A Review Of The Best Alternatives To P90X3 And A Word On “One Size Fits All” Programs

by Cole Matthews - Last Updated April 4, 2018

When P90X first hit the market in 2005 it revolutionized home fitness. Created by Tony Horton, it was meant to be a follow-up program to his original Power 90 program.

If you’ve ever used P90X, you know that it doesn’t just focus on one thing; the entire plan is a combination of high-intensity interval training HIIT, periodization as well as some nutritional guidelines to ensure best results.

P90X requires the use of some home gym equipment, but nothing more complicated than a couple of push-up bars, a chin-up bar, and some light dumbbells. Given its popularity, there have been several new iterations of P90X since it first hit the market.

Most recently, P90X3 became available and is a 90 day fitness program that puts the trainee through daily 30 minute workouts. It contains a lot of variety and versatility in its exercise and workout prescriptions and promises a fully comprehensive transformation in only three months.

Image of the P90X3 DVD Workout Base Kit - Tony Horton 

However, since the inception of P90X, many similar home workout programs have been released, and some can certainly give P90X a run for its money. We reviewed three of these programs, and found that P90X3 might not be the best choice for everyone.

It’s certainly still an effective choice for those who are looking for noticeable results in a short amount of time, but depending on their individual fitness levels, trainees may want to consider other options.

P90X3

Overview

We’ve been always been cautious of “quick fix” workout programs, and P90X3 does promise a lot in a short amount of time. Each workout is extremely intense, and only lasts thirty minutes.

It’s marketed toward those that would rather not spend time in the gym or prefer to keep their workout time short. There is a trade-off between intensity and duration with just about any kind of workout, and P90X3 seems to be centered on the philosophy of keeping the workout time short and the difficulty high.

Image of the P90X3 DVD Workout Ultimate Kit - Tony Horton 

That being said, the low volume approach allows you to work out more frequently than some other workouts that may last longer and require more recovery time.

The Workouts

It consists of 16 different workouts, each grouped according to a different goal. You’ll find 6 muscle-building workouts, 3 cross training workouts, 3 fat-burning cardio workouts and 4 core, flexibility and balance workouts.

It does cover a variety of fitness goals but also does feel a little too comprehensive. While it is a progressive workout program that gets harder and changes over time, we felt that P90X3  promised too many different things for just 90 days.

For example, The Challenge workout is designed to add strength to the upper body and chest, while The Warrior workout is a full-body routine that doesn’t require weights. The cross-training workouts focus on an entirely different facet of fitness.

For example, the Agility X workout is designed to enhance flexibility and balance, and the Triometrics workout focuses on plyometrics to boost speed and power.

The variability continues throughout the rest of the routines and just seems too good to be true. We would have preferred a workout plan that focuses on one thing at a time, rather than a system that seems to not have a clear direction.

The Alternatives

 

RIPT90: 90 Day Workout Program: Our First Choice

Overview  

One thing about the RIPT90 Day Workout Program that made it the best alternative to P90X3 was the more centralized focus. It felt like it was one workout plan that took place over the course of 3 months, rather than several different ones that didn’t seem related or consistent.

With 14 different workouts to choose from, there was still enough variety to keep things interesting but not so much that we felt like we couldn’t reap specific benefits of the overall workout plan.

Image of the RIPT90 FIT: 90 Day Workout Program with 12+1 Exercise Videos + Training Calendar, Fitness Tracker & Training Guide and Nutrition Plan 

We also really liked that each workout was a different length. It was another way of offering the user some choices regarding how long they wanted each workout to last.

This was a significant step up over the P90X3, mainly because with P90X you’ll be required to do 30 minutes of exercise, regardless of which phase you’re in.

Lastly, RIPT90 comes with a workout calendar, nutrition guide and training guide with detailed explanations of many of the exercises.

Using The Program

The workouts in the RIPTD90 Day Workout Program vary in length from as short as 21 minutes to as long as 42 minutes and each one seems to place particular emphasis on a specific muscle group.

Image of the RIPT90 FIT: 90 Day Workout Program with 12+1 Exercise Videos + Training Calendar, Fitness Tracker & Training Guide and Nutrition Plan 

For example, the workouts include a 39 minute Chest Shredder, a 42 minute Back Breaker as well as a Leg Overhaul. You’ll also find a few full-body workouts like the 23 minute Dirty Dozen, and 25 minute Metabolic Mania.

While workouts like the Chest Shredder, Leg Overhaul, and Back Breaker focus on building mass in specific muscle groups, Metabolic Mania is more of a full-body routine that takes into account every muscle group.

Generally, we found the RIPTD90 program to be a lot more specialized than P90X3. That being said, it did have a few other workouts as a way of mixing things up if you get tired of body part training.

The workouts are also easy to follow, and require minimal equipment. All you’ll really need are a pair of dumbbells and enough space to do some of the bigger movements.

Not only were the workouts straightforward, but they also offered alternative movements for those that may find some of the exercises too difficult. We found that this made the program much more versatile and felt that it could be effective for a much larger demographic.

Image of the RIPT90 FIT: 90 Day Workout Program with 12+1 Exercise Videos + Training Calendar, Fitness Tracker & Training Guide and Nutrition Plan 

The varying lengths of the workouts, the alternative movements, as well as the body-part training style approach to the RIPT90 Day Program made it not only a great standalone program, but also our first recommendation for someone looking for an alternative to P90X3.

XTFMAX 90 Day DVD Workout Program: Our Second Choice

Overview

The XTF 90 Day DVD Workout Program has a lot of the same issues as the P90X3 program.

There are 12 workouts in the XTFMAX 90 Day DVD Workout Program, and while there are a few body-part specific workouts, we felt that it was almost as disorganized as the P90X3 program. However, it did have varied workout lengths that ranged from 24 minutes to 46 minutes.

Image of the XTFMAX: 90 Day DVD Workout Program with 12 Exercise Videos + Training Calendar & Fitness Guide and Nutrition Plan 

You’ll get three body-part specific workouts like XTFMAX Arms, XTFMAX Legs, XTFMAX Abs and Chest and Back. The rest of the program consists of workouts like Hard Core, Definitions, Cardio Max and Circuit Burnout.

While the XTFMAX Arms workout was more of a workout designed to promote muscle growth in the biceps, triceps and shoulders, workouts like the Cardio Max were more designed to get the user’s heart rate up and get them sweating.

Image of the XTFMAX: 90 Day DVD Workout Program with 12 Exercise Videos + Training Calendar & Fitness Guide and Nutrition Plan 

Again, we liked the variety, but felt that predominantly muscle-building workouts combined with heavy cardio sessions could be counterproductive depending on the user’s goal.

Using The Program

The program came with a calendar that allows users to chart their progress and also tells them which workout they’re meant to do for the day. This made it very easy to follow, but we noticed that certain workouts like the Long and Lean contained some movements that were a little too advanced.

It predominantly consisted of yoga poses and stretching, but for someone who might be new to both of forms of exercise, could be dangerous without supervision.

One thing we did like about the program was that you could do the workouts in any order. This made it a solid choice for those who may have other types of exercise they want to do outside of the program.

Image of the XTFMAX: 90 Day DVD Workout Program with 12 Exercise Videos + Training Calendar & Fitness Guide and Nutrition Plan 

For example, a runner could supplement their daily routine with a workout like the Cardio or Circuit Burnout. Someone who might be more into strength training could also supplement a heavy lifting session with one of the four body part routines.

That being said, as a sole exercise routine, the XFIT 90 Day Workout Program could also be very effective. It seems mostly designed for women, but we also found some of the workouts to be challenging enough for men as well.

Overview

The Focus T25 Workout Program yielded a few good workouts for the beginner, but didn’t seem like a sustainable program that could deliver long-term results.

It promises an hour’s worth of results in just 25 minutes, and contains 11 workouts. Our biggest issue with this is the varying fitness levels of the people who will end up using this program and how it may not be suitable for each one.

Image of the FOCUS T25 Shaun T's NEW Workout DVD Program—Get It Done in 25 Minutes 

For someone who has never exercised before, it may not be possible or advisable to reach this level of intensity in such a short amount of time.

The workout does come with a nutrition plan, a workout calendar as well as a pair of resistance bands, which did make getting started a little easier, but still had us wondering about how long one could use this program effectively.

We also felt that it wasn’t the right program for someone with a particular goal in mind, especially someone who might want to add muscle to their frame.

Most of the workouts seemed based on agility rather than strength training, and the workouts that were strength-based didn’t offer enough resistance to build sufficient amounts of muscle.

The Workouts

Focus T-25 breaks up into two phases: the Alpha Phase and the Beta Phase. The Alpha phase consists of workouts like Cardio, Speed as well as Total Body Circuits, and the Beta Cycle appears to be a more advanced version of the Alpha cycle. It contains workouts like Core Cardio, Speed 2.0 and Dynamic Core.

Another big issue with these workouts was that they promised results that didn’t seem to match the parameters of the workouts themselves. For example, the Total Body Circuit promises strength increases through resistance training but doesn’t require the use of any weights.

Image of the FOCUS T25 Shaun T's NEW Workout DVD Program—Get It Done in 25 Minutes 

Studies have shown that in order to build strength over time, one needs to continually expose a muscle to progressive overload. Not using weights may work for a short time, but ultimately trainees will plateau.

The majority of the program seemed to be based on metabolic enhancement or fat-burning, but for the trainee that has never exercised before and doesn’t have a foundation of muscle, this can do more harm than good.

Image of the FOCUS T25 Shaun T's NEW Workout DVD Program—Get It Done in 25 Minutes 

Most people are interested in a lean, muscular look which usually requires some basic hypertrophy training before a leaning down phase. The Focus T-25 program suffers from a similar fallacy as the others on our list; it just promises too many different things in too short of a time.

Why Be Wary Of “Quick Fix” Programs

It’s certainly possible to make changes to your body in just 3 months. However, it’s typically better to tackle fitness goals with more patience. The body tends to be reactive, and by forcing it to change too quickly with exercise that may be too intense, you may trigger it to gain more weight overall.

Everyone’s body is different, and requires different levels of stimuli to facilitate physique changes. A “one size fits all” approach to exercise may work for some, but a more tailored approach to fitness will likely ensure that a trainee sticks with their program.

The reason we chose the RIPT90 Day Program was because it had a specific focus. It appeared designed for those who were looking to build mass and definition in specific muscle groups.

We’d recommend it for men who are beginners in weight training, but would also recommend that, at the conclusion of the program, trainees try a different routine to keep their bodies from adapting.

When it comes to exercise, the human body can get accustomed to a certain routine quickly. While 90 days may be sufficient time to facilitate physique changes, you’ll still want to vary things when your routine ends.

Each of these programs has its advantages, but if long-term health and fitness is your goal, you won’t want to stick to just one.

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