ULTIMATE REVIEW – INSANITY: MAX 30 – Part 1 of 2

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It was no surprise that Shaun T would make a follow up to Focus T25, a program that hit nailed the balance between time and exercise.  So now he’s back again.  Only this time Shaun doesn’t want you fit.  He wants you dead.

So that means I’m back, fresh off a PiYO review which was, to be honest, much easier than anticipated.  Now the Internet’s top anti-coach returns for Insanity Max:30.  So allow the DP to guide you through the minefield of Beachbody Coach clones, and give you the straight goods.

max30_boxWHAT YOU GET:

10 DVD’s for a total of 12 workouts, food guide, Quick meal guide and program booklet.  The quality of printed materials is incredible.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

None.

THE PHILOSOPHY

The point is to Max-Out: that means record the time you have to stop and rest.  That doesn’t mean quit, you just keep track of how long you can sustain the punishment from the starting point.  In short, the mission is to kill you.

Cardio Challenge

Cardio Challenge is simply moving your backside for a solid thirty, and feels like a compressed Asylum workout.  It’s mostly leg work, but don’t worry about the upper body…that beat-down comes tomorrow.  It’s refreshing to see many of the cast “maxing out” with me very early.

max30-time

It will become quickly obvious that Max 30 is not a beginner program. Whereas in Focus T25 you start slower with a nice ( but still challenging ) Alpha series, here it begins with a smash in the face by a 2 x 4.  Also obvious from the start is the quality of production.  The set is easy to look at, although personally I would remove about 3 or 4 cast members for extra space.  And of course, I must mention the music.

Music can make or break a workout program, and I’m fully convinced Shaun T knows that better than anyone given the attention he gives it.  What disappointed me about PiYO was how utterly dull and unmotivating the soundtrack was.  Not so here.  The music is fantastic and gives an urgency to finish the reps because, I don’t know…aliens will assassinate Nick Fury or something.

InsanityMax30_set

Tababta Power

Oh sweet…this is only month one?

I like the format here: 20 seconds going hard then a 10 second rest before going again. This is power intervals that will have you jumping, doing plyo-push-ups, and speed dips. You will max out quick so don’t beat yourself up about it.

shoetipSweat Intervals

Shaun T is howling his evil laugh as you enter his domain once more.  This takes Cardio Challenge to a new level, if such a thing is even possible,

I’m not sure if “Intervals” would be a proper description as you only get maybe three 30 sec breaks.  What is going to get pummelled is your thighs and calves due to the constant plyometrics. Like much of Shaun T’s workouts, this is high impact training.  Based on that I have to warn you all…get good shoes or your feet are gonna hurt.

Tabata Strength

Remember Tabata Power where you got a merciful ten second rest? Well Princess, forget about it because Shaun T takes much joy in your suffering.  There are no sweet, sweet time outs here.  Welcome to Hell.

max30_nazi

While not a cardio-based workout, your heart-rate will naturally hit the roof anyway.  The muscles being attacked are the chest, triceps and of course…legs.  Biceps and shoulders don’t see much action, but I’ll address that more in Part 2.

Friday Fight Round One

Oh joy.  Oh happy day.  I was worried this was going to be another one of those MMA style workouts that train you for combat as well as a cake baking class.  No, this one is the battle between your body and your mind…who will win?

max30_drop

I’m not sure if this is harder than any of the other Month One workouts, but what makes it crazy is that you’ve been killing yourself all week, and then ending it with another smash in the legs.  Thankfully Pulse is around the corner.

This is the kitchen sink and the cardio is intense.  Plyo, push-ups, squats, burpees, abs…just scream if you have to folks.  My wife ran down the stairs thinking I was having a life and death battle with an escaped Bengal Tiger.  And water breaks?  You get one crummy sip after the warm-up and then one at the half-way point.  Better have good nutrition before going into this one, kids.

Pulse

Yes, it’s recovery, but it’s not really a rest.  You still have squats and planks going on and there is a strong core engagement throughout.  To be honest, I would have really liked some decent stretching but that might have less to do with the program and more to do with me being over 40.

AB Attack 10

Remember that training scene from Kickboxer where Van Damme gets coconuts dropped on his abs from a tree?

van_dork

This is like that ( the coconuts I mean ). Only instead of palm tree droppings landing on the midsection, it feels more like an engine block. I guess there’s a reason Shaun T’s abs are registered under the Geneva Convention.

As gut wrenching as this is, it might be better if it allowed a couple rest spots.  That way you would get more of a workout instead of using precious time “maxing out”.  Still, never let it be said this was easy.

Conclusions thus far

I can summarize this quickly…ow.  Think of Insanity: Max 30 as a compressed/upgraded Insanity package with less rest between sets. That alone should give you an idea of the intensity of this beast.  So to those who want to start their new lifestyle of fitness, I suggest walking away slowly and picking up Focus T25 instead.

There is one thing that drives me nuts with many programs that Max 30 does not do…smiling cast members. If you’re smiling, you’re not working hard enough ( see Hip Hop Abs ). Given the sweating faces and gnashing teeth, I’d say these boys and girls are bringing their A-game.  I truly appreciate that.  However, I do laugh at how some of the old 80’s fitness fashion seems to be coming around again ( headbands and wristbands…those were the days! )  That aside, many in the cast are obviously in their prime and excellent specimens of health.  But for the rest of us mere humans there is always a modifier, which don’t kid yourself, you will be doing from time to time!  The DVD gives the option to watch in regular or split screen mode with the modifier in constant view.  Excellent idea, and just goes to show the attention to detail put into Insanity: Max 30.

Still, I’m only through the month one schedule.  Month two has 6 more workouts and these turn up the intensity to the next level.  Can the Dysfunctional Parrot make it through this cruel punishment to emerge with a victorious review? Continue to PART 2…

PART 2: Food Guide Reports from Mrs. Parrot, PROS and CONS of Max 30 and the final 6 workouts.

© 2014 – 2015, Dysfunctional Parrot. All rights reserved. No reproduction of written material is permitted.

About Author

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.

  • duneraider007

    Would you say this is Asylum hard? I hope they do a Body Beast 30 minute workout so we can start stacking workouts.

    • The cardio feels as hard as Asylum, yes. But Asylum does muscle workouts much more effectively due to the use of weights.

      Max 30 isn’t necessarily a “track-athlete” training system like Asylum is either so it has less emphasis on speed and agility. Still, it’s killing me!

      • Chris

        In one of the social media ads Shaun T says something like “That was the hardest workout I ever taught.” I like Insanity and Asylum 1 & 2, but if Max 30 is as hard or harder than Vertical Plyo, I’m not sure I want to do it.

        • It’s hard but in a different way. Asylum has a lot of concentrated plyometrics with rest. Here it seems to have more cardio and “on the spot” jumping as opposed to agility ladders and weights.

          • Chris

            Thanks! You do a great job with these reviews, please keep up the good work!

  • Hawkman

    I just started this but have only done a few workouts. So far, I love it. I’ve actually restarted P90X & in lieu of ab ripper at the end, replaced it with this. This also has a quick ab option starting in week 2, so I’ll still eventually hit them. In other words, I’ll TRY to do 3 months of P90X with no ab ripper & end each workout with 2 months of IM30 & 1 month of Asylum1….keyword: try.

  • Steve G

    I don’t have this program yet, but I’ve seen the workout sheet online and there is room for only one max-out time for each workout. So do you only write down the first time you MAX out and then just take rests from there on out, or do you write down each time you have to stop?

    • Michael Conover

      My take on this is to record only the first time you have to stop, then right that one down and keep up the best you can mentally during the rest of the 30 minutes, which in turn will push you more physically. Then in the repeated weeks try and exceed your previous max out times. That is what I’m doing. Good luck and MAX OUT!

  • holyguy7

    I have never done Insanity before I started this hybrid workout I am on now. I am doing Insanity/Asylum Vol. 1/ Asylum Vol. 2. Yes, all three in one. I am doing the official beachbody hybrid which is a 90 day program. Now, having done all 30 of the workouts, I can say the two hardest ones (for me at least) is:
    Vertical Plyo
    Upper Elite

    Question for the Parrot here. How does this compare with T25 GAMMA?

  • John Paul Jones

    As per usual, an enjoyable read.

    As a person who enjoys/loathes overthinking, I appreciate the simplicity behind Insanity Max: 30. Of course, simple and easy are VERY different concepts in fitness. The workout mixes the mind-numbing brutality of Insanity with the time consideration found in T25, with some P90X2/3 quality set design mixed in as well.

  • hbnc

    I’m with you 100% on the smiling while working out- I want people who are in pain like me!

  • Sweetbzegyaal

    I start this tomorrow! Your review has me equal parts terrified and excited

    • Steve MacKenzie

      How was it?

  • Just finished the final insanity fit test yesterday and started this today. Had me sweating more than insanity. I axed out quite early but then you have to get used to the new moves. Hoping 30 minutes a day is enough but am pretty relieved I can take a break from the insanity 50 minute workouts

  • Rojin

    Hi mr. Parrot. I’m 22 years old female, 57 kg ish and 165 cm. I’m not athletic but in good shape. I finished T25 (alpha and gamma) about a month ago and I’d planned to start Insanity MAX right after, made it to day 4 but life got in the way and now there is this one month gap of nearly no exercise at all. I tried Cardio Challenge for the secend time and god I was awful. I maxed out around 4. My very first max out time was 8. I really didn’t know one month could do this to my body. What would you recommend, should I continue being miserable doing MAX30 or start T25 ot Gamma phase or something?

    • Just go at it slow and don’t worry about it! My max out time is still nothing to brag about! In fact, I just do my best now, take breaks when needed and don’t even concern myself with it anymore.
      If you keep working at things you’re terrible at, that’s where greatness blossoms. Good luck!

      • Rojin

        Thank you very much!

  • Joe DeMarco

    Hi Mr. Parrot,
    I am a 46 year old man, I have been through Insanity 4 years ago…lost 40 lbs on that and loved it. Then I was sidelined by an injury, got very lazy and over a year and a half gained back 30 of it! Moving along, I am now in week 7 of T-25 and have lost almost 20 lbs so far (about 17 to be exact). I am finding Beta to be easier than the Alpha…is that common? Anyway i was thinking of doing the MAX 30 when I’m done with T-25 because at the rate I am going I don’t think I will hit my goal at the end of T-25. I guess at my age it takes a bit more to lose the weight. I am finding the weight loss to be much slower as it was on Insanity. On Insanity I averaged 3-4 lbs a week, on T-25 it’s more like 1-2 lbs per week,
    What do you think…am I too old for Max-30? will it kill me? help!

    • Max 30 will not kill you. As with all things, you just have to modify where your body says to do so. Max 30 is a natural progression from T25, albeit a very noticeable increase in difficulty. I would say it is as hard as the original Insanity while having the bonus of being easier on the joints.

      And 46 is young! Now I might be saying that because I’m turning 44 this year…but with enough practice you can keep up with those young punks on the screen just fine!

  • Steve MacKenzie

    This one is great and it is so good that I am retiring my Insanity set which was my stand by soul mate cardio program as this is such a superior evolution.

  • Bill Hartnett

    is this as effective as insanity ? I’ve done insanity a couple times through and really like the results. The idea of a program that is equally effective but less time is obviously very appealing. So is it “as good” as insanity ?

    • As effective if not more so. I think a lot of the repetition and joint issues of the original Insanity have been fixed for Max 30. Plus, many workouts are just straight up more difficult!

  • elctronyc

    I have a question for you. I am a guy 6’2 and 227 lbs and right now i am doing chalean extreme hybrid with insanity max 30. 3 days of chalean extreme and 2 days of insanity max 30. I still have belly fat and I am not sure if it will go away faster doing the hybrid. Should I do insanity max 30 first to get rid off the belly fat? by the way I like chalean extreme because she just use dumbbells without any other equipment like bench or high rise bar.

    • It’s hard to say whether doing one or the other is going to make a huge amount of difference. When you get right down to a lot of these home workouts, the results are similar, it’s just the method by which you get there and which trainer you prefer.

      Abs are naturally made in the kitchen first and foremost. For loosing belly fat, try loosing all bread. Seriously, wheat bread is high-glycemic toxic sludge…whole wheat or otherwise.

      Seeing as Max 30 uses body weight effectively, it would do just as well or better than CE. To me, I found CE somewhat annoying, but that’s my preference.

      From experience, the one program that truly got me in the best shape out of all of them was P90X2. That’s been a hard act to follow.

      • elctronyc

        Thanks for the answer. I like these 2 programs because they are 30 minutes each. I like the beast but is too long and requires more equipment than the dumbbells, P90X3 I find Tony veeeeeeerryyyyyyyyy annoying; like mr know-it-all. I will keep doing the hybrid, I will cut the bread on friday nights :) and do more biking with this nice weather. Thanks again!!!

  • Yisrael

    Mr Parrot , I have just finished Max30 .I still want to lose weight. What would you recommend as an extreme cardio workout similar to Max 30 (I have done insanity already)

    • At the moment, Max 30 seems to be leading the cardio pack. I’m a fan of P90X2, but it gets you fit in a different way with weights, low impact plyo and core. However, the time commitment is usually double.

      If you’re a fan of Shaun, the Asylum series is a serious butt kicker as well that utilizes more weight training too. It is every bit as hard as Max 30 and most workouts hover around the 45 minute mark.

      • Yisrael

        thanks.Do I need a lot of equipment for P90x2 ?
        Also would i find Les Mills Combat too easy after Max30?

        • X2 is a little more equipment intensive. Chin up bar, stability ball, medicine balls and a foam roller. Most is optional and you can modify.

          My personal opinion is that Les Mills Combat would be far too easy after Max 30. Plus, it can be a little goofy at times!

  • Mary

    Ha ha ha! your descriptions are so epic and absolutely true. Just started max 30 and did my 1st FF1 and the picture above is IT!! Gotta love Shawn T though. Im sure I would enjoy the next 55 days.

  • AJ

    How does AB Attack 10 fit in, I don’t see it on my calendar or the ones on line. Or is it just a supplement for you to do whenever you chose? Thanks. Great reviews as always!

    • It’s like Max Out 15…you do it if you have limited time. I try to fit in some kind of ab routine twice a week.

      • AJ

        Cool thanks for the response. I might just add it on the end of one of the videos here and there if I’m not already feeling too burnt out!

    • Garrett

      The flip side of the Max 30 calendar has an ‘advanced calendar’ which includes Ab Attack 10 & Pulse on it.

      Blue is the easy side, I believe. Red is Shaun’s “I want to kill you… and make sure you die with great abs” side.

      He has it on Tues, Thurs, and Sat, I believe. Or Mon, Wed, and Sat. After the workout. I forget whether it’s combo 1 (TTRS), or combo 2 (MWS)

  • Bryan Royal

    Mr. Parrot
    I know I saw it in here. What weight routine are you doing in conjunction with your insanity work outs? I own the original P90X and I peeked at your P90X 3 review and was wondering if I will get the back and arm strength workout I am looking for. Thoughts oh feathered one?

  • Garrett

    Sweat headband: Not having the ocean of sweat clouding your vision, after Shaun T repeatedly sends your body into overdrive panic death mode.

    Wrist-band: Allows you to do ground moves that require your hands without slipping. Otherwise the torrents of sweat flowing down your arms will have you sliding all over the place.

    Good choices for them. I even donned a headband at one point in T25 Beta, due to the ridonkulous amount of sweat.

    Parrot, if your vision doesn’t look like Shaun T just forcefully pushed your head into a gushing river…. you aren’t working out hard enough. :)

  • Littlemissmama

    Maybe you get tired of everyone asking what they should do next, but with the cost of these bad boys I want to ask someone who’s actually done them.
    I’m 26 and about 116 pounds, so weight loss isn’t my goal. Even before having my son, I could never firm up my stomach. Now I am trying again – not a six pack, just want to burn off that stubborn stomach fat.
    I am almost done with t25 beta, which I did notice results on and I do like Shaun. He’s the only beach body coach I’ve had. I have done 6 week 6 pack, 30 day shred, and ripped in 30. With a crazy toddler, the 30 min workouts are preferred.
    Anyway, would I be better off with Max 30, or 21 Day Fix Extreme (without containers…ain’t nobody got time for that) or something else?
    Thanks!!

    • I’d go for Max 30 but that’s mainly because I prefer Shaun T as a trainer. I have Tony Horton’s 22 Minute Hard Corps coming in the mail to review so I can’t say how good it is yet. Still, it looks promising and Tony generally puts out exceptional programs.

  • TheHulk

    Hi which workout from Max 30 would you think is the ideal replacement for CVX from p90x3 ?

    • Elessar yavetil

      i hated cvx for some reason, i think max 30 cardio challenge or sweat intervals both are pure cardio which is what cvx is basically but they are harder then cvx in my opinion

      • TheHulk

        thanks. Yes CVX is annoying. Cardio with weights sounds wrong even from idea perspective. I completed p90x3 twice, but always skipped CVX and did HIIT options from Shaun T or other programs.

  • Huge article! Definitely a very thorough analysis, work is appreciated.

    In this blog I saw a calendar that can be useful: http://oficientes.com/calendario-insanity-max-30-en-excel/

  • Monica Bricker

    great reviews ! I’m a former marathon runner and looking to do a hybrid with body beast to tone up. would you recommend insanity max 30 or t25?

    • To hybrid with Body Beast, go for Max 30. If you’re already relatively fit then you might as well go for a more advanced workout.

      • Monica Bricker

        that was the one I was leaning towards, thanks !

  • Matt

    Mr. Parrot

    First let me thank you for your reviews as they are great! I have a questions and would love some quick advice. With that being said let me tell you were im at. I am 5’7″ and weighed in at 183lbs. I have been doing a Hybrid system of either:

    – T25 and Insanity Max30 abs or
    – Insanity Max 30 video with Body Beast abs
    – 6 days weekly for the last 7 weeks.
    – Average 1000 Calorie deficit Daily

    I am now down to 161 lbs in the last 49 days (22lb lost!). I plan to continue this routine of basically working out 35 minute 6 days a week for 3 more weeks making it a total of 10 weeks. So my question is whats next? My goal is to keep shredding with this program until my abs are showing pretty good, which I think should be achieved at 10 weeks. Then I want to build muscles but maintain a lean muscular physique. I really need to build my chest and my arms. My plan was to do P90x3 but opposed to following it I was going to switch it up to look like this:

    Monday: Total Synergystics + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Tuesday: Eccentric Upper + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Wednesday: Agility X + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Thursday: The Challenge or Incenerator + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Friday: Warrior or MMX + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Saturday: Decelerator or Complex upper + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Sunday: Dynamix or T25 Stretch

    Do you think this will get me the results I want? (bigger arms and chest while remaining fairly lean in the waste and agile) or would you recommend a different program like 22MHC? ORR??? And also what should I do with my diet because Im sure I wont be ble to gain with such a deficit but also I don’t want my stomach to put on fat again! Thanks so much for any advice

    • As much as I like 22MHC, what you have here is vastly superior. Go for it!

      Regarding weight gain, leave out wheat and see how that works. No buns, toast or pasta. Live on clean carbs, quality protein and good fats like coconut and olive oil. For myself that pretty much solved 90% of my weight gain issues.

      • Matt

        So once I am down in weight and ready to start the P90x3 regiment should I cont. a caloric deficit? Or should I “maintain” with my calories (eating ideal amount)? Along with cutting out wheats. Also is there anything you would add/change about what I am going to do? Im basically trying to alternate cardio/strength every other day. Also if any of the mon, wednes, or fri (cardio days) aren’t hard enough I will probable substitute with T25 or max30 cardio videos. Again my main goal is bigger arm/chest/shoulders and lean waste. Do you think this regiment will achieve this? And again thank you.

        • For myself, I tend to not count calories but instead look at portion control. The former just didn’t seem like a practical way to live life. HOWEVER, it is handy if one needs to develop habits and get back on track. I would just eat the ideal amount and in time things will even out.

          If you want to get big muscle, I would suggest finding time to do some harder weight training. X3 is good, but will probably not increase size as much as it increases functionality. For dramatic size changes you need to hit the iron hard. Body Beast would fit that need.

          From a dietary perspective, other things to avoid are artificial sweeteners ( acid for the body ) and anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup which is in just about everything. Weight gain happens a lot with insulin spikes so you want to avoid going on the simple-carbs/sugar roller coaster. There are plenty of resources out there that can easily give you much tighter answers as I admit, I’m only really knowledgeable about what works for me.

          • Elessar yavetil

            i follow a portion control/ eye ball my portions/ eating the right kind of foods until i feel satiated i think this is the most sustainable way to eat the way of the hand is the best im my opinion. I tried my fitness pal and didnt care for it we where never meant to count calories our ancestors never did. How ever for some people counting calories for brief period may be necessary

  • Matt

    Dysfunctional Parrot

    Mr. Parrot

    First let me thank you for your reviews as they are great! I have a questions and would love some quick advice. With that being said let me tell you were im at. I am 5’7″ and weighed in at 183lbs. I have been doing a Hybrid system of either:

    – T25 and Insanity Max30 abs or
    – Insanity Max 30 video with Body Beast abs
    – 6 days weekly for the last 7 weeks.
    – Average 1000 Calorie deficit Daily

    I am now down to 161 lbs in the last 49 days (22lb lost!). I plan to continue this routine of basically working out 35 minute 6 days a week for 3 more weeks making it a total of 10 weeks. So my question is whats next? My goal is to keep shredding with this program until my abs are showing pretty good, which I think should be achieved at 10 weeks. Then I want to build muscles but maintain a lean muscular physique. I really need to build my chest and my arms. My plan was to do P90x3 but opposed to following it I was going to switch it up to look like this:

    Monday: Total Synergystics + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Tuesday: Eccentric Upper + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Wednesday: Agility X + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Thursday: The Challenge or Incenerator + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Friday: Warrior or MMX + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Saturday: Decelerator or Complex upper + X3 Ab or Max30 Ab
    Sunday: Dynamix or T25 Stretch

    Do you think this will get me the results I want? (bigger arms and chest while remaining fairly lean in the waste and agile) or would you recommend a different program like 22MHC? ORR??? And also what should I do with my diet because Im sure I wont be ble to gain with such a deficit but also I don’t want my stomach to put on fat again! Thanks so much for any advice

  • Michelle Owen

    I have been doing 21 Day Fix Extreme, on second round now, feeling like I want to step it up a notch but am not sure how. You mention combining programs, if 21 Day extreme is considered the weight lifting aspect, which cardio program should I add? Would I do both everyday, or alternate? I’m looking to get tight and toned, don’t have a lot weight to lose really, just need to firm up!

    • If you’ve been handling 21DFE well enough, go for broke and get Max 30. Hard to beat that one in the cardio department!

  • Zuki

    Hi, Thanks so much for your reviews! They are so detailed and entertaining read. Have you tried Men’s health Body Battle and MH 60? If not are you planning to try it?