Video Fitness

P90X Series: Cardio X

Tony Horton

This workout is part of the P90X set. The guide states that it it one of the easier workouts and intended to be used as an add-on or when you do not feel up to Kenpo or Plyo. This workout is different from those in that it does not follow a particular style--rather, it contains shorter sections based on other workouts in the series.

It begins with a short warm-up of athletic cardio moves such as jogging and jacks, then goes into a yoga section. Such experiments always feel really out of place to me in Tony's workouts. He doesn't cue very well, and it never seems to flow for me.

The second section is based ont he Kenpo workout, and has 5 short combos. I found these a bit simpler choreography-wise than the actual Kenpo X workout, which was a relief. Again, Tony's cueing is barely there but if you watch one rep you'll be able to figure out what to do. There were some moves here I have not seen in other kickbox workotus, such as a "knuckle" punch and a fun 3-direction kick.

Next is a plyo section, which is a lot of fun. There are five moves done for about 30 seconds each, then you repeat the sequence. Some of the most interesting were a swing kick (which I have seen in the Body-B-Fit workouts using a stability ball) and a "jump shot" where you pretend to catch a ball and then shoot it into an imaginary basket. These moves were a lot of fun and not as difficult as I thought they would be.

The final section is based on the core synergistics workout. Some of the moves such as the banana were odd choices to include in a cardio routine, but some of the moves (for example the "squat run" and x squat) were very good and kept the pace. There is a short cool down after this which includes a bit more yoga.

The time went by really quickly due to the variety of activities here. I was not wild about the yoga part and I wish Tony would cue a bit better, but he is a motivating instructor and I really enjoyed this workout.



Instead of cutting and pasting segments from Yoga X, Kenpo X, Plyometrics and Core Synergistics, Cardio X was filmed on its own. Although Cardio X delivers no surprises, it is a fun little routine. In a short 43 minutes, Cardio X packs a load of variety. But the title Cardio X is somewhat misleading because it isn’t a solid cardio workout, but also Yoga and Core work.

Cardio X is perfect for those days where you are feeling unsure of whether or not you can ‘bring it.’ It is the least intimidating of the P90X series but the workout can be quite intense depending on how much physical effort you put into it.

Cardio X explodes in intensity towards the end. The Plyometrics section is already quite high in intensity, but the workout really becomes difficult during the Core Synergistics segment. For those wondering, Core Synergistics is a P90X functional training workout that works multiple muscle groups. In Cardio X more of the cardio-intense Core Synergistics exercises are included. Examples: the squat cross x-press (airborne plie jumps) and the squat run (move your arms as if you are running place but legs remain in a lunge position) are all very demanding exercises where you predominantly target the core and legs.

The breaks between exercises seem to be shorter compared to the other P90X Cardio routines, so when I really exert effort, I find myself pausing for a slightly longer break. Overall, I would rate Cardio X as a solid intermediate to high intermediate workout as the intensity varies from moderate to high.

Not many workout videos offer a mix of cardio styles. Ever since Cathe’s Circuit Max and 10-10-10, I have been longing for a workout that incorporates different forms of cardio. Cardio X does simply just that but unlike the Cathe workouts mentioned above, Cardio X’s choreography is more basic and simple. For example, swing kicks just require you to kick your feet one at a time, over a stool; the basketball drill require you to pretend to pass a ball and then jump up in the air, pretending to score a basket; the steam engine requires you to continuously bring your opposite knee to your elbow, one at a time, while gradually increasing the pace; and the dreya roll requires you to lay on the ground and then roll up to standing position.

I tend to prefer moderately complex choreography but nonetheless this workout was fun because the basic drills were all short and many were intense. I loved the mix of yoga, kickbox, jump training and core work. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, Cardio X does throw in one unique exercise – the wacky jacks (first featured in Power Half Hour Ab Burner). For those wondering what they are, they are basically jumping jacks gone wacky – you move your body side to side, while one foot leaves the ground one at a time and as Tony would say, “drive your elbows to your hips” to target the obliques.

Cardio X was designed to be used on a less intense day or a ‘doubles’ day – when you are planning to workout twice in one day. Given its length, many people still like to do a supplemental cardio workout.

Although you might be inclined to skip the Yoga portion in substitution of even more cardio, I recommend that you try doing Cardio X as-is at least once. The Yoga portion can be quite taxing if you do the double pushups. Holding the yoga poses will also pre-exhaust the legs, making the rest of the workout a little more strenuous.

There is a lot of hidden core work in Cardio X: in Kenpo X and Plyometrics, the abs have already begun to work and the addition of Core Synergistics exercises further targets the abdominals. However I find that I still need to add a bit of abdominal work. This is why my favourite add-on workout is Power Half Hour Ab Burner because it includes both abdominal and cardio exercises.

Although Cardio X is a rehash of the other P90X workouts, its sequencing makes the workout feel different enough. I think it is a must-have in the P90X rotation or any other rotation because it is fun, different and gives you a break from your super intense days.

Grade: A

Instructor comments: Even though Tony is silly he is still able to imprint a strong goal-oriented message in your mind. Tony reminds you that we are here to burn off some extra calories and get rid of all that yucky stuff we don’t want!


September 18, 2004

This is the perfect workout for those of us with short attention spans because you do a mix of all the power 90x cardio styles. It's very basic, simple choreography and lasts about 45 minutes, including the warmup and cool down. You start with a traditional warmup with running in places, etc. and some stretches. Then, you do about 10 minutes of power yoga where you mostly do sun salutations. After that, you move onto the kenpo routine with basic, athletic style kickboxing. Then, you hit the more challenging part of the workout with plyo x routines, including running heisman and a simulation of tire jumps that high school athletes do in training. The cardio section of the workout concludes with core synergistics moves, including dreya rolls, which I just can't do completely, and the really fun superman/banana where you alternate between a superman on your stomach and a move called the banana where you're on your back with your arms and legs elevated, forming a sort of banana-like shape with your body. Like all beachbody workouts (I think), the workout has as countdown on the bottom both for the remaining time in the whole workout and for the time remaining on each individual move. I find this feature motivating, but I know other people hate it. Overall, I think this is a fun, short workout for when you don't have the focus to do any one thing. In fact, I see myself doing this one a lot on days when I just don't want to work out at all.

Instructor comments: I love Tony. He's goofy and tries to be super-masculine, but he's funny and motivating to me. Frankly, he cracks me up, and I love how he talks about how fit he is at 45. I hope to be like that when I hit 45, too.



I have not used the entire P90X system; it fact, Cardio X, which I tried on loan, was my first exposure to this series. In this DVD, instructor Tony Horton blends styles from several other P90X workouts, with mixed success.

The workout begins with a 3-minute aerobic warm-up consisting of light jogging, jumping rope, and jumping jacks; Tony then moves into 2.5 minutes of static yoga-type stretchs. Following this is a flowing 10-minute series of Astanga-type yoga postures. Although I love yoga and practice it regularly, I didn't like this sequence for several reasons, mainly 1) I hate doing yoga with sneakers and no mat as shown here, and 2) it felt odd to do yoga at this point in the workout (ie, after an aerobic warm-up but before any other cardio). Tony performs sun salutations and adds standing postures including warrior 1, warrior 2, and reverse warrior, with the plank-up dog-down dog vinyasa series between every posture.

The next section was Kenpo, or kickboxing, and I enjoyed this. Tony starts off with basic drills--eg, a front kick, a hook-uppercut--and then does a few very simple combinations (jab-cross-side kick; front-side-back kick, etc.). He generally performs 20 repetitions on each side, and the entire kickboxing segment lasts about 9 minutes. Following this is a 7-minute Plyometrics section; to my surprise, I enjoyed this part as much as--and maybe even slightly more than--the kickboxing! It is a high-intensity segment with unique moves. The first, the Airborne Heisman, involves a hop from side-to-side, briefly balancing on each foot. Next comes Swing Kicks, where you hurdle each leg in turn over a stool (I used my stability ball). After this are Jump Shots, a basketball-like move where you fake catch an imaginary ball on one side and then shoot it on the other. Tires is a football-inspired drill, with Tony encouraging you to get those knees way up ("they're SNOW tires!"). The final plyo move is Wacky Jacks, where you swing your legs from side to side while bending the torso on each side (ie, elbow to hip). Each plyo move is performed for 30 seconds, and the entire sequence is repeated once.

The final 7-minute cardio segment is Core Synergistics, which I reallly didn't like at all. Some of the moves were okay, but others were extremely difficult for me to execute, especially at Tony's rapid pace. Squat X was moving from a squat to an X position, jumping for the last 10. Steam Engine was a very fast standing abs move where you are crunching your elbows to your knees. The Dreya Roll was the toughest of all for me: you roll down to a flat position on your back and then spring back up without using your hands. Not only did I find the move itself challenging, but also the quick up and down left me feeling quite dizzy. Squat Runs were next, and this was the only move that I kind of liked. It's hard to describe, but you get down into a runner's squat position and sort of pump your arms as if you are running in place. The final core move, Superman/Banana, just made no sense to me: you lie flat on your stomach in a superman position with arms and legs raised, hold a few seconds, then roll to your back and hold up your arms and legs in the position. Like in the plyos segment, you do each move for 30 seconds.

This workout ends with a 4-minute cool-down: Tony first leads you through some slow jobs and jump ropes, then repeats the stretchs from the warm-up, bringing the total workout time in at 43 minutes (a countdown clock appears on the screen throughout). I would have enjoyed this workout much more if Tony had stuck with pure cardio. In fact, the second time I used the DVD, I did only the warm-up, Kenpo, Plyometric, and cool-down segments, and I liked this a lot--I got a great, intense cardio workout of about 25 minutes. Luckily, the DVD is well-chaptered, so mixing and matching is an option, but variety junkies certainly may enjoy the workout in its entirety more than I did.

Instructor comments: This was my first exposure to Tony, and I was surprised by how goofy he is! He frequently calls his 3 background exercisers "dude" (including the one female) and says things like "whatever turns you on." He sometimes exercises, sometimes moves around the class, and he does not mirror cue. Although I didn't have any problems with his instruction or his personality, I can definitely see how some people might find him to be annoying. I thought the music (which was barely audible at times) enhanced the workout nicely, but the DVD offers both music off and instruction off options.

Beth C (aka toaster)

March 8, 2007

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