Fitness Programs | P90X, Insanity, Rushfit-Are these workouts for everybody?

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P90X, Insanity, Rushfit-Are these workouts for everybody?

Extreme WorkoutsRevolutionary, Get Absolutely Ripped in 90 Days, Dig Deep—You don’t have to be a fitness enthusiast to have heard the promises behind such popular home exercise workout programs as P90X™, Rushfit™ and Insanity™.

But do these intense workouts deliver on their promises? Are they safe and effective, even for beginners? Wondering if any of these workouts are right for you? If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions, this article is for you.

You’ll Be in the Best Shape of Your Life In Six Weeks—Really?

Before you open your wallet to buy one of the three home exercise workout programs above, let alone acquire accompanying equipment or supplements, here’s the candid truth: The hard bodies you see in the company’s infomercials and marketing materials are often fitness models, not average consumers whose physiques transformed rapidly.

Contrary to many testimonials in the infomercials, most people simply cannot gain significant muscle, nor achieve a desirable toned physique in 60 to 90 days after beginning a workout program. Some genetically blessed individuals may see an increase in muscle size and mass after four to six weeks of starting an exercise program, but research has shown that most of us need to exercise consistently, and up to a year, to gain even 2 pounds to 4.5 pounds of muscle mass.

That said, all three workout programs certainly have merit in helping even new exercisers reach a higher fitness level, improve their overall health and shed a few or more extra pounds along the way.

However, if you’re male and aged 45 or older or female aged 55 or older and have not exercised consistently in the last six months, it’s advised to see your doctor first before embarking on any exercise program.

A recent extensive side-by-side comparison of P90X, Rushfit and Insanity by ACE’s Exercise Physiologist Fabio Comana, suggests that both, the P90X and Rushfit programs, are safe and effective for most consumers while Insanity’s program design and execution is less appropriate for average exercisers.

Below you’ll find an overview with pros and cons of all three workouts to help you decide, if these extreme workout  programs are for you.


If you’re looking for variety, a way to improve your overall fitness and strength, and an engaging, at times comical instructor, Beachbody’s P90X is your pick.

At the price tag of $119.85 (plus shipping and handling) for a 90-day program packaged into 13 DVDs, P90X is competitively priced. The program is divided into 3 training blocks and very diverse, keeping  you motivated and engaged.

Con: Significant Upfront Investment

On the downside, P90X requires a significant, upfront investment in equipment that can be easily overlooked. The required multiple sizes of dumbbells, pull-up bars and yoga blocks are all sold separately on The same goes for P90X’s extensive supplement line for their nutrition plan.

After making the equipment investment, you’ll have enough toys to vary up your routine at home. But if you’re a professional looking for a portable workout, note that P90X doesn’t travel well.

Pro: Caters to Novice and Advanced Exercisers

Many people believe that Tony Horton’s charisma is integral to P90X’s success.

Novice exercisers likely find Horton’s comic relief disarming and non-threatening. Horton’s knowledge in exercise science allows any participant, regardless of his or her fitness level, to progress safely and effectively. Advanced exercisers will appreciate Horton’s more challenging exercise modifications, including higher number of repetitions and longer duration.

However, if at any time, you’re struggling to keep up with the number of repetitions or duration of the workout, it’s best to take a step back, slow down and even rest. Good form tends to deteriorate with fatigue. It’s always better to focus on quality rather than quantity. Trying to keep up when your body simply isn’t ready makes for a less enjoyable workout experience and can even lead to injuries.

Con: The P90X Diet Plan

In addition to the exercises, P90X also contains a three-phase nutrition plan (about 30 days each) that aims to help you lose weight. Most of the plan’s recommendations, however, do not meet current government guidelines. Therefore, ACE recommends following the USDA Dietary Guidelines instead. If you have a strong desire to follow the P90X diet plan, consider consulting a registered dietician first.


If you like exercising barefoot, want to improve your overall fitness, gain muscle endurance and are a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA), you’ll likely enjoy Rushfit.

With celebrity mixed martial arts fighter Georges St. Pierre co-hosting the instructions with his trainer Erik Owings taking the lead, this workout instantly appeals to MMA enthusiasts.

At a price of $89.99 (plus shipping and handling), Rushfit contains five DVDs and a bonus DVD, each offering unique training goals. The 8-week program starts with general conditioning and then progresses to a more tactical approach. Rushfit’s training calendar for beginners and people with advanced conditioning levels is a nice added feature for tracking workouts and recovery days.

Pro: Safe and Effective for All Exercise Levels

On the upside, Rushfit offers a scientifically sound exercise program, allowing both novice and advanced exercisers to progress safely and effectively. The exercises are arranged conveniently in 5-minute circuits and offer participants enough recovery between sessions. The knowledgeable instructor Owings delivers clear instructions and offers modifications to accommodate all participants. Another plus is that you don’t need to dig deep into your pockets to acquire equipment. A few dumbbells, sold separately on their Website, will suffice.

Con: Weak Cardio

On the downside, while Rushfit markets its program as a good cardio workout, we believe that cardio enthusiasts may be disappointed.

Pro and Cons: The Rushfit Diet Plan

The Rushfit diet plan is simple and offers sound suggestions for overall healthier eating, including pre-exercise recommendations, which follow current recommended dietary guidelines.

By contrast, the post-exercise recommendations promote excessive consumption of calories from protein sources. To be safe, we recommend sticking with current research, which suggests a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate-to-protein intake to aid the recovery of muscles after exercise.


Beachbody’s second workout program, Insanity,  priced at $112 (plus shipping and handling) contains 10 CDs (nine workouts and a fit test) and a 60-day training calendar emphasizing cardio and endurance over strength and using only bodyweight.

The problem with Insanity is that the intensity (starting with the fit test), exercise selections, including athletic type drills, such as jumps, squats, planks, and the way in which instructions are given, are inappropriate for the average consumer.

While the instructor and creator Shaun T is undoubtedly engaging and inspiring, the program design and execution leaves much to be desired. Insanity’s drills, while qualifying as low-to-moderate exercise, are at times even higher than what experts would recommend for athletes. Trying to keep up with some of the plyometric exercises (such as jumps), and trying to complete a high number of repetitions in a short amount of time will leave most average consumers fatigued and overwhelmed. This also puts some participants at risk for injuries.

Good Health = Eating Healthy and Being Active!

In sum, both P90X and Rushfit, offer any healthy consumers, who prefer working out in the comfort of their homes, the opportunity to do just that in a safe, fun and effective manner.

Don’t feel like you need to start full-force right away. If you do too much too soon, you risk muscle soreness, or worse, injury, which takes the fun out of exercising or leads to disappointment.

It’s much better to start slowly, perhaps taking one week or two weeks to acclimate to the program where you aim to complete three sessions in week one and four sessions in week two.

Feel free to challenge yourself a little, even in the first two weeks of starting a program, but know your limits. Don’t try to complete every set or duration of the set and consider taking longer rest intervals, if needed, by pressing pause on your DVD player. Try to keep a mental note of how long it takes you to recover from each workout session and in time, as you gain more fitness, you’ll be able to recover quicker and feel less fatigued completing a set and will be able to perform more repetitions.

Remember: Any consistent exercise program will reap you the desired positive results of gaining muscle mass and higher fitness. Committing to regular exercise combined with a healthy diet will put you on the path to lifelong active, healthy living.

The earlier you start, the sooner you’ll get there; and it’s never too late to get started.

If Rushfit or P90X can get you on track to exercise regularly and start eating better, you’re on your way. Consider the many health benefits of starting an exercise program: You’ll feel energized, will sleep better, feel less stressed and improve your overall mood and get toned and lose weight along the way.

Marion Webb is the writer and editor for the American Council on Exercise and is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer and an ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor. To leave comments, please share them below. For specific fitness-related story ideas, please e-mail her directly at