Beachbody Reviews

A Review of P90X2 PAP Upper (The Magic Number is Four)

April 6, 2016

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Don’t let the title of this P90X2 workout confuse you. You just need to know that PAP* Upper is all about sculpting your upper body into a chiseled masterpiece.

*Postactivation Potentiation (PAP) is a training philosophy that is used to achieve maximum muscle fiber recruitment to improve performance of explosive sports moves.  Look it up.  It’s all good.

The bad news is that P90X2 PAP Upper uses a lot of equipment.

But you can get amazing results even if you don’t have every tool used by Tony Horton and his team in P90X2 PAP Upper.

PAP Upper is just one of the routines in the P90X2 program.  Here’s what the P90X2 program looks like:

Let me explain everything you need to know about PAP Upper before you hit play…

This post may contain Amazon (or other) affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission. You can get more information about that here.

the cover image from the P90X2 PAP Upper video

Instructor-Tony Horton



*This is the equipment that’s recommended on the video.  I’ll let you know if you really have to have it or not.

Foam roller (completely optional, I don’t have one)

Stability Ball (you only need this for a few of the warm-up moves and the stretches at the end, you can get by without it for this workout if you don’t have one)

Bands/Tubing (Christina shows you how to use the tubing to do the exercises if you don’t have dumbbells or a chin-up bar)

Dumbbells (I use my 10’s and 12’s).  

One 6 or 8 lb. medicine ball (you balance with your toes on the med ball for one exercise and you use it for a sit-up in the other move)

Weighted Bar (optional, this is used for the Superman move in Round One, you can use a towel or a band instead)

Pull-Up Bar (I have one of those pull-up bars you can put in your doorway.  I use a pull-up assist band with mine.  Tip-Before you purchase a pull-up bar make sure you measure the door frame where you want to put it.  Also, take note of the weight limits.  There are different sizes.  Make a safe choice. )

Chin-Up Max (this is a pull-up assist band, I have to use one of these)

Plyo Box (optional, the team elevates one foot on this box/high step for one of the exercises in Round Two but you don’t need it)

Mat (this isn’t listed in the equipment but it’s nice to have for the Superman exercise as well as the stretching at the end)

Tip-Ladies, if you still need to add a few weights to your collection then check out my favorite colored dumbbells.

Length-52 minutes

HRM-176 calories


My rating– A

Important Stuff about P90X2 PAP Upper

There are two rounds of four exercises that you repeat four times in PAP Upper. Four times through gets tedious for me.  I’m going to assume this number has something to do with the science behind PAP training but I’m not sure.  All I know is that I’m ready to move on after the third set.

You can do the entire workout with a couple of dumbbells, pull-up bar, and a towel/band.

Tony walks around for most of this workout. I find that annoying but that’s just how he rolls.

If you’ve never done P90X2 PAP Upper before, print this post out to use during your workout so you know what equipment to grab, how many reps to shoot for, and what to expect with each exercise.

Remember to read to the end of this post for helpful tips on every section in PAP Upper as well as links to a few places you can compare prices on P90X2🙂


You do a few exercises to get your muscles toasty.  If you’ve ever done any of the P90X videos then you’ll be familiar with all the warm-up moves:

Heel Walks

Feet Smackers

Burpee Salutation

World’s Greatest Stretch (I love this one)


Scorpion (these should not hurt your back, go slow)

Groiners (there are always 20 of these)

Foam Rolling

You do not need a foam roller to stretch.  Stretch on your own whether you have a foam roller or not.  I don’t have one.

Yes, this section seems to last for at least a week but flexibility is important so don’t sit down and check your email.  This is your workout today, make the most of it.

Roller Sphinx (this is a low plank hold that you can do on the floor)

Plange Push-Up (notice what makes this different than a regular push-up)

Band Pull-Apart (you can use a band or towel)

Atlas (if you have a ball you can use it for this exercise, but don’t sweat it if you don’t have that giant ball, you can use a towel)

Main Workout (The Exercises in P90X2 PAP Upper)

Round One (39 minutes left)

Renegade Row

I use my 12 lb. dumbbells on all 4 sets.  I do all 10 reps every time.  Keep your core tight.  Christina shows you an option using a band.

Plyo Push-Ups

These are done really fast.  I have to do them on my knees to get in all 6 reps.  Even on my knees it’s hard to keep up.

Plank on a Medicine Ball

Holy crap Batman!  These are hard on a med ball. By the 3rd and 4th time through you’ll have to really find your inner Wonder Woman to hold this for a minute.


Tony uses the weighted bar for this move.  You don’t need it.  I use my band.  I double it up for the first two sets.  You can also use a towel.


Round Two

Towel Pull-Up

You can use a towel on your chin-up bar if you want.  I have to use an assist band to do these pull-ups and it’s hard to maneuver the towel and hook my foot in the assist at the same time so I don’t use one.  I just do as many pull-ups as I can.

Med Ball Pike

There are 10 in every set.  These are really tough to do at the speed Tony Horton calls them out.  If you’re holding a heavy med ball you won’t be able to do them with correct form.

I only have an 8 lb. ball which is too heavy for me to do at his speed.  I modify by lifting my right leg on the pike part of the move for set one.  Then switch to all left leg on the second set.  I alternate legs back and forth on the third set and then do 10 full ones in the last set with no med ball (this will make sense when you see the exercise).

Step-Up Hammer Press

This is where they utilize that high step.  You don’t need it.  In fact, when I elevate my leg it puts extra pressure in my low back for this exercise.  Rather than going down in weight (I do this with 12’s) I just don’t use the step.  On the 4th set I use my 15’s.  If you choose to elevate one leg make sure you keep your core tight.

Roller Angel

You can do this against a wall, on the floor, or on a bench.  I stand against a wall.

Cool Down/Stretch

You transition into the cool down/stretch with about 7 minutes left in the workout.

Neurointegrated stretching is a real thing, not made-up Beachbody jargon.  It’s good.  Do it.  You can use a chair.  You don’t need the stability ball if you don’t have one.

Now What?

P90X2 PAP Upper is a good upper body workout.  The exercises are original and fun.

You can find this video in the P90X2 series by Beachbody over at Amazon and in the library of workouts in a membership to Beachbody on Demand.

Read more about Beachbody on Demand here

You get access to a ton of incredible Beachbody workouts by Chalene Johnson, Tony Horton, Shaun T and other pro instructors.  You can try it free for 30 days.  I personally love it.  Adding variety to your fitness routine is vital and this is one way to do that.

Have an amazing workout!


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