The Insanity Workout

This week on Monday, I started the Insanity workout with my roommate, Megan.

insanity-exerciseset

Figure: Beach Body’s Insanity Workout package, lead by Shaun T.

Introduction

Ever since Summer 2010, my own intense cardio workouts have become sub par to non-existent. I had been doing light cardio randomly a few times a while for the past 3-5 months, but I knew it wasn’t challenging me. My main goal is to keep my friend motivated and pumped to exercise and lose that weight for a healthier her. Best part is that I don’t have to make her pay for a gym membership to go with me since I got a copy for free from my coworker at the lab.

shaunt

The idea behind Insanity is that it is high impact cardio exercise with no weight training needed. It’s suppose to be easy to do at home, during any time that is convenient to the customer. Basically you are trying to do as many repetitions of an exercise as you can within an allotted amount of time versus traditional cardio that gradually gets your  heart rate up for a small amount of time and then gradually brings it down again.

Christal’s Exercising Past!

Before going into what I think of Insanity after a few days of trying it out, I’d like to go over a few regimes that were effective for me during college. This way you have an idea of what exercise experience I have and how relevant my review is for you. Since my attentiveness to exercise was sporadic during my years in school, I have provided an estimate of “months” for the duration of the regime.

  • Kickboxing class: weekly basis for 45mins + 15mins weightlifting (8lbs dumbbells or 9lb body bar)- 18 months
  • Yoga class: basic Hatha movements for 60 mins weekly basis – 3 months
  • Cardio n’ Tone: high intensity cardio (including use of step) + weightlifting – 6 months
  • Jazz dance: twice a week for 90 mins – 3 months
  • Basic cardio: elliptical, jogging on track, or cycling 2-3 times a week for 1 hour – 6 months on and off….my default exercise routine if I am busy at school
  • Walking – I do a lot of walking everyday

cardio-kickboxing

Christal’s Current Physique

Now about me. At this point I’m pretty overweight and out of shape, though previous regimes has kept my form not too bad. I was about 12lbs away from my first weight loss goal, but I lost about 4lbs spontaneously out of stress from an out of state interview and lack of monetary needs for food. That’s another story, another blog entry in itself.

Thoughts on Insanity Workout after 1st Week:

In Insanity, I think it is really important to know basics that the instructor sort of assumes you do. Here are my top tips in helping you do Insanity if you are having a hard time, like me.

1) Breathing 

Shaun T mentions “breathe through the stretch” a lot, and I think it’s really important. As you pull your body to stretch your muscles, you should exhale as it will make the pain less and allow you to go further, increasing flexibility. I learned that tid-bit from Yoga class. From Cardio Kickboxing, I learned that controlled breathing helps execute a move. For example, when completing a kick, release a breathe. The worst thing you could do to your fatigued muscles is not allow oxygen to save them from lactic acid build-up

2) Keep your core tight

Again, this is mentioned in the video in text and a few times by the instructor Shaun T. You could easily go through the motions of this program and not see results. It is important to keep the abs/core engaged. This can be difficult if you are also trying to figure out how to control  your breathing, but it really helps. You will always be working out the core even if you are not focusing on abs during that session. Thank you Cardio n’ Tone for teaching me this.

3) Eating

Not really mentioned at all in the video besides the damn Recovery shakes. My Kickboxing instructor always recommended eating at least 3-4 hours before class and maybe a bar in between, but nothing heavy (or else you will throw up). Following the exercise, about 1 hour after, it is recommended to have a nice meal or big snack. I think it’s important to have some good protein in there (ie- meats).

4) Keeping your head level

Try to keep your head up, especially when you are not feeling well while exercise. If you tilt your head down too much during such an intense work out you might get dizzy or pass out.

5) Stretching/Warming up

Insanity has sections dedicated to both stretching and warming up, but I suggest you do your own stretches before starting the video since Shaun T gets into the work out rather quickly. I DEFINITELY suggest this if you have not been conditioned through high impact cardio before. I have done Kickboxing a many times, but my gastrocnemius’ point of insertion in my leg feels like it wants to snap sometimes. And I don’t have girly legs either; my thighs and calves could rival those of Kratos from God of War!

KratosLegs

Figure: Me versus the God of War – WHO WILL WIN THE MUSCLEY LEG WAR?

6) Getting acquainted with proper form

Prior to participating in the Insanity exercises, I would definitely watch or review them quickly ahead of time to see what exercises they ask you to do. During the video, you have a few seconds during your water break to learn the moves (if it is the first time you are completing the circuit). Instead of rushing or disrupting your workout to pause, take some time before hand to make sure you know how to properly perform the moves with good form without speed. This way you know you are working it out right.

7) Learn to modify

So, I can’t guarantee I will have ground breaking results after 60 days because I modify the workout for myself.  I know my body and my limitations, so I will swap out some jumps for jogging from time to time, for example. I really wish Shaun T would show “low impact” alternatives to the moves, but then I guess it would not be called “INSANITY.” All the same, listen to the pains of your body, take it down a level if you need to so that you can prevent injury to your muscles.

Other critiques and comments:

  • Con: does not provide 1 break day in between each exercise day for muscles to heal and grow
  • Con/Pro: does not provide weightlifting: appeal because less equipment needed; questionable because muscles help burn fat even when not engaged
  • Con: WAAAAYY too fast for beginners to exercise
  • Con: SUPER high intensity. Jumping is a great way to increase heart rate, but this is crazy
  • Con: The day I can do these exercises easily, they will become very repetitive and boring. But right now I don’t have to worry about that
  • Pro: Very challenging and great for more experienced people
  • Pro: I sweat every time. Buckets of sweat. Sore muscles. IT MUST BE WORKING.
  • Pro: I love the timer provided at the bottom of the video.  It helps me push further when I know I’m closer to an end of a particular segment
  • Pro: Very motivating and inspiring (just YouTube Insanity progress or results) if you have a gym buddy to cry it out with
  • Pro: Only 60 days to complete the routine and then it can be repeated!
  • Pro: Shaun T is a great instructor, and he makes me laugh (though this leads me to realize the pain in my stomach muscles and collapse)

If you are interested in seeing how Insanity workouts look, check out this video posted on YouTube. It is the Fitness Test you are suppose to do to assess your progress.

I’ll check in again sometime and let you know how it’s going with Insanity! I encourage you all to at least try it with a friend and see if it’s for you. The best type of exercise that is most effective is one that includes gym buddy ❤

Insanity

Figure: Image posted on the “Insanity” Facebook page

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