In this P90X vs. Body Beast comparison, I write about how each workout program compares. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Which one is best for you?
P90X is one of the top selling home fitness programs of all time. Even though it has been around for almost ten years, it still leads the charts and generates massive amounts of sales each year for Beachbody and Tony Horton.
It’s popular because it works. Tens of thousands of people around the world, including yours truly, have gotten ripped bodies from doing P90X and are happy to prove it by posting their extreme results on YouTube. P90X is basically a general fitness program that offers total body conditioning without concentrating on any one area. For instance, P90X includes flexibility instruction with its Yoga X and X Stretch routines, strength training workouts which will blast your chest, arms, shoulders, legs, core, and back, and cardio workouts such as Plyometrics, Kempo X, and Cardio X to increase your conditioning and endurance.
When you train in these different facets, you will achieve general physical fitness without any one area that predominates. If I had to describe P90X in one sentence, I would say that it is a program that will help you achieve overall fitness by emphasizing, but not focusing on, resistance training. You will do intense resistance training, but it is not the hardcore kind that a bodybuilder or serious weightlifter would do. Contrary to popular belief, P90X is not a weightlifting program. To learn more about what P90X offers, follow this link.
What is Body Beast? Body Beast is the newest addition to the line of home fitness programs offered by Beachbody (who also produces P90X). Unlike P90X, Body Beast is intended for a specific purpose–to build muscle mass. It is not a general fitness program. While it is possible to get very muscular doing P90X (as many people have demonstrated), that is not what it is designed to do (read this article on gaining mass with P90X). Also, you will get to a point where additional muscle gains are difficult due to the design of the workouts.
Body Beast, on the other hand, is designed to build muscle mass. You can get huge using the program if that’s what you want. It is truly a hardcore bodybuilding program that has little room for anything else. There is no yoga or flexibility training to speak of. In fact, most of the workouts only include about 2-3 minutes of stretching and cool-down. The only cardio conditioning you should expect is what you can get from lifting weights intensely nonstop. While Body Beast does include a cardio workout so to speak, it is a minor part of the program. In short, Body Beast focuses on weight training and not much else. Read more about Body Beast here and here.
Round 1: Required Equipment
To do P90X properly, you will need a pullup bar and a decent set of resistance bands. This may surprise you gym rats, but it is possible to achieve great results with just this small amount equipment. I actually did a whole round of P90X using only resistance bands just to see if my results would be any different than if I used weights. They weren’t. Many of the resistance training exercises such as pushups, pullups, and dips use your body weight. You will need resistance bands to work your arms and shoulders and that’s pretty much it. Of course, weights in the form of dumbbells will probably get you better results in the long run, but they are not absolutely necessary. All of the P90X workouts include at least one fitness demonstrator who is modifying the exercises with resistance bands.
Body Beast is probably the most equipment intensive workout program that Beachbody offers. This was one of the reasons why I was hesitant to do the program because I was trying to avoid having to buy a bunch of equipment. The more gear I own, the more storage space I need.
To get the best results, at a minimum, you should invest in an EZ Curl barbell and a good amount of plates to go with it, a decent set of dumbbells in various sizes or an adjustable set such as the Bowflex SelectTech (heavy dumbbells are a must), a pullup bar, and a bench or stability ball. Forget about using resistance bands to do the Body Beast workouts, except for a few exercises. Also, if you want maximum results (as in the most mass gains), the bench is recommended over the stability ball. The bottom line is that Body Beast requires a lot of gear. To get big, you need to lift heavy. Read my article on equipment for Body Beast.
ROUND 1 WINNER: P90X. The program design of P90X fits my fitness philosophy much better. I like the fact that I can work out anytime, anywhere using just my body weight and a few resistance bands. I have actually gotten great workouts while watching my kids play at the park. That’s cool. With the barbell, weight plates, heavy dumbbells, and workout bench that Body Beast requires, I am restricted as to where I can do the workout. I love my personal freedom, so I really appreciate the flexibility of P90X.
Round 2: Fun Factor
This criterion is actually silly because it’s completely subjective. I only included it so I can talk about how fun both programs are. I did three rounds of P90X because it was fun and I never got very bored. I’m finding the same thing with Body Beast. I like physical challenges. Both programs are challenging so I have a great time while doing them. Is pushing yourself your idea of fun? Maybe not. All I know is that I have been able to work out consistently almost EVERY DAY for over two years now. Most people don’t come close to having this type of record. A lot of it has to do with how fun the programs are. Because the workouts are fun, I manage to stay motivated.
ROUND 2 WINNER: DRAW
Round 3: Intensity of Workouts
This category may also seem subjective, but it’s not. From having done both programs, I can say with certainty that Body Beast is about twice as intense as P90X. A person who is physically fit will find both programs challenging, but Body Beast more so. Body Beast’s pacing is more grueling. Not only are you lifting heavier weights, you’re doing it in less time. You’re doing twice the workout in 2/3 of the time. That makes for an extremely intense workout that will have you breathing hard and sweating feverishly.
The legs and back workouts are scorchers which will melt muscles off your bones. After a full week of Body Beast, I guarantee that you will be sore in different places you didn’t know could be sore. I’m not suggesting that P90X is easy, because it’s not. It will kick your ass for sure. For most people, it is plenty intense enough. You will no doubt struggle through it as well. I’m just saying that P90X will only seem easy compared to Body Beast.
ROUND 3 WINNER: BODY BEAST. I am a huge P90X and Tony Horton fan, but I have to be real and say that Body Beast owns P90X in terms of intensity.
Round 4: Length of Workouts
P90X can feel like an endurance contest sometimes. Almost all the workouts are about one hour each (not including the “optional” but really mandatory Ab Ripper X routine which is fifteen minutes long). The program’s emphasis is on general fitness and endurance. For that reason, the P90X workouts are long. The biggest offender, Yoga X, clocks in at over 90 minutes. When I don’t have enough time, I would shorten the P90X workouts by cutting out some exercises which are redundant or skip past the break periods.
Body Beast on the other hand is refreshingly compact. Most of the workouts run about 43-50 minutes. This is partly due to the fact that there is very little warmup or cool-down. It’s also because the pacing is brutal. Each set is stacked on top of another with very little break in between. You barely have enough time to change your weights before the next exercise begins. Body Beast workouts are shorter, but the tradeoff is they are more brutal in terms of pacing.
ROUND 4 WINNER: BODY BEAST. One of the things I emphasize is this blog is fitness programs for busy hardbodies. I assume that you’re the same as me—someone who is juggling fitness with other important things in life such as a job, family responsibilities, and raising children. Time is a premium to me. That’s why any workout that respects my time, but is also efficient and intense, has my stamp of approval. Body Beast is a clear winner.
Found 5: Length of Program
There are no clear winners because P90X and Body Beast are 90 day programs. Expect to spend a lot of time with both of them in order to get the best results.
ROUND 5 WINNER: DRAW
Round 6: Trainer Style
I know these types of comparisons are totally subjective and almost meaningless. Nonetheless, I’ll take the time to describe Tony Horton’s and Sagi Kalev’s training styles so you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s no secret that Tony is a self-described “fitness clown.” His corny jokes are legendary. Tony’s stated goal is to make working out fun. He’s very good at his job because millions of copies of P90X have been sold around the world. You won’t forget at any time that you’re doing a very tough workout, but having a fun trainer who doesn’t take himself seriously can distract you from your pain and agony. This is a very good thing. As a Team Beachbody coach, I have worked out with him in person and he is exactly the same in real life (maybe even more hardcore because he enjoys pushing people). Through the force of his personality, he has changed the lives of countless people for the better.
Sagi, on the other hand, is more understated. He rarely cracks jokes. He doesn’t take himself seriously, but he takes working out VERY seriously. That means he’s all business. His instructions are precise and clear. Sagi does an excellent job of motivating you to do your best. He expects a 10 from you each and every time. This is why he is the go-to guy to train many professional body builders. He’s so physically impressive that you can’t help but want to do everything he does. I enjoy the serious, hardcore tone of Body Beast workouts because it reminds me of my time in the Marine Corps. Less talk, more action. I don’t think that Sagi is a better trainer than Tony. Their styles are just different. I have nothing but respect for both of them. Something you might want to keep in mind is that Body Beast has an all-male cast. There’s not a single female hardbody in any of the workouts. If you’re put off by a hyper macho vibe, then you will probably not dig Body Beast. P90X, on the other hand, has female eye candy to help make the workouts more interesting.
ROUND 6 WINNER: DRAW
P90X vs. Body Beast: Final Recommendation
What’s my final recommendation? Despite Body Beast racking up more points, my answer is still: “It depends.” My recommendation will be based on your own particular goals. If you want to get big at the expense of everything else, Body Beast is the program for you. However, if you prefer to get fit overall while building a muscular physique, then P90X would be my recommendation.
If you were to really press me, I would recommend P90X over Body Beast as a starting program. Tony Horton’s creation simply offers more fitness facets. My overriding goal is fitness, not bodybuilding. While most men want to look impressive and muscular, it’s not such a great thing if you don’t have the cardio functionality to go with your physique, or you have no flexibility. Flexibility helps to prevent injuries. This is a serious weakness of Body Beast. There’s almost no instruction on how to become limber. Stretching is an afterthought.
Another reason why I would recommend P90X over Body Beast is that Body Beast is an advanced, specialized program. Before you try to do something specific such as building muscle mass, you should at least get in better shape first. If you are doing Body Beast from a high fitness level, you will probably get better results because you won’t be as prone to injury because your body is more acclimated to hardcore training. I would start first with at least one round P90X, then graduate to Body Beast to build muscle mass. The training you get from P90X will provide a solid foundation for your Body Beast workouts. My positive experience with Body Beast so far has a lot to do with my high level of fitness from having completed P90X, P90X2, Insanity, and Les Mills Pump. I would be struggling a lot more had I started my fitness journey with Body Beast.
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