I started doing the Insanity workouts about 3 weeks or so ago. I watched infomercials on YouTube, Googled reviews and read countless blog posts on the workouts. Most of the research I did absolutely terrified me, yet I was completely enthralled thanks to compelling “before and after” shots of people that had completed the 60 day program. I looked for tips to make it easier (I know- trying to find the easy way out of a workout defeats the purpose of the workout, but I was scared as I had never done anything more difficult than Pilates, so don’t judge!), and couldn’t find any.
After a few weeks of doing Insanity I’m not insanely ripped, nor am I a fitness expert. But as friends and acquaintances have asked me about it and have started their own Insanity “journey” I thought it might be helpful to list all the things I’ve personally found helpful doing Insanity; things I wish someone had told me 3 weeks ago!
NOTE: I am by no means a fitness/medical professional.
Ten things I wish I had known before I started Insanity:
1. Watch the video you’re going to do the next day, the previous night: If you’re following the workout calendar provided, you know what the next 60 days of your life looks like. The titles of the segments don’t give much away, especially for the fitness novice. “Plyometric Cardio Circuit” = huh? If I’m going to do a segment I hadn’t done before I like to take a quick peek at the segment the night before. Even now when a lot of the workouts are becoming repetitive I still spend a few minutes the night before looking at what I’m going to do the next day. I like to be mentally prepared and know what I’m in for- I’m not a fan of surprises. For example: if I’m going to be doing a video with a lot of difficult jumping I might wear more supportive shoes (as opposed to sandals) during my work day since I know my ankles will need all the help they can get later during my workout.
2. Place a full length mirror in front of you for your workout: I know, if you’re doing Insanity in the first place you might not be too fond of looking at your body in the mirror, but hear me out. The riskiest part of doing an at-home fitness regimen is the chance of injury since there is no one to coach you on proper form. The only way you can ensure you’re doing the exercises properly to prevent injury is to see yourself do them. Often you think your butt isn’t in the air during push-ups, but it totally is and you will feel that later! I started looking in the mirror after I couldn’t figure out why I was so sore in strange places and found that my back had horrible form in quite a few of the exercises. Now, there’s a bonus effect of having a mirror in front of me: I get to see how hot my body looks and get totally lost in that. I’m not kidding. This is possibly vain but when I see how much ass I’m kicking and that my body is capable of things I never thought possible I feel SO hot. But wait there’s more! If you’re watching yourself in the mirror (whether to ensure proper form or if you’re a vain asshole like I am) you forget to be miserable and watch the clock during the videos, making time pass by so much faster!
3. Add your own moves: Yes, there is a reason for each and every move in Insanity, BUT unless you’re already super fit before you start you won’t be able to do all of the reps of every move from the beginning. There are some jumps that even after weeks of doing this I still have trouble with thanks to my weak ankles. I’ve found that as long as I keep moving after I’ve exhausted how many reps I can do without injuring myself, my heart-rate stays up and I am still benefiting from the exercise. For instance, there are some jumps that I can only do about half of before I feel like I’m going to roll my ankles, so I jog in place for the remainder of that segment.
4. Wear the right shoes: This is really a trial-and-error type tip. Before I started Insanity I read a lot of people saying crosstrainers were a must. Then others said their running shoes were just fine. A small, but passionate faction of the fitness side of the internet swore by Vibrams (you know, those ugly toe shoes) or bare feet! I tried the first day in my running shoes and within 10 minutes had rolled both my ankles and had to quit. I bought crosstrainers the next day and had my actual first full day of Insanity completed without injury. My point is, this is something you have to figure out for yourself, not through fitness message boards. Your body will help you figure out what is right for you- hopefully before you fall to the floor twice in ten-minutes your first time out of the gate…
5. Don’t drink coffee or tea up to two hours before working out: I take a pre-work out supplement that has quite a bit of caffeine in it. One day, I mindlessly drank green tea about 45 minutes before taking my supplement and working out (I had also had about 2 other cups of green tea earlier in the day). OOPS. I had to stop and pee 6 times during the workout. SIX TIMES. The workouts are only about 45 minutes long! There was a point where I thought “eh, I’ll just ignore it!” and I almost peed my goddamn pants. Not good. This made for a horrible workout and probably wasn’t the best for my body (I did make sure to drink plenty of water afterward). If you take a pre-workout be careful, you don’t wanna be this bro:
I quickly realized the trauma wasn’t over. I actually experience (sic) leakage. There was a big wet spot on my gym shorts right about where my dick is. Luckily they are black so it wasn’t noticeable to anyone but myself. This leakage continued for about two hours…
6. Buy a heart-rate monitor: The major draw for me to do Insanity is that I didn’t have to spend any money on equipment, but I believe that a heart-rate monitor is a good investment. I got a heart-rate monitor at some point during my first week of Insanity and I think it really helped keep me stay motivated. A heart-rate monitor that will allow you to see how many calories you’ve burned can be awesome on those days you’re tired and feel like “what’s the point?”. When you look at how many calories you’ve burned afterward and see that you’ve burned off the amount of that unhealthy snack you ate earlier and were bummed about you will be so glad/relieved you worked out.
7. Skip the stretching: This might be unpopular, and refer to what I said above about not being a fitness/health professional. After the warm-up (which is an ass-kicker in and of itself when you begin Insanity) and before the main workout there is about 5 minutes of stretching in between. I’m sure there is a benefit to this and a reason it is in the workout but it doesn’t do anything for me. I’ve found that taking the time to recover/stretch between the two difficult parts of the workout just slowed me down and made the second half more difficult to get through. I do however like to stretch afterward. See what works for you and your body. I feel like I work harder and have the same level of high energy throughout the workout when I skip the middle stretching segment and no more pain or soreness than I did when I completed the stretching segment.
8. Don’t just collapse after the workout: When I first started Insanity I needed to keep a trash can or bag next to me so when I finished the workout I could dry heave into it without having to crawl to the bathroom. I was in so much pain and so exhausted that as soon as Shaun T said “you’ve just completed your Insanity workout…” I fell to the floor immediately. Getting up after dramatically collapsing was NOT easy. I’ve found that the end stretch segment of the video was not enough for me. After stretching I go do dishes, take a shower, do laundry, whatever I can do to keep my body moving. Just sitting down after working out left me sore and miserable. Lately, I’ve had excess energy and just turned on an upbeat song and had an uncoordinated, totally unattractive solo dance party to shake all the soreness out of my muscles.
9. Mute Shaun T and put on music: Lately the workouts have been feeling repetitive to me, so I tried something that helps me get through a run, even when I don’t want to- music. I’m fairly comfortable with the moves and keeping safe form now, so I muted Insanity and made a quick playlist of some upbeat songs from an album I just got and wanted to listen to. This is seriously the best idea I’ve ever had (maybe an exaggeration but whatever)! Today was my least favorite Insanity workout “Cardio Power and Resistance” and putting music on made it so much easier! The 45 minutes felt like 10 and the music helped keep my mood up. At the end of the workout that I usually dread I was so high on a cocktail of good pop music and endorphins I just wanted to dance around my apartment. I kinda looked like this but with more sweat and in workout clothes:
10. Fuck the scale: Your scale doesn’t know shit about how hard you workout. I’m about to tell you something you’ve heard a million times before but: muscle weighs more than fat. Its true, and honestly it’s a little cruel. The fact that muscle weighs more than fat is something I feel like biology did just to fuck with people trying to lose weight. I started Insanity not to lose weight but to transform the shape of my body and my health, but I know that for many weight loss is a huge reason for wanting to start the program. Please do not give up or get frustrated when that scale seems to barely budge. I’ve only been doing this for 3 weeks (Disclaimer: I did change my entire way of eating and started a different fitness regimen about 3-4 weeks before I started Insanity) and I can feel and see a difference in my body. I am constantly pulling up jeans I bought just a month ago, and a pair of pants that I loved but couldn’t button up are now loose and comfortable. And that feels FUCKING AMAZING. It feels like all the sweat, soreness and skipping hang outs with friends in favor of working out feel worth it. But guess what? I looked at the scale out of curiosity and I’ve only technically lost five pounds. So my point is- don’t obsess over the number on the scale, look at it from time to time but don’t obsess. That bitch doesn’t know anything about how hard you’ve worked, but your favorite jeans?- they definitely do.
In summary: try not to have any “dick leakage”, you might puke but hey, whatever, fuck the scale (not literally, please), tell Shaun T to STFU sometimes, maybe take a pre-workout, watch yourself do it, good luck, and feel free to send me pictures of your abs.