Before & After: Does the Insanity program work?
After years of dedication to the gym I was stuck in a rut. I stopped seeing progress and was bored of my workouts. I had heard of exercise videos like P90X, Insanity, 30 Day Shred, etc., but like many people I thought you couldn't get a good workout in your living room. For me a "good" workout was lifting a lot and running far. When a good friend of mine started the Insanity routine I decided to join her and have seen great benefits from the program. This is simply my experience and opinions with Insanity (I am in no way affiliated with Team Beachbody).
What does Insanity involve?
Insanity takes traditional High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and reverses it. Traditional interval training is performed by doing low intensity work for several minutes followed by 30 seconds to a minute of high intensity work. Insanity does three minutes of high intensity with 30 second rests in between. The result of this inverse is that your heart rate remains higher and you burn more fat.
Insanity comes with 10 workout DVDs, ranging between 20 minutes to just over 60 minutes (the majority are around 40-45 minutes). Each workout begins with a 10 minute warm up and a few minutes of stretching, followed by the workout itself, and ends with another stretch session
For many people the biggest appeal to Insanity is that it can be done at home with no equipment. All you need is a pair of sneakers and an open space with room to jump around.
If you watched the video then you can get an idea how just how Insane this program is. (I'll be honest, it makes me feel a little better when the extras seem to be in just as much pain as I am!)
PROS of Insanity
- Relatively short videos (between 20 and 65 minutes, 45 on average)
- No equipment required
- You can workout from home, which for many people not only fits their schedules better but is also more comfortable
- Shaun T. is a great motivator/coach
- You will sweat a lot and feel how hard you are working
CONS of Insanity
- They repeat the same videos every week, sometimes doing the same one twice in a week. After a while I found the repetition very boring and it got to the point where I knew every line Shaun says by heart.
- Working out for six days a week can be too much for some people. I considered myself in fairly good shape when starting Insanity yet I was still constantly sore.
- Each workout does have a warm up stretch and a cool down stretch but I found that they weren't adequate. A few weeks after beginning Insanity I noticed that my calves were noticeably tighter, especially while running they would be in pretty severe pain. While it would be great if the Beachbody team improved the stretches for now I would suggest doing some extra stretching on your own.
- The background extras can be annoying (looking at you Tonya...)
- You will hear this from Shaun over and over; focus on your form, not speed. With all of the jumping, twisting, and lunging in Insanity it is easy to hurt something if you have incorrect form. Even on the exercises where Shaun sets a number of reps to do, if you feel you cannot complete them safely, then stop! There is no shame in taking a break.
- Drink water, but don't gulp down a few bottles worth. With all the moving you will do you will feel the water sloshing around and it is very uncomfortable.
- I find it helpful to wear a heart rate monitor. Not only do most of them calculate a fairly accurate calorie burn (something I like to know), but they also help keep you safe by alerting you when your heart rate becomes dangerously high.
Who should do Insanity?
Insanity is great for people who want to tone up and get defined. It is good for developing lean muscles, not bulking up. Insanity is high intensity cardio, and you will definitely see improvements in your endurance.
Insanity is geared more towards people who are in relatively good shape (i.e. don't need to lose a lot of weight, but rather want to tone). Even if you think you are pretty fit you will probably be gasping for breath and drowning in sweat by the end of your first video.
If you are thinking about starting Insanity be prepared to make a commitment to doing it regularly.
Who should NOT do Insanity?
Insanity is very intense. You will do a lot of jumping, squatting, and your heart rate will get very high. For these reasons Insanity is better suited towards people who want to lose less than 50 pounds and/or tone up. If large weight loss is your goal it is recommended that you start with a lower intensity workout routine and build your way up to Insanity.
Due to the amount of squats, lunges, jumps, etc. in Insanity, if you have joint problems this program may not be right for you. If you have any sort of heart condition you should be very cautious (not just with Insanity but any exercise!).
Does Insanity work?
The short answer is yes. Follow the program for the 60 days and I promise you will absolutely see changes in your body, strength, and endurance.However, a major debate point on high intensity workouts like Insanity is if they are sustainable in the long run. I saw nice results after my first round of Insanity (see the pictures below), but I felt burnt out and had no desire to go back to the workouts for a few weeks at least.
Since then I have begun doing a hybrid of Insanity and weightlifting where I do the dvds three days a week and lift three days a week. Personally I felt that going through the whole two months of Insanity was a good jumping off point and switching to the split has allowed me to continue without hurting my body. I feel that most people would not be able to do Insanity over and over, month after month. It is just too intense and you run a high risk of hurting yourself.
Like any exercise routine you will see greater results if you also follow a healthy diet.
I think Insanity is a useful tool but should not be seen as a long term fitness solution. As I said, if you are in fairly good shape then Insanity is a good place to start and will help get you in the right mindset to move onto a more serious exercise regime. I have no doubts that the program will better your body and fitness levels since I have seen it change my own body. The steps you take after Insanity are up to you, but with the proper diet and continued exercise you should be able to maintain your health and body.