Insanity Max:30 Review – Cardio Challenge!

Cardio Challenge is the first routine in the Insanity Max:30 program, and Shaun T urges you to use this one as you fit test, and tells you immediately to monitor the time you ‘max out’ or first have to take a break. In the background are some very fit looking people in the typical Beachbody fitness studio setup. To the left of Shaun T is the modifier, and as mentioned before, you can watch the DVD in split screen, though I prefer not to. Shaun T is engaging and motivational as always, shouting out his instructions clearly and loudly.


The sequence starts with a warmup consisting of two rounds of 5 exercises each (30 seconds) without any breaks, but you get a 30 second break after the warmup. Warmup is OK and if you’re used to Insanity or T25 there’s nothing majorly new here, other than the High Knee Jab, combining high knees with jabs (as the name would suggest!).

Chest Open Jack
Jack Uppercut
1-2-3 Knee
Cross Jack
High Knee Jab

The rest of Cardio Challenge follows a pattern of sets of 3 exercises, for 3 rounds of 30 seconds each with a 30 second break, meaning each full set comes in at 5 minutes.

Set 1

The first set starts off with Squat Kicks, then Pike-Up Spiders, and a new (to me) move called 10 & 2, which basically involves you starting in 10 o’clock position with your feet and jumping & twisting into a 2 o’clock position, and back again. This set made me breath hard, as warmup already pushes up the heart rate, but it is doable, even though I had to follow the modifier a few times on the Pike-Ups. My first time through I maxed out during this set, but second time through I was pacing myself and following the modifier more.

Squat Kick
Pike-Up Spider
10 & 2

Set 2

This set involved Medicine Ball Twists, Plank Jack – In & Outs and 4 Jab – 4 High Knees. Again the exercises aren’t THAT challenging but are done at breakneck speed- this is cardio after all! My second time doing this routine I maxed out just before the end of the set. The Plank Jacks and Jab & High Knees combine moves from previous programs, Med Ball Twists are new to me.

Med Ball Twist
Plank Jack – In & Out
4 Jab – 4 High Knee

Set 3

By this set I was seriously tired and struggled with the Shoulder Tap – In & Out, which is another one combining moves. Plyo Power Knee is OK and an exercise I’m used to, though Scissor Stance Jack is another combination/variation that is new. Set 3 isn’t too bad if you pace yourself, though I am not sure I will ever be able to do the Shoulder Tap – In & Outs – I can’t even do a ‘normal’ shoulder tap pushup properly!

Plyo Power Knee
Scissor Stance Jack
Shoulder Tap – In & Out

Set 4

By Set 4 I was knackered and was wishing the time would fly by quicker. Slap Back Jacks, Suicide Burpee and Plank Speed Tap are all new-ish or combinations or exercises you would have done before.

Slap Back Jack
Suicide Burpee
Plank Speed Tap

Set 5

Football Runs are nothing new, but 2 Jab – 2 Tuck and Chair Squats are. Again these combine exercises and you can REALLY feel the Chair Squats work your legs! By this point I was too tired to Tuck Jump properly and just limped to the finish.

Chair Squat
Football Run
2 Jab – 2 Tuck

On the whole my second time through Max:30 Cardio Challenge wasn’t nearly as bad as the first time. As always with Insanity it is a mad rush through the exercises and your heart rate stays high the entire time, leaving you sweaty and out of breath – but happy!!


  • Lots of new exercises (though mostly combinations of previous) so not just rehashing previous routines
  • You are able to push yourself every time you do the routine, and as your fitness levels improve you can just do more or go faster so you should get a lot of use out of the DVDs
  • Sense of accomplishment when you better your previous max out time
  • Shaun T


  • Speed of exercises means you have to be careful to not hurt yourself or twist something
  • Some of the combined moves don’t seem to add much in terms of exercising muscles, but increases difficulty of execution
  • Despite the hectic pace and complex exercises I don’t burn more calories than 21 Day Cardio Fix over a similar period

Insanity Max:30 Cardio Challenge is good cardio and I probably only have to really follow the modifier 20% of the time. None of the exercises are particularly hard (though I struggle with a couple) but the fact that you repeat each sequence 3 times without a break makes it challenging. 4:30 minutes of pure cardio at your max is a long time and by the time the break rolls round you’ll be more than ready to take a breather! I can’t really comment on music as I don’t notice anything like that when I’m sweating this much and have to concentrate so hard to follow Shaun T. (One HUGE positive is that Tanya isn’t in the DVD and nobody is shouting our whooping and hollering all the time. I still can’t cope with Focus T25 Alpha Ab Intervals due to the annoying shouting and whooping all the time….drives me mental!)

I’ve attached the full breakdown here: Insanity Max30 – Cardio Challenge

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