Insanity, P90X, and T25 Beachbody Programs Reviewed
We've discussed various at home exercise routines before. We've even poked fun at a few. However, the lure of sleeping in instead of spending time driving to the gym is powerful. If you've been thinking about ending your relationship with the gym in favor of working out from home, then you've probably considered a BeachBody program.
However, there are numerous BeachBody programs, and many people feel intimidated and uncertain where to start. While there are a multitude of BeachBody programs, we are going to focus on three popular iterations: Focus T25, Insanity, and P90X.
T25 BeachBody Program
Focus T25 is the brainchild of Shaun Thomas (better known as Shaun T). One of the most common excuses given for not working out is there is no time.
The idea of driving to the gym after work, actually working out, then driving home wears some people out before they can even grab their gym bag.
The main benefit of this beachbody t25 workout is its relatively short duration: a 25 minute workout with a three minute cool-down.
Almost everybody can carve 25 minutes out of his or her day. From new moms to college students to busy professionals, there are really no more excuses with this program.
As a matter of fact, each exercise movement has a modification for individuals who don't feel ready to take on the more complex movements. Note: the modifier just recently had a baby. T25 really tries to drive home the message that anyone can do it.
Another great benefit of this program is you only need a resistance band, which is provided with the DVDs. You can also opt to use dumbbells, but you will have to buy those on your own if you don't already own some.
As for the actual workouts themselves, there are five different focuses: cardio, core, lower body, upper body, full body. There are also two cycles. Alpha and Beta. For the first cycle, you only use your body weight for exercises as you build up your strength. Beta cycle, however, starts to incorporate the resistance bands (or weights depending on your preference).
It all sounds great of course, but no program is without its downsides. T25's nutrition guide is paltry in comparison to the notebooks you receive with Insanity and P90X. No matter how hard you work, if your diet is terrible your body will not reflect the effort you put in to it with T25.
This next point isn't so much a downside as it is just a fact of fitness. Some programs become too easy over time. When you first start a new workout regimen, you may feel totally wiped out at the end of each video for the first week or so. Then gradually you get the hang of it and you're feeling really great about yourself.
Until you hit a plateau.
Beachbody T25 is not a program that you can grow with as you can with P90X and, to a lesser extent, Insanity. Once you've progressed through both cycles, odds are you may only be able to repeat them once before you go in search of something a little more challenging, such as Insanity.
Also created by Shaun T, Insanity is set up similarly to T25 in that it has two phases. The first month the workouts are about 40 minutes long. They include plyometrics, cardio power and resistance, cardio recovery, and pure cardio + cardio abs.
You may have noticed a trend here: cardio. Insanity is very heavy on cardio; however, have no fear. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises.
After a transition week, month two jumps up to about an hour for each video. The videos include a max interval circuit, max interval plyometrics, max cardio conditioning + cardio abs, and max recovery. The jump in intensity is pretty significant. The extra 20 minutes also brings up the difficulty level.
The primary selling point for Insanity is it requires no equipment, which means you need less space to workout. This may seem like a throw away benefit, but don't be fooled.
When an exercise program requires weights, you will need to store those weights somewhere. As you get stronger, you will need new, heavier weights. You also cannot travel and workout if you require weights (unless you want to lug your dumbbells around with you everywhere you go. Insanity is perfect for college dorms, your living room, or a hotel room.
Insanity also comes with an in depth nutrition guide with numerous meal plans for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. As the popular saying goes, abs are made in the kitchen.
So what are the drawbacks to Insanity? They are longer than T25, so individuals crunched for time may shy away from this option. There is also a pretty dramatic jump in intensity between the two phases that may overwhelm individuals who are new to working out.
As far as longevity goes, Insanity is a mixed bag. Because there are no set reps for most of the exercises, you set the intensity. So each time you go through the program, you should be able to bring up your intensity level. However, if you are looking for major definition or muscle growth, you are eventually going to need to use weights.
Unlike the previous two beach body programs, P90X is comprised of 3 cycles and offers three different approaches to the program: classic, doubles, and lean.
Classic is how the program was originally designed, doubles involve two a day workouts to include strength and cardio, and lean is for individuals who want more cardio and less resistance to lose weight.
P90X comes with 12 DVDs led by fitness guru Tony Horton. The DVDs cover every muscle group. Each workout is about an hour with the exception of a supplemental abdominal workout (approx. 16 minutes) and the yoga DVD (approx. 90 minutes).
The primary reason people turn to P90X is for the dramatic body and muscle changes. Of the three BeachBody programs discussed, P90X is the only one to seriously involve weights with the sole purpose of getting you ripped.
Of the three programs, P90X comes with the most intensive nutrition guide tailored to each specific phase and workout. This way, you are sure to provide your body with the fuel it needs to repair and build muscle after the strenuous workouts.
The primary drawback to P90X is the workouts are all an hour or more, which may be too long for some people. P90X also requires the most equipment.
While you can get away with just resistance bands, many people opt to buy weights, a pull up bar, and some other workout aids. However, P90X boasts some pretty impressive transformations. If you are looking to shred fat and build muscle, P90X is the most likely to get you there. Plus, P90X has the staying power that the other two programs do not. Once you've completed P90X, you can easily continue to see results if you repeat the program as you can increase the weights you use.
So Which Program is Best for You?
Each program has their benefits and drawbacks. However, each program works best depending on your goals and lifestyle.
T25 Beachbody Program
- Pros: workouts complete in 25 minutes a day, minimal equipment required
- Cons: Likely to hit a plateau after a couple of times through the program, limited nutrition plan
- Who should try it: Anyone crunched for time or interested in getting back on the fitness wagon would do well to start with T25. Each exercise has a modification for varying fitness levels, and almost anyone can find 25 minutes a day to workout.
Insanity Beachbody Program
- Pros: No equipment required, in depth nutrition guide
- Cons: Workouts range from 40 minutes to an hour, very cardio-centric*
- Who should try it: If you've completed T25, you would likely enjoy Insanity. It picks up the intensity and would be a smooth transition between the two programs. Plenty of fitness novices have completed the Insanity program as well; however, there are no modifiers in Insanity as there are in T25.
*This isn't a negative aspect for individuals simply trying to shed excess weight; however, if you are looking to build serious muscle you will need to incorporate weights
P90X Beachbody Program
- Pros: Dramatic improvements in body composition, in depth nutrition guide
- Cons: Workouts are all around an hour, requires investment in equipment for individuals seeking major changes in strength and muscle
- Who should try it: P90X, like T25, has a modification for most of the exercises. P90X's intensity level is different than the other two programs, as it is not nearly as cardio based (at least for the classic approach). Individuals looking to shred fat and build serious muscle would see the best results from P90X.
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