Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

P90X3 Complex Upper Coaching, Advice, and Complete Review

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When does it appear in the schedules?

P90X3 Classic Schedule: N/A
P90X3 Doubles Schedule: N/A
P90X3 Lean Schedule: N/A
P90X3 Mass Schedule: N/A
90X3 Elite Schedule: Days 1 & 4


Welcome to the Elite block of P90X3. The purpose of the Elite block of training is to take the strength and coordination built from the first 3 phases of P90X3 and make your muscles as athletic and dynamic as possible. Through a training style known as post-activation potentiation, you will use a repeating "complex" to train your muscles to perform better.


Ever since the arrival of P90X2, I have been a huge fan of this style of training, known as post-activation potentiation. By combining heavy resistance exercise with explosive, powerful movements, and stabilization, you are training your muscles to perform better.

When your muscles perform better, or in other words, become more athletic, you are able to do not only every day things better, but you are able to train harder and more efficiently, and can compete at a higher level.

Unfortunately, there were a number of reasons why I believe many people were turned away from P90X2. Many of the problems seemed to stem from frustration with the training styles, or the apparent lack of "calorie burn." For those of you who stuck with the program, like I did, would've witnessed a remarkable improvement in your level of athleticism.

With P90X3, we are now give yet another option, or tool, to use at our disposal when it comes to training athletically.


Without a doubt, the biggest downfall of these Elite workouts will be the price. Beachbody has set the price for the 2 Elite workouts (Complex Upper and Complex Lower) along with X3 Ab Ripper at an almost incomprehensible $90 (all 3 mentioned workouts on one DVD).

One other small complaint from me surrounding this workout, is that this workout doesn't really seem to have anything magical or fancy about it. For the most part, the workout consists of some push-ups and pull-ups, with multiple rounds of repeats.


Without a doubt, this routine is one of, if not the toughest upper body routine in P90X3. I may go as far to say that this routine is one of the toughest upper body routines I have ever done. The sheer pacing and repetition structure of this one has you gasping for air in no time!

You are doing 25 sets of exercise in under 25 minutes (including a "burnout" round). There are essentially no breaks between sets, with only a minor break in between each complex. The efficiency and pacing of this routine will knock you on your ass, guaranteed!

I love this routine, due to its efficiency as well as its ability to leave me feeling toast by the end.

Difficulty: 5/5

Workout Design

The workout begins with a slightly intensified and lengthened warmup. There are a few extra movements to get your warmed up nicely prior to the athletic training.

The workout is broken down into 4 complexes. Each "complex" consists of 5 exercises. A couple different pull-up/chin-up varieties, a couple different push-up varieties, and a shoulder press. None of this should be too big of a surprise to any of you since the worksheet is publicly available.

There are only 5 different exercises here, as the complex is repeated 4 times, and then once more during the "burnout" round. I do really enjoy the selection of exercises here, however, as the combination covers basically all major muscle groups of the upper body as well as planes of movement.

The one small knock against this routine however, is the lack of anything really new or groundbreaking as far as exercise selection goes.

Workout Design: 4.5/5


Here is a great write-up from Beachbody's fitness advisor Steve Edwards on how great P.A.P. is.

In laymen terms, this means that doing heavy lifting prior to explosive activity can actually help you fire higher threshold muscle cell motor units which, even even simpler terms, means that you will jump higher, run faster, or life more weight.

A good real world application is one P3 athlete who warmed up for a 100 meter race doing heavy squats prior to setting a PR.

Oh, and another great read here.

Individual Exercise Tips/Advice:

Slow-Mo Chin-Ups

Comment: Try and prevent body movement during this exercise. There should be no swaying to build momentum. If you are unable to pull your body weight up using your own strength, then consider using an aide such as resistance bands or a chair. To intensify this exercise, add a weight belt, vest, or backpack.

Primary Muscles: Latissimus DorsiBrachialisBrachioradialisBiceps Brachii.

Secondary Muscles: Teres MajorLevator ScapulaeTrapezius - Transverse and Ascending PartPectoralis MinorDeltoid - Posterior Part.

X Plyo Push-Ups

Comment : Both upper and lower body must be kept straight throughout movement even though you are trying to push your body up explosively, you should try and minimize your body movement to build momentum.

Primary Muscles: Pectoralis Major - Sternocostal Part and Abdominal Part.

Secondary Muscles: Deltoid - Clavicular PartTriceps Brachii - Lateral, Longus, and Medius.

Lunge Thrust Press

Comment : Thrusters should utilize the momentum and force built from your midsection and hips. Although the weights are being pressed by the shoulders, momentum and "drive" comes from the centre of gravity.

Primary Muscles:  Deltoid - Clavicular PartRectus FemorisVastus LateralisVastus MedialisVastus IntermediusSartorius.

Secondary Muscles: Deltoid - Acromial PartTrapezius - Transverse and Ascending PartsTriceps Brachii - Lateral, Longus, and MediusGastrocnemius Lateral and Medial HeadsGluteus MaximusGluteus MediusSemitendinosus.

W Pull-Ups

Comment: Try and prevent body movement during this exercise. There should be no swaying to build momentum. If you are unable to pull your body weight up using your own strength, then consider using an aide such as resistance bands or a chair. To intensify this exercise, add a weight belt, vest, or backpack.

Primary Muscles: Latissimus Dorsi.

Secondary Muscles: BrachialisBrachioradialisBiceps BrachiiTeres MajorLevator ScapulaeTrapezius - Ascending Part,Pectoralis Minor.

Push-Up Bird Dog Crunch

Comment: When raising your arm and leg during the "balance" portion of this exercise, although there is emphasis placed on the muscles lifting the arm and leg, there should also be a strong emphasis on tightening the shoulder and hip of the arm and leg still planted on the floor. This is accomplished through activation of the latissimus dorsi and quadriceps.

Primary Muscles: Pectoralis Major - Sternocostal Part and Abdominal PartTriceps Brachii - Lateral, Longus, and MediusLatissimus Dorsi.

Secondary Muscles: Deltoid - Clavicular Part.


This is a great workout, no doubts about that. I love the athletic nature of it, the potential do be more dynamic, more athletic, and most of all, to feel young and "springy" again. However, ultimately the question will be asked time and time again whether or not this routine will be worth the price.

I personally had no problems shelling out the extra cash for the Elite DVD because I had already personally witnessed the incredible athletic improvements in my own performance after completing P90X2. The thought that I could add 2 more P.A.P. routines to my library was an absolute no-brainer to me, although I can see the reservations most might have with the price.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. I personally think the investments I make in my health and fitness (assuming they line up with my goals) are good ones to make, especially for a product that I can use in my home gym time and time again for years to come. Some people don't bat an eye shelling out cash for a monthly gym membership, others don't mind spending the money to add to their home workout library. To each their own.

Overall: 9.5/10