My Insanity Review

Finally, after three weeks of finishing insanity, I’m ready to review the workout. For those who don’t know what insanity it, here is a direct link: Insanity.

It is the toughest workout, I have ever done. It is the toughest workout, you will ever do, sans the army bootcamp experience. So what is it all about?  NOTE:  ASK YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING.  (Warning: Article is long)

The workout is a 60 day long experience, consisting of 13 different exercises.  The first phase, about 40 days, is 45 minutes or so per exercise, and the second phase, about 20 days, of 60 minute exercises.   You get one day off every week (Sunday on the calendar), and every Thursday is a “recovery day.”  The second principle is that it changes the paradigm of bursts of high intensity with lots of rest to the exact opposite.  The third principle is the diet, which is nothing special.  Eat 4 to 5 small meals of high protein, lower carb, lower fat, and less junk food.

Doctors Note:  When I say to see a doctor, I really mean it.  I didn’t, and if I did, he would have told me not to.  This isn’t some wii game, or 5 minute abs on tv.  This is really really tough.  This will kick you into the best shape of your life, but it will not be easy, and extremely painful.  You will probably throw up out of sheer exhaustion at least once if you do it right.

Phase 1:  Phase 1 consists of  6 different exercises that obviously alternate.  These exercises were quite fun.  Obviously, everyone has their favorite, including myself.  Most exercises had the same format.  A 10 minute warmup, 5 minute stretch, main exercise regiment, and a 3 minute cool down stretch.  The warmup was the worst part of the exercises because it is the most amount of time straight through without a rest.  The purpose, besides the obvious, is the raise your heart rate up.    The stretch was the most annoying part, until recently (I’ll explain later), because I didn’t see the point of all that stretching.  The main exercises were the most fun.

Phase 2: Phase 2 consists of 7 different exercises that also alternate.  There were 3 main exercises that I hated.  The hour long intensity was definitely the problem.  The extra 15 minutes made it really hard to work out.  There were also more double workout that caused more headaches.  The mindset is that you just spent 40 days working really hard, and if you are this far, you might as well finish.

So how did it go…

I started at around 283lbs.  I finished at 268 at my lowest.  A loss of 15 lbs is on the low side of mass lost, but still nothing to sneeze at.  The fit tests was the video’s main way of gauging how well you did, and I did well.  Unfortunately, the 4 subsequent fit tests were lost the day before the final fit test.  Based on my memory, I gained on 7 of 8 tests each time with an overall improvement of about 10% each time.  A 10% improvement each time on most exercises is nothing to sneer at.  Through phase 1, I was so happy to do the workout, that I as looking forward to it.  As phase 2 came along, I was sluggish, and not happy to go through the hour long workouts that I started them really late, and started slacking off because it was so hard.

The second note is how your lack of progress can only be seen through the fit test.  That means that when you have to do a certain exercise you can’t gauge how many you did.  You are supposed to go at 100% on your entire workout, therefore, I would usually fail at around 80% through the segment.  That started making me feel bad because I thought that I would fail, but after the first two weeks I was able to complete the warmup fully, and seen my segments improve from the previous workout.

Third note involves eating.  Since these workouts are tough, your appetite changes for the better. That candy bar makes yourself question whether you actually need all those calories.  If you follow the diet, you learn how to calculate how many total calories you need in a day.  You start to pay attention to calories, carbs, sugars, and fats.  You will learn to eat less. I promise you will, if you want to follow the program.  Adding your 8 – 10 cups of water a day also helps.

Fourth note involves weigh ins.  Insanity wants you to weigh and photograph yourself an certain intervals, mainly weigh in once a week, and photograph yourself, every 20 days.  I did not photograph myself, which in a way I regret.  My main goal of weight control is how well my pants fit.  As any fitness literature explains, weighing yourself everyday is psychologically  bad.  The ups and downs drive you crazy, which it did.  What I noticed is that I would fluctuate approximately 3lbs daily, and almost 5 lbs weekly.  Sunday I was the heaviest, mainly because I didn’t eat well over the weekend, and Thursday was my lightest day.  So Sunday to Thursday morning I lost weight, and gained it back over the weekend.  This may be an important item to note.

Fifth note involves motivation:  If you do not give 100% to the program, don’t bother.  I picked a time everyday, and stuck to it.  It didn’t matter where I was.  I took my laptop with me, and made sure I had the right video ready to go.  The hardest days were Saturdays.  I told my friends and family not to bother me between 5pm and 7:15pm.  That was my “gym time.”  I did a 45 minute slow cardio routine before mainly because I needed a better warmup.  I drove home, and went straight into the workouts.

During week three I got very sick, to the point I took a sick day from work (I never take days off from work).  The question that nobody could answer was whether to continue or stop and rest.  My answer was to continue.  Working as hard as you can was the mantra throughout the video, and to continue was the right answer.  The disheartening news was week three is when you start to see some results, and those four days I had to take it at 70% or so.  During the last week, I pulled my back.  That caused me to actually miss a day, and had to reshuffle workouts.  I don’t agree with reshuffling workouts.  It is a commitment, not a suggestion, so that really got me annoyed with myself, but otherwise I wouldn’t be able to complete it, and possibly hurt my back further.

Note on Stretching:  I never knew how important warmup, cooldown, and streching were until I went to a exercise routine without warming up and stretching.  The warmup brings you up slowly, which prevents injurys.  The streching, really prevents cramps, and muscle injury.  The cooldown, brings you back to reality slow enough that you don’t feel sluggish the rest of the day.  Take my advice from someone who always skipped those three parts, but, now, I will never skip them.

Note on Muscle Pain: After the first day you are in pain.  Not minor pain, but MAJOR PAIN.  Every muscle hurts.  Keep going.  Tell yourself that one week of this and you will feel infinitely better.  Forge through the next few days, take your aspirin, and work through the pain.  What I learned is that my shins, quads, and triceps were very weak.  Those muscle groups stopped me from doing more reps.

Final notes and errata:  The best way to complete insanity is to find a buddy.  Find a buddy and support group.  A buddy to do it with you (someone who doesn’t mind you with a shirt off).  Find a support group or blog to either journal, or read about others in your situation.  I didn’t have a buddy, but I had  blogs and a few friends who were a few days behind me.  It kept me going.  Be careful of the beach body blogs.  The “coaches” are usually people with 30 lbs or so to lose, and may not be the same body type as you.  They usually have an agenda (selling your the beach body shakes, and videos).  Try to find independent people:  My favorite blog throughout the workout was the Insanity: One Man’s Voice (new window) and his subsequent second go around at The Insanity Ward (pops)

What’s Next: I tried the other video series, and nothing compared to Insanity.  My only choice is to learn how to work out better at the gym, but more likely just start the program again.  I have the program, I might as well do it (better this time).

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