P90X vs P90X2 (2024 Upd.) Which Program Should You Pick?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 19, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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If you're finding it challenging to meet your fitness goals at the gym every week, consider giving a home fitness DVD a try. But hold on, this isn't one of those aerobic dance lessons.

The Beachbody P90X workout and its sequel, P90X2, offer comprehensive training, meal plans, and resources that eliminate the guesswork from your fitness journey.

In this article, I'll explore the benefits of the original P90X vs. P90X2, helping you decide which workout suits you best, all from the comfort of your living room.

*Keep reading to see why we don't recommend P90X and what alternative we suggest...

Quick Summary

  • P90X is generally more suitable for a wider audience due to its balanced approach to fitness, while P90X2 caters to those seeking an advanced, athletically-focused routine.
  • P90X focuses on muscle confusion for overall sculpting, whereas P90X2 uses post-activation potentiation for enhanced athletic performance.
  • The original P90X has sustained its popularity for over 15 years, showcasing its effectiveness and lasting appeal in the fitness community.
  • In my opinion, P90X2 offers a more innovative and challenging approach, ideal for those who are already fit and looking to elevate their athletic performance.

What is P90X?

P90x

The P90X program is a total body home exercise routine that aims to give you a more sculpted look. Developed by Tony Horton’s Beachbody, P90X uses the concept of “muscle confusion” to help you avoid plateaus.

I've personally tried the P90X program, and it works very well.

Muscle confusion works by implementing short workout cycles that switch up which muscles you’re using and the intensity required. By using this technique, P90X combines exercises that focus on endurance and muscle gain.

By avoiding plateaus, the P90X regimen can be used effectively over long periods of time.

Although the P90X workouts are intense (X does stand for extreme, after all), anyone can complete the routines with persistence and some standard home gym materials.

Using their schedule options, you can choose between focusing on fat loss and building lean muscle. The variety of exercises combined with Horton’s famous motivational techniques keep people on track.

Reflecting on the long-standing success of the original P90X, which has maintained its popularity for over 15 years, it's clear that unlike fleeting fitness trends, P90X's impact and effectiveness have stood the test of time.

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What is P90X2?

P90x2

The P90X2 workout is a home exercise workout designed to be the athletically-focused sequel of the original P90X. By taking advantage of “post-activation potentiation” or PAP, P90X2 may help you generate explosive power and improve athletic muscle performance.

As an MMA fighter, I've dabbled in various workout routines, and P90X2 caught my attention. P90X2 distinguishes itself with its specific equipment requirements, including stability balls, medicine balls, and foam rollers, offering a unique approach to home workouts and enabling users to engage in more complex and diverse exercise routines​.

P90X2 is designed around the same 90-day goals in the P90X. The difference between the two lies in the P90X2 three phases:

  • Foundation - focuses on your general flexibility and strength so that you can improve your range of movement and make the most of the upcoming phases.
  • Strength - aims to build up your strength through a variety of intense weight-lifting workouts.
  • Performance - works to maximize the long term benefits by improving your core strength, stability, explosive power, and locking in the progress you’ve made.

P90X2 has just as much direction and guidance as P90X but with a much bigger focus on achieving goals and making serious progress. If you’re willing to commit to the program and you want to see definite results it is a more advanced and improved option to the original workout.

P90X and P90X2 Comparison Chart

"To motivate yourself to enter and remain in your exercise environment, make it pleasant and inviting."
- Mark H., PhD, Psychologist, AnshelSports

So regardless of what you choose, following these regimens closely will likely result in positive health impacts.

To summarize the highlights of these fitness programs, here are two charts that review general information on P90X vs P90X2 as well as more specific differences in the workouts.

1. General Specs

P90X P90x2
Audience Improve Overall Health for Beginners or Intermediates Further Improve Athletic Performance for Experienced
Workout Styles Muscle Confusion, Cardio and Yoga Same as P90X except adds in Post Activation Potentiation
Schedule 6 days a week, 1 rest day 5 days a week, 2 rest days
Equipment Needed Dumbbells/lightweight resistance bands, and a pull-up bar Dumbbells/Resistance bands, and a pull-up bar
Price $119.85 $119.85 (with options to buy upgraded packages)

2. Health Benefits

P90X P90x2
Range of Motion -
Endurance -
Cardio -
Weight Loss & Fat Loss -
Muscle Building -
Core Strength & Stability -
Workout Length 40-60 minutes 50-60 minutes

P90X vs P90X2

Now that you’ve seen the overview of P90X vs P90X2 – I’ll go into more detail about the several most important aspects of each so you can determine which workout is best for you.

1. Equipment

Close up shot of dumbbells

Both P90X and P90X2 require you to have some basic home exercise materials to follow their workouts effectively. P90X workouts are generally more straightforward and require little to no equipment, based on my experience.

  • For P90X, you will need a few pieces of basic equipment such as a floor mat, dumbbells, and a pull-up bar.
  • For P90X2, you’ll need the same items, as well as a medicine and stability balls. Since P90X2 focuses on muscles that stabilize, it has a heavy focus on core exercises.

2. Workout Length

A person doing dumbbell curls

Both of these fitness programs include resistance and body-weight training, cardio conditioning, plyometrics ("jump training"), core exercises, stretching, and yoga.

Tony Horton will coach you through both workout programs. When choosing between P90X or P90X2, take into account what intensity you’re ready for.

  • The P90X follows a 6-day on, 1-day off schedule. Exercises are generally 40-60 minutes in duration.
  • The P90X2 workout lengths are more challenging and quicker progression because of that.

It follows a 5-day on, 2-days off schedule, with the additional rest day to make up for the high intensity of the program.

Workouts are usually between 50-60 minutes in duration, and more strenuous than the P90X, based on my experience.

3. Intensity

A man working out his biceps

When comparing P90X vs P90X2, the intensity is the defining difference. To choose correctly, you’ll need to have a good understanding of your fitness abilities.

  • P90X is aimed toward those who want a straightforward but challenging workout. It builds muscle, improves endurance, and conditions your cardiovascular system.
  • P90X2 uses sports science to boost strength and stamina for pro-athletes or those with advanced regimens. It focuses on strengthening muscles associated with stability and provides more variety.

After trying it out, I can say that when weighing P90X2 vs P90X, keep in mind that the routine in P90X2 is meant to further squeeze additional strength and power out of people who are already in great shape.

4. Diet Plan

A top view of healthy meal

Both the P90X and P90X2 programs come with diet plans, but the plans differ since the intensity, and therefore the caloric and macronutrient needs will vary.

  • P90X comes with a diet plan designed by nutritionists who aim to provide the physique with the necessary balance of macronutrients to complete each task.
  • The P90X2 meal program uses the latest science in sports nutrition to inform their recipes. The meals also include variations and options that include vegan and grain-free options.

5. Cost

The cost of each is very similar or the same, depending on where you purchase it. Depending on where you live, these prices are comparable or better than most gym memberships, and you receive more resources and support.

Overall, the cost shouldn’t be the deciding factor in which you choose. The programs have different audiences, so be sure that you choose the right approach for you.

  • P90X costs around $119.85 for the full package. The package includes 12 DVDs, a diet plan with nutritional suggestions, a workout calendar, and other materials.
  • P90X2’s starter kit is the same cost as P90X at $119.85. There are additional options such as the deluxe kit for $239.85 and the ultimate kit for $299.85.

If you’re unsure where to start, you can watch this video below by Youtuber Tim Heinrich to know which program is better for you.

FAQ

Can you do P90X at the gym?

You can’t do P90X at the gym. Instead, the program aims to make home exercise just as, if not more, effective as your normal gym routine.

By providing everything you need at home, you can fit it into your busy schedule or into weeknight evenings.

Can you do P90X and weight lift?

You can do P90X and weight lift, but you might risk overtraining. Overtraining has been shown to cause muscle atrophy – or the loss of muscle mass. The P90X aims to target your entire body, so you won’t lose any progress if you follow the workout program closely.

Is P90X considered circuit training?

P90X is considered a mix of circuit training, repetitions, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). By combining the two, the program gives different parts of your body a chance to rest while keeping your heart rate up.

How many calories does P90X burn?

P90X burns approximately 500 calories an hour. However, this number will vary depending on which exercise you do, and current health factors such. Typically, you only need a 500 calorie deficit a day to start seeing results.

Can you gain muscle with P90X?

You can gain muscle with P90X through consistent cardio and resistance training. In contrast, P90X2 results in increased stability and the maintenance of muscle mass.

Both programs estimate that you’ll see a difference in 12 weeks, but results may vary based on your efforts, genetics, and other aspects.

P90X vs P90X2 Review: Which is Better?

Overall, more people find success with P90X. Although intense, the program is easier to keep up with and remains challenging for both beginners and more advanced trainers.

P90X2 has its benefits, but only a handful of truly committed athletes and gym-goers can reap the benefits without risking strain or injury.

If you’re looking for something more unique and involves discipline, then watch our Free "Saiyan Unleashed" Masterclass.

In this video, Total Shape coach Benedict Ang reveals exactly how to get incredibly shredded and insanely muscular without being a slave to the gym or restrictive diets.

Discover a regimen that promotes muscle growth, weight loss, and both beginner and advanced exercises for people who want to push their bodies further.

corey koelling before and after

timothy lewis before and after

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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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2 thoughts on “P90X vs P90X2: Which Workout Program Is Better?

  1. I have encountered these fitness programs in Youtube and got curious about what’s worth checking out between P90x and P90x2. Anyway, great article!

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