According to quite possibly my favorite Quora answer ever, Insanity is when somebody isn’t mentally fit, while Insanity Asylum is where said folks go for treatment.
(Hey, they’re not entirely wrong.)
No, but really, Shaun T did us no favors by naming every Insanity program something totally non-descript like “Insanity” or “Max 30” or “Asylum Vol. 1” or — how clever — “Asylum Vol. 2.”
Both Insanity and Asylum Vol. 1 are in dead heat as the #1 and #2 toughest programs on the Beachbody platform. But what’s the real difference between these hit Insanity programs?
Read on to learn the difference between Insanity and Insanity: The Asylum.
Table of Contents
What is Insanity?
Insanity would be the face of the entire Beachbody platform if it weren’t for its fierce rival — Tony Horton’s P90X.
Released in 2009, this Shaun T program breathed life into the gradually fading at-home workout scene, proving that you don’t need a gym membership or even equipment to get in shape.
This elite-level 60-day program revolves around one core concept: max interval training.
With long training blocks (~3 minutes) followed by short rest periods (~30 seconds), Insanity revs your metabolism and burns up to 1,000 calories an hour with its unique take on HIIT.
The plyometric & calisthenic focus and complete body transformations — with many dropping 20–40 pounds in 60 days — make Insanity nothing short of addicting.
Insanity Program Details
|Recommended Experience Level||Advanced|
|Program Length||60 days|
|Goal||Stamina, power, strength, weight loss|
|Days Per Week||6|
|Equipment Needed||Optional: Yoga mat or Core Comfort Mat|
|Number of Workouts||29|
|Average Length of Workouts||15–60 minutes|
|Schedule Options||2 (including 1 hybrid)|
6 Insanity Pros
- Many users drop 20 or even 40 pounds in just two months. The proof is in the low-carb, fat-free, 100-calorie pudding — Insanity flat-out works. We’ve seen more than enough success stories spotlighting people losing 20 or upwards of 40 pounds in a single round of Insanity. Not to mention those that repeat the program again (and again and again) and climb to triple-digit weight loss.
- All you need is time, grit, and the weight of your own body. Don’t let those YouTube personalities or Instagram influencers convince you otherwise. It’s absolutely possible to gain muscle, lose weight, and add definition without a single piece of equipment. Although Shaun T recommends a yoga mat or Core Comfort Mat for floor exercises (like leg raises and planks), all you really need is your own body weight.
- The diet plan is insanely detailed (pun most definitely intended). We don’t always give kudos to Beachbody diet plans because they’re usually pretty basic. But Insanity’s Nutrition Plan takes the cake (if only you were allowed to eat it). Shaun T packs dozens of recipes, calorie calculations, and expert nutritional advice in this 70-page guide. Even if you don’t try his recipes, you can DIY it with Michi’s Ladder and the food substitutions.
- Insanity’s Max Interval Training will maximize the calorie burn. As if HIIT’s amped-up calorie burn wasn’t good enough, Insanity ups the ante with its reverse HIIT training. With six workouts per week and a calorie-shred of about 600 calories per session, Insanity can torch up to 3,600 calories — or just over a pound of fat — per week with exercise alone. Subtract an extra 500 calories a day to chase your weight loss goal, and you can reasonably lose about two pounds per week.
- It comes with 12 unique workouts plus five Deluxe workouts plus 12 PRO Team workouts. Even if Shaun T’s voice echoes in your nightmares, we can’t deny one thing — Insanity is loaded with variety. This 60-day program has 17 exciting, fat-burning, cardio-boosting workouts plus 12 PRO Team workouts for the hell of it. For a wildly intense program like Insanity, the training variety will keep it fresh.
- Does its reputation count? The fitness industry is the woooooorst when it comes to quack science and fads, but Shaun T’s Insanity is anything but. Even today, you’ll still find guys attempting their first round of Insanity or even returning for round two, five, or even ten. Thirteen years in the business oughta mean something.
4 Insanity Cons
- It’s pure insanity (heh). If you have a heart problem, feel out of breath after walking a mile, or have known joint problems, really, avoid Insanity like anthrax. The constant pounding on your joints and near-60 minutes of continuous high-intensity training could be incredibly dangerous. If you’re completely drained after the Fit Test, you’re better off with a program like Shaun T’s T25 or Max 30 (with modifications).
- It’s arguably the toughest 60-day program in Beachbody history. There’s a reason so many die-hard Beachbody fans quit Insanity — shit’s hard. Not only are the workouts long and physically draining, but the muscle soreness and joint aches are enough for many to throw in the towel. If you’re not up for the toughest 60-day physical and mental challenge of your life (hopefully), Insanity is not for you.
- Really, no weightlifting whatsoever? Womp, womp. Throwing in a dumbbell or a resistance band doesn’t make a program magically better. But if you’re hoping to knock your body fat percentage down by double-digits and build muscle, weight loss will lead the way. Insanity is nearly 60 straight days of cardio, abs, cardio, core, cardio, calisthenics, and cardio (not sure if we mentioned that part yet).
- If you’re a newbie, you’re SOL. Shaun T was definitely onto something when he called Insanity an advanced program. Unlike Insanity Max 30, Insanity doesn’t include very many modifications for those who can’t keep up the pace. Stay far away if you’re a beginner or attempting your first Beachbody program.
What is Insanity: The Asylum?
Insanity Asylum is what happens when the Insanity base begs for more and Shaun T delivers.
Asylum picks up where the original left off and then takes a sudden, unexpected detour. The new focus this time around is athleticism.
For the next 30 days, you’ll train like a superstar athlete honing your speed, stamina, power, agility, coordination, balance, and everything in between.
Aside from the baseball, tennis, wrestling, and every other sport-oriented drill, Shaun T brings a little equipment to the mix — namely a speed rope, agility ladder, chin-up bar, and dumbbells.
During Asylum, you’ll complete back-to-back rounds of exercises with ultra-short rest breaks in between to continue sculpting the best physique of your life.
Insanity Asylum Program Details
|Recommended Experience Level||Advanced|
|Program Length||30 days|
|Goal||Speed, stamina, power, coordination, agility|
|Days Per Week||5–6|
|Equipment Needed||Agility ladder, speed rope, dumbbells, chin-up bar|
|Number of Workouts||8|
|Average Length of Workouts||25–60 minutes|
|Schedule Options||4 (including 3 hybrids)|
6 Insanity Asylum Pros
- Asylum brings a much-needed change in pace. If nothing else, Insanity Asylum will break up the monotony of every other Beachbody program out there (because they all get repetitive after a few rounds). With Insanity Asylum, you’ll find brand new exercises to hate, like lateral jumps, hip flys, hip-up twist curls, and 100-meter agility dashes.
- Former athletes dreading the NARP lifestyle will love it. Insanity Asylum is like preseason football practice day after day after day after day. Workouts range from speed & agility to strength to vertical plyos (or jump training) and Game Day — which is a full hour of training drills from more than a dozen sports. There’s just something about mastering tricky jump rope maneuvers and jumping your furthest long jump yet.
- The four schedule options (the original plus three hybrids) drag the program out to a possible 174 days. If it turns out Asylum is your new favorite Beachbody program, you don’t have to repeat the same 6–8 workouts forever. You can also combine it with the regular Insanity (30 days), P90X (30 days), or both Insanity and Insanity Vol. 2 (84 days) — for a grand total of 174 days of training.
- It’s still very much an aesthetic program — just dialed down. Insanity Asylum toes the line between aesthetics and athletics. While you’re cutting seconds off your 100-yard sprint time or logging a record number of decoy split jumps, you’re also building muscle and burning fat — just at a somewhat slower rate. Think of it as Beachbody’s version of All-American Muscle without the regular weightlifting in the gym.
- It picks up the slack where the OG falls short … weightlifting. Hoo boy, we’ve been waiting for this one. One of the biggest complaints about the original Insanity is that there’s not a dumbbell, resistance band, or barbell in sight. Insanity Asylum has a full workout dedicated to just full-body strength training. Don’t let the circuit format fool you; this thing is a beast.
- Asylum steers away from the constant plyometrics & calisthenics of Insanity. How many times can you do planks, push-ups, burpees, and crunches before every workout begins feeling the same? Insanity Asylum heads off in another direction. Over the next 30 days, you’ll spend an ungodly amount of time with your speed rope, agility ladder, and dumbbells (or resistance bands) to test your body in ways you never imagined.
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4 Insanity Asylum Cons
- Seriously, this is not Insanity 2.0. A lot of Insanity die-hards disappointed with Asylum went in assuming it’s Insanity 2.0. It’s not. Asylum is an amazing program to try after completing the 60-day Insanity once you build up your strength and endurance, but it’s a completely different program and puts an athletic twist on training.
- The Get Shredded Nutrition Plan reads like an afterthought. It’s almost as if Shaun T remembered he had to create a nutrition plan the night before it was due. The whole plan includes about a dozen recipes, but it supposedly lasts for just 14 days (despite the program being more than twice that long). It’s so light on the calorie, macronutrient, and food substitution details that it’s not even worth opening.
- The aesthetic results aren’t as dramatic as the OG Insanity. Asylum comes nowhere close to Insanity in before & after results. However, that’s likely because most Asylum users have already lost substantial weight with Insanity or are already in decent enough shape where Asylum’s workouts don’t completely blow your mind.
- With just eight workouts (six, really), it’s bound to get repetitive. Once we look past the Relief workout (which is just stretching) and the optional Overtime workout, that leaves us with six workouts to last an entire month. Even if you don’t get bored of it after a month, it might start to wear on you if you attempt rounds two, three, and so forth.
Insanity vs Insanity Asylum Conclusion
Insanity and Insanity Asylum are among our favorite Beachbody programs and will push you to your physical and mental limits.
But which program is better?
For most users, the answer will be Insanity. Even though it’s ridiculously tough for newbies, it’s still the most reliable for drastic physique results — both weight loss and adding definition.
If you’ve already done Insanity and have a passion for training, Asylum is the next best option.
Ready to try them out? Sign up at Beachbody for 59% off right now.