Remember how curiosity killed the cat? Well, this workout may not kill you, but it sure can leave you feeling nauseous and vomiting if your heart is not strong enough. So before jumping on the latest “phenomenal” home-video workout bandwagon, know that the Insanity Workout is not for everybody.
It’s the workout the super-fit US Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate in last year’s US presidential election, is a huge fan of.
Developed by American fitness trainer Shaun T. for Beachbody, the same guy who created the popular Hip-Hop Abs vid in 2006, the Insanity Workout is a 60-day, six-times-a-week, 10-DVD set based on a technique called Maximum Interval Training (MIT).
MIT is a method that requires exercising strenuously for three to four minutes, rest for 30 seconds, before starting the whole process over again. By “strenuous,” it means hitting a training heart rate of up to 85-90 percent, resting for 30 seconds, and pumping it up over again. Sustain that for 45 minutes to one hour, and you’ll know why Insanity Workout has been called the “hardest fitness program ever put on DVD.”
Traditional interval training alternates mild and strenuous exercise for about equal lengths of time. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has a 2:1 ratio of workout to recovery periods (a 50-second hard sprint alternates with a 25-second jog or walk, for instance). MIT demands so much more than that.
“With Insanity, you go from max to moderate to max again. The recovery is so short. Ten or 15 minutes after the workout your heart rate is still high, even for a very fit person,” says Reijo del Prado, personal trainer and gym instructor at FTX Fitness Exchange in Salcedo Village, Makati City.
Reijo has completed the 60-day Insanity Workout program. He now mixes the MIT technique of Insanity in his clients’ training sessions. A five- to 10-minute MIT, he says, is usually enough to give his clients that extra workout “boost.”
Insanity Workout is a total body workout with four types of exercises in different variations—jump, squat, plank and C-Sit. For instance, it requires you to perform Twists with Knee or Single Leg Raise while in the C-Sit position. The more muscle groups are exercised, the more blood it requires to enter the muscles, so the heart works on the double with very little “rest” in between.
Reijo says you will need strong legs to get through the routines. And if you don’t have strong legs, they are guaranteed to become strong.
“It’s very challenging. I would give a prayer of thanks after I’m done with a session,” says Caren Gaudiel, a registered nurse working in Houston, Texas, who finished the 60-day program last year.
Gaudiel, who wanted to lose weight for a high school reunion, had been reasonably fit prior to doing Insanity. She regularly worked out in the gym and attended spinning classes. When she decided to try Insanity, however, she was forced to quit the gym just so she could focus on the program.
Insanity Workout, cautions Reijo, is not for those looking for the magic pill for weight loss. It is for people committed to losing weight, working hard and getting in shape. Completing the program requires a lot of willpower and dedication. A workout buddy, even one from a different timezone, will help get you through the challenges.
For the relatively unfit population who still want to give the Insanity Workout a shot, Reijo says they should follow their own pace instead. If 10 jumping jacks is all it takes to get you to near-exhaustion, then just do 10. Build up your strength slowly until you are able to keep up with the program.
“One of the advantages of home video workouts is the Pause button. Press Pause, catch your breath, and Play again. It takes time to build your strength. Give your body the time it needs to adjust to the program,” Reijo says.
If you are obese, hypertensive, have diabetes, cardiovascular, pulmonary and metabolic diseases, consult your doctor. The Insanity Workout set, which also comes with a nutritional diet book, is not cheap at $120. But if you stick it out with the program, the $120 investment can do wonders—and not just physically, says Reijo.