Preparing for P90X

I’ve been doing the P90X Extreme Home Fitness routine now for a month and my biggest regret is starting it without being prepared. Being prepared for this program is extremely important and you’ll realize this all too late if you just jump right in, which is what I did since I was so excited to get started.

First off, I didn’t have the appropriate dumbbells or resistance bands during my first week, but I did have some adjustable dumbbells, so it wasn’t too bad. It was frustrating changing the weights on ’em for all the various exercises and it felt like I wasting way too much time doing that, when I should’ve been working out.

I did buy a full dumbbell set the next week, but they were fairly expensive, so if you don’t have the cash, I’d definitely recommend the resistance bands. I paid about $250 for a used dumbbell set from Craigslist and then bought a few more dumbbells to complete the set from Play It Again Sports, which sells them for about .50 per pound.

I also had to build my own pull up bars in the basement, since the basement is unfinished and doesn’t have any doorways to install a regular pull-up bar. They came out good, but I barely got them done the night before starting the program. By the way, if you want to build your own, I got the idea from The Fitness Journey of FitGirl-ATX.

You also need a fairly good amount of room to workout in. I had to take my table out of the room in order to workout in the same room as my projector, because I like to have it on the big screen, and it’s still kinda hard. I work out with my girlfriend though, so if it were just me it would be more than enough space. I also put some gym flooring down, which I picked up at Dicks Sporting Goods. It’s a huge improvement from the rugs I had previously.

So those few things were a slight bother, but the biggest issue I had in terms of being unprepared was for the nutrition plan. Everywhere I read a P90x review or really just anything about P90X, people talk about how important the nutrition plan for the program is. I didn’t set aside the time to put it together for myself though and now I’m a month behind. I don’t eat unhealthy anyway, but I realize now that I’ve definitely been overeating and not eating proportionately. This really is a huge part of toning the body in this program too. See my poorly stocked fridge below?

So this weekend I finally decided to go through the P90X nutrition guide and now I’m realizing that I might not be able to afford everything on the list. I just went shopping last week and I didn’t buy anything on the P90X Market List so there’s a ton of stuff I need and I’m not sure if my budget can take the hit. I’m gonna go to the store tomorrow though, and try to pick up everything I can possibly afford. The way I see it is, that it’s better than nothing.

So if you are considering starting the P90X program make sure you have a few things in order. Here’s the quick list;

  1. An Budget Set Aside Specifically for P90X
  2. A Pull-Up Bar Installed
  3. Appropriate Sized Resistance Bands or Dumbbells
  4. Push-Up Grips
  5. A Sizeable Area to Work Out In
  6. The Food Required for the Nutrition Plan

So I hope that this article helps you prepare to tackle the P90X program yourself. It’s a hard-as-hell program that really kicks your ass, and the least you can do for yourself is to be ready for it.

Update: I’ve found that the portion plan is much easier for me to manage my diet instead of using the meal plan. If you don’t have time to cook, check out my post about the P90X portion plan and download the printable document.

37 Replies to “Preparing for P90X”

  1. Nice post.

    I totally agree with the food bits. It is a shame one can eat like crap for pennies on the dollar, but try to eat healthy… and it costs a bloody fortune.

  2. That pull-up bar is tight like a tiger!

    As a “graduate” from the original program who is now doing the lean version I can attest as to how important it is to eat right. Gotta cut back on the beers too! 😉

  3. The pull-up bar seems to fit ok in the basement, but I’m not sure how it would look in a living room. Maybe if everything were painted.

    I just bought everything on the market list yesterday too, so now I have to stick with the plan. I’m getting my money’s worth out of this, I’ll make sure of that.

  4. It cost me quite a bit actually. I think I spent somewhere around $350. Waaaay too much. The food lasted me for quite a while though; about 3 1/2 weeks, except for any veggies that couldn’t last.

    I’d recommend that you look over the recipes first too, because it’ll give you better idea of how much to buy. I had much more vegetables than was necessary and nowhere near enough chicken broth.

    To be honest, I can’t afford it and I have to go back to my old eating plan. I eat healthy anyway, so I should be ok. There’s some good recipes in the P90X plan though. 🙂

  5. @Lenora… yes Tony has a program called “Tony and the Folks” as well as a program for kids called “Tony and The Kids”… go to to look it up (i’m not affiliated with, not even a ‘coach’ so no gain for me pointing you to them 🙂 )

    My problem is not as much the budget as trying to fit all those meals into my schedule! I’m starting out pretty heavy, so for me it’s a *lot* of food, like 9 servings of protein a day to start out with (drops down in phases II and III ).

  6. @Marion, thanks so much for the comment. I didn’t know Tony had those programs, but it’s great to hear.

    I didn’t have any problems eating that much food, but finding the time to prepare it was a huge problem. I felt like I had to quit my job just so I could eat according the program.

    I also didn’t care much for a few of the recipes (ahem, Squash Soup, or whatever it’s called) so that also made it hard for me to stick to. As mentioned previously though, there are some good ones in there.

    I completed the program once and I go back to the workouts regularly now. The workouts are great.

  7. great post..
    I’m just about ready to start MY P90X fitness plan. I have purchased a set of Power Block Dumbbells that range from 5 to 50 Lbs and an debating what to do for a pull up bar. Do you recommend the design you used over the ever so popular door frame design, and what tips would you give a beginner in working out to get successful results from the program?

  8. I bought a power tower from craigslist for about $20 after visiting a website of an incredible individual with a website displaying how he trains to do one armed pullups, handstand pushups, etc. The Power tower lets you do pullups, dips, and mine has pushup bars high enough off the ground that I can descend my chest past my hands. One minor complaint is that the pull up bar is only about 6 inches away from the ceiling, so I try not to explode up too fast, or I might hit my head on the ceiling.

  9. Hi Briley and Glenn,

    Thanks for the comments. I’ve have one of those door frame pull up bars now and I don’t really like it that much because I find it too easy to cheat (touching the floor or jumping) but I’m using it in a shorter doorway in the basement. I’d really like to get my old makeshift pull-up bar back on the ceiling since it’s much higher up from the ground. It’s ugly, but very effective.

    The Power Tower that Glenn mentioned sounds like a neat idea, especially for that price.

    Some tips I’d recommend would be to pace yourself in the beginning and don’t cheat yourself by doing reps in bad form. I always wanted to lift more weight and I’d catch myself throwing the weight up and twisting my body just to feel like I got that extra rep, but doing that doesn’t help at all.

  10. What a wonderful posting, and you importantly covered some very important details regarding equipment, especially food. Right now I’m looking to see if there is anyone taking the food preparation steps I am/have been. If not, I’m planning on posting the steps I have taken budget-wise to make things happen in the kitchen. I’m about 10 days behind on my blog but a ton will be going up quite soon.

  11. thanks bro for the post, it really helped me out since it was exactly what i was looking for. As you may have guessed I’m starting p90x too and was wondering whether to buy the all in one bow-flex weight set or buy separate, and after reading this ill try buying the separate dumbbells instead. I was wondering which place would be best to buy cheap, Graig’s list?

    1. Hey Alexander,

      I’m glad I could help. Actually the Bowflex All-in-One might not be too bad, since they are quicker to change then the adjustable dumbbells I had, here’s an example of the crappy ones I’ve got; crappy dumbbells. I’ve tried the Bowflex ones out in the store and I like them a lot. The only reason I didn’t buy a set was because I thought they were a little bulky.

      If you go for the seperate dumbells, I would definitely check on first or have a look at some used sporting goods shops near you. I love my dumbbell set. Every once in a while I’ll go pick up more weights from Play It Again Sports as I need them.

  12. You guys have NO idea how much this info helps! I’m expecting my P90X by the end of this week and I’m really bracing myself for all the changes I’m going to have to make. I have LOADS of questions about the nutrition plan, especially since I’m a vegetarian! Are the recipes really time consuming? Kinda hard to do any major cooking with a one year old running around the house. Also, what size resistance bands should I purchase? Do I need to get push up grips? Thanks a lot for the input…

    1. Hi Stokes, glad to help. For me, the meal plan recipes were very time consuming because I had to cook 2-3 times per day which is a little too much for me. For example, you might have to make an omelet for breakfast, vegetable soup for lunch and salmon and wild rice for dinner. Every day doesn’t require cooking, but some days I just didn’t have time to cook at all.

      They include several organic and vegetarian alternatives in the meal plan such as soy burgers, tofu and veggie dogs. You can choose a “Portion Plan” approach and mix and match the foods in the guide to your choice and there are plenty of vegetarian options. If you decide to go the “Meal Plan” approach, there are days where meat is in the plan, but those can easily be swapped out for something like Tofu.

      I purchased a set of three different resistance bands at Sport Authority, but it looks like Amazon has an official set of P90X resistance bands in light, medium and heavy sizes. I payed about $35 for mine and these ones are $10 more.

      Push up bars aren’t a necessity, but I like them a lot. You can go 6 inches lower and it helps with wrist issues if you have any. They definitely make doing pushups harder but you don’t need them, especially in the beginning.

  13. I was wondering for the recipes if you make a full batch of soup for example and can freeze it for the next week? That would be nice.

  14. Hello, I just started P90X and on the first day I went through 2/3rds of the chest and back workout video and since I haven’t worked out since last year. I really felt the heat and couldn’t finish, do you have any tips on getting my body back in shape so I can keep up with tony’s team?? Im also not trying to lose weight but actually trying to gain as much of it as I can, any recommendations I can consume daily on a regular basis that isn’t hard to have at hand would also be a great deal of help, thank you.

  15. Hey Drake,

    I had a hard time when I started P90X too, and had to cut the videos short a few times. Your body will adjust if you stick with it. I think it took about a month before I could really hang with the videos.

    As for gaining weight, I think sticking to the nutrition guide would be your best bet. I would suggest using the “Portion Plan” of the nutrition guide if you don’t have time to cook all of those recipes, which will give you good idea of common foods and the amount of calories each contain so you can build your own meal plan.

    When I gained weight several years ago, I did it the wrong way, which was by eating anything I could get my hands on, no matter how unhealthy it was. I still regret it. If you’re trying to gain weight you just need to eat more calories, but with healthy foods. I would recommend starting with 100-200 extra than you normally eat per day and see how that works. You can also try some weight gainer shakes from somewhere like GNC or Amazon.

    By the way, I just added a post about the food portion plan if you want to download the document.

  16. Sound advice. I did the same thing. I spent most of my extra money during my first 4 weeks buying more dumbells and other gear. I just about have everything I need now. I’ve been buying new dumbells as I “grow” into them. I referenced this posts here.

    Thanks for putting this together.

  17. just ordered p90x and trying to figure out the cheapest way to get everything i need. i seen some weights at walmart for 20 dollars , but you have to adjust them , and seen the gold gyms pull-up bar as well that comes with a strap i guess lift your legs for abs along with the power pushups cups. that was 40 dollars. im going to see if i can buy some weights at craigslist though, so i wont struggle with the program during excercises.

    1. Hi Samuel, thanks for stopping by. I did mention in my post that adjusting the weights on the dumbbells was a bit frustrating for me, but I understand how expensive weights can be so I’d definitely consider it if that’s all you can afford right now. I’ve also found that very heavy resistance bands can get the job done too.

      That Golds Gym bar sounds awesome. I bought a cheapy pull-up bar from Sports Authority that gets the job done, but it doesn’t have a strap. Good luck with the program!

  18. What a great site….thanks for your work on this.

    Don’t know if you or any others on the site have this issue, but I’m an avid cyclist and normally do about 100 miles/wk. I don’t want to lose my cycling fitness, but I doubt I have the time or energy to do both cycling and p90x. Any experience/thoughs on how to balance other fitness activities with the program would be appreciated. Cheers and Happy New Year!

  19. Hi John,

    Thank for visiting 😀

    P90X is designed like most other bodybuilding/fitness routines in which there are 3 main days of the week lifting weights, while the other days are designed for stretching, rest, or cardio. I think any of those days would be fine to replace with other activities occasionally.

    It kinda depends on what you’d like to to get out of the program. For example, the second time I went through p90X I decided to replace the Yoga video with an hour of cardio exercise. Great for my heart and endurance, but that means I missed out on the stretching and body weight workout of the Yoga routine. Or if I felt like doing Yoga that week, I would replace the Plyometrics day with whatever cardio workout I wanted to do.

    I also think that if you plan to include other fitness activities in while you’re doing P90X, it’s very important you watch your diet and make sure you eat enough of the right foods to maintain energy.

  20. Hi,
    I am in the UK and orderd P90X last night. I am expecting it to arrive some time next week.
    I already have an IRON GYM pull-up bar which I hope will do the buisness but don`t have any resistance bands. I do have some dumbells with extra weights which I am hoping will be OK.
    I have been considering this for ages now so I am looking forward to “bringing it”.

  21. How about it you are not strong enought to do pullups and can only do a few pushups? do you recommend to still go ahead and do the best you could while modifying the moves or wait till you are strong enough by working out with machines at the gym?

  22. Hi Ayla, Thanks for stopping by!

    I would definitely recommend still going ahead with the program. If you can’t do pullups, the program teaches you to use resistance bands until you’re strong enough to do pullups. It’s also perfectly fine to do as many pushups as you can and then drop to your knees to get a few more out. They show a variety of ways to do the exercises to fit everyone’s fitness level. No need to get stronger at the gym first. Good luck!

  23. I have just ordered p90x and im away to order the chinup bar and look into a set of dumbbells. where can i find a plan of meals to have each day because i want to make sure im not just following the workout but following the nutrition plan aswell as best i can

    paul from scotland

  24. I can’t find at what level I need to be on your site. You mention to go on your site to the P90X Portion Plan guide, but I can’t see to find the level information. can you guide me?

  25. My p90x has just arrived and im away to buy protein shakes and recovery shakes. I have purchased a chin up bar and dumb bells but in the nutrition programme it shows you what to eat every day but how do you go about it? Is ther certain ways to cook the foods or what? Im jus not too sure.

  26. Hey Paul, thanks for stopping by!

    I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean because it involves so much cooking? I found it overwhelming, so instead I chose one day and made 7 servings of each meal so that I could eat it every day for the whole week. You could always choose 2-3 days if you want more variety.

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