The INSANITY Workout is considered an extreme workout. It is not meant for beginners, or even for people at an intermediate stage.
Shaun T himself advises people to consult with their doctors before attempting it, and states that the intense level of cardio, plyometrics and calisthenics will challenge even incredibly fit and athletic individuals.
In order to help you determine if you are physically prepared to undertake the INSANITY Workout, the program comes with a Fit Test with which to gauge your suitability.
Cardio Recovery is the workout performed once a week in order to allow your muscles and cardio engine to recover from the brutal intensity that is the INSANITY workout. As such, there is no cardio whatsoever in this workout, no leaping or running or anything that would cause your muscles to protest even further. Instead, Shaun will lead you through a half hour’s worth of stretching, yoga poses and deep muscle work.
The workout is just under 33 minutes long, and begins with a slow, three minute warm up. One of the big focuses of this entire workout is breathing, and Shaun T emphases over and over again throughout, but especially during this warm up. Much of this warm up will be familiar to you, from the deep lunges, arms extended, to the hamstring stretches, but now Shaun throws in ‘pulses’, where you flexion slightly and get more of a deep burn. The warm up also flows more, as you change from one position to the other rather faster than you normally do, building up a good burn despite the warm up being only 3 minutes.
The first exercise involves a deep inhale with your arms going up, exhale them down, inhale them once more, then down into plank position. You hold it there for a beat, then hop back up and to your feet. You cycle through this three times. Be sure to keep your core contracted in plank, with your tail bone tucked in and your shoulders over your hands. You finish it up with a bunch of mild In & Outs, where you jump into plank and right back several times. The next exercise repeats the same formula, but this time you hold the plank and elevate one of your legs, which you pulse up a series of times and then repeat for the other leg.
From there you move into a downward dog position, wherein you form a triangle with your body, butt in the air, hinged at your hips. Hold that for a good 40 seconds, and then you turn that into a deep hamstring stretch. These are some good, long stretches, and you should make sure to push your chest toward your feet, not your head.
From there, you go into some deep muscle work. Shaun T again reminds you to move slow, to stay with him, and keep your back flat. He begins with 16 slow squats, moving deep into the position, and then back up straight. Make sure to build up that slow burn in your thighs and hamstrings. When you get down into the last rep, you hold it, contract your core, and then pulse in place, moving up and down fractionally, squeezing your inner thighs together.
By this point you should have some 20 minutes to go. Turn into a lunge position, keeping your back knee under your hip, your front knee over your ankle. Once more you slowly go down and up, just like in the squats. Return to the squats, a little faster now, with another series of pulses, and then back to the side lunges on the other side, with the same 16 pulses at the end.
At 15 minutes to go you, you begin a series of plie squats, arms extended directly out to the side, toes pointed out to the sides. Once you reach the base, put one hand by that foot, and stretch up to the sky with the other arm. Hold it for a long period, and then switch sides. Palm on the floor, shoulder pressing against your knee, fingertips straight up.
Then get down on the floor, start on all fours, wrists beneath shoulders, and press your body up so your knees rise, and you’re only on tip toes and palms. Then extend one leg straight back, and pulse it up and down, squeezing your core. Alternate with the other-as Shaun says, this is an excellent way to exercise glutes, quads, core and shoulders. From there, the next variation involves raising one leg up to the side like a dog at a fire hydrant, and kick your leg back diagonally from there. Do that sixteen times, and then switch, take a breath, and then do downward dog one more time.
From there, with about 9 minutes to go, the workout turns to a series of yoga poses. These are variations on deep lunges with extensions toward the sky, twisting the spine and contracting the core, along with balance exercises (Warrior 3), along with a standing pose where you hold your knee to your chest, each held for extended periods of time. That then becomes a variant (Tree Pose) where you hold your knee out to your side, and again hold for an extended period of time, switching at the end. Finish it up with a deep, deep squat, and place your elbows against the inside of your knees and push out to open up your hips.
Finish up the workout with a few contract/relax back stretches, and then down for a last good hamstring stretch, where you hang and swing a little from side to side, and then straighten, a few final breathing exercises, and you’re done.