It takes more than being in good shape to succeed at the INSANITY workout. It takes more than having tough mental determination. Takes more than even that vital component, having heart. If you have all three–a solid physical foundation, an iron will and enough heart to persevere against all odds, you’ll definitely finish INSANITY. But there are a few crucial tips that you have to follow in order to excel.

What’s funny is that they’re public knowledge. Shaun T says them all the time, to the point that people mimic him, turning his serious advice into catchphrases they fail to take seriously. As such, you’ll probably read these ‘tips’ and roll your eyes. “That the best advice you got?” you’ll ask, and write this post off. But hold up. Stop. How many people ACTUALLY follow Shaun T’s advice when it comes to this stuff? I’m willing to bet that the number is few. So read on, see why I consider these tips crucial, and perhaps you’ll change the way you’re training, and do that much better.

The first is to observe good form. Over and over Shaun T urges you to stop if your form is slipping. But people fixate on staying with him and the test crew, on not ‘quitting’, on proving how tough they are and hanging in there right until the bitter end. Even if this means letting their form get sloppy. I’m guilty of this one myself. Determination undermines form. You don’t want to stop. You’re in an extreme frame of mind, and want to succeed no matter what. So there goes your form, grown sloppy as you grow exhausted. Shaun T often sends people from his crew to the sidelines when they grow too exhausted–why should you be any different? If you observe proper form, you get much better benefits from the workout. It’s better to do five squats deeply and properly than ten shallow ones. So watch your form like a hawk, and when you start to slide, step aside, take a breath, and then dive back in.

The second is to check your heart rate. Shaun T says this so much that you end up tuning that part out. Over and over he tells you to check your heart rate, make sure you’re in your safe zone, and then keep going. But unless you already own a heart rate monitor, you won’t bother. You’ll just focus on enjoying your water break and getting your breath back. Don’t do this. INSANITY is an extreme workout. While some people can get through it without danger, other people might have high blood pressure, be at risk of cardiovascular disease, or any other number of dangers. By monitoring your heart rate you’ll keep on top of your condition, and prevent yourself from red lining. This is serious. Nobody wants to believe they could be in danger, but an American has a heart attack every 20 seconds. A heart rate monitor is crucial.

Finally, take care of your joints. INSANITY is a brutally high impact exercise, with tons of plyo and cardio. If you don’t work out on a plyometric mat, if you don’t wear the proper cross trainer shoes, if you don’t warm up your joints first, you’ll find yourself in pain within the first month. One way to make sure you don’t suffer too much is to take a Joint Support Formula, a collagen type II/glucosamine supplement to help your joints stay healthy and strong throughout the workout. Trust me. All the determination in the world won’t help a jot if your knees are crackling and in pain.

So there you go. Simple, right? No brainer? Hardly. The number of extreme enthusiasts who leap into INSANITY and burn out within the first few weeks due to joint pain or a frightening brush with a heart problem, or who churn through the whole program with poor form is much, much higher than you think. But of course you’re one of the special few who would have gotten it right from the get-go, right? Sure you are. That’s what they all say 😉