Fitness DVDs are big business. If you’ve ever fallen down a Sky box-shaped hole and found yourself scanning the depths of cable television you’ll have been exposed to the alarming array of options. But one that deserves your attention is the somewhat threateningly titled Insanity workout.
It’s one of the world’s best selling home workout DVDs and provides a loud, sweaty, caffeine-spiked American alternative to the somewhat more wholesome British offerings from Davina McCall and co.
Developed by Shaun T, the Insanity programme uses a principle called max interval training. Basically you thrash yourself at full power for three to four minutes, then cool down for 30 seconds before repeating the strenuous process again for around 45 minutes.
It’s kit free, using just your own bodyweight, making it very versatile and convenient for wherever you like to get a sweat on. But it’s not for the faint of heart, or untrained. Exercising at this level of intensity, flat out for several draining bursts is unwise if you don’t already have a good foundation of fitness. It’s not designed for obese people, which is a shame, given that seams to be the main group their marketing is aimed at.
But as one sweat-dripping advocate puts it: “This ain't for everybody, but if you’re a masochist, bring it.” On his orders, that’s what we’ve done. Here’s what you can expect from the DVD.
Insanity Workout DVD Review
- Length: 60 days
- Number of workouts: 10 DVDs
- Average workout time: 45min
- Schedule: Six times a week
- Price: £105
Created by a track and field trainer, it’s the intensity of the mainly cardio-based Insanity workout enables a high calorie burn – around 1,000 in every workout if you really push yourself. This means ensuring that you are doused in sweat by the end, barely able to catch your breath – in short, it’s really tough, especially if you go into it having not done any training previously. But you’ll start to see results quickly if you really work hard at it, and that’s what it’s all about.
So how does it work?
- A series of movements with no rest period
- Repeat that same series of movements, but faster
- Repeat those moves again, but even faster (sweating a lot now)
- Take a break
- Move on to the next sequence of moves and repeat in the same manner
The workouts usually last around 45 minutes and you can do them anywhere really, although at home is probably preferable. It’s perfect for people who don’t really enjoy going to the gym or whose lifestyle means that a gym membership doesn’t offer good value. HIIT training is research-tested as a great way to burn fat and get in shape quickly, and this DVD set helps motivate you to keep exercising at a high pace for 45 minutes.
What comes in the box?
- Fitness guide (advice on stretching and how to do certain moves, etc)
- 10 DVDs
- An elite nutrition guide providing tips on what to eat before and after your workouts
Insanity does provide an effective way of building muscle and burning fat at home without having to get a costly gym membership or personal trainer, but it does require dedication. People see the adverts and think, “Wow, I can get a body like that in just a couple of months” but the reality of exercising six times a week for eight or 12 weeks is far more commitment than most people are capable of. Especially if they have barely done any exercise before.
It seems sad that a lot of copies of Insanity will be sitting gathering dust in people’s homes, taunting them for their laziness. But the way the DVDs are marketed is the problem, not the training programmes themselves. It’s just a simple fact that exercising six days a week will get you results, but it will also be hard. Hell, even most of us here at Men’s Fitness would find it hard to stick to the whole programme religiously.
If you have the grit, determination, a specific timeframe to work towards (a wedding or beach holiday, for example), and don’t fancy or can’t afford a gym and personal trainer, you could do far worse than buying Insanity or P90X – as long as you stick with them. Remember though, six-packs are made in the kitchen, so if you want to get the most from it ensure you follow the nutrition plans that come with the programmes.
Buy Insanity Workout (opens in new tab)
Other Workout DVDs
From the same company that delivers Insanity, P90X is arguably a more well-rounded workout programme. Insanity may be a brilliant belly-reducing fat blaster, but P90X offers all that and more. You’ll also get a nutrition plan structured into three phases, supplement advice and access to a supportive online community to provide guidance and a boost to your motivation. Buy P90X (opens in new tab)
Joe Wicks The Body Coach Workout
Wicks took the fitness industry by storm with his Lean In 15 series of nutrition books and social posts, but in order to arrive at your ideal weight and physique, a healthy diet needs to be coupled with intense exercise. Here, the Body Coach provides an ample accompaniment to his eating plans with workouts that comprise seven high-intensity interval training (HIIT) systems. If you follow them closely, you’ll shed the kilos. £9.99, buy on amazon.co.uk (opens in new tab)
In this day and age many gyms have installed a Wellbeats system which delivers interactive classes. These use a projector and take place in traditional workout rooms. They’re useful as they contain hundreds of workouts – ranging from kettlebell sessions to spin classes to Pilates.
Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.
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