Insanity Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs

We’ve just finished week 4 of Insanity which means that next week is recovery week.  The following week we start the phase 2 workouts which are apparently longer and harder! The last workout in the Insanity month 1 workout series is Pure Cardio which also has an additional 16 minute ab workout at the end called Cardio Abs. Cardio Abs isn’t introduced into the program until the end of week 2 and the two workouts are to be completed together during weeks 3 and 4.

My Modified Insanity Plan

Before I get into the workout, I wanted to update you on my progress through the program. Since I am attempting to ramp up my mileage for a marathon and also cycle during Insanity, I haven’t been following the program exactly. The original plan was to skip only the Saturday workout and complete all 5 mid-week workouts. I did this the first week but when I discovered that the Cardio Recovery workout was rather tame and really not that helpful (in my opinion), I started skipping it. That left me with 4 workouts a week. During weeks 2-3 I did 4 workouts, in week 2 I doubled up on Plyometric Circuit and week 3 I added the Fit Test. Since Week 4 doesn’t include a Fit Test and I had a lot of other workouts scheduled, I decided just to do the 3 main workouts (plus 2 regular runs, 2 bike trainer workouts, a long outdoor bike ride and a 10 mile run! Thank goodness next week is recovery).

Pure Cardio

Pure Cardio’s warm up is identical to the Plyometric warm-up. If you want to re-cap the warm-up check out my post about that here. The main workout is unique in that there are no “intervals” with 30 seconds rest like the other workouts. Instead, this is just one massive 15 minute sweat fest with NO scheduled breaks. Taking your own short breaks throughout are encouraged and several, if not all, of the people in the video doing the workout take breaks. Everyone looks pretty exhausted throughout the workout which makes you feel better about sweating buckets and panting like you’re being chased. If these insanely (no pun intended) fit people think this is hard, it must be.

The workout consists of 15 minutes of the following moves:

  • Suicide Drills (move a few steps laterally into a side lunge, touching the ground with one hand and then moving back to the other side and repeating)
  • Switch Kicks (these are in the Fit Test – basically jump from foot to foot while also kicking out in front of you – not easy)
  • Wide Football Stance (stand wide and move your weight quickly from one foot to the other and follow Shaun T’s directions to turn right, left, etc)
  • Stance Jacks (bend into a squat and touch the ground with one hand then jump up into a jumping jack and repeat, switching hands each time)
  • Pedal (sprint in place until Shaun T tells you to lunge twice, alternating legs and then get back into the sprint and repeat)
  • Hooks and Jump Rope (do 8 hooks with your right arm then jump really high like you are jumping over a jump rope then do another 8 hooks with your left arm, repeat)
  • Power Jacks (another Fit Test move – squat with your hands out to your sides and then jump up into a jumping jack and move your hands together)
  • Level 2 Drills ( a move from Plyometric Circuit – 8 push-ups and then 8 mountain climbers then jump to a standing position and repeat)
  • Frog Jumps (squat and move your hands to the floor and then jump forward, throwing your hands over head, then repeat the squat and jump backward, repeat)
  • Power Knees (from the Fit Test – I found a good description online of this one: “I personally call these coconut crushers. You are taking one knee and pretending you have a coconut in both hands, then in a diagonal motion attempt to crush that coconut with your knee.” Switch knees and repeat)
  • Mountain Climbers (alternative high knees and also alternate your arms moving up and down like you are climbing a wall)
  • Ski Down (also from Plyometric Circuit – with feet together, jump from side to side, swinging your arms like you are skiing with ski poles or something)
  • Scissor Runs/Switch Feet ( with straight legs, jump between right foot forward and left foot back to left foot forward, right back, keeping feet flat on the ground and swinging your arms as you move)
  • Suicide Jumps (from the Fit Test – get down to a plank then get back to your feet and jump, repeat)
  • Push Up Jacks (also from the Fit Test – do push-ups and while you are in the down position, jump your feet out so your legs are in a V)


WOW! You will be sweating bullets and your legs will feel like Jello after this intense workout. It’s a very long 15 minutes. As a person who rarely bothered with a workout lasting less than 60 minutes prior to starting Insanity, I have to say that this program has changed my mind. I am a big believer now that intensity is just as important as length. I probably burn more calories in this 40 minute workout than I do during an easy 6 mile run which takes just under an hour.

Cardio Abs

Cardio Abs is very different from P90X’s Ab Ripper. It’s hard to tell if it is as effective since Ab Ripper is done 3x/week. I am seeing results in my abs as a result of Insanity but I’m not where I was on Day 90 of P90X. My favorite part of this workout is that it starts off with a close up of three sets of ripped abs belonging to Shaun Ts and a random guy and girl. If you dont know, Shaun is also the maker of the Beachbody program called Hip Hop Abs. He is definitely worthy of instructing others on the art of ripped abs:

Cardio Abs starts with more jumping. It’s considered a “warm-up”, but given that this workout is to be done after Pure Cardio, it seems excessive and hardly a warm-up since you are probably already soaked in your own sweat, but since the jumping part is relatively short, I let Shaun T slide for this one. It starts with a jog, leads into high knees with hands overhead ( I definitely can feel the core contraction on this one), then high knees with a twist, jump rope, and last, tuck jumps. Tuck jumps are from the fit test and involve getting into a very low crouch and jumping into the air while keeping your legs in a crouched position. Here’s Shaun T doing an amazing version of a tuck jump (I assure you that my version looks exactly the same):

Tuck Jump

After the warm-up, it’s time to get on the mat for some ab work. Most of the core workout is done in the c-sit position, which reminds me of the ab moves I’ve done in the Dailey Method. You basically sit on the ground with your back straight, hands under your knees and then lean back until your arms are straight. Your back should be curved like a C. Once in this move, you begin some moves:

  • Twist (this one reminds me of Mason Twists from P90X – clasp your hands together with elbows out and rotate your torso side to side, nearly touching the ground with your elbow)
  • Twist with Knee (same move but lift the opposite knee to meet your arms)
  • A Frame Ab Twists (move your hands into a A position – basically straight with hands locked together, alternating side to side)
  • A Frame with Knee (same with added knee raise)
  • Hold Center (lean back in your C sit and feel the burn!)

After a 30 second water break, get back into the C sit with one leg extended in front of you, the other with the knee bent. Bend your leg inward and then back, then straighten it and lift it upward, then back, and repeat. Switch legs. This exercise lasts 1 minute. After another break, you get back into C sit and extend both legs out straight. Move both legs in, then both out, straighten them and lift them together, then repeat. This one is very difficult for me. It’s hard for me to get my legs straight while I lift them!

The next set of moves is in the plank position:

  • Alt Knees: In a high plank slowly move one leg laterally toward your ribs then switch
  • Alt Knees Fast: Same move but faster
  • Low Plank: Get into a plank, resting on your forearms and alternate your legs again
  • Childs Pose: Stretch!
  • Pulse Tucks: Alternate between high and low plank, pulsing your hips several times, keeping the core tight, before alternating.

Cool down and stretch.

I really like this workout. I wish that it was incorporated into the program more often, but I think that the other workouts have their own ab moves and Shaun T didn’t think it was necessary to overkill the abs. I am a firm believer in working your abs from within and all of these moves do just that. Traditional sit ups target the outer abs which are also important but it is the inner abs that shrink your waistline and also make you a faster runner and cyclist. I am excited to incorporate Cardio Abs into my Ironman training plan!

2 thoughts on “Insanity Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs

    1. FitnessFatale Post author

      Yes you would do both, including warm-ups and cool-downs. Abs is only another 15 min or so.


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