P90 Masters: Core Cardio

Tony Horton
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Abs/Core , Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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Dawn did a great job with her review in breaking this down.

I'll add to this that I agree that this workout couldn't seem to find it's identity and flow.

PHH and P90X are both better choices, and as I own both of them, it doesn't make sense to me to do this again.

Still, I don't regret purchasing it, as I enjoyed the other workout (Plyo Legs). I look forward to seeing the other P90 Masters workouts.

Instructor Comments:
Tony is very silly and funny. While this has bothered me in the past, I have learned to like him - and I found him entertaining.



This is a short interval workout that alternates core work with cardio which felt choppy due to the short intervals and lengthy instructions. Tony is pretty goofy & silly throughout and doesn't seem to have his usual strength or endurance. I felt the workout was too short and it did not offer enough reps to substantially improve core strength for the intermediate or advanced exerciser. During the cardio intervals my heart rate stayed in my training zone less than 13 minutes, not enough for me to count as a good cardio workout. Too much Tony and not enough exercise if you ask me.

Overall this workout felt like a choppy mix of a few of the core exercises from P90X Core Synergistics thrown together with some cardio moves. I felt compelled to compare this workout to Power Half Hour and P90X and comparatively this workout moves slowly and has no flow. For some reason in PHH Ab Burner it felt good to me to break up traditional ab moves with cardio intervals to give your abs a break. In this workout the same concept doesn't flow well, doing a deep-stretching core move and then jumping up to do boxer shuffles.

It's a 48-minute workout that includes 9 minutes of warm-up and 9 minutes of cool-down - with the body of the workout clocking in at 30-minutes.

The workout is structured so you do four exercises, repeat the four exercise sequence, maybe take a 30-second water break, then go onto the next set of four exercises. Tony doesn't repeat the first set of four exercises (oversight?) but does for the next two sets of four exercises. So essentially the workout is made up of 12 exercises and you are repeating 8 of the exercises.

It just doesn't seem logical that you could spend 30 minutes doing 12 exercises, each for 30 seconds or 25 reps. Tony spends a great deal of time introducing each exercise and since the number of reps or length of exercise time is much shorter than in P90X it ends up slowing the workout down.

Is this workout likely to be a good 'bridge' between Power 90 and P90X? I'm not positive because I've never done Power 90. However, from doing PHH and P90X I would say that most folks would find it more logical to modify P90X and do fewer reps with no weights and build up to doing the full workout & series. I just don't think doing the 6 core exercises in Core Cardio for 30 seconds or 25 reps is going to produce gains and bring you up to speed to do P90X Core Synergistics - which contains 21 different core exercises.

If you're looking for a good innovative cardio workout with some core work in it I would recommend TLP's Yorktown/Functional Foundations Core Cardio workout over this one. If you're interested in intermediate-level toning intervals that includes ab & lower back exercises, I'd recommend Tom Holland's Abs Diet. If you want sweaty cardio and lots of oblique work to prepare you for kickboxing, I'd take Michael Olajide's Killer Abs & Back over this workout anyday.

Back to my current review... the workout features Tony, Dreya and Dan in a bright studio setting with hardwood floors, light blue sponge-painted walls and bright big windows including one floor-to-ceiling. At various points Tony appears very winded or fatigued and he does his usual silly clowning around. For example, he pretends that a particularly difficult exercise is easy and fakes pouring & drinking a cup of coffee between reps. Or he feigns yawning or falling asleep while stretching and prompts someone to wake him up - which Dreya does "Tony, wake up, wake up Tony".

There are four audio selections on the main menu: Normal, Music Off, Heavy Music & Cues and Cues Only. The music is light pop-rock-instrumental. The volume for both vocal cues and music was very low on the "Normal" setting. I had my TV volume turned all the way up to maximum volume to hear Tony & the music. I found the "Heavy Music & Cues" option to be nearer to normal volume level, this was the best way for me to hear the music in this workout. This may be a defect - and may only be an issue with my DVD.

In my opinion there is one big problem with the music in this workout: the music only plays during the actual exercises and since the majority of the workout time is spent with instruction and demonstration THERE IS NO MUSIC during the majority of the workout. The result is that most of the time you're listening to Tony talk, gasp, explain, groan, solicit opinions from the background exercisers, etc.

The workout utilizes the count-down timer typical for BeachBody workouts (with the total countdown on the right & a counter or timer on the left showing how many reps left or how many seconds left to a given exercise). New to this workout is the little 'Tony bubbles' that pop up on the screen with a picture of Tony and a caption bubble with a form pointer, hints and silly/funny comments.

It's a little like the info bubbles that pop up during a "Dummies" workout or on an MTV production. I found it a little annoying because I had to turn my volume way up and the little blipping sound was annoying. Mostly I tuned it out though and didn't pay much attention to the info bubbles. Some bubbles had form pointers like "Lean when you kick" "Keep your knees behind your toes" or silly comments like "Riverdance?" when Tony & the exercisers are shuffling. If you weren't getting enough Tony before then you certainly are now!

The workout begins almost immediately - no lengthy opening introduction discussing the development of the series as in P90X. Tony introduces the crew, suggests the required equipment (mat, heart-rate monitor, water, towel) and in less than a minute, you're getting started.

The breakdown includes a 9 min warm-up, 30 minute workout & 9 minute cool-down and stretch.

WARM-UP 9 min
dynamic warm-up 2.5 min (jog, frog jumps)
stretch 6.5 min (overhead stretch, swan dive, hamstring stretch, hamstring lunge, standing quad stretch, plie, chest stretch, overhead stretch, arm stretches, neck rolls)

WORKOUT 30 min
FIRST SET (6.5min)
(1) Prison cell push-ups (from P90X CS: like a burpee or chatarunga) x 1 min
(2) Side kicks (alternate 5 on each side)
(3) Abranome (core move on back with legs extended straight overhead, tip legs to one side, then bring them back up & drop them to the other side)
(4) Crescent quick switch (variation of leaning crescent lunges from P90X CS: alternating reverse lunges, 30 reps, put arms overhead 1/2 way through)
WATER BREAK (40 seconds)
SECOND SET (6 min)
(5) Cockeyed sphinx push-up (modification of staggered hands push-up & sphinx push-up from P90X CS: plank push-ups from forearms, placing one hand further up than the other, straighten both arms, then lower) alternating 3 with one hand further North, then the other for 3 reps.
(6) Run jacks (30 seconds of jogging with jumping jack arms, then 30 seconds of jumping jack legs with arms swinging naturally as if jogging)
(7) Kayak bike (variation of P90X Ab Ripper exercise: v-sit, bicycle legs while clasping hands together and twisting to pound the floor on either sides of torso) 30 reps [This one was HARD! Thank goodness there's only 30 reps!}
(8) Lateral lunge touch (variation of lunge & reach exercise from P90X CS: side lunge, pull opposite arm overhead then reach over to touch floor beside bent leg), alternating sides for 30 reps
((REPEAT EXERCISES 5-8 AGAIN)) (5.5 min)
THIRD SET (5.5 min)
(9) Dreya roll push-up (variation of exercise in P90X CS: combination of backwards roll then roll forward for a plank and then a push-up & finally stand up) for 30 seconds
(10) Defensive back scoot (side shuffle sort of like a grapevine while looking over your shoulder and moving forward & back 3 times, then switching directions)
(11) Feet to fingers crunch (prone, legs out, arms overhead on floor, raise legs & arms together up to middle - sort of like a stability ball transfer move without the ball :D)
(12) Boxer switch (boxer stance facing right, jump & switch feet to face left, repeat) 30 reps
dynamic (ballistic hug, walking) 1.5 min
static stretch (overhead stretch, hamstring stretch, runner's lunge stretch, cat stretch, leg stretch, torso stretch) 7.5 min

Instructor Comments:
ony is pretty goofy & silly throughout and doesn't seem to have his usual strength or endurance. At various points Tony appears very winded or fatigued and he does his usual silly clowning around. For example, he pretends that a particularly difficult exercise is easy and fakes pouring & drinking a cup of coffee between reps. Or he feigns yawning or falling asleep.

Dawn P


Dawn P. did an excellent job of outlining the major characteristics of the P90MS, Core Cardio workout. I will not replicate her detailed review, I just thought I should weigh in with my opinion.

The first caveat would be that I have only limited experience with exercise videos--just a little Tae-Bo in the past which was not successful. Tony’s Power 90 (P90) workout started me on this journey and I have continued on to the Power Half Hour (PHH)and now P90MS.

THE CONS: I agree with Dawn that the workout is choppy and that the duration of time between exercises for demonstrations and patter is way too long. This really breaks up the workout. Moreover, there is constant switching from standing to floor work, which makes the flow seem even slower. If you don’t like Tonyisms, be forewarned that he REALLY hams it up in this one. (In that sense it is a logical extension of the PHH series). If you take all the breaks, it is hard to get your heart rate up to goal.

THE PROS: Beachbody has really increased the level of their video production. As with the P90X, the sets are far more interesting and the quality of the video is far better. I did not have problems with the sound quality on my equipment.

Once you have gone through the workout a couple of times, you can exercise through the breaks. This yields a more difficult workout that really WILL increase and maintain your heart rate. I tend to like more repetitive workouts (think ‘boring’) but there is more than enough variety to keep things interesting. No component of the exercise lasts more than 60 seconds. Judging from results, I found that the moves really gave my core and abs a good workout and after using this 2 times per week (along with the P90MS Plyometrics workout and filling in with PHH) for about 4 weeks I can see increased definition in my abs. I have not had that before and I am REALLY glad I purchased this one.

For me, this is a definite keeper. It may be less conventional than some workouts and a little ‘all over the place’ but it works and for me that is the most important thing. For me it is a logical extension from the P90/PHH level workouts. I found it challenging but doable. I have only one P90X video to compare—the P90X Yoga X workout—which I do once per week. I had to do the Yoga X tape in sections when I started and I still find it VERY challenging to get through the whole thing. If this is any indication this workout (and the P90MS Plyo workout) appear to be ‘filling the gap’ nicely.

I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.

Instructor Comments:
Tony is Tony. You either love him or hate him. Personally, I find him motivating and fun. But viewing other reviewers comments, they find him goofy, silly, and competitive. I own only one P90X tape—Yoga X—where Tony is far more subdued and focused on the exercise. Whatever your opinion of him, the Tony of the P90MS is not the low-key Tony of P90X. He is the same Tony you will find in Power 90 and the Power Half Hour: over the top, making jokes, and competitively motivating the exercisers.

Jon L


I didn’t really know what to expect from this workout before I had done it. I had received it in a trade, and I have never done any workouts led by Tony. I was hoping for a lot of cardio, and for my heart rate to really fly. I have heard so much about P90 and P90X, that I thought this would be super hard. It was not. You get warmed up in places, but cool down quickly because Tony stops to explain lots of moves. It would be one thing if he was explaining moves that were particularly tricky, but many of them would be familiar to the average exerciser.

Even though it does move slower than I thought it would, I still enjoy it. I just need to think of it as a complement to my other ab/core workouts. It can’t be thought of as cardio at all. And I don’t think I would ever use this workout as the only one I did in the day. It’s a very long add-on at 48 minutes. But I can see using it on days when I really want to add extra focus on my core.

Instructor Comments:
After hearing so much about Tony I was expecting a really strange fellow, but I don’t really think of him as odd at all. He’s kind of like the male version of Mindy Mylrea at her chattiest. I like it, and even though it’s been said that he’s over the top in this workout, I don’t particularly mind. I wouldn’t mind trying out some of his others.

Lulu Belle