Unless you have a big rack of dumbbells of differing weight right in front of you, it can be difficult manage your dumbbells while following real-time video in P90X. It’s especially challenging if you have limited space as various dumbbells can easily clutter up your workout space.

The best solution for most home gym aficionados is an adjustable dumbbell set. A good set replaces a huge rack of metal dumbbells, while taking up far less space. This makes it a no-brainer for apartment or condo dwellers. The other advantage is speed. Simply plop the dumbbells on the base, make your adjustments, and pull the set back up again.

There are two great options out there: the Bowflex SelectTech 552 set and the PowerBlock Classic set. Both are exceptional choices for P90X. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each so you can make the best choice according to your individual needs.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells Review

The Bowflex dumbbell set has a space-age design that is impressively intuitive. At the far end of each dumbbell is a large dial that allows you to increase or decrease the weight as you see fit.

The weight settings go up in increments of 2.5 pounds. This gives you a great deal of flexibility, making the shift to heavier weights more manageable. Each dumbbell can be adjusted anywhere from 5 to 52.5 pounds each (2.27 to 23.8 kg).

The fact you can go up and down in such small increments comes in very handy for P90X. With a traditional small set including a pair of 10s, 15s, and 25s it can be tough to reach the sweet spot while doing a given exercise. Due to the 10 pound difference between the 15s and 25s, most people end up feeling they’ve chosen a dumbbell that is either too heavy or too light.

The dumbbells measure 16” long which might make some P90X exercises awkward. Width on the other hand is perfectly manageable.

Although the design is appealing, come compromises were made to make the set so easy to adjust. The looseness between the plates is the biggest disadvantage to the 552s. The dial plus tiered system makes it possible for the metal portions to tap against each other. This might create a slight rattling sound when you are doing curls.

PowerBlock Classic Adjustable Dumbbell Set Review

This set from PowerBlock couldn’t look more different than the Bowflex SelectTech line. As the name implies each dumbbell resembles a rectangular block. The unique engineering plus color-coded buttons and components give it a future-retro vibe.

Each dumbbell can be adjusted between 5 and 45 pounds in 5-pound increments. In this area, the PowerBlock Classic set is trumped by the more flexible SelectTech 552 model. This limitation is exposed when certain P90X exercises either feel a bit too easy or too difficult. In a way less options are a good thing when you are making a split second decisions about which weight you should choose. With 5-pound increments the selections seem more obvious. Those that value simplicity may prefer this approach over the more exacting Bowflex scheme.

The most impressive characteristic of the PowerBlock Classic set is the solid feel the dumbbells have. This is partially due to the superior construction quality and partially due to the fact that all the pieces are rigidly held in place thanks to the design. You never feel like any plates are too loose as you do with the Bowflex.

Some care must be taken when you are aligning the pins to select the weight you want. It ceases to be a problem when you put it up on a table top or stand. If you are a somewhat clumsy or careless person you may want to get the Bowflex which is very forgiving in this regard.

The Verdict

If you are the type of person that values ease of use and flexibility the Bowflex is for you. It allows you to increase weight in 2.5 pound increments which is very useful when doing P90X. The drawback to this set is the looseness of the plates.

If you like designs that put ruggedness first, get the PowerBlock Classic set. It may look a bit strange to some but the engineering and quality components give it a solid feel. The drawback in this case is decreased flexibility. Adjustments are made in 5 pound increments rather than 2.5 pounds like the Bowflex set.

P90X has a number of similarities with Insanity. Before we move on to differences let’s look at the areas in which the two systems are most comparable.

Schedule

First off, the schedule you’ll follow is the same with each method. No matter if you go with Insanity or P90X you’ll be putting in a solid workout six times a week. The first three weeks are dedicated to maximum intensity workouts while the fourth week is for recovery. After the fourth week is completed the cycle begins again, bring you back to the week one routine.

Number of Workouts and Variety

Both P90X and Insanity have an extensive collection of workouts to keep things interesting and make sure every portion of your body gets equal attention. P90X includes 12 DVDs (each including one workout) while Insanity includes 10 DVDs.

In terms of variety P90X offers more but this isn’t necessarily a good thing for everyone. For example, a good portion of people are put off by the Yoga X workout in P90X. Not only is it hard but it takes up 90 minutes. For the more casual crowd this is a stretch.

Insanity has a strong cardio focus. While it is more accessible than P90X in some ways it also isn’t for complete beginners. If you are inactive or extremely overweight the intensity of the workouts will be overwhelming at first. At times it can get repetitive as well so if your attention span is short P90X may be a better match for you.

Muscle Building vs Fat Burning

The most important factor to consider when choosing a workout system is your goals. P90X excels at muscle building while Insanity is focused on toning and weight loss. Of course you can get ripped and lose weight with either system but if you want maximum efficiency choose according to what benefit is most important to you.

P90X DVD Workout - Base Kit P90X DVD Workout - Base Kit
Sale Price: $139.80

Commitment

Neither one of these approaches is a walk in the park. You need to put in an intense workout each and every day during the week, excluding one, to
get the advertised results.

Despite the name Insanity is arguably the easier system to complete (if you can keep up the pace) because it requires less time. The average workout length is 45 minutes as opposed to 75 minutes in P90X. In addition you can get good results in 60 days instead of 90 days.

Equipment

Both P90X and Insanity rely on your body weight, not a bunch of expensive, heavy gym equipment.

To get started with P90X you’ll need a set of resistance bands or dumbbells, a pull-up bar and a yoga mat. This post outlines equipment recommendations for P90X so be sure to check it out.

Insanity requires no equipment to get started. While it retails for about the same as P90X this makes it even more attractive to those on a budget.

INSANITY Base Kit - DVD Workout INSANITY Base Kit - DVD Workout
List Price: $144.80

Final Thoughts

No matter if you choose P90X or Insanity you better be ready to bust your butt. Neither one of these options are for the faint of heart. If you feel a bit intimidated read this post about P90X alternatives.

Are you ready to press on? Your goals trump all other factors. People looking to lose weight quickly will want to look at Insanity. The crowd looking to get ripped (primarily men) need to grab up P90X.

Both require a good bit of dedication however you can complete Insanity in only two months instead of three. In addition the workouts are shorter. Be warned: that doesn’t mean it’s a cake walk.

When it comes to workout routines people gravitate towards systems that yield quick results. P90X promises a ripped body in only 90 days. Of course everyone is convinced that they’ll be able to keep up the rigorous workouts every day when they buy the product. However, living up to the commitment is tougher than it seems on paper.

At the end of the day P90X is a system for people that are already highly active. If you are like most people you’re probably looking to get off the couch but aren’t aiming to take on the lifestyle of an athlete either.

Although P90X is currently all the rage there are plenty of often less expensive alternatives that will push you in the right direction. Once you master any of these you can always step it up a notch and reach for P90X.

Power 90

If you are a beginner or are over 40 years old you may want to look the other system offered by Beachbody called Power 90. Think of it as a scaled back version of P90X.

Like its cousin it comes with access to fitness and dieting tips. Instead of 13 videos there are six videos dedicated to cardio and abs. You’ll learn how to tone, firm and sculpt your body as well as lose weight. Cardio moves pioneered by Tony Horton are included along with kickboxing and Pilates.

Also, it’s about half the price as P90X.

Wii Fit Plus and/or EA Sports Active 2

Video games are a blast but the traditional kind locks us into sloth-like behavior. Nintendo’s Wii aimed to change all that with motion controls. Now PS3 and and Xbox 360 has followed suit with Kinect and Move.

Wii Fit Plus comes with a balance board and as the name implies it is more concerned with balance and stretching games and not so much on breaking a sweat. The balance board doubles as a smart scale so you can track your weight loss with Wii Fit and other workout programs.

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EA Sports Active addressed the need for a game with an emphasis on Western style fitness. It delivers a fairly intense cardio workout that nicely changes up routines according to a dynamic program created by a top personal trainer. The beauty of the system is it is very cheap to get started since everything you need is in the box.

EA Sports Active 2 EA Sports Active 2
List Price: $34.95
Sale Price: $27.20

Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels is the TV trainer on the hit show “The Biggest Loser.” As the name implies she is geared towards big results – namely in the realm of weight loss. If you can commit to 20-minutes per day for a month you may be able to improve your fitness level considerably.

You won’t need fitness balls, rubber bands, and door clamps to get into cardio with Jillian Michaels. All it takes is a thirst for a high-intensity, high-impact cardio workout to get started.

Be warned that DVD videos like 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30 will kick your but if you are out of shape. Even the advanced crowd may find level 2 in 30 Day Shred a challenge.

If you are ready to get serious with your exercise routine but are low on cash this is a great option. Jillian Michaels DVDs can be had for less than $10 each, making the deal even sweeter.

Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred
List Price: $14.98
Sale Price: $2.49

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: Lionsgate
Manufacturer: Lionsgate
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Jillian Michaels

Get Eclectic

Variety is the name of the game in workout systems today. This is what maximizes muscle confusion so you get the biggest possible gains for the work you put in.

If you already have a few workout DVDs lying around you may want to build upon that and create your own system. Granted it won’t be quite as efficient as the pre-made systems but the goal here is to go for what inspires you and what interests you the most.

As an example you may want to do martial arts one day, yoga the next day, Pilates the next, then toss in some R&B dance lessons. The best way to keep active is to follow your unique passions.

So you’ve decided to get serious about working out but aren’t sure if P90X is worth it. Well, that depends on you and your goals.

The first thing you need to look at is your current level of fitness. Do you manage to work out on a regular basis (even if only once a week)?

If you’re die-hard couch potato that doesn’t schedule in time for exercise you’ll have a tough time turning your lifestyle around and sticking to a rigorous system like P90X. Don’t waste your money unless you are sure you’ll follow though! You may want to start with something more casual that requires less commitment such as EA Active 2 or a few workout videos from Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper. Once you outgrow this introductory material you can step up to P90X.

People that are already active have less to be concerned about. You’re already used to sticking with some kind of routine so now all you have to do is scale it up to the next level. P90X can get you to where you want to be.

Now let’s get to the specifics for those that are ready to tackle a challenge!

The P90X system itself costs around $140. At first it seems like a lot of money to drop. There are 13 DVDs included in the slick retail packaging along with a hard copy of the nutrition guide. If you break it down per video that is about $10.75 each. If you think of it that way P90X isn’t expensive at all, it merely seems like it because you are grabbing a comprehensive set of videos and content all at once.

Another item to consider is the equipment you’ll need to get started. It’s recommended that you start with the basics and grab the additional toys once you are sure P90X is for you. At the very least you’ll want a solid pull-up bar, dumbbells or resistance bands, plus an exercise mat. This of course assumes that you are starting from scratch.

Here is an example cost breakdown for a very basic setup that makes use of resistance bands. View this article about equipment needed for P90X for more options.

P90X: Tony Horton's 90-Day Extreme Home Fitness Workout DVD Program - $139.80
Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar - Extreme Edition - $34.09
Bodylastics 13 pcs Quick-Clip Resistance Bands System - $44.95
Harbinger 340100 Durafoam Exercise Mat - $17.50

Total: $235.34

So if you currently don’t have any equipment you can use for P90X you’re look at around $240 to get started at the very least. This is certainly way less than buying a gimmicky exercise machine that may end up collecting dust in the basement or the long-term costs of a gym membership.

P90X DVD Workout - Base Kit P90X DVD Workout - Base Kit
Sale Price: $139.80

The Verdict

P90X is totally worth the admission fee but only for those that are willing to stick to it. The 13 DVDs have enough material to keep even the most hardcore workout enthusiast busy for quite some time. The people that get taken by the P90X craze are inactive folks that hop on the New Year’s resolution bandwagon but quit after two weeks.

This system requires some serious lifestyle changes. Of course the payoff is astronomical. If you are ready to improve yourself and aren’t afraid of a little commitment, quit pondering the issue and pick it up now!

A good pull up bar will rack up more mileage with P90X than other piece of work-out gear. Using your own body weight instead of relying on workout machines is at the core of the system.

First off, many of the generic chin-up bars out there are absolute junk. Both the Iron Gym Extreme and 90X bar have an extensive track record with enthusiasts. So these two bars are the only obvious choices out there. It’s highly possible there are some obscure workout bars out there that are just as good, but there’s no reason to seek a needle in a haystack.

Not every door frame is a worthy choice. Consider the fact that supporting the entire body weight of a person is no easy task. You need to carefully measure your doorway and compare it with the dimensions of the pull up bar. The 90X bar works with doorways up to 32 inches wide. The Iron Gym claims to go up to 34 inches but in practice it is more like 32 inches. Ideally you want a few inches to spare for extra support, so if your door is 30 inches wide or less, you are among the lucky ones.

The P90X bar touts its ability to support up to 12 different grip positions. The Iron Gym is identical in this respect. The grips are all placed in the same way. Beside minor cosmetic differences, the design of these bars is close to identical. The all-black P90X does look a little slicker and more refined.

One major difference between the P90X chin-up bar and the Iron Gym Extreme is price. Currently the P90X bar by Beachbody sells for a touch over double what the Iron Gym costs.

Both bars have a good solid feel once mounted. Components tend to loosen up over time so you’ll need to tighten screws here and there if you want to retain the sturdiest feel possible. The screws on the P90X model were inclined to loosen quicker as they are undersized compared to the Iron Gym.

One common complaint with the Iron Gym is the low quality of the screws, bolts and nuts. If you are above 200 lbs. this may start to become as issue as there are reports of the screws snapping. So are you in the clear with the more expensive P90X? Not quite. The hardware might break with this model as well. Either way, you’ll want to have some backup hardware on hand in case something snaps. Replacements are cheap and readily available at any hardware store so this isn’t a biggie.

The Verdict

It’s hard to find any obvious differences in quality between these pull-up bars as both are incredibly similar. Neither product is perfect as screws tend to loosen over time and have a chance of snapping – this is simply the nature of the beast. Some simple maintenance is required.

The price factor makes the choice obvious. The Iron Gym Extreme is just as good and sells for less than half the price.