P90X vs. Les Mills PUMP

P90X vs. Les Mills PUMP: Meet the contenders

P90X vs Les Mills PumpIf you have any questions about P90X vs. Les Mills PUMP, contact me at connectwithJade@getresponse.com.

P90X is one of the top selling home fitness programs ever created. It’s been around for almost ten years, yet it still leads the charts in sales. P90X is one of Beachbody’s anchor programs, and Tony Horton is practically the face of the company.

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 weight training, but it is not the type that a bodybuilder or serious weightlifter would do. There are a lot of exercises using just your body weight such as pushups and pullups. In my opinion, P90X is not a true weight training program, but a total body conditioning program. To learn more about what P90X offers, follow this link.

Nothing lasts forever, including P90X’s reign as king of the home workouts. There are new programs being created each year which may topple P90X from its perch. Will Les Mills PUMP be such program?

P90X v. Les Mills PumpWho is the newest challenger, Les Mills PUMP? Les Mills PUMP is the home workout program that is the product of the partnership between Beachbody and Les Mills International, the creator of Les Mills BODYPUMP. Les Mills BODYPUMP is one of the most popular weight training classes which are taught at gyms. Although its popularity is gaining in the United States, it already has an international following dating back over twenty years. Les Mills PUMP is the home version of BODYPUMP.

Similar to P90X, Les Mills PUMP is a general fitness program with an emphasis on weight training. Unlike P90X, whoever, the weight training in Les Mills PUMP is focused on one piece of fitness equipment–the barbell. Almost all the exercises in Les Mills PUMP is based on classic weightlifting moves involving the barbell such as the upright row, clean and press, squat, bicep curls, and lunges. No other equipment is used, not even dumbbells.

While it is possible to get very muscular doing Les Mills PUMP, that is not what it is designed to do. You will get to a point where  muscle gains are difficult due to the design of the workouts, which involve lighter weights but a greater number of reps.

Although flexibility training is not its strong suit, there is a short yoga workout included in Les Mills PUMP. There are separate cardio workouts, but the the majority of the cardio conditioning from the program is derived from lifting weights intensely for an extended period.  Read more about  Les Mills PUMP here, here and here.

Round 1: Required Equipment

P90X Pullup BarTo 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 much 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.

Les Mills PUMP doesn’t require a lot of equipment, either. All you need is a barbell and a set of weight plates, which are both included with the program. You will probably need to invest in additional plates because what comes with the kit will not be enough to take you to the end of the program, unless you don’t plan to get stronger. I had additional 10 pound and 5 pound plates that fit the barbell fine. Unless you’re ridiculously strong, about 100 pounds of weight plates is plenty for Les Mills PUMP.

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 and doing pullups on the monkey bars. That’s cool. With the barbell and weight plates that Les Mills PUMP 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 felt the same way doing Les Mills PUMP. It is high energy, high volume, and high intensity. The one thing that always struck me about each Les Mills PUMP workout was how fun they were. Sure they’re a bit choreographed, but the personalities of the trainers really make the program shine.

I enjoy 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 almost EVERY DAY for over two years now. Most people don’t come close to having this level of consistency. A lot of it has to do with how fun the programs are. Because the workouts are fun, I manage to stay motivated.

I have to give this round to Les Mills PUMP. The high energy of the trainers make you feel as if you’re in a class with them. The music helps you keep in tempo with the workout.


Round 3: Intensity of Workouts

Tony Horton in P90X vs. Less Mills PumpThis category may also seem subjective, but it’s not. A person who is physically fit will find both P90X and Les Mills PUMP to be challenging.

Les Mills PUMP has a ramp up phase in the beginning that will help you get familiar with the program and the weight lifting moves. The workouts in Phase I are short and not challenging. However, the last month of Les Mills PUMP is a real ass kicker. With the right amount of weights, the workouts can be brutal, more brutal than any P90X workout. The pace is grueling and nonstop. Each workout has barely any breaks. Every single minute is full of workout and no fluff time.

Plus, with Les Mills PUMP you are taxing multiple major muscle groups at the same time. For instance, you’re working your legs, back, shoulders, and arms in one exercise–the clean and press. The more muscles you recruit in each exercise, the more intense it will be. Les Mills PUMP has more exercises which recruit more muscles, making it a more intense workout overall.

P90X, on the other hand, doesn’t offer much of a ramp up phase. It starts off intense and stays that way without much letup. It can be intimidating that way to newbies. However, my opinion is that the hardest Les Mills PUMP workout, specifically Pump Revolution, is more intense than the hardest P90X workout. This is due to its relentless pace.

ROUND 3 WINNER: DRAW. I call the round a draw because while Les Mills PUMP starts off slow, the last phase more than makes up for it. When you take the average of both programs, they’re equally intense.

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.

Les Mills PUMP is refreshingly compact. Most of the workouts run about 30-55 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 track is stacked on top of another with short breaks in between. You barely have enough time to change your weights before the next exercise track begins. Les Mills PUMP workouts are shorter, but the tradeoff is they are more unforgiving in terms of pacing.

ROUND 4 WINNER: LES MILLS PUMP. 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. Les Mills PUMP is the clear winner.

Found 5: Length of Program

There are no clear winners because P90X and Les Mills PUMP are 90 day programs. Expect to spend a lot of time with both of them in order to get the best results.


Round 6: Trainer Style

Khoa & Tony HortonI know these types of comparisons are totally subjective and almost meaningless. Nonetheless, I’ll take the time to describe the training styles of P90X and Les Mills PUMP 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.

Les Mills PUMP is a unique workout program in the Beachbody catalog because it is not based on any one personality, but a workout system. There are thousands of Les Mills BODYPUMP trainers working around the world. They all follow the general Les Mills BODYPUMP blueprint. This approach gives the workout a choreographed feel, but I can’t argue with results. The system works very well, so no need to change it.

Les Mills Pump Trainers With the Les Mills PUMP home workout program, Beachbody recruited the top BODYPUMP trainers from around the world. These trainers are the best at what they do and it shows. Each one of them is incredibly good at motivating you to push for that one last rep to complete the track, even when you are experiencing full on muscle failure. Although they all have different personalities, they are uniform in their dedication to their craft. I have nothing but respect for them because it is not easy to do what they do.

The format of Les Mills PUMP is that there is no workout leader. A team of 5-7 trainers take turns leading the different exercise tracks. They are all business. Since completing the program and also having the opportunity to work out with them in person, I feel like I have gotten to know them a little. Even though the exercises are choreographed, the personalities of the trainers don’t take a backseat.  There’s a lot of style and enthusiasm that goes into teaching a fitness workout. Without the trainers pushing you through each track, there would be very little life in the workouts. It says a lot that they can take a painful exercise such as the squat fun and interesting. If you don’t like one trainer, just wait a few minutes and another one will take over. You will not get bored doing a Les Mills PUMP workout. Ever.

ROUND 6 WINNER: LES MILLS PUMP.  Les Mills PUMP won this round because they had more trainer styles to choose from.

P90X v. LES MILLS PUMP: Final Recommendation

Les Mills Pump TrainersWhat’s my final recommendation? It’s obvious from the points tally. Because P90X and Les Mills PUMP are designed to produce the same results, general fitness, I can’t hedge. Although I love P90X because it was the program that helped me restart my fitness journey, I have to give my final recommendation to Les Mills PUMP.

There’s a lot of advantages Les Mills PUMP has over P90X, but the one that is most important to me is length of workout. There’s no getting around the fact that Les Mills PUMP is a much more efficient yet equally intense workout program as P90X. With team Les Mills PUMP, I don’t need to work out for 75-90 minutes each time to get results. I can get an amazing full-body workout in 55 minutes or less. The value that Les Mills PUMP offers in time savings is unbeatable. Although it is not as well known as P90X, I would probably recommend Les Mills PUMP to anyone who is interested in a home fitness program that will get them in the best shape as quickly as possible.

Sorry Tony, you know I have nothing but deep respect for you, but Les Mills PUMP can get the job done in less time. That’s a huge deal in my book.

If you have additional questions about P90X or Les Mills PUMP, please feel free to contact me at connectwithJade@getresponse.com or send me a Facebook private message. Let’s get the conversation started!

Sign up for my free Fitness Success CourseDo you have any questions about this article or anything relating to health, fitness, and weight loss? Email me at connectwithJade@getresponse.com. I love to hear from my readers!

About Khoa Nuyen

Aging and feeling crummy are for people who don't know any better. If a middle aged dude with a sedentary job can get these results, you can too.
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3 Responses to P90X vs. Les Mills PUMP

  1. Peter H says:

    I have done both programs and I am in TOTAL 100% agreement with you. I love P90X. It got me into the best shape of my life. I was out of work at the time and could dedicate the time needed to do the program the way that it was meant to be done. But now that I am back to work, Les Mills is the answer. Full body work out in less than an hour.

  2. Danielle Foglesong says:

    I haven’t done Les Mills Pump and I was actually looking to see a difference with the live workouts of both. I teach P90X Live but know lots of people like Body Pump in the group fitness settings. To me it looks like personal preference. I am a huge P90X fan and actually my favorite is P90X3 which is only 30 minutes. My live workouts I can do 1 hour, 45 minutes or 30 minute workouts. So if time was a big factor then think that has been solved. Again from what I have seen it looks like personal preference. I enjoy the total body fitness workouts vs the more isolation exercises. I like your comparison here. It was good insight so thanks for doing it.