In 2001 personal trainer Tony Horton released ‘Power 90’ through Beachbody, a fitness company dedicated to delivering at-home workout routines. Power 90 was so successful that in 2004 Tony Horton released P90X, a program that has gone on to sell 2 million units, become a household name and favorite celebrity workout. However, even as P90X claimed the spotlight, Power 90 continued to sell, and today remains one of the most popular at-home fitness programs on the market. In this article we ask: has Power 90 remained a relevant workout? Can it deliver outstanding results? Has it not been superseded by P90X?
First a brief overview of the Power 90 workout itself: meant to take 90 days, the workout is designed to pass you through 4 stages of gradually increasing intensity as you cycle through six distinct workouts contained on 2 DVD’s. These workouts consist of two ‘Sculpt Circuit’ workouts, two ‘Sweat Cardio’ workouts and two ‘Ab Ripper’ routines. The onus is on the user to decide when they are ready to transition from one difficulty level to the next; Power 90 clearly states that you need to listen to your own body and progress at your own rate.
The actual workouts are quite brief. The longest runs at Sculpt and Sweat workouts range from 29 to 42 minutes, while the ab routines are very brief, ranging from 4 to 6 minutes. Anybody familiar with the P90X workout will recognize the components that go into each of these routines. Sweat Cardio begins with yoga as a warm up, and then continues into a variety of cardio exercises including martial art strikes that culminate in a stretch/yoga cool down. The Sculpt Circuit also begins with some stretching and light yoga, and then proceeds through a weight resistance routine that is demonstrated with both free weights and resistance bands. As such, they progress through a mix of different styles and workouts in their 40 minute durations.
What is immediately apparent upon watching these workouts is that they do not have the intensity or production values of P90X. The setting is a bland, featureless studio space and you will definitely want your own music playing to keep you pumped. The workouts themselves are simply not as extreme as those in P90X, given that not only is their duration brief but the actual exercises will fit within the upper reaches of most people’s comfort levels.
Is this a bad thing? No. Of course having a beautiful stage with all the props and effects such as P90X boasts of is more impressive, but that has nothing to do with the quality of the workout. The only effect such a cheesy setup has is to make it more difficult to take the workouts as seriously. However, anybody who is serious about getting physical results should be able to look past this early iteration of a Beachbody product made when the company was still young, and focus on the exercises themselves.
It is important to note that P90X and Power 90 are meant for different audiences. P90X is literally an extreme program, and should only be attempted by those in already good physical condition. This is not meant to be a provocative statement designed to sting your pride and goad you into ‘manning’ up, but rather the plain truth. P90X is very, very hard, and just as somebody setting out on learning how to run should not adopt an Olympic marathon routine, novices and those who have not exercised in some time should not attempt P90X.
Instead, Power 90 is the perfect program for them. This is where Power 90’s moderate intensity level is of value. While anybody can push their workouts while undertaking this routine to their personal maximum and thus achieve greater results, Power 90 is a more flexible routine that lends itself to a greater variety of athletes and people.
In conclusion: the principles behind Power 90 are solid. If you follow the workouts and the nutrition guide for three months, you should achieve impressive results. The degree of results will depend on your dedication and effort; Power 90 will tell you how to achieve them, but it will fall on you to do the exercises and eat correctly. Has it been superseded by P90X? No. It is the logical precursor to P90X, and should be seen as a challenging routine for all people interested in going from a beginning or mid-level of fitness to a more advanced position. What is required on your part is that you set aside ego and pride and ask yourself where you are at, and how best to achieve the results you desire. Some athletes can jump right into P90X, while the rest of us have to earn that level of requisite fitness. Which is exactly where Power 90 fits into the picture.