Insanity – How insane is it?

Who hasn’t woken up at 3 a.m. in the morning, turned on the television and heard Shaun T telling you how you need to try ‘Insanity Workout’? Credit where credit is due, the guy is a good salesman. This proposed 60 day workout must appeal to a lot – simply train hard for two months and you’ll have that body you have always wanted. What happens after the two months though? Can you simply do whatever you want and keep the same body? Of course you can’t.

The first step to Insanity is working out your permitted calorie intake per day. This itself is simple enough – use the Harris Benedict Equation to find the calorie intake you require to maintain your current body weight without exercise. Then using Shaun T’s cleverly thought out formulas, you multiply this number by your ‘exercise factor’ and subtract 500 calories for weight loss. Voila, you then have your magic number. The number of calories you can intake in one day.

Despite this intelligently devised magic formula, Shaun T and the guys at Insanity miss out a fairly essential part of any workout routine: dietary requirements. For example, say your ‘magic number’ comes out at 2500. Great news – “four Big Macs a day and I can still have the body I’ve always wanted”. Obviously not, you don’t need to to be a fitness guru to know that 240 Big Macs in two months probably isn’t a wise idea. Even with their meal guide, what you are told to consume is high in calories, and high in carbohydrates.

This doesn’t mean Shaun is talking utter nonsense, of course. Dieting and weight loss at its core still comes down to the very old adage of calorie intake versus calorie expenditure. For example, you can hit the gym twice a day, 5 times a week, but if each day you burn 5000 calories but you take in 6000, you will gain weight. Exactly the same as if you burn 5000 calories a day, but only take in 4000 you will lose weight. Once you monitor this difference between intake and expenditure, then the body shape you want can be considered.

‘60 day workout’ – this is the phrase that sucks in countless of soon to be consumers. Science and technology has proven one thing – humans will always try to find a find a quicker way to achieve anything. Man developed the horse and cart into canal shipping, canal shipping to railway freight, railway freight into shipping containers, and so on. If you can convince someone they can have the body their best friend acquired in 3 years in just 60 days then you’ve won. There clearly are people that think this – Beachbody LLC (the creators of P90X and Insanity) are a successfully operating company.

Other aspects to Insanity have certain amounts of credibility too. It is accepted that your time working out is better spent doing shorter bursts of high intensity training than longer lasting, less intense workouts. You only need to watch the infomercial to see the success stories. Then again, you only need to do a Google search to find the horror stories. As with anything, to get the best idea, views at both extremes should be taken with a pinch of salt. Overly favourable comments tend to form some sort of promotion, whilst overly negative comments are usually from internet ‘trolls’ looking to discredit the product or service. More often than not, opinions that fall in between these extremes form the general consensus.

So what is the general consensus? Well if for 60 days you stick to it, follow the meal guides and complete the daily exercises as instructed, then certain benefits can be achieved. If what you want is a more toned appearance, Insanity generally works. Then why is it insane? Weight loss isn’t guaranteed; in fact it is often the opposite. The generous calorie allowance and heavily carbohydrate based diet plan has caused weight gain in a number of cases, particularly in the early stages. As for strength? Don’t expect any real noticeable increase in strength using Insanity. The advertising campaign claims to ‘increase core strength through cardio training’, but the public opinion suggests that any strength increase is negligible at best.

Regimes such as Insanity are a financial success, that can’t be argued. Between them Insanity and P90X bring in well over 50% of Beachbody LLC’s yearly revenue – a figure in excess of half-a-billion dollars.

60 day workouts or workouts that try to put a time limit on success should generally be avoided. Exercise isn’t a short-term ordeal working towards a place where you are happy and can feel free to just stop. It is a complete lifestyle change, and although this may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be. It can be as much as replacing bad habits with good ones – getting to a place where you don’t see going to the gym as a chore, but where missing the gym is a cause of concern. Getting in shape is only half the battle, the real work is staying in shape. Is Insanity the best way to do this? Unfortunately for some, no. What serves best is an accumulation of these lifestyle changes.

Over time, if your lifestyle improves, good habits become as hard to break as bad ones. These changes differ from person to person, depending on what it is you want to achieve. Generally they consist of the two key areas of weight loss – exercise and diet. Simple changes in how often you exercise and the way in which you exercise can make a huge difference. Diet has just as much of an impact, if not more. Cutting out fast food and fizzy drinks has huge short and long-term benefits for example. As time progresses a more conscious attitude to what you consume maximises your work in the gym. This aided with the appropriate self-discipline is a far more sustainable way of achieving what you want.

Picture it this way: You can let a room get uncontrollably untidy. If the room is then tidied, you instantly see the difference. Then the room may get untidy again and the process repeats. This yo-yo effect can be the same in working out. Making short-term changes can show quick change. However, if you constantly keep on top of the mess in that room, you constantly notice the tidiness you are surrounded by. If you keep on top of your working-out by exercising correctly and eating correctly you will notice long-term benefits to your life and body.

Ollie Lawrence