Fitness Friday: Insanity, My Official Review
This summer from mid-May through the end of July, I completed the 60-Day program, Insanity. I think they call it “Insanity” because after you’re done with it, you completely block the experience from your conscious thoughts. Honestly, were it not for the saved e-mail exchanges I had with various friends throughout the program, I would have forgotten half of what I thought of Insanity. Basically, this review would be two sentences:
“It was hard. I’m glad it’s over.”
So, if some of this looks familiar to you, it probably means we chatted about it over e-mail or Facebook. Thanks for your contribution to my memory.
Here is the Insanity promo, for your viewing pleasure.
Insanity coined the term Max Interval Training, meaning long periods of intense cardio (3 or more minutes) with very short breaks (30 seconds). You perform all strength moves with your own body weight (no equipment required) at maximum reps (as many as you can do in about a minute–but you do several different exercises in a row before breaking).
(That just made me laugh… “before breaking.” Because I meant “before you get a break” but it sounded like “before you break into pieces.)
(both of those would be accurate)
You workout 6 days a week with 1 rest day.
Shaun T. is the developer and leader of this program.
The Fit Test: Designed to measure your fitness level and progress throughout the program. You do it at the beginning, at the end and every two weeks throughout. The Fit Test lasts about 30 minutes.
Phase 1 (first 30 days): Consists of 4 workouts, ranging in time from 30-55 minutes.
Optional Recovery Week (Taken between Phase 1 and Phase 2): One workout lasting 37 minutes that you do all week.
Phase 2 (second 30 days): Consists of 4 workouts lasting 47-65 minutes.
1. The Fit Test is challenging and is a great workout on its own. The way the program is written, though, there are 2 weeks where you complete the Fit Test before an actual workout (for a total workout time of 86 minutes.) I never did that. I would have died–or broken. Whatever.
2. The Warm-up: Such a misnomer. Who does a 9-minute full-blown intense cardio circuit for a warm up? Insanity, that’s who. The first time I did it, I was expecting a stretch after 3 minutes. Then 6 minutes. I couldn’t believe I had to go and go and go for a full 9 minutes. After that, I learned to pace myself. Dude, 9 minutes is a LONG time to warm up.
3. Pure Cardio: Translation: No breaks! Again I wasn’t expecting this the first time, and it totally threw me. Apparently, the cast members must not have known either, because not one of them could make it all the way through without taking a break—including Shaun T.
4. After my first Pure Cardio workout, I thought, “I could seriously hurt myself or die doing this workout.” And I taught my 5-year-old to dial 911, just in case. I literally laid on the floor and said, “If you walk in the room and Mommy looks like this *close eyes and lay still on the floor in front my an rolling Insanity DVD* then you go to the phone and dial 9-1-1.” True story.
5. Ironically, after my initial death-scare, Pure Cardio became my favorite workout of the entire program. Though I never made it all the way through without needing a break.
6. This program is hard on the joints. Even the recovery workouts are killer on your legs. During Phase 1, my knees, shins and calves hurt very badly. I suddenly became aware of lower leg muscles and joints I didn’t even know I had. Almost enough to make me quit. Except I didn’t.
7. My Triathlete husband (who often works out for 4 hours a pop) had absolutely NO sympathy for me when I complained about my aching joints following my 40-minutes cardio workout. He said things like, “C’mom! You’re strong! You’ve done P90X and P90X2 for cryin’ out loud! You can do this! Don’t quit!” Which made me love him and hate him all at the same time.
8. Insanity is very high impact. From the second you start, you are jumping. And you don’t stop jumping until the stretch at the end.
9. Phase 2 workouts are almost identical to Phase 1 workouts, only longer.
10. The facial expressions on the cast members are worth the price of admission. If I didn’t know better I would think someone was chasing them with a loaded gun or a butcher knife. Is that horror or misery? Not sure. Maybe both.
11. Because it completely kicked my butt, I renamed the program “Stupid.” As in, “I’m going down to do “Stupid.” Or “How was your workout, honey?” “Stupid.”
What I Liked:
1. No equipment needed. I loved being able to pop in a DVD and go without having to grab weights or walk over to my weight machine.
2. Short workouts in Phase 1. It’s great to feel totally spent after only 40 minutes and then move on with the rest of my day.
What I Did Not Like:
1. Not enough variety. It’s basically a cardio workout that concentrates on legs and core. Every single day you work the exact same muscles, and you work them to complete failure. They try to make it look like they are mixing it up, but they are not. It’s very monotonous. I like the workouts themselves, but I would have liked them more as part of an all-over program that wasn’t all cardio.
2. Not enough recovery time. Six days a week for 60 days is just too long to work your legs like that without a break. Really, if they would have worked in a few “upper body” days here and there, it would have taken care of the lack of variety and lack of recovery. I’d also prefer to work out 5 days a week instead of 6. But that’s just me.
Based solely on the Fit Test, I improved significantly for the first 40 days (for example, Day 1, I did 95 switch kicks. Day 40, I did 135. Doesn’t matter if you don’t know what a switch kick is. Just notice the improvement in the number). But I maxed out at that point and never improved in the final weeks.
My body measurements stayed the same.
I GAINED 3 pounds.
I felt like I lost endurance in running. I never have been an endurance runner, but prior to Insanity, I was able to run about 30 minutes, no stopping. During Insanity, I could barely run 5 minutes without having to walk. I have not regained my endurance since completing Insanity.
Considering how hard I worked (seriously, the hardest I’ve ever worked out for 60 days) I would have expected better results. I’m disappointed.
Before and After Pics:
Yeah. Funny story about the pictures. I took “before” pictures. And I was about to take some “after” pictures (you know, to show off my unchanged measurements and additional 3 pounds). But Day 60 was also a day I was having significant monthly female “issues” (if you know what I mean). So I decided to wait a week until my “issues” subsided. Then we went on vacation where I laid on a beach and ate a lot of ice cream. And that brought on a whole ‘nother set of “issues.” Of course, I didn’t want to take “after” pics with ice cream abs. So, I decided to wait again.
That was the end of July, and I’m still waiting for a great day to take “after” pics.
I have spoken with several people who have attempted Insanity. Of those who attempted it, only a handful completed it. Of those who completed it, only 2 people I know loved it enough to recommend it to me.
I personally chose this program, because as a Beachbody Coach, I felt I owed it to my clients to conquer the hardest workout programs Beachbody offers.
And I did. (Yay ME!!)
That said, I believe Insanity was designed to be purposely difficult—almost for the sake of being difficult. Even the cast members themselves cannot endure complete sessions, often stopping long before a scheduled break.
For most people, I believe following Insanity exactly how it is written could very easily lead to over-training or injury. However, significantly modifying Insanity (more recovery days and lower impact) or doing individual Insanity workouts as part of a more well-rounded program would be great. In fact Beachbody must have been thinking the same thing because they developed a few schedules to help you work Insanity into other Beachbody programs, like an Insanity/P90X Hybrid. And Insanity, The Asylum (the follow-up program to Insanity) is much more well-rounded.
I’m glad I finished it. It was a goal I set for myself and I did it. But I don’t feel more physically fit as a result. In fact, I probably pushed myself too hard, just to get through the program, and maybe even regressed a bit in strength and endurance.
My fitness is VERY important to me, but only to the extent it allows me to do everything else in life better. My children need me need me to be functional and healthy. If I’m walking around sore and fatigued because of a workout program, it benefits nothing but my ego. I have learned over the last 25 years of working out that I can be very physically fit and not push myself to exhaustion doing it.
I think that’s why programs like these extreme sports/fitness programs are so attractive to the 20-something set. (All but a few Insanity cast members are 20-something). They have very little responsibilities outside of themselves, and usually don’t have children yet. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s a season of life I’ve already experienced and quite frankly, don’t wish to repeat.
Super high-intensity workout programs are not for everyone. I discovered, they are not for me.
Do I Recommend?
Only if you are young and extremely fit OR
you modify it and listen closely to your body (please don’t be stupid!) OR
you use it conjunction with another fitness program that offers upper body strength-training (without legs!) and low-intensity days for greater variety and better recovery time.
For my complete review of P90X, Click here.
For my complete review of P90X2, Click here.
For more info about all Beachbody products, Click here.
Linking up with Jill Conyers today!
I know I am one of those who recommended Insanity. As you know I am 53 and it has been by far the toughest workout program I have ever done. Toughest workouts I have ever done Period. For me it really improved my core strength a great deal and that is what I liked most about it. I also like Pure Cardio the best and will do that as a stand alone workout at times. I did modify the schedule for my daughters to a 5 day schedule which I think offers the same benefits just takes a little longer. I do like the first 4 weeks the best and like the fact that in 40 minutes or so you can have an intense workout. Congratulations again at completing that.
Your encouragement throughout the program was so helpful!
I think maybe one of the reasons I didn’t have dramatic results in my core like you did was because I had just come off P90X2, and felt like my real core strength came from that. I am sure I got stronger in a lot of areas, but it was hard for me to measure it. I would have also liked to lose a few pounds or inches, which I didn’t. 🙁
I think the 5-day schedule you designed for your daughters was a great idea.
congrats on completing the program! it sounds extremely tough! found you blog via FF, and i just completed a 12 week workout plan too!
Good for you!! What did you do, Courtney?
Thanks for this great review, Sandy. It’s great to get some real perspective on this workout. I probably won’t be adding this to my list of things to try. 🙂
You are welcome, Clarinda! Thanks for reading!!
As I was lacing my running shoes for a treadmill run early this morning, I turned on the TV and there was the Insanity infomercial. I thought of you, so it was so funny that you posted this today! I briefly thought about it (not 500, not 300, ONLY 3 easy payments of 39.95 – act in the next 20 minutes and we will EXPRESS ship to you!!) then remembered you had posted something about it being over the top.
if it’s not good enough for Sandy, it’s not good enough for Mindy (you know what I mean;)
Thanks and have a great weekend!
First of all Mindy, IF you were to buy Insanity, it wouldn’t be off the TV, it would be from MY website. Right? Right.
Second, Mindy is WAY better than Sandy, because Mindy goes for early morning runs. Sandy does not.
I would not recommend it. I bet every week doctors see people in the ER because of this workout. Fifteen to 20 years in the future those 20 somethings or anyone else will regret doing this program. I don’t think you need extreme workouts to get in shape.
Sheila, I am certain people hurt themselves doing this. But I think you could avoid injury by listening closely to your body and making sure you properly warm up and cool down–as well as allowing for enough recovery time. I agree you don’t need extreme programs to be fit, but I think they work really well for a lot of people. Not me, though. 🙂
Thanks for the review Sandy. I was contemplating Insanity for next year but will probably skip it. I’m not committing to any workout that interferes with and with level of impact with this program I couldn’t do both. That’s the reason I haven’t done it all along. I”ll stick with P90X and X2 withe a little Les Mills Pump thrown in for legs.
Well, it appears as though I have successfully dissuaded all my readers from trying Insanity. Including my OWN Beachbody coach! Are you proud of me, Jill?
I loved your review. So in depth. I’ve just had a friend who just completed Insanity and enjoyed it (?!) and saw some real changes. I’ve been using Supreme 90 which I love. Sounds like it has a lot more all over body strength. I would be mostly concerned about the effect it had on your running indurance – not sure I would want that effect. It could be something I’d try in the winter time when I run a lot less.
Thanks for this great review. It’s great to get some real perspective on this workout. I will most definitely be adding this to my list of things to try!