Ready to dive in to a cycle of P90X and forever change your life for the better? Great! I’m a huge proponent of what the program can do for you. Although, you’re working at home, you’re still going to need a small set of equipment to get the job done. In this post I’m giving you exactly what you need to “bring it” and do P90X the right way. I’ll start with the most important item (weights, pull-up bar, and push-up stands) and then list some helpful items that have made trek to fitness easier.
You’ve really got to get yourself a set of dumbbells to do P90X right. I’ve had some friends try it with resistance bands like Tony suggests as an alternative, but they just don’t cut it. It makes a lot of the moves very awkward. Nothing is going to beat lifting heavy things. Bands still technically work and are much much cheaper.
Now if you’ve got the room and money, I would suggest getting a full set of hex dumbbells and a rack. Get the rubber coated style if you’re indoors, especially if you have a concrete floor like I do. You can keep buying these as you get stronger. You basically pay for them by the pound, so the lighter dumbbells are cheaper. Once you start buying sets of 50’s a 100 bucks a piece, then it can start to hurt.
A great alternative to a full set of dumbbells are a pair of PowerBlocks or Bowflex SelectTechs. I’ve tried both of these for P90X and I purchased and have used the PowerBlocks for the past year. These are great for a couple of reasons. First, they don’t take up much room. All of the weights are stacked within themselves, so they only take up the amount of space of about one large pair of dumbbells. Secondly, you can make adjustments of 2.5 pound increments. Having that many hex dumbbells would be very very expensive. Go with the Sport 9.0 model and you can later buy the Stage II and Stage III attachments to take the weight up to 90 and 130 pounds when you need more for back rows.
There are some drawbacks as well. Since making the 2.5lbs adjustments takes a few movements as you can see in a video here, you may have to hit pause at times to keep up with the fast pace of some of the videos. Also, if you’re like me and lazy at times, I won’t always adjust the weight to the perfect amount I need for an exercise. Since changing 10lb increments is super easy, I sometimes tend to use a 20 lbs weight when I could have done a 25. Overall, I highly recommend them.
I passed on the BowFlex SelectTechs for two reasons. They’re quite a bit longer than the PowerBlocks, even at their lightest weight. That makes some of the exercises in which you have to pass the weight close to your body very awkward. You have to hold the weights out at an angle to keep from hitting yourself. They’re also quite breakable. There’s a lot of plastic in this things and I’ve seen numerous reports online where just a modest drop of a heave weight has broken one of the plates and the dialing mechanism became unusable. The PowerBlocks are much sturdier and shorter.
On a side note, if you’re an Amazon Prime member like I am, shipping is free on all of these! Gotta love seeing the UPS man struggling to drop your weight set off at your door.
I started my first P90x cycle without any sort of push-up stand and boy did I regret it. About one month in to the program, my wrist were starting to kill me. I was dreading every push-up exercise, which is a LOT! The pain came from pressing the heels of my palms into the ground at an angle. Doing it on carpet didn’t help either due to the give in the padding causing the wrist to bend back even further.
Once I picked up my PowerStands, I was able to do push-ups right away with no pain. I had gone to the local sporting good store and checked out a few of the cheaper models, but having done a whole month of P90X, I knew some of the moves would be pretty unstable on most of those. I decided to splurge and go for the model Tony recommends, the PowerStands. These things have a wide base and I super stable. I can do walking push-ups and side-to-side push-ups on them with no problem
A pull-up bar is essential to the P90X program. You’re going to be doing a lot of pull-ups over the next 90 days. If you’ve a place to permanently mount a pull-up bar such as in the garage or dedicated workout room, a joist mounted model would be my choice. I don’t have that luxury in my apartment, so a door frame mounted pull-up bar works great for me. I was a bit skeptical at most as to whether it would be stable. Well, these are very stable. The only problems I’ve seen are with door frames that are too wide or it was a manufactured home/mobile home that didn’t have solid material around the door.
The bar that I and most of my friends have picked up is the Iron Man Total Upper Body Workout Bar. This is the kind that have two handles sticking out toward you that allow you to do neutral grip pull-ups. I’ve had mine for about two years, and it’s still just as durable as day 1. The only affect it has had on my door frame is black marks on each side from where the pads rub.
Iron Man now has an Extreme Edition of the bar, which will be my next purchase if mine ever wears out. This model has a wide grip that extends away from the frame. I’m not a tall guy, but I still can’t get a really wide grip, due to the size of my door frame.
If you just can’t do the door jamb thing, then you can get a pair of resistance bands attach them to something high or close them in a door to get a similar effect to pull-ups.
You’re going to be on the ground a lot while doing your P90X workouts. So, it’s essential that you have a mat. You don’t want to be on hard wood or concrete as it’s really going to wear out your knees and elbows. You don’t want to be directly on carpet because you’re going to develop some serious rug burns.
Once again, I wanted to do it right. So I read a lot of review of yoga mats, not knowing the first thing about them to begin with, and came up with the Manduka BlackMat Pro. This is a big mat. A lot of the cheaper mats you get will leave your with your feel or hands hanging off the ends and the mat ends up sliding. This is also a mat that does not stretch. During the seemingly endless amount of downward dogs you’ll be doing during Yoga X, a cheap mat will start to stretch out with you and you’ll constantly be adjusting. But, of course, it’s expensive.
These are just to save your baby soft hands from getting all calloused and actually tearing open from blisters. Especially if you’re using hex dumbbells with the textured grip.
This is mainly for those of us working out on concrete or hard wood. You’re going to be doing a lot of jumping and if you don’t have something relatively soft to land on, you’re going to feel it in your knees. A nice thick set of interlocking flooring tiles will solve that problem. If you’re on slick concrete, you may get a little slide if it’s not pressed up against a wall. You can also put some weights on the outside edges to keep it from moving. Or you could just get a non-slip rug pad to go under it.
I use the Ironman Deluxe Flooring system. I have them out in the middle of the living room in my concrete-floored loft. If I have company, I just fold it over at the breaks between the tiles and slide it under the couch. Gone.