Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning: All Cardio, All the Time
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Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning First Impressions
Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning is the endurance workout for Month 2 of Insanity. It’s the second longest workout in the program, clocking in at 52 minutes. Because there are very few breaks, you will feel every minute of this workout. The first time I did Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning, I nearly went into shock because I kept anticipating a mid-circuit break that never came. My mind wasn’t calibrated properly, so it nearly floored me. Similar to its Month 1 counterpart, Insanity Pure Cardio, Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning is all about endurance. You will have to dig deep to finish this workout. Because it is part of Month 2, you will have to endure for 15 minutes longer. If you’re a fast runner, than means two extra miles. Two miles at a 7.5 minutes pace is not something I would turn my nose at.
Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning is on the schedule about seven times in Month 2. It is almost always coupled with Cardio Abs, you’ll have two kickass and grueling workouts. This is the reason Insanity is only a 60 day program instead of 90 days. It is too much to expect people to sustain another month of crazy high impact/high intensity cardio training. Even though it kicked my ass the first time I did it, Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning is my favorite cardio workout. Unlike other Insanity workouts, there is only one circuit with no repeating of exercises. I like the circuit format, but it’s good to have one day where I can crush a workout without having to repeat the exercises several times over.
The Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning Warmups
You jump into the workout right away with a warmup segment. You already know the format—Insanity warmups are more for killing you than warming up. The warmup in Max Cardio Conditioning, however, is even more different. There are two different warmup circuits. The first circuit is repeated one time, and includes a series of seven exercises done one after another.
Jog In Place. Pretend you are jogging. The blood starts moving faster, and the breathing gets shallower as your body prepares for intense exercise.
Straight Jacks. Jumping jacks, but instead of moving your arms up and down along your side, you will be pumping them up and down in front of you.
Jump Rope Side to Side. Basically, you are hopping side to side while twisting your wrists as if you’re jumping rope.
High Knees with Arms Extended to Side. Almost the same thing as running in place, but you’re bringing your knees above your hips with each step. By raising your knees, you get the lower abdominals in play. Extending your arms to your sides raises the intensity level because they cannot be used to help you build momentum or maintain balance.
Switch Kicks. You perform this exercise standing up. You alternatively kick each leg to your front as high as you can. They key is not to stop between each kick. Meaning, at least one leg should be in the air at any given moment, and the supporting leg should be moving off the ground prior to the kicking leg returning to the floor.
Hit the Floor. You sidestep to the right as fast as possible, reaching down to touch the floor with one hand after 3-4 steps. As you raise your body, leap to the right side. Repeat all these moves, but to the left. Alternate sides with each leap.
Side to Side Floor Hops in Plank. While in a plank position, keep your feet together and hop from one side to another. Use your hands to support your body. Your abs, shoulders, and lower back will feel it the most.
When you are done with the first warmup circuit, Shaun T increases the tempo and switches the exercises. The second circuit has five exercises that are done just once, but you do them full throttle like Shaun T. Everyone is going crazy trying to keep up with Shaun T, who looks like a machine.
Sprint In Place. Exactly like running in place or jogging in place. Hold nothing back.
Jumping Jacks. This exercise has been around since I was in grade school. As long as there are grade schools, jumping jacks will be a fitness staple. In this warmup segment, you are jumping and moving your arms at two jacks per second just to keep up with Shaun T.
Heisman. Hop 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 want to match Shaun T, hop like your possessed.
1-2-3. You are sidestepping from left to right, taking about 3-4 steps each way. On the last step, bring one leg as close as possible to your chest. Gets the entire lower body (including abs) involved, and helps improve agility. No time to get leisurely. Double-time this exercise.
High Knees. Almost the same thing as running in place, but you’re bringing your knees above your hips with each step. The raising gets the lower abdominals in play. This is the last warmup exercise, so don’t slow down.
When the warmups are completed, you get a 30-seconds water break, followed by a five minutes stretching segment. This stretching segment has pretty exactly the same exercises as what you’ve been doing in the other Insanity workouts. Remember to pause if necessary in order to get more stretching in. This is the one area where I encourage you to break from Shaun T’s pace.
The Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning Exercises
Another 30-seconds water break follows the stretching segment. Strap on your seat belts, because this is the last water break you will enjoy until Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning is completed.
I said at the beginning that there is only one circuit in Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning. It includes every Insanity move from past workouts. Each exercise lasts for about 60 seconds. The only repeating you will have to do is when an exercise requires that you switch sides.
High-Low Jabs. Leap vertically and when you reach the top, jab into the air. Land into the squat position and perform another jab. Repeat.
Football Runs/Plank. A combo move. First, run in place with your legs spread out so that you are almost in a squat position. Your feet are pumping as fast as possible, and your arms are raised as if you are blocking an imaginary person. On Shaun T’s cue, “Hit it!” drop down into low plank position. Repeat. I don’t like Burpee-type exercises like this one, but damn are they effective.
Basketball Shots from Squat with Four Hops. Pretend you are making a 3-point shot. Start in the standing position and lower yourself into a squat. Leap up to make the imaginary shot. Remember to land into the squat position. Repeat four times, then hop four times to the opposite direction. Pretend to make shots from the other side of your body. Notice in the photo that the workout has claimed a fitness demonstrator.
Right Kick/Left Kick. Basically, you are standing upright and kicking one leg up past your waist. Do this for a full minute, then switch to the other leg. Not as easy as it sounds.
Diamond Jumps. A diamond jump is similar to a power jump, except that at the top of the jump, you touch your hands together above your head (to form a shape of a diamond), while at the same time touching the soles of your feet together (to form the end of an arrow). A hardcore jumping move that will tax all your energy systems.
In/Out Abs with Pushup Jacks. A combo move in plank position. In/Out abs are where you hop while in plank so that your feet come as closely as possible to your hands. Finish the move by hopping back into plank position. Follow this with a set of Pushup Jacks. Start off in the plank position with your feet together. As you lower your body, simultaneously move your feet apart by 18-24 inches. As you push your body up, you will simultaneously bring your feet back together again. If you are doing it correctly, it looks as if you are doing jumping jacks while in the pushup position. Alternate between In/Out Abs and Pushup Jacks.
Suicide Jumps. Start in the plank position as if doing a pushup. Then, hop so that both feet land right behind your hands. During the hop, your hands remain firmly planted on the floor and only your feet move forward. When your feet reach your hands, immediately leap up with your hands raised to the sky. When you land, jump back into the plank position and repeat the exercise. This exercise is also known as Burpees.
High Knees/Sprints/Plank Runs (8 each). This combo of three exercises is first done in standing position. Do eight reps of high knees. Switch to sprinting in place for eight reps, then drop down into plank position and do eight plank runs. Just goes to show that there is more than one way to run in place.
Ski Abs. Start in plank position. Keeping your feet together, hop to one side of your body towards your hands while keeping your palms firmly planted on the ground. Hop back into plank, then hop to the other side of your body. Repeat until time is called. Your abs should be doing most of the heavy lifting.
Kick Step Back. You might have seen old film clips from the 1920’s where people are doing this dance called the Charleston. This dance has now morphed into an Insanity exercise. Start in the lunge position with one hand touching the floor. Straighten your body and simultaneously kick the rear leg forward. Return to lunge and repeat these moves for 60 seconds. Do the same for the other leg. This exercise is low impact and low intensity. It’s supposed to give you some breathing space before going into the next series of exercises.
Squat Twists. Shaun T called these “stance jacks” in another workout. Get into the squat position with your feet together. Hop so that your feet come apart 18-24 inches. As you do so, bend and reach down with one arm to touch the opposite foot (i.e., right hand touches left foot). Alternate arms with each hop. Activates your lower legs and your core at the same time.
Over the River Hops. Hop from one leg to another in a smooth side to side motion.
Attack. Hop into a squat position and throw two open handed jabs. Hop and twist your body so that it’s facing the opposite direction and repeat the moves.
Power Knees (on each side). This exercise looks easy, but will bring the burn if you do it with full intensity. It is done standing up and slightly bent over. You start by putting your weight on one leg and your hands clasped together. The other leg is bent, and the objective is to raise it up to chest level as quickly as possible, touching your hands to the bent knee. As you lower the leg, your foot should only touch the floor for a millisecond. When you’re done with one leg, switch over to the other for 60 seconds.
Ski Down Hooks. Stand upright and hop into a squat position with your legs close together as if you’re skiing, then perform a hook (rounded punch). Repeat until time is called. Your core and quads get activated.
Belt Kicks. One of Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning’s few low impact lower body exercises. You begin in the standing position, legs apart with both hands on your hips. Move to one side, squat, and kick up a leg. Alternate legs. It’s low impact, but because large muscle groups are involved (legs and abs), your heart rate and breathing won’t slow down much.
Forward/Back Suicides. The same exercise was called “frog jumps” in another workout. Start the exercise in the standing squat position. Hop back and bend over and touch the floor with both hands, then hop forward and bend over and touch the floor with both hands. Keep hopping back and forward until time is called. Mostly works your legs and gluts, but your core is also recruited as you bend over.
Pushup Abs (side obliques). You’ve done both pushups and side obliques. This exercise combines the two moves. As you lower your body into the pushup, raise one knee and touch it to your elbow. Alternate knees with each pushup.
Plank Punches. Get into plank position. Punch outwards with your right or left arm, then return to plank position. Alternate punching with each arm until time is called. This exercise sounds easy, but after sixty seconds, your arms, shoulders, and midsection will have failed or is very close to failure.
Jump Ropes/Hop Squats (8 each). By the time you get to this point in the workout, your body is pretty much spent. You’re going to need to dig deep, because this combo exercise requires massive exertion. Jump ropes are nothing more than power jumps with some wrist twisting action. Do eight of them. Quickly transition to eight hop squats. Repeat the series for sixty seconds.
Squat Speed Bag. After the last exercise, Shaun T commands everyone to remain in the squat position because there is one last exercise to do. With your center of gravity low to the ground, make motions with your arms and fists as if you’re punching a speed bag. Your quads are burning, your arms are slippery from sweat, and your core is toast, but hang in there because this is the last exercise.
Final Thoughts on Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning
There is no jumping for joy when time is called, just a collective sigh of relief. No one has any energy to jump or do anything. Everyone is just happy they made it through. I’ve said this before, but none of the fitness demonstrators can finish Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning without stopping at least once, even Tonia the Machine and Shaun T. It’s just a matter of time before someone has to drop out and take an unscheduled rest break. Some people just need a a few seconds to collect themselves, others sit out the entire exercise. There are times when the camera pulls back and half of the 15-20 demonstrators have stopped moving because they are exhausted from an exercise. Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning is brutal and its relentless pace can break down even the most hardcore. That’s why it’s my favorite Insanity workout. Anytime I think I need a kick in the ribs, I put this bad boy on.
The final few minutes are cool down and stretching. You should see rivulets of perspiration streaming from all parts of your body. If you don’t, my guess is that you half-assed the workout.
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