Tony Horton and Beachbody combined forces to make the original P90X in 2002, and it has caught fire since releasing in 2004.

Selling mostly through infomercials to individuals in their homes, the program has become successful enough to spawn P90x+, P90X One-On-One, and P90X2 programs since its origin. The program is a 90-day (the ’90’ in P90X) exercise and diet program that combines forms of yoga, plyometrics, cardio, and simple strength training to deliver fitness results to viewers.

Real Commitment

The program asks for a real commitment from participants. If you do P90X by the book, you are working out 7 days a week, between 45 and 90 minutes a workout. This isn’t ‘8 minute abs’ or a ‘4 Hour Body,’ you really need to earn your results. Exercisers on P90X are making a lifestyle change in a lot of ways, dedicating themselves to hard work in order to make real changes in their bodies and lives. I believe this is an important aspect in the program’s success. You don’t go into P90X expecting it to be easy or finding it to be easy. The workouts are sweaty, gut turning affairs that leave your arms wobbly and your legs weak. They also give you the sense that you did something worthwhile that day.

Besides building different and interesting workouts day-to-day, the main system behind P90X is what Horton calls ‘Muscle Confusion’, changing the training routine every 30 days to deliver new stresses to the body systems – to ‘confuse’ the muscles. While the phrase ‘Muscle Confusion’ belongs to P90X, the idea and practice have been around for a little while. Competitive athletes and weightlifters have used this concept, periodization, for decades to get stronger, faster, and fitter.


Without periodizing a training plan, plateaus in fitness tend to crop up. It is a familiar pattern to many: you start an exercise plan and see big gains right from the top. Even as you increase the number of days you are working out or the duration of exercise, the results you see keep getting less and less. With runners this presents itself as a leveling out of race times and an absence of personal records. With weightlifters it happens when your max lifts won’t budge for anything. The idea behind periodization is to stress another system or train your body differently to avoid plateauing in your training. You maintain the benefits you had from training before, but start training another system and getting the ‘brand new’ effect all over again. This helps keep your body out of training ruts and has a great motivational effect on those going through the program.

Tony Horton

One of the biggest keys to success for P90X has to be Tony Horton. Having him as your guru throughout the 90-day program is like making friends with a funny, motivated statue of Hercules. Horton definitely has the magic physique, like all workout DVD frontmen must, but he’s also got everything else. He has a great way of explaining exercises and making sure that you know it’s okay to do the ‘easy version’ of an exercise if it means you’ll be able to do all the reps with good form. Horton’s also funny, which is surprising for a workout coach. And during the hardest, teeth-grinding portions of the P90X program, you’ll be thankful to have a little relief in the form of a giggle courtesy of Tony. If you are expecting a drill sergeant for your P90X mentor, Horton isn’t it.

The success of P90X seems to be just getting started. More and more people are ordering tapes, and tales of law enforcement officers and pro sports teams using the routines abound, only increasing the hype behind the workouts. The formula behind P90X’s success remains pretty simple, but hard to replicate: Hard workouts that ask you to make a real commitment, A solid periodization plan to keep getting results, and a funny, friendly motivator in Tony Horton.

Some speculate that he is part man, part animal, but the only thing that you need to know is his obsession and dedication to the art of living lean and helping you to achieve your body fat goals.


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