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Should I Start With P90X or Insanity?

One of the most common questions we receive as coaches and P90X/Insanity grads is whether to start with Insanity or P90X. For me, it’s Tony Horton’s “P90X” all day long. For Coach MC it’s Shaun T.’s “Insanity” but… like most everything else fitness related (and I know you’re tied of hearing this) the answer isn’t a competition between which is better, but which is the best choice for your goals, personality, the results you’re looking for and your willingness to really, truly COMMIT.

Your fitness level also make a difference but unless you’re nursing an injury, I believe you can modify enough in these programs to work into them. After some time, your body will adjust, you’ll gain strength and can really push it.

Just so you know, it’s not that one is better than the other– it’s just that one might be better for your TRAINING GOALS than another. After all, P90X and Insanity are both graduate-level sweat-dripping, heart  pumping and intense programs guaranteed to deliver results. And while some elements overlap (including the added benefit of both coming with a nutrition guide), they’re just different. Take a look below and see which fits into your goals:

P90X (90 Day Program)

P90X uses a circuit type program (varied exercises including both resistance and cardio with minimal rest). As “Part II” of Tony Horton’s “Power” Series (Part I was called Power 90), P90X is a rounded mix of cardiovascular workouts and resistance training (IE- weightlifting, pull-ups, push-ups, etc.) focused on “leaning out”, building strength and sculpting muscle. Descriptions like that usually have the ladies taking the nearest exit ramp but rest assured; P90X isn’t a “Men Only” program by any stretch. Highly adaptable, women will find P90X will give them that “bikini” body they’ve been after for years. P90X does require a pull-up bar (or bands– I’d recommend pullup bar), free weights (or bands– I’d recommend the weights), a chair and requires 90 days. P90X is all about the “physique”.

EXAMPLE: I hope my P90X results speak for themselves. In Coach MC’s case, she accused of getting a “butt-lift” after going through the rounds with it and couldn’t stop smiling about seeing her arms go from “noodles” to “toned”.

Insanity (60 Day Program)

Insanity is a cardiovascular High Intensity Interval Training program that relies on a lot of plyometric training (aka- sports based, rapid repetition and muscle contraction movements like jumping). Most of the Insanity’s exertion comes from lower body movement in repeated sets of exercises done at high intensity with very little rest. In short, Insanity works the legs A LOT and builds crazy endurance. Since leg muscles are body’s largest muscle group, Insanity can be pretty intense and can (and should) push your heart rate to peaks it may never have climbed before. Insanity is all about cardiovascular training and increases in fitness performance. Following the diet guide, fat loss will be a given.

EXAMPLE: Thanks to Insanity, I was able to run a full five miles without training while shaving a full 2 minutes off my previous record and lose further weight after my initial 90 days with P90X. Already thin and fit, Coach MC further leaned out and found her “inner six-pack” after her first sixty days in the program.

So What’s the Verdict?

It’s up to you. I know, cop-out right? Still, if my arm WAS being twisted… I’d say in my opinion with its combination of focused resistance and cardiovascular routines, P90X is the most rounded program for achieving a “beach body” out of the box. In my experience, Insanity has been a “refinement” program– one that builds on the fitness gains achieved through P90X (or for folks who have some level of fitness) and takes another step in shredding resistant “muscle mayo” (IE- flab).

I can’t say enough about either program and no matter which one you choose and follow through to the end, I’m convinced you’ll feel the same.

Wondering how to make P90X work for you with even more nutrition tips, help and personal support? If you have any questions, feel free to email me at or make me your coach.

If you’d like to learn even more about P90X, check out my P90X Review!

NOTE: P90X and Insanity aren’t the end-all be-alls of fitness. I swear by them, but they’re not necessarily for everyone. Luckily, there’s a very, very wide variety of Beachbody programs designed to get you started and worked into P90X or Insanity if you’re feeling timid or require something a little less intense. I won’t go into detail on all the programs right now but you can check them all out here. Every program will help you lose weight but obviously, the Big Daddies of extreme results tend to be the higher profile P90X and Insanity. 

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21 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Vanessa says:

    I borrowed the Insanity videos from a friend..I was wondering which videos I should do each day and when to do them. P90x I know has the Classic program, double program, and lean program and in the description shares day 1 etc. which day to do each work out video and which video to do. Does Insanity have the same? If so could you please tell me it? Thank you.

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Hi Vanessa. Thanks for checking in! You can check out the Insanity calendar right here: Just scroll down to Insanity>Insanity Calendar/Schedule and it’s all laid out.

      On that note, Insanity doesn’t operate with different program styles– its’ all on for 60 days straight. You begin with 40-ish minute workouts for the first 30 days and then hit up 60ish minutes the last 30 (with recovery weeks thrown in there– but they’re anything but… more like “Active Rest”). So what are your hopes in hitting up the Insanity program? goals, etc.?

  2. Dillon says:

    I was wondering if I could do both P90X and Insanity at the same time in order to get in better shape over the summer for basketball and baseball at school?

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      You definitely can with a hybrid. P90X was designed as an “off-season” training to get you into performance enhancing shape when you hit your season. Insanity can help with the anaerobic angle you need in basketball as well. There is a schedule in the work sheets section under success center at the top of this page:

      Have you completed P90X before or thinking about jumping right into a hybrid, Dillon?

  3. Gary says:

    Im 5’7 and Im around 150-170. I have some really big manboobs and a big belly. Based on your review, insanity seems to be for people who have already havea decent body. However I don’t really have a ton of cash on me right now and know that for p90x I ll have to spend more and stuff. I have have taken up wrestling this year and even though I didnt win a single match this season I lost 10 pounds. I can also only do around 10-15 pushups, so what do you think I should do?

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      First off– congrats on your weight loss and 10-15 pushups isn’t “only”. That’s better than most, brother– an continuing to do them will lead to more. Pretty soon you’ll be punching them out like nothin’.

      As for Insanity, it is a “graduate” program but it’s also one specifically geared toward weight loss and, as you mention, doesn’t’ require equipment. It’s very high intensity and, like many intense programs, has the potential for injury if your form isn’t correct. You could work into it at a lower level but there are other programs like Power 90 and 10 Minute Trainer that might ease you into it.

      In addition, nutrition is pretty important. How’s your eating?

  4. kaycee says:

    hi, I’m not really sure which one to do, I have insanity already, but I am not unsure. Buying the equipment and such for the p90x may be an issue, but i really want to lose weight (especially in my belly) which i heard insanity is better for, but i also want to tone up. right now i’d say I’m probably unfit, which again gears me towards the p90x. i was thinking of a hybrid of the two, but then again I’m a beginner.. whats your opinion?
    THANKS :)

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Hey Kaycee! Thanks for checking in. You’re asking a great question. Your weight loss goals will be achieved with EITHER program. Toning up will happen as your work and begin to lose fat– once the fat starts melting, the tone starts showing. I’d say a hybrid would be a little more advanced than you need right now. Going after a solid base with either program would be a good idea. You can always modify moves and takes breaks as you go through them. The key is just to focus on getting better, more pushups, longer duration- the NEXT time you do the same workout.

      I’ll shoot you an email and we can lay it all out! :)

  5. Hector says:

    Hey so i really need your advice! So i finished month one of insanity about 2 weeks ago, problem was that i was on crunch time in college so i couldnt continue, the thing is now i have about 3 weeks off college. My question to you is: Should i continue with month 2, or start over again or start p90x?

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Hey Hector!

      Thanks for checking in, man! What you should do next is totally dependent on your goals. Want to build muscle and get a solid base of athletic training in? Go P90X. Looking to shed pounds and increase your endurance? Go Insanity. If you go the Insanity route, with 2 weeks since your last workout, I’d say you could almost go either way, though I’d say go for the Max of month 2. Maybe go with a week of recovery and then finish out the program with a full month two. After all, two weeks isn’t too bad and chances are if you’ve been active in other places you haven’t lost a ton. I’d give that recovery week a run and then see how you feel. If you’re feeling strong, crush month two, send in your after pics and claim your free T-shirt!

  6. Carolyn says:

    Hello! I really overweight and just started to do some hiit exercises. I need to lose a lot I weight, like 80 to 90lbs. I’m interested in the insanity program but am wondering if for my fitness level the 10 minute trainer would be better for me to start off with? Yesterday I did my first hiit session solely with squats. 20 squats or 20 seconds with 10 second rests and 8 reps for a total of 160 squats. My legs and glutes are killing me now and dot know how many days I’ll need to recover. That was for insight into my fitness level. Thanks!

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Hi Carolyn!

      If you’re just getting started I’d recommend 10 minute trainer- you can then stack the workouts and eventually graduate to Insanity.

      As for your squat count- that number of squats would leave anyone sore, so what you’re feeling isn’t abnormal. Recovery should only be 24-48 hours (the soreness will remain) but you can do upper training/cardio training in the interim.

      How’s your nutrition?

  7. jc says:

    Hello! Ok so I have both programs and have done a little of both. Now I want to decide which program is best to start committing to or should I go with hybrid? Im 127lbs.. I would like to shed a few pounds and also focus on my mid section ( had a baby). I eat very healthy and would like to know which program is best for me? Thanks!

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Hi JC!

      Thanks for touching base and congrats on your new baby! Great question: The answer will be based on your goals. Would you like to carve some muscle? Just looking to lose weight? Looking for more cardio endurance, etc.? Which program have you liked best so far? I know where I’d direct you, but interested in seeing your answer to go from there. :)

      • jc says:

        Thanks! He’s 6 months. My goals are to lose about 10-15 pounds, get a little toned. I like certain things from both programs I don’t have a favorite, like them both! These last week and a half I have been doing something similar to the hybrid schedule, I can’t stand the yoga so I substitute it with cardio recovery. Im just not sure if that’s the way to go or if I should do one program and then the other?

        • Coach Dan V. says:

          You’re welcome!

          No doubt you could lose that 10-15 pounds and get toned with either program. I’ll shoot you an email and give you more details. :)

  8. cdh-w says:

    I am a 40 years old female and want to lose 30lbs. Currently 225lbs and 5’7.
    I have been working out on treadmill and in the gym 2-3 times w a week. Results have slow.
    I know people who have had grate results with p90x. I own insanity but are hestiant to start.
    Do you recommend p90x or insanity?

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Huge congrats on your initiative! The fact you’ve taken steps with the treadmill and gym is huge- not everyone gets to that point, so good for you! Now it’s time to “graduate”! :) To be honest, you could go either way depending on your goals. Insanity is high intensity body weight cardio while P90X uses some high intensity work but also incorporates weight training which is super effective. The question then is which one interests you most.

      Here are a few links that may help:

      P90X or Insanity:

      What Insanity is.. and isn’t:

      If you’ve burned out on Insanity, P90X might be something fresh and varied to spark your interest.

      So ultimately, this is going to boil down to your goals as BOTH will get you awesome results. So that said… what are your goals?

  9. Rebekah says:

    You mentioned that P90X will give a woman a “bikini body.” Will Insanity do the same? Also, would Insanity be OK to combine with distance running? I’d like to lose 10-15 pounds and get a n overall toned appearance, particularly in the midsection.

  10. Sai says:

    I am a 20 year old male that is in college. I am 5’7 and weigh around 165-170 lbs. 2 summers ago, I went on a supersize me “diet” and I went from 150 lbs to 180 lbs. The next year, I worked on exercising and eating right, mostly just playing tennis and just moving around and went on some extreme starving diets to get down to 158 lbs. However, along the way I started smoking cigarettes for stress relief and my lungs aren’t as good as they used to be. This past summer at home, I have gained around 7-8 lbs of muscle because I went to the gym regularly which I am very proud of. The problem is now at college with a meal plan, I don’t what to eat and how to eat. I would also like to know what program to use during college to gain more muscle and also lose fat with a diet in college that is doable everyday and I can consistently do. I would like to lose my belly fat most of all:)

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      First off, congrats on your succesful journey thus far. Sounds like you’re doing GREAT.

      Losing fat and gaining muscle is a tricky line to walk.

      Losing fat while doing a resistance program REVEALS muscle, which is what most folks are going for when they mention the fat loss/muscle building goal.

      That said, what kind of program would you like and what are your caloric goals? Eating is relatively easy at college if you know what your goals are.

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