P90X vs Insanity (2024) Which Workout Program Is Better?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: June 19, 2024
FACT CHECKED by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
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Getting to the gym can be challenging due to time constraints, membership costs, or uncertain results.

Home exercise options, like P90X and Insanity, offer a practical solution.

This article compares these two programs, helping you choose the one that aligns best with your fitness goals.

I'll break down each program's specifics, present a comparison chart, and conclude with FAQ's and my personal recommendation.

*Keep reading to see why we don't recommend these 2 programs and what alternative we suggest...

Quick Summary

  • P90X is better for a comprehensive fitness routine incorporating strength, cardio, and yoga, while Insanity is ideal for intense cardio-focused workouts without equipment.
  • P90X employs muscle confusion across various workout styles, including strength and yoga, whereas Insanity focuses on max interval training for endurance and high calorie burn.
  • According to LifeHacker, the constant heart rate acceleration in Insanity's max interval training can burn more calories than traditional cardio workouts where the heart rate remains steady.
  • In my opinion, P90X provides a more well-rounded fitness experience, suitable for those seeking variety and balance in their workout regimen.

What is Insanity?

A man with a muscular body

Insanity is a home workout program that uses max interval training to burn a large number of calories per hour. Max interval training means that you work as hard as you can for a short period, and then get an even shorter rest period before starting again.

As an MMA fighter, I found Insanity's max interval training incredibly effective for endurance.

Making your heart constantly “accelerate” will burn more calories than cardio where your heart rate is consistent, according to the LifeHacker [1].

Unlike many other home exercise routines, Insanity conveniently doesn’t require any home exercise equipment. It’s designed to only need your body weight resistance. The 10 workouts are instructed by Beachbody’s Shaun T.

Insanity claims to be the hardest training program on the market.

It’s extremely challenging, high-impact exercises are perfect for those who are already in great shape and are looking for an extra challenge.

Insanity stands out for its intense cardio focus, utilizing max interval training to push the body to high levels of calorie burn and cardiovascular fitness, ideal for those seeking rapid weight loss and improved stamina.

What is P90X?

The P90X is a total body exercise routine instructed by Beachbody’s Tony Horton that uses “muscle confusion” to prevent plateaus, help you lose weight, burn fat, and get a healthier body in 90 days.

From my MMA training experience, P90X's 'muscle confusion' technique really helps in preventing workout plateaus and maintaining peak physical form, especially crucial in preparing for fights.

P90X workouts use the “muscle confusion” concept by using short workout cycles that rotate which muscles you use and the effort required.

P90X

By using this technique, P90X combines exercises that focus on endurance and muscle gain, while also preventing overtraining and maximizing muscle hypertrophy.

By avoiding plateaus, the P90X regimen can be used effectively over long periods of time.

Over the course of 12 DVDs, P90X exercises alternate between jump training, cardio, yoga, strength, and intervals.

Although the workouts are slightly less demanding than Insanity, the difference is made up in longer program duration.

P90X is great for improving overall health and supporting weight loss goals. You can watch this P90X workout with Tony Horton himself.

P90X offers a more holistic fitness approach, blending strength training, cardio, and yoga over 90 days, making it ideal for individuals looking for a well-rounded routine that enhances strength, flexibility, and overall body toning.

Related Article: P90X Review

youtube

Insanity vs P90X Comparison Chart

The Insanity workout is known for its extreme workouts and cardio conditioning, while P90X combines weight training with beachbody workouts.

Here’s a quick visual on the physical benefits of P90X vs Insanity.

- P90X Insanity
Weight Loss
Endurance
Strength Training
Workout Variety
Flexibility
Cardio
Tone & Build Lean Muscle
Program Length 90 days 60 days
Exercise Length 60 min 45 min

When choosing between P90X or Insanity, think about how you prefer to be coached.

I found Shaun T to be a drill sergeant with a motivational kick. However, he doesn’t spend much time on explaining good form, so you’ll need to know right from wrong going in.

Tony Horton is encouraging and on the friendlier side of the spectrum. He explains form and provide mods. With his friendlier approach, it can be easy to slack off.

With this, both programs can work, it’s just a matter of preference.

P90X vs Insanity

As someone who's constantly training for the ring, I'll compare Insanity and P90X across various categories – so you can check out some specifics if something is particularly important to you.

1. Equipment

gym equipment

You’ll need some standard home gym equipment like dumbbells, resistance bands, and maybe a yoga block.

If you like chin-ups, get a chin-up bar. If not, they usually show alternative moves you can do if you don’t have one.

Still, there are some items you might want anyway, like a heart-rate monitor and a mat to reduce strain on joints.

And there is reasonably priced equipment available online that may serve as a good investment in maintaining your fitness.

2. Workout Length

man doing cable workout

P90X programs usually go for 45 minutes, 6 days a week, and wraps up in 90 days.

With my fight prep, P90X’s 45-minute sessions, six days a week, fit well into my training routine, ensuring I get comprehensive workouts regularly.

The Yoga portion goes up to 120 minutes. All P90X Exercises include warm-ups and cool-downs.

On the other hand, Insanity lasts 45-60 minutes, 6 days a week for 60 days, split into two months.

The first-month courses are around 45 minutes long, which pushes up to 60 minutes long in the second month.

There’s also a break between the first and second month.

Although the overall program of Insanity is shorter than P90X, some people may find it difficult to maintain as some online reviews about it being hard on ankles, knees, and wrists.

“This is a serious workout for people who are already fit. It's not for the fitness newbie. With high intensity comes greater risk of injury. To avoid injury, you will have to know the correct form and technique for each move.”

- Dr. Melinda Ratini, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

Before trying to complete your first Insanity circuit, talk to your doctor if you’ve had injuries or sprains.

3. Intensity

man working out

P90X combines circuit training with resistance training which is great for building lean muscle and endurance.

Horton provides lots of modifications and spends 10 minutes on warmups.

Also, P90X may be more intense than Insanity’s High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

Insanity HIIT, includes short breaks between longer periods of intense exertion [2].

It’s usually around 3 minutes on, 30 seconds “off”. I say “off” because you’re still up and moving through the anaerobic exercise for 30 seconds.

4. Diet Plan

Diet-Plan

P90X may be a bit more complicated diet plan since it has three phases.

Following P90X’s three-phase diet plan mirrors the nutritional adjustments I make during different stages of MMA fight preparation.

The Fat Shredder phase is high in protein and low in fat and carbs. It’s hard to keep up with the routine without carbs, but people usually lose a lot of weight in this first phase.

The Energy Booster phase is similar to the Insanity diet – high in carbs and protein, low in fat.

The Endurance Maximizer phase mimics the diet of an athlete since it’s a high intake of calories.

I’d recommend calculating your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) for this phase so you can avoid calorie surplus and excessive calorie consumption.

InsanityThe INSANITY diet plan is easy to follow because the proportions of your macros stay the same throughout the program: 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat.

Everything is laid out in the plan, which also includes easy recipes and a guide to calculating your calorie consumption. The ease of making these food items ensures you can follow the diet even without having chef-like cooking skills.

5. Cost

The cost of each course is similar (around $120-$140), depending on where you purchase.

P90X includes 12 DVDs,
each on its own topic:

  • Chest & Back
  • Plyometrics
  • Shoulders & Arms
  • Yoga XLegs & Back
  • Kenpo X (MMA/Kickboxing)
  • X Stretch
  • Core Conditioning
  • Chest, Shoulder, Triceps
  • Back & Biceps
  • Low-Impact Cardio
  • Ab Ripper X (Abs & Core)

Insanity includes 10 DVDs,
each one with its own focus:

  • Fitness test
  • Plyometric cardio circuit
  • Cardio Power and Resistance
  • Cardio Recovery & Max Recovery
  • Cardio & AbsCore & Balance
  • Max Interval Circuit
  • Max Interval Plyometric
  • Max Conditioning and Abs

Each program comes with a nutrition meal plan, fitness guide, and goal-setting calendar.

Additionally, Beachbody provides ongoing support through 24-hour access to fitness experts and an online community.

When choosing between the two, consider your fitness goals rather than price.

Whether it's weight loss or muscle building, select the program that aligns best with your objectives.

FAQs

Can P90x Get You Ripped?

P90X can get you ripped over time, by using muscle confusion which combines a total body workout with the aim that you won’t plateau on your way to your new ripped physique.

The program isn’t designed to build mass, but it excels at using weight training to increase your strength, shed fat, and reveal your newly toned muscles.

Does P90x Build Muscle or Just Tone?

P90X can build muscles and tone them with the right adjustments. Since the P90X program requires equipment, you can adjust that equipment to build strength and further challenge your muscles.

Some workouts may require you to add resistance by using heavier dumbbells, ankle weights, or tighter resistance bands.

Is Insanity Good for Weight Loss?

Insanity is good for weight loss because of the high amount of calories you’ll burn by completing it.

With a careful diet, you can easily maintain a calorie deficit that will result in weight loss. Generally, you need to keep a deficit of 500-1000 calories a day to lose 1-2 pounds a week.

Can You Build Muscle With Insanity?

You can build some muscle with Insanity, but the program isn’t geared toward increasing muscle mass.

Because the program doesn’t use equipment, you can’t implement many of the techniques usually used for muscle hypertrophy, such as progressive overload, CEP protocol, or others.

Check out these before and after images of the program's users:

corey koelling before and after

timothy lewis before and after

References

  1. https://lifehacker.com/harder-workouts-may-burn-more-calories-but-slower-ones-5981544
  2. https://time.com/4098207/interval-training-hiit/
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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2 thoughts on “Insanity vs P90X: An Unbiased and Honest Review

  1. What are some P90X benefits you’ve already experienced? Hoping I can hear some thoughts on this. Thanks!

  2. If you would choose between the two, which is better P90X or Insanity?

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