Insanity, in my opinion, is one of the most, if not THE most, incredible body conditioning programs out there. It is definitely an advanced program and only suitable for people who are already in decent shape. When I call it a "conditioning" program, that means it will help you burn fat, increase your speed, power, and overall athleticism, will work wonders on your legs, and will tone your core. It is not a weight training or upper body-focused workout. However, the program requires no equipment, except an optional yoga mat for one of the DVD's. You are using your own body as resistance throughout the entire program. Insanity is basically 6 days a week of intense plyometric cardio - lots of running in place, jumping jacks, squats, jumps, push-ups, and floor drills. Most of the DVD's are set-up in an interval circuit format, which I discuss a little bit more below. Made up of 10 DVD's, Insanity is a two-month program. The first 4 weeks include DVD's between about 30-40 minutes in length, while month 2 includes workouts up to 60 minutes in length. Insanity also comes with an excellent nutrition plan, and there is a possibility to expand to the "Deluxe" edition which includes 3 advanced bonus DVD's.
Max Interval Training
Insanity is formulated based on the principle of "Max Interval Training." A conventional model of interval training consists of performing a circuit (a group of 4 or so consecutive moves at full "sprint" pace) for a specified amount of time and then resting for at least the time of the circuit (e.g. 2 minutes hard, 2 minutes or more of rest). With Max Interval Training in Insanity, you only get a 30 second rest after a 3 minute interval. So instead of short bursts of speed with long rest, Insanity is longer bursts of speed, with very little rest in between.
Format of the DVD's
Most of the DVD's follow this format: 9 minute warm-up circuit (which is still fairly taxing!). 5 or so minutes of stretching, and then the main circuit workouts begin. In month 1, you perform 4 moves for 30 seconds each, followed by a 30 second rest, and then repeat for a total of 3 times per circuit. In month 2, you perform 4 moves for 45 seconds each, followed by a 30 second rest, and also repeat 3 times per circuit. Often, after the last (third) time through, you don't get to rest and you go straight into a lighter cardio move to keep your heart rate up. Month 1 has 2 circuits, and Month 2 has 3 circuits. About once a week, you do an endurance workout, which consists of the same warm-up sequence, but then you go straight through during the main workout, without any breaks. The moves on the endurance workouts are usually a little simpler, but it is still very taxing to go the whole time without any breaks! Also about once a week, there is a recovery DVD which includes some yoga moves, slow push-ups, and deep muscle stretches - it is much less impact, though not technically "easy." In between month 1 and 2 is a week of "Core Cardio and Balance" which is a slightly easier workout for a recovery week.
On the first day, you take a fit test, trying to perform as many reps of specific moves within a one-minute timeframe. Additional fit tests are placed throughout the workout sequence to help you keep track of your results.
The nutrition guide is excellent and very easy to follow. Giving you tons of choices for healthy meals, it has you fill in 5 smaller meals a day instead of traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is very customizable and basically follows a balanced 40/40/20 carb/protein/fat ratio. It is much easier to follow than the p90x nutrition guide.
Comparison to p90x
If you are looking for a total body workout, including upper body conditioning, p90x is still the better program. However, in many ways Insanity is harder. For example, any day of Insanity makes the p90x Plyo X DVD look like child's play. Insanity is basically like doing plyo with a little core synergistics, AND pushups every day, but much harder. With Insanity, it is possible that you will burn more calories per day and your legs will get better results than with p90x. However, the fact that p90x has circuit weight training and yoga for flexibility and balance makes it a more comprehensive program. It is possible to supplement upper body workouts a few times a week with Insanity, and many people choose to create hybrids of p90x and Insanity. My only caution with creating a hybrid is to remember that Insanity DOES work the upper body, though not to exhaustion or "failure", especially on days of Cardio Power and Resistance, and Max Interval Plyo, so you have to be careful about overtraining. Additionally, if you buy the Deluxe edition, you get an Upper Body weight training DVD to add into the month 2 workouts in a kind of "doubles" format.
Insanity creator Shaun T will motivate you, yell at you, and kick your butt. He is all business, and is a perfect guy to be staring you down as you are performing Insanity. He is assuredly becoming one of the giants in today's fitness world because of his personality and look. And by the way, that man can dance! It's apparent even in Insanity, but in Hip Hop Abs, and his personal workout STRIDE, he really moves!
Sustainability after 63 days
Unlike p90x which you can just keep going, and going, and going on past 90 days, I wouldn't recommend doing back-to-back rounds of Insanity. It is very high impact and can be rough on your knees and joints if you do it consecutively for too many days. I recommend completing Insanity in full, and then doing a hybrid with p90x if you want to still keep some Insanity workouts in your routine. If you go back to a gym regimen after Insanity, Shaun T told me personally it's fine to just do Insanity workouts 3 or so times a week to keep up the Insanity conditioning.
Effect of Insanity for runners
All I can say is that my short distance running is much improved, from my 400's to my 5k's! I wouldn't recommend Insanity if you are training for a 10K or higher however, you definitely need the LSD runs, and Insanity does not help you directly with your long distance endurance. However, Insanity can be an interesting tool for runners, as it build lactic acid tolerance, strengthens legs, and improves fast-twitch muscles.
Insanity, like most of the top Beachbody programs, is $120. Since it requires no equipment, and can be done in your own home, you can be assured it will only be the $120 and then you are ready to go.
Can beginners do Insanity?
Max Interval Training is about going as hard you possibly can and squeezing out those last few reps even when you think you can't go any farther. If you look at the screen during the workouts, you'll notice that even the pro's on the DVD have to take breaks every once in a while. Even if you are in the military or are in great shape, the first week or so will be a shocker for you. For this reason, I really think there are better programs than Insanity for exercise novices. In order to get the max benefit, you need to try to keep up as best you can without compromising form.
Are you ready to try Insanity? When you buy it from a Team Beachbody coach you get Shaun T's "Fast and Furious" DVD - an Insanity workout crammed into 20 minutes! - for free!