P90X2 Review: X2 Shoulders + Arms

P90X2 Shoulders Arms and Balance[This is the ninth P90X2 review in a planned series. 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

It’s a pleasant change of pace to write a review of X2 Shoulders + Arms because there are only seven exercises to describe.  Plus, most of them are based on classic weight training moves that anyone who has ever lifted a dumbbell will have already done.  If you don’t know what a biceps curl or shoulder press is, then you need to close this page immediately and return to your gossip blog. Get out of my kitchen!

The only thing of note is that all the moves are performed while balancing on one leg or lying on a stability ball.  This is how the exercises are connected to the core.  When you are in a (un)balanced position, you recruit your core muscles to help you stabilize.  You will feel the burn in your abs and lower back as much as your shoulders and arms. This has the effect of strengthening the muscles in your midsection.  A strong core translates to increased strength and performance everywhere else.  You should be able to channel your strength from your core through your arms.  Lifting while maintaining balance also has an added benefit of preventing you from cheating with your reps.  It’s very difficult to use momentum or body English while trying to remain stable.  Jerking of the weights will only cause you to lose your footing.

The downside is that you’ll probably have to use lighter weights to complete the workout.  Lighter doesn’t necessarily mean easier.  Because you must use perfect form, you may find that the exercises are a bit harder.  Tony shows several different ways of doing each exercise—balanced on one leg, one leg on a raised platform, one leg on a stability ball, or with resistance bands.  To break up the monotony, I try a different method with each round, or I mix resistance bands with dumbbells.  Changing things around makes me feel like I am doing a different exercise each time.

Tony’s workout crew includes Jason, a musician/singer who used to live in the same apartment complex as Tony, Josh, a BeachBody coach with a serious case of hat head, and Monica, a mom of three (?) whose body is shredded beyond belief.  If I were a woman, I would covet her physique.

The Main Event

Balance Curl.  Basically, biceps curls while balanced on one leg.  You’ll do three sets of these, so decide which leg you want to start with and alternate to the other in the following sets.

Arnold Press.  Shoulder presses while balanced on one leg.  Alternate arms with each press.  With one leg off the floor, I feel my lower back being activated while I do this move.

Overhead Triceps Pull.  Overhead triceps extensions while lying on a stability ball. Try not to smash your face if you lose balance.

Six Direction Shoulder Fly.  It is exactly as advertised.  Shoulder flies up, down, right, left, forward, and backwards while balanced on one leg.

Crazy Eight.  Perform eight bicep curls on one arm while the other is holding a weight in the flexed position (similar to the Static Arm Curl from P90X).  Switch the curling/flexing arms after eight reps.  Go for at least sixteen reps on each arm.  Do this on only one leg.  Switch legs each time your switch arms.

Y-T Fly.  Lie with your chest supported by a stability ball.  Grasp a light dumbbell in each hand.  Keep your thumbs facing up.  Your arms should be extended and positioned halfway between your shoulders and ears, thus forming a “Y” to your body.  Raise the dumbbells as high as possible towards the ceiling.  Lower them and position your arms directly to your sides so that they form a “T” to your body.   Raise them up as far as possible towards the ceiling.  Alternate the “Y” and “T” position with each rep.

Rocket Launcher Triceps Kickback.  Triceps kickbacks while in a deep lunge position, or with one leg on a raised platform or stability ball.  I think doing this exercise on the stability ball creates the best overall burn.

Final Thoughts

I mentioned at the beginning that having to describe only seven exercises makes my job easy. Alas, having it easy as a fitness blogger doesn’t mean I like the workout.  I don’t hate it, but there’s not much to get excited about either.  X2 Shoulders + Arms is a solid workout for these muscle groups, but the lack of depth and variety bothers me a little.  There are only seven exercises, but you will do each one three times.  I can’t believe Tony dropped the ball on this workout.  Compared to the other routines in P90X2 which were brimming with imagination and creativity in the different moves, this one is a bit of a clunker in my book.  There are many different types of exercises for the biceps, shoulders, and triceps, but there are only two featured for each muscle group.  And no, the fact that you’re doing the exercises on one leg doesn’t make up for the lack of variety.  If you were to stand with both feet on the floor, you’d be doing the original Shoulders & Arms routine from P90X.

Some people will appreciate the old school approach, but not me.  I don’t really like to repeat exercises and having to do each three times was a bit boring. I have a Jungle Gym XT suspension trainer rigged to my pullup bar.  I used it on some of the exercises to add variety to the workout.  Having voiced this complaint, I should end by saying that you WILL get a strong pump in your shoulders and arms from this workout.  I still feel mine from yesterday night.

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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