Insanity: is it really the hardest workout put on DVD, ever?

You’ve probably seen the infomercial before – “Insanity – probably the hardest workout ever put on DVD!!”. You’ve seen trainer Shaun T talking about Max Interval Training, and watched many fit people on screen sweating profusely and struggling through the workouts.

You’re scared. But you’re curious.

So here’s my take on Insanity, the insanely popular workout program by Beachbody (see what I did just there?). It first launched  in 2009, and was the brainchild of pro trainer and all-around awesome dude Shaun T (of Hip Hop Abs and Rockin’ Body fame). I’ve personally completed Insanity 4 full times, and still do the workouts mixed in with other programs as well – I’m a fan, to say the least. I’ve met Shaun T at a Live workout even in Toronto and he’s really a super fantastic dude. Honestly. Even if he seems kinda cruel to conceive of a program like Insanity.

 What’s the plan? To put it simply:

  1. 40-60 minute workouts
  2. 5 workouts per week, 1 “recovery” workout per week, 1 rest day
  3. No equipment needed – no bands or weights,you use your own body weight for resistance
  4. 60 days total
    • 4 weeks of “Month 1″ workouts
    • 1 recovery week of “Recovery” workout
    • 4 weeks of “Month 2″ workouts

Included with the workouts is a meal plan guide, with tips and guidelines on how to align your meals and eating with your goals. There are some recipes and other tips too. Finally, there is a FIT TEST workout that you complete a few times throughout the 60 days to test your progress along the way.

Insanity is available as a Base kit, including all the workouts and literature you need to get started. You can also buy the Deluxe kit, which includes 3 additional workouts to mix in. Finally, it’s also available as a Challenge Pack, which is your best value. Don’t forget, buying Insanity through a Coach (like me) means you get a FREE bonus Insanity workout, plus discounted shipping on your order.

Tell me more about these Month 1 and Month 2 workouts – are they super scary?

Yes, they are challenging. No, they aren’t scary. No, the moves aren’t complicated or tricky. And Yes, even YOU can complete the workouts. The beauty of the Insanity program is the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) style of workouts. HIIT has become really popular in the last few years, although it isn’t anything new to the fitness world. But there’s a reason it’s so popular. IT WORKS. The premise is that you workout REALLY HARD for a short amount of time, and then take a SHORT break before going at it again. This truly develops your cardiovascular fitness level to a new high, and is a monster at burning fat. At the same time, the moves tone your muscles and add to your overall strength.

Are you looking to LOSE fat, get STRONGER and seriously get into the best shape of your life? Insanity is your ticket.

If you want more detail about the actual workouts – the format/length, scroll down to the end and I’ll break it down for you.

Results: Why I LOVE Insanity

So, I mentioned that I’ve completed several rounds of Insanity since first purchasing it – that’s true. It’s the only workout program I’ve ever stuck with so many times – and that’s truly BECAUSE IT WORKS. It’s not easy, and it’s not always fun, but if you STICK WITH IT, it will work for you too. You’d pretty much have to hoover the entire McDonald’s menu everyday to have it NOT work for you.

But still, you ask “What if it Doesn’t Work for me?”

Quite honestly, the only other reason it won’t work for you is if you don’t complete it. I’ve met one or two people who DIDN’T like the format of the workouts. It just wasn’t for them, and that’s totally cool. But that doesn’t mean the workout program is a dud. It just means they needed to find something they DID like. Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only workout program that’s truly effective is the one that you’ll KEEP DOING.

Meeting Shaun T at a Live workout event - I was 26 weeks pregnant!

Meeting Shaun T at a Live workout event – I was 26 weeks pregnant!

If you don’t already know this, my husband and I welcomed our first child back in July ’13. I won’t bore you with details about pregnancy, labour and delivery but suffice it to say it’s not easy on your body. Before getting pregnant, I wanted to be in the best shape of my life, to help however I could with the forthcoming onslaught. You know what I reached for? Yep, Insanity. I did a full round before getting pregnant, and even kept up with Month 1 workouts through most of my first trimester*. I didn’t concern myself much with weight gain while pregnant – I ended up gaining about 49lbs. (I’m 5’9″) and I lost just about all of it without working out for the first 6 months post-partum. I give HUGE credit to the program for helping me to bounce back quickly after delivery. 

*OK, seriously please do not take this as medical clearance for you to do Insanity while knocked up. I know my body, and my fitness levels & capabilities, and was care ful to watch my heart rate, and modified some moves as needed. Be careful with that little bean growing in there!

I’ve posted my results before but this is an appropriate place to post them again, so here goes. These are my real photos from doing 2 Rounds of Insanity (from when I first purchased the program). These are the very same results photos I submitted to Beachbody to get a free Insanity T-Shirt and they called me back and asked me to be in their next Infomercial. See, it really is REAL people that get into the infomercial (and no, I wasn’t paid anything. I figured it was a cool :15 seconds of fame moment).

2 Rounds Results Front

2 Rounds of Insanity – Results Photo

Insanity - 2 Rounds Before & After Pictures

Insanity – 2 Rounds Before & After Pictures

Insanity - 2 Rounds Before & After Pictures

Insanity – 2 Rounds Before & After Pictures

Total weight lost: 9lbs net (down 13lbs fat, up 4lbs muscle)
Body Fat Loss: 9%
Finishing weight: 137lbs
Shaved 5:10 off my 5km run time
Finishing Body Fat:13.5%

Equipment: One of the BEST things about Insanity is that you do not need ANY equipment. I achieved the results you see above while living in a 1-bedroom, 700 sq. ft. condo.  I would move our coffee table the night before, roll up the carpet and use the 8’x10′ space in front of our TV as my workout space. Do you know what that means? It also means Insanity is extremely PORTABLE. You can take it with you anywhere – no excuses for when you have to travel for business (you’re welcome). :) I have taken the DVD’s with me literally all over the world.

These are the places I’ve done Insanity:

  • Hotel rooms in Barcelona & Madrid
  • Hotel gym in Berlin
  • Parking lot behind the hotel in Mont Tremblant, Quebec
  • Public park in Toronto
  • Gym at the office

My Final Thoughts: Is it the hardest workout on DVD? Well I haven’t tried everything out there, but I would wager a guess it is. Insanity is definitely not for everyone. If you’re BRAND NEW to working out, or have injuries to your knees, ankles or hips, there are other Beachbody programs that would be better suited for your fitness journey. But, if like me, you’ve worked out before, are a former athlete or are SERIOUS about getting into the absolute BEST shape of your life, Insanity is your program. I won’t lie and say it’s easy. It isn’t. But it’s DOABLE, effective and will give you the results you’re looking for. Stick with it, you won’t be disappointed.

Are you ready to commit? I’d love to help you on your Insanity adventure. You can join one of my FREE Challenge Groups, or we can work 1-on-1 together. To sign me up as your FREE coach, register here; I’d be honoured to help you.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, you can purchase Insanity:

Come on guys, let’s goooooooo!!!

So here’s a bit more detail about the actual workouts themselves, in case you want to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Month 1 Workouts:

Month 1 consists of 2 Interval Workouts, 1 Cardio Workout, a Recovery Workout and an Abdominal Workout.

The Interval Workouts go something like this:

  • 10 minute warm-up (don’t worry if you do the warm-up and are totally sweating/winded by the end, this warm-up ain’t no joke)
  • ~5 minutes of stretching
  • 20 minute workout:
    • 2 Sets of 4 moves each
      • You complete the 4-move set THREE TIMES before moving on to Set #2
    • Here’s the run-through:
      • SET 1 = Move 1 (:30), Move 2 (:30), Move 3 (:30), Move 4 (:30), REST (:30)
      • COMPLETE SET 1 three times
      • SET 2 = Move 1 (:30), Move 2 (:30), Move 3 (:30), Move 4 (:30), REST (:30)
      • COMPLETE SET 2 three times
  • 5 minute cool-down stretch

The Cardio Workout is slightly simpler:

  • 10 minute warm-up (same as Interval warm-up)
  • ~5 minutes of stretching
  • ~13 minute workout:
    • Do a move for :60 seconds, move on to the next move
    • No repeating
    • No rests
  • 5 minute coo-down stretch

The calendar for Month 1 rotates you between the 2 Interval Workouts and the Cardio Workout, and includes 1 REST day a week, plus 1 Recovery Workout per week. The Recovery Workout doesn’t have any fast moves or cardio, it’s mostly just a bit of toning (like lunges etc.) moves and some stretching.

Month 2 Workouts:

Here’s where the magic happens. And by magic, I mean really tough workouts that take you from “hey, I’m working hard this feels good” to “holy jeebus this is tough, but wait a second, I can actually kinda do these!”.

The structure of Month 2 is pretty much the same as Month 1, except all the Workouts are replaced by longer, tougher versions of the Month 1 Workouts.

  • The warm-up is the same format and length, just tougher moves
  • The stretch is similar
  • The Interval Workouts now have THREE SETS, and each move is performed for :45 seconds, not :30. The moves themselves are also a bit more challenging, but still do-able
  • The Cardio Workout is still :60 second moves, but you do more of them, therefore the workout is longer

I’ll admit, the first time I put in Max Interval Circuit, and the clock on the DVD came on and said 59:49, and Shaun T starts by saying “This is Max Interval Circuit and it’s going to kick your butt. Ready 3-2-1, GO”, I kinda let out a little whimper. But, you start chipping away at the workout, and after SET 1 is complete, you think “OK only 2 more to go!” and then by the time you realize it, you’re at the cool-down.