Monday, December 29, 2014

Insanity Max:30 Review: Tabata Strength


Week three of Max:30 introduces a new workout, Tabata Strength. This takes the place of Tabata Power in the workout calendar. The Beachbody description reads, "You won't see this until halfway through Month One because Shaun T takes it up a notch (or two) in this NO REST, Tabata-style workout. You heard right... 20 minutes, no rest, and we haven't even gotten to Month Two yet."

I was very excited to see Tabata Strength. Tabata Power became the first (and only) workout that I've been able to make it through without Maxing Out. (Though I should say that the one time I did make it all the way through I almost died and felt afterwards that maybe I should have taken a break.) I was ready for a new challenge. I have to say that Tabata Strength delivered. I only made it to 11:12 before maxing out and had to modify some push-ups even before that, at 10:28.


Tabata Strength uses the same 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off model that Tabata Power did. Instead of water breaks, you are given recovery moves after each round. Again, it's all body weight moves. Below is the moves list. In all cases the format is "on move" > "off move." My notes, where I have them, follow in parenthesis.

Warm-up:
Straight Arm Jack: Jack the feet and push the arms straight above your head up and down.
Scissor Chest Opener: Scissor the feet front and back and have the arms at shoulder level closing in front of the check and opening to a t-shape.
Lateral Lunge: Quick lunge side to side.
Downdog Spider: From the downdog position (from plank lift the hips in the air until you are in a downward v-shape), spider lunge left and right.
Straight Arm Jack
Scissor Chest Opener
Lateral Lunge: This time, instead of keeping the hands on the hips, touch the floor with the alternate hand.
Downdog Spider

Round 1: (20 seconds "on" > 10 seconds "recovery")
Diamond - Burpee - R > Jog It Out: To do a diamond jump, start in a squat. Power your self up in the air bringing your feet together under your body with toes touching (to make a diamond with your legs). While doing this, bring your arms all the way overhead. When you land from the diamond jump, go back into a burpee by squatting, putting your hands on the floor, and jumping your legs back into plank. For this right burpee, only have your right leg on the floor; keep the left leg lifted. Hop feet back in and start over. (Note: This is a killer move. Diamond jumps are a move I remembered from Insanity, and they are a tough one. Diamond jumps into a burpee is just killer. One legged burpees are definitely a move that you'll need to practice to get used to. I did a lot of them when I was on a T25 kick, and this certainly proved helpful.)
Diamond - Burpee - L > Jog It Out: To do a diamond jump, start in a squat. Power your self up in the air bringing your feet together under your body with toes touching (to make a diamond with your legs). While doing this, bring your arms all the way overhead. When you land from the diamond jump, go back into a burpee by squatting, putting your hands on the floor, and jumping your legs back into plank. For this left burpee, only have your left leg on the floor; keep the right leg lifted. Hop feet back in and start over.
Diamond - Burpee > Jog It Out: To do a diamond jump, start in a squat. Power your self up in the air bringing your feet together under your body with toes touching (to make a diamond with your legs). While doing this, bring your arms all the way overhead. When you land from the diamond jump, go back into a burpee by squatting, putting your hands on the floor, and jumping your legs back into plank. Hop feet back in and start over.
Diamond - Burpee > Jog It Out: To do a diamond jump, start in a squat. Power your self up in the air bringing your feet together under your body with toes touching (to make a diamond with your legs). While doing this, bring your arms all the way overhead. When you land from the diamond jump, go back into a burpee by squatting, putting your hands on the floor, and jumping your legs back into plank. Hop feet back in and start over.
Diamond Jump > Jog It Out: Start in a squat. Power your self up in the air bringing your feet together under your body with toes touching (to make a diamond with your legs). While doing this, bring your arms all the way overhead.
Diamond Jump > Jog It Out: Start in a squat. Power your self up in the air bringing your feet together under your body with toes touching (to make a diamond with your legs). While doing this, bring your arms all the way overhead.
Plié Power Squat > Jog It Out: Start in plié position, with bent knees and feet slightly turned out. Keeping your legs bent and glutes low, jump from a plié into a narrow squat. Jump out and in staying low in the squat and plié position.
Plié Power Squat > Jog It Out

High Knee Ab (Recovery Move): Jog with high knees. Have arms in "on guard" position and twist the torso so arms are meeting knees.

Round 2: (20 seconds "on" > 10 seconds "recovery")
Alt Wide Push-up > Child's Pose: In plank, extend on arm out to the side and do a push-up. Return to center and then extend the other arm to the side and place it down to so a push-up. Alternate side to side.
Alt Wide Push-up > Child's Pose
Diamond Push-up > Child's Pose: In plank, bring your hands together so that your forefingers and thumbs are touching and making a diamond shape. With your hands this way, do push-ups with the elbows going back. (Note: This is much more challenging that standard push-ups. I find a get a better range of motion modifying on my knees. Also, this is where I Maxed Out. These are hard!)
Diamond Push-up > Child's Pose
Knee Diamond Hold > Child's Pose: Go down into a diamond push-up position with your knees down (instead of in full plank). Hold your body at the bottom of the push-up position hovering slightly above the floor. (Note: I am pretty good at push-ups and I could barely sustain this position. My arms were toast!)
Knee Diamond Hold > Child's Pose
Child's Pose - Knee Diamond > Child's Pose: Do a diamond push-up with your knees down (instead of in full plank). Then sit back into Child's Pose. Go back and forth moving forward to do a diamond push-up and then moving back into Child's Pose. Move dynamically throughout.
Child's Pose - Knee Diamond > Child's Pose

Jack Jab (Recovery Move): Jack the feet while jabbing left and right. (Note: My arms were so tired from the diamond push-ups that my punches were less than stellar. It was as if I had noodle arms.)

Round 3: (20 seconds "on" > 10 seconds "recovery")
Split Plyo Lunge > Jog It Out: Start in a lunge position, jump the front leg to the back and the back leg to the front to switch the lunge. Jump back and forth changing your lunging leg each time.
Split Plyo Lunge > Jog It Out
Plyo Power Knee - R > Jog It Out: Bring the right knee towards the chest. The foot on the floor hops out, slightly to the side, and then under the body.
Plyo Power Knee - L > Jog It Out: Bring the left knee towards the chest. The foot on the floor hops out, slightly to the side, and then under the body.
Power Knee - Lunge > Jog It Out: Do a Power Knee on the right side, bringing the right knee towards the chest while standing on the left leg. Then rotate towards the right, bringing down your right knee and going into a lunge with the right leg in front and the left leg back. Rotate back and do another Power Knee.
Power Knee - Lunge > Jog It Out: Do a Power Knee on the left side, bringing the left knee towards the chest while standing on the right leg. Then rotate towards the left, bringing down your leftknee and going into a lunge with the left leg in front and the right leg back. Rotate back and do another Power Knee.
Low Power Knee - L > Jog It Out: Stand on your right leg with the leg bent and your torso almost touching the bent leg. Bring the left knee in towards your chest and back out as fast as you can. Stay in a low position with standing leg bent throughout.
Low Power Knee - R > Jog It Out: Stand on your left leg with the leg bent and your torso almost touching the bent leg. Bring the right knee in towards your chest and back out as fast as you can. Stay in a low position with standing leg bent throughout.

Straight Arm Cross (Recovery Move): Do a cross jack with the feet. Alternate the arms swinging up and out to above your body.

Round 4: (20 seconds "on" > 10 seconds "recovery")
4-Count V Push-up > Child's Pose: Start out in a pike-up position (from a plank, walk the feet in until you are in an upside down "v" shape). Have your fingers turned in towards each other. Lower your head down to the floor for 4-counts and then up for 4-counts.
4-Count V Push-up > Child's Pose
V Push-up > Child's Pose: Start out in a pike-up position (from a plank, walk the feet in until you are in an upside down "v" shape). Have your fingers turned in towards each other. Lower your head down to the floor for 1-count and then up for 1-count.
V Push-up > Child's Pose
V Push-up Hold > Child's Pose: Start out in a pike-up position (from a plank, walk the feet in until you are in an upside down "v" shape). Have your fingers turned in towards each other. Lower your head down to the floor so your elbows are bent out towards the sides. Maintain this position.
V Push-up Hold > Child's Pose
Wide Pike-ups > Child's Pose: With feet wide and body in plank, do a pike-up (raising your hips in the air so you are jumping into an upside down v-shape). Jump back into plank. Repeat.
Wide Pike-ups > Child's Pose

Mummy Kicks (Recovery Move): Have your arms out straight in front of you and switch them side to side above and below the other. While doing this, do low kicks with your feet.

Round 5: (20 seconds "on" > 10 seconds "recovery")
Scissor Push-up - L > Child's Pose: In a plank position, thread your left leg under your body. Do push-ups in this position. (Note: The people of Max:30 must have better hip flexibility than I do because they were rotated much more. My leg barely made it underneath me.)
Scissor Push-up - R > Child's Pose: In a plank position, thread your right leg under your body. Do push-ups in this position.
Knee Tap - Push-up > Child's Pose: In plank, tap one knee to the floor, do a push-up. Tap the other knee and do another push-up. Alternate knee taps.
Knee Tap - Push-up > Child's Pose
Toe Tap - Push-up > Child's Pose: In plank, tap one toe to your opposite hand. Return to full plank and do a push-up. Alternate left and right which toe you are tapping with the opposite hand.
Toe Tap - Push-up > Child's Pose
Plank Toe Tap > Child's Pose: Stay in plank and alternate toe taps left and right.
Plank Toe Tap > Child's Pose

2 & 2 Power Strike (Recovery Move): Punch towards the floor twice on the left. Do a hop and then punch towards the floor twice on the right. Alternate back and forth.

Round 6: Strength Challenge (30 seconds)
Diamond - Burpee: To do a diamond jump, start in a squat. Power your self up in the air bringing your feet together under your body with toes touching (to make a diamond with your legs). While doing this, bring your arms all the way overhead. When you land from the diamond jump, go back into a burpee by squatting, putting your hands on the floor, and jumping your legs back into plank. Hop feet back in and start over.
Alt Wide Push-up: In plank, extend on arm out to the side and do a push-up. Return to center and then extend the other arm to the side and place it down to so a push-up. Alternate side to side.
Max Out Knee Up - R: Start in a squat. Jump and lift your right leg up twisting your arms to meet the leg in an oblique twist. Return to a squat. Repeat.
Max Out Knee Up - L: Start in a squat. Jump and lift your left leg up twisting your arms to meet the leg in an oblique twist. Return to a squat. Repeat.
V Push-up: Start out in a pike-up position (from a plank, walk the feet in until you are in an upside down "v" shape). Have your fingers turned in towards each other. Lower your head down to the floor for 1-count and then up for 1-count.
Chair Hold > Add Pulse (for a total of one minute): Sink into a squat with your arms straight out in front of you. Hold that position. For the last 15 second, pulse while in the low squat position.


Tabata Power had a lot of plyometric work. In Tabata Strength there is a bit less of that, though we do see burpees with diamond jumps. Without a doubt, the difficulty of the bodyweight exercises is ratcheted up. I am uncertain if I will ever be able to make it all the way through this workout without modifications or Maxing Out; especially challenging is a section with diamond push-ups back to back. My arms gave out, and I literally collapsed to the floor a couple of times.

As bodyweight workouts go, this is definitely a challenge. I am excited that this workout will really give me an opportunity to work hard and have growth. I love bodyweight exercises, and I think that this workout is certainly effective and fun. A great addition to the Max:30 program!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Insanity Max:30 Review: Ab Attack:10

 A week and a half into Max:30, I decided to check out the supplemental ten minute ab workout included on the cardio workout DVDs, Ab Attack:10. This workout is meant to be done, as desired, after the cardio workouts or as part of the special Ab Maximizer workout calendar (which requires that you purchase the extra two Max:30 workouts that don't come with the standard set).

Beachbody describes Ab Attack:10 this way,"This 10-minute routine will feel like an attack on your abs but you'll love the results. Check out the Ab Maximizer Workout Calendar to see how you can get six-pack abs from this one crazy workout. (Note: You will find Ab Attack: 10 on all your cardio workouts.)"


Here is the moves list for Ab Attack:10. You do each move for one minute for a total of ten minutes.

Floor Tuck Jumps: Sitting in c-sit position, engage your abs and lift your feet off the ground with bent knees. Tap hands to knees as if doing a seated tuck jump.
Low Plank Side Punch: In low plank (on elbows), lift one arm, reach it under your torso and punch to the opposite side. Put that arm back down and reverse on the other side. Go side to side trying not to move the hips.
Knee Push Extension: From c-sit, open up legs and arms lying back completely on the floor. Stretch the arms overhead and the legs out in front. Arms and legs are four inches from the floor. Pop back up into c-sit. Repeat move over and over.
Reciprocating Knee: In plank, tap on knee to the floor and then the other. Alternate back and forth with the knees while maintaining plank position.
Switch Kick Abs: On the back, scissor legs up and down and punch opposite hand to raised leg.
Plank Toe Taps: In plank, bring one foot in and then tap with the opposite hand. Alternate left and right hands with right and left feet.
Ab Sprint: In a c-sit position, pedal / sprint the feet as quickly as possible with control and abs engage. Hands should be performing a running motion.
Tricep Push-up Extension: Start in plank position. Lower down into a tricep push-up and then lie flat on your stomach. With the strength of your back lift your arms and legs straight forward and back about four inches off the ground. Bring your arms back in and push back up into plank for the tricep push-up. Repeat.
Floor Ab Attack: Sit in a c-sit with feet lifted off the floor. Chop arms left and right.
Drum "V": Do a v-sit with legs and torso extended into a v-shape, seated on your tailbone. Drum your fist on your abs.

Bottom line: This workout is no joke! "Oh, it's only ten minutes," I thought, "How bad can it be?" Answer, "Bad." This was hard. I didn't track my Max Out time, but I should have -- it was in the first exercise. I also ended up doing some of these moves modified as my abs and hip flexors began to protest.

I should say that I don't do a ton of pure ab work. I do work my core with plank work, and did fine with the plank moves in this ab set. Overall, I tend to focus more on strengthening my back of my core than the front of my core, i.e. the abs. I don't do crunches and the like all that much, and that's where I really felt the pain in Ab Attack:10. Clearly, I should be working my core in a more well-rounded way.

If you are really into ab exercises, you are going to love this workout. I definitely found the exercises to be interesting and unique. It was giving me something I don't always get in other ab workouts, which is fantastic. I especially liked the plank work and found the tricep push-up extension to be a really cool new move. I do want to work more on my core strength, so, as time allows, I hope to add this workout in once a week after a cardio workout. Definitely a nice bonus workout to have!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Insanity Max:30 Review: Pulse

Today I decided to check out the Max:30 "recovery" workout, Pulse. This workout clocks in at a brief 20 minutes. Beachbody describes the workout this way, " Aka Shaun's version of a recovery workout, a low-impact combo of stretching and small "pulsing" movements, so you still feel the burn as your body rejuvenates for the week ahead. (Note: You will find Pulse on both Friday Fight DVDs.)"


I am going to get right out there and say that I do not really feel that this is a good recovery workout. The only reason that it could even qualify as recovery is because it's non-impact and you so some quick light stretching. I happen to like the recovery / stretch workouts from Asylum 1 and 2 and Focus T25 much better (Note: The T25 workout Stretch is one of the best recovery / stretch workouts I've seen.) Those three workouts are true recovery workouts that really focus on active and static stretching. I was hoping that Pulse would be a bit like the P90X3 workout Dynamix, a workout with a lot of dynamic stretching, but no such luck. This "recovery" workout was more in-line with some of the original Insanity recovery workouts that I am also not too keen on. Too much work for a rest day.

I think the moves list will give you a good idea. We did each movement for about 30 seconds (for a total of 20 minutes for the entire workout).

Chest Open Knee: Lift knees left and right and open and close arms. Arms should be in an L-shape and open and then close in front of the chest.
Back Lunge Fly: Lunge back left and right. While doing this, have arms open straight to the sides, open and close.
Lateral Lunge: Lunge side to side with hands on the knee.
Downdog Spider: Go from downdog into a spider lunge, alternate right and left.
Squat Pencil: Squat. Then stand up and bring one leg straight up in front of you until it's even with your waist. Squat and then lift the other leg. Squat and alternate the pencil left and right.
Calf Stretch: Alternate left and right. Extend leg in front and then bring your hands to the foot. Bring feet together and then roll up.
Lunge Pulse - R: With the right leg back in a lunge, pulse up and down. Hands in guard position.
Lunge Pulse - L: With the left leg back in a lunge, pulse up and down. Hands in guard position.
Quad Stretch: Alternate standing quad stretch. Stand on one leg and bring the foot into the glutes to stretch the quad in the front.
Runner Stance Pulse - R: Stand on the right leg with the left leg in the air behind you and bent. Have arms in a runners stance. Pulse on the standing leg up and down slightly.
Runner Stance Pulse - L: Standing on the left leg with the right leg in the air behind you and bent, pulse up and down.
Hip Opener Stretch: In plie position with hands on the knees, twist side to side stretching the shoulders forward.
Plie Pulse: Stay in plie and pule up and down. Arms are straight to the sides held in-line with the shoulders.
Hamstring Stretch. Keep feet wider than hip distance apart. Bend over from the hips and touch one foot with the opposite hand. Move left and right.
Plank Lat Pulldown: In plank, lift on arm to the front and bring it straight to the side and then back to above the glutes. Bring the arm back around and down. Next do the same on the other side. Alternate side to side keeping the hips level and square as you move the arms.
Child's Pose - Cobra: Move fluidly from child's pose, sitting back on the glutes on all fours, and then cobra.
Plank Walk - Shoulder Tap: In plank, move left then right. Then tap one hand to the opposite shoulder. Move that hand to the floor and then tap the other shoulder with the other hand. Repeat the entire sequence.
Chest Stretch: On your knees, take your arms behind you and clasp your knees. Lift to stretch the shoulders. Then stretch to the front and ceiling.
Bear Crawl Walk Out: In squat, touch the floor and walk into plank. Jump the feet in and out (back into plank). Then walk the hands back to the feet. Stand and lift the hands into the air. Repeat the entire sequence.
Chest Open Stretch: Make you arms into and L-shape on either side of your body, keeping arms shoulder height. Open and close the arms.
Reciprocating Knee: In plank, tap on knee to the floor and then the other. Alternate back and forth with the knees while maintaining plank position.
Downdog - Plank: Move from downdog (with the body in an upside down "v") into a plank position. Move back and forth.
Switch Kick Abs: On the back, scissor legs up and down and punch opposite hand to raised leg.
Back Stretch: In c-sit position, round back slightly to stretch the lower back. Come up and stretch the chest, then round back again.
Crunch Extension: From c-sit, open up legs and arms lying back completely on the floor. Stretch the arms overhead and the legs out in front. Arms and legs are four inches from the floor. Pop back up into c-sit. Repeat move over and over.
Hamstring Reach: In a seated position, extend your legs in front of you. Lean forward and touch your fingers to your toes. You can walk your hands down your feet as far as you want to engage the hamstrings.
Backstroke: Lie on your back with your head off the floor and feet four inches off the floor and flexed. Have on arm against the body and the other over head. Move the arms in a backstroke manner alternating the arm above the head and against the body.
Shoulder Stretch: In a c-sit position, do a shoulder stretch bringing you arm across the chest and pulling. Change arms.
Table Balance - R: On all fours in table top, lift both your right arm and leg. Balance. Foot should be flexed. Engage the core to maintain form.
Table Balance - L: On all fours in table top, lift both your left arm and leg. Balance.
Child's Pose: From all fours, sit back onto the heels. Keep arms stretched in front of you to stretch the arms and back.


As you can see, many of the moves required a good bit of strength focus. You are not doing any cardio work and you are not jumping, but you are working your muscles. This was the bit that I have umbrage with on a rest day. Brief stretches -- remember each segment is only about 30 seconds -- are mixed in. I would have liked to see a bit more time spent on stretching and a bit less time spent working the arms and legs. They get enough attention the rest of the week!


All this being said, Pulse is an optional workout -- you can do it on one of the two rest days on your weekend. I'm not entirely sure that I get a lot out of this workout. It's not really a stretch, which is what I most likely really need. It's also not enough of a strength workout to be worth adding to my calendar for a non-rest day. 

Pulse probably won't get a lot of play from me -- I'm more likely to use my second rest day on the Max:30 calendar to go for a hike or do some other long sustained cardio. I might bring it out if I'm doing a taper for an OCR event and want to keep myself from getting stale without putting my body through too much. It's a bonus workout, and I can take it or leave it. The rest of the program is fantastic enough that I don't care so much about this small extra workout. 

Insanity Max:30 Review: Friday Fight: Round 1

The last new workout of week one of month one of Insanity Max:30 is Friday Fight: Round 1. Beachbody says, "You've been preparing all week and now it's time for Friday Fight. This workout will be a battle between your mind telling you to push to a new Max and your body saying, 'OMG, are you serious?' And this is just Round 1." To sum it up: This workout kicked my butt.

 
Friday Fight is definitely the most challenging of the month one workouts I have done so far. (I will admit that I was super tired when I did this workout, but I still think I would have found it to be very hard.) One of the most difficult parts of the workout is that breaks are almost completely eliminated. You move straight from the warm-up into Round 1, which lasts for over ten minutes. You then get a quick thirty second break before going at it again for several minutes. There is one more thirty second break and then four or so minutes for the last round. The fact that you don't get breaks every five minutes, like in the other workouts, is decidedly a paradigm shift and means you have to change your mental focus. Gone are the days of saying to yourself, "Come on -- it's only one more minute!" (Or in the case of the Tabata workout, "Come on -- it's only 20 seconds!")

Below is the moves list.

Warm-up:
Chest Open Jack: Jack the feet and do chest openers with the arms
Jack Uppercut: Jack the feet and do alternating left and right uppercuts
1-2-3 Knee: Side to side three times. Have arms at chest level and open to the sides. Bring up your knee and touch it with the same arm.
Jump Rope
High Knee Jab: Front jabs along with high knees.

(Repeat all moves again to complete the warm-up.)

Round 1:
Hop Hop Runner: Hop twice laterally and then curl the inside leg up and back into a dramatic running motion. Hop and run to the other side. Repeat side to side.
Plyo Power Knee - R: Bring the right knee towards the chest. The foot on the floor hops out, slightly to the side, and then under the body.
Plyo Power Knee - L: Bring the left knee towards the chest. The foot on the floor hops out to the side and then under the body.
Switch Kick Punch: As you punch your arms, kick your legs left and right as fast as you can as as high as you can.
Wide In & Out - Knee Tap: Start in plank position with your feet wide. Hop your feet in, under your body. Take one arm and tap the opposite knee. Jump back out into plank with feet wide and bring your arm back down. Repeat and tap the other hand to the other knee. Repeat side to side.
Med Ball Twist: Jack the feet and bring hands (together) up and over the head in an arc to the left and right.
Moving Jump Cross: Jump laterally to the side, then do a cross punch. Now jump to the other side and do a cross punch to that side. Repeat moving side to side and punching with alternate arms.
Speed In & Out Abs: In plank, jump the feet in towards the chest and then back out. Repeat as quickly as possible (Note: This is where I Maxed Out at 11:15. My legs were toast!)
Scissor Stance Jack:Squat then jump up and scissor the feet. When you are down in the squat alternate touching your hand to the opposite foot.
4 Jab - 4 High Knee: Four jabs while standing and then four running high knees.
Tricep Dip Reach: In table top, do trice dips. When you push-up, lift one arms and touch it to the opposite leg. Alternate left and right. (Note: This one of the moves that challenged my balance initially. I have been practicing and am starting to get the hang of it. The key is keeping the legs wide enough and engaging the core a lot!)

Round 2:
Hit The Floor: Move laterally side to side quickly and tap the floor with one hand and then the other. Keep in a somewhat low stance.
2 Jab - 2 Tuck: Two jabs to the side, then two tuck jumps (where you jump and bring you feet under your glutes bringing your knees to the chest). Then jab to the other side and jump again. Alternate side to side with the jabs after each set of tuck jumps.
Burpee Lunge - Alt: Squat, put the hands to the flor and then jump back into plank. Jump back into a squat and then jump the left leg forwards and the right leg back into a lunge. Repeat, this time doing a lunge on the opposite leg. Repeat, switching lunges from leg to leg.
Ab Attack - R: Stand in a sideways squat-type position with arms extended. Jump the feet in and lift the right knee. As you do so, bring the left arm in towards the right knee engaging the abs and twisting slightly.
Ab Attack - L: Stand in a sideways squat-type position with arms extended. Jump the feet in and lift the left knee. As you do so, bring the right arm in towards the left knee engaging the abs and twisting slightly.
Wide Pike-Ups: With feet wide and body in plank, do a pike-up (raising your hips in the air so you are jumping into an upside down v-shape). Jump back into plank. Repeat.
10 & 2: Do a twisting jump where you jump between 10 and 2 on the clock.
Squat Kick - R: Squat and then kick the right leg. While kicking the right leg, hop on the left foot.
Squat Kick - L: Squat and then kick the left leg. While kicking the left leg, hop on the right foot.
"X" Jump - "X" Plank: Do an x-jump, where you jump vertically in to the air from a demi-squat position with the arms extended above and the legs below, making and x-shape. Come down and then go down into plank with wide feet to create an x-plank.
Plank Toe Taps: In plank, bring one foot in and then tap with the opposite hand. Alternate left and right hands with right and left feet.
Knee Diamond Push-Up: In plank but with knees down, do diamond push-ups. For diamond push-ups, have your hands together with the thumbs and pointer fingers touching to make a diamond shape. (Note: Diamond push-ups are one of the most challenging types of push-ups. Of course, having the knees down, instead of being in full plank, helps a lot. However, if you need to make them easier, you can bring your finger a little bit farther apart so that the thumbs and pointer fingers are not quite touching. This makes it easier to have a better range of motion in the push-up I find.)

(Note: The last three moves in this round were new to the Max:30 program to me and were not moves that I had seen. This was different than the rest of the workout. Maybe we'll see those moves in Tabata Strength, which is added in week 3 of month 1.)

Round 3:
Split Lunge Punch: Do a plyo split lung moving the feet forward and back in a lunge position. Punch forward with the alternate arm (as front leg).
Plank Punch: In a plank position, lift one arm to be even with the body and punch forward. Bring that arm back down to the floor and then punch the other arm. Alternate back and forth with the arms.
Moving Squat Jab: From a squat, jump laterally to the side. Punch left, right. Then jump back to the side and do two punches again. Repeat, moving side to side and punching.
Punching Abs: Sit in a c-sit position and punch your abs with you fists. (Note: There are no words to describe how ridiculous this looks and feels. Also, the punching hurt my stomach. Duh.)



If you notice, the moves are pretty much all ones that we have seen in other Max:30 workouts from month one. The idea of Friday Fight is that it's the "Game Day" workout of the week -- the big one. You are supposed to take the workouts you know, string them together, and go as hard as you can with good form for as long as you can until you Max Out. Difficulty is increased by the longer intervals and the variety of both cardio and strength moves. That being said, the workout is definitely more cardio focused -- I was out of breath for most the of the 30 minutes, and I tend to be pretty good at high intensity training. 

This one is a tough workout! I Maxed out at 11:15, by far the earliest I have Maxed Out so far. I can't wait to try it again, when I am less tired and see how far I can get. Friday Fight is the big challenge of month one and I want to nail it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Insanity Max:30 Review: Sweat Intervals

The third workout on the Insanity Max:30 calendar is another cardio-focused workout called Sweat Intervals. The Beachbody guide says, "Just in case you didn't think Cardio Challenge was hard enough, you'll have Sweat Intervals to tackle as well. 30 minutes of screaming, sweating, calorie-scorching madness."


 As with Cardio Challenge, Sweat Intervals has a warm-up and five rounds. The warm-up is the exact same one that you see in Cardio Challenge. Throughout the rounds, you do each move for about thirty seconds before moving on to the next. Moves get repeated throughout the round. Each round is five minutes, after which you get a thirty second water break.

Warm-up
Chest Open Jack: Jack the feet and do chest openers with the arms
Jack Uppercut: Jack the feet and do alternating left and right uppercuts
1-2-3 Knee: Side to side three times. Have arms at chest level and open to the sides. Bring up your knee and touch it with the same arm.
Cross Jack: Cross jack the feet. One arm at a time above the head.
High Knee Jab: Front jabs along with high knees.

(Repeat all moves again to complete the warm-up.)

Round 1

High Jump Cross - R: Jump off the floor extending your legs straight below you and bringing your arms over head. When you come down, do a cross punch to the right.
Squat Lunge - L: Squat, then jump your right leg back and left leg forward into a lunge. Jump back into a squat. Repeat on the same side.
Push-Up Punch: In plank, do a push-up. As you push your body away from the floor, lift one arm and punch it directly in front of you. Go back down into the push-up and then come up and punch with the other arm. Repeat.
High Jump Cross - L: Jump off the floor extending your legs straight below you and bringing your arms over head. When you come down, do a cross punch to the left.
Squat Lunge - R: Squat, then jump your left leg back and right leg forward into a lunge. Jump back into a squat. Repeat.
Push-Up Punch
Moving Jump Cross: Jump laterally to the side, then do a cross punch. Now jump to the other side and do a cross punch to that side. Repeat moving side to side and punching with alternate arms.
Squat Lunge - Alt: Squat and then jump your right left back and left leg forward into a lunge. Jump back into the squat and now jump your left leg back and right leg forward into a lunge. Repeat alternating lunging legs.
Push-Up Punch

Round 2

Moving Squat Jab: From a squat, jump laterally to the side. Punch left, right. Then jump back to the other side and do two punches again. Repeat moving side to side and punching.
Wide Pike-Ups: With feet wide and body in plank, do a pike up (raising your hips in the air so you are jumping into an upside down v-shape). Jump back into plank. Repeat.
Hurdle Drill: Go down into a runners lunge. On Shaun T's cue, pop-up and jump laterally, bringing legs up as if you're jumping over a hurdle. Go back down into runner's lunge. Repeat side to side on cue.
Moving Squat Jab
Wide Pike-Ups
Hurdle Drill
Moving Squat Jab
Wide Pike-Ups
Fast Hurdle Drill: For the last round of hurdles, you are continually jumping side to side with hurdle jumps -- no cuing; no going down into runner's lunge.

Round 3

Hop Hop Runner: Hop twice laterally and then curl the inside leg up and back into a dramatic running motion. Hop and run to the other side. Repeat side to side.
Power Jump - Squat Push: Do a power jump (where you jump from a squat into the air bringing your knees in towards your chest). When you land in a squat, lean forward, keeping legs in squat-position, and do a push-up. Come back up into squat position and ready for the next power jump.
Switch Kick Punch: As you punch your arms, kick your legs left and right as fast as you can and as high as you can.
Hop Hop Runner
Power Jump - Squat Push
Switch Kick Punch
Hop Hop Runner
Power Jump - Squat Push
Switch Kick Punch

Round 4

Free Runner - R: Jump up and kick the right leg front and left leg back. Repeat.
Ski Ab Power Knee - R: In plank, bring the right leg forward toward the elbow with the foot on the floor. Then bring the left leg in towards the chest, twisting towards the right side.
Squat Oblique Knee: Start in a squat position. Jump up and bring the right knee up, twisting the left arm towards the knee to engage the obliques. Go back into a squat and then jump up engaging the left side. Alternate side to side.
Free Runner - L: Jump up and kick the left leg front and the right leg back. Repeat.
Ski Ab Power Knee - L: In plank, bring the left leg forward toward the elbow with the foot on the floor. Then bring the right leg in towards the chest, twisting towards the left side.
Squat Oblique Knee
Free Runner - R
Free Runner - L
Ski Abs: In plank, jump both feet together to the left, bringing the knees sideways and towards the chest. Jump back into plank. Jump the knees to the right. Go back into plank. Go back and forth, side to side.
Squat Oblique Knee

Round 5

Burpee Lunge - R: Squat, put the hands to the floor and then jump back into plank (to perform a burpee without a push-up). Jump back into a squat and then jump the right leg forward and left leg back into a lunge. Repeat.
Hit The Floor: Move laterally side to side quickly and tap the floor with one hand and then the other. Keep in somewhat a low stance.
Cross Jack Jab: Do a cross jack with your feet, then jab forward.
Burped Lunge - L: Squat, put the hands to the floor and then jump back into plank (to perform a burpee without a push-up). Jump back into a squat and then jump the left leg forward and right leg back into a lunge. Repeat.
Hit The Floor
Cross Jack Jab
Hit The Floor
Burpee Lunge - Alt: Squat, put the hands to the floor and then jump back into plank (to perform a burpee without a push-up). Jump back into a squat and then jump the left leg forward and right leg back into a lunge. Repeat, this time doing a lunge with the opposite leg. Repeat, switching lunges from leg to leg.
Cross Jack Jab

The workout then finishes with a two minute cool down with dynamic stretch. 


I really pushed myself hard throughout this workout and was very much in the game mentally. I definitely felt that this workout was a bit more difficult than Cardio Challenge. As with all of the Max:30 workouts, the goal is to push your self as much as possible, which means that mental engagement is key. Throughout the workout, it's important to focus on form and going as hard as you can -- whether that means jumping higher, moving farther laterally, or going faster. That's the key to Max:30, and it definitely takes determination. Insanity made you think about going as hard as you could too, but that mentality is focused on more in Max:30. The fact that the workout is "only" 30 minutes helps with that too.

I ended up maxing out at 26:20 on the first set of Cross Jack Jab. I was spent and had given it my all. The next three and a half minutes were a bit ugly. In a way though, that's the point. I felt like I had done the workout right and went all out. It's fun getting to do that; it's great knowing the discomfort will only last for thirty minutes.

As I have mentioned before, high intensity max cardio training is my favorite type of exercise. It's not for everyone and it's not for all the time, but I always find it to be a blast to push myself. For anyone who likes this type of exercise, Max:30 is a must do. The motivating charisma of Shaun T, combined with interesting and dynamic moves makes this a program worth having.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Insanity Max:30 Review: Tabata Power

The second workout on the Insanity Max:30 workout calendar is Tabata Power. This thirty minute workout is considered more strength-based. The Max Out Guide that comes with the program describes the workout as, "Your strength training starts here with a traditional Tabata-style '20 seconds on, 10 seconds off' workout structure. This plyometric-focused workout will leave your muscles begging for mercy."


The Tabata Power workout contains a half dozen rounds. Each contain moves that focus on various body parts and are done back to back. You do 20 second of work and then get to rest for 10 seconds. Mentally, this is a huge help. In reality, your muscles get little rest because the moves you do in each round one after the other all focus on the same area of the body. So, for example, you do a bunch of different chest moves all in a row. Even with the breaks, you are definitely working those muscles as a result.

Here are the moves as they appear in the workout. My notes follow, where applicable, in parenthesis.

Warm-up

Each move is done for thirty second straight through until the four minute mark. You then get a thirty second water break.

Straight Arm Jack: Jack the feet and push the arms straight above your head up and down.
Scissor Chest Opener: Scissor the feet front and back and have the arms at shoulder level closing in front of the check and opening to a t-shape.
Lateral Lunge: Quick lunge side to side.
Downdog Spider: From the downdog position (from plank lift the hips in the air until you are in a downward v-shape), spider lunge left and right.
Straight Arm Jack
Scissor Chest Opener
Lateral Lunge: This time, instead of keeping the hands on the hips, touch the floor with the alternate hand.
Downdog Spider

You then move on to the main workout section. The rule is, "Twenty seconds on, ten seconds off" throughout each round. Then at the end of the round, you get a thirty second break. Rounds alternated between having a lower or upper body focus or core work. The last round incorporated moves from all the previous rounds each done once through without breaks for thirty seconds or a minute.

Round 1

Burpee Lunge - Alt: From a burpee, jump up and into a lunge. First plyo lunge left, then after the next burpee lunge right. After twenty seconds jog it out then repeat the burpee lunges for a total of one minute.
Plyo Lunge Jump - L: Swing arms back and up. As you swing the arms up jump up. Legs are in a lunge position with the left leg in front. Twenty seconds on, then a ten second jog.
Plyo Lunge Jump - R: Swing arms back and up. As you swing the arms up jump up. Legs are in a lunge position with the right leg in front. Twenty seconds on, then a ten second jog.
Splint Lunge Punch: Do a plyo split lung moving feet forward and back in a lunge position. Punch forward with the alternate arm (as front leg). After twenty second, jog for ten, then do another set of twenty seconds with a rest.
Back Lunge Kick - R: With the right leg moving, lunge back with the right leg and then kick it front. Twenty seconds on, then ten second jog.
Back Lunge Kick - L: With the left leg moving, lunge back with the left leg and then kick it front. Twenty seconds on, then ten second jog.

Round 2

Moving Plyo Push-up: Do push-ups, when you come up, you pop off the floor and jump side to side as you push out of the push-up. Twenty second on, then ten seconds of Child's Pose. Repeat for a total of one minute.
Push-up Pop-up: Push-up and then when you come up pop off the floor slightly lifting off arms. Twenty second on, then ten seconds of Child's Pose. Repeat for a total of one minute. (Note: This was a very challenging round with the plyo moves and push-ups all back to back. Many of the women in the workout switched to modified push-ups on the knees. I did this. Some would consider this maxing out, but I was still moving. I made a note of when I switched to modifications, but did not count this as maxing out because, according to the Max Out Guide, you only count it as maxing out when you stop moving, which I didn't do. I ended up maxing out at 25:12. I made notes in my iPhone calendar of both the time I switched to modified push-ups and when I maxed out. I will try to track and improve both metrics.)
Push-up Row: Do a push-up. When you come up, row up your arm against the side of your torso. Alternate arms, left and right. Twenty second on, then ten seconds of Child's Pose. Repeat for a total of one minute.
Knee Push-up Row: Same as the previous move but on the knees. Twenty second on, then ten seconds of Child's Pose. Repeat for a total of one minute.

Round 3

Fast Power Jumps: With legs wide, jump up bringing your knees towards the chest. Go as fast as you can jumping high. Twenty seconds on, then ten second jog. Repeat for a total of one minute.
Slow Power Jumps: Slower power jumps done on Shaun T's cue. Twenty seconds on, then ten second jog. Repeat for a total of one minute.
High Jumps: Swing arms from back to front and jump off the floor as high as you can from a squat up with legs extended. Twenty seconds on, then ten second jog. Repeat for a total of one minute.
Squat Knee Up: Squat and lift you knee. Alternate lifted knee from left to right. Twenty seconds on, then ten second jog. Repeat for a total of one minute. (Note: This move was basic and a nice rest from jumping. Those power plyo moves were intense, and this was a great way to recover.)

Round 4

Switch Kick Abs: Supine, scissor the legs and punch the opposite hand towards leg. Have the shoulders curled off the floor. Twenty seconds on, then ten second c-sit. Repeat for a total of one minute.
Switch Kick Abs - R: Have the left leg hovering straight a few inches off the floor. The right leg moves down and up and the opposite hand punches towards it. Twenty seconds on, then ten second c-sit.
Switch Kick Abs - L: Have the right leg hovering straight a few inches off the floor. The left leg moves down and up and the opposite hand punches towards it. Twenty seconds on, then ten seconds c-sit.
Scissor Abs: With hands behind the head and shoulders curled off the floor, scissor legs up and down. Twenty seconds on, then ten second c-sit. Repeat for a total of one minute.
"L" Hold - R: Hold the right leg up and the right a few inches from the floor. Have the shoulders curled up and the hands behind the head. Twenty seconds on, then ten seconds c-sit.
"L" Hold - L: Hold the left leg up and the right a few inches from the floor. Have the shoulders curled up and the hands behind the head. Twenty seconds on, then ten seconds c-sit.

Round 5

Tricep Dip Reach: In table top, do tricep dips. When you push-up, lift one arm and touch it to the opposite leg. Alternate left and right. Twenty seconds on, then ten seconds rest. Repeat for a total of one minute. (Note: I found it a bit difficult to get the balance right on this move and had to start a bit slowly. This may be a move that I would recommend practicing outside the Max:30 workout so that you can nail it when the time comes.)
Single-Leg Tricep Dip - R: Fast tricep dips with the right leg in the air. Twenty seconds on, then ten seconds rest.
Single-Leg Tricep Dip - L: Fast tricep dips with the left leg in the air. Twenty seconds on, then ten seconds rest.
Speed Tricep Dips: Fast dips with both legs on the floor. Twenty seconds on, then ten seconds rest. Repeat for a total of one minute. (Note: The triceps are small muscles and these back to back tricep moves were what really hammer me into submission. Here's where I really maxed out.)
4-Count Tricep Dips: Slow 4-count dips with both legs on the floor. Twenty seconds on, then ten seconds rest. Repeat for a total of one minute.

Round 6

Split Lunge Punch
Push-up Row
Switch Kick Abs
Speed Tricep Dips
Power Jumps

As with Cardio Challenge, the workout was appended with a two minute cool down that was dynamic and included some modest stretching.

Like all the Insanity workouts where you do bodyweight exercises, you are not going to be building huge bulk here. That being said, moving your body around definitely requires a good amount of strength. Bodyweight training is personally my favorite way to resistance train because it is most like what I do in obstacle course racing. For that reason, I really like this DVD. 

The leg segments are cardio heavy to be sure. In a way I liked that because it mixed things up a little bit. The back to back chest moves were brutal. The push-up section was no doubt the hardest as plyo-style push-up moves never seem to get any easier. (I mean, popping your entire body weight off the ground in a plank position -- how could that be easy?) Also killer was the triceps portion. As I said before the triceps are small muscles and they get a repeat pounding here. 

I definitely felt this workout was a challenge. Was it manageable; overall, yes. Was it still hard; without a doubt. I found the workout to be the perfect blend of challenge and do-ability. Shaun T was inspiring as always. I also felt that I was able to do more because I knew I only had to do 20 seconds. Mentally that was a big thing and kept me going when I may have quit earlier. It was still surprising though how long 20 second felt when you were on the last set of reps in a round. 

This workout plays to the kind of exercising I like to do -- bodyweight moves and some cardio thrown in. It's exactly how I like to structure my strength training days and aligns well with my goals. For someone wanting to be strong, this will work; however, if you want bulk, you may have to look elsewhere. If you've ever done any of the Insanity workouts or workouts with Shaun T you will know that's the case though.

Insanity Max:30 Review: Cardio Challenge

The first workout in Insanity Max:30 is Cardio Challenge. This workout takes the place of the Fit Test and serves as the main way to track your fitness. As your fitness increases, you can go longer before "maxing out" (i.e. needing to take a break). The Max Out Guide describes the workout like this. "This workout serves as your Fit Test and your introduction to the program. 30 minutes of the hardest cardio sequences you've ever tried... Welcome to Insanity Max:30."


The workout definitely reminded me a lot of Insanity, just with some different moves. It's fast cardio and you are moving as hard and as fast as you can as long as you can before a break. Compared with month one of Insanity, breaks are less frequent, the warm-up is quicker, and there is not a long stretching section. As with many of the new 30 minute Beachbody workouts, each DVD is stripped down to the basics and you are working from the minute you start all the way through. Difficultly-wise, I would rate this as similar to month one of Insanity -- just more focused.

I'll now review each section of the workout and all the moves. My comments, where they exist, follow in parenthesis.

Warm-up

Each move in this set is thirty seconds. You go through all five moves and then work through each one more time. This totals five minutes and is considered the "warm-up." After the five minutes, you get a thirty second break where you do some quick dynamic stretches.

Chest Open Jack: Jack the feet and do chest openers with the arms
Jack Uppercut: Jack the feet and do alternating left and right uppercuts
1-2-3 Knee: Side to side three times. Have arms at chest level and open to the sides. Bring up your knee and touch it with the same arm.
Cross Jack: Cross jack the feet. One arm at a time above the head.
High Knee Jab: Front jabs along with high knees.

(Repeat all moves again to complete the warm-up.)

You then move into the main portion of the workout. You do each move for thirty seconds and move through all the moves in the round. The round lasts around five minutes. You then get a thirty second break.

Round 1

Squat Kick - R: Squat and then kick the right leg. While kicking the right leg, hop on the left foot.
Pike-up Spider - R: Pike-up and then jump back into a spider lunge with your left leg back and right knee in the front.
10 & 2: Do a twisting jump where you jump between 10 and 2 on the clock.
Squat Kick - L: Squat and kick the left leg. While kicking the left leg, hop on the right foot.
Pike-up Spider - L: Pike-up and then jump back into a spider lunge with your right leg back and left knee in front.
10 & 2
Squat Kick - Alt: Squat and kick alternating legs. Hop on the standing (non-kicking leg).
Pike-Up Spider - Alt: Pike-up and then jump back into a spider lunge alternating between left and right.
10 & 2

Round 2

Medicine Ball Twist: Jack the feet and bring hands (together) up and over the head in an arc left and right.
Plank Jack - In & Out: Do a plank jack (jack feet while in plank). Then do an in & out abs, where you jump you feet in then out while in plank. (Note: I nailed this move, and it felt totally amazing. This is a fun one and definitely rewards you if you've been doing a lot of push-ups or plank work.)
4 Jab - 4 High Knee: Four jabs while standing and then four running high knees.
Medicine Ball Twist
Plank Jack - In & Out
4 Jab - 4 High Knee
Medicine Ball Twist
Plank Jack - In & Out
4 Jab - 4 High Knees

Round 3

Plyo Power Knee - R: Bring the right knee towards the chest. The foot on the floor hops out, slightly to the side, and then under the body.
Scissor Stance Jack: Squat then jump up and scissor the feet. When you are down in the squat alternate touching your hand to the alternate foot.
Shoulder Tap - In & Out: While doing In & Out abs do alternating shoulder taps. Tap the shoulder when the feet are out and have both hands on the floor then the feet are in. (Note: I find this to be the most challenging move of the workout. The coordination between arms and legs is difficult to get down. I got most of the moves in Max:30 pretty much right away, but this one had me going a bit slow at first as I tried to get the move down. It's definitely one I think I will need to keep practicing outside the workout to really get it.)
Plyo Power Knee - L: Bring the left knee towards the chest. The foot on the floor hops out, slightly to the side, and then under the body.
Scissor Stance Jack
Shoulder Tap - In & Out
Plyo Power Knee - R then L
Scissor Stance Jack
Shoulder Tap - In & Out

Round 4

Slap Back Jack: Jack the feet. Have hand down and swinging back and front, slapping in front of the hips and behind the lower back.
Suicide Burpee: Run 1-2-3-4 side to side, then do a burpee (where you squat, put the hands down, jump into plank, jump back into a squat, and return to standing). (Note: I have been doing a lot of burpees lately, as they often appear as penalties in obstacle course races if you fail an obstacle. That definitely helped with this move. I didn't suffer nearly as much as someone not accustomed to burpees. My advice: Do at least 25 burpees every other day.)
Plank Speed Tap - R: In plank, run the right leg front (towards the chest) and back out into plank. Similar to mountain climbers on the floor with just moving one leg.
Slap Back Jack
Suicide Burpee
Plank Speed Tap - L: In plank, run the left leg front (towards the chest) and back into plank.
Slap Back Jack
Suicide Burpee
Plank Speed Tap - Alt

Round 5

Chair Squat: In a squat with the hands touching the floor, bring hands over the head and do an abductor squat bringing the feet in together while keeping squatted.
Football Run: Wide football run. Follow cues to turn right, left, front, move side to side, and then sprint.
2 Jab - 2 Tuck: 2 jabs to the side, then two tuck jumps (where you jump and bring you feet up under your bottom, pulling the knees towards the chest). Then jab to the other side. Alternate side to side with the jabs after each set of tuck jumps.
Chair Squat
Football Run
2 Jab - 2 Tuck
Chair Squat
Football Run (Note: At this point, the participants in the DVD all circled up around the red circle in the center of the floor. It was an exercise kumbaya moment. While I thought I would find it corny, when I was doing the workout it was pretty motivating.)
2 Jab - 2 Tuck

The workout finishes with a two minute dynamic cool down with a bit of a stretch. It's brief and gets the job done.


If you like Insanity you will like this. Guaranteed. It's the same high intensity relentless impact cardio of the original Insanity workout. This workout left me dripping with sweat and with a huge grin on my face. If this is what Insanity Max:30 is going to be like all the way through I am going to be a happy camper!

Insanity Max:30 Review: Overview

Thursday this week, I was very excited to welcome Beachbody and Shaun T's newest workout, Insanity Max:30. Insanity Max:30 is a sixty day program, in the ultra-intense-cardio style of the Insanity workout series, which includes the original Insanity workout, Insanity: The Asylum Volume 1 and Insanity: The Asylum Volume 2. I have done all three programs, and written extensive reviews of both Asylum programs on this blog. I can say without a doubt that they are my favorite workout programs and that Shaun T, the instructor, is my favorite fitness personality.

Insanity Max:30 is most similar to the original Insanity workout in that no equipment is required. (The Asylum workouts use the agility ladder, resistance loops, weights, and a jump rope.) Unlike the original Insanity workouts, which range in length from 40 minutes to around an hour, all the Max:30 workouts are thirty minutes. The goal is to go hard and do as much as you can before you "max out;" their fancy way of saying take a break. Over the course of the sixty days you track how far you can go in the workout before taking a breather and by improving that time and going longer you see improvements in your fitness. 


When I took Max:30 out of the box I got to see everything the program came with. I received the standard program, which costs $120, and includes the following:

  • Month 1 and 2 workout DVDs
  • Bonus live Sweat DVD (from ordering through my Beachbody coach)
  • Workout calendar
  • Max Out guide
  • Nutrition guide
  • No Time to Cook guide


The workouts are broken into two months, each with four weeks. 



You do five thirty minute workouts a week and then have two days in a row off. Weeks one and two of month one are the same. In weeks three and four, there is one workout that gets added in (Tabata Power is removed and replaced with Tabata Strength). All four weeks of month two contain the same workout schedule. (In addition, Beachbody offers a second two month Max:30 schedule that adds in two workouts that you can get if you get the bonus program.)




Of course what everyone is interested in are the ten workouts (plus two bonus workouts included in the standard set). The workout feature 150 new moves and are based on the principles of HIIT training (high intensity interval training) and max-intensity cardio. This is balanced with tabata-style strength workouts where you do 20 seconds on and 10 second off in month one and 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off in month two.


Month One Workouts
(Note: Descriptions taken from Beachbody Max Out guide.)

In Month One, Shaun alternates killer cardio workouts and Tabata-style strength workouts, all in preparation for your Friday challenge, called Friday Fight.
  • Cardio Challenge: This workout serves as your Fit Test and your introduction to the program. 30 minutes of the hardest cardio sequences you've ever tried... Welcome to Insanity Max:30
  • Tabata Power: Your strength training starts here with a traditional Tabata-style "20 seconds on, 10 seconds off" workout structure. This plyometric-focused workout will leave your muscles begging for mercy.
  • Sweat Intervals: Just in case you didn't think Cardio Challenge was hard enough, you'll have Sweat Intervals to tackle as well. 30 minutes of screaming, sweating, calorie-scorching madness.
  • Tabata Strength: You won't see this until halfway through Month One because Shaun T takes it up a notch (or two) in this NO REST, Tabata-style workout. You heard right... 20 minutes, no rest, and we haven't even gotten to Month Two yet. 
  • Friday Fight: Round 1: You've been preparing all week and now it's time for Friday Fight. This workout will be a battle between your mind telling you to push to a new Max and your body saying, "OMG, are you serious?" And this is just Round 1.
  • + Ab Attack: 10: This 10-minute routine will feel like an attack on your abs but you'll love the results. Check out the Ab Maximizer Workout Calendar to see how you can get six-pack abs from this one crazy workout. (Note: You will find Ab Attack: 10 on all your cardio workouts.)


Month Two Workouts

You'll feel like you're right back at Day 1 when Shaun takes you to the max Month Two-style. The intervals all get longer, but the rest stays the same.
  • Max Out Cardio: This may be the craziest cardio workout you ever tried. Just wait till you get to the first Power Move. What minute are you Maxing Out at now?
  • Max Out Power: The intervals are longer in this "45 seconds one, 15 seconds off"Tabata-style plyometrics power madness.
  • Max Out Sweat: The more minutes you make it through, the more you SWEAT the the more calories you burn. You'll know why we say, "twice the sweat in half the time" from this workout. 
  • Max Out Strength: Max strength and max fat burn are what you'll get from this "45 seconds on, 15 seconds off" Tabata routine. Your arms, shoulders, chest, and core will be toast after this upper-body-focused strength workout.
  • Fright Fight: Round 2: The new "hardest workout ever." Every move is a minute in this final fight between your body and your mind. Who's going to win?
  • + Pulse: Aka Shaun's version of a recovery workout, a low-impact combo of stretching and small "pulsing" movements, so you still feel the burn as your body rejuvenates for the week ahead. (Note: You will find Pulse on both Friday Fight DVDs.)
In general, having sampled the first two workouts in the program, I would say this is most geared to graduates of other Shaun T programs, especially the original Insanity, as well as Focus T25 people looking to move to the next level (not to imply T25 isn't hard because it totally is; especially gamma). This is not a beginner program and is high impact -- you want your joints to be in good shape. You should be able to do jumping jacks and push-ups pretty well if you are thinking of doing Max:30. If you are new to exercising, I would not recommend it. However, if you are of at a moderately good fitness level, but can't do Insanity, Max:30 might be fine. There is a modifier throughout the program. You can even set the DVD to always keep the modifier on the screen. The modified moves are significantly easier and tend to be low impact. 

The focus of this workout program definitely seems to be cardio -- I will be able to confirm more when I have done more of the workouts. So far, I have done Cardio Challenge and Tabata Power (individuals reviews to follow with detailed move lists soon). I can say that this is no joke. Cardio Challenge is definitely just as hard as Insanity in terms of jumping and getting your heart-rate up. I consider myself very fit, and I can say that fact that I made it to 18:18 before maxing out is something I am very proud of on the first go around. If Cardio Challenge is any indication of what's to come, the moves seem a bit more challenging than in Insanity, by which I mean there is a bit more complexity to some of the motions. Everything is just as high intensity. Overall, the program might not be much harder than Insanity (both of them being very challenging); however the fact that we are breaking less frequently and not taking the long break for stretching (as with Insanity) definitely ups the challenge factor. 

I could not be more excited to get started with this program. For someone who loves high intensity cardio exercise like I do, getting Max:30 is a no-brainer. Shaun T always brings it, and this workout program looks to be no exception.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

#racelocal

I have been putting together my 2015 race calendar. It all started with a Facebook post on the NE Spahtens page. As those of you who follow my blog know, I have become a member of the Spahten, a New England-based obstacle course racing team. Through the team, I have met awesome people, and I always have someone to accompany me on my crazy activities. Back to the post, which stated that the Spahtens were going to be organizing a #racelocal Grand Prix.

The website defines it like this, "#racelocal is a movement to bring athletes and participants to high quality and proven New England owned and operated obstacle course races." After doing all of the OCRs that I did this year, I noticed a trend: The races I enjoyed the most were often the local ones. I love spending time up at Shale Hill way more than running a Spartan Race any day. I decided I wanted to try more local races, along with a few bigger races that are my favorites, and have that be my 2015 race year. As a bonus, the #racelocal Grand Prix offers rewards based on the number of races you complete. The first race gets you a medal and prizes increase as you go up. I have my eye on the hoodie you get for ten races, since I think that's where I will likely max out. 


After I decided to sign-up for the Spahten #racelocal Grand Prix, I noticed another Facebook post from Shale Hill. It said two magic words: Season Pass. When I left my job at Smith College for my new position at Amherst College last month, I ended up having to give up a bunch of vacation days that Smith paid me out. I decided to take that time and money and convert it into a "vacation" of a Shale Hill season pass. This pass gives me six training runs up at Shale Hill and entry into all of their 2015 races. All of these races count towards the Spahten's #racelocal. 



As a result, my 2015 race calendar is almost complete. I'll listing all the events I have signed up for and tagging them as #racelocal if they are counting towards the Grand Prix. I am doing all these races with the Spahtens. 

2015 Race Calendar

January 24: Blizzard Blast (#racelocal) in Dracut, Massachusetts. This is a 4 - 6 mile course and a favorite among the Spahtens. It includes interesting season aspects like a Christmas tree carry. This will be my first time doing this race.

February 7: Shale Hill Polar Bear 8 Hour (#racelocal) in Benson, Vermont at Shale Hill. Do as many laps of the 10K Shale Hill course as you can in eight hours. In Vermont. In February. I must be a special kind of crazy. I haven't done this specific race yet, but I have done many laps of the Shale Hill course and went up there last weekend to do a little training in the colder weather to prepare for Polar Bear.


April 11: FIT Challenge (#racelocal) in Cumberland, Rhode Island. I'm pretty sure this will be approximately 5K in length. The race director seems well connected within the Spahtens, so this is sure to be an awesome event!

May 8 and 9Ragnar Relay in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. When Jessica invited me to do Ragnar with the Spahtens again, I could not refuse. Not after all the fun I had last year. This was my first event with the Spahtens in 2014!


May 16: Bone Frog Challenge (#racelocal) in Charlemont, Massachusetts. I have been waiting three years to do this race! I have wanted to do this every year since I first heard about it (but couldn't because I had to work). After all, it's only a forty minute drive away. The race is nine miles and 40+ Navy SEAL inspired obstacles. I am very excited for this. People were comparing it to Shale Hill's course. 

June 7: Tough Mudder at Mount Snow, Vermont. I really enjoy Tough Mudder. It's always a blast. This is a 10 mile race up in Vermont and the past two years has been one of my favorite events of the year. It's more of an experience than a race. I love the camaraderie and spending time with my teammates. I made a lot of friends at Tough Mudder last year, and we're all planning to race again in 2015. 


June 21: Shale Hill Relay (#racelocal) in Benson, Vermont at Shale Hill. This race, which I will be doing for the first time, has you join forces with two other teammates and split the Shale Hill course in thirds. You are required to carry a crazy "baton" through the course. Last year's race featured batons that were pool noodles and the like. 


July 18: Shale Hill Tri-Obstaclon (#racelocal) in Benson, Vermont at Shale Hill. Here is where the whole Shale Hill season pass thing starts to get a bit dicey. In an interesting way. The season pass will definitely be this year's big challenge. Tri-Obstaclon is a triathlon with biking, swimming, and an obstacle course. We will bike six miles to a lake, swim 300 meters, bike back and then do either the 5K or 10K course. Considering I haven't been on a bike in a decade and don't own a bike this will be fascinating to say the least. I am preparing by doing some biking at the gym regularly. Now to find a mountain bike...


July 25: BattleFrog in Barre, Massachusetts. BattleFrog is still a new race, but it's been getting some amazing press. Like Bone Frog, BattleFrog is Navy SEAL inspired, and it really brings it with the obstacles. I actually won a free entry to the Tri-State BattleFrog in New Jersey last year and had a wonderful time. This year, BattleFrog is bringing the race to New England in Barre, which is only a 40 minute drive from Amherst. Count me in!


August 1 and 2: 24 Hours of Shale Hell (#racelocal) in Benson, Vermont at Shale Hill. 24 hours, as many laps of the 10K Shale Hill course as you can. What can I say: Season Pass. In other news, anyone want to lend me a tent?


August 16: Shale Hill Moss Anniversary / Benson Bear Race (#racelocal) in Benson, Vermont at Shale Hill. This will be a more traditional race on the 10K course at Shale Hill. Honestly, there is never a day when I don't want to be up at Shale Hill, so this is sure to be a lot of fun.


October 24: Shale Hill Halloween Fun Run (#racelocal) in Benson, Vermont at Shale Hill. I did this race this year with some of the Spahtens and we charted our own very Special K loop that was a cross between the 10K and 5K courses. (We probably did around five miles.) An evening obstacle course run on a haunted course. Very entertaining. 


That's how my 2015 season stands so far. For those of you who are careful counters, you'll notice I am at nine #racelocal races. I clearly need one more to hit ten races and get the desirable hoodie. #racelocal races are still being announced, and I am hoping something comes up in March or September since both months are race free for me, as it now stands. There looks like one September race that I might pick up. They even have a Sunday option in case I have graduate school classes on Saturday again next fall. Either way, it looks to be a very exciting year where I will get to spend a lot of fun weekend days with the Spahtens!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shale Hill Halloween Run

The event on my calendar that I had been most anticipating -- the Halloween Run at Shale Hill! I've been up to the fixed obstacle training course at Shale Hill in Benson, Vermont a couple of times now, first for the NE Spahtens training weekend in July and then again by myself to train over the summer. It is, without a doubt, one of my top five favorite places. When they posted that they were going to be having a Halloween race, I knew I had to sign up. After all, who doesn't love racing a haunted 10K obstacles course with over 50 obstacles at night?

Shale Hill offered both a 5K and 10K option for the Halloween Run, so it was "friendly" for everyone. Honestly, if you are a person who even thinks you might be interested in obstacle course racing, you should head up to Shale Hill. The course is definitely challenging, but I always have no fear when I am there. Owners Rob and Jill take such good care of you. Plus, the course never strays more than a mile away from the main office / barn where you start. If you're having a rough day, you can easily just make it back to the finish. 

I had coordinated to stay over at the apartment at Shale Hill with a few of my fellow Spahtens. After my Simmons library science graduate school class on Saturday morning, I headed up to Benson to "check-in" at Shale Hill and get ready for the 5:00 p.m. race start. The apartment was open when I arrived and I found it clean and well-appointed with sleeping for seven (if people don't mind sharing beds) plus a full kitchen with everything you could need. It rents for a very affordable $150 / night, so if you want to go up to Shale Hill and stay over, I recommend emailing them to see if the apartment is available for rent -- bonus points for splitting it with many others so you only have to pay $30 or so per person. I was splitting the place with Paul, Steve, and Sean (plus family).

After changing and meeting up with fellow Spahtens Paul and Steve, I headed over to the main office where I was given a bib and goodie bag with a Shale Hill sticker and Clifbars. I also got an awesome ladies-fit Shale Hill t-shirt. I chatted with Jill, festively dressed as a gypsy, who asked if I was doing the 10K or the 5K. I said I was planning to do the 10K but would see how I felt. Jill told me the race was timed -- serious business since the past time I had "raced" at Shale Hill it had been with the Spahtens, and we had kind of done our own thing. 

One of the huge benefits of renting the apartment at Shale Hill was I could quickly drop off my goodie bag before the race. I then headed out to the area in front of the office where Rob was giving some announcements. He let us know the course was wet from the rain in the afternoon and also let us know the penalties -- jacks for the 5K crowd and spider push-ups for the 10K crowd. People were dressed in costumes. There was a crowd of around three or four dozen and the atmosphere was fun and light! This was a timed run, with additional goodie bag prizes, but we were all there for a good time. 


Paul, Steve, and I headed to the starting line with the 10K group. Steve and I planned to do the 10K and Paul planned to do the 5K, but we decided we'd all head out together and just see how it went. We could run our own race, having fun, and let Jill know we were ineligible for prizes when we finished if we ended up doing the Special K (i.e. choose your own race distance). Soon we were off!



I won't recount all the amazing and super awesome obstacles that are at Shale Hill. (I do a good job of that in my big post about going to Shale Hill with the Spahtens, found here.) The bottom line is that Rob has the most challenges and fun obstacles around. If you want to learn how to tackle the course, email them and set up a training date to run the course with Rob. There is no better teacher, and you will feel prepared to tackle this course and anything else. 


Since we started the course at 5:00 p.m., we started in the daylight. There were volunteers around the course dressed in Halloween costumes who jumped out at us and then said things like, "Great job!" and other general encouragements. It was not terrifying scary; more scary fun! Everything felt festive with the costumed volunteers and Rob checking in on us on his ATV with his intense Halloween outfit.


There were also Halloween decorations on many of the obstacles -- think a mummy hanging from a wall. It gave the entire thing a fun atmosphere. Another bonus -- unrelated to Halloween but very cool -- were the photographers all around the course who took all of these photos I am posting to my blog. Rob and Jill posted these photos just one or two days after the race on their Facebook page for free with encouragement to download. Seriously, what other race is that awesome with their photos. 



As we hit the first wooded section of the course with the many climbing obstacles, like the abacus, linkin logs, and the ladders, it started getting a bit darker. At the linkin logs we had our biggest scare when a volunteer chased us with a running chainsaw. He was definitely eerie; not one of your encouraging volunteers. 

When we emerged from the woods Paul, Steve, and I decided to diverge a little bit from the standard 10K run. We ended up skipping around a mile in the woods, bypassing the traverse wall, hoist wet barbed wire crawl, Alcatraz wall, and balance beams. Instead, we stayed out on the meadow area where we hit up the cliff jumper and fireman's tower. 


Because I am obsessed with the obstacle, the loom, we decided to follow the 10K path after the town. We had what I consider the second best scare of the race right after the loom when we reached the hay bales. Here a zombie jumped out from in between the bales. (To be fair her scariness dropped when she assisted Steve who had gotten tangled in one of the bits of twine holding the bales together.) 

At this point it was getting very dark, so we decided to skip the bucket carry and start making our way towards the finish line. I should say that getting to do an obstacle race mostly in the dark was a new experience. I had done some of the Spartan Beast in the dark, but at that point I was kind of suffering too much to enjoy it. Getting to do Shale Hill in the dark was the opposite; it was a blast. I loved getting to go along with my headlamp and enjoy the course in a completely different way. It didn't hurt that I was with friends, which definitely made the entire thing way less scary.  

We had less than a mile to go. Steve, Paul, and I gave the monkey bars a try, but my hands were getting cold and my grip strength was gone. Similarly, I only made it through about half of the Tarzan swing. I promised myself I would come out and practice on this very challenging obstacle the next day. 

A quick run through some ups and downs and over some walls and we were at the finish line. Jill gave us our time -- 2:22. When we told her we'd done the Special K, which ended up being just over five miles (this time), Jill knew what we meant -- we Spahtens are a crazy bunch! 

We headed into the apartment for a quick shower before hitting the after-race potluck. The food was plentiful as was the local chocolate milk that Shale Hill is famous for offering. I am not a milk drinker at all, but I always love to have a chocolate milk after a race (or during!) when I am at Shale Hill. Local Shale Hill chocolate milk probably makes up around 95% of my milk intake for the year. (The other 5% is the very small amount I put into tea.) The company, of course, was stellar. I want to add too that Shale Hill is pretty much the only race series I have done where you actually get to spend time with the race director. Rob came up and checked-in with us multiple times on the course and hung out with us at the party. Both he and Jill made sure we were comfortable in the apartment. They make you feel like their best friends when you come to Shale Hill and the hospitality cannot be beat!


As the largest team there, we took a great team photo. From left to right: Steve, Sean (on the floor), Paul, me, Heather, and Geoffrey. Heather is an awesome blogger with her own .com: http://relentlessforwardcommotion.com/. I am sure if you are reading this, you read her blog, but if not, you totally should!


After the party, I headed to bed while the gentlemen stayed up by the bonfire. I slept very well and was able to get up fairly early the next day. Rob and Jill had both said that I could go and play on the course on Sunday. While Steve, Paul, and Sean, plus family, all headed out, I went to go and run around the course. My fingers and arms were a bit fatigued from the run Saturday night, also it was cold -- in the lower forties -- so I decided to only do an hour or so on the course. I ended up doing 1:15 and hitting up some of my favorite obstacles as well as the one mile that we missed during our Special K loop on Saturday night. It was great to get up, roll out of bed, and get to run the course. Again, I cannot overstate that Rob and Jill offer the best hospitality!


Shale Hill's Halloween Run was a blast! It was a fun run in the truest sense of the phrase. I had a wonderful weekend away with my team, the Spahtens. The Halloween Run was festive and a great way to celebrate Halloween doing something I love. I will definitely try to make this race again next year. Any time I can make it up to Shale Hill is a good time.