P90X3 -which stands for Power 90 Extreme 3- is a home video workout program that promises to get you into the best shape of your life. Provided you follow it correctly of course. As the 3 in the name suggests, it is the 3rd edition of P90X -The extremely famous workout program- although this really is more of a sequel to P90X than P90X2 which is more focused on sports-specific training. You do 6 workouts a week, with a 7th "recovery" workout as optional. With the help of the awesome Katrina Pilkington, I did a hybrid version where I alternated running days with P90X3 days.
If you've seen the infomercials for this program, you've seen that a main talking point they mention repeatedly is the duration of the workouts. They are all 30 minutes. Everyone can do 30 minutes right? I can vouch for this personally. I tried P90X some years back and didn't stick to it. Mainly because the long workouts took a lot of my time. Also, because my fitness level was so low, the prospect of torturing myself for an hour or more, 6 days a week, killed my motivation. This "condensed" version, even though it's equally challenging, really helps people remain consistent. This has even more value to runners but I'll get to that in a bit.
Who is this program for?
This is the part where you have to take a good look at yourself before taking the decision to try P90X3. This is a challenging program and people with joint or back issues might have trouble here. A lot of the workouts are high impact and involve jumping and balancing. Also, if you are starting out from a totally inactive lifestyle, this program might prove to be too much. Starting out with a program like P90 (notice the lack of X at the end) might be recommended.
Having said that, there is a lot of replay value here for the uninitiated like me. Most moves in the program have a modified version you can do first, then work yourself to the normal version, thus adding said replay value. What I mean is, it's going to take many rounds of this program to master it completely so it will be a long while before you need to move to something else, therefore giving you value for your money.
Ultimately, only you -preferably with the help of a doctor- can asses your fitness level and decide if this program is right for you. If you do try it out, there is a lot here to keep you busy for months and months.
What about runners?
The workouts are varied and challenging but throughout the entire program, Tony Horton focuses on three things: Core strength, balance and flexibility. All important things to runners. For me it was quite the learning experience to do these workouts, then go out and run the next day and feel my still-sore core muscles and how they relate to my running form. My back as well. There are two reasons why I recommend this program to runners: The first is the aforementioned focus on core, balance and flexibility. The second is time. If you are a long distance runner -and by that I mean you run Half Marathons or longer- you are already spending serious time running. Once you pass that 5 mile threshold, the time spent on the road adds up quickly. This makes it hard to find time for other things, including cross-training. At 30 minutes, the P90X3 workouts make it very easy to schedule the required time. The variety will also keep you coming back. The program is divided into three blocks that are a month long. Each month has a different set of workouts so you are doing a lot of different stuff.
It bears repeating: This thing kicked my butt. It was tough. There were times when I yelled at the TV "You want me to do WHAT??!!" (I may have used more colorful language) but I had fun and I'm in much better shape now than three months ago that's for sure.
It helped me discover and work on my two biggest weaknesses: Lack of upper-body and core strength, and serious lack of flexibility. Videos like X3 Yoga, Isometrics and Pilates X twisted me in ways I didn't think possible and I still suck at them but there was noticeable progress for sure. Then there''s the push-ups and pull-ups. Two things I simply could not do. I did them assisted and will probably keep doing them like that for a while but yesterday I actually did some real push-ups so I'm getting stronger. Neither Disney World nor Rome were built in a day.
I will definitely be returning for a second round of P90X3 and probably beyond that. There is plenty here for me to work on. There is also another program called PiYo, which is a combination of Pilates and Yoga that is very low impact that I can combine with P90X3 that will allow me to focus on my core and flexibility even more. I'll keep you guys posted on that front. Meanwhile, if you are runner looking for an effective cross-training program or just someone looking to get in better shape, I recommend P90X3 wholeheartedly. It's awesome, it's challenging and I love to hate X3 Yoga. Bring it!