Should a Teen Do P90X?

P90X promises to get you in the best shape of your life in 90 days if you follow the 6-day-per week workout plan. The popular home-exercise system includes strength training as well as yoga, cardio, core and stretching programs. A nutrition guide and workout planning guide round out the program to help you achieve success.

While it's promoted for adults, teens can also benefit from following the fitness regimen. The program is safe enough for a teen and could help him find success in managing his weight and increasing strength, flexibility and endurance.


Sports like competitive weightlifting, bodybuilding and powerlifting aren't recommended for teens. Such intense activities can cause injuries to joints, muscles and bones that are still growing. However, moderate-intensity strength training using resistance bands, body weight and free weights is recommended for teens.

Certain precautions should be taken. If this is a teen's first time exercising, P90X is too strenuous a place to start. Teens should build up a base of fitness with walking and jogging and bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups and pull-ups before attempting the first P90x workout. Furthermore, when starting the program, your teen should use light weights and gradually increase the weight as he becomes stronger.

Whenever possible, teens should be supervised by an adult when lifting weights, at least in the beginning. It's especially important that teens execute each exercise with good form to prevent injury.

Equipment Necessary

Teens can easily handle the equipment necessary to complete a P90X program. A 6-foot by 6-foot space, a set of dumbbells or resistance bands and a pull-up bar are all that is needed. Other items needed include a yoga mat, towel and bottled water. Set up in a bedroom, living room, rec room or garage -- anywhere with enough space to move around and a TV, computer or handheld device to watch the DVDs or stream the videos.

Program Design

The American Council on Exercise gives the P90X program a solid review. The program emphasizes almost all parameters of fitness -- including cardio, strength and flexibility. It offers a good variety of exercises, so your teen won't get bored and provides science-based design and progression.

Tony Horton, the on-screen trainer and developer of the program is motivating and engaging and provides ways to modify the exercises. He also gives lots of cues on proper form. Although ACE did not specify whether the program was appropriate for teens, these programming elements indicate that it is safe, scientifically sound and fun for an adolescent.

Requirements and Results

P90X is a pretty intense workout. If your teen is physically ready for the program he should be able to meet the minimum baseline fitness requirements in the Fit Test. For example a man should be able to do three pull-ups and a female should be able to do one. However, if your teen can't do a pull-up, substitutions are provided. Males should be able to do 13 push-ups and females should be able to do three, however, these may be done with the knees down if necessary.

Results depend on your teen's fitness level at the beginning of the program and how consistent he is. As with adults, P90X will greatly increase fitness parameters including muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. Burning calories and building muscle leads to an increase in lean muscle mass and a decrease in fat mass. For teens, this means prevention of obesity and obesity-related conditions like type 2 diabetes. Mastery of a skill leads to improved self-confidence and self-esteem, while regular exercise can prevent depression and anxiety.

Possible Complications

The P90X program requires about one hour per day, six times per week. A teen may not have the drive or time to complete the program. That's OK. Even if your teen only does three of the workouts per week, he will still get results. Make sure your teen warms up properly for each workout and stretches afterwards to prevent injury.

The nutrition plan is designed for the average adult -- not a growing teenager. Before following the plan, you should consult with your teen's pediatrician. Any supplements recommended by the program may be inappropriate; your teen should only take them if under the supervision of a health care provider.

Adding a moderate amount of exercise through P90X can be highly beneficial, but do intervene if your teen starts to lose too much weight or you see that commitment to the program interferes with his social life or school performance.

About the Author

Andrea Cespedes has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.