By: IONA HOLLOWAY
Edited by: KELSEY CRUZ
Anyone who has ever experienced a tough exercise regime fears the “p-word.”
Yes, it’s the plateau.
You’re working out like a maniac, but nothing is changing. Weight loss doesn’t define my Insanity training program, but when the scales showed the same numbers on weeks two and three, I felt something in my stomach, and it wasn’t a six pack.
Disappointment is one of those sickening sensations, but Insanity doesn’t give you any time to feel sorry for yourself – it just gives you another workout. I know there’s a little saying about doors closing and windows opening, so when I completed my second “Fit Test” in week three and destroyed my numbers from week one, I realized the weight loss door may have slammed shut, but my fitness levels were smashing glass.
The fit test is a maximum rep test and a great tool for plotting physical gains. It consists of eight exercises that you complete fives time during the 60-day program, and it’s a battle to do as many reps as possible in one minute. Personally, I fall flat on my face as I do one minute of push-up-jacks, but I feel that’s inevitable.
Ross McCall, a personal trainer and physique consultant at Virgin Active in the United Kingdom, sings the push-up-jack’s praises (in a backwards sort of way).
“The push-up-jack is horrible!” McCall said. “It works chest, triceps, core, glutes, quads hamstrings and calves.”
The exercises in the Fit Test pop up daily in the Insanity workouts, but they are a great addition to any training program. I’ve made a short video for you so you can see some of the key moves.
My Week 3 Fit Test results gave me a mental kick. I would never be arrogant enough to say that an Insanity workout is easy because I’ve cried “like a girl” thee times mid-exercise. However, I am always grateful for the midweek Cardio Recovery day where crazy suicide drills, endless pushups, and jumping like a maniac are replaced by stretching and muscle strengthening work. By week three, I’d developed a level of “tough comfort” in my workout – I had done the Pure Cardio, Plyometric Cardio Circuit, and Power and Resistance DVDs so many times I was shouting out the moves before Shaun T could.
Knowing the moves by heart might be the reason for my weight loss plateau.
“Usually a plateau will come about when the person has been doing too similar a routine for too long,” McCall explains.
Shaun T must have seen me relax. He knew I reached my plateau so he changed it up…hard. As I was cruising my Insanity calendar, I realized there was an addition of a 17-minute “Cardio Abs” block twice a week on top of my regular training. Great news …not.
Insanity isn’t a “run of the mill” training program. Sit-ups – the king of most conventional abdominal workouts – are replaced by the C-sit position (see below) where you tilt your hips and lean backward into a 45-degree angle, with knees slightly bent.
You can do a variety of core exercises in this position, and the “A-Frame” is my favorite. You create a triangle with your arms above your head, and as you bring the “A” down you pull a knee in and repeat with the other leg.
I think I like them because I can actually do them.
Shaun T’s “knee tucks” end me. You maintain the C-sit position, and with knees together bring both knees to chest, straighten legs (without touching the ground) and then lift the legs to a 45-degree angle, back to the floor, and repeat. When you lift, you have to keep your legs straight. I can’t do more than four knee tucks properly without having a core-spasm. Combined with all the inhaling and exhaling during the “tuck … and LIFT,” I feel like I’m in a maternity ward.
I’ve just completed week five – the designated “Recovery Week.” The workouts are less cardio-intense, but there’s enough squat pulsing – where you hold the squat position and move very slightly up and down – to last me a lifetime.
But I think I’ve scared the “P word” ghosts away. I’m down to 122 pounds, a number I haven’t seen since I was sixteen.
Week six brings “Phase 2,” meaning a brand new set of longer, harder workouts, which McCall says will push my body to a whole other level.
“Physically, you will improve things like your reactions, stability and neuro-muscular pathways due to the variety of exercises,” he says.
I’m scared. I would cry, but I’m too exhausted.