Can I do P90X if I can’t do pull ups or push ups?

By Nancy Andrews

Can I do P90X if I can’t do pull ups or push ups?

Sep 22nd, 2010 | By Nancy Andrews | Category: P90X FAQ

P90X is a great program that has you push yourself to dramatically increase your muscle strength. And one of the chief ways it does that is to have you do a lot of pull ups and push ups. For those who are not in tip top shape, this may seem daunting. It may leave you thinking that P90X is not for you.

I won’t tell you that P90X is for everyone because it’s not. But just because you struggle with getting a proper push up out or are unable to pull up your body to clear a pull up bar, doesn’t mean you can’t do P90X. There are a couple things you should consider:

  1. Tony Horton will show you modifications to most exercises.  This includes both push ups and pull ups.
  2. There is no shame in not being able to do a proper push up or pull up.  When I started I struggled to get more than 1 or 2 full push ups done and was completely unable to pull my chin over the bar – I couldn’t even get half way there!  But continued efforts over time has me now getting a couple of unassisted pull ups out now and I can do more than a handful of full push ups out before having to move to my knees to complete.

The thing I like about P90X is that if you just try – I mean really try – you will see amazing results.   Now if you have serious injuries to your spine, hips or knees, P90X may not be for you.  I have a spine injury where my neck meets my upper back and I do have to modify what I do to prevent injury.  And I didn’t try P90X until I had rehabbed myself with traction and light exercise.

But if you are simply out of shape, P90X can transform you like nothing else.  And compared to the cost of a fitness club with trainer (or a couple of classes) the P90X program looks cheap by comparison.  So if you are on the fence, get off of it and get moving, you’ll be glad you did.

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  1. I got these workouts at an estate sale because they were to hard for the previous owner…..I have enjoyed thems so far but I think there should have been work sheets and guides with them as well. If so, can I get the parts I am missing through a website?
    Please let me know.

  2. Monique –
    Here is a link to the worksheets. If you are on facebook….you should join P90X fan club. That is where I got this link.

  3. Thanks Heidi. I’ve actually had those posted up at along with the workout sheets from other programs like P90X+, Chalean Extreme and other tools.

  4. Can you do this program in a gym or do you have to be in front of a TV working out while following hte DVD’s?

  5. The program is designed to do at home. However, we’ve transferred them to various formats including our ipods and blackberries here and then occasionally take some of the workouts to the gym. So you can do them in a gym but they are designed to be done at home in a follow along process.

  6. I starting P90X tonight. I am okay on push ups but still can not do an unassisted pull up. Did you use the bands for pull up modifications or use a chair with the chin up bar?

  7. Hi Jamie,

    Most women cannot do unassisted pull ups at first. I chose to do assisted pull ups rather than use bands. I also encourage you to try a couple without any assistance at the end of a couple sets to get your muscles used to the change in pull you’ll feel. That’s what I did and I got my first full unassisted pull up out after about a month. That was the reverse grip or chin up move which is the easiest. :)

  8. That is what i was thinking. I feel like using bands are easier than weights/real pull ups and I want to be able to do unassisted pull ups as early as possible. So i would think keeping the move truest to the real form (using the chair) would be better. Thank you!

  9. Hi Nacy. I am currently 5’7 weight 160, i been wanting to do p90x but as in pull up i cant do any i do do sports and love to run wondering if P90x will be for me.

  10. Hi Celly,

    I apologize for overlooking this. If you are looking to shape up, lose fat and gain some lean muscle, P90X will be great for you. I could not do any pull ups when I started and I could not even do any push ups from my toes (had to go from my knees). But the program is so effective, you’ll soon be amazed at what you can do.


  11. Hi Celly,

    I could not do any pull ups when I started either – most women can’t. In fact, most men can’t either unless they are already very fit. P90X can be done at different fitness levels because you just modify a move until you can do the full move. When I started I could not do any push ups from my toes either. But with persistence, I eventually made the switch from knees to toes. Whether it’s right for you is more of a goals and preference issue. If your goal is to add lean mass while losing some fat, then it’s for you. If you like a boot camp type mentality when working out, it’s for you. But if these goals/preferences are not what you are interested in, perhaps something like Turbo Fire or Insanity would be better which is much less a builder of lean mass but does work to lower body fat.


  12. Hello EO,

    I’m a male 318lbs with body fat% at about 53%. I am extremely out of shape and am looking to begin the P90X Program. I’ve watched most of the videos without starting them yet and I would say this is helping my psyche. I will start the program Feb 27. In the meantime for the past month I’ve been stretching and beginning to change my diet, cutting sugars, processed foods, junk foods and upped my fiber intake to prepare my body for the grueling first few weeks. I am confident that I can get this going. I’ve always been confident but over the years plus the weight on top has really put a hit on my confidence. I am stubborn so I know the pain won’t keep me from continuing. I just want to thank everyone for their important input. I was able to do about 10 pushups a few years ago, but never been able to do a pull up even in my HS years when I was a star soccer player. I hope to have my full confidence and self esteem back by day 90 of the program. For those with similar cases it’s always good to get your body and spirits ready for such a program as well as get your mind prepared for it. What is working for me is watching the videos first to familiarize myself LOL. Good luck to everyone and I hope to repost after 30 or 60 days and maybe even after the first 10 days to update on my progress.

    Best Regards


  13. Hi Eddie,

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I know that I and my many readers will be anxious to have you come back and report how it’s going! :)


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