Monday, August 27, 2012

An Experiment.

Last time we spoke, I was embarking on some changes with regards to my workout options and eating regimen, namely Les Mills Pump and the No S Diet. Just before signing off, I hinted at incorporating Insanity into the mix.

Well, I've followed through on that proposal and am still wondering what the heck I was thinking.

If you're not familiar with Insanity, I'd like to, once again, pass you on to the full review by Fit Bottomed Girls, as I still haven't tried all of the discs yet. In short: You MUST be AT LEAST an intermediate fitness level (though I'd even recommend advanced) before even considering this program. And even then, you might want to brush up on your HIIT training for a month or two beforehand.


So, moving on to this experiment of mine... I've always been intrigued by Insanity ever since I first heard about it. And after hearing my cousin rave about it and starting his second round of the program, I figured with my wedding coming up in September 2013, it wouldn't hurt to step up my training (oh, but it does hurt. A lot).

After the Insanity set arrived a few weeks ago (thanks eBay!), I was excited to start, but wasn't ready to abandon my still-new Les Mills Pump program. So, like any sane person, I decided to merge the two and do both programs at the same time.

Based on previous experience, it's not realistic for me to follow an X-day program exactly as written; I basically jumped into Les Mills Pump by skipping the first two discs and after trying Insanity alone for the first week, I decided to alternate programs each day. Knowing that Insanity doesn't use weights and is cardio-heavy, I figured (somehow) that it would be the perfect complement to all the lifting being done in the Pump workouts.


Pret-ty interesting so far. As I mentioned before, when I first tried Insanity, I followed the calendar as written for the first week, meaning I didn't do any Pump workouts during this time; just 6 days of Shaun T yelling at me through football and military drills.

Before I expand on the results, let me first say that Insanity is, HANDS DOWN, the hardest workout I've ever tried. Just making it through the Fit Test had me shakin' in my boots a bit. It's incredibly fast-paced (great for making the workout fly by, bad for not feeling like you're going to die) and forces you to work with your own body weight in ways you're probably not used to. I always know I've met my workout match when my nose starts running uncontrollably (gross) and I can't even finish saying the "f*****" in "mother-f*****."

That said, I'm enjoying the challenge. When sticking with familiar routines, it's easy for me to get complacent and not push myself out of my comfort zone. Insanity has not only pushed me out of my comfort zone, but has beaten that zone into a faded memory.

How Insanity impacted my Pump workouts:

-The first thing I noticed after zero Pump workouts for a week? Lifting was harder... At first. Although Insanity incorporates its fair share of resistance moves, I struggled more than I thought I would when I returned to Pump.

After doing both programs concurrently however, I have been able to increase my weight amounts during recent Pump workouts. I haven't even completed the first 3 weeks of Insanity workouts, so I'm not writing it off for resistance training yet; there's still some potential in there that I haven't unlocked.

-My endurance lowered slightly. Even though a lot of the Insanity discs are between 40 and 60 minutes, the time spent doing intense circuits is actually 20-30 minutes, tops. A LOT of time is spent warming up with some basic cardio moves (almost a workout on their own) and then you move on to some yoga-like stretching before actually getting "insane." This change in intensity duration made it tougher to give 100% during the 45-60 minute Pump workouts.

-My power increased like whoa. Although Insanity didn't necessarily help me lift heavier or longer, it definitely increased my speed and power during Pump moves like the Clean and Press. Prior to Insanity, I was always a little behind the Les Mills instructors during the legs & back track, where the Clean & Press and dead-rows are executed quickly. But after a few rounds of Insanity, I was able to bust those reps out like a machine.

Also, I think Insanity moves like football-runs and tuck/high jumps have strengthened my quads, giving me an extra boost during the leg and squat tracks during Pump.

How Les Mills Pump impacted my Insanity workouts:

-The lower-body training in the Pump workouts provides improved endurance during the Insanity workouts, especially during sprints, high-knees, butt-kicks, squat kicks, tuck jumps and basically every move that demands strong leg work.

-The upper-body Pump tracks are essential for helping me keep up with Insanity. In Insanity, you'll find yourself doing a lot of moves in plank/push-up position and it helps if you've got strong shoulders, chest muscles and biceps. Otherwise, you'll end up lying face-down on the floor for a good portion of the time.


All in all, even though Insanity is really testing my limits, I think combining it with Les Mills Pump is proving to be an ideal routine, in terms of improving multiple areas of fitness (agility, power, strength, speed and endurance).

I also lost an additional 1% body fat after one week of Insanity and 1.5 weeks of training with both programs (previously lost 3% body fat training with Les Mills Pump and less-intense cardio only). My diet has been far from perfect though, so with more consistent clean eating, I'm sure I could've lost more.

I'm still forever working on improving my eating habits, so a more thorough review of No-S and my progress with that to come later, in its own post.

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