I am a big fan of Shaun T. and his intense workouts. I also love the way Beachbody on Demand lays out all of their programs in such an easily digestible and simple way. So it's about time I check out another regimen by this awesome duo.
Insanity is a nutritional and exercise program, created by Shaun T. and available on Beachbody on Demand (my free trial review article), that promises to melt fat and make your muscles pop. But it's definitely not for everyone. In this Insanity workout review, I'll show you how it works and whether it's the right program for you.
- What To Consider Before Committing To A Highly Intense Diet And Exercise Program
- What Insanity Is
- Insanity In Detail
- Insanity Elite Nutrition Plan
- The Super Duper Workouts
- Insanity Workout Fitness Test
- How tough are the workouts?
- The Insanity Workout Calendar
- Insanity workout Results – Proof From Real People
- Less Insane Alternatives
- Insanity Max 30
- Insanity Workout Review in a few words
What To Consider Before Committing To A Highly Intense Diet And Exercise Program
Before we get too far, Insanity is the quintessential home workout program and is worth a go for anyone looking to tighten-up, tone-up, shed pounds, product speed – the list goes on.
Insanity is one of the only Beachbody workouts that you can access without a subscription. So if you are looking for one program that get's it done, Insanity is your “go-to”. Period.
You're looking in the right direction if you want to lose fat and gain muscle definition. But you have to make sure you can tough the program out.
You should be in pretty good shape to begin with before even considering anything like this.
Any kind of heart problem is an immediate disqualification. Rigorous activity puts a lot of stress on your circulatory system. If you have a heart problem, you should do a more moderate cardio program, like maybe Piyo.
How about your joints, ligaments and tendons? Can they handle daily intense exercise in the 60- minute range? That's what you're looking at in terms of demand on your bones.
If you are in good overall health, your body should be able to handle this type of regimen. But how about your lifestyle? Can you devote an hour almost every day to exercise? If you skip too many exercise days, you'll either have to accept mediocre results or restart the program to get to where you want to be.
It's not just time, either. You have to have the motivation. These programs aren't walks in the park. You gotta push yourself to get the results promised. It helps to have an exercise buddy. A little friendly competition can be a powerful motivator.
Let's not forget about the diet. Some people do. But they don't get the results that you will if you stick to the diet that goes along with these programs.
If you say yes to the following questions, you are a good candidate for a super-intense exercise program.
- Is your heart healthy?
- Can your joints handle the stress of high-impact exercise?
- Do you have an hour a day for working out?
- Can you push yourself harder than you ever have before?
- Can you stick to a pretty strict diet that limits fat and carbs?
What Insanity Is
Insanity is a very intense 60-day diet and exercise regimen for people who are in good shape and want to lose some additional fat, shed some pounds and gain lean muscle definition. It combines HIIT exercises with bodyweight resistance to burn fat and tighten up muscle.
If you've ever looked into Asylum, also by Shaun and Beachbody, you know what intense cardio is. But insanity goes beyond even Asylum in terms of exercise intensity and results.
It's available exclusively from Beachbody on Demand as either a DVD set or streaming subscription. If, after perusing this review, you decide to do Insanity, I'd recommend subscribing to Beachbody and streaming the workouts. You'll have unlimited access to the other 40-something Beachbody programs, recipes, online and phone support and a ton of other helpful benefits that are only available to members.
Here's what you get with Insanity:
- Unlimited access to all the workouts
- The eating plan
- Easy start guide
- A fit test that you can do whenever you want to
- Workout calendars
- Access to the Insanity music playlist on Spotify
That's all you need, other than the time, determination and a towel. No weights, resistance bands or any other equipment is needed.
Insanity In Detail
Now we'll look at all the features of insanity and how they can help you get incredible results.
Insanity Elite Nutrition Plan
This is just as important as the exercises. What surprised me at first about it is the caloric intake. You aren't as limited as you would be in any other diet. You're allowed to have plenty of calories because you are going to be burning them like crazy. This is great because you won't feel like you're starving all day long.
The crux of the Insanity workout nutrition plan is the ratio of protein, carbs and fat.
40 percent of what you eat will be protein from meat, fish, beans and Shakeology drinks, if you choose to use them. The shakes aren't required by the nutritional guidelines, but they are a great way to ensure that you get the protein you need while also getting a range of micronutrients. Protein is essential for building muscle.
Carbs will make up another 40 percent of your diet. I'm glad that Shaun didn't make this a low-carb couple of months. He could have; many fat-loss programs do. But he left plenty of room for carbohydrates because they are the best source of energy for the workouts. Still, most of the carbs you do get will be complex.
Surprisingly, 20 percent of what you eat will be fat. That may sound strange for a program like this. But fat is a great source of energy as well. You'll get plenty of heart-healthy fats and oils. You’ll get these from natural sources, like meat and nuts. There isn’t any room for snacks and junk food, so any fat you do get is going to come from actual food.
What this fat does is act as a long-term energy reserve. But the intensity of the workouts at all stages of the program ensure a quick release if this fat. And once the body starts burning fat as an energy source, it keeps doing it. That’s where your metabolism comes into play. Do you see why it is so essential to follow the Insanity eating plan?
Unlike many other Beachbody on Demand fitness programs, this one’s eating plan isn’t really structured in any special way. The plan doesn’t change much throughout the length of the program. That’s good because it simplifies things a bit. But it would seem that you’d miss the benefits of fine-tuned metabolism that the programs with specially tailored eating plans have. I guess the workouts more than make up for it. You’ll see that when we look at real-world Insanity results.
The Super Duper Workouts
That’s right: super duper. These workouts are so brutal that no program that’s copied it has survived to this day. This is not a new program that I’m introducing you to. It’s an old one that remains the best calorie burning program that Beachbody on Demand has, and it’s probably the best in existence. In fact, there may never be another as intense as this one. You can only go so high before you hit a ceiling where no one is going to want to do it. That is the space the Insanity workouts occupy.
Now we’ll take a closer look at this insanity.
Insanity Workout Fitness Test
This will be the first thing you do. It’s designed to show you where you are as far as your fitness level goes. More than that, it tells you if you’re ready to begin Insanity. What if the test tells you you’re not ready? Honestly, I don’t know. The Beachbody site says nothing about it, and I couldn’t find any reviews from people who were told that they can’t hack it. If you went with the membership instead of the DVD set like I recommended, you’ll be able to pick a different program that isn’t as strenuous, like Insanity Max 30. Then you can condition yourself until you’re ready for some total insanity.
Anyway, you’ll repeat this test every two weeks. If you follow the program faithfully, you’ll be amazed at your progress by the first time you retake the test. You’ll have much more endurance and probably more strength. And you’ll be lighter and slimmer. If you stick to the diet and don’t cheat on the workouts, you’ll be noticeably slimmer by the end of your first week. That’s a promise right from Shaun himself.
How tough are the workouts?
I remember when HIIT first became a “big thing.” I wondered what took it so long. It’s simple and very effective. You exercise pretty much as hard as you can for a short period of time, then you get a shorter rest period before starting the exercise again, and so on. The vigorous exercise pushes your heart rate way up and keeps it there to burn calories, and the short rest periods make sure you don’t keel over from exhaustion. But a lot of fat burning takes place during those rests. Your heart never returns to baseline. The calories keep getting torched.
The first part of every workout is basically HIIT, but much more intense than you’ve probably ever done it. You’re going to be keeping up with pros. There are modifiers, but they are Insanity modifiers. There’s not much slack to be found here.
Almost all of the HIIT workouts are compound. You’re not going to be going from working your abs to your arms, then from your arms to your shoulders. You’ll be working multiple muscle groups simultaneously. A good example may be a windmill-like exercise. You twist your core while spinning your arms and using your legs to balance. Most of your body gets involved. The idea behind this is to burn as many calories as possible in as short of a time period as possible.
This is the main reason why this program is only for more advanced exercisers. There is nothing to get you used to or eased into the intensity. It starts hard and stays hard.
After a blistering HIIT session with 30-second rests, we move into the second half of the workout: strength training.
But can strength training be effective without resistance? Remember there are no dumbbells or resistance bands used in this program. Shaun uses your body weight as resistance. This is actually the best approach for such a hard workout. You aren’t going to be wanting to stop to switch dumbbells.
You’re not going to miss the dumbbells, either. Insanity isn’t meant to bulk you up. You’ll look more muscular, but that’s because your muscles will be more defined. Your own body weight will provide all the resistance you need to get that definition. The advantage here is that the HIIT continues throughout the strength training. Fat doesn’t stand a chance.
The Insanity Workout Calendar
You follow the Insanity workout schedule for 60 days. The schedule allows for one rest day per week and one cardio recovery day.
The first half of the program schedule is thought by some to be easier than the last month. The truth is that it’s not. The workouts are shorter on average in the beginning. The length of the sessions run from 15 minutes to an hour. Most of the shorter workouts are clustered in the first four weeks.
Weeks five through eight feature longer, perhaps more intense workouts. The funny thing is that people who make it to the last half almost always finish. Most other programs are the opposite: most dropouts occur past the halfway mark. This may be a testament to how early on you can see results.
Do you want a peek into the insanity? I couldn’t resist. Here ya go.
The Plyometrics Cardio Circuit combines intense lower-body HIIT with hard cardio. Cardio Power and Resistance works the upper body with similar intensity and adds power moves for strength and muscle building. Pure Cardio is pure cardio with an Insanity twist. There are no rests in this 40-minute workout.
The Recovery workout isn't much of a recovery, but it may seem like it compared to the usual.
Cardio Abs will make your core burn within the first three minutes, every time. Expect power moves and a lot of jumping.
Each week generally starts out with a focus on cardio. Toward the end of the week is where you'll find the most insane workouts, like the Max ones.
Max Interval Circuit, Max Interval Piyo, Max Cardio Conditioning and Max Recovery are built on the others, but they are brutal. And they're longer. During the second half of the program, there are more Max days per week.
You'll mark the halfway point with a “break,” if you can call it that, with the Core Cardio and Balance workout. That's when you'll gear up for month two.
Fast and Furious squeezes a 45-minute Insanity workout into 20 minutes. It's a great feeling of accomplishment when you get through one of these.
The Insanity Deluxe package offers five additional workouts. Sanity Check is basically a tutorial that shows you how to do some of the more complex workouts at a less-than-insane pace. There are also two more ab workouts that can make the difference between great and unbelievable results. But be warned that these enhanced results require more effort.
If you play any sports, you may voluntarily return to Max Interval Sports Training. It details exercises that pro athletes do to stay on top of their game.
The Upper Body Weight Training doesn't require any weights, as its name may seem to imply, but it can really tone your shoulders and chest.
Insanity Pro Team workouts are lead by guests. They're extras that focus on different areas of the body for enhanced results.
Insanity workout Results – Proof From Real People
So now that we've seen what you get with the program and have an idea about what it's like to work through it, let's see what kind of results people have actually had with it.
Debra first did Insanity in 2012, when she had just turned 50 years old. She lost 17 pounds that time. But she had an illness and ended up gaining it all back. But she didn't give up. When she became a grandmother, she realized it was time to get back into top shape.
She went on to lose 45 pounds with Insanity the second time she did it. Sure, she had to repeat the program a few times to get to that lofty goal, but she made it. 45 pounds in 210 days is one heck of a result for any program. Debra's persistence paid off, but a less intense program probably would have left her short of her weight-loss goal.
He had always been in good shape. But he gained 25 pounds after a couple injuries left him unable to use his weights. Then life happened. He had a child and started a landscaping business, all while working a full-time job. There was no time for exercise, and the stress of life allowed some bad eating habits to enter his life.
Insanity helped Tim lose those extra 25 pounds that he had gained. What's more, it got him into good enough shape that he was able to start competing in the Tough Mudder obstacle challenge! All it took was determination to change and two months of Insanity.
Looking at Insanity workout results like these, and the many others online, proved to me that real people can spark real change with the mayhem that is Insanity.
Less Insane Alternatives
There really isn't anything this hardcore as of the present time. If you go looking for an alternative, it's likely because you need something a little easier. That's OK. Insanity isn't for everyone.
There are two other programs on Beachbody on Demand that are somewhat similar. Both are Shaun T. products. Check them out.
Insanity Max 30
This is also a 60-day program that uses intense cardio to reduce fat and drop pounds. It doesn't require any equipment either.
The main differences here are the intensity and length of the workouts. They're all thirty minutes long and they focus more on cardio than they do on strength training.
But what kind of results can you expect? You'll lose weight and slim down, just like you will with Insanity, but not as much. You can always repeat the program for no additional cost, but it will take longer.
You'll also get a more defined physique, but again, don't expect the same results you would get from Insanity.
Here's the key differences:
- All workouts are 30 minutes long, instead of having variable durations
- There's more of an emphasis on cardio
- It's better for intermediate-level fitness levels
- Results take longer to notice
- You'd have to repeat the program at least once to get results anywhere near Insanity
This program promises insane weight loss in just 30 days. It is related to Insanity, but there are a few key differences. Some people do Asylum after completing Insanity as a way to enhance their results.
Asylum workouts are modeled after the ones that professional athletes and olympians do to stay in fighting shape. They run from 15 to 50 minutes long.
You need some equipment as well. Resistance bands, an agility ladder and a speed rope are the bare essentials.
The main claim of this program is weight loss. Obviously you'll lose fat and gain some awesome muscle tone, but the loss in pounds is the star here.
Here's what sets Asylum apart from Insanity:
- Includes more resistance in the strength training workouts
- Focus on weight loss
- Only 30 days long
- Requires some basic equipment
You may prefer Asylum if you just want to lose as much weight as possible over a short period of time.
Insanity has a couple of workout calendars. The main 60-Day plan and a hybrid calendar that pulls Asylum into the mix.
You will need to sub to beachbodyondemand.com (free trial link) to get access to both. You can give it a run with the free trial they often have if you like.
Insanity Workout Review in a few words
Insanity is a great program for people who are in good shape, are used to hard workouts and want to get into the best shape of their lives as quickly as possible.
It's tough. But that's what makes it so effective.
Getting into top shape means you have to go harder than ever, perform the most rigorous workouts and test yourself often to gauge your progress, Insanity pushes you like no other program and puts you through the test every two weeks until you've hit your goal.
Thanks for taking the time to read through my Insanity Workout review. I appreciate the time you've spent making it all the way here to the end.
Are you ready for the Insanity workout challenge? Go ahead. I dare you.