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P90X2 Review: Base And Back

Brutal. Taxing. Grueling. Punishment.  Hey, welcome to P90X2 Base and Back– aka P90X2’s “I heard you were talking **** about me” workout. In short, Base + Back is meant to give you braggadocio and ultimate bragging rights. But here I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind a sec…

P90X Classic’s Legs and Back (now the innocent-looking precursor to the new P90X2 Base + Back) was the only P90X workout to specifically focus on legs beyond the plyometric workout. Legs and Back used weighted variants of the foundational three leg exercises: lunges, squats and calf raises. If you sampled the One on One Volume III Base and Back (which I reviewed here), what’s coming next shouldn’t be a surprise: Say “goodbye” to tradition in P90X2. The weighted lunges and squats you came to know in P90X are all “peace out”, replaced with… 100% Plyometrics. And while that may be a bummer to leg purists, I can promise you’ll come out on the other side of this workout not even thinking about missing those weights– my legs were toast 12 hours later.

Simply put, if you’re looking for a single ticket for a one-way trip to Pukesville USA, hop on board.  Base and back is work.

P90X2 Base And Back Review


I’m just gonna put it out there: Base and Back is easily the hardest workout to date in the pure sense of the massive amount of work being pushed to your two biggest muscle groups- back and legs. Thing is, on paper Base + Back is tricky about it: 10 moves, water break, 10 moves. There’s nothing fancy going on here– no balance postures or specific core focus (though you will and should use your core in your jumping and pullup form)… Easy, right?


Base + Back is straight jump and pull to exhaustion and then do it again. And again. And again. And again. Water break… And again x5.


P90X2 Base And Back comes up just short of an hour at 55 minutes but the actual “work portion” runs a very economical 30 minutes. No surprise if you’ve read all the other P90X2 reviews thus far–Warm up and cool down take up the other 25… and when it’s all said and done, you’ll be glad they did. Still, if you can run through this workout straight in 30 minutes, official fist-bump from me to you. Tony Horton knows this one is a chest-beating Monster and gives longer breaks between sets (dramatized to exaggerated effect by one of the more prickly and off-putting cast members I’ve ever seen rolling his eyes and obnoxiously clapping at Tony to hurry up). Base + Back’s mid-set break is a full two and a half minutes, which should tell you something. Still, I found I had to hit “rewind” more than once as I pushed through and tried to squeeze out an extra couple pullups.


The warm-up is mostly the same as all the other workouts except the addition of scapular contraction (hanging on the pull up bar and flexing/rolling your lats in short movement) AND a series of leg swings done standing front to back and side to side. Personally, I’ve found I don’t mind the redundancy. The warm-ups and stretches are “on the nose” effective in getting prepped and ready to go.

The Workout

I hope I’m not overhyping this one but Base And Back is rough. Five pullup moves and five plyometric moves alternated for a grand total of 10 exercises (with a short water break after the first five moves). The sequence is repeated after a 2 1/2 minute water break for a Base and Back total of 20 moves. 20 BIG moves.

If you’re anything like me (or any of the other hardcores I know who’ve I’ve spoken to about this), by the end of the first 10 moves, you’ll be wincing at the thought of repeating them all over again. Base and Back is all about making you realize it’s time to pull up the big boy/big girl pants, dig in and push through. Not unlike the 1 on 1 Base and back I began teetering on “driving the porcelain bus”– aka. nausea (and I’m not a guy who’s usually prone to workout nausea) about 3/4 of the way through… the first round.

Since most of these moves are usually “max” exercises, you’re given a benchmark to shoot for in the first few minutes via a general 10/20 rule: Do 10-ish pullups and 20-30ish plyo moves keeping in mind you’ll be doing them all over again in the second round.

Move Highlights:

V Pull Ups :

Starting from a standard pull up position with hands wider than shoulder (The “V”), you do your pull up to the right and touch chin to knuckle (or above), lower your body and pull to the left, touching chin to (or above) the knuckle on your other hand. This move really focuses on weakness and muscle imbalance as you’re pulling to one side only without the advantage of using your full back.

Plyo Press:

A Mary Katherine jumping lunge but with weights and a shoulder press at the top. As you jump into the air from your lunge to the alternate leg, raise two dumbbells over your head in a press. Lower on the downward motion. Full body joy.

Kippy Cross Fugly Pull:

Love the name of this pull up. Kippy Cross Fugly Pull is a “last chance” final pullup set exercise into oblivion– a no-holds-barred, “just get up!” pull up. No form, no technique, just kicking flailing ugliness to max.


Follow The Rule. 10/20 is probably a happy medium and I pushed closer to 12/25 and expect to increase those numbers as I go BUT the 10/20 rule is a great ballpark number you can manipulate based based on your own benchmark. If you’re finding 8 pullups is where you max out, make it 8. If you’re buckling at 20 jump knee tucks, go for 20. you know your body and you know your thresholds– build the rules around them and don’t short yourself.

Be realistic. This is a tough, put-hair-on-your-chest and and a notch in your belt workout. If you’re maxing out pullups in first few moves, you’re in trouble. Start slow and see how you do. If you’re coming up short in the first round, adjust your max numbers and kill it in the second.

You’ll Get Out What You Put In. Can this workout be easy? Sure, if you’re not giving full jumps, cutting yourself short and not doing pullups “’till you can’t do no more”. But if you go to your limits, your limits will be pushed and your “chuck bucket” may be filled.

The Verdict

I’ll say it again: Brutal. Taxing. Grueling. Punishment. I’ve kind of spent my verdict across the course of  this review but this is truly a workout for the P90X die-hard crowd and one that should totally and completely put a sock in the “P90X2 is easy” complaint department. Base + Back was rough. And I loved it.


An intense workout like this could use a dose of recovery formula. At only a half hour, unless you’re absolutely spent, sprawled and unable to walk away from the TV (the Base And Back cool down should get you right), I’d stick to one scoop instead of two. You can order the recovery formula here.

In the mean time, check out the details on P90X2 here, check out more P90X2 reviews here and feel free to spread the love via Facebook, Digg, Twitter or link if this was worth your time. Or hey, click the subtle link below if you want to give P90X2 a shot. Thanks for the support!

Beginning your P90X2 journey? Questions? Feel free to email me here or at Better yet, let’s get you the support you need to line up your nutrition goals right now. Make me your (free) Beachbody Coach right here and we’ll get crackin’! 

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