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Hell Month in THE ASYLUM

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By Steve Edwards

Even if you never played football, you've probably heard the term Hell Week. This is generally the first official week of football practice, which takes place before the start of school so the coaches can put the hammer down and not have to worry about whether or not the players can walk to class when they're done. It's essentially designed to condense preseason conditioning into one week-long period. Beachbody's latest workout program, INSANITY: THE ASYLUM™, follows this example. Except instead of Hell Week, you're in for Hell Month, which promises to have you ready for a season of pretty much anything.

 THE ASYLUM™

"This is not INSANITY®," says Shaun while pushing the team through THE ASYLUM's Vertical Plyo. He uses a tone that suggests INSANITY is some form of lightweight aerobic work rather than the most intense cardio program burned to DVD thus far. And, true enough, THE ASYLUM isn't INSANITY; it's a sequel to that program, and it's designed to take things to the next level. But THE ASYLUM actually isn't harder so much as it's different. So let's take a deeper look at THE ASYLUM so you can decide whether it's the right program for you.

What if you're not an athlete?

Beachbody® is promoting INSANITY: THE ASYLUM as sports conditioning, which the guide defines as "speed, coordination, balance, agility, and power." And while these performance traits will certainly enhance your contribution to the company basketball team, they'll also help you improve in other aspects of your life. When you move better, life becomes easier. Sports are just games that highlight human function, so nonspecific athletic training is simply exercise that helps you perform various life tasks more effectively.

And if you are an athlete?

If you're an athlete, or even were just an active child, you're going to feel a bit like a kid in a candy store doing this program. For someone like me, who played a lot of different sports growing up, it brings back memories galore, often involving sports I'd forgotten I'd ever done. The entire program feels a bit like playing, or, as Shaun says, as if you're part of Team ASYLUM and all practicing together for the big game.

"Frankentraining"

Shaun TOn one of my blog reviews of INSANITY: THE ASYLUM, I was asked the difference between sports training and sports conditioning. The simple answer is that sports training is systematic, and sports conditioning is getting in shape for your season as quickly as possible. Back on the Hell Month theme, THE ASYLUM is designed to whip you into shape fast, so it pulls from many different training systems, meshing them together to form what seems almost like a mad scientist's version of cross-training. "Frankentraining," if you will.

I'll back up and define the so-called Frankentraining a bit further. I often explain to customers, when comparing P90X® and INSANITY, that the X is like training for a season of INSANITY. The X is a longer, more systematic training approach that can be tailored a number of different ways to target strengths, weaknesses, and goals. INSANITY comes at you like a challenge and never lets up—more like a sports season.

THE ASYLUM is for when the season is about to start and you have to get ready as fast as possible—when there's no time to systematically tear you down and build you back up. It has to happen now, so you want to target strength, speed, coordination, flexibility, and stamina all at once. You heard the coach: It's Hell Month. There's no time to mess around. Let's get busy!

So what do you get?

Seven workouts, only six of which are actually part of the official program, though. However, as INSANITY grads know, the Athletic Performance Assessment (or Fit Test) isn't exactly a day off. Here's a quick breakdown of the programs that are included in INSANITY: THE ASYLUM.

  1. Speed & AgilitySpeed & Agility: Shaun used to refer to this as an active recovery workout, which we changed because this is the first workout you do and we didn't want people running away scared. It's a hard workout—very hard—but Speed & Agility targets proprioceptive awareness (neuromuscular patterns) and speed instead of explosive strength, so in a technical sense, Shaun's definition of "active recovery" is accurate. As any of you who've actually been through a Hell Week will remember, there were parts of practice that were obviously for strength improvements, like where you hit each other (or sleds, or dummies) with a lot of force. Then there were parts, usually during "breaks," when you did speed and agility drills that were often more painful than hitting those tackling dummies. This workout is about those "breaks." And because its target is speed, you'll most likely feel, like me, that there's no end to how much you can improve.
  2. Back to Core: One of the most interesting core workouts you'll ever do, Back to Core targets your abs by working everything but your abs. Having nice-looking abs is a function of having a strong core, low body fat, and good posture. Does it work? Check out the pic of Shaun.
  3. StrengthStrength: A full-body strength routine that's varied and interesting. I think it's summed up pretty well on my blog:

    "ASYLUM Strength will get more use than any anything in my Beachbody arsenal. For someone like me who does a lot of mountain sports—or, really, any weekend warrior whose sport provides a lot of cardiovascular fitness—it's a perfect complement."

  4. Vertical Plyo: See "this is not INSANITY" above—this workout is absolutely brutal. You'll either spend most of your time in the air or on the ground doing push-ups, which is how Shaun penalizes the team when their form begins to falter.
  5. Game DayGame Day: A massive sports day, where you do sports-specific movements 'til failure, from a veritable summer camp of options. If it weren't so painful, it would seem like nothing but fun.
  6. Overtime: Uh-oh, you've got another quarter to go. To be used after any workout for a bonus round. Some of the more explosive movements in the program happen here, so you have to want it—bad.
  7. Relief: A thorough stretching routine that's meant to be done when you have the time after any workout. Promises to be the best 20 minutes of your day.

Getting chiseled

As the Men's Wearhouse® guy says, "You're going to like the way you look®." A lot of people have already noticed that Shaun looks more ripped than he did during INSANITY. The thing about sports training is that body composition changes happen naturally. You're not bodybuilding, per se; you're just making your body more athletic. And the human body, in order to function well, tends to add muscle to places that look natural, balanced, and attractive. There's a reason why the most popular ancient statues are of athletes.

Article Source: P90X Newsletter Issue #078 04/26/11

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