I promised a review of the Insanity workout DVD, which I am happy to provide, but I do want to state that this workout has a significant amount of jumping and squatting. In order to safely complete this DVD with a compromised pelvic floor, you have to be very aware of your body positioning and have established a good mastery of your three deepest stabilizers. Within this review I provide substitutions for the exercises that I identify as having poor postural positioning or that place excessive stress on the pelvic floor. This review is in response to a specific request and is not intended as a recommendation of this DVD for all Hab It or Advanced Program subscribers.
I view any opportunity to review an exercise regimen as a great opportunity for me to teach you how I work my way through new workouts and eventually, with some minor adjustments, am able to make any workout a pelvic basket strengthener. To do this, you first need to recognize if an exercise is too stressful for your pelvic floor. You will know that it is too stressful if you feel a significant downward force within your pelvic outlet. Examples of exercises that create a significant force on your pelvic basket are those that don’t allow for much shock absorption, such as jumping jacks (your legs remain relatively straight), running in place, high knees, or butt kicks (no forward lean, so the impact is straight down), mummy kicks (again, your legs remain straight so there is minimal shock absorption), and switch kicks (because you are landing in a posterior pelvic tilt instead of having neutral spine).
In other instances, exercises may be too stressful on your pelvic floor if you find yourself in a short breath hold as you complete the exercise. This breath hold action blows down significant pressure on your pelvic floor since you recruit your RA during exertion which locks your ribs down. This leaves only one direction for the increased intra-abdominal pressure to go and that is down. If you cannot complete an exercise while breathing out throughout the most difficult parts of the exercise, then it is too advanced for you at this time and you need to strengthen that muscle group through a different exercise before trying it again in a couple of weeks.
Keeping these thoughts in mind, let’s look specifically at the Insanity workout. Beginning with The Fit Test: The power jacks are good because you shock absorb as you land in a squat with an extended tailbone. Power knees are fine. Power jumps are good because, again , you land in a squat with tail bone extended. Globe jumps are good because you land in a shock absorbing squat. (Note- when squatting or jumping with your landing absorbed in a squat, be sure your weight transfers to your heels and you sit back into your squat while keeping your chest up.) Low plank oblique is a good test of your transversus and quadrates lumborum. On the other hand, I would avoid the switch kicks because of the posterior tilt of your pelvis and substitute plank hold mountain climbers for this exercise. Both these exercises work hip flexors as well as cardio. The final two exercises on the fit test are suicide jumps and push up jacks. Both of these exercises are fine depending on your fitness and strength levels. If you breath -hold at all during these exercises, adjust to make them more appropriate for your fitness or strength levels.
Plyometric Cardio DVD
The entire warm up is not great for your pelvic floor. Knowing this, you can get your body warm through treadmill running, biking on an indoor trainer, and more. I would work your warm-up as he does through 3 progressive steps of increased intensity. For example, if you choose to bike for the warm up you may begin at a certain level of RPMs, then increase that level for the next round, and your final round may be a series of seated and standing sprints.
All the stretching is good for your body as long as you continue with a steady breathing pattern throughout. Moving into the main part of the Plyometric Cardio DVD, there are four exercises for which I have substitutions. The standing mountain climbers are tough because you are working high knees while running in place. You can substitute plank hold mountain climbers for this exercise. Also, the Switch Feet exercise is tough on your pelvic floor because your legs stay straight and don’t absorb any shock. I love to substitute lunge jumps for this exercise, taking care not to let my knee-bend go past 90 degrees on the front and back leg when I land in my lunge. The football quick feet drill is tough on your pelvic floor as well. I like to substitute a prone exercise (lying on my stomach), tightening my buns and TA to work a hip extension flutter kick with my toes pointed. Then, as he instructs to shuffle right , I plank on my right side and work my left leg abduction until he says move left, at which point I switch to a left plank and perform right leg abduction. For every other command I am on my stomach working either arm flutter overhead while holding a tight core or a leg flutter, also holding a tight core. Finally, the Cross Jacks at the end of the cardio DVD can be changed to plank to side plank rotations to avoid yet another exercise where you are jumping up and down with relatively straight legs.
Cardio Power and Resistance DVD
My recommendation is the same on this DVD. Go ahead and substitute a solid warm up of your choice, since running in place creates a lot of vertical force on your pelvic floor. The one exercise that I substitute on this workout is the hurdle jumps. My adjustment is to substitute a squat in between every hurdle jump instead of the fast feet. Every other move on this DVD, which is a lot of squatting, is great as long as you are squatting in a “tail bone extended” position, that is chest up/butt back and weight on your heels.
Cardio Recovery DVD
There are no recommended adjustments to this workout.
Pure Cardio and Cardio Abs DVD
Again, I recommend you create your own warm up, finishing with high intensity effort to get your heart rate up. The other substitutions on this DVD include: Substitute mountain climbers for Switch Kicks. Substitute lateral shuffles, down in defensive basketball position, for Football Sprints (you can also add your 12 inch band around your ankles for this drill). Substitute Power Jacks for Stance Jacks. Substitute lunge jumps only for the Sprints and Lunges exercise. Substitute Hooks and squats for Hooks and Jumps. Substitute plank hold mountain climbers for Standing Mountain Climbers. And finally, substitute a Prone (on your stomach) hip extension flutter kick with toes pointed for Switch Kicks.
I recommend you choose any of the plank exercises within the Advanced Program on our Hab it site in place of the Cardio Abs workout. You can follow his same timing to switch up exercises, alternating between any bridging and plank exercise on our program.
Core Cardio and Balance DVD
This DVD has so many substitutions, that I often work through the Plyometric Cardio DVD in its place. If you would like to try to work through the exercises, here are the recommended substitutions: Substitute Bridge with Single Leg Extensions for Switch Heel Kicks. Substitute Prone hip extension Flutter Kick for Mummy Kicks. Substitute Lateral Band Shuffles for Football Shuffles. Substitute squats for the Fast Feet following Log Jumps. Substitute Standing straight leg raises and Power Jacks for High Knee and Power Jacks. Substitute Squats/Hooks for Fast Feet/Hooks. Substitute Plank Hold Mountain Climbers with Deep Pulse Samari Squat for Switch Kicks with Hop Squat. Substitute Single Leg Squats for 4 x 4 Hops.
Max Interval Circuit/Fit Test DVD
Again I would recommend creating your own warm up to get your body moving and heart rate up. After the warm up, I recommend that you substitute plank hold mountain climber/lunge jumps for Pedal Power Lunges. Substitute Lateral band quick shuffles in a 90-degree squat for Football runs/Cross Jacks. Substitute Swiss Ball slalom for High Knee Obliques. Substitute Quadratus Lumborum side planks for Side Suicide Jumps – a bad exercise because of the forced breath-holds and compressed position with your ribs close to your pelvis.
Max Interval Plyo DVD
Again, create your own warm up for the given warm up time on this DVD. One of the first exercises, the Pogo, is a great exercise for you to work balance, but simply eliminate the single leg hop. Also, on the Power Pushups, do not do this exercise if you have to breath-hold. I am unable to complete this without a breath-hold, so I simply work the push-up followed by a R/L/R/L mountain climber. And finally, eliminate the jump with the knee drive on the Kick Stand Touch the Floor drill.
Max Cardio Conditioning and Cardio Abs DVD
Again, create your own warm up. Looking at the Football Runs – substitute quick side lateral shuffles down in defensive basketball stance for the Fast Feet portion of this exercise. Substitute prone hip extension flutters for Standing High/Low Sprints but continue with his instructed plank hold mountain climbers in High Knee/Low/Floor Sprints. On the Squat Twist exercise, just don’t hop your feet in and out. Skip the fast feet on the Forward/Back Suicides. Substitute standing rapid hip extension (hands on wall, chest up, rapidly extend your right hip back with slight bend in your knee, holding your TA tight so that it is pure hip flexion and no lumbar extension. Repeat on same leg for number of jump rope repetitions. Switch to next leg on next repetition) for jump ropes in 8 Jump Ropes/8 Hop Squats.
The Cardio Abs workout is not recommended. Instead, I recommend substituting any Advanced Workout plank–and-bridge exercise in alternating pattern for the same duration as this Cardio Ab Workout.
Max Recovery DVD
This workout has no substitutions.
Remember, the Insantiy Workout Program is intense. Listen to your own body. You may find that some exercises that I did not list, have a negative effect on your pelvic floor. Be your own best trainer and make adjustment according to how your body feels. This is not a workout for everyone – be smart in your workout choices and remember to cycle on to high intensity workouts and back to stabilization.