Power 90 Workout Review: Does It Really Work?

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Sometime before 2003: Tony Horton releases a workout video entitled Power 90.

2003: The P90X craze revives the 90s at-home workout trend that left many folks jazzing it up in their living rooms with Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies while fending off a mid-life crisis.

2011: The program’s mastermind — Tony Horton — escapes one-hit-wonder status by rolling out a P90X sequel for aspiring athletes: P90X2.

2013: Horton launches a sequel to the sequel for those hoping to get ripped: P90X3.

Two things are clear by this point: Horton knows a cash grab when he sees one, and naming programs is evidently not Horton’s forte.

2014: He realizes P90X4 is overkill, releasing a revamped version of Power 90 instead (P90).

Power 90 spurred a windfall of success for Tony Horton and Beachbody alike. This toned-down version of the P90X supposedly doubles as a fitness “gateway” for true beginners.

But does it really work? Or was Beachbody just beating a dead horse?

Here’s a closer look at the program that started it all:

About the Creator – Tony Horton

Tony Horton has already done the impossible.

For one, he’s used the phrase “Get sexy with it” without giving off total creep vibes or winding up on an FBI watchlist of some sort. (It’s all in how you say it, fellas.)

He’s also the genius behind some of Beachbody On Demand’s all-time hottest programs, like:

It wasn’t long before the former $20-a-session trainer (who trained movie execs in his garage) became the unofficial face of Beachbody and a world-renowned fitness mogul.

In fact, P90X alone raked in more than $200 million in sales by 2010. Today, Horton’s breakout program still attracts millions of new users each year, from Boomers to Gen Z.

He might not train Hollywood elites like Sheryl Crow, Rob Lowe, and Bruce Springsteen these days. But one thing’s for sure: Tony Horton paved the way for modern gurus like Jeff Cavaliere.

What is Power 90?

Power 90 (not to be confused with the more modern P90) is the prequel to P90X and a more mild version of the record-setting program, leaving it in that awkward “So is it like P90X or not?” limbo.

Yes and no (… sorry).

Power 90 is a carbon copy of P90X in the sense that it’s a classic Tony Horton full-body routine, complete with the 2000s-era fitness studio backdrop and cliche motivational quotes.

Once you complete this 90-day body transformation program, you can feel more confident tackling the beast that is P90X.

We give our 2 cents about P90X here: https://noobgains.com/p90x-workout-review

But similar to what we’ve said in our Hammer and Chisel review, it’s wildly disappointing if you’re already somewhat fit.

Although it’s a definite calorie-burner, muscle-strengthener, and endurance-builder for all, the 25–45-minute workouts will feel like P90X at half-speed and a fraction of the intensity.

Plus, it’s essentially a cardio-heavy boot camp, featuring circuits, core exercises, intervals, weight training, and plyometrics!

This six-day-a-week routine targets complete newbies hoping to discover their inner athlete and tone their physiques while building their:

  • Endurance
  • Strength
  • Fat-burning
  • Energy levels
  • Muscle-sculpting
  • (well, everything but the kitchen sink, really)

That’s Power 90 at a glance — a far, far, we’re-not-wearing-our-prescription-glasses type glance.

Power 90 Details & Features

If you’re looking for literally any inspiration to get active, Power 90 is for you. But when you have fitness goals, it’s in your right to be nit-picky about your program choices.

So as Tony Horton would say, “Let’s get sexy with it!” (sorry, it just felt right).

“Start Here”

The “Start Here” tab can usually sway undecided Beachbody subscribers one way or another on a program. This’ll sound harsh, but Power 90’s Start Here page might as well be entirely blank.

It’s barebones, unconvincing, and goes no deeper than:

  • An incredibly basic program overview
  • A not-so-subtle ad for the Beachbody Nutrition Center (again, skip this one)
  • A short blurb revealing who Tony Horton is
  • Seemingly random “related content” that won’t make or break your Power 90 success

Even the 20-year-old P90X’s page scrapes by on top with a one-minute trailer and somewhat convincing before-and-after photos.

Honestly, you’ll learn more about the program by watching the pixelated, “did they record that with a potato?” Power 90 commercials on YouTube or reading the Program Guide.

Workouts

The Workouts tab is the platform’s video hub, where you’ll find every Power 90 workout in one spot. That includes seven regular Power 90 workouts and six “Master Series” training sessions.

So let’s switch gears to Power 90’s workouts, phases, and types of training sessions!

What Equipment Do You Need for Power 90?

Unlike Shaun T’s savage Insanity program, Power 90 isn’t equipment-free. However, there’s no need to splurge your entire paycheck on a decked out home gym; all you really need is:

  • A set of adjustable dumbbells for those strength-focused circuit workouts; they also save tons of money and space when you outgrow 15s, 20s, and so on
  • A set of resistance bands as a dumbbell alternative if you’re bouncing from one hotel room to the next or running low on free space in your apartment
  • A yoga mat for more comfortable floor exercises, stretches, and yoga
  • A set of push-up stands if you want to sink deeper into push-ups, activate more of those pec fibers, or save your hands the pain of a traditional hardwood floor

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Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds. Rapidly switch from one exercise to the next. You don’t need multiple dumbbells cluttering up your home gym.

Other than that, it also helps to have a firm, sturdy chair on hand and ready to go! (That means a dining room or folding chair, not that rock-hard 70s-style sofa you nabbed from the thrift store.)

Power 90 Schedule

The Power 90 program will walk you through four distinct phases as you chug along on your 13-week journey (more detail in the next section).

Yet, if you’re a stickler for consistency, you’ll appreciate this fact: every week follows the same alternating workout pattern.

  1. Sweat & Ab Ripper (36–42 minutes)
  2. Sculpt (29–38 minutes)
  3. Sweat & Ab Ripper (40–48 minutes)
  4. Sculpt (29–38 minutes)
  5. Sweat & Ab Ripper (36–42 minutes)
  6. Sculpt (29–38 minutes)
  7. Rest

(Potential) red flag alert!

While the workouts are nowhere near P90X-level, they’re still a considerable leap for somebody whose current workout routine consists of sweaty and breathless Fortnite Battle Royales.

(Hey, no judgment there!)

So expect achy, “I can barely walk” bursts of muscle soreness (DOMS) during that first week or two as your muscles and joints adapt to regular training.

But here’s a tidbit of advice.

Studies show that using a foam roller on your muscles following a training session can lessen post-workout muscle pain and soreness in 66% of people. It’s also ridiculously satisfying.

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Power 90 Phases

As you progress through the Power 90 program, you’ll also encounter four phases that gradually crank up the intensity.

Now, without completely ruining the element of surprise, here’s a closer look at the phases:

Phase Weeks Featured Workouts (Per Week)
1 1–3 Sweat 1–2 (3)Sculpt 1–2 (3)Ab Ripper 100 (3)
2 4–5 Sweat 1–2 (2)Sweat 3–4 (1)Sculpt 1–2 (2)Sculpt 3–4 (1)Ab Ripper 100 (1)Ab Ripper 200 (2)
3 6–8 Sweat 1–2 (1)Sweat 3–4 (2)Sculpt 1–2 (1)Sculpt 3–4 (2)Ab Ripper 200 (3)
4 9–13 Sweat 3–4 (3)Sculpt 3–4 (3)Ab Ripper 200 (3)

Power 90 is a slow burn, whereas more “extreme” programs like P90X are already sizzling hot from day one. In “newbie” terms: every Power 90 phase is a little tougher than the last.

That gives you more than enough time to build strength, improve your stamina, and slim down a few pounds before you’re ready for six back-to-back days of intense training.

Power 90 Workouts

Sure, Power 90 and P90X are two completely different programs, despite their similar names and being within the same series (though the prequel is a decent lead-in to the always-classic P90X).

But aside from the difference in intensity, one thing becomes clear when comparing the two side-by-side: Power 90 is definitely lacking in the variety department.

For reference, P90X has 13 workouts over 90 days; Power 90 has only six workouts that you’ll repeat some 11–28 times during the next three months (unfortunately, that wasn’t a typo).

“Boring” is an accurate way to describe it.

Now, here’s a closer look at the workouts you’ll experience (again and again and again …):

Sweat Cardio

Off-topic, but we’re glad Horton remade this program in 2014. The only thing that would make these videos look more “90s” is if Horton paired a baggy neon jogging suit with clunky Reeboks.

After a brief warm-up, the Sweat Cardio workouts officially kick-off with about five minutes of power yoga (if you’re a new Beachbody recruit, you’ll learn Horton is a well-known yogi).

This portion includes poses like downward dog, plank, crescent one, and warrior. And, while these poses are as beginner-friendly as they come, they’re not exactly calorie-torchers either.

The workout then segues into batches of low-impact exercises like knees-to-hands, jogging in place, running lunges, and jumping jacks.

(Also, some sets drag on for an uncomfortably long time.)

You’ll then take a much-deserved 30-second water break before adding a little kickboxing into the mix — knee thrusts, front kicks, uppercuts, all the basics!

Finish strong with an oddly placed two-minute cooldown before jumping into Ab Ripper.

Ab Ripper

Hopefully, you saved a little fuel in the tank for 4–6 continuous minutes of core work with the Ab Ripper 100 or 200 workouts (the number = total reps).

Featured exercises include leg lifts, in-and-outs, crunches, and side crunches. The lack of rest breaks definitely makes these <6-minute sessions feel twice as long.

After one set of each of ten exercises, you’ll do yet another one-minute cooldown.

Sculpt Circuit

The Sculpt Circuit workouts are the three days a week you’ll focus on building muscle, improving strength, and toning your physique from shoulders to calves.

After a gentle five-minute warm-up, you’ll jump into circuit #1 to tackle exercises like push-ups, military presses (dumbbells or resistance bands), and lunges before taking a one-minute break.

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Then, it’s time for circuit #2. This time, you’ll shift your attention to exercises like squats, biceps curls, swimmer’s presses, and wide push-ups.

After another one-minute rest break later, you’ll close out with your third and final circuit.

These Sculpt sessions will leave complete newbies sore for days and help them build foundational strength and mass with the 8–15-rep range.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 1–3 sets and 8–12 reps per set are ideal for novices hoping to do just that (Tony Horton nailed the rep range at least, right?).

But if you’re already on a bro split, the volume in these workouts will feel concerningly low.

Fat-Burning Express

There’s nothing we love more than unexpected freebies! But when it’s a random workout that doesn’t fall anywhere on a program’s schedule, it’s more like, “why even bother adding it?”

Fat-Burning Express is a 35-minute cardio workout filmed on location in Hawaii. The workout begins with a warm-up and stretching routine before diving into a five-round workout (twice).

This almost equipment-free workout (a medicine ball is optional) features a mix of tame MMA, jumping, and agility exercises like:

  • Jab crosses
  • Elbows to knees
  • Four corners
  • Hook/uppercut
  • Sidekicks

The backdrop is remarkably scenic, with gentle waves lapping up against the shoreline, which might be all the motivation you need to get into Baywatch slo-mo jog shape by summer.

And although rest breaks are just long enough to catch your breath and for Horton to demonstrate the exercise, the training is rather low-intensity with ten reps apiece.

Power 90 Master Series

If you’re thinking, “I don’t remember reading anything about a Power 90 Master Series,” you’d be absolutely correct. But, oddly enough, there’s no clear mention of it in the Program Guide either.

(Hey, the Master Series could be Beachbody’s Voldemort or Fight Club, for all we know.)

So, where do these random six videos fit into the program?

While there’s no official schedule on the Beachbody platform or even floating around online forums, we’ve reached a consensus of sorts: it’s likely the next level for weeks 14 and beyond.

You can piece ‘em together however you want to build a schedule like this:

  1. Cardio Intervals
  2. Plyo Legs
  3. Cardio Core
  4. Sculpt 5–6
  5. Sweat 5–6
  6. UML
  7. Rest

When you’re ready to crawl out of a plateau, it’s time to pounce on P90X!

Or, if you can quote Sweat 3–4 word-for-word (with the same excitement as Ferris Bueller’s teacher during roll call), swap in these Master Series sessions to spice things up a little.

Program Materials

Beachbody’s Program Materials section is always completely unpredictable. It either has five or more resources that you won’t give a second look at, or it’s missing one very, very important guide.

Can you guess which category this routine falls into? Or did the half-assed Start Here tab already tip you off? (Sorry, Beachbody, but you’re really slacking on the legend Tony Horton here.)

Now, here’s an overview of the Power 90 resources:

Program Guide

The second we opened this one, the regret settled in almost instantly — not another ridiculously long program guide from the Beachbody franchise.

Honestly, this 34-page guide is about 29 pages too long, filled with fluff like:

  • Letters from Tony Horton and the CEO of Beachbody
  • A quick start guide that loosely translates to “follow this guide”
  • A program overview, including who benefits from it and the logic behind the schedule
  • Another seven-step guide really driving the point home: follow this guide
  • Tips for snapping before-and-after photos
  • Shakeology and Beachbody Coach advertisements (we get it)

The only worthwhile page in the entire document is page 24, which explains what to do when you can’t dig yourself out of a plateau. (This could’ve been a more bearable three-minute trailer.)

Workout Calendar

The Workout Calendar is among the best in the franchise for literally one reason: it’s simple.

It’s a single-page PDF that clearly color-codes the phases, maps out which workouts belong on which days, and leaves no questions unanswered.

All you have to do is tap “play” on today’s workout!

Power 90 Nutrition Guide

(If you’re not a huge fan of scavenger hunts, spoiler alert: just type “Power 90 Nutrition” into the BOD search bar to uncover this resource!)

This 76(ish)-page guide is jam-packed with nutrition tips, recipes, calorie calculations, food recommendations, and — of course — quite a few rogue Shakeology sales pitches.

Here’s the gist of what’s in this guide:

  • Calorie calculator: Beachbody’s calorie calculations tend to be a bit … random. For a routine like Power 90, you’ll multiply your weight by 11, 12, or 13 (depending on your daily activity level). By subtracting 500 calories, you can shed about a pound of fat every week with diet alone. Is the original formula 100% accurate? Again, that’s a long shot. A body weight planner like the one from the NIH can suggest a more accurate calorie goal.
  • Steps to transform your body: There’s more to healthy nutrition than loading up on the greens and replacing your Diet Coke with a Poland Spring. Here, Tony Horton reveals six must-know body transformation tips that’ll steer you away from a few rookie mistakes (like cutting your calories so severely that your body enters starvation mode).
  • Fat-burning recipes: Horton added 6–8 dishes for every meal of the day, offering a decent bit of variety for even the pickiest of palettes. There’s chicken parmesan, curried pumpkin soup, power pancakes, and even chocolate peanut cheesecake. All recipes feature easy-to-follow instructions, nutritional data, and a list of ingredients.
  • Michi’s Ladder: If you’re a Guy Fieri in the making and plan to DIY your meals, Michi’s Ladder can guide your ingredient selection. Tiers one and two are superfoods or generally nutritious foods that should make up the bulk of your plate — like beets and quinoa. It’s also a great resource when the munchies, rumblies, or temptation strike.

Whether you’re eating 1,200, 1,800, or 2,400 calories a day, the diet plan follows one simple rule: reserve 1,200 calories for breakfast, lunch, and dinner combined — the rest goes to snacks.

Of course, it’s not an exact science. In fact, it doesn’t seem to have any scientific backing whatsoever. And, if the pre-planned recipes don’t sound appetizing, you’re on your own.

Quick Start Guide to Nutrition

Now, normally, we’d go on this long-winded spiel about how this isn’t the program’s actual nutrition guide, BOD should stop this nonsense, yadda, yadda (we’ll get to that in a moment).

Our real gripe here is that the actual Power 90 Nutrition Guide isn’t in the Program Materials section. So if you didn’t know any better, you’d assume this is your diet for the next 13 weeks.

… it’s not even close.

The Quick Start Guide to Nutrition is almost 84 straight pages of Shakeology and Beachbody ads with a few interesting tips and recipes here and there.

It’s worth a skim, but it probably won’t go much further than that.

Power 90 Pros

  1. There are eight extra workouts — the Master Series and Fat-Burning Express — though it’s not immediately clear when they fit in the schedule or why Horton included them at all. But feel free to swap out your normal Power 90 workout with one of these tougher sessions to keep things exciting.
  2. You’ll do the same six workouts for 13 weeks. However, there is a little bit of variety within the workouts in the form of different training styles, like power yoga, kickboxing, weightlifting, and core exercises. Yoga might not feel like the manliest training style, but research shows that yoga can encourage weight loss, healthy stress management, and even brain health benefits.
  3. All you need is a sturdy chair and either a dumbbell set or resistance bands. And, since three workouts a week feature resistance training, your risk of hitting a plateau dips too; just add weight or choose a thicker band if you’re not close to failure at the end of a set.
  4. Power 90 is a solid way to build strength and shed a few pounds before you jump into the more intense P90X. You can supposedly burn 250–300 calories per workout (or 1,800 calories and 0.51 pounds of fat per week). Combined with the daily 500-calorie deficit, it’s reasonable to lose 1.5 pounds a week — or 19.5 pounds within 90 days.
  5. Most exercises are low-impact and moderate-intensity, and Horton also demonstrates exercise modifications for those you struggle with. In other words, it’s okay if you can’t do a full push-up yet or your low stamina rears its ugly head halfway through knees-to-hands.
  6. Power 90 and P90 aren’t the exact same programs. However, they are similar, and Beachbody’s Results reports users shedding 20–45 pounds in 90 days. So it can work if you complete the suggested six workouts a week and follow Michi’s Ladder.
  7. While six back-to-back workouts a week might sound absolutely daunting for a beginner, most workouts are reasonable (about 30 minutes). That’ll help you eclipse the American Heart Association’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio a week for full-body health benefits — particularly for the heart.

Power 90 Cons

  1. Though the gradual four-phase progression can help you build muscle and lose weight, repeating the same six workouts for 13 weeks is definitely boring. Even when you graduate to the tougher 3–4 and 200-level workouts, they still feature the same handful of exercises and leave little to the imagination.
  2. It’s uncomfortably outdated. The background music sounds like it was ripped from a roller rink’s Friday night playlist (and not in a good way).
  3. The Nutrition Guide is conveniently left out of the Program Materials section (strange that they didn’t forget to add the Quick Start Nutrition Guide, right?). Of the resources they didn’t forget to upload, most of the content is either useless or common sense.
  4. Ab Ripper 200, Sculpt 3–4, and Sweat 3–4 will make even decent athletes break a sweat and gasp for air. But if you’re looking to pack on serious mass or drop substantial weight, this program will feel more like child’s play.

Wrapping Up This Power 90 Review

Overall, Power 90 is a decent starting point for anyone brand new to the fitness world.

The low-impact, moderate-intensity workouts become gradually tougher throughout the 13 weeks as you improve your strength and stamina while also building muscle and losing weight.

So it covers the basics, as well as anyone program, can.

However, the program will feel repetitive, with just six workouts in total. And, if you’ve already completed another Beachbody program, Power 90 will be far too mild to maximize your results.

Rating: 5.5/10

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