Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
5 Mar

P90X and CrossFit

Nearly every day I get emails from readers about P90X and CrossFit. Most are favorable, some not so much, but mostly, people just want to know if these fitness programs fit within the context of the Primal Blueprint Fitness methodology. In this article I’ll explore what’s great about P90X and CrossFit, and then I’ll voice my nit-picky criticisms and explain how I think both can be improved upon.

It’s often said that any movement is better than no movement, that simply getting up and being active is better than sitting on the couch and stewing with guilt and self-reproach. For the most part, I agree with this assessment. It’s imperative that everyone be active, even if it’s just taking nightly walks or using the treadmill at the gym. But “just any old movement” isn’t ideal. Ideally, we should be performing movements that support, enable, and enhance quality of life. Our exercises should make us stronger, faster, and more capable of accomplishing just about any physical feat the world throws at us. They should be enjoyable (pleasure-giving), brief (without sacrificing effectiveness), sustainable (lifelong), immediately accessible (to young, old, and untrained), and infinitely scalable (from beginners to elites). A fitness program, then, should meet these benchmarks.

Do P90x and CrossFit qualify as good fitness programs?

Absolutely, yes; they’re better than 95% of the other stuff out there. They both include high-intensity interval training, full body resistance work, endurance development, and mobility. They’re very clearly laid out for trainees who need structure to make progress. Buy the DVDs and you get the full P90X package; log onto CrossFit every day and you get access to the daily workouts free of charge. Tony Horton (of P90X) is one of my best friends, and I’m the guy who showed him the beauty of interval workouts. I also designed the P90X recovery drink, which, I’m told, is more addictive than crack (too sweet for me). The PB eating plan works perfectly with CrossFit, which is probably why we have so many supporters from that camp. All in all, there is definite kinship between the PB and the other two programs. There are many mutually shared interests, directions, and focuses. There’s a lot of crossover. Both programs get people up and moving – and amidst our culture of sedentarism and sloth, I can’t get upset with that.

P90X promises a beach-ready body: defined upper body, ripped abdominals, reduced body fat. For many people, it delivers on each. If you’re interested in building muscular endurance (not necessarily raw strength), or if you’re a former athlete with a good amount of muscle underneath a couple years’ worth of flab, P90X might be right for you. If you want an ass-kicking workout that leaves you panting and heaving and sore all over the next day, P90X will provide it. You’ll certainly be able to do more push-ups and pull-ups by the end of it.

CrossFit promises to forge hybrid gymnasts, powerlifters, and runners – all around athletes who can perform Olympic lifts, complex gymnastic moves, then get up and run a 10k (and make a respectable finish). CrossFit generally doesn’t produce elite, specified athletes, but it produces guys and girls who are stronger, faster, and more powerful than almost everyone else. Some people think that’s a criticism of CrossFit, while I think it’s one of its strengths.

As I noted above, I get a ton of reader emails about both CrossFit and P90X; in the Primal world, they’re probably the two most popular programs out there. Some people are pleased with their results. They get stronger, fitter, healthier, and better-looking by following them. But others aren’t so happy. These other readers talk about being burnt out, overworked, overtrained, or even injured. As much as I admire both programs and their creators, I think both could be improved upon.

Now, is it the program, or is it the user? Who do we blame?

As usual, there’s a little from column A, a little from column B. Assigning the totality of blame to either CrossFit/P90X or the trainee is silly. Acknowledging both the limitations of the programs and of the users is the far better option. CrossFit isn’t a perfect fit for every possible trainee, nor is P90X guaranteed to work for absolutely everyone who tries it – and that’s totally fine. But it also means that neither CrossFit nor P90X are ideal paths to fitness. In my book, remember, a fitness program should be lifelong and accessible to everyone. (Note that accessible doesn’t mean one size fits all.)

It’s commonplace for online discussions of fitness to descend into screaming matches laced with profanity and hyperbole, buttressed by rigid ideological stances that refuse to budge. This won’t be that.

You’ve heard why I like CrossFit and P90X – and I do like them, believe me – but this is where we diverge:


A program you can’t keep doing is hardly a program worth doing. Fitness should be a lifelong endeavor. It’s not just for the young bucks with limber limbs and supple, indestructible ligaments. It’s for the oldsters, the washed up athletes, the wide-eyed beginners, the moms, the dads. As it’s actually practiced, I think P90X is probably too much to do as a lifelong program. It isn’t even advertised as such, to Tony’s credit; it’s billed as a crash program designed to get you lean in 90 days (which it does well). To anyone currently doing P90X – do you expect to be repeating the cycles into your twilight years? Over an hour a day, six days a week? I just don’t think I’d have the stomach for that for very long.


I harp on the overtraining issue all the time. Next to inadequate or nonexistent training, overtraining is the biggest issue plaguing most trainees. If you don’t give your body enough downtime to recuperate, you’ll find it very difficult to get stronger/faster/quicker/more powerful. You may see some improvement over doing nothing at all, but you could just as easily undo any progress. Both CrossFit and P90X prescribe near daily high intensity training. Certain individuals relish the workload and even thrive on it. Some people can bounce back from a day’s workout and be ready to demolish their body all over again the next day. I think the 3 on, 1 off CrossFit schedule and the 6-days-a-week P90X schedule have their place in a training regimen, but they can easily lead to overtraining – especially if you go 100%. Intensity is important in training, but I worry that six days a week of over an hour of daily high intensity training will venture into diminishing returns territory for many trainees.

Injury avoidance

I hate injuries. I hate downtime. I work out in order to fuel the fun stuff – the Ultimate Frisbee, the hikes, the paddleboarding. As such, if my fitness efforts result in an injury that prevents me from playing, those fitness efforts are counterproductive. I love CrossFit, but people do get injured. Either they don’t have their forms locked in, or they’re going too hard for too long, but injuries do occur. CrossFitters will plainly admit that there is an inherent danger to going all out, day in and day out, and that’s actually part of the appeal. But at my age, I’m not interested in pushing my limits. Judging from plenty of reader emails, there are other people that feel the same way. If you’re a relative newbie and decide to do CrossFit, don’t just launch into the complex Olympic lifts, especially at high reps. I’ve seen overeager beginners do this, and they often mess themselves up.

The Need for Glycogen Replacement

Because my business background is in supplement design, I was brought on the P90X team (7+ years ago) to create a recovery drink that fit their demographic and the recovery requirements to allow someone to go hard nearly every day for 90 days. Simply put, if you’re doing P90X as prescribed, your body is going to need to replenish depleted glycogen. I am no longer associated with the company that markets P90X (although my likeness is shown on all the in-home products talking about replenishing glycogen) and, of course, my own ideas about how much we ought to be working out are different from P90X. If you work according to the PB, you don’t need to replenish glycogen with post-workout feedings of sugar. And you shouldn’t.

So, what makes my upcoming Primal Blueprint Fitness program better?

I suppose the honest answer is that we’ll have to wait and see. I announced my plans to launch Primal Blueprint Fitness later this year just this Wednesday. It won’t be until the program is in the hands of users and they’ve had a chance to incorporate it into their lifestyle that we’ll be able to make a fair assessment. That said, PBF is being designed to be a comprehensive, full-body fitness program that focuses on brevity without skimping on intensity. Primal Blueprint Fitness is CrossFit for the rest of us; it’s P90X without the massive time commitment. It’s about getting the best results with the least amount of input. See, I’m interested in helping as many people as I can, so I’ve designed it with everyone in mind. I’m sick of watching people hobble around with canes or old injuries. I want to see seniors bounding up stairs. I want to see people get six packs without actively trying to. More than anything, I want people to get stronger, fitter, and healthier. The athletes can scale things up and increase weights or reps, while the less advanced can just use bodyweight, but everyone will be doing the same movements that our bodies are designed to perform. Best of all, you’ll be able to follow this program for life, under any circumstance fortune throws at you. You get injured? There are workarounds. Growing older? You can simply scale things down. Out of town and away from equipment? Use your bodyweight. Beginners can instantly jump in. You get plenty of rest, coupled with plenty of intensity, for the best results with no overtraining. You get plenty of instruction on the more complex movements, to avoid injury. And, of course, it’s designed specifically with the PB eating plan in mind.

While you await the release of PBF follow the Primal Blueprint Fitness principles, use the specific workouts listed here on MDA as a guide, and if you’re looking to make your P90X and CrossFit workouts more Primal break things up with more rest, more play, and more low-level aerobic activity.

I greatly admire CrossFit and P90X, and they’ve produced some excellent athletes. If you’re a CrossFitter or P90Xer and it’s working for you, keep at it! I just think that a lot of people could benefit from a slightly different approach – a fitness program geared toward sustainability, functionality, and overall health. Fitness based on Primal movements, on the precise activities that comprised Grok’s day-to-day existence, distilled down to maximize effectiveness and minimize time commitment. Stay tuned!

Let me know what you think. What are your experiences with P90X and CrossFit? Are you ready to give Primal Blueprint Fitness a try? Thanks for reading and Grok on!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Started CrossFit at home Jan09, attended an affiliate for 6 weeks to learn better movements, but quickly found that out mid-40 yo bodies couldn’t hang with the 20 and young 30 yo’s. Nagging shoulder probs got more chronic as I went along…. was it the fault of CF, no… but I had to get myself out of the intensity of the CF gym…. the competitive drive worked against me. Now, I do a lite-CF at home, mixing it with pure Oly lifting via a coach, recreational cycling and MTB, scuba, and kettlebells.

    Your paragraph on injuries sums it up well for our philosophy. No training injury is worth the downtime from the fun activities that we enjoy. Sustainability is key! We won’t reach our peak this way, but we’ll definitely stay off the coach. Will definitely be interested in looking at your program when it comes out.

    Bottom line… we credit the CF mainsite, CF gym, and the BrandX site (for their scaling recommendations) for making us aware of what else was out there for us to do for fitness…. and we’ll carry the sustainable parts of that philosophy with us as long as we can.

    Bob Overstreet wrote on March 5th, 2010
  2. I am a happy Starting Strength trainee. 45 minute sessions three times a week with most of that time committed to resting between sets.

    I really think strength is an essential foundation for health and there is no strength training program that will get you as strong and as fast as Starting Strength.

    TaydaTot wrote on March 5th, 2010
  3. Great Article, I been doing CF for over a year now and I also tried p90x. At 37 years old Im stronger than I was on my graduation day of USMC bootcamp at 18! I stick to Crossfit training 4-5 days a week. Id have to say that the Olympic Lifting is the key. Also watching a DVD is not only boring but takes away from your fitness. If you are truly training, you wont have the luxury of watching reps and counting. I believe CF is true fitness, no mirrors, no dvds just YOU against YOURSELF!

    Marky wrote on March 5th, 2010
  4. Loved this post! Awhile ago I completed a CrossFit bootcamp/introduction for only women and with women trainers. It was fantastic. There was always insistence on form and safety. I think the quality of CrossFit is dependent upon the trainers. I spent years doing videos at home (because I am a working mom) but with little results. I love the small group training sessions (often concise) with CrossFit. There is both commraderie and accountability, something that lacks with P90X. Our affiliate honestly is like a little family, and is quite kid-friendly. I didn’t “drink the koolaid” but it is good to be around people with similar values, many of whom are Primal. I whole-heartedly agree with the scalability factor, but I also know like need to “play more”–like Mark says. Grok on!

    Katy wrote on March 5th, 2010
  5. I have been doing CrossFit for a year and I love it. While I am not interested in giving up CrossFit, at 35 I do understand that sometimes I need to take big breaks to “repair” and I look forward to trying PB fitness.

    Reni wrote on March 5th, 2010
  6. Great article Mark highlighting the benefits of both P90x and Crossfit. I have doing P90x and P90x Plus for two years now and still love it, it is truly a great workout and still challenging and the supplemental P90x Plus workouts just add to the fun. True P90x workouts are a little long, but P90x Plus workouts are a little shorter and mix it up even more. I have also been doing Crossfit workouts as well over the past 6 months and like those as well. They are two very similar workout programs, that with commitment bring great results. Either way you can’t lose. Sure beats the old days of just going to the gym and lefting some heavy weights and heading home. This brings back the intensity, challenge and variety of interval training. All good stuff!! Keep of the great work Mark!!

    Ken Flowers wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Hi Ken! I have to disagree, I don’t think they are all that similar. P90X is limited in what it offers, CrossFit is nearly unlimited and takes half the time and gets you stronger and fitter. That’s my view, I did P90X for 6 months and CF for 16 months. P90X was awesome though for me because it got me exercising regularly for the first time since high school and gave me great body definition. It got me ready for CrossFit! I can’t wait to see the PBF though. Sometimes CF beats the crap out of me, so I do indeed scale and sub.

      Craig wrote on March 5th, 2010
  7. I did straight CF, 3 on, 1 off, for 3 years and improved dramatically without injury. However, I had a lifting background and scaled accordingly. Now I use CF Football with the same scaling for high rep work and Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 strength program. I’m 1.5 years in and making the strength gains I desire with no metcon loss. I believe, regardless of the program, the first “muscle” that must be implemented is the brain. Know yourself and do what is right for you. Looking forward to the new Primal program, and for anyone who is interested in scaling the Oly lifts, below is a method from CF Ottowa. In health,


    % of 1RM Optimal Total Rep Range
    20-35% N/A >60
    40-50% 45 30-50
    55-65% 25 20-30
    70-75% 15 10-20
    80-85% 10 5-15
    >90% 5 1-10

    Eric wrote on March 5th, 2010
  8. This is why we love you Mark!! In my sixties, been eating low carb since I was 44, found your website a couple months ago, tweaked my eating plan and was trying to add more aggressive weight routines to boost gain muscle and loss a little fat. NOW I can’t wait for your program. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!

    KD wrote on March 5th, 2010
  9. I do Crossfit and I like the ideas behind the training. You could take the concepts and apply them to your own training routine, call it Crossfit, call it HIIT, whatever.

    What I don’t like about Crossfit is the main site WOD, I really wonder if the people coming up with those have an actual training background (beyond being “Crossfit Certified”) as at times the WOD’s seeme to be random stuff tossed otgether that someone thought would be fun or just bad in general as the risk of injury from the WOD is high. Yeah, yeah, the whole scale the WOD BS comes up. You don’t see anything about scaling when looking at the WOD and someone new could think that is what everyone is suppose to do.

    My other beef ishow Crossfit certifies people and says they “trainers” and ready to run a training. That would be along post to go into that. :)

    Wayne wrote on March 5th, 2010
  10. There is NO WAY I could do either P90X or CrossFit as prescribed by thosae two programs. Like a lot of other people here, I have altered the CrossFit WODs for my body and goals. I do CrossFit-type WODs two days a week. The remainder of the time I rest, move slowly, and sprint occasionally.

    This really works for me. As I gain strength and endurance, I’ll stick with two days but increase the intensity and difficulty of the workouts.

    Kent Hawley wrote on March 5th, 2010
  11. I have doing Crossfit with a great affiliate for 2 years. At the mid 50s age range and have hit a plateau for various reasons. Love the group workouts but am trying to recover from elbow tendinitis from too many pull-ups!

    Crossfit is costly! Looking forward to upcoming PBF!!

    David wrote on March 5th, 2010
  12. Hi Mark,

    What is your opinion on StrongLifts?

    George wrote on March 5th, 2010
  13. First of all (as this is my first comment here), thanks for an excellent site and an excellent book (which I received a couple of weeks ago from Amazon). I’m following your eating plan quite rigorously and although its only been a month or so, I’ve seen incredible results. I’ve lost around 10 pounds and gone from 34 to below 32 in jeans size. Feel great. Much steadier energy. Glad to be off the carb roller coaster (I was SICK of that ride! (pun intended))

    I’m now looking into what to do about exercise. I’m a fairly active guy. I play volleyball twice a week and I’ve started lifting weights once a week. For me, that is the optimal training program, I think. The actual EXERCISE is hitting the weights. Once a week. Hard, whole body, rather brief, strict form, safe…. I’m done in about 45 minutes. For me, that is enough to maintain muscle mass and even add to it. Besides that, I just aim to stay active: play volleyball, hike, play with the kids, walk the dog etc. I don’t think I need anything more complicated. Just wanted to share that.


    P.s: I’m raving to everybody about your site and your book. It is a wonderful gust of fresh wind in the stale air of conventional wisdom. But boy are people skeptical when I tell them about primal eating! Anyway. Grok on!

    Siggi wrote on March 5th, 2010
  14. I’m eagerly awaiting the PB fitness prescription. Went to check out the Crossfit facility in my city last week. You want to talk sustainability? Try sustaining these fees: they want $275 for their “jump start” first month, then a minimum of $120 per month after (depending on number of workouts per week — 120 is for 2/wk)! Yeesh!

    Greg Basky wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Greg, I set up my own CF gym in my garage. It’s great! The reason I did this is time, I am married with two small kids and a hectic job. I don’t have time to drive back and forth to the gym at this point in my life.

      However, when you belong to a CrossFit gym you have access to personal training all of the time, included. That is why they cost more, but you get so much more out of them, and you get a community of new friends to boot! PT’s are usually $40-$60 an hour!

      Craig wrote on March 5th, 2010
  15. People who rail on CrossFit for being dangerous and too intense for the general public don’t understand the nuts and bolts of the program. IT’S SCALEABLE and is SUPPOSED TO be scaled to one’s current level of fitness.

    The CF class I attend is filled with 40 and 50 somethings who go 2 to 3 times a week. They scale the workouts, and no, they’re not getting injured all the time. There is a 70 year old woman who shows up too. ANYONE can do it, if done properly.

    High rep Oly work is a bad idea only if people attempt to move loads above their ability. If you asked me to do 30 clean and jerks for time using PVC, I could guarantee I would not get hurt. That’s not dangerous given my ability level. However, if I attempted the same with 155 lbs, the probability of an injury would definitely increase for me.

    Yeah, maybe some yahoos might get themselves into trouble with CrossFit, but don’t blame CrossFit. It’s the user misapplying the program.

    I go my local CF affiliate twice a week for my high-intensity training. I do other movements the other 5 days, whether it’s playing racquetball or just going for a long walk with the dog. It gives me plenty of recovery time, and my CF benchmark WOD times are constantly improving–just from twice a week!

    JoeV wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Joe, I totally agree with you on all of this.

      Craig wrote on March 5th, 2010
      • so do I, I stopped doing crossfit because i moved for school and came back and started CFing again. the first week i couldnt move, the next i improved a lot. you just have to listen to your body and know when its time to take a rest day. At my gym we ages from teens to 70 year olds and they love it and get though the WODs w/ no problem.

        Angie wrote on March 5th, 2010
  16. I’ve worked in the fitness industry 15 years. Personal trainer, yoga/pilates/cycle instructor. Started Crossfitting a year ago and got the Level 1 and kids cert. I love it- I do 2-3 CF workouts a week. The rest of my workouts are with a Olympic lifting coach (community college- big city), swimming, biking, trail runs, yoga , pilates. The Crossfit has made me a much stronger athlete and better at everything else I was doing. I take the Olympic lifting class because I don’t feel confident teaching it after the level 1 cert. When I’m done with this semester – I’m sure I’ll be much more confident and realize the complexity of it. I really believe the Crossfit experience depends on the trainer! My kids are much stronger form it too. Love the Primal living, thanks for the website!

    sarah williams wrote on March 5th, 2010
  17. I’d stick with “old school” Arthur Jones’ HIT, with Nautilus machines or with free weights it’s principles are time tested and work. Safe for all ages, (I train a 100 year old lady) and is most time efficient(20 or less minutes 2x a week).

    Chris wrote on March 5th, 2010
  18. We have a fantastic CrossFit affiliate gym here in Austin. The usual prescription is 3x a week and they have several supporting programs – OnRamp (for beginners), CrossFit Kids, kettlebells, bootcamps, etc. I do traditional Crossfit 2x a week and kettlebells 2x a week. I think that’s generally a sustainable schedule for me, even in the long haul

    Christine wrote on March 5th, 2010
  19. Great article…

    I have tried P90X… I never got through the full program. For me, it was too much, too long and it just wasn’t for me. I have friends that LOVE it. If it works for them, great!

    I was introduced to CrossFit about 8 months ago. I was only doing it once a week (with a trainer that was certified), until I found an affiliate. I now CrossFit 4 days a week. I am a mother, in my 30’s and I LOVE it. This is the first time in my life, I have loved working out. Yes, I scale things. And today I actually RX’d a WOD… major thing for me today was I did full on military, on the toes, push-ups, no knees… I know that I want to push myself more and more. And my trainers are fantastic because they push me, but keep me realistic with my abilities.

    I think everyone needs to find what they love… CrossFit is not for everyone, P90X is not for everyone. And Mark introducing his workout plan, I think is fantastic. I think everyone needs to take their own acountability for their bodies and be realistic about how it performs and what it’s ability is.

    I just think people need to find something they want to get out of bed to do. That they are passionate about.

    Luckykoi wrote on March 5th, 2010
  20. can I just say I love the idea of brevity in a workout!? And I’m feeling my 7-10 minute workouts, both a the time and later…in worked muscles and higher energy! Can’t wait for the PBF to come out!

    anniegebel wrote on March 5th, 2010
  21. Great blog Mark! I do P90X ( also coach for BB and want to become a PT), and I think no matter what program you are doing, if you are listening to your body,and eating primally, you will be able to keep it going indefinitely. Also, while it would be great to go 100% all the time, you can modify anything anytime to work with the different variables life and each day brings. I am doing P90X to build a solid fitness foundation to get back into competing in cycling. I’ve learned to fuel as I go, which keeps me Blood sugar more stable, and also to really stay in my most effective heart rate zone. I may not end up being the fastest racer, but doing this will make my racing days last a lot longer. I can see myself doing P90X and cycling way into my later years ( I’m 35 now), I may slow down, and I may take an extra day off now and then, but I also believe I’ll rest just fine when they plant me:) Thank you for your thoughts .. I have been wanting your opinion on this for some time. Thanks for all you do!


    Susan wrote on March 5th, 2010
  22. I have a lot of good things to say about P90X. I received it as a gift a few years ago and it got me into the second best shape of my life (as opposed to now). I followed the plan perfectly and got amazing results. Then I started grad school and my free time dropped to zero. Now the stress, no sleep, and poor eating were huge factors but I just didn’t have time for P90X commitment. And I got into the worst shape of my life. My weight and bodyfat shot up and my activity level went down (mostly due to the CW carb heavy diet I was eating).

    After a few years my life stabilized but I wanted to get back into shape so I dusted off the DVDs. And after the first workout I saw Mark talking about the products he designed for them. I wanted to know more about them, so I googled Mark Sisson and found MDA. As much as I love the workouts in P90X, the best thing that came out of it is introducing me to PB.

    So now I eat the PB way, and I use PB to modify the already stellar P90X. Here is my own anecdotal advice.
    1. Use 3 of the Lift Heavy Things DVDs a week, doesn’t matter which ones, mix it up for variety. Make it intense but don’t feel you need to do the full hour.
    2. Cut out the Kenpo (its just Chronic Cardio)
    3. Ignore the Yoga, and do the Stretch on a rest day if you feel like.
    4. Use Plyo, but modify it into your HIIT workout. That is use the fast forward button to skip the end of long exercises. Trust me do some of those jumps in a Tabata interval and you will feel it.
    5. Core Synergistics is actually a really good weekly workout, you can put it in for one of your lifting days.
    6. If you have the follow up P90X+ you have access to 2 more lifting DVDs
    7. Also Interval X is a great HIIT routine.

    Once again, I love the convenience of P90X, its there when I want, I can choose which DVDs to use, and I have a remote to skip around. Also Tony is a great motivator in the exercises. But the thing I’m the most greatful for is that BeachBody hired Mark to make the supplements because that’s how I found my inner Grok.

    Ben wrote on March 5th, 2010
  23. Shared more of my experience in reply to Martha above.

    As a p90x alum and current CrossFit, triathlete just wanted to add what we’re doing and talking about is what 99% of America needs to embrace as well. May step on toes but want a real Healthcare care solution. Get fit, moving, eat healthy and sustain it your whole life…so am eager to see what unfolds on PB!

    Dave kohrell wrote on March 5th, 2010
  24. I posted earlier but just wanted to say again that I’ve done both of these programs and found them each to be beneficial in their own way. I initially started out with P90X several years ago and after several rounds of it I moved on to Crossfit to try something different. I think that doing P90X gave me the confidence to try Crossfit and I went into it with a good level of fitness. I recently went back to P90X simply because of the convenience of being able to do it in the comfort of my own home. I came back to the P90X program in even better shape and able to crank out pull ups better than ever because of the progressions that I had learned while doing Crossfit. I find it unfortunate that many people discount P90X simply because it is a dvd series. The creator of the program met with many different fitness experts while putting together the program and has been in the fitness industry for many years himself. I am currently in the middle of a round of P90X but will not exclude Crossfit or PBF as a fitness option in the future. I don’t think it matters whether you are counting reps along with a dvd or in a Crossfit box (because you do count reps in many of their WODS) as long as you are moving. Let’s face it folks there are so many people out there that aren’t doing anything.

    Michelle wrote on March 5th, 2010
    • Mark – excellent post. As someone who has asked the question, great to finally hear your comments and views. I am about six months a crossfitter, but have the concerns (as mentioned in your overtraining article) about HIIT on a regular basis. Having said that, I love it. Anyway, really looking forward to your programme to see the (r)evolution.
      For Wayne and others above, the Crossfit Mainsite does have access to scaled WOD- look at the sidebar on the left, “getting started”.

      PJ wrote on March 5th, 2010
      • Mark, I’m well aware about the Getting Started link to Crossfit BrandX (a CF affiliate), that link to the scaled workouts should be listed right there with the WOD in my opinion.

        Wayne wrote on March 10th, 2010
  25. Mark, I’m explicitly with you on this PBF idea.

    I’ve done my share of athletic competitions, but let’s get real, the days of Olympic potentials are over, and I won’t be forging elite fitness while compromising health and physical longevity.

    I’m happy to simply be strong, fast, and agile enough to get out of my own way, all while looking sharp. This I can do all year long, for the rest of my life.


    Johnny at The Lean Saloon wrote on March 5th, 2010
  26. Thanks for this, Mark. I’m starting P90X in May, and this has helped me feel better about it.

    Jamie wrote on March 5th, 2010
  27. I’m in my mid-40s. I spent six years in the Army, and continued running for several years after I got out. I developed pain in my knees and ankles, so I had to stop running, and I got out of shape (which I hated). A little over a year ago, I heard about P90X from a friend, so I tried it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, got good results, and got moving again.

    I had completed three full cycles of P90X and was halfway through the Insanity workout when I found this web site (from a link on a P90X blog) and I bought the book.

    Truthfully, within four weeks of eating PB-style I saw more positive changes in my body composition and overall health than the previous year of hard workouts.

    I now do a reduced-frequency version of P90X (similar to several described in the comments above), and have begun mixing things up with sprint days and other forms of fun and play.

    Fitness is an enjoyable pastime and hobby to me. I am modifying my workouts to make them conform to the primal lifestyle, but will likely remain on the more active side of the primal spectrum.

    I am definitely looking forward to PBF. Variety is a good thing, and I think the more tools we have to work with, the more interesting and sustainable it will remain. Thanks Mark!

    Chaotic Hammer wrote on March 5th, 2010
  28. I did Crossfit intensively for almost three years and it genuinely stopped working for my goals – I started underweight and out of shape, made some significant progress but never made it anywhere near my goals in terms of functional strength or appearance. I trained at one of the original Crossfit gyms so this was no reflection on the trainers. The problem was the random program and the endless high intensity – setting up sensible training blocks of 3 weeks at high intensity with a 1 week deload, lifting heavy weights with perfect form and doing some sensible conditioning with higher reps, sprints, sled work and carries has made me much stronger, more muscular and healthier feeling in just about every way. Crossfit is a great gateway to serious training, but I don’t know a lot of people who are smart about S&C and have been doing Crossfit more than 3 years – they tend to wise up and start doing things that are more effective for them. Remember, Crossfit works by exploiting the novice effect in a lot of different areas and stretching out your gains – eventually those gains will stop.

    Oliver wrote on March 5th, 2010
  29. I started P90X in July 2009. Prior to starting, I had lost about 40 lbs via cardio work (treadmill, nordictrac and walking the dog). Since starting P90X I’ve lost an additional 20 lbs and have added a lot of muscle, though still have 20-25 lbs of blubber to lose.

    I think P90X is great. I’m on my third round. First 2 rounds I followed the routines pretty strictly. On my third round, which I started 2/1, I’ve modified somewhat to fit me a bit better:

    I still feel I have a lot of muscle to add so I trimmed back the rep count and upped the weights involved in the weight routines (Chest, Shoulders and Triceps, etc). Usually no more than 5 reps per set.

    I think P90X places too much emphasis on a high rep count (if you are fairly weak with not much in the way of muscle when you start, I would think you need a lower rep count with as much weight as you can reasonably handle?)

    I’m still doing the cardio based routines, though I’ve stoppeed Plyo (too ‘beaty’ on the knees and feet—in lieu, I do ‘non-beaty’ HIIT’s 3X’s per week in the evenings).

    Frankly, I’ll have to say, I like the cardio based work, but I also like a lot of what Mark has to say about exercise…I think the important thing is to get in there, start the exercise and better nutrition process, discover diffrent ideas and fashion something that works for you.

    Ok, just got my copy of PB, so gotta go commune with Grok.

    Chris wrote on March 5th, 2010
  30. I do CrossFit style workouts in my backyard and dabble with P90x, but both are a little too intense for me to do full time. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see a Primal Blueprint fitness program. It sounds like it will be absolutely perfect for me!!! Grok on!

    Tara wrote on March 5th, 2010
  31. Mark, do you have any feelings on Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence Training? Its a 3-day workout based on circuit training with HIIT afterwards. Extra days are optional at low intensity. Thoughts?

    Keith wrote on March 5th, 2010
  32. Hi Mark,I am one of those wide-eyed beginners! For some time I want to include HIT in to my work out but I really get confused and find them too hard for me and is more towards male PB!

    I am looking forward to PBF , is it a book and DVD or e-book ?? I hope is a book and DVD …

    Meanwhile I am doing my usual mid intensity cardio and just started on some PBF articles already exist. Eating PB way since last may, feeling good but need to get fit..


    thania wrote on March 6th, 2010
  33. Mark,

    Excellent points about both systems. I agree that “Sustainability” is key to any exercise program, and from what I’ve seen, both CrossFit and P90X fail to meet this requirement for the majority of people out there.

    High intensity is great, but not all the time. It must be continuously cycled with periods of low and moderate intensity in order to be effective and sustainable over a long period of time.

    Jon Haas wrote on March 6th, 2010
  34. 45 year old female here who has done CF for 18 mos. Zoned for 6 and moved to Primal.

    Mark, CF can be sustainable if people leverage the scalability of CF. The ONE major weakness I see with CF is that it is akin to open source software right now. Programming varies from one affilate to another. Personally blessed to be in a gym owned where the programming makes sense and while there is definitely a drive for intensity, there is a sensibility to progress doesn’t come in huge PR’s every day. I’ve also seen people very nicely told to take their rest days or else. Nor do I get a second look when I take 2 rest days in a row and then blast the bajeebas of the next WOD. Ditto for the coaching that PR’s may not be coming as you dial in a diet, etc. To quote our gym – “there are many brands of Crossfit, but my brand is _____.”

    If there is one thing missing in your post that I would suggest not only as an addendum but a focus for PBF, it would be the community focus of CF. Every success in CF is reinforced by the people in your box. There is plenty of documentation about how this leverages the mind/body relationship for fantastic results. I set a mile PR the other day on a treadmill in a local gym. It just wasn’t the same when my fellow box crazies weren’t there.

    Christine wrote on March 6th, 2010
  35. Mark,

    Primal Blueprint and Paleo is all about getting back to the basics that define who we are today. The same process is happening in Fitness.

    In the regard I advocate Bodyweight Exercises. Customers are amazed to see how much can be done by just doing Bodyweight Exercises and how much fun it is. I think that it is the most natural way of a “workout” – the Grok way if you will.

    We often see people experiment and play with BWE. They start to try out new exercise variations by themselves. Another benefit is that there is no additional external weight that can cause injury. Our body is already used and prepared to stabilize it´s own weight and it´s a great basis for lifelong training.

    So in my perspective Primal Blueprint Fitness should also be about using your own Bodyweight to create lasting strength and flexibility that can be used in daily live.

    Thanks for the article!

    Elmar wrote on March 6th, 2010
  36. As far as Crossfit goes, I think that the “hate” people see for it comes from:

    1) Crossfitter attitude. The mindset that just because you do Crossfit you are superawesome and far above everyother normal person in the gym. The worst violaters of this are usually the ones who are not even that in shape and just recently started. I’ve seen it a lot, especially with affiliates who have very poor coaches. Usually when Crossfit gyms have better the coaches and trainers, this tends not to be an issue. It’s the “we’re hardcore brah!” attitude that the little 145lb kid taking up 6 pieces of equipment in the gym having an attitude when people get annoyed with him that puts people off, and then Crossfit gets attached to this. The last time I checked, I haven’t seen any Crossfitters (or full-time Crossfitters) winning Olympic medals.

    Like I said, really good Crossfit gyms don’t have this problem so much due to great coaching and training, and the realization that not everyone needs to start training at max level and doing max effort cleans when they don’t even know what a clean is.

    2.) The Cult like attitude. I’ve talked about this before, but in a lot of places, especially online, Crossfit has a cult-like following where sometimes even the slightest question or complaint is not tolerated. Crossfit has a very high injury rate, especially in affiliate gyms with poor oversight. These concerns often go overlooked however because those Crossfitters get so deeply emotionally attached to what they are doing that they treat it as a religion. Again, this is usually not a problem in really good Crossfit centers but it can be.

    Overall, I like Crossfit. I don’t do it, but I have no issue with it general. I think it’s a great system for general fitness and preparation. As far as training goes, I don’t agree with high-rep olympic lifting. It’s pointless and dangerous. Outside of that, Crossfit is fine. I have no problem at all with any program that encourages big lifts like squats, deads, heavy presses, etc with a good degree of metcon and practical training.

    Fury22 wrote on March 6th, 2010
    • I’ve been a Crossfitter for almost 2 years now, and am in love with the training but I’m also mindful of the potential for injury and overtraining. I’ve personally never been injured from the WODs, although I’ve had to quit (DNF) due to muscle pain (that went away quickly with ice and rest). Even that was preventable had I used proper form.

      Much has been said of the importance of beginning your training with good coaching and scaling to your abilities. This is essential in my experience. Very few people could or should begin CF training by simply going to the main site and doing the WODs on their own. One MUST learn proper form and it also helps immensely to have good trainers who know how to personalize/scale each workout to the trainees abilities.

      Regarding high-rep oly lift WODs, at my affiliate these are ALWAYS done with lower weight and used for repetition and anaerobic intensity (interval training). I’ve found that doing oly lifts with lower weight and higher reps actually locks in good form due to the repetition and muscle memory this builds, as long as each rep is performed properly. The trainers at my gym are adamant that every athlete performs each rep with good form, at the cost of a longer time when necessary. I’ve completed AMRAPs with relatively few rounds when performing complex movements and held my head high at the end because I knew I got the prescribed benefits and honed my skills. Also, keep in mind there is always time before/after the WOD to practice skills!

      Billy wrote on March 6th, 2010
      • One last thing, Fury22 mentioned that he doesn’t know of any Olympic medalists who are “full-time” Crossfitters, but CF is not meant to make an athlete world-class at any one particular sport. The specificity of training required to compete at the Olympic level in any particular sport is inherently conflicting with the CF philosophy or all-around, general and inclusive fitness.

        In a nutshell, CF is meant to make one “Jack of all trades, master of none, but better than most at all of them.”

        Billy wrote on March 6th, 2010
        • Totally agree. I understand what Crossfit is for. That wasn’t my point. My point was the attitude that many Crossfitters have regarding themselves. I’ve met many that seem to believe that they are “elite”. Unfortunately, that attitude sometimes gets attached to Crossfit in general. I used “full-time” for lack of a better term. I meant those who are really serious and are competitive with the workouts for time, like Crossfit games type competitive. Sorry, shoulda been more clear:)

          As far as high-rep Olympic lifting, I still think it’s pointless. There are much better ways to get the same effect. If you can do 20 snatches with a given weight, then you are not getting any training benefit. Olympic lifts are meant to be done with heavy weights and explosively. Outside of warm-ups, high-rep Olympic lifting is pointless. It may lock in good form on lighter weights, but it doesn’t really carry over to heavier weights. The only way to get better and stronger at olympic lifting is to do it frequently with heavy weights. I’ve tried it. I usually don’t even do doubles anymore, except for the power versions. I very rarely train at less than 90% of my maxes on the snatch and clean. I did try doing doubles and triples and found absolutely no benefit.

          But yes I do understand Crossfit philosophy, my wording probably wasn’t very good.

          Seems like you have a good affiliate gym though! That’s good!

          Fury22 wrote on March 7th, 2010
  37. As a Crossfitter I would like to say that a lot of affiliates have B.S. coaches. If scaled properly crossfit can be done by any body at any age from kids to elderly. Watch what HQ posts as far as vids. Problem is with a level 1 cert and 2000 bucks you can become an affiliate. Doesn’t mean you know jack about CF. I do want to say thank you Mark for your excellent articles. I look forward to seeing your new fitness program because I like to try new things when it comes to fitness.

    J. Dunbar wrote on March 6th, 2010
  38. I am another former P90X-er but I have been at Crossfit since Aug of 2008. P90X was a great program and it came in handy if I didn’t have time to get to the gym. But I think the advantage for me is the community. Having a group of people with whom you share the common bond of fitness, makes all the difference for me!

    Additionally, I am a trainer (CF and others) and I utilize the principles of CF to train my personal clients in their homes (all over age 45). Believe it or not, they are having tremendous health and strength gains by scaling CF workouts.

    Personally I experienced physical breakthroughs once I integrated a major change in my diet, one that leans towards a more primal way. Even my 16yr-old Type 1 Diabetic son is embracing the nutrition part(alongside CF) and is starting to see improvements in his blood sugars and focus!

    I am excited too to sink my teeth into your Fitness program. I don’t think you can ever have too much knowledge.

    PS the P90X Post-Workout drinks, while delicious are too sweet for my Primal taste buds now!

    Anne wrote on March 6th, 2010

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