My Experience with P90X Lean

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I passed the fit test and chose to begin the P90X Lean routine. In the introductory “How to Bring it” video, Tony suggests trying the lean, classic then doubles routine for extreme results. If I was able to lose 40 lbs by myself with no professional instruction, this shouldn’t be hard. Wrong again. Just because it’s called the lean routine doesn’t mean you should take it lightly. It seems to focus more on cardiovascular workouts than upper body resistance exercises.

P90X Workout: Core Synergistics

This a core workout that is mostly cardiovascular but does involve some resistance exercises. This works out muscles that I did not even consider to be core. After doing this workout for the first time, I felt muscle soreness in my pecks, triceps, abs, upper and lower back, quads, gluts and hamstrings.

The great thing I like about this workout is that it allows you to work many of your core muscles at the same time. After the 90 days, I did feel my posture and overall core strength improve rather dramatically. Things like getting out of bed, lifting something above my head or picking something up on the ground felt easier. I know that sounds silly but I really felt these subtle differences become not so subtle.

P90X Workout: Cardio X

This is a cardiovascular workout that incorporates movements from Yoga X, Kenpo X, Plyometrics, and Core Synergistics. For me, this definitely beats running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. It is not as long as the other workouts but if done intensely, you can definitely work up a sweat and burn calories. The full Plyometrics workout is not incorporated into the P90X Lean Routine.

P90X Workout: Shoulders and Arms

Having not so broad shoulders, I feel I benefited greatly from this workout. This effectively works out your shoulders, biceps, triceps and core when stabilizing weights above your head. Using they P90X worksheets helped me track my results and see my improvement over time.

P90X Workout: Ab Ripper X

I still can’t get through this without taking breaks. This routine is done immediately after completing Shoulders & Arms, Legs and Back, Chest Shoulders and Triceps and Chest and Back. It’s 12 moves but man does it work your upper, middle, lower and oblique abdominal muscles.

P90X Workout: Yoga X

Buckle up! If you have never done much Yoga before, you are about to get your butt kicked. In a good way I’ve seen Yoga before on TV and in the Movies and really didn’t think much of it. It may have been the guys wearing spandex that turned me off. During the first 10 minutes of this P90X workout, I sensed that this is something unlike I have ever done before. The movements were slow and I held postures that I thought humans should never be allowed to do. In hindsight, it was just different. Different in a very good way.

Yoga X seemed to work in between muscles that are typically not used during traditional workout routines. I found this to be beneficial to every day movements like sitting down, standing up and walking that I usually took for granted. Again, the movements were slow but I worked up a sweat like no other. In the beginning, I couldn’t get through the routine without taking frequent breaks.

After around day 60, I was able to complete the routine without taking breaks. This was a huge win for me personally considering where I had started from. Nothing to me is more motivating than seeing results in my physical performance. In my opinion, once you are able to complete this routine without taking breaks, you truly have reached another level of fitness. This in a way is my favorite P90X workout because it seems to require the body, mind and dare I say spirit into its completion.

P90X Workout: Legs and Back

I have never been much of a pull up guy. If you aren’t either, then you’re about to get out of your comfort zone too. This routine educated me on the different kinds of pull-ups someone can do to strengthen back bicep muscles. The workout goes back and forth between legs and back, resting one set of muscles then blasting the other. In the Lean Routine, this workout is discontinued in phase 3. I did have empty fields on the corresponding P90X worksheet. I look forward to doing this workout again in the Classic and Doubles routine.

P90X Workout: Kenpo X

This takes some getting used to because there is quite a bit of coordination involved in throwing punch and kick combinations. For me, it was easy to slack off during this workout by not using my entire body for each kick or punch. Tony emphasizes the importance of using your hips when throwing jabs, cross, hooks and uppercuts. This feels awkward at first but after doing the routine several times, it starts to feel right. This is a great workout after a stressful day because it makes you feel like you’re kicking someone’s ass.

P90X Workout: Chest Shoulder and Triceps

Before I knew about the P90X Exercise Program, my chest always seemed to be a focal point of my weight training. This may have stemmed from high school locker room talk of who could bench more. What I liked about this routine was the variety of movements involved in working out the chest, shoulder and triceps. To me, this beat doing bench presses and regular old triceps extensions.

P90X Workout: Chest and Back

This P90X workout mainly consists of different variations on pull ups, push ups and dumbbell back exercises. It is a two round routine which the order of the exercises is flipped on the second round. This might sound confusing but it’s not when you do it.

P90X Workout: X-Stretch

Honestly, I did this one like once. I mostly chose the rest option.

My name is Julian Placino and I am a Team Beachbody Coach. I've completed several Beachbody workout programs including P90X, P90X2, P90X3, Insanity and Insanity Asylum. Currently, I'm working through P90X3 Doubles! You can follow me on twitter @p90xsuccess. Click here to learn more about the benefits of becoming a Team Beachbody Member.



    Thanks for the heads up…on my third day now, im sore as hell…but in a good way.

  • Shelcal2002

    Doing what you can is SOMETHING!!! Way to go! Good work!!!

  • Coreycannon83

    how long did it take to lose 40 lbs

  • Klaniece

    Thank you, was looking for A P90X LEAN review. Thanks for posting!

  • Catdero

    just wanted to say great job! I’m not very overweight at all, just out of shape and I have to really push myself to get through the last half hour so don’t get discouraged at all:)

  • Al in SoCal

    Just started – VERY overweight – only got through like 40 minutes of if and I couldn’t do many of the routines where you roll around … Going to continue though – I love the feeling and Tony is very cool about not being able to do stuff ….

  • Guest

    Yes, your review is very helpful…appreciate the details of your experience…going to start with Lean. Thanks!

  • Guest

    Yes, your review is very helpful…appreciate the details of your experience…going to start with Lean. Thanks!

  • Guest

    Yes, your review is very helpful…appreciate the details of your experience…going to start with Lean. Thanks!

  • Julian Placino

    I’m glad to be able to help! Let me know how it goes!

    - Julian

  • Guest

    Thanks! I enjoyed reading about your experiences with the various workouts. This helped me decide between doing Lean or Classic. I’ll be starting with lean!

  • Guest

    Thanks! I enjoyed reading about your experiences with the various workouts. This helped me decide between doing Lean or Classic. I’ll be starting with lean!

  • Julian Placino

    Hi Julie,

    Thanks for your comment. The P90X Lean program is not actually a separate program. Its simply a different arrangement of the same P90X workouts with more emphasis on cardio vs resistance. In P90X Lean, there are only two resistance workouts per week instead of the 3 in P90X Classic. I will e-mail you the workout schedules so you can see the difference.

    Regarding the bands: As long as your bands are challenging you, then you should be fine. Here is Tony’s rule of thumb..
    For size, you should be able to do 8-10 reps
    For lean, you should be able to do 10-15

    See what works for you!

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    - Julian

  • Julie Partyka

    I am trying to understand how to order the P90X Lean program?? Does it exist within the classic program? I even tried speaking to a Customer Service Representative, but I believe I was speaking with someone in India who was not familiar w/ the ins and outs of the program. I am very confused. I have already had to send something back to Beachbody because it didn’t work for me and that cost me way more than I wanted it to.
    I’d also be interested to know if I should order the bands. I own a few of my own, but will the program be easier to follow if I simply have the bands that are sold with the program?

    Can you offer me any guidance?

  • Julian Placino

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for your comment! Since running is a total body cardio workout, perhaps you can try substituting a cardio day in P90X to run. The 3 cardio workouts in P90X Lean are Core Synergistics, Kenpo X and Cardio X. Adding a run into the already extreme system might be a little much. You definitely want to keep that rest day sacred for your body to recover.

    I actually do a hybrid of P90X and Insanity. After doing several cycles of P90X, it mixes things up and varies my cardio workouts. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

    - Julian

  • Anna

    I just started the Lean program and it is amazing. I was working muscles I forgot I had! I’m a mother of 2 and a runner. Since I’m nearing 40, running just isn’t doing it for me anymore so I decided to go intense and a friend suggested this program. I’m excited to see the results! I do have a question, however. I love to race, so how can I incorporate my running in with p90x?

  • hoidgivighido

    I love bodybuilding and developing the muscles. Thank you for the great post !

  • Julian Placino

    Hi Patrick,

    Thanks for your comment! I’m glad to hear that you started up P90X. It’s always inspiring to hear someone take charge of their life and do something to improve their health and fitness!

    I have actually already completed P90X Lean and P90X Classic. Now, I’m doing a hybrid of P90X and Insanity! With the upcoming release of Insanity – Asylum, that’s next up on my fitness “bucket list.”

    However, I’ll be happy to answer any questions or help you anyway I can with P90X!

    Talk with you soon.

    - Julian

  • Julian Placino

    Hi Ally,

    Thanks for your comment. Congrats on starting P90X! It sounds like you already have a good fitness foundation and active lifestyle.
    When it comes down to it, fitness is all about challenging your body by keeping it guessing. Hence the whole muscle confusion concept. P90X is extreme if you have never done anything like this before, there is a good chance it will confuse and challenge your muscles despite the routine you do.

    The main differences between P90X Lean and P90X Classic:
    - P90X Classic has Plyometrics, P90X Lean has Cardio X
    - P90X Classic has 3 resistance days, P90X Lean has 2 resistance days (the resistance day is replaced by Core Synergistics)

    P90X Classic has a heavier emphasis on resistance training and explosive cardio movements (pylometrics). P90X Lean emphasizes cardiovascular and endurance training.

    Which one is best for you? Not everyone will react to diet and exercise the same way. Some people start with P90X Lean, P90X Classic then eventually move their way up to P90X Doubles. This way, you are constantly changing up your training.

    Regarding your diet: Do you have a copy of the P90X nutrition guide? If not, you can get one here

    It’s extremely comprehensive and can set you up with good eating habits for the rest of your life. You can’t really go wrong with…

    - Lean protein: chicken, fish, turkey
    - Leafy Greens: spinach etc..
    - Complex Carbohydrates: brown rice, whole grain bread etc..

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck Ally!

    - Julian

  • Patrick Quarry

    Julian – congrats on starting P90X Lean. I also started the lean version. I started on March 1st so I’m about to start day 2. I noticed a positive change in my ability to be more in form during the Core and Cardio X in week 2. In Week 1 I felt so uncoordinated. Tonight I’ll do shoulders and arms.

    If you move on to Classic after completing the lean program, let me know. We can start together and help keep each other sane (or insane as the case may be).


  • Ally

    Hey Julian,
    I just started p90x a week ago and started the classic but this week
    I switched to lean because a friend told me that would be better for
    Me. I’m 17 I weigh 122 and I’m 5’2 I just want to get a nice beach body
    Before summer and I want to tone up my stomach,obliques, legs and
    Butt. Would classic or lean be better? I’m very athletic and I’m already in a weight
    Training class a school and I’m pretty stong. I’m also having trouble
    On what to eat? I love food and I’m eating pretty healthy with lots of fruits
    And veggies and turkey and chicken! I’m just not sure how many carbs I should
    Consume and what I should drink after I work out.
    I hope you can help me out . Thank you

  • Julian Placino

    Hi Krysten. Congratulations on nearing completion of the first phase of P90X Lean. Those first 4 weeks are typically the hardest for most people. Just developing the habit of regular exercise is a huge mountain to climb.

    Isn’t it exciting experiencing those every day improvements! Little things we take for granted eh?

    As far as “seeing” changes in your body…
    1. Did you take before pictures? sometimes changes can be very subtle in the beginning..
    2. Do you clothes fit differently? even though my results were not that dramatic with P90X lean, my clothes did fit looser..
    3. How are you measuring results? sometimes weight is not the best measure in tracking results…hydration levels can fluctuate quite a bit…try measuring your body fat percentage..
    4. Are you using worksheets? for me, seeing my performance increase over time was very motivating
    5. How is your diet? as you know, diet is a huge part of P90X or any kind of exercise program. As Tony says, “abs are made in the kitchen.” For me, I love to eat. You can fry and bread just about anything and I would eat it. If you don’t stick to the nutrition plan to exactly…stick to lean proteins (fish, turkey, chicken etc..) leafy green veggies and whole grains.

    To sum things up, not everyone will react to diet and exercise the exact same way. One thing for sure is that you are on the right track by following and sticking to a plan. Experiment and see what best works for you. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck!

    - Julian

  • krysten

    Hi! I’m almost done with phase one of the lean program. I am astounded at how much better I feel. Like you said, things like getting up out of bed, lifting things over my head, and walking seem to come with more ease and balance. However, I’m not “seeing” any changes in my body. Like I said, I feel different, but I don’t look different. Did you experience this as well or know if this is just part of the program?

  • Julian Placino

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for your comment! Question for you…what about the Classic routine did you not like? The big difference between Classic and Lean is that P90X Lean has one less resistance day than P90X Classic. Also, Plyometrics is not part of the P90X lean program. P90X Lean is definitely positioned as the “easier” of the three routines.

    I wouldn’t recommend P90X Doubles unless you are already in elite shape! For what you want to do (tone up, lose fat around mid section), you might want to start out with P90X Lean. Make sure to watch your diet! As tony says, “abs are made in the kitchen!” If you find P90X Lean is not challenging enough, you may want to upgrade to Classic. You can always alter your approach based on your own personal fitness needs!

    Let me know if you have any other questions! Good luck!


  • Sandy

    Hey Julian, I just started the p90x yesterday. I had a hard time deciding whether to go with the classic, double, or lean. I did day one of classic but I think I wanna start over onto day one of lean. I do not want to get ripped I just wanna lose some weight, tone my arms and legs, and of course get some abs or at least lose the fat in the mid section. So do you think I should do lean or classic for my problems?

  • Julian Placino

    Sure thing Evan. P90X Lean, P90X Classic and P90X Doubles have different corresponding calendars. Let me know if you need help with any of this! Good luck man.

  • evan

    No, I don’t. I purchased the DVDs off a buddy at work and he didn’t have any of the supporting materials, I guess I should look to download that, huh?

    Again,thanks for writing back, I really appreciate it!


  • Julian Placino

    Hi Evan,

    Thanks for your comment! That certainly is not a silly question. The first week of P90X Lean goes as follows. Monday – Core Synergistics, Tuesday – Cardio X, Wednesday – Shoulders and Arms and Ab Ripper X, Thursday – Yoga X, Friday – Legs and Back and Ab Ripper X, Saturday – Kenpo X, Sunday – Rest or X-Stretch.

    Do you have the actual P90X Lean Calendar?

  • evan

    hi! love your breakdown of the workout CDs am I am about to start but am already stuck -

    I am going to do the lean as well and the first day workout is total body – which CD does this relate to? Sorry if this is a silly question,


  • Julian Placino

    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for your comment! It seems you, like Tony Horton, have dedicated much of your life towards physical fitness! I hope to have the same passion for healthy living into my 50′s as well. Thanks for your tips…I learned the hard way how incorrect form can hurt you. Thanks again for your kind words. Take care!

  • Rob

    Hey Julian,

    Thanks for the info on P90X. I’ve been doing it for many months but I elected to pick and choose the video’s that I believe are best for me.

    I am 51 yrs old and have been working out consistently since I was 13. I consider myself to be in excellent condition and still P90X has workouts that kicked my butt.

    The two that stand out are Core Synergistics and Ab Ripper X. Core Syn is just so different, works many different muscles and works up such a sweat that you can’t help but hate it. :-)

    I will say however, that one needs to be careful with some of the exercises. Particularly, where it stresses the back (chest & back – happy pants) and elbow joint (Arms and Shoulders – twisting during curls and lay down tricep extensions). I found it best to modify those exercises.

    I enjoyed reading your summary of each video. I’m very happy this has worked out for you like it has for some many others.