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P90X2 Review: Shoulders And Arms

P90X purists rejoice. X2 Shoulders and Arms is the first P90X2 workout that’s as close to a traditional P90X resistance workout as P90X2 has come so far. After weeks of unorthodox stability training and balance postures through Phase I and into Phase II Chest, Back and Balance, X2 Shoulders and Arms delivers good ol’ fashioned lift and push with dumb bells. And while every move is still done in a “balance stance”, standing on one leg while doing curls feels absolutely normal after 4-med ball pushups and Crawly Crabs.

But while the workout and its familiar 3 set structure may have the “I gotta lift” crowd pumping their fists, Shoulders and Arms may go down as the new “over-exuberant” cast member partner to P90X’s legendary Back and Biceps workout. It’s clear a particular spontaneously singing/joking cast member is having a lot of  fun with his old friend Tony Horton. It’s fun and light but after the 20th time doing this workout, I’m betting “Music and Cues” is going to be a popular menu choice. Still, nothin’ but love.


X2 Shoulders And Arms Review


X2 Shoulders and Arms gets back to muscle-working basics: Curls, Tricep work, shoulder presses and flys. But while the moves are very traditional in the sense there’s no new technique to learn, they’re also structured in a way to hit the big boy twins of bicep and triceps (which get two exercises per set)while also giving extra love to the shoulders which get 3 exercises per set thanks to the addition of the Y-T Fly– a posterior shoulder move focused on the smaller shoulder muscles often ignored in presses and other heavy lifting deltoid action.

In all, X2 Shoulders and Arms is a very well-rounded workout with a focus on nothing more than what the title says… with a little bit of P90X2 balance thrown in for good measure. Tony Horton has a great quote:

“In P90X we focused on building parts and getting you fit. In P90X2, we focus on connecting those parts and making you athletic.”


X2 Shoulders + Arms clocks in at a microscopic (by P90X standarss) 50-ish minutes. As you’re familiar with by now, warm-up and cooldown are taking up larger portions of the total workout time so the heavy lifting here is only 32 minutes or so. Shoulders and Arms is short, so lift hard and blast those arms and shoulders.


No change here except the relatively new Table move. Stability Ball warmups, World’s Greatest Stretch and Inchworm (which I’m seeing improvements in flexibility already) clock in at 13 minutes and cooldown is about 7 minutes. I’ve become a real fan of this stretch and warm-up sequence as it feels more focused related to the workouts than doing jumping jacks and high knees. They have their place, but you’re getting warmed up without the impact and that flows nicely into stretch.

The Workout

X2 Shoulders + Arms is 3 sets of seven moves, repeated: Heavy Bicep, Heavy Shoulder, Heavy Tricep, Medium Shoulder, Heavy Bicep, Light Shoulder, Heavy Tricep.  X2 Shoulders and Arms follows a much more traditional “set structure” than the typical P90X/P90X2 circuit and with the same exercises of two moves for biceps, two moves for triceps and three moves for shoulder in each set, you’re going to be feeling the pump when it’s all said and done. What I most appreciate here is that with most injuries coming to the shoulder, you’re receiving an extra TLC shoulder move here– good stuff.

All curls are done in a “one-legged balance stance” but if you think you’re expected to be perfect, think again.  There’s a sequence in the second set where Tony tells everyone to keep their toe of the ground but he has it touching the whole time. These lifts will be a little tougher as you’re on one leg and shifting weight from side to side– your new-found core strength will help keep things balanced but be aware you may not be able to lift as heavy as you’re used to. This means less propensity for “cheating” and back-bending swings so that’s probably a good thing.

Move Highlights: (with only 7 moves I wanted to highlight some of the changes to the standardized form– I wouldn’t say any of these moves are “difficult” in the way we’ve come to understand difficult in P90X2 so far– it’s back to good ol’ fashioned lifting work for the most part)

Arnold Press :

Nothing new here in the alternating shoulder press but you are elevated on one foot which does make this move a bit more difficult when pressing on the elevated foot side. Once you have your balance down, this is one you can really heavy up on to build those defined shoulders.

Crazy Eights:

Again, nothing new but elevated foot, 8 curls on the right with the left holding weight at a static 90-degrees. After eight with right, pull right into static hold and do 8 curls with the left. Repeat for a total of 32 curls, 16 each arm. You may think you can heavy up here and go max, but you’d be wrong. This is a burnout.

Y-T Fly:

Lying face down on stability ball with a flat back and a light 5-10 lb. weight in each hand, perform a back fly (the “T”) and at the bottom of the move, raise your arms to a “Y”.  Each combination of the two moves counts as one rep.

Rocket Launcher Tricep Kickback:

You’re used to tricep kickbacks with butt out, back flat as if you were kneeling on a bench. The P90X2 twist is the kickback is done in a runner’s pose with your head and foot lined up straight– IE, you could launch a rocket off it. This requires core strength as you go into the elevated kickback. Takes kickback intensity up a notch.


Pick a lighter weight. This isn’t the mass building go-for-broke max weight stuff you could do with P90X Shoulders & Arms. While you can heavy up, you’ll need to coordinate your body to keep the right form when balanced on foot. If that’s proving a problem, tone it down and heavy up once you’re stable.

Form. The new balance additions to the workout almost force good form. Everybody wins!

Engage. The core is still playing a role in this workout and will keep you stable in balance. Tighten those abs and go to town.

The Verdict

X2 Shoulders and Arms is going to be a new favorite for many if only by a return to some familiarity: Traditional moves broken down into bite-sized, repeated segments that bring the “weight” back to weight lifting. Shoulders and Arms and Chest have always been my “wheelhouse” and S + A worked them to soreness the next day. And while this workout makes you perform in a traditional weight lifting sense, it also requires you to keep a keen eye on form and function. You’ll get a pump, you’ll wobble and work your balance and as always, you’ll sweat.

That said, is it my favorite? No– but only because it’s familiar which isn’t a problem of the program– there’s only a few ways to work biceps and triceps, after all.

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!

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