After I finished Ripped in 30 by Jillian Michaels (check out my results HERE), I decided to do “the hardest workout ever put on DVD”… Insanity by Beachbody. I’ve done the program before, years ago, and had awesome results. Since I was still trying to get my core muscles back after having a baby, Insanity was the first exercise program to come to mind. They aren’t kidding when they say it’s insanity. It really is crazy hard, and there’s no way you WON’T get results if you follow through with it. I did not follow any special diet and honestly did not eat very healthy this time through, but I still got decent results.
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My before pictures for Insanity are the same as my after pictures for Ripped in 30, because I started Insanity right after Ripped in 30. 🙂 Sorry about the differences in lighting. The lighting in my after pictures is definitely much better than in the before, which might seem deceiving. I tried to take several different angles so that not every shot was equally flattering.
*Note: All photos are unedited. (You’re like, “Yeah… we know.”)
Arms: If you look closely, you can see that I’ve actually lost some definition in my arms. Insanity includes only bodyweight exercises, while Jillian Michaels utilizes dumbbells. There are a lot of pushup and plank exercises in Insanity, but apparently those don’t yield the same results as weight lifting.
Legs: I saw more definition in my legs after Insanity, but I believe it is more due to overall decrease in body fat percentage than muscle growth.
Chest and Back: Insanity is EXCELLENT for toning the back and chest, especially the back. That’s the area where I usually notice a difference first.
Abs: My abs were the area where I saw the most overall improvement. And I even skipped most of the “ab” workouts. On the schedule, you are supposed to do the 16 minute “Cardio Abs” video about once a week after doing the full 40-60 minute workout for that day. Since I was already dripping with sweat and exhausted by that point, I figured I could allow for a pass.
Booty: I think my bum might be slightly smaller but perkier after doing Insanity. Honestly not a whole lot of difference there, which is surprising considering all the squats and lunges.
I had to throw in some of these more realistic, relaxed poses to show you what I look like not flexing and make it more obvious that I still have a bit of a postpartum pooch on my lower stomach and muffin top.
The last time I did Insanity, I was a student and working full time, and I was not breastfeeding. Now, being home all day, with food always available, and of course having the breastfeeding hormones constantly triggering hunger, makes it more difficult to choose healthy foods 100% of the time. I’m not saying I should have dieted; cutting calories can mess with milk supply. If I could go back, the biggest change I would make would be eating more nutrient-rich foods like fruit, vegetables and protein. One thing I have learned over the years is that when you work out hard, your body uses up more nutrients, so you will feel worse on a junk food diet than if you were not exercising at all. It’s actually easier to become malnourished when participating in an extreme fitness regimen, believe it or not.
If I had just focused a little more on healthy eating, I might have gotten more chiseled, but I am okay with these results! One step at a time, right?
What’s in the Program?
- Nine weeks of workouts (nine main workouts, plus “Cardio Abs” and “Fit Test”. There are also three bonus DVD’s if you order the deluxe package: “Max Interval Sports Training”, “Upper Body Weight Training”, and “Insane Abs”.) The first four weeks are a combination of “Plyometric Cardio Circuit”, “Cardio Power and Resistance”, “Cardio Recovery”, and “Pure Cardio” and the workout length is between 35 and 40 minutes. The following week is called the “Recovery Week” and only one workout is performed all week: “Core Cardio and Balance”, which is about 37 minutes long. The final four weeks consist of four new workouts and introduce more strength and upper body exercises: “Max Interval Circuit”, “Max Cardo Conditioning”, “Max Recovery”, and “Max Interval Plyo”. The second month workouts are between 47 minutes and an hour long. “Core Cardio and Balance” is also scheduled a couple times in the last four weeks and can be replaced by the bonus DVD, “Max Interval Sports Training”.
- 70 page “Elite Nutrition” guide, which includes how to calculate your caloric needs, when to eat, and what to eat.
- HIIT in every workout. Coach Shaun T is all about “Max Intervals”, which basically is the HIIT that we’re used to, only longer intervals and shorter rest periods.
- 60 day workout calendar so you can check off completed workouts as you go. My calendar was already written on from the last time I did Insanity, so I wrote down the schedule in my planner instead.
My Experience This Time Around
I was surprised when I didn’t get sore during the first few days. I remember the last time I did Insanity, my leg muscles were so sore I could barely move! I think starting with an easier workout program, Ripped in 30, helped me work up to Insanity. It does say all over the program to consult your doctor before starting Insanity because it is not for beginners or individuals with medical conditions whose health could be compromised by difficult cardio and strength exercises. I almost did Insanity six weeks postpartum, but decided against it since I was not in the best shape yet. That was a good decision! The friend who originally recommended this program to me said he threw up just after doing the “Fit Test”. That tells you how intense this program is!
Even though it is very intense, one of my favorite things about Insanity is the warm-up and stretch in each workout because they help you ease into the circuits. The warm-up is more than 10 minutes long and gets you sweating, then you perform dynamic stretches for about four minutes before jumping into the circuits. At the end of the workout, you stretch for about four minutes as well. I feel that the warm-up and stretches are so necessary and play a big role in exercise performance. (Read my related article on boosting workout results). I am much more flexible than I was at the start of the program, which is a plus.
The first four weeks went by and the workouts were pretty much straight cardio with a few core exercises involving plank work, but overall very little upper body moves. I could tell my arms were getting a little soft by the end of the four weeks. The exercises involved a lot of hopping and small jumps, which I started to feel in my knees by the end of the month. This is definitely not a program for someone with knee issues. Also, all the hopping made me pee my pants frequently while working out (still working on those pelvic floor exercises after baby…). You may want to keep that in mind if you are looking for a postpartum workout program.
I love the workout in the recovery week, “Core Cardio and Balance”. There is some intense cardio involving softer jumps, but the last half of the workout involves strength and balance moves. It was perfect for building strength while putting less stress on the joints.
I was in for a surprise when I started the second month workouts. In the second month, the length of the workout is much longer AND the exercises are more difficult. Oh dear… I did not even have the strength to complete the number of pushups they were asking! I totally collapsed, arms shaking. There’s one circuit where you’re supposed to do 16 pushups, then 16 mountain climbers on the floor, stand up, repeat. You do that circuit three times for a total of 96 pushups! Ummm, not possible. Not when the first month workouts only require between four and eight pushups at a time. Shaun T goes way too fast during these pushups, too, making it easy to sacrifice form. It wasn’t until my last week that I was able to do 92 of the 96 pushups.
So that is one of my complaints: the first month needs more upper body training to prepare you for the later workouts. I know they are trying to get your heart conditioned before adding in strength exercises, but there was just too much of a difference in fitness levels between the first and second months.
The second month has fewer jumping exercises overall, but the few jumping exercises are BIGGER jumps. Even though there is more upper body work, the second month workouts still may not be the best option for weak knees.
- No equipment
- Can be done at home
- Warm up and stretch are very effective
- Can get results without closely following a diet
- Tones the back and abs
- Great for losing overall body fat
- Easy to do with a workout buddy
- Can easily take it with you while traveling, as long as you have access to a DVD player. (I took Insanity on a cruise about five years ago and worked out with my sisters in the gym!)
- Longer workouts (40 to 60 minutes) and six days a week.
- Mostly cardio so you may lose fat but you will not get ripped, if that is your goal.
- Gets sweat all over the carpet and overall is just hard on carpet/rug. If you’re on a hard surface, you might want to buy pads for your knees since there is a lot of floor work and a yoga mat will get in the way.
- Hard on joints, especially knees.
- Not for beginners
Whether Insanity will be worth it for you depends on your fitness level and goals. It is definitely not for everyone, and even though I was pretty happy with my results, I overall think the program puts a lot of stress on the body. An hour of intense cardio for six days a week is kind of overkill, in my opinion. But it gets results, that’s for sure! Even if you don’t do the whole program straight through, it makes for a great workout now and then. I have gotten way more than my money’s worth out of these workouts since I have used them over and over these past few years.
Click HERE to purchase the Deluxe package on Amazon.
Tell me if your experience with Insanity is similar to mine!