P90X for the Military Fitness Assessment

Attention military members: if you’ve ever done a Beachbody program like P90X, Insanity, or Body Beast you know they don’t FULLY prepare you for our service’s fitness assessments.  Most specifically, they lack the training to help out your run!  I was in this same situation.  How do I get the great results from the Beachbody programs without sacrificing my PT test score?  Read on to see how I lost 35 pounds and raised my score by 20 points (76 to 95.7) all in the span of 3 months.

The Military Version

To get those results I used a personal modification of P90X.  For the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, P90X covers ALMOST everything.  It’ll improve your pushups with the chest workouts.  I’ll improve your situps with Ab Ripper X three times a week.  Pullups are covered in the back workouts twice each week.  The missing ingredient is running (also swimming for Navy folks).  To fill in this gap you can make a simple substitution to the classic version of P90X: non-weight days become running days.  In other words, accomplish your running training on the days P90X calls for Plyometrics, Kenpo X, or Yoga X.  Continue to use Core Synergistics and X Stretch during the recovery weeks to help your body replenish for the next phase.  Click below for the altered schedule.

P90X for the Military - Schedule (1)-page-001

If you are pushing your abdominal circumference/body composition limits like I was, then you can adjust the exercises to a more lean approach.  To do this, adjust your weights to hit 16 reps each move instead of the usual 8-10.  This makes sure you’re adding lean muscle mass to aid in weight loss and fat burn, but not adding too much bulk.  Weight loss is particularly important to helping you get more pullups (less weight to lift, right?) and makes running and swimming a lot easier too, especially if you struggle with leg/joint pain during your run.

Running Training

For running, I will not pretend to be an expert so use whatever kind of training that works for you.  The fitness centers on base and at all deployed locations have trained people to assist with running training.  Interval training didn’t work for me, but that was because I started out weighing 235 lbs.  I think the extra weight combined with running fast added too much impact for my legs to handle.  But now that I’ve dropped lots of weight I don’t have any issues.  Anyway, contact one of those professionals and find out what kind of running regimen will work for you.  If you want to know how I built up my cardio from being unable to pass the 1.5 mile run to 45.7/50 component score, send me an email!  I’m always happy to share what worked for me. 

Deployed or at Home   

I made these improvements while I was deployed, which comes with both advantages and disadvantages.  The good part is that it’s pretty easy to set aside time to exercise when there’s nothing else to do in the desert other than workout when your shift ends.  To my knowledge, all deployed locations have adequate equipment and facilities for the P90X program.  Just dumbbells and a pullup bar is all you need.  Some will have DVD players to watch the videos during the workout, but my location didn’t.  No problem though, if you familiarize yourself with the exercises you can easily just print workout sheets to bring with you to the gym.  Those will guide you through the entire workout and you should have them anyway to record your progress, right?

Some of you may disagree with me here, but I think the disadvantage to being deployed is the nutrition side of the program.  For one, it’s not easy to follow the P90X nutrition guide when you can’t control what food they’ll be serving right?  While the food in the DFAC isn’t the fanciest, it’s usually all you can eat.  That’s where it’s easy to get into trouble.  Deployed eating was difficult since all the desserts, fatty burgers, fried foods, sodas and everything is easily available to you.  Resist the temptation!

At home I can resist the urge to buy food that isn’t good for me, but if it’s already in my home I have trouble not eating it.  It was a similar struggle deployed.  I had to be very disciplined in my food selection to lose the weight.

I ate lots of hard-boiled eggs (I chose not to eat the yolks), egg white omelets, V8, baked fish, beef jerky, skim milk, fruits, veggies, whole wheat toast with some peanut butter, salads, etc.  It wasn’t glamorous, but it worked!  Don’t underestimate the importance of eating right.  Nutrition is HUGE to losing weight and improving performance.


So there you have it.  By following this modified version of P90X you will have every base covered for the fitness assessment.  Start this program at least 90 days before your test and you’ll see great improvements!  If you already have P90X, then sign up for a Free Beachbody Account Here.

If you have more questions regarding any of the Beachbody programs or products or any military fitness questions please get in touch with me.  I’m happy to help out my fellow servicemen and women!

-Tom Klusek

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Tom Klusek

Independent Team Beachbody Coach

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Twitter: @TomKlusek

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BeFit4LifeClub

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  1. Great post. I used Insanity and P90X2 to lose weight to prepare for my Navy Physical Fitness Test. I went from being overweight and getting ok scores to being named by the Military Times The Athlete of the Week with a perfect score. There are many ways to use P90X and Insanity to prepare for your fitness test. I highly recommend trying them to prepare.

    • Yeah, I think our unit fitness programs just fall short on getting great results. Most of them are poorly organized and don’t make people work hard enough. Granted there are some exceptions though. But most often people who get great results took it upon themselves to make a change on their own schedule. Congrats on your results Darren!

  2. This is really cool! I am not someone who is in the military, but it is cool to see how you can integrate a program like P90X to fit whatever you need it to fit. Very interesting post!

  3. Great article Tom!

  4. Great article Tom. Looks like a great hybrid program.

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