By Denis Faye and the Team Beachbody® Community

When it comes to Beachbody® workouts, you can go no higher than P90X®. From the full supination concentration curl to the sphinx push-up, from your first warm-up to your last sip of Results and Recovery Formula, this program is truly the Mount Everest of our collection. And just as you'd prepare to climb the real Everest, you need to prepare for P90X. There are fitness levels to be tested, there is gear to be purchased, there is junk food to be tossed, and there are psyches to be elevated. But instead of dishing out a boring ol' "honey do" list for you up-and-coming Xers out there, this humble reporter decided to hang out at the P90X base camp (or the Team Beachbody P90X Message Board, as the plebes call it) and ask those who have already followed Sherpa Horton to the summit what they did to get ready. And now that I've completely worn out that metaphor, let's see what they had to say.

The regimen

As Beachbody Director of Results Steve Edwards likes to say, P90X is not an "off the couch" program. It's a hard program intended for fit people. Some veteran Xers learned that the hard way. As Scottc0823 muses: "I did nothing to prepare. I am 44 and have not done any serious exercise in years. Suffice it to say I had no idea it was an extreme workout, and no, I did not read up on it before I started! Shame on me. I realized very fast I was probably more of a candidate for Power 90 first."

Luckily for Paulandofelia, he reached this conclusion in advance. "Talking with my wife and discussing my Fit Test results, I didn't think this was going to work. But, I did read in the literature about Power 90 and how it can be used to help you get into shape for P90X. So I ordered that. I put the P90X box up on the shelf in my closet, determined to get it back down as soon as I was ready."

Paulandofelia continues: "Power 90 was hard for me at first but Tony was right—just stick with it and Keep Pushing Play. I was determined to do this P90X program and after 2 months I felt I was ready. I redid the Fit Test and could do a little more than the minimum. My wife bought me some Power Blocks for my birthday and on July 24 I started the X."

Justinpinkley also worked his way up to P90X, focusing on the program's most dreaded feature, the pull-ups. "I did a month and a half of 10-Minute Trainer. Then when I was done with that, I spent the last two weeks working on doing pull-ups, which consisted mostly of negatives (where you jump up if you have to, then let yourself down as slowly as possible)."

One cool thing about P90X is that it gives you an excuse to buy new toys: a pull-up bar, good shoes, a good mat, weights, and resistance bands. Unfortunately, if you're not already geared up, it can get to be an expensive shopping spree. CTOlson offered a simple solution to this: "I took a week or two to stock up on dumbbells by checking Craigslist and sales of dumbbells."

Scottc0823 saved a couple bucks by pilfering from his kids: "I am using mats that belong to the kids (those colored squares that fit together like a puzzle)." And for his pull-up system, he applied a little DIY attitude. "I put a hook in the ceiling joist so I could use the bands where I did not have a pull-up bar. I am now to the point I plan to install the bar and have a homemade setup I found online that will be easy and inexpensive."

For his audio/visual needs, Dadofaugust also stole from his brood by "reclaiming my old TV and DVD player from the kids' playroom." Conversely, Dumbbells suggests you go upscale. "I'd have bought a 5- or 7-disk DVD player from the get-go—so I didn't waste time every day changing disks."


Eating right is 50 percent of the P90X journey, so you gotta take it seriously. To do this, Lanceisme called for help from a higher place: "I told my wife to not let me eat anything other than [what was in] the food plan."

Rootc boned up on culinary expertise by "making and testing some of the recipes in the nutrition plan."

FitWithJanet knew the program would take up much of her time, so she planned ahead. "I made batches of the soup recipes, grilled chicken breasts and put them in a Ziploc for the week... basically made anything on my Sunday afternoon that I could make ahead of time to make my life easier (sauces, muffins, soups, chopped onions, cleaned produce, etc)."

And Manin made getting ready fun. "Prep? Cooking lessons!" Once you're into the program, remember that this is real work that requires real food. If you think you'll get by on rice cakes and carrots, you're in trouble. "Eat the calories for your level," insists Darthbaron. "If you're in Phase III and your calculations came out at over 4,000 calories, you better be eating that much. I tried working with 2,500 calories for all of Phase I and most of Phase II before I finally got tired of poor results. Once I started eating at Phase III, the changes in strength and muscle growth were dramatic—almost magical. I'm not joking: imagine one week not being able to do a single dive bomber, and then two weeks later you can do 20 dive bombers. These are the kind of changes I saw in less than 4 weeks once I started eating properly."

General preparedness

Once you have your gear, diet, and fitness sorted out, you're well on your way, but just like any ambitious project, there are a million other small details to address. Darthbaron points out that you'll need to be prepared to "get enough rest. I was used to sleeping only 3 to 4 hours a night, but you cannot do that and be anything but always tired if you are doing P90X. Sleep is when your body does the bulk of its recovery." Tedwayne points out that the big, fancy books that come with the P90X DVDs aren't just door-proppers. "I think that reading the books from front to back as suggested, setting up your area for all the tasks ahead is key, that way when you do start you can hit the ground running." And 9820adcrdc reminds you that you're not the first person to attempt P90X, so you might as well take advantage of that knowledge pool. "To get ready for P90X, I spoke with coaches who are currently doing and have done the P90X program; I went to their homes and saw what they used to work out and their setup."

Finally, Fasnake suggests that you make sure that you have reasonable expectations before Pushing Play that first time. "There is one thing that I KNEW from the beginning—I have a 'Pause' button on the DVD player. I also have the rest of my life to do this without killing myself in the process. It's taken YEARS to put this weight on and get 'out of shape' (No . . .'round' is NOT a shape for healthy people) and it will not all come off at once. Additionally, I have to change my eating habits with 'what' I put in my mouth and 'how much' I put in my mouth. I have no lofty goals of looking 'ripped' or 'macho' or 'buff'." Although I'm sure we all agree getting ripped wouldn't be anything to complain about.