Comparison of popular home fitness programs – Insanity, P90X and Rushfit

Insanity, P90X and Rushfit are three programs which are derived from the principles of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) based on programs developed by Tabata and LaForgia, as well as the principles of non-linear or undulating periodization (or Muscle Confusion, as the marketing/PR says) developed by Dr. William Kraemer, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut.__

In general, these systems are called Metabolic Conditioning – is defined as training that incorporates more whole-body, high intensity exercise sessions of moderate loads , coupled with shorter active recovery periods (activity during recovery) or even no-recovery periods. One key goal is to boost caloric expenditure during and after workouts (i.e., excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC)**_.**_

  • Manipulating weight/load or the amount of resistance
  • Manipulating the volume of work performed
  • Manipulating power or the rate at which work is performed (intensity)


• Strength and Endurance

• Explosive Power Training

• The Fight Conditioning Workout

• Abdominal Strength and Core Conditioning

• Full-body Strength and Conditioning

• Bonus DVD: Balance, Agility and Stretch

Workouts – 5 circuits (some repeated) x 5 min each, with approx. 60-sec recovery between circuits

Schedule – • Beginner levels follows lower volume (frequency) and intensity (DVD program) to develop base conditioning

• Intermediate and advanced levels increase training volume (frequency) and intensity

• Program layout is generally consistent (i.e., specific programs on set days, and programs repeat on consistent basis).


• Fit Test

• Plyometric Cardio Circuit

• Cardio Power and Resistance

• Cardio Recovery

• Pure Cardio and Cardio Abs

• Core Cardio and Balance

• Max Interval Circuit and Fit Test

• Max Interval Plyo

• Max Cardio Conditioning and Cardio Abs

• Max Recovery

Workouts – 20–50 min, using repeated circuits of varying durations

Schedule – • 6 days training, plus Sunday recovery

• No apparent rhyme or reason to program selection or sequence (i.e., some programs offered more frequently, and intervals between same workouts varies from 4 to 7 days)


Chest and Back

• Plyometrics

• Shoulders and Arms

• Legs and Back

• Chest, Shoulders and Triceps

• Back and Biceps

• Ab Ripper X

• Cardio X

• Yoga X (recovery program)

• Kenpo X (recovery program)

• X Stretch (recovery program)

• Core Synergistics (recovery program)

Workouts – 20–50 min, using repeated circuits of varying durations

Schedule – Weeks 1–3 (Adaptive and Mastery Phase) feature split routines focusing on specific body parts

• Week 4 (Recovery Phase) features lower-intensity, active-recovery workoutsWeeks 5–7 (Adaptive and Mastery Phase) features split routines focusing on specific body parts, workouts change slightly from Block 1.

• Week 8 (Recovery Phase) features lower-intensity, active-recovery workouts (same as Block 1)Weeks 9 & 11 repeat Block 1 (week 1–3 workouts)

• Weeks 10 & 12 repeat Block 2 (week 1–3 workouts)

• Week 13 (Recovery Phase) features lower-intensity active recovery workouts (same as Block 1)

• Features 3–4 weeks of higher-intensity training, plus 1 week of lower-intensity recovery workouts

• Follows more traditional resistance-training format with split routines, which allows adequate muscle-group recovery

The American Council of Fitness evaluated the three fitness programs – Insanity, P90X and Rushfit and came to the following conclusion:

**Rushfit –**Emphasized endurance over strength

Cardio component is weak

Sound flexibility programming

3 programs for different conditioning levels: Science-based design and progression

Good use of active recoveries; decent muscle-group recoveries between sessions; excellent plyometric design and use of work-to-recovery ratios

Good use of warm-up and dynamic movement (approx. 60 sec per movement)

Rushfit’s nutrition guide is very simple, suggesting healthier sources for the three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) and a variety of effective dietary strategies.

Insanity -Emphasizes cardio and endurance over strength

Flexibility programming is questionable (static after warm-ups, wrong cueing of muscle groups)Little clarity or evidence of science in exercise selection or program design

Good use of active recoveries; poor muscle-group recoveries between sessions; alarming plyometric design and use of work-to-recovery ratios

Misses overall goal of dynamic warm-ups—gradual preparation of various systems; warm-ups increase intensity much too quickly. Inappropriately uses static stretching after warm-ups for plyometric-based workouts.

Dr. Donald Chu, a leader in plyometric training and research, has long suggested that appropriate plyometric volumes for athletes should be based upon training experience and intensity, and determined by the number of foot or upper-extremity contacts. While most of Insanity’s drills qualify as low-to-moderate intensity drills, the number of foot contacts featured in several sessions is almost double the number suggested by Chu, which raises concerns about repetitive micro-trauma or overuse.

Beachbody’s business model relies significantly upon income generated through their supplement line, and both the P90X and Insanity programs prominently feature supplement sales.

P90X – Emphasizes almost all parameters of fitness

Sound flexibility programming

Science-based design and progression, follows traditional split routines, becomes repetitive in Block 3

Good use of active recoveries and muscle-group recoveries between sessions;

solid plyometic design and work-to-recovery ratios

Nice combination of general movements, progressing by building complexity and intensity

Utilizes both dynamic movements and some static stretching (not bad if it complements dynamic movements). Confuses explanation between ballistic and dynamic movement

As with Insanity, exercisers are frequently asked to monitor heart rate (HR), and check target HR zones, but little explanation is offered for why this is necessary. While there is an initial cardio test that measures recovery HR, no information or explanation is offered in the program regarding target HR zones or appropriate HR training intensities.Unfortunately, one disappointing aspect of P90X is the need to make a considerable investment into ancillary equipment to complete the workouts.


Comparison of popular home fitness programs – Insanity, P90X and Rushfit


July 29, 2013

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