How to survive Insanity training: 7 things you need to know 2

Congratulations! If you’re reading this then you’re probably thinking about diving in and taking on Shaun T’s Insanity training programme from Beach Body. There’s no doubt about it, this workout is tough. It’s arduous. Many, many people give up in less than a week, either through injury or because it is so daunting and really stresses the body – probably way beyond any exercise that you’ve ever done before.

It does work, but you need to work hard to make it happen. Anything that can transform your body in just 63 days does not come easily. Here are some tips to help you make it through to the end.

Me, I’ve been working out the Insanity way for six weeks now, and month two is throwing some big hurt my way, but I’ve hunkered down and I’m powering through. Just three weeks left to go!

And there are a few things that have helped me along the way and kept me on the fitness path. If you’re about to jump into Insanity, then I’m excited for you – you’re in for a kickass ride! To keep you going and keep you gaining, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way, hopefully they’ll be of use to you.

1: Prepare!

If you don’t already exercise regularly, do some before you dive in. This will move your body in the right direction rather than going in cold. I jumped rope for four days leading in to my first session. Three minutes the first day, then four, five and seven.

Sit down and watch bits of the DVDs beforehand, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. At the very least, watch the Dig Deeper slot on DVD one, which is just over four minutes and introduces you to some of the concepts and demonstrates some of the exercises. It also introduces you to Tania “The Machine” Baron who will be on Shaun T’s right hand side for most of the workouts in month 1. I skimmed through a few of the DVDs a week or so before I began, to check out the lie of the land.

2: Eat Clean!

You’re going to need clean food and lots of it. There are three reasons for this: to grow muscle, to lose fat and to stop yourself getting ill. All the stress you’re about to load onto your body will take its toll if you don’t put the right fuel into your body.

Eat at least four times each day, ideally five. I have two meals at work during the week, both at my desk, one late morning and one mid-afternoon, to make sure I’m getting regular fuel into my system.

Get yourself a hand blender, you’re to need it to make all those protein shakes quickly and with little mess and washing up. Get Tupperware containers for your meals at work.

Because clean food has less calories than junk, I found it hard to force down the necessary daily calories at first. If you’re the same, stick with it, your body will get used to it and the increasing exercise intensity will soon make it easy to eat what you need.

Follow the Insanity food programme. It has a lot of options and if you’re cooking for more people than only you, they will be able to eat the same as you and not feel like they’re eating cardboard.

If you’re not in the USA, you may be confused by many of the measurements in the Insanity nutrition guide being in ‘cups’. A cup is a formal unit of measurement in the US and is equivalent to 240ml, so I just found the closest glass that I had to this size – 250ml – and fill it to just below the rim.

To find out how many calories you’re going to need to take on board, use the Harris Benedict equation.

3: Wear Decent Kit!

Other than buying a new pair of trainers for Insanity training, I started out by training in some old gym gear that I had. It became pretty obvious pretty quickly that it wasn’t good enough. My gym shorts didn’t give the range f motion that I needed for some of the stretches and my cotton tshirt was getting saturated. You really need some good kit, as you’re going to be wearing it six days a week, putting your body through hell and really sweating into whatever you’re wearing.

MMA (mixed martial arts) shorts were perfect for me. Lots of mobility for all the stretches and they’re robust as well. They can take all that action that you’ll be throwing at them. I also got myself a short sleeve quick dry training top with air mesh panels that wick the moisture away from my skin.

Not only did I feel better training in the right clothing, but I feel more like a pro as well and I’m pretty sure that gives me an extra edge. Every little bit of motivation that you can squeeze is worth it on this journey!

4: Chart your progress!

Make sure you take your measurements the same days you do your fit test, but also take photos. One thing I regret is that I didn’t get myself a body fat monitor till a week ago. I wish I had it from the beginning as this is a sure way of telling how you’re progressing. Although my arms, chest and legs have been getting bigger, and my waist smaller, it would have been nice to see how my body fat has been dropping.

I bought myself a digital body fat machine off ebay for very little money and I’ll be using it from here on in.

5: Rest Days Are Important!

You get one rest day every week.

It’s not a lot, but do not take any more unless you absolutely have to. I’ve had to swap my rest day on occasion, taking off a weekday because I had an evening thing with work or had something social planned, but then working out on my actual scheduled rest day instead.

I reckon the worst thing you can do is take two rest days in a week, skipping a session completely or extending out the run of days from 63 to more. It’s only nine weeks. Do yourself a massive favour and put the work in to get the benefits. I think that once you work out five times in a week instead of six, you’ve set a precedent and it’ll be easier to break the flow again and again, finally leading to you dropping out altogether.

This is battle of mental toughness as much – or perhaps even more – than it is a physical battle.

In month one, during the week you may even be able to get a session in before work or early in the evening before you go out. Do not miss sessions.

Between month 1 and month 2 there is recovery week. A welcome change of pace, but it is still hard core.

Even though you only get one day off, make sure that you do things beyond Insanity. You need to keep other hobbies and interests going to some degree. Becoming completely consumed with Insanity training may overload you and burn you out, keep your mind on other things too.

6: Tell People!

Tell people what you’re doing. Friends, work colleagues, on social media. The more people who know what you’re doing, the more the likelihood of you keeping going. People keep asking me how it’s going and I can tell them my highs and lows. I think this has helped me to stay on track and kept me grinding out the sessions, one by one throughout the weeks.

7: Keep Going!

The first day of month 2 was hell for me. It’s a 25 minute fit test followed by 60 minutes of max interval circuit. Five minutes into max interval circuit I thought I’d had it. I was in a mess, destroyed. I nearly stopped and turned off the DVD. I was spent, whimpering and in pain. But I kept going.

That was by far the hardest session so far, but I dug in and kept going. I made it through and I’m so glad that I did. Keep strict form, take breaks when you need them, but only rest when absolutely necessary and you’ll get through. Just don’t give up. Don’t let yourself down. You’ll get the biggest buzz when you power through and achieve.

So what’s your take?

You’ve got to be in it. Go and get it, dig deeper. Get ready for the best body of your life. Get ready for Insanity!

Let me know your top tips for staying on top and powering through Insanity training. What’s helped you, what’s hindered and what did you do to keep going and dig deeper?

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2 thoughts on “How to survive Insanity training: 7 things you need to know

  • Martyn Drake

    I’ve only just come across your website, its great, thanks for the work you put into it. I loved your review of Insanity and Body Beast. I had so many similar feeling as you about Insanity, which changed my life, no exaggeration. I first did it in 2013 when I was 53, was way overweight at 15st 7lbs and a blob. After 63 days of unbelievable torture and ecstasy, I was 13st 5lbs and in really good shape. Your comments in one of the reviews about you could ‘feel your body’ really rang true, I felt the same. I vividly remember failing to run 3k before I stated Insanity and running a 10K a week after I finished and finding it fairly comfortable.
    Since then I have done Insanity many times, Insanity Max 30 even more times as I think is better), P90x2 and P90X3, Hard Corps 22, Insanity Asylum and currently Body Beast which is how I found you site as I was looking for a review of Total Body (great review). I think the best Beach Body workout is Max 30, tough but acheivable. I recently did a couple of weeks of month 2 of the original Insanity and was reminded of how tough it is. I think aged 56, probably a bit too tough for me now.
    I’ve bookmarked your website and hope you post some more. You have a great writing style, I hope you use that ability in your working life. I’ve looked at hundreds of sites over the years and your is one of the best. My favourite is Dysfunctional Parrot which is funny but not as detailed as your posts.

    • Andy C Watson Post author

      Hi Martyn,
      Thanks for your comments, much appreciated. It’s great to hear you like my articles, and reading your response put a big smile on my face!
      I’ve not written anything new on here for a while as I’ve been working on a fitness analyzer, which I hope to post on here in a few weeks. Based on a set of answers to 6 questions it provides you with a nutrition and exercise programme, so watch out for that one.
      Yeah, I’ve read a few of Dysfunctional Parrot’s posts and he does make me chuckle.
      It really was great to read how much you’ve improved over the last 3 to 4 years. That’s what it’s all about, sticking to it and making incremental gains, nice work! Oh, and keep digging deeper 🙂