Friday, 20 March 2015

Insanity: Max30

Insanity Max30 - Month 1

I've loved Insanity since the first workout I did - the adrenalin rush, Shaun T's motivation, the feeling of achievement - there's no other workout programme that has come near to it. The only downside was that when following the programme I lost strength, especially in my upper body, and put on weight, and it has never shifted. TBH, I haven't made any great attempt at shifting it, I've been too focussed on performance, and to that end I had moved on to a programme of my own devising where I mixed up Insanity with P90X, TapouT and Jillian Michaels, with longer workouts at the weekends that were two or three hours of Davina, or power walking or yoga or a mixture. 

The one problem with my own schedule (and any that include the workouts I've mentioned) is that you need to give about an hour to them. This meant I was quite excited when Shaun T's Focus T25 came out. That excitement didn't last long. I didn't like the music, and more importantly the workouts, whilst not too difficult in themselves, were so fast-moving that for some reason they were really hard on my feet. I have arthritis in my feet and hands, and Focus T25 really flared that up, although I don't think it helped that I had just done the Moonwalk. The modifier was too easy, so I really only use the workouts when I don't have time for anything else - or I combine four or five workouts and modify them for weekend longer sessions. And I still don't like the music.

This time around I really tried not to get overly-excited at the prospect of Insanity Max30 - I mean, could Shaun T really get the same effect in 30 minutes? The answer is a resounding OH YES!

I'm just coming to the end of month 1 - and it has been fantastic. I must admit to being kind of smug going into it. I'm used to ripping through most of the Insanity workouts now - I still get puffed, but I can generally do them better than some of the participants on the DVD (I'm talking about Shanita, Akeel(sp?) and Josh at least). Max 30 is only half the time - so surely I could do at least half of that before maxing out?

The idea of the workouts is you go as hard as you can until you can't go any more. That is your max out time, and you note it down. The Cardio Challenge workout is your fit test also. I managed 7 minutes 40. The shame!

So in the last four weeks I have followed the programme and I have improved massively on all the workouts except the Cardio Challenge - I still hover around the the 8.30 mark. In contrast, I can make to 24.30 on the Tabata Strength workout, more than double my starting max on that one. I have definitely improved massively in my cardio ability though, and I'm not so aware of loss of muscle as I was with Insanity. It is CRAZILY difficult though.

However, don't be put off if you haven't exercised before, because there is a modifier to each exercise, and you can choose an option to have them on-screen (split screen) throughout. So this is a programme that can easily grow with you.

The bit I like the best is that it is such a rush to do. I feel euphoric at the end of each workout, and have had emotional releases at the end of every Sweat Interval workout, it is completely amazing. Also, the Abs workout, whilst only being 10 minutes long, is the most challenging to the abs I have ever experienced - I haven't managed without multiple rests at all, and often max at under two minutes!

The weak points - well, the warm up is short (and just as intense as Insanity), and thre is a distinct lack of stretching. Even the Pulse DVD uses mostly dynamic stretching, and I'm just not convinced that dynamic stretching can stretch large muscle groups in the same way that prolonged stretching when you are warm can. To that end, I do half an hour of yoga stretching after a workout at the weekend. I think the programme would have really benefitted from a pure stretch DVD - maybe a 30 minute stretch option in place of the Pulse DVD, and a ten minute stretch to use more regularly, along the same lines as the one after the warm-up in Insanity. But this is a minor quibble, and one I get around easily enough - another option I use is to hold the Pulse stretches for longer and ignore what's going on on the DVD.

Added bonus? I got on the scales today with complete trepidation, really feeling I needed to shock myself into action after a week of binge eating and other extreme cake consumption (it's been an emotionally trying time for various reasons). I've lost weight. I'd thought my jeans had stretched!

So on the whole, I cannot fault this programme - you HAVE to try it. I got mine at a bargain price of £60 off ebay - well worth the money. I know I'm going to do at least one more full round after this, there is so much variety (month 2 is another set of DVDs) that I haven't got used to the workouts at all yet. There's a bit in the Sweat Intervals where Shaun T says, 'how are you feeling?' and every time I just shake my head cos I am so exhausted, and he goes, 'no, seriously, answer me.' I never remember until he says it :-)

It's also making me wonder about how worthwhile it is to give an hour a day to fitness if half an hour can achieve a better result. I wonder if the same would be true for a weight-lifting programme, and I'm thinking I might have to try out P90X3 too. More results in less time - that would be a real win.

Got to get through month 2 first though. I really am a bit feared of what those workouts will be like - how can it get any harder?

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, I love, love, LOVE the music - similar to Insanity, and maybe even more motivating. Hooray!

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