October 11, 2011 posted by

P90X2 Preppin’

Part of my birthday challenge training will be to also prep for a round of P90X2 that I plan to do starting first of the year. I’m easily fit enough to begin it without any special prep but that can lead to some serious breakdown because the fitter you are the more hurt you can put on yourself when you start training in a different realm than you’re used to. This post will have some tips on how to prepare yourself so that X2 doesn’t cripple you out of the gate.

A good example of what I’m talkin’ about can be found on my original P90X blog from 2003 (before we’d filmed anything so I’m training off of notes—re-read it and noted that we’d yet to name the workouts, hence things like “Legs and Pull-ups” and “The Gun Show”). I’d just finished a full bike racing/multisport season, so I was fit. But I’d done almost no upper body training and needed to get ready for a birthday challenge, quickly, and the first few weeks were ugly. I was so broken down that I could barely get my arms overhead to wash my hair. Of course I adapted, eventually, and ended up having one of my more kick-ass birthday challenges that year but phase one was absolutely brutal. That kind of pain is not a prerequisite. With a little forethought you can avoid having this happen to you.

First I should discuss how variable the P90X2 program is. You don’t necessarily need to be prepped if you’re the type of person who’s able to use restraint. Every move in the program offers not only an easier modification but also a band only version that can be done in just about any hotel room. So we’ve set it up so that you can ease into it. However, if you’re the type who’s going to try and keep up with Tony, keep reading.

Secondly there’s a huge group of you who’ve done 90X over and over and are now doing Asylum hybrids. The only possible better way to prep is to have done the P90X One on One MC2 series cause, ya know, those were pretty much the test workouts for X2. If you’ve done P90X or more you are ready, fitness wise, though you will benefit if you add some of these workouts to your program. I also recommend taking a good two to three week long recovery cycle before you begin.

This prep phase will be done in three blocks and is designed for fit people who’ve been away from weight training for a while. This group includes athletes coming off of a season, cardio junkies who’ve been doing Insanity or Turbo Fire or something similar, or those who’ve been training with a general gym program or one of our intro programs, like Power 90 or Slim in 6 and want to start building some specificity for the types of things you’re going to see in X2.

If you’re still struggling in an intro program you’ll want to keep doing it. Harder is only better when your body is ready. Remember that our “easier” programs get the same results as our hard programs because they target a less fit demographic. If you’re un-fit, be realistic and milk the easier programs for all the results you can get. When you start to plateau—usually you’ll notice the program no longer feels as challenging—is when you’ll want to switch. Not before.

non-specific training has many benefits beyond happy dogs and great scenery

My schedule is going to have a ton of non-specific training: climbing, biking, rehab/prehab workouts. I’m only adding a couple of X2-style workouts per week for specificity in block one. For your own training you can keep doing what you’re doing and simply add a couple of workouts from the below list. The main goal of block one is resistance work on an unstable platform of some kind so get yourself a balance ball (45, 55, or 65cm) and some med balls or similar (basketball, football, or anything you can prop yourself on–chair, couch, bed–will work). Prior to the filming of X2 Tony had been working on unstable platforms for more than four years, which you know if you’re a One on One prescriber. It takes a while to get this stuff down. The earlier you get a jump on it the better the program will work for you.

Block I

X2 doesn’t launch til X-Mas, so there’s no rush. For the first couple of weeks swap out two workouts per week with something from the following list. I will put these in order of specific effectiveness in case you want to buy from the list. The goal is to get used to instability and increase your unilateral balance. Also, once a week do this workout and some yoga (any yoga).

P90X One on One: Core/Syn MC2, Total Body X, 4 Legs, Upper Body Balance, Base & Back

P90X: Core Synergistics, Legs & Back

P90X+: Total Body Plus, Upper Body Plus


  • Adding some of the more informative comments from elsewhere:Ortega I have October to finish my 9th round of P90X and first round of Insanity doubles which gives me most of November and December so I was going to do One on One Vol3 MC2 and Asylum. I think I'll only be taking a week off though once Christmas hits, then start P90X219 hours ago · Like.Alisa Rosseter Ed's going to love this!19 hours ago · Like.Steve Edwards No, Ed is ready. It's more for folks like us, who are fit by doing other things and need to prep so we don't get super sore during the first phase.18 hours ago · Like.Christopher Ortega Steve, do you think the approach I'm doing fits what you were saying?18 hours ago · Steve Edwards Yes, for sure. You're plenty fit. All you need is some specific balance work and you'll be ready to keep up with the kids from day one.17 hours ago · Like · 2 people.David Justus I was ready 6-months ago; let's get it on! ;0) MC:2 is too easy now. Had to add 10-minute trainer and Half-Iron Man Splits to it.13 hours ago · Like.Ed Collins Im doing asylum/p90x+ hybrid to prepare…so throw in the exercise you showed, a couple days a week? Getting some medicine balls to X it up a bit too and get used to the balance…should work or?2 hours ago · Like.

  • Exactly. And some of the stuff you showed me from the Czech girl as well. MC2 has a lot of the movements. The difference is the pacing, where we start speeding up the balance movements, given them all two elements; the functional balance/core connection and then the explosion of the exercise. When you're fit enough to master both you'll make tremendous gains.

  • Steve, I've been doing several rounds of p90x and Insanity. Just ordered a few of the One-on-One workouts. Any guidance as to the size of staibility ball I should be looking to get? Im about 5'10" and ~160 right now. I know very little about the stability balls and the proper sizings. Thanks

  • Get a 55cm. You would probably like a 65 for some things (the big gray one Tony uses in OnO) and the smaller the ball the harder most movements, so maybe a 45 too at some point, but 55 is the best one-size-fits-all to get.

  • Hey Steve,When you say about taking 2-3 weeks recovery, do you mean before you start P90X2? Is that just to make sure your body is rested for X2?Also, would you recommend a lot of core and yoga workouts for those recovery weeks (Core Synergistics, CS:MC2, Back to Core, etc)?

  • Hey Steve, Any new articles on TBB you wrote on creatine? Should you cycle it, since the muscle cells are saturated after a week of use, lower use like 3-5 grams shouldn't be harmful in any way? Thanks,Hassan

  • When I'm done with this round of Insanity, I'm thinking P90x then Asylum.. or should I just skip P90x and go with P90x2?

  • I don't know if I'd recommend skipping 90x but you could. Without doing a weight training program prior to X2 you'll be at a disadvantage of sorts, but this is also true of 90x. You will struggle with both for a while. Also, X2 is Tony's evolution and his ability to do the X2 movements would not have been the same if he hadn't done the 90x movements long enough to get good at them. That said, there are alternate movement options for X2 so that you can work straight into it. Also, you could go backwards and do X2 first. Almost certainly you'd be doing it with a lot of modifications during your first round. A post X2 round of X would work very well and prep you further for doing X2 in better style. Asylum, too, is good prep for X2. It lacks a bit in the weight training but many of the movements are funcitonal and will help you get ready for X2 and, in fact, some of it is actually harder. Anyway, there is no right answer. All this stuff works in whatever order you want to do it in.

  • Can't wait for Mc2!!Will be preparing for Boston Marathon 2012 – am thinking of doing MC2 as part of training. My question is this – it seems the "program" is foundation, strength then exposive. Yet in many running programs for marathon (more recent than historic) do speed development then add the endurance (or strength) to it. I would think that speed equates a bit more with explosive – so should I do a more modified version and reverse some of the program if I start around Xmas (start with explosive??) when I will be more "sprint" speed focused as opposed to more lactate threshold or Marathon pace later in segment? (sorry for such long post)

  • When is Boston? I think you've got time. You don't want to do Phase III of the program first because for PAP to be effective you need to have good base conditioning. In fact, so far as speed to a marathoner is concerned the entire program is about speed. But I would schedule X2 to end quite a ways before your event (at least a month), so abridging might make sense.

  • On reflection a month plus taper, so a bit longer. You want a month of hard workouts in order to integrate the strength gains into your running.

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