P90X: A Bit Overhyped and Do Runners Actually Do This Thing?

You too may be guilty of letting those annoying, yet oddly entrancing, informercials for the P90X training system run a little longer than you’d like to admit. Though, the same sort of effect does occur when the Shake Weight or Ab Zapper comes on…they pull you in and by the time you realize you’re watching there’s a little bit of drool on the remote.
muscle girl
Back on track here…the P90X training thing looked to me like just another twist on in-home fitness. A trainer looking to be the new Jane Fonda so to speak…only meatier, musclier, and with a bit of the army-esque ‘gggrrr’ appeal. They have the clips of sweat drenched men in cut-off’s busting out burpees and ladies with abs that could grate cheese.

They have to, it is after all aimed to get you to buy into the program. It looked like a combination of weights, plyometrics and core work which isn’t bad…but then again nothing incredibly revolutionary or late-breaking. Just my opinion…really, when it comes to the general public, getting them to do anything on a consistent basis is better than nothing. It also looked like there was an accompanying diet program which would also help explain the stark contrast of before and after pictures.

For the general public, what a lot of their workouts are lacking are:

*Consistency and personal accountability
*Intensity (a leisurely stroll around the block does not a true workout make…you want to get your heart rate up there and keep it there)
*Cardio and strength (many go the either or route, you need both…and it’s possible to combine the two in one workout)

P90X seems to supply that but so does a lot of other training techniques. My thing with it is that it tastes like a gimmick because it’s telling you it’s such a revolutionarily, different training product. That there is nothing else like it or will give you results…that’s not the case.

But how effective would any of this be for distance runners, or serious runners for that matter
? Obviously I’d never pick this over actually doing the miles or intervals, but maybe in accompaniment. (A side note, I’m sure P90X isn’t exactly trying to appeal to competitive distance running market, more the masses, but this is a running blog and so I’m at liberty to roll with this one.)

I’d say if you picked and pulled apart different aspects of the P90X and pared it down to what distance runners tend to lack, then it could work. I would just see this as being a bit of a supplement to the training rather than a switch (obviously). I haven’t dissected P90X enough to know exactly which parts may or may not be included in the list below…my point more-so is that finding these elements and including them in any way will help runners if done correctly. And that you don’t need to buy into P90X to be able get these things.

*Plyometrics: These are explosive movements, things you see the sprinters doing a lot; think leaps, bounds, box jumps, high skips…I wrote a bit more on them HERE. The thing with plyometrics is they will build muscle strength which translates to power and speed. You can do this to a degree with really short intervals (like 200’s) but as distance runners we don’t tend to recruit those fast twitch muscle fibers too much…so plyo’s are a nice way to do so.

*Core work and flexibility: Putting in lots of miles tightens up runners and many of us (myself included!) are too lazy to stretch. But it’s hampering us in a few ways; not only setting us up for injuries but also, being tight limits our range of motion. If you can’t get full extension because you’re too tight, that’s not a good thing. With core work, your torso is your powerhouse and there are tons of little, intrinsic muscles that typically get overlooked in strength routines.
girls flexing
*Strength: Runners do tend to not exactly love the strenght work, but having stronger arms will help your running…your legs can only turn over as fast as your arms can pump. Also, building strength helps keep you running with proper form as you tire in addition to the obvious power you pick up from stronger muscles.

*Functional muscle: I don’t tend to think going into the weight room and pounding the dumbbells is the most effective route to go…why build bulk for the sake of bulk? Rather, I think that functional training, where the moves are more dynamic and sports specific is going to do you more favors. So resistance training doesn’t have to be confined to the gym; things like resistance bands could work, medicine balls, kettlebells, even holding weights and mimicking the arm swing motions you do with running. Build muscle that will DO what you want it to when you run; this is different from just getting toned to look good which you can easily do in the weight room.

*Mentality: While I sort of laugh at the army-fied nature, it does come down to pushing yourself HARD enough to get the benefits. If you need a guy yelling at you to pump you up, by all means. Running hard hurts, you have to run hard to run fast…do the math and you get running hurts. Mental training is not to be overlooked and it’s good to continually callous your mind just as you do your body.

Nothing against Tony Horton, I think he’s a smart marketer and that’s what it does take to be successful today. I give him props for helping a lot of people take control and improve their lives…something we do need. (HERE is an article from Competitor that tackles this same kind of question.) I just don’t like the message that it’s completely revolutionary and the ONLY thing that works…like the magic bullet.
tired runner
There is no magic pill to make you better…it takes consistent, hard work and lots of motivation. That can come in a variety of forms, no person is alike and their training programs will reflect that…it needs to contain some basic elements, but in the end there is no cookie-cutter mold that works for everyone.

1) What do you think about the P90X training system? Do you use it or have you tried it?

2) What are your thoughts on strength, core, and dynamic training for runners? Do you do plyo’s or other methods, and how have they impacted your running?
I think plyo’s really help with building power and speed…but you have to be smart when you do them and at what point you are in the season. Also, core and strength work I know has vast improved many a runner!

3) What’s the ‘best’ or funniest informercial you’ve seen?
Shake weight is looking like the front runner at the moment. 😉

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25 thoughts on “P90X: A Bit Overhyped and Do Runners Actually Do This Thing?

  1. I can see how people find an appeal to P90X but personally I don’t care for it. I think that functional strength always trumps aesthetic strength, but most of the population has a difficult time coming to this logic on their own. Strength training has always been a major part of my training. Runners have so many imbalances that training the core, glutes, and hammies can help build a well rounded body. As always you are spot on girlie!

  2. I have always wondered how much it would have helped my running to do more things like plyometrics, but I never did get into them. I think for most of America, they just need to get out and move however they like to do that.

  3. yeaaa P90X is totally overhyped. I think the one thing it does have going for it is that for the general population, it makes working out easy – you just pop in a dvd. If people aren’t motivated to do cardio, strength, and plyos on their own, I guess having it in all in one dvd complete with a coach and in your living room works? For those of us who train for a sport rather than for a body though….P90x is totally irrelevant hah. and hey, training for a sport is a pretty good route to a great body too! 😛

  4. I for one loved P90x. Ive actually gone through the program about 3 times now. It dosnt get much better then this IMO. But i may be a little biased since my sister-in-law was one of the trainers on the dvds.

    If anyone is interested I wrote a personal review with my results video here:

    I would have to say YES! most definitively. I’m on my second time through it and still going. It can be very very tough at first. I threw up my first couple of times. Take it slow and don’t over work and you will see the results very quickly.

    I wrote a personal review with my results video if anyone is interested 🙂

    good luck to you all.


    • thanks for stopping by and adding your insight! it’s always nice to hear from the opposite point of view, and i’m glad it worked for u…once u were able to keep ur lunch down. 😉 jk. hey, at least u kno u were working hard!

  5. I did P90X for a year straight with great results. I was already fit – a dancer and aerialist and I already was doing strength training. But I got sweet 6pack abs, the ability to do 15 pull ups without stopping and good all over tone. I didn’t do the diet I did my own. However I burnt out and have been able to just incorporate parts of the program to fit my current needs. I’m not a distance runner though (yet!) and I did find that I got bulkier then I wanted which seemed to slow me down a little. and I did the Lean program.

    • thanks for stopping by and adding your experience with it! and my gosh, can u please give me a little bit of ur flexibility, beauty and grace…i always wished i could be a dancer!! 🙂

  6. I agree with you that it’s nothing revolutionary – 90 minutes of intense workout and dieting to lose weight is not a new concept! But I did do the plyometrics disk once a week for a few months, and that was the strongest my legs have been. That being said, I could just do the work on my own…but I rarely do!

  7. I have never done P90X but I’ve been doing Insanity which is also by Beach Body for about 6months and I love it. I don’t think it’s just as simple as picking apart the basics (plyo, core, etc). I think that what makes it work is the combination and the sort of choreography of the moves (doing a specific exercise after another). I’m a highly motivated runner and I am a runner who actually goes to the gym to strength train and to do cross-training, and after incorporating Insanity into my training schedule I have never been in better shape, never had such great abs and arms, and never run as fast. I only had about 5wks to train for a 10k recently, running 3x a week and doing Insanity 3x as well, and I PR’d from high 49 to a low 47. I know that’s not superstar fast but I’ve been running a long time and never had that quick results. I credit the Insanity a lot with giving me more core strength to run faster. I never was able to get as strong a core with what I was going in the gym, and I think the stuff I did on my own in the gym was smart and well thought out. I guess my point is don’t knock something until you try it. I don’t need to be motivated but I find the instructor in Insanity really motivating- it sounds silly and I can see why you’d think that but if you try it you might change your mind. I’m glad I spent money on Insanity- okay so I can’t speak for P90X but with the same type of marketing I think it did what it said it would- in addition to making me a faster runner!

    • interesting about the Insanity one, i haven’t heard/seen that one…glad that u were able to rock it and get the results you wanted! and psshhh, any PR is worth bragging on…don’t be downplaying that! 😉

  8. I’ve never used the P90x deal, but I do have the Insanity workout set. And while I agree it wouldn’t help distance runneres on it’s own, being a runner myself, but I do think it really helps in making sure you’re well balanced. I do it in addition to a running workout. And it really helped me to improve my core, and upper body strength, something that I hate doing in a gym. It’s also kinda fun as weird as that sounds, but the instructor is really motivating and seeing the other people on the video actually sweat with you is a really good motivator.

    • thanks for the comment and we have another fan of Insanity! thanks for the runner/user perspective on it and i certainly agree that a stronger core and added upperbody strength will improve ur times. hey, and i guess with the other virtual sweaty peeps as company it helps make u wanna push it too! *cue C+C Music Factory here* 😉

  9. I have to say, I’ve never been tempted to try P90X because I didn’t want to buy the junk that came with it. I DID however, try Insanity & I LOVED IT. It was exactly like the conditioning I’d done for other sports. Obviously, once I stopped training at that level my fitness declined, but it was a great way for me to get some good training for other sports. Running….eh. I noticed I was faster & my resting heartrate was a lot lower, but that’s about it

  10. I agree with you on the hype… I borrowed my moms CD’s to try it out and I did no find a revolutionary product. What I do like about it is it forces me to do the stretching (yoga) and strengthening of muscles to help with my running. If it were not for the CD’s.. I get bored, cut the workout short, and go run instead.

    • forced stretching…that is something i DO need…i’d never slack on the running/strength, but i need someone to tie me down and force me to stretch! 😉

  11. Personally, I think P90X is great if you want to add some great muscle tone and drop body fat fast, but it is no conducive to endurance sports, it wipes you out and leaves no energy needed to perform well.

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