Extreme Newsletter—Diet and fitness tips, recipes, and motivation

Issue #007 12/15/09 INSANITY® AND THE X!

If you're beating yourself up when it comes to inspiration and motivation regarding perspiration, then you need an alteration to your transformation.

Tony Horton

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Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.


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INSANITY® and the X

By Steve Edwards

Today we'll discuss Beachbody's new INSANITY program and how to approach it if you've already done P90X. The INSANITY guidebook is written for first-time Beachbody® customers. If you've already completed one or more of our programs, especially P90X, you're going to want to take a different approach. We'll also look at how to schedule INSANITY post-X and how to use it to improve your P90X results.


All of our entry-level programs' diet guidebooks are written assuming weight loss is a primary concern. The P90X diet guidebook is not. Instead, its focus is on athletic performance, because the key to getting results with P90X is to improve your physical fitness as much as possible over the course of the program. While INSANITY is definitely a graduate-level program—meaning you need a fitness base prior to beginning—it is not structured periodizationally the way P90X is. It's shorter and more straightforward. Its results are based more on progressive overload than Muscle Confusion™. Similarly, the diet is based simply on eating clean, then ramping up the calories along with your workouts. Those coming off the X will want to amend the INSANITY diet guidelines or ignore them totally.

The INSANITY diet is very calorically restrictive. It was designed for weight loss, since that's what most of our customers are interested in. If you're coming off P90X or something similar, you should alter the diet to suit your needs, because your body composition will be far more athletic at the beginning. We've left the "additional food" section of the INSANITY diet open-ended for just this reason. However, once you've gone through several rounds of the X or something equivalent, you're generally at a point where you should do your own dietary calculations.

Healthy MealWhen you look at the X diet, you see a plan that's designed to teach you how to eat for athletics. It varies over time, attempting to follow the changes in your body composition. Once you graduate from the X, there shouldn't be much need for outside diet plans except for variety's sake. You could use the INSANITY diet for this, but you'll want to alter your calories to meet your own goals using what you've already learned. It's almost a certainty that a post-X body will have a composition that requires more calories than what the INSANITY diet recommends.

Keep in mind that no matter what diet you choose, at the highest level of performance you always have to do your own trial and error. There's no one diet that's right for everyone. Nowhere is this as apparent as during athletic endeavors. By making tweaks to our diets, we will always find individual differences in the ways certain foods affect us. No two athletes eat exactly the same way. There are some large-scale brushstrokes that are nutritionally similar, after which what works best becomes more individualized.

Now let's look at how to cycle INSANITY into your Beachbody library. The most common question we get is how INSANITY will affect the muscle mass gained during X. The answer is that if you do it right, INSANITY can improve your muscle mass. This is because of basic physiology, primarily the periodization principle. Once you grasp this, it should be fairly easy to figure out how to schedule INSANITY.

Let's begin with recovery. The time between doing different workout programs becomes very important as your fitness improves. We always recommend a break after our workout programs, but P90X and especially INSANITY require more calculation. These programs are designed to break you down, let you recover, then increase the breakdown and finish with a bang. The goal is to put your body into a growth (sometimes referred to as mastery) phase over the final few weeks of the program. During this phase, results come rapidly, but stay in it too long and you overtrain, which forces your body into a plateau, or worse, a decline. This is why we recommend that your final P90X fit test be done after a week of recovery.

When transitioning from P90X to INSANITY, it's important to consider that you're moving from a mastery phase of one program into an entry phase of another. Sure, INSANITY's entry phase is very hard, but over the course of P90X, your workload capacity has been improving. Because INSANITY doesn't have a true resistance component, its first week can function similarly to the transition/recovery weeks of P90X. Post-X, your body's ability to adapt to hard exercise is greatly increased. This means you can start INSANITY on the heels of P90X, and its first week will function as your recovery week. Even though INSANITY will also break you down in some new areas, your fitter body will adapt quickly to the change.

RelaxingConversely, post-INSANITY, you'll want a longer recovery period. This is because you've essentially extended the adaptive and growth phases of P90X for an extra 6 to 8 weeks. No matter how fit you are, your body will always need a break after taking such a pounding. One to 3 weeks of easy to moderate exercise should have you recovered and ready to move into your next round of training, no matter what it is.

Speaking of adaptive and growth phases, we should also address how you may want to shorten the first block (or month) of INSANITY. Similar to the diet phases of P90X, you'll only want to continue in the first block of INSANITY as long as your body is adapting to it. Once it feels "easy," it's time to move into the second block. You'll still want to take the designated INSANITY recovery week because you want to be rested for your next block of training. This will accelerate your time in the adaptive phase of the training block and help you maximize the growth phase.

Finally, we need to discuss how this can improve your muscle mass. The 6 to 8 weeks of INSANITY will have improved various energy systems of your body, increasing its potential for hard training. INSANITY will improve your aerobic and anaerobic capacities. Your VO2/max and anaerobic threshold will both improve, as will your body's glycolytic efficiency, which is your ability to recharge your anaerobic system during intense bouts of exercise. The result is that in your next round of P90X (or any muscle-building program), you'll have more energy to burn at the end of each set. This will result in increased reps per set or more weight per set, both of which lead to increased hypertrophy (muscle growth) if that is your target.

These are the basic principles you should understand about P90X and INSANITY. As with all high-level training programs, there are plenty more variables that can be discussed. Since these are more personal in nature, they should be addressed on the Message Boards, where we can discuss them on a case-by-case basis.

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, December 21st, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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P90X® Plus—The Next Level

Finished the X and ready for more? Take a behind-the-scenes look at P90X Plus—Tony Horton takes it to the next level.

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1st Law of Exercise: Variety

By Tony Horton

Variety is the spice of life and fitness. A lifetime of health and fitness is achievable when you can think outside the box. You have to mix it up all the time. Stay curious and creative, and stick with the kinds of workouts that you enjoy. A variety of exercises, workouts, and sports will allow you to avoid injuries, plateaus, and boredom.

Variety of Workout Movements with Tony Horton

One of the reasons Power 90®, Power Half Hour®, Power 90 Master Series, and P90X work so well for so many people—people who have tried and failed with other programs—is because they are NOT one discipline. These programs incorporate a variety of things: sectional progression, plyometrics, ab and core routines, boxing and kickboxing, yoga, stretching, and cardiovascular exercises. From Tony & the Kids! to P90X, I have always tried to make the routines fun and filled with a variety of movements—these workouts are uncomplicated, easy to follow, and time-tested, and have combinations that work. I'm not a fan of boredom. Doing the same routines and movements over and over again doesn't appeal to me. That's why many of my programs don't repeat the same move twice.

Curiosity is a key reason I've been able to sustain a high level of fitness for over 20 years. If I see something that looks fun and challenging, I'll try it. If it doesn't ring my chimes, I'll move on to something else. Curiosity was one of the reasons you decided to order Power 90, Power Half Hour, Power 90 Master Series, or P90X. You weren't happy with the status quo. You were probably unhappy and unhealthy. You were in a rut and you wanted a change. When I'm in a rut, I look for ways to mix it up. Just because something works for me right now doesn't mean it will work or hold my interest later. Too many people hold on too tightly to things that don't work anymore. You know it's time to change things when you hear yourself saying "I feel burned out," "This isn't fun anymore," or "I'm no longer seeing improvement with this routine."

You could be suffering from a temporary bout of mind babble, or maybe it's your heart telling you that it's time to move on. Only you know the difference. Don't do something just because everyone else is doing it. Figure out what keeps you in the game, even if it's very different from what others think you need. If you're beating yourself up when it comes to inspiration and motivation regarding perspiration, then you need an alteration to your transformation.

Variety in your fitness world will keep boredom, injuries, and plateaus at bay. That's the reason Power 90 has two levels. P90X and Power 90 Master Series were created so you'll have myriad ways to mix it up and continue to see improvements over time. If you really want to improve your fitness and physique and make this a lifestyle thing, then eventually the other box you'll need to get outside of . . . is your house. This might be hard for people with a hectic schedule, but why not skip that Sunday barbecue for a hike or run or skate or swim or volleyball game? After you've seen my goofy mug too many times, you might want to open the door and explore.

P90X or Power 90 can be the on switch to a lifetime of health and fitness. After your 90 days are up, a nice variety of activities, workouts, and athletic endeavors will turn on even more lights. I like to call the program after Power 90 Power 10,950. That's 30 years. You can reinvent yourself and take control of your life if you stay curious and try new things. Finishing an exercise program lets you begin to explore all the possibilities. Variety in fitness and life is essential for keeping the lights on.

Tony H.

Related Articles
"How to Get Ready for the P90X® Experience"
"5 Ways to Rock It Like Rocky"
"Customizing P90X for Specific Goals: Part I"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, December 21st, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Recipe: South American Pork Tenderloin

South American Pork Tenderloin

Make a run for the border with this high-protein, no-carb, low-fat treat. Garlic, spices, and citrus provide the flavor. The prep is super-easy. Just rub and roast!

4 4-oz. pieces of pork tenderloin
4 cloves garlic, cracked and minced
Extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil) to coat
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 limes, zested
2 Tbsp. grill seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut one slit in each tenderloin and insert one garlic clove into each slit. Coat meat with oil. Combine spices, lime zests, and seasoning, and rub meat with mixture.

Place meat on nonstick baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, slice, and serve.

Serving suggestions: A great side dish would be brown rice and green beans or asparagus.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
200 32 g 0 g 0 g 3 g 3 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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