Beachbody Insanity Workout Review

Insanity Workout Review
If you're anything like me, you're probably sceptical about spending a lot of money (around £100) on the very popular Insanity program. You're probably wondering if you'll stick to the full 60 days and get the results you want, or will you be wasting your money on 'just another fitness fad' that'll sit in a box under the stairs gathering dust. I bet you've been googling reviews and wondering which ones are the honest and real reviews and which ones are just marketing and cheesy infomercial style reviews from various BeachBody Coaches. 

I know, because that was me a couple of months ago. I opted to buy it second hand from eBay in the end, figuring that if I got it at a bargain price, it wouldn't matter too much if I didn't like it. But you know what? I was really surprised by how much I did enjoy it, to the extent that if I had have paid full price, I could have easily justified it.    

Why Insanity? 

I had tried two taster classes at my gym two years ago and absolutely loved it. I'm so disappointed that my gym didn't keep the class as it was incredibly popular. Fast forward to today and I'm in need a tough workout I can do at home because as a new mum, I don't often get to the gym, except for 2 swimming sessions with my son each week plus 1 body pump class, some weeks I manage to get to a body balance too. 

If you cut through the fancy marketing terms weaved into the Insanity program, you'll realise that it's basically a really though HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio workout. This workout is not for anyone who is new to exercise, you really do need to have a reasonable level of fitness in order to just survive the fitness test on Day 1. Trust me, it's not just hype around the program, it really is tough. While this may deter beginners, I feel it may benefit those of you looking to get fitter rather than fit from scratch. 

I'm a firm believer that a good weekly workout schedule should include a mix of strength training, cardio and flexibility training. I also think a mix of endurance cardio and high intensity is beneficial for overall fitness too.

Insanity has a nice balance of cardio, body weight exercises and stretching, for a DVD that doesn't require any extra equipment. With 10 different disks you won't be getting bored of doing the same workout every day for the whole 60 days (Jillian Michaels, 30 Day Shred, I'm looking at you right now!).

What stood out most for me

The program is created and presented by Shaun T, who seems like a really nice guy. In fact I so badly wish I could hire him as a personal trainer. He's very motivating and pushes you through the toughest bits, but also encourages that you rest and drink some water if you're compromising on form.

This is sensible advice if you want to avoid injury and is certainly refreshing from the "no gain without pain" rhetoric or the worrying encouragement to keep going until you throw up that some workout programs have adopted (Biggest Loser, Cross Fit!).

High intensity exercise will feel uncomfortable, incredibly exhausting and very sweaty, but you shouldn't be in pain or feel faint, dizzy or sick. That's when it's time to stop and listen to your body's warning signals. This is about health, not punishment. 

So what's in the box?

You'll find 10 different DVDs, a nutrition guide, a workout calendar and a fitness test card. 
Insanity Workout Review

What's this about a Fit Test?

As part of the Insanity program you'll be asked to take on the fitness test every few weeks. I found this incredibly motivating as I could see my fitness improve considerably each time I took it. The Fit Test is arguably a short workout in itself! You'll be getting a sweat on trying to do (and count) how many reps of a selection of plyometric moves you can do, with two minutes for each move. There are rests inbetween for sipping water and noting down your results. During this time Shaun T asks the participants on the DVD what scores they got and started the program with - this appeals to my competitive nature as I like to try and match them! 

What's the nutritional side of things like? 

As I mentioned before, Insanity comes with a book on nutrition. The recommended macros for the plan is 40/40/20 (protein, carbs & fats). The book states that to get the most out of the plan you must follow these macros for five meals a day (3 larger ones and 2 snacks). 

In the back of the book you'll find 'Michi's Ladder' which lists recommended foods in tiers. These foods have a low glycemic index to keep blood sugar levels stable. It's also recommend that you avoid additives, overly processed foods, sugar substitutes and alcohol (these are a given really). 

Insanity Workout Review

Month 1 on the calorie requirement side of things will basically involve a 'cut' of 500 calories a day. The Insanity nutritional plan uses the same formula to calculate your required calories as MyFitnessPal so if you want to go down this route then I would recommend using MyFitnessPal in the standard way but with your macros adjusted to do this plan.  For month 2, you'll need to increase your calories (yay!) but keep your macros the same. Again, I would just reduce the deficit using MyFitnessPal.

The Workouts

Insanity Workout Review
You can download this handy calendar
as a PDF from Fit Dad Chris's Website

Each disc contains a workout corresponding to your workout calendar and each workout will involve a warm up (which is arguably a workout in itself!) and a 5 minute cool-down stretch. Throughout the workout you will complete sets of drills - these drills may be plyometrics (jump training), resistance training (think squats, lunges and push ups) or just straightforward cardio exercises. There is also an add on workout to target abs and a recovery workout featuring gentle cardio and yoga style stretching. 

The workout calendar 

Month 1 

Month one is tough. Hell, day one's fitness test is tough! If you manage to get through the first week however, I'm pretty confident that you'll get through the rest of the weeks leading up to the desperately needed recovery week (this is the week inbetween month 1 and 2). 

Assuming you start Insanity on a Monday, then you're weekly rest day will be a Sunday and you'll have an active recovery workout on a Thursday. Believe me, you will need these! Please do not be tempted to weave additional workouts or gym classes into the schedule, you'll be putting your body through quite enough with the Insanity workouts 6 days a week. 

The workouts themselves vary by DVD each day, which is brilliant because it prevents the usual boredom and predictability that comes with workout DVDs.

Month 2

By the end of month one, you'll be feeling very athletic and a little cocky. You've beaten the first month of an incredibly tough workout - what could possibly challenge you now? Well, it turns out month 2 manages to be an even bigger arse-kicker. Some of the previous moves of month 1 are ramped up to a more advanced version, everything seems even quicker and there are more sets of exercises and so the workouts are longer. They've gone from around 35-40 minutes to around 1 hour (which was an issue for me as I had previously managed to fit my entire workout into my son's usual morning nap time and was now subjected to having toys thrown across the room at me while doing burpees!).

My biggest tip for surviving month 2 (and even month 1 for that matter) is to go at your own pace, rather than the pace of the DVD. Shaun T is always saying that if you're compromising form, take a break and grab a drink. You really need to listen to his advice on this, or you could end up injured. 

My Results

I have to be completely honest here. I didn't stick to the meal plan whatsoever. I'm breastfeeding so I was reluctant to have a calorie deficit and I couldn't for the life of me manage to eat 40% of my calories from protein. In the middle of month 2, I got married so you can imagine there was a lot of wedding cake involved and some workouts were skipped in favour of last minute wedding planning and well, actually getting married.

With that aside, I did see amazing results fitness wise, my results on the fitness test improved each time I did it. I lost 5lbs (which was great as I had hit a plateau) and 2 inches off my waist. 

I haven't posted a before and after photo - for the simple reason, I'm still not happy with my 'after' photo. I know, I should go and read some of the body confidence guest posts on my own blog! But I look at my 'after' photo and wonder where my muscles have gone to since pregnancy and while breastfeeding. My post-Insanity photo is still very much an in-progress photo, and let's be honest, a 5lb loss of scale weight doesn't make much of a difference, compared to an increase in lean muscle and a reduction in body fat. For that, I need to get my act together on the nutritional side of things.   

I feel like I would like to do another round of Insanity, with much more attention paid to nutrition this time, to keep my fitness levels up while I'm at home with my son all day with little chance (or money) to get to the gym. 

If the Insanity program has taught me anything, it's that it's definitely possible to have a really tough workout at home, with no equipment required. 

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