Understanding P90X Strength Training Sets

by on November 2, 2012

Understanding P90X Strength Training SetsP90X Strength Training Sets Explained

So you’ve decided it’s time to get serious about your fitness and build some serious muscle you’ve always hoped for. Perhaps you’ve dug out those old weights that have been rusting away in the basement for years, or maybe you recently ordered P90X, Body Beast, or Les Mills Pump and looking to get ripped, lean, and get sexy six pack abs by incorporating strength training sets. Either way, you’re all set to get going, right? Well not quite!

One of the biggest mistakes that leads to people losing enthusiasm and dropping out of their programs is a lack of understanding of the their routines, what they’re designed to do, and what sort of results they should expect to see. In the following review, I will explain the different strength training sets you mostly encounter in P90X in Part 1, and Body Beast in Part 2, of my review. These two are the best programs for building lean muscle and/or muscle size.

While some of us are content with grabbing a Beachbody program and simply following the directions, to get the very best P90X results from your efforts you really need to have a basic understanding of how your workout program is put together and more importantly, what it’s designed to do!

That’s why we’re going to take a look at an important element of your training regime known as Strength Training Sets. This can be a confusing concept for beginners to grasp, so we’re going to break it down and discuss the various types of strength training sets you will come across in popular programs like P90X, Body Beast, and Les Mills PUMP.

Before I begin, I should point out that the general rule for continued results, regardless of your routine, is that if you can hit or pass your max rep range target, you should add small weight for the next set in order to progress with our results. Don’t be one of those guys or gals that keeps repeating their routine only to see your results plateau!

If you are starting out your P90X journey, I suggest taking a look at my P90X for Beginners tips.

Single Sets – Also called Standard or Straight Sets. We’re starting with the basic strength training set type which is used as the ‘norm’ across most types of physical training programs. It’s a very straight forward approach whereby you will perform a particular number of movements using weight for a single exercise–for example, Bicep Curls.

If you complete a Single Set 3 times using 10 movements of a certain weight, and rest in between, you’d have just completed 3 ‘sets’ of 10 ‘repetitions’.

Single Sets are a little too plain in the modern era and therefore aren’t utilized very much in your favorite Beachbody program. Let’s move onto to some more dynamic strength training sets that will give you some serious muscle gaining results!

Super Sets – Super Sets have been around for awhile and is a very common strength training set in the bodybuilding world. A Super Set is where you perform two exercises back to back.

The Super Set approach is fantastic for shortening your workout time, while allowing maximum effort on your part. Not only that, but studies now show that shorter rest periods (less than a minute) can actually increase your GH (Growth Hormone) testosterone levels than longer rest periods (more than 3 minutes). So it’s no wonder you will see these utilized as much as possible as the new ‘standard’ strength training set!

Essentially we’re going to double up or ‘pair’ exercises together. You have two options when deciding to pair up exercises. The normal method is to pick muscle groups that work opposite one another (known as antagonistic muscles) such as leg curls and leg presses.  A perfect example of a Super Set is one of my favorite workouts, P90X Chest and Back where you superset the two opposing muscle groups.

For more advanced athletes, the second option is choosing exercises that hit the same muscle groups for maximum pre exhaustion (known as antagonistic super sets). A perfect example of a Super Set with similar muscle groups are any of the Body Beast workouts during the Bulk Phase.

The key here with Super Sets is that you do not rest between each exercise as you go straight on to the next exercise. One cycle of both exercises will count as a single set. By drastically reducing the time you spend resting, you can maximize your Body Beast and P90X results!

Tri Sets – Tri Sets is the general term to describe a larger Super Set. Tri Sets are simply a duplication of the Super Set approach but this time encompassing 3 exercises instead of 2! It takes more effort and your input is drastically increased, but the same principle holds true that it cuts down on your workout time. Choosing which workouts to form a Tri Set is critical for optimal results and thankfully, Beachbody programs like P90X and Body Beast pair certain exercises wisely. The following strength training sets are technical variations of a Tri Set.

Multi Sets – The name is often used interchangeably with Tri Sets or Giant Sets, Multi Sets are essentially a Tri Set which has at least 3 exercises that target different muscle groups. Les Mills PUMP will use these often and P90X Shoulders and Arms is a perfect example of a Tri Set, not to mention one of the most favored P90X workouts.  Each Multi Set starts with a compound shoulder exercise, followed by an isolated biceps exercise, than finished with a triceps isolated exercise.

The compound exercises use your full strength first, then you follow with the smaller muscle groups and since biceps and triceps are opposites, you essentially “rest” one muscle group while working the other.

Circuit Sets – In some cases, the term Giant Sets and Circuit Sets are also used interchangeably, but longer chain sets are usually referred to as Circuit Sets. Circuit Sets are essentially an extended Tri Set that can be any number of exercises, often combining both different and similar muscle groups. Circuit Sets are less about strength training, and more geared for a greater anaerobic workout while boosting muscular endurance. For example, P90X2 X2 Shoulders & Arms has you do 6 exercises in a row, without rest.

Understanding Strength Training Sets – Part 1 Conclusion

I hope you found my review insightful! I spend a lot of personal time writing my own posts. If you like what you see, please do me a favor and leave a comment or two. If you aren’t currently a free TeamBeachbody member, than anything you order at my site will automatically assign me as your Coach or click here to learn how to Change your Beachbody Coach. Shoot me an email with your goals and let’s get to it!

Stay tuned for my Part 2 Strength Training review where I will go into the more advanced Body Beast Dynamic Set Training style! Or click here to learn how to gain muscle with P90X!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike November 22, 2012 at 12:52 am

I was browsing online for routines that would build strength and found your site. I’ve never knew there were so many different kinds of sets. I’ve never done a home workout before so what should I use? Is it better than going to the gym?


superdave November 24, 2012 at 2:10 pm

From someone that used to go to gyms, I will say hands down I prefer the home workout version. It saves time, money, and hassle. Plus you get a professional trainer in your own home. Which program to start will depend on your goals, your experience history, and how much you like a challenge. I’ll message you and let’s talk.


Warren November 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm

P90X and especially P90X2 or beyond what the average person is capable of, if they have no prior workout experience. This is a good read and clarified some new things for me about Body Beast too.


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