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REVIEW: INSANITY vs. P90X Showdown



There are many sites that compare the overall differences between the two, but few if any that take a one on one workout comparison approach.  This is understandable as Insanity is a heavily focused on plyometrics, while P90X tries to have a little bit of everything.   I have managed to complete both systems without dying in the process so I am ready to give my conclusions.

That will be my angle as Tony and Shaun load their pistols, take twenty paces and shoot!

Max Cardio Recovery/Core Cardio and Balance vs. Yoga X

I’m going to have a professional hit on me for saying this, but Max Cardio Recovery  and Core Cardio and Balance squeak out on top when it comes to a day off routine that stretches you and gets you ready for the next day.  The main advantage is the length of time, as 1.5 hours for Yoga X just makes the routine too hard to fit into a weekly schedule.  That having been said, don’t feel like you can just ignore Yoga X as to do so is at your peril!  The good news is that much of Cardio Recovery has yoga style moves in it as well as balance and core so in a way you get the best of both worlds with Insanity.

WINNER:  Insanity Max Cardio Recovery/Core Cardio Balance

Insanity Upper Body Strength vs P90X Chest+Back, Back+Biceps, Legs+Back, Shoulders+Arms

For sheer options, P90X takes the easy win here.  But make no mistake, Insanity Upper Body is an intense circuit training workout that is simply to good to ever ignore.  Yet one strength workout option compared to the vast abundance of P90X is just no contest.  In terms of similar workouts, only Upper Body+ from the P90X+ expansion pack compares.   Both routines attack similar muscle groups and will leave you feeling trashed.  The Insanity version adds a lot of cardio, but that sometimes is not what you want when doing your strength training.  Tony on the other hand attacks the upper body using the pull-up bar in the process.  Hard to beat that.

WINNER: P90X by a landslide

Max Interval Plyo vs Plyo X

When I first did Plyo X I thought it impossible to ask a human body to do more, but that sadistic Shaun T must have heard me.  In terms of overall intensity, Max Plyo whoops Plyo X like the Ultimate Warrior beating down a senior citizen.  That having been said, it’s hard to say how much of that your body can take without your knees going all to jello.  If you’re fit, Plyo X will get you fitter.  Max Interval Plyo is meant only for those who have graduated from P90X, so for that reason I have to give this contest a tie.  A definite coin toss on this one!

WINNER: P90X in terms of versatility, Insanity in terms of intensity.

Max Cardio vs.  Cardio X

No contest.  Insanity Max Cardio simply annihilates Cardio X.  Cardio X is great in the sense that it combines yoga, kenpo, and cardio.  But Shaun T accomplishes much the same physical goals with extreme intensity.  Cardio X will leave you feeling like you had a good workout, but Insanity Max Cardio will take you to your limits.

WINNER: Insanity Max Cardio by a landslide

Tony Horton vs Shaun T

I hate to even bring this up, but the fact is people want to know who the better instructor is.  That’s a personal call only you can make.   Shaun is motivating, doesn’t spend a lot of time talking and is there to get you moving.  Shaun is young and energetic while Tony is seasoned, experienced, and very energetic despite being 45 at the time of P90X.  Tony makes you feel like your in the gym talking with the kids.  For me, some days I’m in the mood for chatter and some days I just want to get down to business.  For a time I wasn’t sure I could warm up to another instructor like I did with Tony, but Shaun’s now part of the family!  For me anyway, I give Tony the edge because he’s still rocking at 51, and that motivates the hell out of me!

WINNER: Like choosing which kid you like better!  Depending on your day, each one brings something different to the table.

So which system is better? Well, it looks like Tony and Shaun T have fired their bullets and both have bounced of the steel hides of the other.  “Better” is not a fair statement, as each has overwhelming advantages over the other.  P90X is a total body system that focuses more on muscle development.  Insanity is cardio conditioning of the likes never seen before.   P90X also has many more strength options, while Insanity has more of an abundance of core crushing workouts.

Undeniably, the real winner here is YOU should you decide to incorporate BOTH of these systems into your regimen.  And NO, I am NOT a “Beachbody Coach”!


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.



  1. Hawk

    November 20, 2013 at

    If you’ve got 30+ pounds to lose, I’d say try to do Insanity first. If you’re not exactly ripped, but not carrying a huge amount of fat around either(probably most people), I think P90X is definitely the one you want. It might be wise to eventually substitute some Insanity workouts in for P90X’s discs just for a change, but P90X is hard to beat overall.

  2. david t lowe

    February 15, 2013 at

    I did p90x for a while and got great results. I also did insanity both are great workouts

  3. NatalieFuturePGGT

    January 9, 2013 at

    Hi my name is Natalie and I just turned 15. I’ve been wanting to order one of these workout videos since I was 13 but I don’t know which one would work better. I’m a very sporty girl. I go to the gym four days a week, I run, bicycle, do a little weight lifting, play basketball, use to play flag football with the boys, etc all sports. I’m stronger than the rest of girl and right now we’re all going crazy about abs! I have a flat stomach but I have always wanted RIPPED ABS(not exaggerated, just really noticeable.) Which one would work better P90X or Insanity?

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      January 9, 2013 at

      I’m always a little hesitant when giving fitness advice to minors. All I can say is which program you choose depends on your goals. P90X will provide all-around fitness from muscle tone to core strength. Insanity is more about cardio burn through plyometrics ( jumping around ). If you want muscled abs then P90X has the edge. If you want fat burn Insanity has the edge. Insanity however, is hard to keep doing past 60 days. P90X can be done indefinitely.

      Both programs rely on their diet plans to give their promised goals, but as a growing youth you need to gauge that accordingly. Talk to your parents about your fitness goals and come up with a plan, and they might even pay for it!

  4. NSM

    October 27, 2012 at

    Hey, I was just wondering which one would you recommend for me. I am a 16 year old female (turning 17 in a few) and I plan on joining the military right after high school. We all know how difficult training is. I first want to lose the weight since I am only 5’3 and about 155lbs. Thanks.

  5. George

    August 4, 2012 at

    Dude you are funny. Keep up the good work :-)

  6. DongZ

    June 15, 2012 at

    I have been doing insanity for a few weeks now coupled with weight training,i usually do weights first ,rest like 6 hrs. then do insanity.So far i haven’t been having any problems or strain on my body. I’m 28, in fair shape(not like great).

    I do mountaineering which helped me in endurance.Insanity gives some intense cardio sessions.My training so far has been more traditional types(backpacking,trial running,wall climbing etc.),so this is my first time trying these workouts.My goal is to get more endurance and strength,in every aspect.So i need a total body regime.
    The question is should i go for P90X,like say P90X in the mornings,weights evenings and later insanity as i mentioned..I want to keep the insanity sessions intact because i need the cardio workout.
    Is there a possibility of P90x overlapping with my weight training,though it is possible for me to reschedule my weight training so that same muscle group dont overlap the same day.Since i don’t know much about p90x ,importantly will it help me achieve my goals.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      June 18, 2012 at

      I’d say you’re on the right track by going after P90X. That having been said I’d opt instead for P90X2. It has more core work and better balance. The strength training is also better with things like PAP. For more info on that program, I have a 3-part review as well as a video review here:

      If you really want to test your mettle, get Asylum. It’s by Shaun T ( Insanity guy ) and has more strength built into it. Be warned though…it’s a killer!

  7. RiverSong

    May 22, 2012 at

    I am also looking for a program and have read reviews on both Insanity and P90. I have lost 30 lbs in 6 months just from diet and walking/biking. I need to tone up and get rid of excess flab. any help would be appreciated

  8. Annie

    March 25, 2012 at

    Loved your blog!! I am trying to decide which workout to chose from. I’ve recently recovered from a break in my metatarsal (foot) but is healed now. However was wondering if one has more jumping etc than the other??

    Any help would be greatly appreciated


    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      March 25, 2012 at

      Without a doubt P90X would have less impact on the feet.  Insanity has a lot, and I mean a LOT of motion that involves using the feet as springs.
      The new P90X2 might also be a good option as it involves a ton of core conditioning and keeps high-impact to a minimum.

  9. ING

    August 11, 2011 at

    I started off with insanity first only cause my sis got it as a gift. I finished the program and went from 215 down to 180 and dropped from 19.5% body fat down to 9.5%. I just got started on p90x 2 weeks in and i noticed that all the core and cardio workout is way lighter than insanity's workout.

    For best result i just replace all p90x core/ cardio workouts with insanity workout. So far noticing reduce body fat and major lean muscle gain.

    p90x ab ripper x with insanity cardio abs or insane abs

    p90x plyo with insanity max plyo or plyo core circ

    p90x kenpo with insanity max interval sport trainning

    p90x yoga and stretch X with insanity max recovery or core recovery

    p90x cardio x with insanity Max cardio condition

    p90x core syn with insanity core cardio balance


  10. Help Me

    March 19, 2011 at

    I am not in the best shape. I am 5'9 and 238lbs. I am not looking to bulk up. I just want to burn fat. I am trying to get down to 160. Which do you think would benifit me more, Insanity or P90X? I also take Martial Arts and will be doing that 2-4 days per week in addition to P90X or Insanity.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      March 19, 2011 at

      P90X. Insanity would be for those who are already in fairly good shape. With P90X you can modify the moves to suit your abilities until you're ready to advance to the next level.

      The nice thing about P90X is that Tony understands that some people want lean and some want bulk, so he shows you how.

      • Help Me

        March 19, 2011 at

        Do I have to buy the pull-up bar for P90X?

        • Dysfunctional Parrot

          March 19, 2011 at

          You don't need the "official" P90x bar, but you will need some sort of pullup system.

          My suggestion…do not get the $10 straight bar that goes inside a door. The things just don't cut it. For the record, here's what I have:

          [img ][/img]

          I wish I could remember where I got it!

          Also, don't be upset if you can't do a pullup. I'm 5"11, 180lbs in good shape and still need a chair to finish up!

          Some people also use push-up stands, but they are not a requirement. I wrote an article about them here:

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      March 19, 2011 at

      Another thing I might recommend is a diet budget. What I mean by that is to take a serious stock in what you're using for body fuel. That means fresh fruits and vegetables and very, very moderate amounts of good clean meats. Both P90X and Insanity rely heavily on proper nutrition, not fad-nutrition. It's a lifestyle change.

      If you can control this aspect, you will be 80% of the way there.


    March 16, 2011 at


    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      March 16, 2011 at

      That depends entirely on the physical condition of your son. I always recommend P90X first because lets face it, boys want muscle!

      Twelve is a tricky age. Both programs require a degree of commitment that only a level of maturity can provide. But if he's determined then go for it! Tell him if he passes P90X you'll get him Insanity as a reward!

  12. Nick

    March 2, 2011 at

    I am considering purchasing the Insanity program, and coupling it with a weight training program. "Two-a-day" style workouts with weights in the AM, and Insanity workout in the afternoon is what I have in mind. Is this possible? I'm 29, and in better than average (but not great) physical shape. Thanks for your input.

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      March 2, 2011 at

      As long as you have legs with parts from Robocop, you should be ok! I really cannot say, but considering that much of your weights may be upper-body, and Insanity is primarily lower body plyometrics, you may be able to pull it off. But your nutritional intake will be vital, and do NOT ignore your body's warning signals to back off.

      Just remember, overtraining can cause far more harm than good. Best to work out hard for a session and eat right rather than to punish your body too much and break down.

      My not-so-professional advise? Do Insanity for several weeks before deciding anything. It's not kid stuff I promise you.

  13. Truth

    January 18, 2011 at

    I've completed both workouts. As a former SEAL, believe me when I tell you P90X is the best of the two. Insanity has better cardio, but P90X will not only get you in shape, but it'll give you the best abs ever. Just try ab ripper X. And besides just look at the instructors. Tony is like 51, and has better abs than shaun. but here's the point. If you want to improve your cardio, try insanity. If you want to look your best, challenge P90X. I dare ya ;)

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      January 18, 2011 at

      I agree. P90X is certainly a more well rounded system. Insanity is great for short term power-training, but you'll burn out if you keep it up for too long. Still, for triathlon training it kicks!! But I always go back to P90X it seems. Besides, at 51 Tony is my inspiration as I approach 40 this year!

  14. Dean

    August 30, 2010 at

    Great summary thanks. I agree on the intensity of Insanity vs P90X thees just no comparison. Its funny on Shuan vs Tony, I did Insanity first and I just cant warm up to Tony's non stop talk/silliness. The Music and Cues option on the DVD menu is a lifesaver!

  15. Amanda

    July 10, 2010 at

    Wow! I just spent some time reading through some of the posts you have on your blog and I think we have A LOT in common! P90X, Insanity, book reviews, God, pets, etc. Geesh! Are you my long lost brother? Just kidding! LOL

    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      July 12, 2010 at

      Amanda: Glad you approve! It's always good to find someone who is into fitness who is also mindful that there is a bigger picture.

  16. Dan

    July 7, 2010 at

    Personally what I did (just an option, not for everyone) is in Month 2 I'd throw in back&biceps every once in a while, maybe 3 times during that month. 1) Both back and biceps are imo the two muscles worked the least, and 2) I just love pullups since I know I'm getting an awesome back workout. A hybrid of P90X and Insanity (which i've done many times) is a little difficult because some muscles you work (i.e. Chest&Back, day 1) get used the next day also (i.e. Insanity Power&Resistance, day 2). Still, I like doing the hybrids but like DP said I'd do Insanity by itself so you can say you did it!


  17. Louis

    May 22, 2010 at

    This is one of the VERY BEST work out video sets I have EVER seen. It definately works you hard but it is a GREAT workout! I feel like I have a personal trainer! This is not for the weak. It will work you out harder than any other program I have tried. Awesome work out video!

  18. floresce

    May 21, 2010 at

    thank you…enjoy your blog!

  19. Dysfunctional Parrot

    May 21, 2010 at

    Here's pretty much what I do. Have fun!

    WEEK 1, 2, 3

    Day 1: P90X Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X

    Day 2: Insanity Pure Cardio

    Day 3: P90X Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X

    Day 4: Insanity Cardio Power & Resistance

    Day 5: P90X Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X

    Day 6: P90X YogaX

    Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch

    RECOVERY WEEK 4, 8, 13

    Monday – Insanity Core Cardio & Balance

    Tuesday – P90x YogaX or Max Recovery

    Wednesday – P90X Core Synergistics

    Thursday – P90x YogaX or a Max Recovery

    Friday – Insanity Core Cardio & Balance

    Saturday – P90X Core Synergistics

    Sunday – Rest

    WEEK 5,6,7

    Day 1: P90X Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X

    Day 2: Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit

    Day 3: P90X Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X

    Day 4: Insanity Cardio Power & Resistance

    Day 5: P90X Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X

    Day 6: P90X Yoga X

    Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch

    WEEK 9 & 11

    Day 1: P90X Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X

    Day 2: Insanity Max Interval Plyo

    Day 3: P90X Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X

    Day 4: Insanity Max Interval Circuit

    Day 5: P90X Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X

    Day 6: P90X YogaX

    Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch or Insanity Max Recovery

    WEEKS 10 & 12

    Day 1: P90X Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X

    Day 2: Insanity Max Interval Circuit

    Day 3: P90X Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X

    Day 4: Insanity Cardio Conditioning

    Day 5: P90X Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X

    Day 6: P90X YogaX

    Day 7: Rest or P90X Stretch or Insanity Max Recovery

  20. floresce

    May 21, 2010 at

    I am about to finish P90X…I love it. Just bought the Insanity Deluxe edition and am looking forward to it. What do you recommend: should I do a hybrid of the 2 or try the Insanity 60 day program on its own? I am afraid that if I do Insanity on its own I will lose the strength gains I achieved with P90X, but I am also afraid that if I do both it will be too hard and I will burn out.

    Could you please provide your P90X/Insanity Hybrid schedule?

    In His grip,


    • Dysfunctional Parrot

      May 21, 2010 at

      I'd do the Insanity program on its own to begin so you could get the feel of it, at least for a couple weeks. I was afraid of strength loss too, but to be honest it wasn't that much as there are a significant amount of pushups and legwork in Insanity.

      That having been said, Insanity on its own is a killer, so a hybrid may be a way of easing into it. My advise…let your KNEES be your guide! Insanity can be rough on them!

      • Kevin W

        February 9, 2011 at

        Quick question….I read your blog and loved it…and I really couldn't decide on P90X vs Insanity…so I purchased both…They are being delivered in about 5 days and I am wondering which one should I do first or should I combine the two? I am aggressively seeking to get back in the great shape that I used to be in. Your insight would greatly help…


        Kevin W

        • Dysfunctional Parrot

          February 9, 2011 at

          Easy answer…P90X. Insanity is not something you simply begin without a strong foundation of strength and some experience in plyometrics. P90X will develop those characteristics and get you prepared for a round of Insanity which will in turn transform you into a machine.

          Keep in mind that Insanity is pure, unadulterated plyometric cardio. P90X is a well-rounded strength and cardio program.

          Here's another option…on the cardio days in P90X, I often substitute an Insanity routine to up the ante. However, I'd wait at least a month before doing that if you haven't been working out for a while.

          Now go Bring it and Dig Deeper!

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