Anyone who’s completed the 60-day Insanity program will likely groan, sigh, or experience borderline haunting flashbacks if you dare to mention the word “Insanity” or even “Shaun T.”
And, how could we blame them?
Even amongst athletes, the program has solidified quite the reputation — described as one of the most challenging, exhausting, and ego-destroying workouts in the Beachbody collection.
But does it build muscle? Is it beginner-friendly? Are the results worth the achy recovery, near-breathless workouts, and 60 entire days’ worth of fatigue?
Here’s everything you need to know about Shaun T’s legendary Insanity routine:
About the Creator – Shaun T
But there’s more to the Jersey native than his top-rated Insanity program.
Meet Shaun T.
Shaun T was a lifelong athlete before becoming a trailblazer in the fitness community, adding a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science to his list of early lifetime accomplishments.
A few years later, he joined the up-and-coming Team Beachbody and launched his first-ever workout DVD with the platform: Hip Hop Abs.
His upbeat, inspirational, and supportive training style spoke to millions of viewers hoping to get fit at home without equipment (of course, this was during the pre-streaming age of DVDs).
Shaun T later went on to design 13 other programs for Beachbody, including the still popular:
Now nearly two decades later, Shaun T’s programs continue to be massive hits and define BOD at its core. And, by 2019, Shaun T’s video sales eclipsed the eight-million milestone!
But after 60 days of Insanity, you’ll know Shaun T pretty well.
What is the Insanity Workout?
We can promise you one thing about Insanity: you’ll never question what inspired Shaun T to come up with its name.
Shaun T himself even labels Insanity “the hardest workout you’ll ever do,” which is definitely not comforting if the last time you broke a sweat was when the AC unit stopped working last summer.
In ten words — Insanity is not for the weak, unmotivated, unfit, or lazy.
There, we said it.
Shaun T’s Insanity program racked up over 1.2 million hours of streaming just two years after the BOD platform rollout (and that doesn’t include those funky discs piling up in your parents’ garage).
It also promises a whole hell of a lot: no weights, no gym, and a year’s worth of results in 60 days.
*record scratch* What?
If you’re skeptical, welcome to the club. Yet, before we entirely write off such outlandish promises, we’ll give Shaun T — and those who’ve dropped 20+ pounds — the benefit of the doubt.
Shaun T built Insanity around a concept known as Max Interval Training.
So instead of your usual HIIT sessions with short bursts of exercise and longer stretches of rest, you’ll do the opposite, driving your heart rate beyond 80% of your max to boost fat-burning.
This cardio, weight loss, and strength program will leave you gasping for air as you shred upwards of 1,000 calories an hour.
Well, that’s only if you can finish workout #1.
Insanity Workout Details & Features
To truly understand just how … insane … it is, here’s an overview of the program:
The Start Here tab is Beachbody’s version of an elevator pitch for anyone on the fence about Insanity. The problem: the page is a little bare and not all that convincing either way.
This page — loaded with mostly skippable content — includes:
- A two-minute video introducing Insanity
- A zoomed-out overview of the program
- A link to the Beachbody Nutrition Center
- A quick blurb explaining who Shaun T is (if you’re uncultured or not a Millennial)
- A before-and-after shot broadcasting Insanity results
- More content about Shaun T and his other BOD programs
If you’re thinking, “sounds easy enough, I’m in decent shape,” don’t exit the page until you watch the Insanity trailer (seriously, it might just save your sanity).
Still, think you’re up to the challenge?
You’ve seen the old-school 2010-era Insanity commercials whenever paid programming hour kicked in on TBS or Comedy Central. Or maybe you tried a workout back in your glory days.
Either way, don’t try Insanity, at least until you take a good glimpse at the next 60 days!
Insanity Workout Schedule
The Insanity “success stories” are pretty damn convincing.
In 60 days, women dropped nine inches around their waists, guys sometimes shed 40+ pounds, and it seems like everyone underwent a massive glow-up (and became seriously ripped).
That means Insanity is a pretty far cry from your everyday workout routine.
The average week during month one of Insanity looks something like this:
- Cardio Power & Resistance
- Pure Cardio
- Plyometrics Cardio Circuit
- Cardio Recovery
- Cardio Power & Resistance
- Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs
All month one workout is about 30–40 minutes long!
After month one, there’s a week-long “recovery” period. Now, we hope your love-hate relationship with Core Cardio & Balance leans more towards love because you’ll do it for six straight days.
… good luck!
Month two cranks the program into overdrive to maximize your results. Instead of strictly cardio workouts, you’ll transition into “Max” everything, with a weekly schedule like:
- Max Cardio Conditioning
- Max Interval Circuit
- Max Interval Plyo
- Max Recovery
- Max Cardio Conditioning & Cardio Abs
- Core Cardio & Balance
These Max workouts are also up to 50% longer than your month one workout — at least 45 minutes long — so you’ll need to fuel your body with more calories and water to survive!
Insanity Workouts: What Are They Like?
The bad news: unless you’re already in decent shape, have 40+ minutes to spare every day, and can get the all-clear from your GP, Insanity is probably the worst Beachbody program for you.
The good news: if you’ve built up your cardio with a program like T25 or P90X, Insanity is doable with a hell of a lot of effort. And, you’ll be sweating so much that nobody can see you crying!
Shaun T divides the video gallery into three sections:
Regular Insanity Workouts
After getting a taste for the “regular” Insanity workouts, even thinking about Insanity’s deluxe workouts will give you goosebumps in places you never thought possible.
Don’t get too full of yourself, though. While the non-Max workouts are survivable with frequent video pausing, sitting breaks, and water gulping, it only gets more intense in month two.
So what should you expect with Insanity?
Pure insanity, at least for your lungs, heart, joints, bones, muscles (wait, that’s everything).
Here’s a look at what each video has in store:
|Plyometric Cardio Circuit||40 minutes||Loaded with explosive movements like burpees; three minutes “on,” followed by just 30 seconds “off”|
|Cardio Power & Resistance||40 minutes||Aimed at building endurance and upper-body strength with exercises like push-ups and hurdle jumps|
|Pure Cardio||40 minutes||Non-stop cardio lasting a startling 40 minutes with a heavy leg focus|
|Cardio Abs||20 minutes||A combination of cardio and seemingly endless ab exercises, like leg raises|
|Recovery||35 minutes||35 minutes worth of stretching to break up the week|
|Max Interval Circuit||60 minutes||Cranks workouts up a notch (or a couple), filled with jumping-based exercises|
|Max Interval Plyo||55 minutes||Almost one straight hour of cardio, jumping, squats, everything that strikes you as “miserable”|
|Max Cardio Conditioning||50 minutes||Tamer, low-intensity cardio featuring exercises like planks and switch kicks|
|Max Recovery||50 minutes||A stretching and yoga-style recovery session to help your muscles and joints prepare for tomorrow|
|Core Cardio & Balance||40 minutes||Filled to the brim with exercises like planks and extensions; the gradual intensity boost makes it a bit rough for a recovery week|
Note: Most Insanity workouts start with a tough ten-minute warm-up. So we’d suggest putting no more than 50–75% of your max effort into warm-ups to save some energy for the real thing.
While the exercise assortments might seem a bit random, they’re a good mixture for anyone looking to lose weight, build muscle, and enhance full-body strength!
So to answer the question from earlier: yes, Insanity can help you build muscle.
Insanity Deluxe Workouts
If you’re a Beachbody On Demand subscriber, you gain almost unlimited access to everything Beachbody, including a little something called “Insanity Deluxe.”
Seriously, was the 40 continuous minutes of regular Insanity, not enough?
When you’re on your third run-through of workouts like Cardio Abs or Core Cardio & Balance, you can swap ‘em out for more intense — or at least more exciting — workouts.
The videos in this collection include:
- Fast & Furious Abs*
- Sanity Check*
- Max Interval Sports Training
- Insane Abs
- Upper Body Weight Training*
* The problem? There’s no mention of when you’d swap in these three workouts.
The idea that you’re not stuck doing the same workouts week after week is definitely a perk of Insanity. But remember: these alternative workouts aren’t the same as “taking it easy.”
It’s Insanity, after all (literally and figuratively).
Insanity PRO Team
Leave it to Beachbody to upload workout videos without explaining what they are, when to do them, you know — things you’d need to know when following a pre-planned program.
At first glance, it seems these 12 videos feature Team Beachbody coaches leading an “Insanity Live” video. All videos have a “Round __” label, and it’s extremely unclear what that means.
You’re probably better off skipping this section unless the repetition of regular Insanity is boring you. Or you’re looking to fit a 30-minute workout into your one rest day (would not recommend).
It wouldn’t be a Beachbody routine without a ridiculous amount shoved into the Program Materials tab. The silver lining is that it’s only eight resources (before you ask “only eight?” yes, “only!”).
Take a look at what’s in this tab:
The Insanity Fitness Guide is among the most direct and thinnest program introduction we’ve seen on Beachbody — in the absolute best way possible.
This eight-page guide is a crash course in the basics.
What is Insanity? How does Max Interval Training work? What role does your heart rate play in your Insanity results? Are you physically (and mentally) prepared for such a grueling program?
These are the answers you need before you tell the whole group chat you’re trying Insanity.
Quick Start Guide to Nutrition
Beachbody On Demand pushes this so-called Quick Start Guide to Nutrition for what seems like every program. It’s extremely misleading — this is not the Insanity meal plan whatsoever.
It’s an 84-page ebook describing two Beachbody diets (neither of which would thrive when paired with Insanity), featuring a few dozen recipes, and endlessly advertising Beachbody products.
Unless you’re looking for Thanksgiving inspiration, skip it!
(This is the real Insanity eating plan, by the way.)
If you’re really obliterating 1,000+ calories a day six days a week, you’ll need to fuel your body like a superhuman athlete (not to the Michael-12,000-calories-a-day extreme, but still).
This 70-page diet plan called “Elite Nutrition” explains the 40/40/20, five-meal-a-day strategy that’ll keep you energized, dropping pounds, and building muscle for 60 days.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- How to calculate your maintenance calories (still have no idea why Beachbody insists on these whacky calorie calculations instead of science-based formulas like TDEE or BMR)
- When to eat and how many calories should be in each meal
- What to eat during each meal — with tasty-sounding recipes included!
- How to add 100–200 extra calories to your diet if your metabolism winds up in overdrive
- Why protein, carbs, and fats all deserve spots in a well-balanced diet
- What to do if your appetite is low, you feel sore, or you experience headaches (and more!)
If you’re reckless enough to scroll to the bottom, you’ll also discover ingredient swaps for every meal and something called “Michi’s Ladder.”
The guide suggests that eating in tiers one and two will leave you with a near-perfect diet. That’s debatable … There’s definitely a limit to how many cholesterol-rich eggs are good for you.
Oh, and the guide ends with a Shakeology ad (of course!).
“Insanity isn’t for everyone” is the understatement of all understatements.
Before you let your daring side take over and load up video #1 on a whim, Shaun T suggests attempting the Insanity Fit Test to see if you’re up to the challenge (aka: Insanity).
The test also doubles as your progress-keeper.
So you’ll take it again and again (and again and again) every 13–21 days until you finish out the program. On this sheet, you’ll log how many reps you can do in a minute for exercises like:
- Power jacks
- Globe jumps
- Low plank obliques
- Switch kicks
If the black-and-white photos are hard to decipher, you can follow along with the Fit Test video.
The Insanity workout schedule is a graphic design abomination.
Seriously, a good 70% of the page is a massive picture of Shaun T leading an Insanity workout (stylized in a puddle of sweat … we hope).
That leaves 60 days’ worth of workouts and the fit test diagram/chart squeezed into the remaining 30% of the page. Plus, Beachbody is still in the Stone Age, so you’ll need to print it out.
Get it together, BOD!
Insanity Hybrid Calendar
If something feels missing during Insanity (or your self-hatred runs that deep), an Insanity and Insanity: The Asylum Hybrid opens the door to an even more aesthetic physique.
Asylum fills whatever gaps regular-old Insanity leaves behind. Beachbody describes the program as another calorie-torcher (1,000+ per hour), designed for elite athletes and even Olympians.
So instead of just dropping 20+ pounds and improving your cardio (which is somehow not enough?), you can also coax out your inner athlete with these sport-specific drills.
This calendar explains how to run both programs at once.
The Insanity FAQ isn’t exclusive to Beachbody subscribers (you can check it out here).
If you want to know which program to start next or whether a P90X/Insanity hybrid makes sense for your goals, you’ll find your answers on the FAQ page.
Let’s set the scene. You’re cruising down the backroads in your used 2005 Corolla (the year is 2014 or thereabouts), windows down, and crank up Z100 on your dated non-touchscreen radio.
… that’s the gist of the Insanity Spotify playlist.
If jams like Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani, Jealous by Nick Jonas, and Get the Party Started by P!nk pump you up, then the playlist will not disappoint. Otherwise, you can make your own.
Is Insanity OK For Beginners?
Unfortunately, Insanity isn’t the best program for beginners, especially if you have absolutely no training experience.
Six 40–60-minute workouts a week — most of which feature three straight minutes of high-intensity exercise before a measly 30-second rest break — is a huge leap.
Feel free to try Insanity as a segue into a more active lifestyle. Yet, expect to take more frequent rest breaks than Shaun T allows and prepare to resist the urge to quit.
Programs like T25 or even P90X are more beginner-friendly!
Can I Do Insanity If I’m Overweight?
We’ve certainly seen success stories of non-athletes going from dad bod to ripped with Insanity.
But if you have extra pounds weighing you down, the constant jumping and short rest periods could prove to be too much for your knees, heart, lungs, muscles, and everything in between.
The most drastic physique changes in overweight Insanity participants seem to take 2–5 “cycles” on the program.
However, we can’t offer you reliable medical advice. We recommend you schedule a check-up with your doctor first before deciding if Insanity is right for you.
How Long Does It Take To See Results From Insanity?
If you can stick to the program schedule and eat within tiers one and two of Michi’s Ladder, you should begin noticing physique changes by the end of month one.
However, month two — when you experience the ramped-up Max training style — is when you’ll begin seeing a narrower waist, tightness from head to toe, and cardiovascular improvements.
That’s why so many people swear by Insanity and even attempt rounds two, three, and beyond!
7 Insanity Pros
- It’s completely equipment-free. However, a jump mat can help absorb some shock during jump exercises (trust us, there’s a lot of ‘em), and a set of adjustable dumbbells will come in handy if you try Shaun T’s Upper Body Weight Training workout.
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Version 2
Each dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds. Rapidly switch from one exercise to the next. You don’t need multiple dumbbells cluttering up your home gym.
2. High-intensity interval training has quite a bit of scientific backing. For example, one study of male career firefighters discovered that those who followed HIIT programs (like Insanity) were also less likely to be obese. Researchers discovered a link: for every month firefighters used HIIT sessions, they were 5–6% less likely to be obese. In other words, the longer you stick to Insanity, the more likely you are to lose weight!
3. Insanity isn’t any more dangerous than regular weightlifting, and research shows that these extreme conditioning programs have lower injury rates than sports like rugby and football. However, injuries, aches, and pains aren’t unusual in Insanity participants. Modify the program to fit your experience, and read your body to learn when enough is enough.
4. Interval training is a more efficient calorie-burner than regular steady-state cardio. A meta-analysis from 2019 suggests that HIIT can actually boost absolute fat mass loss by about 28.5% more when compared to standard cardio. It’s not the end-all-be-all or a forever program, but it’s a great way to get rid of that stubborn beer gut.
5. The Beachbody platform and the available resources are easy to dig through, even if you’re brand new to BOD. The 21st-century downside is that the documents are PDFs, so you’ll need to print them out and fill them out by hand.
6. While almost anyone will tell you that the workouts are flat-out brutal, those who follow the program to a
Shaun T usually rave about their results. Dropping somewhere around 20 pounds within those first two months seems to be about average!
7. The 40/40/20 protein-rich meal plan and jumbled concoction of strength-building exercises (like push-ups) can also help you pack on strength and muscle. So not only will you uncover the muscle that’s already there, but it’ll also add a bit more! If you want to maximize gains, it’s a good idea to stock up on whey protein powder and creatine too.
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
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3 Insanity Cons
- If your current exercise routine is non-existent, Insanity is a god-awful idea. The warm-ups alone might leave you exhausted and achy the next day, and such an intense program only works if you can commit for 60-ish days (hand over your diet and exercise regimen).
- It might be downright dangerous if you have pre-existing medical conditions. Please, please, please ask your doctor their opinion on the Insanity workout and whether it’d be a good fit given your current state. It’s also a good idea to wear a heart-rate monitor as you exercise. That way, you can make sure you’re hitting that 80% maximum heart rate sweet spot while also making sure you’re not exceeding your MHR!
- Not everyone can dedicate 40–60 minutes a day to an exercise routine. If you’re in a bit of a time crunch but still want to get active and drop some weight, a shorter program like Shaun T’s T25 is a better call.
Wrapping Up This Insanity Review
Shaun T’s Insanity workout is 60 days of pure torture and hell.
It couldn’t be less beginner-friendly, it’s ridiculously exhausting (and lasts for almost an hour sometimes), and the warm-ups feel like full workouts.
We’ll say it again: if you’re a newbie, don’t touch Insanity with a ten-foot pole.
However, if you’re already somewhat fit, want a dad-bod-to-ripped transition, and ooze commitment to your fitness goals, Insanity is definitely your best Beachbody option.
… but it won’t be fun or easy.