P90X2 Review: Balance + Power

P90X2 Balance and Power[This is the fifth P90X2 review in a planned series: P90X2 Review: X2 Core, P90X2 Review: Plyocide, P90X2 Review: Recovery + Mobility, and P90X2 Review: Total Body.  I will write additional reviews of the other routines as I do them.]  If you have any questions about this workout, contact me at connectwithjade@gmail.com.

General Impressions

This workout could have been called X2 Core2 or Total Body2.  In keeping with P90X2’s emphasis on core work and multi-muscle group conditioning, X2 Balance + Power consists of about twenty-four exercises that will test the limits of your core strength, and work out your entire body at the same time.  Expect to feel the burn from head to toe, but especially in your midsection.  Just like X2 Core, every exercise will recruit your core muscles.  Recommended gear are a foam roller, stability ball, medicine ball, and weights or resistance bands.  Weights are preferred over bands in this workout.  This is actually the case for all the workouts in Phase I.  In the last six months, I’ve been transitioning from weights to resistance bands for a number of reasons, but since starting P90X2, I’m back on the weights.  Many of the exercises are simply too awkward or ineffective when performed with resistance bands.

Today, Tony is joined by Steve, a daredevil ski instructor, Dan “the Man,” who Tony introduces as a extreme fitness buff, and Kit, Tony’s sister.  She is the spitting image of Tony, including the ripped abs.  Maybe it runs in the family, or maybe they both work their asses off.

The warmups, stretching, and foam roller exercises are the same as the other workouts in P90X2, and have been previously discussed in P90X2 Review: X2 Core.

The Main Event

Sphinx to Plank Plyo Bounce.  Get into sphinx plank position with your forearms on top of a stability ball.  Quickly push up so that you land into regular plank position on the stability ball.  If you push hard enough, you can create a bounce that will help you with this exercise.  Repeat 15-20 times, or until your triceps or core gives out.

1-Leg Plyo Squat Reach.  Start off by standing on one leg.  Do a squat, reach down and touch the supporting foot with the opposite hand.  As you return to the standing position, leap vertically and reach to the ceiling with the same hand.  Repeat 10-15 times, then switch your support leg.  Activates your core and entire lower body.

Russian Twist.  The name sounds like a cocktail, but it’s nothing you want to order for yourself unless you’re a glutton for pain. Sit on the floor with your knees bent in front of you, feet off the floor.  Hold a medicine ball between your knees.  Grasp a dumbbell with both hands at chest level and do side to side twists with it, making sure to keep the medicine ball in place and your feet off the ground.  Perform 25-30 twists. This will work your lower, middle, and upper abs, and obliques.

Sphinx to Plank Rollup.  Get into a sphinx plank position with your forearms on top of a stability ball.  Do a pushup into a regular plank position, then return to sphinx.  Repeat 15-20 times.  The sphinx pushups will work your triceps, while the balancing will recruit your entire core.

4-Direction 1-Leg Squat Hop.  Start off by standing on one leg.  Do a squat, reach down and touch the supporting foot with the opposite hand.  As you return to the standing position, hop forward.  Repeat, each consecutive time hopping left, backwards, then right  until you complete one rotation.  Do two rotations for each leg.  Activates your core and entire lower body.

Forearms Alt Side Plank.  Begin the exercise in sphinx plank position with your forearms on top of a stability ball. Do a side plank arm raise while balanced on one forearm.  Alternate sides until you have done 20-24 reps.  Mostly works you core, especially the obliques.

Decline Sphinx Plank Press.  Get into a sphinx plank position with your lower legs resting on a stability ball and your forearms on the ground.  While maintaining your balance, press up into a regular plank position, then return to sphinx.  Repeat 15-20 times. Works your triceps and core at the same time.

Weighted Katherine. To do regular Katherine lunges, get into a low lunge position where one leg is in front with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle (quads parallel to the ground), and the other leg is behind, also with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle (quads perpendicular to the ground).  Leap up and land with the legs switched.   In this exercise, you will be holding 15-20 pound weights on each hand.  Do about 30 reps. Jump as high as possible, and land as low as possible into the lunge position. You will feel it the most in every part of your lower body, but your arms and shoulders will be activated as well.

Plank X-Crunch.  Start off in the plank position, feet wide apart for balance, and hands placed under the shoulders.  Simultaneously straighten and raise you right arm and left leg off the floor, while maintaining balance on the right leg and left arm.  Hold this position for 1-2 seconds.  Now bring your left knee and right elbow together so that they touch.  When you complete this motion, straighten the arm and leg again and hold for 1-2 seconds.  Return to the plank position and do the same thing for the other side.  Do 20-24 reps of this exercise, alternating sides.  Works mostly the core, but also activates the shoulders and gluts.

Renegade Row with ½ Lolasana.  For me, this was one of the tougher exercises to master in this routine.  It requires a very good pushup stand (the ones you get from BeachBody are the best because they don’t collapse from side to side), or dumbbells.   Start in the plank position with a stand or dumbbell in each hand.  With a rowing motion, lift the stand or dumbbell to chest level, and lower to the ground.  Quickly follow up by hopping and retracting your knees and legs towards your body.  You should end up in a balled position, with your knees tucked into your chest, and only your hands holding you off the ground.  Complete the exercise by smoothly extending your legs out into plank position again.  Requires a lot of core and arm strength to do properly and smoothly.  Still working on the smooth part.  There’s a modification to make this exercise easier, but I hate doing any of the modifications.

Glut Bridge Roll Out.  Lie on your shoulders with your feet balanced on a stability ball.  Your knees should be slightly bent, and your core rigid.  Bend your legs so that the stability ball rolls towards you and your gluts are further elevated, then return to the starting position.  This exercise doesn’t sound like much, but your gluts, hamstrings, and lower back will get worked.

Over/Under Boat.  Start in the boat position: sitting with your legs extended and feet about 18-20 inches off the ground.  Your torso is rigid and leaning back slightly.  While holding an elastic band or a towel with both hands, bend your legs, move your feet underneath the band, and resume the boat position.  Then, bend your legs, move you feet over the band, and resume the boat position.  Perform this exercise without your hands or feet touching the ground.  Do 20-30 reps.  Works your lower abs and upper thighs.

Warrior 3 Row Press.  It wouldn’t be a P90X2 workout unless there was a Warrior 3 exercise in it.  Start off in a modified Warrior 3 position with a dumbbell in each hand.  The dumbbells should be hanging in your arms at near floor level.  Lift the dumbbells to chest level using a rowing motion.   As you do so, pivot you body so that you are in a one-legged standing position.  Quickly transition and perform a shoulder press with the dumbbells, then return to the modified Warrior 3 position.  Do about 8-12 reps, then switch the supporting leg.  Activates your lower back, gluts, hamstrings, upper back, and shoulders.  Not bad for a single exercise.

Split Lunge.  Basically, leg lunges with one of your legs balanced on a stability ball.  Do about 15-20 reps for each leg.  This exercise doesn’t look that hard, but it’s not easy to keep your balance on a slippery stability ball.   Hold weights for additional intensity. Will activate your quads and hamstrings.

Crawly Crab Press.  This exercise is almost impossible to visualize unless you have done it before.  Start by lying on top of a stability ball with your shoulders as the main point of contact.  Your knees should be bent, and your feet flat on the ground.  While maintaining balance on the stability ball, twist your body to one side so that your torso is lifted off the ball and held up with one elbow.  The other hand is reaching towards the ceiling.  Twist to the other side and do the same thing with the opposite arm.  Repeat 16-20 times, alternating sides.  Add weights to the hands for increased intensity.  Works your entire core, as well as the shoulders.

Lateral Plyo Pushup.  Another opportunity to show off your pushups prowess.  Start in the plank position, with a single medicine ball underneath you.  Do a plyo pushup so that your hands come completely off the floor.  Land with one hand on the ground and the other on the medicine ball.  Repeat, but this time, land with the other hand on the medicine ball.  Do about 20-30 reps, alternating sides as you land.  Try to keep the medicine ball in one position the entire time (your body is moving side to side, not the ball). Your chest, arms, and shoulders will scream in agony.

Lunge Kneel Knee Raise.  Start in the kneeling position while holding dumbbells at shoulder level.  Rise to the standing position, and as you do so, bring the rear knee forward and raise it up to chest level and simultaneously press the weights over your head.  Repeat 8-12 times, then switch sides.  Works your entire lower body, core, and shoulders.  Looks easier than it really is.

X-Plank Spider Twist.  Get into plank position with feet wide apart and hands underneath the shoulders.  Twist your body to one side and move your non-supporting hand and its opposite foot until they touch (e.g., if you are resting on your right arm, touch your left hand to your right foot.  Do about 20-26 reps, alternating sides.  A hardcore way of doing oblique crunches.

Dumbbell Row to Side Plank.  Grab  a dumbbell on each hand and get into plank position.  In a rowing motion, lift one dumbbell to chest height, then quickly transition to a side balance position.  Raise the dumbbell towards the ceiling while keeping your arm as straight as possible.  The other arm is supporting your weight.  When done properly, there should be a straight line from the raised arm to the supporting arm.  Lower yourself back into plank and do this exercise for the other arm.  Perform about 20-24 reps, alternating sides.  Works your shoulders and back, but also recruits your core.

Dumbbell Super Burpee.  Start in the standing position with a dumbbell in each hand.  Raise one foot off the ground, lower yourself into plank position, and then do a pushup on the dumbbells.  Go back into the one-legged standing position, curl the dumbbells, then press them over your head.  Repeat 6-10 times for each side.  This total body exercise will quickly wear you out.

Plank Ball Crunch.  More fun with the stability ball.  Thank God this is the last exercise, because it will waste your core.  Get into plank position with your hands resting on the floor, but your feet balanced on top of the stability ball.  Bend your knees and roll the stability ball towards your hands.  If you’re flexible, you can touch your knees to your forward.  Push the stability ball back to the starting position.  This exercise sounds and looks easy, but the balancing will keep your midsection flexed for the entire duration.  Your midsection will be begging for mercy after about 20 reps.

Final Thoughts

I will judge this workout on what I think it is designed to do.  First and foremost, it is a core workout.  Every exercise will activate your gluts, lower back, lower abs, mid abs, upper abs, and/or obliques.  There is a fair share of balancing exercises as well.  The addition of the stability ball revs up the intensity in every exercise that calls for it.  Your core will be in a continuous state of flex as you perform the exercises.  Sphinx pushups, which already require a lot of core strength, become twice as hard while performed on a stability ball.  Working out on flat surfaces now seem ridiculously easy.  In this regard, X2 Balance + Power succeeds handedly.

I said at the beginning that this workout could be called X2 Core2.  X2 Balance + Power picks up where X2 Core leaves off by adding weights to intensify the core work.  This is a good thing, but I feel that my upper back and biceps are missing out a bit, at least in Phase I.  There is not a lot of pull-up work in Phase I, compared to two days each week of hardcore pull-ups in [intlink id=”11″ type=”page”]P90X[/intlink].  Some people will love this, but I don’t because pull-ups were one of my strengths.  I hope my lats don’t atrophy from lack of use. I don’t feel my biceps are getting much work either.

I’m looking forward to moving on to Phase II to see if all this core prep work has helped.

Sign up for my free Fitness Success CourseDo you have any questions about this article or anything relating to health, fitness, and weight loss? Email me at connectwithJade@getresponse.com. I love to hear from my readers!



About Jade Nuyen

You know the people who tell you that life goes downhill after 40, or after you've had children? They're full of crap. I prove it to myself every single day that life begins after 40 and you don't have to accept being a frumpy out of shape mom as a lifestyle.
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2 Responses to P90X2 Review: Balance + Power

  1. Mike Smith says:

    Thanks for the review. The X2 fitness guide gives little in the way of information about the workouts. I have my first Balance and Power tomorrow.

  2. Rick M. says:

    agree about the lack of bicep and lat involvement in this phase…am a recent grad of P90x….so what I am doing is at the end of a X2 workout I do either a slpit set bicep curls (remember the do 8 reps at heaviest weight, then go down 5 lbs and do 8 more, etc?) or will do a few sets of chin ups and then pull ups