P90X or Insanity – Which Workout is Right For You?
My two favorite Beachbody programs are P90X workout and the Insanity workout. I have done both and I have done hybrids of both, so I want to offer my opinion on the two extreme workouts to help you decide which is best for you. The short answer? At some point, do them both! But, if you are looking for your first challenge to commit to, let me compare the two workouts for you and hopefully help you decide on a program.
The P90X workout is definitely more focused on building muscle with weights or dumbbells, while the Insanity workout is all about the cardio conditioning. That doesn’t mean that P90X will not help you lose weight or that Insanity will not build muscle. If you’ve seen many of the transformation stories out there, you know that P90X is super effective at weight loss and Insanity grads get ripped.
For me, I loved doing P90X the first time because the system was completely new to me. The 90 day challenge format was different than any other sport or fitness activity that I have ever engaged in. Both workout programs have a set schedule which I think is largely responsible for the success of the programs. There is something extremely satisfying about committing to a program and completing the 60 or 90 day challenge. You feel great and it’s a huge confidence boost that lasts. Having the workout calendar also makes it easy. You always know what you have to do, you just push play and follow the schedule. Tony Horton, Shaun T and Beachbody have taken all of the guess work out of the equation. They have methodically put together a workout schedule that maximizes every opportunity for muscle growth and conditioning.
So. let’s get down to the nitty gritty and suss out differences in the two workouts.
Muscle Growth: P90X is the workout you want if you are looking to maximize muscle growth. The key concept behind the training is muscle confusion which means training your muscle groups using enough variety in the exercises and angles to stimulate muscle growth continuously throughout the 90 day program. If you do the same exercises at the gym day after day, your muscles quickly adapt and you find muscle development leveling off in a hurry. Muscle confusion delays hitting a plateau as long as possible to build muscle quickly.
Insanity only uses your body weight for resistance and while there is no doubt people build muscle and get strong with Insanity, the focus is more on sculpting a the best body you have ever had.
Muscle Building goes to P90X
Weight Loss: The Insanity workout has a slight advantage in that it burns more calories over-all. Of course, the results you get directly correlate with the effort that you put into the workouts. All things being equal, P90X has many more strength training days as opposed to Insanity’s pure cardio workouts. However, we all know that your diet is half that game. So many people learn to properly eat for the first time when doing the P90X workout and there is usually excellent weight loss for people who have that as a goal. If you push hard during either workout and eat a clean diet of whole foods, you will lose weight. Just look at all of the before and after photos of the X grads out there for proof. Insanity burns more calories than any other activity I have done and if you are eating only high quality food, the fat melts off.
Weight Loss goes to Insanity
Six Pack Factor: As your cardio fitness level improves, you’ll notice that Shaun T is constantly calling for you to engage the core during every Insanity workout. For example, when you do push ups to build the chest, arms and shoulders, Shaun T has you engaging the core and bringing your knees to your elbow from the plank position. Now, your pushup also doubles as a great ab and oblique exercise. I think 85% of the Insanity moves engage your core and that edges out P90X for the six pack competition. However, if you do the Ab Ripper X workout religiously during the P90X workout and follow the nutrition guide, there is no doubt you will be showing off your six pack by the end of the program.
Six Pack Competition goes to Insanity.
Muscle Toning & Definition: I think Insanity wins again. The calorie burn during the 60 days is just phenomenal. When you here them say you’ll be laying in a puddle of your own sweat by the end of the workout, they are not joking. Believe! P90X does have a “Lean” schedule which has more cardio work, and you can get more definition this way.
Shred Factor goes to Insanity.
Accessibility – Required Fitness Level: Although P90X is a “Extreme” workout and sounds intimidating to many, there are 1000′s of success stories from P90X grads who had never exercised before the X. In each DVD workout, one of the cast members shows how to modify the move to make it easier or harder. One of my favorite “Hortonisms” from Tony Horton is “Do your best, and forget the rest!” You need to remember no matter what workout you choose and go at your pace. You should push hard, but know your limits and do not injure yourself. Many of the moves take a few times to master and that is the idea. If it was easy right away, you’d not be challenged and there is no point in that. As you get stronger, and you will!, you will be able to master the move and keep up with everybody in the P90X gym.
The Insanity workout is definitely a extreme workout and you should not attempt it unless you have some decent cario fitness already. I’d say a good test is that you can run a mile with no problem. If you are very good at policing yourself, you could start Insanity and just do what you can do and again, know your limits. Every one I know who has done Insanity is always shocked at the 10 minute “warm up” at the beginning of every DVD. I was definitely grabbing my knees at the beginning after the warm up and was so relieved that we had the 5 minute stretch session to recover before hitting the main workout. Shaun T is in crazy shape and most of the crew in the Insanity gym are track and field or some kind of athlete. Even they had a hard time keeping up with the blazing pace.
Accessibility goes to P90X.
Variety of Workouts: A few people have complained that Insanity can get a little repetitive. I did not find it that way, but a lot of the moves feel familiar and there is just tons of Max Interval training. P90X mixes it up more often with different workouts like Kenpo and I love the P90X Yoga – It’s tough! P90X uses muscle confusion which by it’s very nature makes sure that you are not allowing your muscles to adapt to the moves and prevent hitting a plateau.
Variety goes to P90X.
Total Cost: Because Insanity requires no gear at all, it comes in a good bit under P90X. Both the base Insanity program and the base P90X program are $119.85, but you will also need dumbbells or resistance bands and a pull up bar with for P90X. Beachbody offers deluxe versions of both that include the gear and you can save some money by buying them together.
The P90X Peak Results set is $269 and includes bands, pull up bar, P90X, and the recovery drink.
The Insanity Deluxe kit, $239 comes with a high quality jump mat and you also get 2 more extreme workouts, MAX Interval Sports Training and Insane Abs, plus a FREE workout, Upper Body Weight Training, and a FREE body fat tester.
Of course, if you sign up to be a Beachbody Coach, you’ll get a 25% discount or you can become a Beachbody Club member and receive a 10% discount.
Low Cost goes to Insanity.
Overall Value: The P90X program includes 12 workouts where Insanity only has 9. Once you get through the 90 day challenge, you can continue mixing it up and do X workouts indefinitely. I continued P90X for 120 days the first round because I was getting so much out of it. You can also get Tony Horton’s One on One series and mix them up with the X for even more variety.
The 90 Day Challenge was designed to give you a goal that is possible to achieve and long enough to get maximum transformation. However, many X grads have done workout for several rounds. That makes P90X the best value on the planet. No gym can match it.
Extreme Value goes to P90X
The Competition Results? | P90X 4 Insanity 4
At the beginning of the comparison, I said you should do both. I think they are both great workouts and I love doing the P90X/Insanity hybrid which provides the best of both worlds. You do have to start somewhere, and in my humble opinion, the Insanity is harder to jump into and feel like you will successfully complete the 60 day challenge if you do not have a halfway decent level of cardio going in. If it’s your first time with an exercise program, Insanity can be a crusher and that can be very discouraging for beginners.
I think P90X, while an advanced training program, is easier to modify for your level and will increase your chances for awesome results even if you are new to training.
Let me know if you have any questions about the two programs. I love to talk about them and share my experience.
Bring It! and Dig Deeper!