Tony Horton himself describes his love-hate relationship with Ab Ripper X quite literally:
“I hate it, but I love it.”
And, now a full 18 years later, P90X — more specifically, the 15-minute Ab Ripper X workout — is still a source of mayhem amongst the amateur bodybuilding brotherhood.
Does it really work? Will it tug you more toward love or hate?
Can it double as a standalone ab program? Or does the age-old saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” completely defeat this program’s promises?
Find out below!
About the Creator – Tony Horton
What do you get when you mix the early 2000s, a celebrity home workout video boom (thanks, Jane Fonda & Denise Austin), and a fitness craze sweeping the globe?
The answer: Tony Horton.
Tony Horton was an early Beachbody recruit who paved the path for future trainers with the platform, including Shaun T and Autumn Calabrese.
His near-two-decade partnership with Beachbody evolved into:
- At least 15 unique programs, including 22 Minute Hard Corps, P90X, and Power 90
- A $200 million franchise in P90X alone by 2010
- Viewership eclipsing 700,000 hours within the Beachbody On Demand platform
- An entire P90X enterprise, featuring sequels like P90X2, P90X3, and a second attempt at the original Power 90 — P90
And, to think it all began in his own garage charging $20 per session from the Hollywood elites like movie execs, Billy Idol, and Usher some $20 per session.
It’s not the typical “fall from grace” story we’re used to hearing!
He’s also full of Tony Hortonisms like, “Make it sexy, people” and, “Don’t put banana and hammock in the same sentence.” You’ll either mute him or quote entire sessions back to him.
What is the P90X Ab Ripper X?
From Tony Horton’s own mouth: “This isn’t Ab Ripper 100 or 200. This is Ab Ripper 339,” a clear dig at his much tamer Power 90 Ab Ripper workouts that eventually inspired P90X.
Similar to what we said in our review of 22 Minute Hard Corps, “intense” doesn’t even begin to describe it!
P90X Ab Ripper X is a 16-minute pure core workout featuring 11 ab exercises, 25 reps apiece (technically), 339 or 349 total reps, and no built-in rest blocks whatsoever.
One 12 standard workouts mentioned in our P90X review, Ab Ripper X advanced, designed to help you get ripped, sculpt a six-pack and give you something to brag about on Snap (or even Myspace, a la 2004).
The workout is 100% equipment-free. However, after the first few exercises, you’ll wish you had:
- A comfortable exercise mat: For 339-ish continuous reps, you’ll press your curved spine and tailbone into the wood (or even cement garage floor) below. A cushioned exercise mat can relieve that lower-back pressure and lessen the risk of bruising or lasting pain.
- Water: Ab Ripper X will leave you breathing heavy and dripping sweat. The American Council on Exercise recommends about 7–10 oz. of water for every 10–20 minutes of exercise. A filled and chilled water bottle on hand will keep your energy surge thriving while also preventing dizziness, headaches, or dehydration.
- Towel: The towel route is more of a personal choice. Technically, you don’t need one (your house, your rules). But if it’s soaking through your shirt, dripping into your eyes, or leaving the floor below you slippery, an absorbent sweat towel is a must-have.
Are you ready to bring it? If you want to learn more about Ab Ripper X, scroll a bit further!
The Details of P90X Ab Ripper X
Close your eyes for a moment. Now, picture the cliche early-2000s-era workout video shot in an eerily dim workout studio, featuring a lead trainer mic’ed up with a headset strapped to his face.
That’s Ab Ripper X.
But before you write it off as outdated or choose another ab routine, here’s a closer look at this 16-minute core brutalizer:
Ab Ripper X Exercises
Ab Ripper X is an assortment of 11 core exercises, with Horton leading a crew of three backup trainers from start to finish. After a quick introduction, Ab Ripper X is full speed ahead.
No warm-up, no flashing “warning” sign alerting you of the nearest exits if you’re a beginner, nothin’ — this thing goes from zero to 60 in literally 56 seconds.
Now, here’s a tidbit that’ll either light up your eyes or crush your spirits more than realizing that GTA 6 is still four years away: Ab Ripper X doesn’t spotlight a single standard sit-up or crunch.
Instead, you’ll come face-to-face with these 11 exercises:
- In & outs
- Crunchy frogs
- Cross-leg or wide-leg sit-ups
- Fifer scissors (warning: Horton holds these for ridiculously long)
- Hip rock ‘n raises
- Heels to heaven (which, ironically, is the complete opposite of this workout)
- V-up roll-up combos
- Oblique V-ups
- Leg climbs
- Mason twists or Russian twists (50 reps on this one)
After over 16 minutes of absolutely punishing core work, you’ll jump into a minute-long cooldown.
The self-proclaimed yogi will guide you through simple core-stretching yoga holds — like the child’s pose and cobra — as you question every decision in your life that led you here.
What You 100% Need to Know Before Ab Ripper X
Ab Ripper X is the stereotypical Tony Horton workout in the best possible way.
For 16 straight minutes of core training (with the occasional Hortonism tossed in), the legendary trainer will describe proper form, encourage modifications, and demonstrate common mistakes.
It’s definitely an advanced workout.
But before you tap “play,” here’s what you need to know:
- Single-side — or unilateral — exercises are unpredictable in the rep department. Some require 12 reps per side, while others ask for 50 reps in total (25 for right and 25 for left).
- Horton doesn’t schedule rest breaks during the 16 minutes, but he does drop one catchphrase quite a few times: “If you need breaks, you better take ‘em.” A minute-long pause now and then is better than finishing an Ab Ripper X bout with piss-poor form.
- There are two countdown timers on the screen. The one in the bottom-right corner is the time remaining for the entire workout; the timer at the bottom ticks down the seconds for the current exercise. Pace yourself.
- Most exercises last 30–60 seconds. After finishing rep #25, Horton will quickly explain the next exercise before starting the 25-rep countdown once more.
- There is no shortcut to six-pack abs; don’t overdo it. Tony Horton agrees: Don’t do this workout every day! Give your muscles time to recover, and dedicate those ‘off’ days to other muscle groups.
Remember: Beachbody released P90X while you were still in elementary school — or possibly still in the womb. There are a few instances where you’ll question what you just witnessed.
For example, there’s one bizarre angle early in the video where, at first glance, it seems like the cameraman is recording the shot from within a closed locker (Peeping Tom, much?).
Then, there’s Horton’s own creepy whispers: “Ab … Ripper … X.”
They don’t ruin the video or the progress you’ll see. But they’ll definitely make you go “hmmm.”
4 Ab Ripper X Pros
- It doesn’t only target the classic six-pack muscles that deliver that chiseled, striated appearance (the rectus abdominis). For one, leg-raising exercises like heels to heaven target internal muscles like the iliopsoas or hip flexors. Meanwhile, bicycles and other unilateral exercises pinpoint the obliques, the rippled muscles along the side of the abs.
- If you’re already in the sub-10% body fat sweet spot, it won’t take nearly as long to see results, definition, and deeper cuts. Ab Ripper X will make up the bulk of your routine, though some cardio, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and diet could help.
- Sixteen minutes of core training doesn’t require as much of a time or energy commitment as a regular 60-minute workout would. A 2015 randomized controlled trial also discovered that anywhere between one and three ab workouts a week would improve core endurance similarly. If you’re a complete newbie, doing Ab Ripper X once a week may be enough.
- It’s a fantastic once-in-a-while ab workout. You can combine it with weighted ab exercises, equipment-based exercises (like hanging leg raises), and decline core training to maximize growth, endurance, and strength! Do Ab Ripper X once a week and a more strength or hypertrophy-focused ab workout later in the week.
2 Ab Ripper X Cons
- The saying is absolutely true: Abs are made in the kitchen. In fact, a randomized control trial from 2011 revealed that after six weeks of five-day-a-week core training, there was little impact on abdominal fat. Endurance, strength, and even size will undoubtedly improve with Ab Ripper X. But it’s diet and cardio that’ll burn fat and uncover that six-pack.
- To be honest, 300+ ab reps in a day and 25-rep low-intensity sets aren’t the most efficient ways to sculpt an Instagram-worthy core. Just like your biceps, pecs, and those stubborn calves, a more aesthetic core requires extra resistance and more muscular activation. Exercises like decline sit-ups and weighted Mason twists will produce better results.
Ab Ripper X Review – The Final Word
P90X’s Ab Ripper X program is all-around a great abdominal program for the intermediate or advanced crew hoping to build strength, endurance, and muscle in the core.
At just 16 minutes, it’s doable, even if you’re short on time. It also targets muscles other than the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles) and can produce definition in weeks if you’re sub-10% BF.
However, it’s not that simple.
Ab Ripper X is a P90X workout for a reason: it requires a mixture of both diet and exercise. And, while this workout is exhausting, you’ll see better results with a decline or weighted ab exercises.
It’s great now and then, when you’re traveling, or when combined with the rest of P90X.
But alone? Not so much.