P90X & Youth Athletic Development

One of the latest crazes in the fitness world is P90X.  It seems like literally everyone is doing it! Moms, dads, aunts, uncles – GOOD….middle and high school athletes – BAD.  When it comes to program selection, one must question the “WHY” of the program and align that answer to your individual goals. The P90X program has delivered amazing results to thousands of people in the way of weight loss & improved body composition.  The “muscle confusion” principle that Tony Horton espouses is an excellent way to keep individuals psychologically engaged long enough to affect the physical changes they desire! In fact, a large portion of our weight loss & adult fitness programming hinges upon similar principles.

However, just because it’s good for the goose doesn’t always mean it’s good for the gosling (or something like that).  While P90X can strip bodyfat and chisel arms better than any other program on the market, can it make a young athlete faster? Doubt it. More agile? Probably Not. More powerful? Ehhhhhhh…..Don’t think so.

FACT– These are the company’s claims-   “Whether you want to get lean, bulk up, or just plain get ripped, there’s an endless variety of ways to mix and match the routines to keep you motivated the full 90 days and beyond!”

So leaner, ripped, and more muscular????? What about improving speed, power, coordination, technical ability in sport, or just plain athleticism???? Shouldn’t these be our main goals when working with youth athletes? Improving these abilities takes teaching and repetition not confusion. So put down the remote, turn off the videos, and get em running, jumping, cutting, even PLAYING!

REMEMBER – Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s good.


    1. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and most workout styles, if progressed appropriately will have some benefit (including P90X). However, saying that P90X is the “…the best all around training program for sports” is just wrong. And I should have stopped reading this post when the author made the comment, “I am probably the most athletic I have ever been, and I don’t even play a sport anymore.” Really??? How do you know you are the most “Athletic” you have ever been if you don’t play sports anymore. And if this post is supposed to be a testimonial for the benefit of using this program for improved sports performance, but you don’t play sports…why should I even listen to your statements.

      One more thing that is very wrong, is the plyometric statement. Plyometrics (or shock training) is not meant to be performed in a fatigued state, so when the author states, “…Plyos, is about a 50 minute long workout, in which you jump pretty much the entire time,” it goes against most of the major theories of plyometric training. If he called it dynamic leg strength, or jump-based muscular endurance it would be better.

      Bottom line is that the results this guy is seeing are great for him (adult, ex-athlete wanting to lean up). My players would, and have had, noticeable decreases in performance after doing these workouts. They have also had overuse injuries as this program is meant for adults, not kids that are also putting in 5-6 hours a week of practice/games on top of the daily P90X workouts. I think that P90X for adults has some value, but I see very little value in P90X for young developing athletes.

      1. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I’m gonna say…bottom line… probably a good program from me (40 year old active duty military who enjoys triathlon & marathon) …not for a high school athlete in season doing sport specific training. In your opinion would this be a good summer program for a high school athlete (Basketball, football, wrestling) during the off season with no access to a trainer or professional facility?

        I only ask because I have done p90x in the past and I have also had great results. I would encourage you to actually do the program for 90 days before making final judgement. I have no doubt that you could develop a better program with the assets you have at hand, but in your honest opinion, is this a good program for an inner city kid trying to become a better athlete with really no access to any facilities.

        I agree p90x is not a panacea for all fitness and athletic training. I also agree that the plyo routine s more of a Metabolic Conditioning program than a pure power/explosive program. But I do think it was useful in increasing my vertical jump, increasing my overall conditioning, and increasing the overall watts I can push for a given period on a bike.

        Thanks again for your help. If you have any links to wrestling specific conditioning program for high level high school athletes, in and out of season, I would love to see them.

        Take care,

        1. Again, doing something is usually better than doing nothing… And as I stated before, there is usually a lot of good that can be taken from almost any program. I have done a few P90X workouts and I have had many of our athletes do them with their parents. I think you still need some “real” agility and some “real” fitness (running). I also think you need to watch the plyo volume (as I stated before). A young, inner city athlete (as you stated) could benefit tremendously from things like our stair jumping progressions, stair sprints, single leg step ups, lateral stair blasts, hops, leaps, bounds, etc. And all of this can be done in a stairway, with no expense to the athlete.

          I don’t want to get into bashing P90X in this post because I do believe there are some positives that could come out of it. At that same time I don’t want to validate it for young players either.

          Here are some links, not necessarily wrestling specific:

          Or, click here to view by category…

          1. Thanks again for the information, I think it has been very informative for me. It’s obvious that you are very well informed on the subject and I appreciate the fact that you are willing to take the time to answer questions and provide other more suitable solutions for younger athletes (specifically those with limited resources available). Best of luck in the future.

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