Are You Fit Enough for the Insanity Workout?

Insanity Workout

If you go to the ‘P90X or Insanity Workout?‘ post, you’ll see that there are some 120 comments or so. Now, half of them are mine, but they’re all responses to the same basic question: “Am I ready for Insanity/P90X?” What I sense is a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm, but a level of uncertainty as to whether people are ready for such an extreme workout. With good reason! I’m going to focus on Insanity today, but my advice applies to any extreme workout.

First off, a disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor should my advice be used as a substitute for qualified medical advice. Beachbody and Shaun T both believe you should get medical clearance before attempting this workout, and I agree. Take my advice as general guidelines, and go see your doctor! Also, there are about 6 billion variations on the human body out there, walking and talking and breathing right now. My advice cannot apply to them all; for everything I say, there will be ten exceptions. So once again, take this advice as general guidelines, and then apply them intelligently to yourself.

The most important thing to remember when trying to decide whether to do Insanity is that fitness is a life long journey, not a two month stint. People get excited for some reason, say a New Year’s resolution, the desire to impress a new boyfriend, realizing that they can no longer fit in their old jeans–and then suddenly they want to get fit NOW, want to lose weight NOW, need to start working out for four hours a day TODAY. This, people, is not a healthy attitude. While I always applaud the desire to get fit, let’s be realistic. Fitness should be seen as a marathon, not a sprint. Going from 0 to extreme without any prep will simply result in your getting burned out or injured. It’s NOT a question of mental toughness, but rather a basic question of biology. Are your joints sufficiently conditioned for this level of intensity? Do you have dangerously high blood pressure? There are a host of other considerations, but what people need to realize is that your body needs time to get ready for that kind of intensity. Wanting to do it all NOW will simply get your hurt. So relax, take a deep breath, and consider: do you need a warm up program first?

A warm up program is something of intermediate level. Something that will help you shed the first few pounds, help you get your system ramped up, help your bones and tendons and joints prepare for greater intensity. I usually recommend either Power 90 or RevAbs for the guys, or Power 90 or Brazil Butt Lift for the girls. All of them are excellent programs, and can be made as intense as you need them to be so that even a fit athlete can be sorely challenged by them. However, they work well as ‘entrance’ programs, and only take three months to prep you for Insanity.

I can hear you now. “Three months!?!? I don’t want to wait three months! I want results now! I want to be extreme NOW!” And then you go and buy Insanity, bust yourself up, drop out after 3 weeks with a bad knee, and go back to the couch. DON’T BE THAT PERSON. Be smart. Realize that three months will go by in a flash, and then you’ll be able to attack Insanity like a tiger.

So, the question then becomes: how to know if you’re ready or not for Insanity? How to know whether you should do Power 90 first? This is tricky, because there are too many variations out there for me to address them all. One answer is to go ahead and buy Insanity, do the Fit Test, and if it clobbers you, return the product for a full refund (minus shipping and handling). You’ll get to see first hand whether you’re there or not. Realize that the Fit Test is nothing compared the actual workouts, and that if you can’t finish the Fit Test, you’ll be in a world of pain with the actual Insanity Workout.

Second, just think about it: have you been doing exercise regularly this past year? If not, odds are you’re not physically ready for Insanity. If you’re coming back after a nine month break, or a six month break, you’re probably no longer in the right kind of shape. Are you overweight? If you body fat percentage is over 18%, odds are that you’re not ready either. Again, yes, there are exceptions, but in general, that’s a good guideline. Are you recovering from an injury? Wait until you’re recovered. Are you committed to another form of physical activity, like training for a marathon or teaching 4 spinning classes a week? Insanity will probably overload you. Have you never worked out before? Insanity is probably too intense a way to start.

Remember: it’s not a question of desire or willpower. It’s simply a question of whether your body is ready or not. Remember, always speak to your doctor first, and then perhaps buy Insanity and try the Fit Test. Or be wise, be patient, take serious, mature long term view, and buy a warm up program first.

Either way, whenever you are finally ready, Insanity and Shaun T will be there waiting for you.



  1. Question.. I work 6 days a week, 11am- 9pm, Mon – Fri and then 7am – Noon on Sun. I have done P90x before and absolutely LOVED it. I have sinced “lost” the videos (although I have a pretty good idea where they may be) and don’t know if I should buy ANOTHER set of p90x or try out Insanity. Which set would be the best for my schedule??

  2. Phil Tucker says:


    What an extreme schedule! My advice? Buy Insanity. There’s a chance your P90X DVD’s will show up down the road, and Insanity workouts are in general shorter than the P90X ones, which works with your schedule better. Also, it’s always good to mix up your workouts, and challenge your body with something new and different. Best of luck!

  3. Thank you so much! I am so excited and I will let you know how it goes!! I can’t wait to get started! 🙂

  4. I wish I would have read your post about insanity before buying it.The fit test is no joke and I was not in good shape to start the program.I’m thinking about going back to the gym, what do you rec. that I should do before starting the insanity workout.

  5. Phil Tucker says:

    Hey Miss_A:

    I would recommend you try a slightly less intense program like Turbo Jam or the Brazil Butt Lift. Both are still pretty challenging, but nowhere near as grueling as Insanity. Good luck, and let me know what you decide!

  6. I have been working out for 30 to 40 minutes daily for a year on an eliptical machine. I lost 25 pounds in the process. I am 6′ and 185pounds now. I also train horses as a part time hobby, riding for 4-5 hours three to four days a week. I purchased Insanity to take my workout to another level, I have maxed out the power on the eliptical. Do you think I am physically ready for Insanith? Thanks

  7. Phil Tucker says:

    Hi Sam,

    Yes, I do think you’re ready for Insanity. The combination of horse riding and your daily cardio means that you are ready to take it to the next level, and will smash through the plateau you currently seem to be on. Best of luck!

  8. Question: Help!!! I have lost 45 lbs, it took me a year to do it. I still have another 45lbs to go. I do go mountain hiking to help with weight loss. I really want to try the insanity workout, but I’m not sure if I should lose the remaining weight first? I don’t want to gain muscle weight yet. Please adivse… Thank you!

  9. Phil Tucker says:

    Hi Debs,

    Insanity is a great way to help you lose weight, IF you combine it with the nutrition plan and follow it to the letter. Not only that, but changing up the tempo of your workout can be a great way to help your body break through plateaus and get new and better results. With you mountain hiking experience I think your joints will be able to take it, so give it a shot! Remember: if the product is too tough, just return it within 30 days for a refund 😉

    Best of luck, and let me know what you decide!

  10. Hey Phil

    Glad I found the site. Me and my girlfriend have gone through dramatic changes over the past year. Background on me- have played sports my entire life, played 2 years college football 4 years ago, play basektball 1-2 times per week….Background on girlfriend- played 4 years of division 1 college basketball….fast forward to today…..I have gained 35 pounds over the past 4 years, more specifically 20 pounds in the past 1-2 years…..we just had a daughter 4 months ago and my girlfriend obviously put on some pounds from the pregnancy……we bought Insanity and want to get back to the old us….what do you think is the best route knowing our athletic history??

  11. Phil Tucker says:

    Hi Mike,

    I think the most important thing is that you guys are there to support each other through this. Nothing can help you finish a workout program like having that kind of motivation, especially when you know you’ll ultimately be setting up an example of health and fitness for your little girl. Now is precisely the time to get started, so congrats!

    As for how best to approach Insanity–I think you’ll both have some good muscle memory going in, and I’m also hoping that all those years of sports will have toughened up your joints so that you’re ready for the stress you’ll be putting them under. I’d suggest you just jump into it, and really listen to your bodies–there’s a fine line between aches and pain, and you have to be careful not to hurt yourself.

    However, the most important aspect of this is the nutrition plan. You guys need to both keep each other on track and throw out all the soda, sugar, processed food and junk that you may have in your home, and replace it with the kind of stuff your grandparents ate when they were young–grains, veggies, fruit, lean meat, etc. You need to both keep on track with that, and follow the Insanity Nutrition guide closely.

    Best of luck to you both, and let me know how it goes!

  12. Christy says:


    I have been an avid runner for the past years (5 miles 5-6 times a week) Is it okay to continue running while I’m doing insanity but in a lesser capacity (2-3 miles and more on the insanity day off) or will this be overkill or hurt my insanity results?

  13. Hi Christy,

    Why don’t you give running a pause for the first two weeks, and see how you feel? I think it would be overkill, but if you have excess energy after your first couple of weeks (unlikely!) then feel free to slowly ease back into the running!

  14. I have worked out regulary for, well my whole life. I did high school sports and then in college I continued to work out and still work out today. The only 2 times I haven’t worked out are the 6 weeks following the birth of both my kids. Once the 6 weeks was up, I was back at it. I change my workouts a lot and buy different videos every couple years to keep changing. My question is, I thought the Insanity would be great to try. My concern is, I do not need to lose any weight. I strictly want to use it for the lean, toned results. Is this product right for me? thanks.

  15. Hi Amy!

    I think Insanity is perfect for you. If you look at a bunch of the test crew that were used to test the workout initially, a number of them were fitness trainers and the like. They simply toned and refined what they already had, taking their fitness to peak condition. I think you’ll fall perfectly into this group, and achieve the kind of results that will surprise even a fitness veteran like yourself. Good luck!

  16. Hi Phil,

    I’m just about to complete my 3rd round of P90x. It’s been a year and a half now and at this point I’ve lost 80lbs. I’m 6’4 and 228, after this I was looking into insanity. My body fat % is 20-25 but I’m so used to P90x. So stick with P90x or move on to Insanity?

  17. Hello –

    I am looking for an intense program to take me to the next level with my fitness. While I am definitely overweight (5’9″ @ 240 lbs) I have always been on the upper end of the weight scale due to my build and athletics (Ice Hockey/Squash). Even with my weight, I am able to compete at a high level still at both sports and am looking to crack my issues with the weight and fat at my core. Sounds like P90x might work better, but I am constrained for time and the Insanity times work better for me and my travel schedule. Outside of regular Squash and Hockey I ride anywhere from 8 to 15 miles 2 -3 times per week as well.. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks


  18. Nathalie says:

    I am a woman 5’2″ and weight 194. Do you recommend that I lose weight first and then do the insanity or, lose weight with the insanity workout??

  19. I just started Insanity – great workout. I do religiously use the Heart Rate Monitor but I do find myself taking longer breaks that what the DVD allows for. My question is what percentage of MAX do I aim for during the mini-breaks? I’m a 34 y/o female in relatively good shape.

  20. I am considering buying the workout but have some questions regarding my readiness. I am 44 years old and am out of shape. I was very athletic as kid and in pretty good shape until about 5 years ago. 5 to 6 years ago I was jogging 3 or 4 days a week and doing a mixed workout of weights and cardio the other 2 or 3 days. When I was in what I considered my best shape, I was consistantly between 230 to 245 pounds and I am just under 6’3″. I played college football and in my teen and early 20’s I did alot of weight lifting. I have weighed over 200 pounds since age 14. My doctor has told me that I will be consistantly outside of the BMI standards because of my natural size. Now with all that said- I am VERY out of shape currently. I weigh 310lbs. I have attempted to jog a few times and have leg and foot pain that I know is related to the weight gain. Over the past 5 or 6 years I have consistantly worked out 2 or 3 times a week- but it has been low intensity – like riding an airdyne for 30 to 40 minutes, walking for 30 to 40 minutes and hitting a heavy bag.
    Is this workout too much to start out with – or can it be done at a lower intensity until my fitness level rises?

  21. stokesk91 says:

    I am a second year college student. I was really athletic in high school; I did elite cheerleading, softball, and swimming but going into college I am not on any sports teams but I did hit the gym hard. This year has thrown some challenges my way and I havent been to the gym in about 3 months and have definitely put on a few pounds. I wasn’t in the greatest shape to begin with this year but I really want to drop the weight. I am currently 5’4′ and 155. I have a lot of muscle but I definitely am overweight. I am going home for the summer and I will be able to dedicate time for insanity and nutrition, but I was wondering do you think I am too out of shape to start insanity right off the bat? Should I start swimming/hit the gym for a month first?

    Thanks for you advice!

  22. Hi, remember that the great thing about these workouts is that you can hit the pause button and do them at your own pace. Go ahead and start Insanity, and if you feel too tired pause, and jump back into it when you are ready. Even if you are in top fitness shape, the Insanity workout will be very challenging, and the first workouts will feel impossible to complete. So trust me, you will not be alone!

  23. Hi, I have always been into fitness and exercising. I mainly did tennis, running, and pilates. After I had a baby (C section) I gained about 50 lbs. I have lost about 20 and am down to 155lbs. I am 5 ft 2 and small framed so I need this weight OFF! I am looking at Insanity so I can do it in morning before my child wakes up. I have no problem maintaining weight, just losing since it has never been an issue before. I eat good and don’t even have ‘bad’ foods in the house often. I have several exercise dvds that I can do now, like tae bo and zumba. I am still working on rebuilding my core with pilates. I am wondering if Insanity is for me? I need something motivating and I like a workout that is not boring (I have ADHD baaaad) and that is motivating and will get me back into shape so I am not embarassed to run outside or play tennis! I am on a max of 1400 calorie healthy eating ‘diet’ which is really not a diet but just a lifestyle, so I am not worried about gaining after Insanity. I am seeing it as a way to get into shape so I am motivated and not sad about my body so I will be more active again!

  24. Hi Jamie, I saw that you wrote a question on my blog. I’d say that Insanity is a great fit for you. Many of our customers were in your same shoes and we get great feedback about Insanity.

    I’ve personally have done Insanity many times, and yes, it really keeps me motivated. It is a very fast paced workout and you will not have time to get bored. I like presenting the real deal to people that visit my site and blog, that’s why I put together what I call the Insanity test drive. Go to this link and sign up. It’s free.

    What I do in the test drive is show
    1- 10 minutes of one of the dvd’s . I show the warm up which is really challenging for a lot of people. I suggest you try it out and see what you think. Keep in mind that in the a regular scenario you would have another 35-40 minutes to go…
    2- I show I weekly free coaching module that I created for my customers
    3- A snippet of the nutrition guide.

    Once you get to see all this, I am sure you will be able to decide if Insanity is right for you! But as I said before, based on you post, you will be reading my Insanity tips soon.


  25. I smoke a pack a day, I’m fairly inactive (just recently started attempting to workout), and I’m on weight watchers diet. Is Insanity okay for me?

  26. also, im 23, 5’9″ and weigh 180

  27. Hello,

    I am 27 years old and have played sports all throughout my childhood into high school and even the first two years of college (Football and wrestling). Long story short, I have put on about 80 freakin pounds since high school and it sickens me. I have decided it’s time to get back to my old self and STAY there. My question to you is, even though I have about 80 lbs to lose, given my background and the fact that I am not new to intense workouts, do you think I can just jump into Insanity and start slow? I know there is no way in hell I will be able to keep up for a while, but I should just give it hell unless I feel harm to my body, right? I lift weights often, but I never do intense cardio and I know that is what I am missing.



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