Fad Fitness: Pumping Up the Insanity

Week 6: Phase two of the program brings longer, harder workouts, and a realization
Staff Writer

In the world of Insanity, your progress can be measured not just by your weight or body fat, but also by how sore you feel.

In the first week, for example, sitting down was both a struggle and a relief as my butt, hamstrings and calves ached constantly. By the fourth week, however, I’d adapted to the point that I felt little stiffness or soreness.

But with the introduction of the next phase of Insanity—the infamous second month—I went right back to square one. In the second month, you use a new set of four DVDs that introduce you to both longer and harder workouts.

Even the warm-up is more intense, complete with jogging, jumping jacks, jump ropes, high knees, switch kicks, hit-the-floor and floor hops. After three rounds done with increasing intensity, you are sweating and ready to complete one of four workouts: Max Interval Circuit, Max Recovery, Max Cardio Conditioning or Max Interval Plyo.

In these DVDs, you’ll recognize some exercises from the first month, but many are new and more intense. Some highlights include plank punches, one-legged v push-ups, power lunges and diamond jumps.

You do the new DVDs in conjunction with core cardio and balance and cardio abs from the previous weeks.

By the end of the first video—max interval circuit—my muscles already ached slightly. By the time I woke up the next morning, my happy gait from the previous week had been replaced by a slow, sore shuffle. Although the pain was inconvenient, it also showed me that I was once again pushing my body to increase my fitness. The pain, I thought, might be worth it.

The proof came that Saturday, when a 40-mile bike ride replaced the day's workout. As I pedaled my way along familiar terrain in Central Park, I had a realization: This was a lot easier to do than four weeks ago. Despite my fatigue from almost daily interval workouts, I was still able to ride hills faster and more consistently than before.

It was the first time I had noticed an improvement outside of the Insanity fit tests and, as I flew past a group of slower cyclists, I felt my first dose of accomplishment and excitement. The videos might not be the most exciting workout, but here was the evidence: They worked.

About the Project: The Active Times' Fad Fitness Challenge is a six-week-long project in which five hapless writers will immerse themselves in five popular fitness programs—CrossFit, Insanity, Barre, Flywheel and Kettlebell classes—for the dual purposes of getting in shape and evaluating them for our readers. We guinea pigs will bust our butts, burn calories and discover muscles we'd long since mothballed and, if all goes well, emerge into the New Year with a well-rounded perspective of the top fitness fads. Check back every weekday from now until the New Year to come along for the ride without breaking a sweat. Click here to check out the rest of the programs.