Insanity is a Beachbody workout program created by Shaun T, designed to add lean muscle and burn fat in 60 days.
The Insanity Base Kit comes complete with the workout DVD set, exercise schedule, and diet plan, to ensure you get the best results.
In this Insanity workout review, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about the workouts and nutrition plan. We’ve also included important comparisons with other Beachbody programs, to help you find the best home workout for your fitness goals.
What’s Included with the Insanity Program?
- Fitness Guide: Insanity was created by Shaun T, based on his experience with track and field training and years of study. The Fitness Guide is a cut down version of what to expect from each month, and the importance of interval training for burning fat and improving your fitness.
- Fit Test: The Insanity fitness test is available on the Dig Deeper DVD, and is a little different to the one you get with P90X.
For a start, there’s no heart rate testing, whereas P90X measures your resting heart rate. But you’re still tested on how many reps you can perform for exercises such as switch kicks, power jacks, push-up jacks, and globe jumps.
- Calendar: The calendar allows you to record how many reps you perform for each exercise in the fitness test. As a guide, Insanity recommends you perform the fit test on days 1, 15, 36, 50, and 63 of the program.
Sunday is a designated rest day, and there’s an entire week of recovery between the two months. During this time you only perform the Core Cardio & Balance workout.
- INSANITY Hybrid Calendar: An 84-day workout plan to help you track your completion of Insanity workouts from The Asylum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.
- Eating Plan: If you want to improve your overall health and fitness, workouts are only half the battle. It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet and drink sufficient water to keep your body burning fat and packed with energy.
The Elite Nutrition Plan guides you on when to eat, what to eat, how to determine your daily calorie target, and how to benefit from the Results and Recovery Formula. (Full guide later in our Insanity review)
- Spotify Playlists: A selection of fast-paced music to help motivate you during your workouts and achieve your best performance.
What Exercise Equipment Do You Need?
As with most Beachbody programs, Insanity requires very little fitness equipment. The focus is more on body weight exercises and maintaining a fast enough pace to challenge your current fitness level.
For most of the Insanity workouts, like the Plyometrics Cardio Circuit and Max Interval Circuit, a Beachbody Jump Mat is recommended.
- Dumbbells: If you select the Upper Body Weight Training workout from the Insanity Deluxe program, a set of dumbbells is recommended. You don’t require free weights for any other Insanity workout.
- Heart rate monitor: Due to the intensity of the Insanity workout program, it’s estimated that you’ll be working out at close to 85% of your maximum heart rate. This can be a useful indication of how hard you’re training, and Shaun T recommends you wear a heart rate monitor during each workout.
Insanity Workout Program – Features Summary
- 60-Day workout program
- 10 Intense training DVDs
- Complete set includes a nutrition guide, and calendar to track your progress
- Your personal trainer, Shaun T, will push you past your limits with plyometric workouts
- Each workout keeps you constantly challenged
- Alternate between aerobic and anaerobic intervals performed at your max
- Perform long bursts of maximum-intensity exercises with short periods of rest
- Free online support tools help you stay motivated
- Round-the-clock access to fitness experts and peer support
Insanity Workout Guide
Whether your fitness goal is weight loss or adding muscle mass, the Insanity Workout program from Shaun T can help you achieve some of the best results.
As part of our Insanity workout review, we’ll walk you through what to expect from the set of exercises during each stage of the program.
Fit Test (30 min.)
If you perform the fit test before starting the Insanity program, you have a benchmark of your current fitness level. You can then check your fitness and strength level every 2 weeks over the course of the 60 days, to see how much it improves.
Most standard treadmill fitness tests only last a few minutes, and simply measure how quickly your heart rate recovers after cardio. The Insanity fit test is a lot more challenging, lasts for 30 minutes, and requires greater variation in your movement.
Throughout the test, there’s a progress bar at the bottom of the screen, which gives you a useful indication of when you’re going to be switching exercises.
After the warm-up with basic exercises like jogging, you move onto the main test. Performance is measured by how many reps you can complete for a series of body weight exercises in a limited amount of time. This is what’s used to determine how much your fitness has improved.
For example, you may perform 40 jumping jacks at the start of Insanity, but 80 in the same amount of time at the end of the 60 days.
Plyometrics Cardio Circuit
One of the Insanity fat burning workouts, Plyometrics Cardio Circuit combines interval training with high-intensity cardio. Although each exercise in the workout only lasts around 30 seconds, it’s the pace and way the intensity increases with each round that makes the routine challenging.
In the first 10 minutes of the workout, you get just 30 seconds rest before stretching out your muscles to help prevent injury. After a few minutes of total body stretching, you’re straight back to the cardio with a new set of exercises.
Cardio Power & Resistance (40 min.)
Although you still don’t require any exercise equipment, the Cardio Power & Resistance workout is designed to build lean muscle, increase your strength, and improve definition.
Pure Cardio (40 min.)
A more challenging version of the Plyometrics Cardio Circuit, Pure Cardio features a similar warm-up routine. The difference is there are no intervals, which means you perform each round of exercises with maximum intensity.
Cardio Abs (20 min.)
A challenging ab workout that’s designed to strengthen and tone your abs and obliques. Although there are rest periods, they last just a few seconds, which helps maintain the intensity and tension in your abs.
Each exercise is explained by Shaun T before it starts, and there’s no sit ups or crunches. The only equipment we recommend is a yoga mat or Beachbody Jump Mat, to make the floor exercises more comfortable.
Unfortunately this is one of the Insanity workouts that’s quite high impact, with lots of jumping in the first few minutes. Unlike PiYo, there’s no ‘modifier’ version to limit the impact on your knees, so if you have a pre-existing knee injury, you may need to substitute the jumps with your own exercises.
Cardio Recovery (35 min.)
Following many of the same exercises, but 15 minutes shorter than the ‘Max Recovery’ workout, Cardio Recovery is performed once per week during the first month. This is designed as an introduction to the stretches and poses used later in the program.
After the first 8 minutes the pace does increase, but it’s nothing like what you experience with Max Interval Circuit or Max Cardio Conditioning. It’s also very low impact, with minimal jumping.
Max Interval Circuit (60 min.)
This is one of the workouts that makes an appearance in month 2 of Intensity. Which day you perform it on will vary from week to week, and it either follows your Max Recovery workout day, or Max Cardio Conditioning.
The 5-minute warm up is challenging enough, with 8 exercises to work through. On-screen tips throughout the video help you maintain the correct posture and help perform the exercise safely.
Following the warm up, it’s straight into the same round of exercises, but with higher intensity. Between each round you have a few minutes of stretching your upper and lower body muscle groups, to help boost flexibility.
Max Interval Plyo (55 min.)
Plyometrics is the name given to exercises which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing muscle power. Max Interval Plyo takes these exercises and combines them into a single, high-intensity workout.
As with the Cardio Abs workout, there’s lots of jumping involved. No matter how softly you land, if you have pre-existing lower back or knee pain, you may want to start with a program like PiYo, then build up to Insanity.
Following a 5-minute workout, you’ll face several rounds of body weight exercises. As with Max Interval Circuit, each round is followed by stretches for your hip flexors, shoulders, lats, hamstrings, and core.
Max Cardio Conditioning (50 min.)
Throughout the 4-minute warm up, Shaun T emphasizes the importance of landing softly during each exercise, but there’s still more impact than programs such as PiYo and Body Beast. This is something to bear in mind with Insanity workouts, if you have pre-existing back or knee injuries.
The warm up incorporates many of the same exercises as other workouts in the program. This means you should be familiar with them by the time you try Max Cardio Conditioning for the first time in week 6.
As soon as the warm up ends, the fast-paced high-intensity cardio begins, where you rotate through different exercises for 90 seconds. This is followed by a 30-second water break, then stretching and back to the cardio.
Max Cardio is an extremely tough workout, which is why it isn’t included in the first 5 weeks. This gives you a chance to improve your fitness level to a point where the ‘Max’ series of workouts are more likely to be achievable.
Max Recovery (50 min.)
With relaxed poses, a slower tempo, and a focus on posture, this routine is a complete contrast to other Insanity workouts. There’s no intervals, no jumping, and no need for any exercise equipment.
Max Recovery starts in month 2 of Insanity, and only in weeks 5, 6, and 7. Despite the slower pace, the stretches and positions can still prove challenging after 3 days of intense cardio and fitness workouts.
Core Cardio & Balance (40 min.)
This is the only workout you’ll be performing during the recovery week, which happens between month 1 and 2 of Insanity.
Fast & Furious (20 min.)
If you’re short on time but want all the fitness and health benefits of a full 45-minute Insanity workout, this is the routine for you.
If you’re streaming the Insanity workouts online via Beachbody On Demand, you can choose to watch the videos with or without the background music.
What Happens When I Complete Insanity?
After completing the Insanity program, the natural progression would be to move onto either INSANITY: THE ASYLUM, or P90X/P90X2, if your goal is to boost your overall fitness in addition to weight loss.
If you would like to increase lean muscle mass, and the Upper Body Weight Training workout from Insanity isn’t enough, we would recommend Body Beast. This is a 90-day program, designed by professional bodybuilder Sagi Kalev.
Insanity Nutrition Plan
It’s important to point out that there are some significant differences between the original Insanity nutrition plan, and the nutrition plan that comes with Insanity Max:30.
Calculate Your Daily Calorie Target
Insanity Max:30 follows a similar structure to Cize, which is another of the Beachbody home workout programs. Instead of selecting a meal plan based on your daily calorie target, your portion eating plan is based purely on body weight.
Plan A is recommended if your body weight is less than 150 lbs, while Plan B is the one to follow if your weight is over 150 lbs.
That’s compared to the Insanity Elite Nutrition program, which uses one of the most complex formulas we’ve seen from a Beachbody workout.
Summary of the steps to calculate your daily calorie target:
- 1. Use the Harris Benedict Equation to calculate caloric needs.
655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
- 2. Take the result and multiply by your exercise level from the table below:
Little or no exercise
Light exercise (1 to 3 days/week)
Moderate exercise (3 to 5 days/week)
Hard exercise (6 to 7 days/week)
Hard Daily exercise and/or a physically active job
- 3. For weight loss, subtract 500 from your new total. To maintain your current weight, stick to the number from the step above, or for weight gain, add 250 to 300.
The calculation above, although lengthy, is claimed to be the most effective way to calculate your daily calorie requirements. Whether your goal is to gain muscle, lose fat, or improve your athletic performance.
Planning Your Meal Timings
Each of the Beachbody workout programs recommends 5-6 meals per day, and Insanity is no different.
This usually consists of 3 standard meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), in addition to a snack at mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
Eating this many meals per day is designed to increase your metabolic rate, so you burn fat more quickly. It also helps make your meals smaller and more manageable when there’s 6 meals of 400 calories each, compared to 3 meals of 800 calories.
As with any home workout program, it’s important to stay hydrated. Insanity recommends a minimum of 8-10 glasses of water per day, but most Beachbody programs suggest halving your body weight and drinking that much water in ounces.
So, if you were following the 21 Day Fix, PiYo, or Cize programs, and had a body weight of 140 lbs, you would drink at least 70 ounces of water per day.
Staying hydrated has a broad range of health benefits, including improved concentration and exercise performance. That’s why we would always recommend drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Choosing Your Foods
The Insanity Elite Nutrition plan includes a meal list for each meal of the day, containing 8-10 recipes and a nutrition breakdown. This tells you how much you need of each ingredient, and how many calories and macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) you get from each serving.
Recipes include a berry protein smoothie, protein omelet, grilled chicken salad, and sushi.
You’ll also see Shakeology shakes and bars mentioned throughout the Nutrition Plan. That’s because Beachbody owns Shakeology, but they’re still a great tasting and convenient way to meet your daily calorie goals.
Creating Your Food Blocks
Sometimes it’s difficult to match your daily calorie target from whole meals and supplements alone.
I’ve often found myself within 100-200 calories of my target, and usually decide to either end the day short, or eat something outside of the daily nutrition plan just to hit the total.
Neither option is ideal. By eating fewer calories, you might not provide your body with the energy and recovery it needs to fuel muscle growth. By eating any food just to hit your target, you’re more likely to gain weight that isn’t lean muscle.
This is why the Insanity Elite Nutrition Plan designed ‘Food Blocks’.
Food Blocks are 100-200 calorie micro-meals that can help you meet your individual calorie needs. For the 100-calorie blocks, you have foods and serving sizes such as 1 banana, 12 raw almonds, or 2 oz. of sliced turkey and 1 slice of whole wheat bread.
For the 200-calorie food blocks, you have foods such as 1 banana with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter, and 1 large orange with 12 almonds.
Supplements – Do You Need Them?
In addition to the Shakeology shakes and bars, the Insanity Elite Nutrition Plan also recommends their Results and Recovery formula.
This is designed to restore blood sugar levels quickly after a workout, replenishing your glycogen stores and minimizing the damage done to muscle tissue. The formula is composed to a 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein mix, with very little fat.
Although the food lists and recipes included in the Insanity Elite Nutrition Plan are useful, they won’t be to everyone’s taste.
At the end of the guide there’s a section called Michi’s Ladder, which was also created by Team Beach Body. This isn’t a meal plan itself, but rather a simple substitution system designed to assist with swapping similar foods.
The plan is split into 5 tiers, with the top two tiers being healthier, more nutritious foods, and the lower two tiers being more junk food and foods you should eat only on rare occasions.
As an example, tier 1 contains foods such as apples, freshwater fish, and pineapple, while tier 5 contains alcohol, cakes, and onion rings, among others.
How Much Does Insanity Cost?
If you were wondering about the price of Insanity or where to buy, expect to pay around $144 for the Base Kit on Amazon. This includes the DVDs, training schedule, nutrition guide, calendar, and access to online support tools.
If you’re not sure about starting the full Insanity workout right away, Shaun T also has an ‘INSANITY Sanity Check’ DVD. Usually priced around $23, this 26-minute workout is an introduction to the main Insanity program, guiding you through the exercise technique and how to achieve optimal results.
An alternative to the physical Base Kit is to stream the workout and nutrition program online, via Beachbody On Demand.
On Demand is a subscription service, whereby you sign up to a membership option that gives you access to:
- Over 600 Beachbody workout programs
- All-access to every beachbody workout
- Fitness guides & workout calendars
- Meal plans & recipes
- Free personal coach
- Access to fitness & nutrition experts
The most affordable membership level is $39 for 3 months, which also includes a FREE 14-day trial. The 6-month plan is $59, and the cheapest 12-month plan costs $99, saving $57 over the quarterly billing.
A 12-month membership includes the portion fix container system and a 30-day supply of Shakeology supplements. This is in addition to the all-access subscription you get to the online workout material and nutrition guides.
An important part of any Insanity workout review is to check feedback from other people who have experienced the program.
Amazon is currently one of the best sources for customer reviews, with thousands available for the Insanity Base Kit. But reading through so much feedback can be time consuming, which is why we’ve done the hard part for you.
Below you’ll find lists of the most frequently mentioned pros and cons, which could contain useful advice if you want to try the Insanity workout yourself.
- Intense set of workouts that builds more muscle than programs like Cize
- Workouts combine resistance training with cardio and core strength building
- Meal selection is made easier with the nutrition guide
- Requires minimal fitness equipment
- Streaming the Insanity workouts via Beachbody on Demand means you can follow them while travelling
- Shaun T does an excellent job of keeping you motivated and explaining each exercise
- Each workout guides you through a warm up, training program, and cool down, to minimize risk of injury
- Extremely tiring and challenging workouts, but fast results
- Workout calendar makes the program much easier to follow
- Reported weight loss results include 11 pounds in 21 days, 10 lbs in 2 weeks, and 9 lbs in 2 weeks
- Online support community and option of the Beachbody coach can provide some much needed motivation
- Some of the exercises require a level of balance and control that might require additional practice for beginners
- As with a few of the Beachbody workout programs, a small number of customers reported issues with the quality of DVDs. This includes skipping sections or picture running off the screen.
- Some people with pre-existing knee injuries found the workouts too intense
- Impact on the joints proved an issue for some customers, but exercises can be modified to limit this and still see good results.
- As with the two points above, some Insanity reviews report there was too much jumping. This led to more impact on their knees and lower back, but again the exercises can be modified.
Most Insanity workout reviews with 3 stars or fewer had reduced their rating due to the program being too challenging, or poor DVD quality.
If you want to try Insanity before buying, Beachbody sometimes offer a 14-day free trial of Beachbody on Demand. This gives you access to Insanity, Insanity MAX:30, Insanity: The Asylum, and over 600 other home workout programs.