P90X Chest & Back Exercise Explanation

P90X is a great at home work out routine.
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Power 90 Extreme (P90X) is a popular workout that can be done at home or at the gym. If you're wondering how to do the P90X chest and back exercises, here's what you need to know.


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P90X Exercises Explained

The P90X program is a full-body strength training workout. The American Council on Exercise explains that the 90-day regimen is based on the concept of muscle confusion. The idea is to keep changing your workout, so that your body doesn't have enough time to adapt and become efficient at it. This enables your body to burn more fat and build muscle faster.


Research shows that this approach is effective; a December 2012 study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that workouts like P90X can offer more fitness benefits in a shorter period of time than traditional circuit training workouts.

You've probably guessed from the name that the P90X program is pretty intense. A study published in the Fall 2015 issue of the Journal of Special Operations Medicine categorizes workouts like P90X, Insanity and CrossFit as extreme conditioning programs, since they involve high volumes of physical exercise at a high intensity.


Read more: Everything You Need to Know to Build a Strong Back

P90X Chest and Back Exercises

According to the official website, the P90X program consists of 12 parts, one of which is a chest and back workout. The P90X chest and back workout incorporates push-ups and pull-ups, with several variations of each, as well as a couple of exercises with free weights. The idea is to simultaneously work out the pushing muscles in your chest (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor) and the pulling muscles in your back (latissimus dorsi and trapezius).


Move #1: Push-Up

Adam Schafer, certified fitness trainer, demonstrates the right form in his YouTube video "The RIGHT Way To Do Push-Ups."

  1. Place your palms and the balls of your feet on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keep your body straight from head to heels, your head neutral and your core engaged.
  3. Bend your arms outward and draw your shoulder blades backward, going lower until your chest touches the floor. Your body should form an arrow shape with your elbows pointing back and out.
  4. Don't rest on the floor; raise yourself up immediately.



  • Bar push-ups: Do the push-ups on parallettes, which are hand-held parallel bars that enable you to lower your chest below the level of your hands, giving you a wider range of motion.
  • Military push-ups: Do the push-ups with your hands shoulder-width apart and your elbows close to your sides, to increase the load on your triceps.
  • Wide-fly push-ups: Do the push-ups with your hands wide apart, to increase the load on your chest muscles.
  • Decline push-ups: Do the push-ups with your feet resting on a chair or box, to work the upper fibers of your chest muscles.
  • Diamond push-ups: Do the push-ups with your hands close to each other, your thumb and forefingers making a diamond shape under your chest, and your legs wide apart, to shift some of the load to your triceps.
  • Dive-bomber push-up: Start in the downward dog position, with your hands and feet planted on the ground, hips high in the air, knees locked straight and body straight from head to hips. Bend your arms and swoop into push-up position, then back to downward dog.

Move #2: Wide-Grip Pull-Up

  1. Hold a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, keeping your hands around 4 inches wider than your shoulders on each side.
  2. Hang from the bar, keeping your legs at a slight angle.
  3. Pull upward, lifting your ribs to your elbows until your chin is above the bar.
  4. Hold there briefly then lower yourself back down.



  • Reverse-grip pull-up: Do the move with an underhand grip, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart, to work your biceps.
  • Close-grip overhand pull-up: Do the move with an overhand grip, keeping your hands close enough that your thumbs touch, to focus on your pecs.

Move #3: Lawnmower

  1. Spreading your legs apart, lean into a lunge on your right side, while still facing forward.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand and rest your right elbow on your right knee.
  3. Keeping your back straight and flat, and your left knee straight, row your left arm upward, bringing the dumbbell toward your ribs.
  4. Hold there briefly then straighten your elbow.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Move #4: Heavy Pants

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with one foot forward.
  2. Bend at the hips and lean forward so that your back is parallel to the floor.
  3. Let your arms hang directly under your shoulders, palms facing inward.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades and bend your elbows, rowing the weights upward toward your ribs.
  5. Hold there briefly then straighten your elbows.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

Move #5: Back Fly

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit on a bench.
  2. Bend forward until your chest is above your knees.
  3. Hold the weights just outside your feet, with your palms facing inward.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades and raise your elbows out to the side, keeping your back flat.
  5. Hold briefly then lower the weights.

Read more: The Best Compound Exercises for the Chest and Triceps