, you’ll advance to the strength-building phase of P90X2 (which is very similar to P90X).
The key to phase two is destabilizing traditional exercises.
So instead of regular push-ups, Horton will lead you through medicine ball or stability ball push-ups. It’s a three-day split with an extra yoga and plyometrics session each week.
Phase Three – Performance (3–4 weeks)
Phase two solidified a more aesthetic physique via muscle gains and fat loss.
Now, you’re ready to build upon your athleticism through a method called post-activation potentiation. That requires heavy resistance training followed by explosive movements.
The science is there, proving that this method lessens the risk of athletic injury. But most P90X2 survivors describe phase three as either “meh” or “the best workout on earth.”
Recovery Week (1 week – as needed)
Horton didn’t build recovery weeks into P90X2 because all three phases emphasize different components of fitness. But feel free to add one occasionally if your performance begins tanking.
(You can also learn more about the actual P90X2 day-to-day schedule further down in the Program Materials section.)
Before Beachbody On Demand, a man in a truck would leave a cardboard box on your porch.
In it was a set of thin, round discs — historians now call them “DVDs” — and a few pamphlets explaining the Beachbody program you ordered (likely via a landline with a dial-up connection).
These days, Beachbody condenses those same materials into its Program Materials tab:
The QuickStart guide certainly lives up to its name. This single-page PDF first congratulates you on buying the program (which is odd enough) before rambling off five semi-obvious tips:
- Log onto the Beachbody platform to access your sheets and join chat rooms.
- Watch the 10-minute intro video.
- Verify that you have the right equipment and supplements.
- Exercise in the WOWY SuperGym and win prizes (plot twist: the link doesn’t load).
- Follow the P90X2 fitness and nutrition guides.
Unless you’re a few Twisted Teas deep, you’d probably do 3–4 of these anyway.
The Fitness Guide is about 88 pages of a shirtless Tony Horton, shot from various angles in a weirdly dim fitness studio. Once you become numb to that, you’re ready to learn about P90X2.
Between the cringe-worthy and retro collages of Horton flexing, this guide covers:
- The foundation for P90X2 (i.e., good form, instability, mobility, and P.A.P.)
- An overview of the three program phases
- A list of the equipment you supposedly “need”
- The suggested supplements (would you believe they’re all Beachbody brand?)
- How to measure your progress with a scale and cloth tape measure
- A fitness test to track your performance between days 1 and 90
- A play-by-play for each workout and when you’ll tackle each
- An offer to become a Beachbody Coach yourself (well, that explains why everyone and their mother on the testimonial pages is a coach)
It’s worth a flip-through if you’re still deciding between P90X2 and other popular Beachbody programs, like Hammer & Chisel, LIIFT4, Body Beast, or even the P90X2 prequel — P90X.
But unlike tenth-grade English class, not reading this won’t set you up for failure.
Quick Start Guide to Nutrition
The Quick Start Guide to Nutrition seems to be Beachbody’s default grift. This colorful 84-page guide — which kind of defeats the purpose of “quick” — is NOT the official P90X2 diet plan.
It’s more like an Eating Well magazine stuffed with other Eating Well advertisements.
As you scroll (and scroll and scroll) through this long-winded PDF, you’ll discover:
- An onslaught of Beachbody supplement and Shakeology ads
- Two diet plans, neither of which meshes with an energy-intensive routine like P90X2
- Constant pushes to buy Beachbody everything
- Tips for healthy snacking and food choices
- Oh, a few more totally subtle ads
- Dozens of clean-eating recipes (including a pre-wrapped BEACHBAR…)
Some of the information is spot-on, but a good chunk of it is flat-out questionable (i.e., the choice between a 1,500 or 1,800-calorie diet based on your weight). Nah, it’s not worth the click.
The Nutrition Guide is a beastly 122 pages long, with six chapters describing the P90X2 diet in detail. (Of course, many of those pages are full-page spreads of peppers and assorted fruit.)
Beachbody hired some of the best chefs and nutritionists in the world to craft a plan that’s sustainable, balanced, and compatible with a high-intensity training regimen like P90X2.
The P90X2 diet plan touches on topics like:
- Choosing the right diet for you (plans): P90X2 offers three distinct eating options, depending on your starting point — a fat shredder 2.0, energy booster 2.0, and endurance maximizer 2.0.
- Calculating your caloric needs (levels): The calculations are already more impressive than most Beachbody programs. But what’s the point of doing all that math if the final tally lumps you into one of three calorie recommendations anyway?
- Tips and tricks: Horton explains when to switch plans and levels, the best times to eat, whether that unopened Smirnoff in the cabinet will remain sealed, and how to follow these plans without giving up a vegan or grain-free diet.
- The plans themselves: These somewhat confusing charts detail how many servings of legumes, fruit, protein, carbs, and more you need per day. Of course, you apparently “need” Beachbody bars and recovery formulas come snack time.
- Food lists: When Horton recommends eight servings of protein or 2 ½ servings of fat, what does that mean for you? This guide’s food lists provide dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of food suggestions to help you stick to the diet.
- Recipes: Alright, the recipe section deserves a round of applause. While not all will tantalize your taste buds, each recipe is detailed, indicates which diet plans it’s compatible with, and describes how many servings of each nutrient it covers.
Piecing together all of this information to create a workable diet will require a bit of effort on your part. However, this is one of the most flexible and detailed BOD nutrition plans we’ve ever seen.
And, the bonus: unless you burn the recipes to a crisp, you don’t have to settle for dishes that taste like wet cardboard. In fact, they sound and look pretty darn delicious.
The P90X2 Workout Calendar isn’t the week-by-week calendar you’d expect.
Instead, it breaks the program down into its three phases and lists which workouts fall on which numbered day of the week. For example, day one is X2 Core, day two is Plyocide, and so on!
Unfortunately, this formatting also means no satisfying calendar cross-offs after crushing hour-long workouts. But then again, it also makes sense with the flexibility in phase lengths.
So here’s the gist of the P90X2 workout calendar:
The P90X2 Worksheets are eight pages full of progress-tracking glory. So as you bust through each challenging set, you’ll also log how many reps you completed and which weight you used.
We’ll be the first to admit it: these worksheets can be incredibly motivating if you enjoy the thought of outlasting the “old you” from last week (AKA: progressive overload).
But you also need an old-school machine called a “printer” (ask your parents) to make these sheets usable because, unfortunately, this isn’t one of those fancy type-right-into-it PDFs.
Beachbody’s reluctance to create a set-logging tool like BodyFit or JEFIT (which auto-calculates your 1RM, too) is also odd now that we’re more than two decades into the 21st century.
The FAQ button links to a post on the Beachbody Blog that you can also read here.
The takeaway from these 15 questions is that P90X2 is the second-coming. Then again, nobody rides as hard for Beachbody as the platform’s very own marketing team (it’s biased).
11 Awesome Benefits of P90X2
- The nutrition guide is ridiculously detailed, with three diet plans, multiple “levels,” special consideration for unique dietary needs, and extensive food lists & recipes.
- It doesn’t require as much equipment as Horton implies. All you really need is an adjustable dumbbell set, something to balance on (whether that’s a stability ball or a weight bench), and medicine balls — though you can swap in basketballs in a pinch.
- The program is well-thought-out and customizable. If you’re not satisfied with your phase two physique results after three weeks, you can double the phase’s length.
- If you outlasted P90X without any battle scars, you’re prepared for P90X2. Both programs are about equally as difficult, though P90X2 touches on aspects of fitness that P90X glosses over.
- Horton recruited Harvard-educated physicians when designing phase three, the inspiration behind P.A.P workouts. While the research into post-activation potentiation is still in its early stages, one review from 2014 found that countermovement heights were more likely to improve in recreational athletes with P.A.P training.
- The pure cardio workouts and 90-minute yoga sessions from P90X didn’t come along for the ride this time!
- The foam-rolling warm-ups are ridiculously satisfying. This warm-up method can also improve your training performance, at least according to a 2019 meta-analysis. The 14 pre-rolling studies found that flexibility (+4%) and sprint speed (+0.7%) increased slightly after a foam-rolling warm-up.
- It activates your muscles in ways you never thought possible. By adding a stability ball or medicine ball “twist” to the exercises you know fairly well, you’re engaging your core muscles in new ways and building that sturdy foundation.
- Functional fitness is the latest training fad that might be playing the long game. However, while functional training can improve endurance, body composition, and strength, P90X2 workouts are also about 2–4 times longer than traditional functional training sessions.
- If you don’t have all of the recommended equipment, the videos also demonstrate equipment-limited modifications.
- High-intensity training programs like P90X and P90X2 are generally effective in sculpting a more aesthetic physique. One 2015 study on male firefighters following these routines discovered that they were about 50% less likely to be obese.
7 Negatives of P90X2
- There’s an absurd number of Shakeology and Beachbody ads stuffed into the program materials, including an entire 84-page nutrition guide completely unrelated to P90X2.
- If you cave and buy all seven of the recommended supplements, you’ll essentially be on a pure-shake diet (and possibly suffer a gnarly case of the back-door trots).
- It’s not beginner-friendly, and even intermediate Beachbody fanatics may struggle. Even trained athletes may struggle, such as the 23-year-old fit trainee who wound up in the hospital after attempting P90X. Read your body!
- The warm-up routines tend to be longer than that of P90X, which ultimately shortens the time you spend training each day (which could be a bonus!).
- It’s disappointing if you’re expecting heavy weightlifting.
- Horton appears to have lost his humorous, light-hearted touch this go-round.
- One word we’ve seen to describe it repeatedly ― “gimmicky.”
Wrapping Up This P90X2 Review
P90X2 is an ego-neutralizing routine that’ll add a more functional touch to your already aesthetic physique (which, of course, you owe to P90X).
This in-depth program covers the diet and training aspects remarkably well, is customizable to your goals, “corrects” the pitfalls of P90X, and is just as brutal as P90X (in a different way).
But it’s not without its faults either.
The endless Beachbody ads are a constant eye-roll, it’s far from noob-friendly, and it misses the mark by a mile if you’re a fan of heavy lifting.
Yet, P90X2 absolutely can and does work if you can pass the Fit Test and put forth your all-out effort for the next 9–16 weeks. It’ll top off your P90X results and leave you a better athlete.
It’s the most logical next step after a successful battle with P90X!
Will P90X2 Build Muscle?
Yes, you will build muscle with P90X2. It’s an intermediate-level program designed to take your fitness to the next level. And if you’re still in newbie season but willing to push yourself to the limit, then you can still expect gains (but something easier like classic Power 90 or P90X may be better).
How Long is Each P90X2 Workout?
Not all P90X2 workouts are the same length, but they are generally around 1 hour long. So, you better be prepared to carve out some time to power through each one.
How Long is P90X2 Recovery and Mobility?
P90X2’s Recover and Mobility session is 58 minutes long. This coincides with the rest of the workout estimates.
Is P90X2 Better Than P90X?
According to Tony Horton himself, P90X2 isn’t better than P90X but rather an extension of the popular program. Most fans agree that P90X is better for building a better, leaner, aesthetic physique. P90X2 is best for refining your athleticism via agility, balance, and flexibility training.
How Long Are the P90X2 Workouts Each Day?
The P90X2 workouts generally last between 53 and 68 minutes a day, five times a week. However, Horton’s program also doubles up on workouts 1–3/week during phases 1 & 2 with his 17-minute X2 Ab Ripper (similar to the original Ab Ripper). This sporadic two-a-days could evolve into an 81-minute time and energy commitment.
How Much Does P90X2 Cost?
As of fall 2021, the P90X2 DVD set costs about $140 new. With a Beachbody On Demand membership, an annual fee of $99 offers unlimited access to P90X2 and almost every other program in the Beachbody collection. Three and six-month subscriptions are also available, though more expensive.