Shaun T’s Insanity franchise remains one of the most popular best-sellers on the entire Beachbody platform. (Second only to Tony Horton’s record-setting P90X series.)
Now a decade or so since their release, Insanity fanatics still sing praises for both the original Insanity (2009) and its second installment — Insanity Max 30 (2015).
Both of these high-impact programs shred fat, build endurance, and guarantee a more aesthetic physique in a few months’ time.
But between Insanity and Insanity Max 30, which is best? Or does it really not matter which of these Shaun T programs you try?
Learn more below!
Table of Contents
What Is Insanity?
Beachbody’s original Insanity program redefines high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) with an extreme fat-burning twist. (Seriously, we’re not joking. Unless you have at least six months of consistent training under your belt, this elite-level program will be too challenging for an opponent.)
These plyometric, core, interval, and circuit sessions flip-flop between long, grueling sets — sometimes as long as three minutes — before pausing for a much-needed 30-second break.
This pushes your body’s metabolic systems into overdrive.
Each 40–60-minute (average) Insanity workout can burn up to 1,000 calories and push your heart rate into the fat-burning territory — a consistent 60–80% of your maximum heart rate.
Many Beachbody users thank Insanity for their aesthetic and ripped physiques, dropping 40+ pounds and over 9 inches around the waist.
Check out the details of Insanity here!
- Skill Level Required: Advanced
- Program Goals: Weight loss, aesthetics, stamina, strength, power
- Equipment Needed: None (Optional: Yoga mat or Beachbody’s Core Comfort Mat; adjustable dumbbells for the Upper Body Weight Training workout)
- Days Per Week: 6
- Program Length: 60 days
- Length of Workouts: 15–60 minutes
- Unique Workouts Available: 29
- Schedule Options: One
- Our Rating: 9.2/10
See how it stacks up against Sagi Kalev’s Body Beast program here.
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6 Benefits of Insanity
- The success stories — and there are plenty of ‘em — are convincing. Insanity may very well have as many dropouts as it does success stories. However, judging on before-and-after stats alone, Insanity is pretty damn transformative. Many users drop 20–40 pounds per round, slim down 9+ inches around the waist, and turn their dad bods into ripped physiques.
- Those longer workouts and one extra training session per week make a noticeable difference on the scale. If each workout really burns 1,000 calories, that adds up to ~6,000 calories torched per week — or ~1.71 pounds of fat. By the end of the entire program, it’s possible to shed ~8.55 pounds of fat through exercise alone. That’s about twice as many burned calories than the average Max 30 program (~509 calories).
- Interval training is a known calorie-torcher. Pound for pound, interval training and steady-state cardio are similar in their calorie-burning mechanisms. However, research also links HIIT-style workouts to more effective fat oxidation. A meta-analysis from 2019 found that interval training burns 28.5% more absolute fat mass than regular cardio.
- The 80% maximum heart rate goal lands you in that fat oxidation zone. Shaun T drills in that magic “80% maximum heart rate” figure early on in the program. But while it seems random at first glance, it’s actually based on fact. One study from 2009 places the long-fabled fat burning zone at around 60.2–80% of your maximum heart rate. Your heart rate remains in this range consistently for maximum fat-burning, unlike Max 30, where performance dips considerably after you Max Out.
- If time means anything, Insanity is the undisputed winner. Insanity is one of the few at-home workout programs that survived the phasing-out of DVDs (R.I.P.) and the transition to an online platform. In addition to topping $350 million in sales by 2015, Insanity is still one of the most-streamed Beachbody programs in history. The fact that it’s a hot topic on forums like Reddit and Quora proves it hasn’t lost its touch.
- The results are so addictive that some repeat the program for years. Plenty of Beachbody subscribers follow all 60 days of Insanity just to say they’ve completed it. However, the drastic results are enough to convince some users to repeat the program again (and again and again and again). That means you don’t have to hunt down the “next big thing” on Beachbody On Demand every 60–90 days.
3 Reasons Against Insanity
- It’s next-to-impossible to follow if you have a life (ruh roh). Even if you’re fit enough to handle a 40–60-minute Insanity workout without gasping for air, the time commitment could be a major turn-off. Those juggling a full-time job, school, and family (or relationships) will find that Insanity eats into their usual schedule. (Though the average American has more than five hours of free time per day.)
- If you can’t pass the Fit Test, the OG Insanity can be flat-out dangerous. Beachbody’s “Fit Tests” appear to gate-keep the platform’s most popular fitness programs to the outside world. Yet, Shaun T added one for a reason. The sheer intensity, length, and physical requirements of Insanity can be downright dangerous to beginners or those with pre-existing injuries or conditions. Don’t try Insanity unless you can pass the Fit Test.
- It doesn’t compare to Max 30’s strength work. Insanity’s biggest downfall is its pure cardio focus. This widely applauded program winds up being better suited for those who are already decently in shape but want to trim their body fat levels. Max 30 includes more strength and power-based workouts instead of just burning calories.
What Is Insanity Max 30?
Insanity Max 30 takes a few cues from the original Insanity while still blazing its own trail as a standalone program. Like the OG routine, Max 30 is a blend of high-impact moves, requires no equipment whatsoever, and will leave you drenched in sweat before you’re halfway through.
The best way to describe Max 30 is by sizing it up against the original Insanity.
Here, Shaun T packs the “most insane results of your life” into five 30-minute workouts per week. Most workouts kick-off with what’s called a “Max Out” phase, where Shaun T expects you to follow along for as long as possible before needing a rest (then jump right back in!).
Max 30 also introduces hundreds of new exercises, shortens workouts by 15–30 minutes, and includes two “tracks” — the classic Max Out and a core-centric Ab Maximizer.
Take a look at the Insanity Max 30 details below!
- Skill Level Required: Advanced
- Program Goals: Weight loss, stamina
- Equipment Needed: None (Optional: Yoga mat or Beachbody’s Core Comfort Mat)
- Days Per Week: 5
- Program Length: 8 weeks
- Length of Workouts: 30 minutes
- Unique Workouts Available: 16
- Schedule Options: Two (Max Out & Ab Maximizer)
- Our Rating: 8.2/10
6 Benefits of Insanity Max 30
- The workouts are a more reasonable length. The most common complaint about the OG Insanity is the insane (pun fully intended) time commitment it requires. Max 30 workouts tend to be 15–30 minutes shorter than the average Insanity workout (and half as long as the 60-minute Max Interval Circuit). So if you’re among the 42% of Americans blaming a lack of time for not exercising, Max 30 is the more realistic option.
- While it’s still nowhere close to beginner-friendly, the Modifier Track is welcoming for intermediates. Each Max 30 video has an optional setting for the so-called “Modifier Track.” Toggling the “MOD” setting on videos will pull up a split-screen version of the workout, featuring Shaun T and the real workout on one side and a backup trainer performing modified versions of each exercise on the other side. Follow the workouts exactly when you can, and lean on the Modifier Track when you reach your limits,
- Shaun T introduces 150 brand new moves. Not that 149 or 100 or even a dozen new moves would’ve been any less valuable. But the more exercise variety in each workout, the less likely you are to find the workouts repetitive or become bored within a few weeks. For those who struggle to focus
T25, Max 30’s grab bag of exercises excels.
- The whole “Max Out” concept allows you to monitor your progress better. The whole purpose of any style of training is progressive overload — or pushing your body slightly further each workout to encourage gains. Each Insanity Max 30 workout activates muscle groups in different ways, but the key focus remains cardio. Adding 60, 30, or even 15 seconds to your Max Out time is proof that you’re progressing.
- Insanity Max 30 can prepare you to tackle the original Insanity someday. The OG Insanity is the Mount Everest of Beachbody programs. Yet, while many want to cross “completed Insanity” off their bucket lists, it’s hardly doable as a beginner or intermediate. Conquering Insanity Max 30 might just prepare you for the real thing.
- It’s still high-intensity … just a somewhat lower impact than the OG. Max 30 still packs the same high-intensity punch as the original Insanity, though cranked down a few notches. The silver lining is that many users consider Max 30 to be less damaging on the lower-body joints and gentler on the knees and ankles. If you’re older, never fully recovered from an athletic injury, or are simply achy, Max 30 is the best alternative.
4 Reasons Against Insanity Max 30
- It’s not just a watered-down or tamer version of Insanity. The biggest misconception about Max 30 is that it’s just a shorter, simpler version of Insanity. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While both feature the same trainer and similar training intensities, many who’ve tried both regard Max 30 to be tougher than the original Insanity. If you’re looking for an “easy” workout, neither Max 30 nor Insanity are the ideal options.
- The weight loss and calorie burn aren’t as impressive. Trimming the workouts down to 30 minutes also means fewer calories burned per week through exercise. Max 30 workouts torch between 131 and 509 calories. Even if you shred the maximum 509 per workout (which you almost certainly won’t), that’s a much lower 2,545 calories burned per week — or 0.73 pounds of fat and half as much as the OG Insanity.
- Workout performance nosedives once you Max Out. Yes, the entire concept of “Maxing Out” only really applies if you give your all for however many minutes you can. The underlying problem is the quality and intensity of your workout after you Max Out. If you run your fastest mile yet, pause briefly, and then run some more, how fast can your next mile(s) really be? After maxing out, your performance will almost always drop.
- The back and biceps seem to be afterthoughts. Max 30 is a full-body program in the sense that it targets muscles from head to toe (or somewhere around there). But the back, biceps, and some parts of the shoulders hardly get any attention. It’s no problem if your goal is a vague “lose weight,” though it might stand in the way of an aesthetic build.
Insanity vs. Insanity Max 30 Conclusion
The opinions on the Insanity vs. Insanity Max 30 debate seem evenly split down the middle.
Half swear by using Max 30 as a lead-in to the original. Half noticed better results with Max 30. Half find the OG version more motivating, despite being an elite-level program.
It’s really a dead-heat with no clear winner.
However, if we’re rating the two on how reasonable they are for newbies, Max 30 is the best choice, although it’s a much better fit for intermediates with some training experience. Based on results, long-term reliability, and reputation, the original Insanity comes out on top.
In this neck-and-neck head-to-head battle, the original Insanity comes out the victor.
But, of course, we’d be lying if we said the OG Insanity is the best option for novices across the entire Beachbody platform.
In reality, true newbies are better off with a more beginner-friendly program like Shaun T’s Focus T25, Joel Freeman’s 10 Rounds, and Joel Freeman’s Core de Force (the last of which is better for more advanced novices).