I believe that people think there is a much bigger difference between the programs than people think there are. The reality is that there are only a few differences between Lean, Classic and Doubles. However, there is a mystique surrounding the programs.
Before I go on, I want to clearly say that P90X Lean is not easy. It is just easier than P90X Classic version. You can definitely achieve awesome results with P90X Lean. All things being equal though, it is not as intense as P90X Classic.
What is P90X Classic?
P90X Classic is the base program. It is P90X as it was designed. At a very high level, you alternate days of strength and cardio work. I can go on, but really I recommend that you should start with Classic, unless the next paragraph applies to you. Even if you intend to do Doubles, Doubles actually starts with a month of Classic, so it is essentially the same early on.
Why Use Lean?
P90X Lean is a great program for people who are uncomfortable starting with the full version of P90X. Also, it does take less time over the week to complete P90X Lean than P90X Classic. The workouts you do are shorter 2 times per week. That is a big benefit for many people.
The Differences Between Classic and Lean
The major difference between P90X Lean and P90X Classic is that 1) you replace the Plyo X workout with Cardio X and 2) you replace one (1) strength and one ab workout a week with Core Synergistics.
Plyo X is a 58 minute workout that is rather intense. Cardio X is a 45 minute workout that actually starts out pretty slow. Depending on your weight, it is very possible that you can burn an extra 300+ calories with Plyo X than with Cardio X. Also your legs are more likely to develop better muscles with Plyo X, so you burn more calories throughout the day because of the extra recovery you need.
Core Synergistics is definitely an awesome workout and gets you sweating, but it is still not a strength workout. You will not get the extra burn that you get for recovery throughout the day. Additionally, since you are also leaving out Ab Ripper X that day, you miss an extra 16 minutes of a very intense stomach workout, so again you burn less calories.
So you clearly burn more calories, and therefore more fat, with P90X Classic.
That does however leave the question of people, primarily women, who want lean, not bulky, muscle. The first thing to consider is that a woman’s hormones will prevent her from getting bulky muscles in general. There are some women who are predisposed to larger muscles, but they still won’t grow huge muscles. More importantly though, as long as you do 12-15 reps, you will develop toned muscles over large muscles. Tony repeats this again and again throughout the program, and it doesn’t change anything by doing one more or less strength workout.
What is P90X Doubles?
There is actually much less to P90X Doubles that people think. In short, Doubles is just adding Cardio X 3 times a week in Month 2 of P90X Classic and 5 times a week in Month 3 of a round of P90X. That is it.
Specifically you do P90X Classic in Month 1, and then on strength days (Days 1, 3 and 5) of Month 2, you do Cardio X in the mornings and the strength workouts in the evenings. In Month 3, you add Cardio X on days 1-5.
As I already implied, Cardio X is actually a relatively light workout. On average, you would be lucky to burn 1/3 of a pound extra per week in Month 2, and ½ a pound extra per week in Month 3 following the P90X Doubles schedule.
It is a good way to lose a little extra weight. However, I recommend that if you are inclined to do extra cardio, you can do that whenever you want, even in Month 1. Also I recommend that you do any cardio that you want to do. Get outside. Ride a bike. Go running. Walk your dog. Various studies show that working out outside actually burns more calories anyway. When I do P90X, I find that I end up staying inside more than I otherwise would.
What if I Want to Switch Programs?
In short, just start the new program whenever you want. If you are on Day 14 of P90X Lean and want to switch to P90X Classic, just pick it up at Day 14. As stated, the differences are really subtle. Same thing if you want to go from Classic to Lean. If you want to do Doubles, all you have to do is start doing Cardio X. It really is that simple. As you will see in all of my blogs, you don’t have to start over. You achieve fitness through your lifestyle, not following a 90 day program.
What Program Should You Choose?
Again, I am in no way implying that there is anything wrong with doing P90X Lean. It is an extremely challenging program, and anyone can choose to do it for any reason. However, do not choose it because you are under the mistaken belief that it will make you any leaner than P90X Classic would.
However, if P90X Lean fits your goals in the ways I defined earlier, just do that. P90X Doubles is again just adding extra cardio, which is always a great idea. But in summary, I generally recommend you start with P90X Classic and then decide if you want to change to Lean or Doubles.
If you have questions about what is right for you, or how to adjust your schedule to your needs, please feel free to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to help.