You may remember that a month ago, I wrote up a review of P90X. Well, I've finished the 90 days, and figured I would give some final thoughts on the program, as well as a few pictures of my results.
Before I get into the review itself, I'd like to make it known that I use the term "finished" in a rather loose sense, since during month 3 of the program (the last month), I played around a bit with the workouts to eliminate the ones from which I felt I was getting little benefit and substituted trainer workouts. Sorry, but Kenpo X does not give me nearly as good of a workout as an equivalent amount of time on the trainer, and is kind of a waste of my time. I also did not follow the diet plan, mainly because I was doing a lot of cardio work on the trainer and P90X was my supplemental workout.
First of all, P90X is not a diet program. It's a fitness program. Many of the people who follow P90X and lose weight do so because they have a fair amount of weight to lose, and would get similar weight loss results off of any type of strenuous physical activity paired with a healthy diet. No need to spend the money on P90X if losing weight is your primary goal. However, if your goal is to build muscle, P90X may be something to consider. I've spent a good bit of time in the weight room and lifting weights in the past, but P90X gave me better anabolic results than any program I had tried in the past. Here are the pictures:
Please ignore the dirty mirror and the weird faces. The mirror is streaky because mirrors are impossible to clean, and my face is messed up because I was trying to look in the viewfinder while keeping the camera at an angle to take the shot. In the 90 days since starting P90X, I put on 5 pounds, the majority of which I'm hoping was muscle (it's nearly impossible to put on 5 pounds of pure muscle, and it's almost certain it was a mixture of fat and muscle). I was my heaviest at day 60, at 8 pounds higher than when I began the program, but lost 3 of those pounds in the past month. Now, I do want you to understand that there are some other variables to consider. Due my current injury, I haven't been logging my usual 85-100 miles per week of running, so the muscle catabolism factor from running huge miles was removed and replaced with cycling (and although the volume of aerobic exercise remained similar, an hour of cycling equates to less than an hour of running). Therefore, it is very possible I would have had similar results from my previous lifting programs. Additionally, someone who follows the low calorie diet recommended by the P90X nutrition guide is unlikely to put on significant muscle mass, since muscle needs calories for growth. Honestly, I'm not sure how anyone can follow the diet guide, since P90X just made me hungry (which makes sense, since muscles that get broken down should demand food to rebuild themselves). Therefore, I believe that anyone who is already fit who completes the P90X program will either maintain or gain weight. I also believe that as long as you fuel yourself properly, P90X will give you significant muscle building results, though it's unclear whether it's actually better than the previous weight lifting programs I have tried.
Another area where I noticed measurable improvement was in my flexibility. This is the first time since elementary school since I was able to touch my toes. However, while runners, like everyone else, need functional flexibility, most recent research states that stretching (particularly static stretching, the type of stretching utilized by P90X) before running does not prevent injury and, if anything, may hinder performance. Even more shockingly, flexibility may not equate to performance, and it has been suggested that runners who are less flexible may have better running economy than their more supple peers.
In Part I of my P90X review, I stated that I do not think P90X is a good program for competitive runners. I stand by this assertion since it's a significant time commitment (a little over an hour per day) as well as energy drain that could be spent doing more running-specific training. Additionally, large amounts of upper body muscle is of little benefit to runners, and may just be extra mass to carry around. Though runners can definitely benefit from strength training, they would be better served doing something more sport specific that isn't so time or energy intensive. Finally, as discussed in the above paragraph, the flexibility that may be gained by P90X will not help runners, and may actually hurt their performance (assuming the runner already has a functional range of motion).