Throw some Sanity in that Insanity Workout

The Insanity workout by Shaun T

So, Beachbody’s Insanity workout by Shaun T is the new “in” regime now-a-days. Though promos and ads looking quiet intimidating, it is still one of the most appreciated workouts out there in the fitness market at present. The prime reason for it being that after all the trying and testing by several fitness professionals and fitness seeking common individuals, it has time and again proved its worth. The Question is… ‘Is it really about loosing all sanity and going all out insane for a miraculous body transformation, or does it require some SANITY for its success?” From my experience, maintaining a certain level of sanity is essential to achieve the best from this workout which I call “Sanity in Insanity”.

To those of you who are new to this workout, Insanity’s foundation is laid on the concept of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) in which multiple large muscle groups are targeted together involving a person’s own bodyweight with very short intervals of intervening rest… say a few seconds. This, according to latest fitness studies and scientifically, is the most reliable way to loose fat deposits and build muscle fibers at the same time. The workout schedule is broken into 2 months with an additional week of recovery exercises to rest the muscles used in the first month. How and why is it necessary to maintain sanity amidst this schedule is what follows :

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Insanity is a great workout but it will help you only as much as you allow it to. It being a demanding workout, mind game is half the battle won. To begin with, be definite of the purpose for which you are into it and that will become the starting point of all the achievement.

“Mind is everything. What you think, you become.” –Buddha

As you stay motivated to push through the hardest bits of DVD, a fulfilling experience is sure to follow. And to your amazement, you’ll love it so much after a couple of days that you will miss not doing it on the resting days.


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Is It For You ??

All Beach body (BB) workouts come with a disclaimer advocating the assessment of your fitness level in consultation with your doctor before starting any workout. As all regimes are not meant for everyone, you need to be in a certain fitness level before starting this program. You might need to consider learning correct forms of some basic exercise moves like pushups, planks, burpees… for 2-3 weeks before starting this schedule. This workout involves a lot of jumping, hopping, pushing which leaves you huffing and puffing.

This is strictly not for individuals with debilitating or severe spinal pain, severe knee joint pain, heart disease or a history of heart attack. Once you start your workout, doing your exercises safely is as important as doing them right.


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Expectations and Goals

Be clear of your goals and expectations. Don’t make unrealistic expectations. Don’t be afraid to go slow.

“It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”-Confucius.

Insanity workout, according to Beachbody, is designed to generate 12 months worth of results in 2 months. Yes, it is a demanding routine that pushes you out of your ‘comfort zone’. Comfort zone may be ‘not working out’, ‘working out half heartedly’ or ‘a zone one gets accustomed to in a gym doing long treadmill cardio’. You can’t go through insanity without stepping out of this zone and that’s what gives results to even those individuals that have hit a weight loss plateau. Remember, no pains, no gains!! It is very important though, to be patient for weight loss while you go through the schedule. Many people do not see any weight loss on scale in the first month in spite of eating clean and pushing hard but what they notice is loss of many inches from all over the body. First month is the prep for 2nd month which focuses on building up new muscle fibers and toning the body. You will definitely notice tighter tummy, butt, breasts, calves and start looking way slimmer than when you started. This happens because during that first month, your body looses fat but forms many new muscle fibers. Moreover, as you are getting used to all these new exercises, your body retains water in order to repair the muscular wear and tear created consequential of exercises and also to cushion the vital joints involved. Once microtears produced by exercise are repaired, stronger muscles are formed that impart a more defined and lean look. Due to the water retention along with formation of new muscle mass, the weight is steady or may even increase in the first month. But that doesn’t mean there is no fat loss. Fat loss is just masked by newly formed lean muscle. The more your lean muscle mass is, the more calories body starts burning throughout the day. People loose anywhere between 5-7% of their body fat percentage in 2 months of Insanity. Hence it is better to avoid the scale during the first month.

It is also highly advisable to take pictures of yourself every 1 or 2 weeks and follow a clean diet. You may wish to have your body fat percentage monitored for motivation in such conditions, but it is not absolutely necessary. Second month is where the major weight loss happens as both the duration and quality of exercises increase and body gives away water. Also this time, rate of fat loss is greater than the rate of building new muscle mass. This in turn increases ‘Afterburn’. Even after the end of 2 months, you’ll keep burning more calories per day, have a higher BMR and results may continue.

Everyone’s body and genetics are different, so some people will show considerable results right from the first month itself. It’s insane to bog yourself down and underestimate your efforts just looking at the scale. Scale doesn’t always show the real story. Sooner or later, weight will give up! So be sane and consistent in your efforts and have faith. Its more like a marathon and not like a race.

Caloric Needs

To calculate caloric needs during this schedule, Beach body gives you a nutrition plan guide. Firstly calculate your need by this Harris Benedict Formula:

Step 1

For Women:

655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

For Men:

66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

Step 2

Now take the number from Step 1 and multiply by your daily activity level.
1.2               Sedentary                   Little or no exercise
1.375           Lightly Active             Light exercise (1-3 days per week)
1.55             Moderately Active      Moderate exercise (3-5 days per week)
1.7               Very Active                Intense exercise (6-7 days per week)
1.9               Extremely Active        Intense daily exercise and/or a physical job

Step 3

Take your number from Step 2 and adjust this number up or down, depending on your goals.
For weight loss, subtract 500 calories
For weight maintenance, add nothing.
For weight gain, add 250-300 calories.

Result is the number of calories you eat per day.

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Nutrition guide has a lot of suitable 100,200 and 300 calorie based food recipes but may seem out of budget or even time consuming to prepare. It is still okay to eat what you want and not follow those recipes as long as you eat within calories recommended and ratio of your macros is 40/40/20= carbs/proteins/fats. Try to divide calories in at least 5 meals a day and do not eat at least 3 hrs before going to bed. Also do try to down your calories from the number you received above by the formula, say by decreasing 50-100 cals/day and see if you are feeling hungry by the end of the day or dinner. If you are still hungry, chances are that you need to eat just the calculated amount or maybe even more. But if you are okay, u might need to eat that many calories lesser for weight loss.

Eating clean is the very crucial to get results. 80% of results in any form of exercises come from eating right. Eating right and eating nutritious is very important with such rigorous workouts. So you should mainly have your carbohydrates from whole grains and not processed flours, fruits and vegetables; your proteins from lean meats like fish, chicken, spinach, eggs, soya, pulses and beans and fats from vegetable or olive oil and not saturated oils. In case you fall short of protein intake (which you need a lot to make muscles with this exercise), do not hesitate to take a good protein shake for supplement. Vegetarians may consider taking chickpeas, spinach, pulses and eggs (is you are an eggitarian), soya chunks in various recipes. Be careful to not overcook protein sources as heat denatures the protein and hence net effective protein content of the overall diet decreases.


Best Timing

It is best to do this would be the first thing in the morning, empty stomach after 2-3 glasses of water (or lime water with honey if you please) to stay hydrated. Being hydrated before starting is very important as this workout is very dehydrating and leaves you in a lot of sweat. Take water to drink with you and a towel to wipe the sweat off. Over the night, your body uses water for various biological processes and expels toxins via morning urine, leaving you dehydrated. If you start in such a state, you’ll feel dizzy during the drills. Moreover, optimum hydration will keep your brain active and hence keep you motivated.
Being empty stomach will help you in 2 ways. First it will result in more breakdown of ‘stored’ fat for energy than it will if you have eaten just before it as our body uses the most readily available form of calories first. Secondly, some people feel like throwing up while doing these exercises if they have eaten anything even 1-2 hrs before this workout. Regurgitation of food in food-pipe is common during extensive exercises. However, if for some reason, you can’t workout in morning, do so in evening but remember to wait ideally 3-4 hrs after your last meal.


A good pair of Cross trainers that distribute the weight evenly on your soles will prevent sole pain and blisters. Always keep a towel handy to wipe off the sweat and associated uneasiness, especially in this rainy season. A sipper is a must and chug out water in between the workout itself to ameliorate dehydration. Heart rate monitor would be a great device to get the most out of your workout. Working out in a certain range of heart rate (different for each individual) allows considerably more breakdown of fat. Even if you choose to work out without one, it is perfectly fine as long as you push yourself enough and dig deeper. Push through the exercises but do take rest when your body doesn’t allow you to push at all. Keep the video running in the background and don’t stop the DVD. Join it as soon as you recover a bit. Avoid unnecessary breaks and leap out of comfort zone and results will surely follow.

I recommend joining Beachbody virtual gym online to get support from all others doing the same workout. Their help may prove very beneficial for some. Please do understand that pushing through muscle soreness is fine but pushing through injuries is not fine at all. You need to stop and see a doctor in case of injuries.


I came across an interview with Shaun T where he confessed that he doesn’t take Shakeology regularly. Shakeology is the much talked about expensive and famous food replacement shake by Beachbody and boasts of better results in addition to being very healthy. But if you follow a fairly good diet on the above recommended lines, you can easily walk through the workouts with great results. A powdered shake is no replacement for the natural food. But if you wish to buy it, do so by all means for your mental satisfaction. Mental satisfaction supports the paradigms that we may be holding and does prove fruitful to many individuals. Always be aware of the site you buy your supplements from. Many dealers (even on amazon) are known to send a genuine sample of Shakeology for testing followed by a fake packet for the big deal.

Just within half and hour of finishing the workout, you are recommended to drink Beachbody’s Recovery Formula at the end of the video. However, a great replacement to that is a glass of simple ‘Chocolate Milk’ post workout if you are overtly tired. It is a cheap and equally effective alternative and provides same macros.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

So decide for yourself and be that person. Be SANE amidst Insanity and don’t forget to DIG DEEPER…


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