What is the Original Insanity Workout? Why You Need To Do It

by Josh | Last Updated:  September 14, 2020
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For many people who have done home workout DVDs, you will know the name Insanity from its explosive fitness craze that followed P90X. From the company that created P90X came Insanity, with a focus on a pure cardio-based workout that aims to build your endurance along with your stamina.

What is the original Insanity workout? The original Insanity workout was created by Shaun T while working with Beachbody, a company whose focus is on at-home workouts. This bucked the trend of almost all workouts to date as it was pure cardio and not weights based allowing anyone to attempt it. Others have attempted to copy the program but to very little success.

So why would you want to do a workout program that is over a decade old? Well because this is one workout that easily spans time itself and is as difficult now as it was the first time I tried it back in 2012. The benefit being that now it is available streaming instead of via discs to fit our more mobile lives!

Shaun T is your instructor for one of the hardest workouts you've faced - What is the Original Insanity Workout
Shaun T is your instructor for one of the hardest workouts you’ve faced

What is the Insanity Workout Program?

Insanity is a HIIT based cardio workout from Beachbody that centers on pushing the HIIT to another level. They call it “Max Interval Training” and this is focused around longer exercise periods with short duration rest in-between.

Max interval training is focused on you working as hard as you absolutely can for a 3-minute interval that is followed by a 30-second rest break. Then you repeat this cycle with different exercises for the entirety of the length of the planned workout.

Workout nameDetailsLength of workout
Fit TestBase workout to determine your level of fitness30 minutes
Plyometrics Cardio CircuitCardio and lower body plyometrics circuit40 minutes
Cardio Power and ResistanceUpper body strength training and cardio circuit40 minutes
Pure CardioCardio intervals40 minutes
Cardio AbsAbdominal workout20 minutes
RecoveryA recovery workout and stretch35 minutes
Max Interval CircuitIntense interval circuit60 minutes
Max Interval PlyoLeg plyometric workout and power moves55 minutes
Max Cardio ConditioningCardio circuit50 minutes
Max RecoveryRecovery workout and stretches50 minutes
Core Cardio and BalanceA cardio workout done between months one and two of the program40 minutes
Fast and FuriousA quick version of the usual 45-minute workout20 minutes

Insanity and Beachbody make the claim that this will allow you to burn up to around 1000 calories per hour of working out. Now I can’t speak to this number but I can say even from my pushing it I could see how you can be around that number!

What Kind of Workout is Insanity?

The Insanity brand is geared towards cardio workouts which are within the HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. These workouts tend to have a long “afterburn” where you continue to burn calories at a higher rate even after workouts conclude.

When you buy into the Insanity version though you are going to get a mean sweat on due to the consistent speed you move from one exercise to the next, I promise 30 seconds sounds like a long break but they blow by super fast!

Who Is Shaun T?

Shaun T is a fitness trainer who rose to stardom within the home workout scene through his numerous products aimed at adults and children to get them out and exercising.

He started out as a choreographer which is a reason why he has created some of the most fun dance based workouts that Beachbody has to offer, Hip Hop Abs and CIZE are both amazing if you enjoy dance.

Does the Insanity Workout Really Work?

Any physical activity can yield results but many get hung up in trying to figure it out on their own and not staying focused on the end goals of why they were working out.

A program like Insanity is a perfect way to avoid this and allow you to instead focus all your efforts on achieving results. Insanity has thousands of video proofs on YouTube showing that it can get amazing results.

Just start today, get yourself on the train and you will begin to see results. Make sure to do the fit test as hard as you can, same with pictures, you may hate them now but they are very helpful as your self image changes too gradual for you to see.

Does Insanity Work to Help Lose Weight?

To be bluntly honest, all that is required to lose weight is to eat less than you use in a day. If you eat more your body stores it as bodyfat for use when the lean times come we just don’t have those much anymore in the US and developed nations.

Instead I would focus on how do I INCREASE my muscle mass (lean mass) as this will cause you to burn more calories to maintain and your goal should be to ratchet up the metabolism of required energy.

Insanity does both by helping you burn at an accelerated rate while helping you use body-weight exercise to gain muscle strength and increase your lean body mass (LBM).

Who is the Insanity Workout For?

The Insanity workout is hardcore, there is no doubt about that and this may turn some people off but there is no reason to believe this workout is built for anyone specifically.

Insanity is much better focused on someone who is needing a body weight workout they can do at home within an hour, this is not always a fitness crazed person but can just be a dad or mom looking to drop some pounds from a pandemic!

Can a Beginner Do Insanity?

The program can be done by anyone, Shaun T already thought about this and there is a person doing a lower impact version of the workout that you can watch and adapt to as you grow in strength and endurance.

While you may not “burn” as many calories as someone who can go full out the entire workout everyone starts at zero, each minute you make it is more than you were probably doing before starting in on Insanity and that is AMAZING.

Should I Eat Before or After my Insanity Workout?

With any hardcore cardio workout you would be better served most the time eating long prior to working out or waiting until after. With Insanity you are moving, I mean M O V I N G and this will make most people get bloated feeling.

I would say if you are thinking about eating then you may want to hold off on your workout for 30 minutes afterward to at least ensure your stomach can settle a little prior.

If you eat before don’t over drink liquids as no one in this world likes the feeling of too much water sloshing around while they jump and perform fast movements!

What is the Insanity Workout Schedule?

Within Insanity there is 10 workouts which are followed based on the schedule that comes with the program. Each of these workout routines can take around 30 to 60 minutes to finish.

This schedule also has a crazy pace of typically 6 days each week. As you evolve over the 60 day program you will continue to evolve and change your workout schedule on a weekly basis.

Your first month with Insanity features a total of five body beating HIIT workouts that will tax your mind and soul:

When you start into your second month you have a week wher you will feel like Shaun T has gone soft on you. This first week will be a “recovery” period that is focused around balance and core workouts.

This won’t be some relaxing spa type recovery you will sweat and you will be exhausted, this set of workouts won’t be for the faint of heart but is significantly less intense than month one.

The break is a clear reset for you after your body probably was tanked by the end of month one if you really pressed. The ability to have a recovery period will allow you to go at it even harder in month two for your finale.

That killer 30 days will introduce four new workouts which will take your intensity up another notch and leave you breathless and happy to be done each and every day:

What is the Hardest Insanity Workout?

For my this is any plyo based workout so in month one it was Plyometric Cardio Circuit, then for month two it was Max Interval Plyo, why you may ask? The darn jumps…

You see my knees aren’t what they used to be due to age and poor management and part of why I am on this fight to lose more pounds and gain strength as you only get one pair of good, real knees!

For many others this is the same sentiment, though for some with poorer cardio then they thought they had will come back with the cardio workouts and some the intervals.

The hardest will be something that you won’t live up to the first time, don’t let it get you down, instead you need to then put in the time and get better as this will help you mentally and physically be stronger!

What is the Shortest Insanity Workout?

If you mean out of all the discs available then this would be the “Fit Test” because it moves through just the fitness testing activities for you to record. This is not one of the continuous workouts though so we will discuss month one and month two below.

The first months fastest workout is Cardio Recovery at 33 minutes in total length from start to completion, a rocket ship of a half hour for sure!

In the second month all the workouts move towards the one hour mark but the fastest workout to complete is Max Recovery at 47 minutes.

I didn’t add in the fitness test and abs as those will obviously be the shortest for most times in the program I wanted to stick to the primary workouts that you will be doing regularly and consistently.

What is the Best Insanity Workout to Lose Weight?

The answer here is the one you can do consistently and without quitting, lets be frank you want body fat loss and not weight loss which is accomplished over calorie deficit.

Many seem to believe that this “calorie model” is incorrect and while it leaves some room for play it is pretty close as bodybuilders have been using it for ages to lose body fat.

For many the workouts in month one may be overly taxing and this is OK, the best workout is the one you can do enough to become a habitual exerciser.

What Equipment is Needed for the Insanity Workout?

This is the reason why I first jumped at Insanity, the fact that when I was living in a apartment and didn’t have access to a gym. Equipment was something I just didn’t have and the ability to burn calories without gear was a perfect need.

If you are a lucky person and have more weights then maybe you could focus on P90X or Body Beast which are also from Beachbody and have a larger focus on weights within their programs.

I like workouts which don’t need equipment as it means I can do my workouts anywhere and anytime, all you need is the workout and the appropriate amount of space.

How Many Days is the Insanity Workout?

Insanity has a 6 days per week schedule that lists day 7 as an “Off” day for rest and repair so that you can hit the next week with the same energy as you completed the previous week.

After month one you have a recovery week that isn’t “free” of workouts but is a slowed down and less time intensive schedule, this will be fast for you to get your workout complete.

How Many Calories Are Burned During an Insanity Workout?

While they will promote up to 1000 calories per hour this number will vary gigantically based on your overall base health and fitness levels. The overall level I have had on my fitness watch was around 300-500 with the higher numbers on longer time workouts.

Can You Stream the Insanity Workout?

This is where Beachbody have moved themselves into the new mobile first world, they launched their Beachbody On-Demand service that aims to provide you the ability to workout anywhere and anytime.

They also one upped themselves as you gain access to all of their workout programs when you sign up for the the On-Demand service, this means you can try out many workouts to find your perfect match.

This was my only issue with DVD and Blu-Ray purchases is that if you did it once and weren’t interested in doing it again you would be stuck with useless discs.

We actually did an entire post on the benefits to a service like Beachbody On Demand that will hopefully help you learn more whether this is the right service for you, especially in the pandemic timeline with less gym access!

Final Thoughts on Insanity and Beachbody in General

While there are many workouts there is only one Insanity that has stood the test of time and is as valuable for your fitness today as it was nearly a decade ago when released.

The one benefit to Beachbody is that they have existed for over twenty years so you also know that they will be here and not just disappear one night with your money and they work hard to deliver QUALITY programs.

I have made it through 90 days of almost all their programs over the last decade while failing to maintain any effort afterwards, this has been my shortfall in getting and maintaining results as I went back to my desk job and life.

Don’t fail like I had and continue to press forward and build your health, I am thinking about adding this into my YouTube channel as a 60 day video series as I show my continuing work towards better health.

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I grew up in a home where most our days were spent inside, and sports were not a family priority. I did play soccer and baseball as a kid, but the older I got, the more I lost interest. To regain my health, I decided to adhere to the three tenets of health and longevity. I hope you will join me, by making it your purpose to live as long and well as possible.