Insanity Review: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

Insanity Plyometric Cardio CircuitInsanity Review: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

[This is the second Insanity review in a planned series.  I will post additional Insanity reviews in the future. If you have any questions about Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit, contact me at]

Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit General Impressions

This is the first real Insanity workout after the fit test.  If you are doing the full 60-day program, you will repeat this routine seven times.  The fit test should have prepared your mind and body for what is to come, but not really, because this routine is 42 minutes long.  If you had a hard time with the fit test, you’re going to hate this workout.  Stick with it and you will get stronger and faster.  Guaranteed.

Shaun T appears with a full complement of demonstrators, about 10-15 men and women.  While they may come in different sizes, body types, and ages, every one of these folks are ripped.  Some of them are fitness trainers in their own right.  This is a Type A, no-fuss group of fit phreaks.  My kind of peeps.  There are megawatts of energy and thousands of joules of enthusiasm charging the atmosphere.  These hardbodies are not just eye-candy, they are here to work it.  During the course of the video, they will give it their all, sweating, screaming, and even collapsing into a heap of exhaustion.  More than Shaun T himself, the fitness demonstrators make the program for me.  Even though you are working out in the comfort of your own home, you feel as though you are in the Insanity gym with everyone.  This is something that motivates me as soon as I press play.

Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit Warmup Exercises

For most workout programs, the warm up is just that–low intensity exercises that help to get the muscles used to moving. A couple of back and side bends, walking in place, easy stretching, and maybe some jumping jacks tossed in.  Not Insanity.  The so-called warm ups are an integral part of the workout, and sometimes are the most strenuous.  As you do the warm up, which lasts about ten minutes, no doubt you will be wondering what the hell the actual workout will be like if the warm up is making you cough up a lung.  If you commit maximum effort, the warmups alone will leave you coated with sheets of perspiration.   You will begin to sweat profusely two minutes into the warmups.

The warmups consist of a series of seven exercises lasting about 30 seconds each.  When one series is completed, it is repeated two more times, with no rest in between.  The exercises are done with increasing intensity with each subsequent series.  You start of somewhat slow, but the last series should be done full throttle.

  • Jog in Place.  This exercise needs no explanation.  Pretend you are running.
  • Jumping Jacks.  A fitness staple for good reason.  Don’t forget to touch your hands at the top of each jack.  Complete follow through helps to intensify.
  • Heisman.  You are hopping left to right on each leg.  As you hop, bring the leg not touching the floor as close as possible to your chest.  There should be no stopping between each hop.  If you’ve done a tires course as a football player, that is what the Heisman looks like.
  • 1-2-3.  Almost the same thing as a Heisman, but with added running steps between each hop.
  • Butt Kicks.  This exercise is performed by running in place and kicking your heels backwards into your butt instead of in front.
  • High Knees.  Almost the same thing as running in place, but you raise your knees above your hips with each step.  This motion gets the lower abdominals in play.
  • Mummy Kicks.  Keep your body as straight as possible and kick your legs out in front, alternating each leg.  Do not to stop between kicks.  At least one leg should be off the ground at any given moment, and the supporting leg should be moving in the air prior to the kicking leg returning to the floor.  The name of the exercise comes from your arms being raised up to shoulder level in front of you like the proverbial mummy.  Instead of keeping them still, however, the arms should scissor one another with each kick.  The head is held up straight in alignment with a rigid torso.

After three rounds of these exercises, you get a much appreciated 30-second water break, followed by a 7-minute stretching routine.  If you are not a limber person, the stretching will cause a lot of discomfort, as they are not done while in the sitting or lying position, where you can more easily cheat.  The stretches are performed in a stand or squat, which requires some balance and leg strength.  This is another area where the program assumes that you already have a high fitness level.

Breaking Down the Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit Exercises

Following the stretches, you get another 30-second water break.  Then, the first circuit begins.  It is comprised of a series of four exercises lasting about 30 seconds.  Each series is repeated three times, with each repetition getting progressively more intense.  Unlike the warmups, however, you will have a 30-second water break between the series.  You will be exercising at high intensity for 2-3 minutes between each break.   After the last series is completed, Shaun T adds two additional exercises to the mix.

  • Suicide Drills.  You sidestep to the right as fast as possible, touching the floor with one hand after 3-4 steps.  Repeat, but to the left.  This exercise activates your core as you touch the floor and raise your body.
  • Power Squats.  Perform a low jump into the squat position, then back into the standing position.  Your gluts and thighs will hate you.
  • Upright Mountain Climbers.  Your legs are moving as if you are doing high knees.  However, your arms are reaching up and down as if you are climbing an imaginary ladder.  Keep your torso erect.  The added arm movements kick up the exercise intensity to another level.  Works the legs and lower abs.
  • Ski Jumps.  Keep your feet together while you hop side to side and your body is positioned as if you are skiing and about to take on a massive mogul.  Shaun T makes a point of reminding you not to twist your body as you hop.  Not sure why this is a big deal, because it doesn’t change the intensity level that much.  Works the calves, thighs, and gluts.
  • Switch Feet (bonus exercise).  I really don’t know how to describe this exercise.  Basically, your legs and arms are completely locked in a straight position, and you are moving them as if you are a robot, but very fast.  This exercise is also known as Toe-to-Heels.
  • Wide Feet football Sprints (bonus exercise).  You run in place as your legs are spread out and you are almost in a squat position.  Your arms are raised as if you are blocking an imaginary person.  Shaun T tells you go right, back, left, and front.

When you finish the last exercise of the first circuit, you get another break.  If you’re fit, you should be getting your second wind.  This is good because you will need it for the next circuit.  If you’re not in the best of shape, you will be cursing Shaun T for the next ten minutes.  Ten minutes is not a long time, unless you are gasping for air, then it seems like an eternity.

Like the first circuit, the second circuit is made up of a series four exercises lasting about 30 seconds each.  Each series is repeated three times, with two bonus exercises thrown in at the end of the last repetition.

  • Basketball Drills.  You start off in a squat position with one arm touching the floor.  Leap up as if you are making a jump shot.  Repeat.  Activates your entire lower body.
  • Level 1 Drills.  This exercise is actually a mini series of exercises.  You start off in the standing position.  Jump down into plank and do four pushups, then run in place eight times while remaining in the plank position.   Stop and hop back up to the standing position.  Repeat.  All the up and down movements will really get the heart pumping.
  • Ski Abs.  While in a pushup position, keep your feet together and hop so that your feet land next to your hands, while keeping your hands firmly on the ground.  Hop back and extend your feet to the plank position slightly to the right of your body.  Repeat, but alternate the extensions from right to left.   There’s a tendency for your butt to stick up during this exercise, but in order to fully activate your abs, try to keep your butt from rising above your shoulders.
  • In/Out Abs.  Basically, the same exercise as Ski Abs, but you are only hopping in and out, without alternating the extensions from side to side.  Your shoulders will protest loudly during this exercise because they will have to support your full body weight for over a minute.
  • Jabs (bonus exercise).  While standing, punch an imaginary opponent in front of you as hard and fast as possible, alternating the arms.
  • Cross Jacks (bonus exercise).  Like jumping jacks, but only raising one arm at a time.  Alternate sides and cross your feet as you hop off the ground.  I still have trouble doing this exercise because the coordination it requires throws me off.
  • Upper Cuts (bonus exercise).  Same exercise as jabs, but this time, use uppercuts.  Get your entire torso involved with each punch for maximum effect.
  • Attack (bonus exercise).  Same exercise as jabs, but you are now in a squat position.  Also, your hands are open instead of clenched in fists.  Pretend you are Jackie Chan to make it count.

When the timer counts down to the last five seconds, you will let out a gasp of relief, if you haven’t collapsed on the floor already.  Take a little time to catch your breath because you have some stretching to do.  The post-workout stretching is almost the same as the pre-workout one.  The only difference is you’ll be feeling relief rather than trepidation.

Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit Parting Words

I have done this workout many times already, and it doesn’t get any easier each time.  It’s not because my fitness level hasn’t improved, because it has.  Rather, I’m pushing myself harder each time I work out.  Shaun T presses you relentlessly to dig deeper, and you can’t help but do as he says.  If you’re the type of person who wants to do Insanity, you’re probably not going to settle for half-assed moves.  You want to give it your all. The good thing about Insanity is that even if you are a very fit person, you can still intensify the workouts by jumping faster or higher or further.  The bad thing is that it doesn’t work the other way around.  Unlike P90X, there’s no mode for recently reformed couch potatoes.  The program doesn’t allow for modifications to make the exercises easier.  Sure, you can try jumping lower, but if you’re out of shape, any jumping for an extended period will be difficult.  There’s a reason why each of the fitness demonstrators are ripped—you almost have to be in order to complete Insanity.  Even so, there’s not one single person in the demonstration group who can do each and every exercise without stopping.  At one point or another, someone will fall out to catch air.  There are some exercises that aren’t too hard for me to do, but others make me suck wind.  The mix is such that at no point will I ever be in cruise mode.

As I’m writing this, I’m almost grateful that I’m only thinking about the exercises rather than doing them.

To read more reviews related to Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit, click here. If you have additional questions about Insanity and Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit, please email me at, or send me a private Facebook message. I love to hear from my readers about their Insanity experiences. Let’s get the conversation started!

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About Khoa Nuyen

Aging and feeling crummy are for people who don't know any better. If a middle aged dude with a sedentary job can get these results, you can too.
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3 Responses to Insanity Review: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

  1. Melody says:

    Love Insanity! and since I play volleyball, anything plyo is my fave. Great Review!

    • Jade Nuyen says:

      That’s awesome Melody! It has definitely helped my running by 100%. That’s the most important benefit in doing BeachBody workouts- it strengthen you to get out there and do what you love better! I’m sure you’re killing it with your game! : ) Jade

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