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Review: Insanity DVD Workout Program – Part 2 (Days 17-60)

12 Nov

Finally, Part 2 of my review! (It’s been a very busy last month and so I’ve had to keep putting this aside to do in the past weeks)

I started the 60 day Insanity program on August 5th and completed it on  October 5th, doing my final Fit Test on October 7th, and the results are in!

In Part 1 of my  review, I covered only the first 2 weeks of the program, which was a good introduction on what to expect from carrying out the grueling 6 day-a-week fitness regime that was to continue on for another month-and-a-half more. I have to say that it took a lot of discipline to get the workouts in every day, with almost no fail (I only skipped 2 days, due to a bad head cold, but mostly made up for it later on in the week), and I commend anyone else who has a busy life who has made the time and effort to complete what is known to be the most difficult DVD workout program out there. But having discipline is essentially the single key to completing this program. And as I said before, there is pretty much no way you cannot be successful at this program as long as you complete it.

Here’s a look at the calendar (which comes with the DVDs) that I dutifully followed every day for 2 months:

The Insanity regime.

The insane Insanity regime.

So after completing Month 1, I was “treated” to the “Recovery Week”, which entailed following the same 37 minute “Core Cardio and Balance” DVD every day. You would think you would really get a break from during the workouts on this week, but I would say that it was only marginally easier than the preceding month, and I find that the “Core Cardio and Balance” workout is still a fantastically challenging session that will still leaving you sweating. (and I actually continue to use this particular workout now when I want a short,  but effective exercise session)

The purpose of this week of “recovery” was to give the body somewhat of a rest from what had been a month of extremely hard work. It could be described as the calm before the outrageous storm that was to come in Month 2!

In Month 2, you move on to the 2nd half of DVDs included in the set, which make the workouts from Month 1 seem simple, premature and benign. This is to say that the program in Month 2 is 100% more hardcore!! Whereas Month 1’s workouts averaged at about 40 minutes long (that is, 40 minutes of torture), the different workouts in Month 2 average from 48-59 minutes each. So, minus the warm up and cool down components, instead of doing 20 minutes of intense non-stop exercises, you’re doing about 40 minutes instead – which means 20 more minutes of  jumping, punching, push upping, and, especially, dripping more sweat than you had ever imagined was possible. But, it IS possible, and the elongated workouts suddenly become the norm and you wonder why you even did the Month 1 workouts before, which now seem silly and ineffective in retrospect.

The extended Month 2 workouts throughout the week are simply a longer and harder version of Month 1’s workouts. After all, by now your bi-weekly Fit Tests have proven that your level of fitness has been progressing, so it’s time to step it up and challenge yourself even more, to the max! (hence the preceding “Max” in the title of each of Month 2’s DVDs) Month 2’s workouts also include a variety of new exercises, most building upon ones that you’ve already grown accustomed to carrying out for the prior 5 weeks, so the bridging is a natural transition, and the new moves also mix up the sessions to maintain your interest. Even the music played during the sessions changes up a bit as well! And, notably for Month 2, at the end of your 48 or 55 or 59 minute hard core session, you feel that much more accomplished, having completed a workout so strenuous and taxing that you have your doubts in your abilities while you are doing it – but as long as you keep pushing, keep motivated, and just keep going, you know that you’ll eventually reach the end of the session to allow yourself that grandiose moment of self-praise at  the end when Shaun T. proclaims “You did it!” (and while your DVD workout companions are aptly passed out flat on the floor).

Yes, these workouts in Month 2 are extremely strenuous and taxing on the body, so much so that I found myself to be injured for the whole last 3 weeks of the 2nd month, with a pulled shin muscle, a sprained ankle, and what felt like a dislocated shoulder (from all the vigorous punching movements involved). And the problem was that due to the stringent Monday to Saturday schedule of the program, with only Sundays off for rest, there weren’t enough days to recover the body from my injuries. This meant that for those last three weeks of the program, I was in constant pain, and continuously injured, and had to modify my movements as well, since I could barely jump at all when the exercises called for it.

The lack of recovery time in Insanity is a criticism I heard from a co-worker of mine as well who is familiar with the program, and this is an issue that should be taken note of when carrying it out. I chose to continue pushing myself every day, definitely toning down the intensity of some of my movements (the jumping), because I had to, but still working to my utmost maximum intensity so that I could reap the benefits (make progress) in the program as much as possible before it ended. I was determined to finish it, and I did!

Here are my results from each of the 5 scheduled Fit Tests that I did throughout. While the amount of progress in the latter tests sometimes wavered and even declined a bit (remember, my injuries), note the overall progress of results from the Day 1 test as compared to the final Day 60 test!

Day 1 Day 15 Day 30 Day 45 Day 60
Switch Kicks 134 137 150 148 150
Power Jacks 50 49 56 56 53
Power Knees 71 83 93 113 109
Power Jumps 32 40 44 50 49
Globe Jumps 28 35 40 37 42
Suicide Jumps 13 16 17 17 18
Push Up Jacks 27 30 35 37 40
Low Plank Oblique 33 50 76 74 93
The Fit Test exercises.

The Fit Test exercises.

The results don’t lie, and clearly indicate the increase of my overall fitness level from Day 1 to Day 60. So from this perspective, I have to say that I am rightfully impressed with the impact of the program. Shaun T. has designed a program that is guaranteed to greatly step up your fitness levels, as long as you abide by it and just try your hardest. You need not be as fit and ripped as your fellow workout classmates on the DVD (or even fit or ripped at all) to get results. From doing this 60 day program, I can say that I am now fitter than I ever have been in my life, and that’s been a lifetime of ongoing exercise since I was 13 years old. As a naturally “unfit” person, I now feel empowered to carry out intensive body moves that I had not delved into much before. They are now the norm for my fitness routine as, one month later, I am still doing the Insanity workouts as part of my regular workout program – just for fun! (and for its effectiveness, too!)

However, I should address the issue of weight loss, since it seems that most people lose a great amount of weight on this program. I, however, did not. (surprise, surprise) As I had mentioned in Part 1 of this review, in the first 2 weeks, I merely maintained my weight throughout the program (but at least wasn’t gaining), and this continued throughout the rest of the program until I entered my 5th week and suddenly had no appetite (not related to doing Insanity, I’m sure), and so entered an involuntary 2 week fast, which mostly continued for a 3rd week as well, after my appetite had returned. It was only during this time that I began to lose weight, and dropped 9lbs and then gained back 1 in that first week of fasting, for a net weight loss of 8lbs, which I kept off after the program ended. I am certain this weight wouldn’t have come off if I had been eating during this time, so I definitely do not credit the exercise program for loss of pounds!

Whereas I didn’t notice much (or any) weight loss from doing the program, I did experience some marginal changes in my girth measurements of various body parts, which I took at the beginning and at the end of completing the program. These were my results:

Waist: loss of 1.25″
Hips: loss of 1″
Right thigh: no change
Left thigh: loss of 0.6″
Chest: loss of 1.25″
Right bicep: loss of 1/8″
Left bicep: loss of 1.12″
Right shoulder: gain of 1/4″
Left shoulder: gain of 1″
Neck: loss of 1/8″

Also, shortly after I finished the program, I went out for my first run in over 2 months, and it felt great! But of note is that when I checked my working heart rate, I noticed that it had gone down by 12 to 18 beats per minute, and this decrease in bpm (and thus increase in cardiovascular fitness) has maintained itself since then, I’ve noticed. This change is significant for me, since my bpm had been consistently at 180 for the last few years, and 192 all my life before that. Wow, is all I can say!

One more thing that I want to note in this review is that while my Fit Test results largely improved from the first day to the last (meaning that I could do a lot more repetitions of the different exercises in the last part of the program compared to the first day), and while I become noticeably stronger and faster, I never did notice that the laborious exercises ever became easier – and I don’t think that they are supposed to! You can see the über-fit classmates struggling hard on the DVD, having to take frequent breaks, and even Shaun T. can’t do the full  repetitions of many of his own exercises! So the challenge continues, and this is why I continue to follow the DVD workouts in my now “post-Insanity” regime. I’ve completed the 60 day program and am better for it, but there is always more that I can achieve, and I will still keep doing these workouts for awhile longer yet, until my next new challenge is to come. (I am aiming for P90X!)

Review: Insanity DVD Workout Program – Part 1 (Days 1-16)

25 Aug

Insanity-with-Shaun-T-and-trainers

How insane are you?

I’m always looking for ways to push my physical limits in order to achieve maximum fitness levels, and tackling the Insanity workout program has been on my bucket list for awhile now. It is touted as “the hardest workout ever put on DVD”, and also one of the most effective in achieving results of weight loss and accelerated fitness (along with P90X). The intensity of the workouts and its no nonsense approach have always been particularly appealing to me, and I wanted something that was going to promise results with a lot of hard work.

I don’t mind sweating for the prize at the end of the rainbow, and, in fact, I thrive off seeing results after you know you’ve worked your hardest. So this seems to be a great program for me and for anyone else who is willing to push themselves to their limits and beyond in order to achieve success, no matter how painful or inconvenient the process will be. This is just another challenge for me in the big picture that is known as “life”, and one of the most arduous daily physical demands I have ever faced.

The Insanity program is a 60 day prescription that involves knocking out daily workouts from Monday to Saturday with a day of rest every Sunday. That might sound really grueling, but every Thursday is also somewhat of a “rest” day (aka “Cardio Recovery”), where the workout follows a routine akin to a yoga session, so it splits the high intensity workout week into a psychologically manageable half. The sessions are led by trainer “Shaun T”, a super motivational guy whose never ending barks of enthusiasm are being etched into my mind everyday of this ongoing adventure. When I turn on the DVD and hear him yell at me to “dig deeper!”, I am reminded that this is what the program is truly all about – to do your own personal best and go beyond, whatever that means to you.

For each day of the first month, you follow a different workout DVD, specified from: the Fit Test, the Plyometric Cardio Circuit, Cardio Power & Resistance, Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs, and, as I said, Cardio Recovery. (the 2nd month follows a whole new set of workouts, but I’ll cover that when I get there) Each cardio workout in its entirety ranges from 38-41 minutes, with the exception of doing Pure Cardio (38 mins) and Cardio Abs (16 mins) in the same day, which starts occurring in the 2nd week. And each day’s 40-ish minute cardio workout starts off with an 8-10 minute cardio warm-up, followed by about 7 minutes of stretching, followed by 15-20-ish minutes of hardcore intense activity, followed by a 3-7 minute cool down stretch. When you see it broken down into these 4 segments, the workout seems much more attainable, rather than thinking about it as one big challenge.

These sessions are designed to get you into your best shape in all aspects of fitness, from cardiovascular health, to flexibility, to core strength and muscular development of the limbs, and I like this ‘all-round’ approach to the program, which focuses on what is called “maximum interval training”, as opposed to just regular interval training where you are doing intense exercises for shorter periods of time. Maximum interval training works you out at an intense level for a longer duration of time with only brief 30 second breaks between intervals.

What I also like about the program is that each day’s workout is short (only about 40 minutes), and you can do it in the convenience of your own home. I use floor space in my living room that measures about 1.5 metres squared, and this is all the space you need to carry out a myriad of different circuit exercises that involve all kinds of quick jumping, kicking and bending movements (many sports drills), plus many calisthenic exercises such as push-ups in various forms. You’re really getting an amazing workout here that doesn’t only make your body pour with sweat to burn calories, but is also working on your fitness levels overall! Just into the first week of the program, I could already see that there is no way that a person can do Insanity without improving his/her fitness levels, and this was proven with my Fit Test results from Days 1 and 15.

I don’t consider myself to be a super fit person (which is why I am doing this program), but I would consider myself to be “moderately” fit, since I incorporate a lot of exercise into my lifestyle already and have for many years. Being “moderately” fit, I may not be doing every exercise (or most exercises) in its perfect form or as fast as the fellow classmates on the DVD do (who are all outrageously fit, by the way), but I am still working my hardest and my heart rate is up where it should be, and there is sweat constantly dripping from every part of my body, and that is really all it takes to do what you need to do to achieve results on this program.

The first week of the program was really hard on my body – total soreness after the 1st and 2nd days, and by the time I got to my last workout of the week, my calves were so incredibly sore and tight, I could barely walk for a few days! This was the conditioning I needed, however, to prepare my body to get used to this daily event, which I actually mostly look forward to conquering every day. And into the second week, the complete muscle soreness was gone and my body is now acclimating to the new levels of activity it is taking on.

Weight loss is probably a main reason why most people do this program. If you look online for peoples’ results, you’ll see that weight losses of 30lbs or more on this 2 month program seem to be the norm. So I thought that maybe this program could provide the key to unlock my own process of doing something for effective weight loss. I thought that because I had never done an all-round fitness program such as this one, which works on improving your core fitness (and thus speeding up your metabolism), as opposed to just burning calories from a workout, that maybe I would experience some amazing weight loss results as well. However, on Day 16 here, this has not yet proven to be the case. I have basically stayed within the same 2lb range as what I started off as 16 days ago, and as of yesterday, my weight is exactly 0.6lbs less than Day 1 of the program, which really is no change at all.

But…. the real results lie in the comparison of my Fit Test that is done every 2 weeks on the program. The Fit Test comprises of doing 8 different exercises as fast as you can for 1 minute each, and then counting how many repetitions you accomplished. Here are the results from my first 2 Fit Tests, which speak for themselves!

Day 1 Day 15
Switch Kicks 134 137
Power Jacks 50 49
Power Knees 71 83
Power Jumps 32 40
Globe Jumps 28 35
Suicide Jumps 13 16
Push Up Jacks 27 30
Low Plank Oblique 33 50

While power jacks are not my forté because they put stress on my damaged knees, you can see here that a moderate amount of improvement in all the other exercises, in only the first 2 weeks, has taken place! I compared these results to that of another person who wrote a review online, and hers were similar as well. I am really looking forward to my next Fit Test in 2 more weeks! I thrive on seeing measurable results like these.

One thing to note is that while you only need about one hour in your day for each day’s workout (and that includes time for getting motivated, putting on your workout gear, and putting the dvd into the tv), this may prove a little bit difficult if you have certain days of the week where you just don’t really have time at all, which is what my Fridays are like for me – they’re a day that I normally take off from exercise. But because I totally want to do this program by the book and not skip a single workout (that’s 6 days a week for 60 days straight!), this just means getting up earlier in the day to quickly squeeze in that Insanity session. And yes, scheduling in the workouts may take some creativity and discipline, but it is totally worth it, and you know that after your 40 minutes are over and you feel so much more invigorated in life than you had 40 minutes before!

I’m sure I’ll have more to add in my next report about the program, coming up in a few weeks! If you have any questions about the program, let me know, and I’ll address them next time.

Check out a short video about the program here, so you can watch the moves in action. As one of the participants in this segment says, “This ain’t for everybody, but if you’re a masochist, bring it!”

Click here for Review: Insanity DVD Workout Program – Part 2 (Days 17-60).