Ok, so after that disappointing last video, I thought Insanity Pure Cardio better be good. And disappoint it did not.

First of all, I have to tell you I didn’t follow my own advice on How to drink like a world class athlete. Yeah, I didn’t do that and consequently I had a massive headache (about 5% dehydration), but did the workout anyway.

I normally don’t work out until the afternoon, but I did this Pure Cardio Workout in the morning. I am not a morning person at all, so when I say morning, I mean any time before noon.

Insanity Pure Cardio

This is probably the second best workout I have done thus far in any of the Insanity workouts. Unlike any of the other videos I have reviewed, this workout does not have any pre-determined water breaks. In other words, it’s straight up cardio at full blast for about 20 ~ 25 minutes. If you don’t think that is a lot, go try a full blown sprint for more than 15 seconds. As a cyclist, my body seems to love any type of cardio work.  So 25 minutes is not particularly hard, but definitely something I’m not used too.

My first piece of advice is BEFORE doing this video, make sure you are well hydrated at least 1 hour prior to doing the workout. You will sweat. You will taste your own sweat. I did both.

Pure cardio delivers on what is says it will do….P U R E  C A R D I O. Don’t take this lightly, I am a fitness professional and this workout IS HARD. Seriously, after the workout was done, the presenter of these Insanity workouts DVD’s collapsed on the floor in exhaustion! Do not take this lightly, it is very hard. If you don’t stop at least once or twice during the video to take a water break, you are not going hard enough. If done properly, however, you are touching 80~95 percent of your max heart rate consistently.

Lastly, a lot of the moves in this video consist of exercises that you have already done in previous Insanity workouts that I wrote about.

Insanity – Pure Cardio – Review

Like all of the other Insanity workouts, the structure of the workout is the same; warm-up, stretch, workout, stretch. And just like the other videos I have written about, the *warm-up – stretch* sequence sucks!  It sucked in first video, and it still sucks in this video. Remember when you were a kid and you just came inside from playing in the grass or streets or whatever? Then your mom/grandma called you inside for something lame like trying on some clothes or eating. It’s like the biggest buzz kill ain’t it? All your friends are outside yelling and screaming and you are inside getting poked or prodded.

Same thing with the *warm-up-stretch* sequence; it starts off with this really kick ass warm-up, then you stop to stretch. It’s horrible. I will continue to write about this as long as it’s being done.


So the warm-up is the same as the rest of the workout. There are three rounds of exercises that are progressively harder.

Round #1 – Warm-ups

  • Jog – Keep your core tight.
  • Jumping Jacks – Keep your arms straight and touch your hands.
  • Heisman – Get both feet off the ground between jumps.
  • 123-123 – Just like a Heisman but you are adding 3 step in between.
  • Butt Kicks – Just what they sounds like. Gets those heels to your butt!
  • High Knees – I didn’t say low knees either, get those knees up!
  • Mummy Kicks – Make sure you keep those arms straight and your legs straight. If you are not sure what they are, this is a good reason to get the video.

Round #2 – Warm-ups – Now faster

  • Jog – Keep your core tight. Don’t get sloppy.
  • Jumping Jacks – Arms out – Watch your form.
  • Heisman – Form and control is what you are going for.
  • 123-123 – Form, Form, Form.
  • Butt Kicks – Don’t get lazy on me.
  • High Knees – Use your core to lift your knees.
  • Mummy Kicks – Don’t let the bad form monster get a hold of you – make sure you keep your arms at shoulder height.

Round #3 – Warm-ups – This is the round you go as fast as you can go.

  • Jog – As fast as up can safely go.
  • Jumping Jacks – Concentrate on speed.
  • Heisman – Basically you are just jumping back and forth as fast as you can. Don’t hurt yourself.
  • 123-123 – These are difficult to do fast, be safe and concentrate on form.
  • Butt Kicks – These are also hard to do fast and by now you are tired. Form, Form, Form.
  • High Knees – Don’t half-ass it, go for speed. Knees still need to come up as high as you can.
  • Mummy Kicks – Go for broke.


This is the part that I do not like about this DVD set. However, since your core temperature is already high and your muscles are warmed up, get a good stretch in….you are really going to need it. Also, get hydrated because there are NO BREAKS during the actual workout (only the ones you make for yourself). Make sure you stretch EVERYTHING.

Water Break – 30 Seconds *Remember this is the only scheduled one, so enjoy it.*

Water Break – Seriously get some water, this workout is HARD. If you are anything like me, you are thinking…yeah sure dude, how hard can it actually be? I get it, and you will see.

Suicide Drills

*This was featured in the Plyometric Cardio Circuit review*

  • With a name like suicide drills you know they suck. The exercise is like cooking eggs, very easy to do, but very hard to master. Suicide drills are like the 123 drill done in the warm-up; however, in between steps you are touching the ground with your opposite hand from the side you are drilling on.  The key point here is proper form and keeping your core tight. This improves form and agility. This is a matter of time and not repetitions.

Switch Kicks

  • Sort of like Switch Feet, Switch Kicks do just that; you bounce off your opposite leg and kick out with the other leg. You just have to find a groove and stick with it. It’s a very easy and fun move to do. Make sure you use your arms to maintain balance. Again, this is a timing thing and not a repetition thing like in the other videos.

Wide Football Stance

*This was featured in the Plyometric Cardio Circuit review.*

  • A few additional key points to remember when doing these are to push yourself and make clean adjustments when you turn left or right, or when you move to the front or back.
  • During your “Set,” do not stay down for more than one second. You want to keep moving and maintain the highest tempo you can. I know I am saying this a lot but I mean it. Everyone, YOU HAVE TO PUSH.
  • Sprint – try and move your feet as fast as you can. Think like you are running over hot coals.


  • Repeat Wide Football Stance

Stance Jacks

  • Just like jumping jacks, but your hands touch the ground. You do normal jumping jacks with your lower body; however, instead of putting your arms up and touching your hands over your head, you touch the ground with one hand when your legs are in the spread position.  It’s not a difficult move, but very effective. I have never done this variation before, and I liked it.
  • Push your butt out to go deep into the exercise. This is pretty much just like the jack squat, if you can’t tell from my description.


  • The pedal exercise is actually two exercises combined.  It is a full on sprint combined with a lunge (one for each leg) in between sprints. Be sure you keep your knee over your ankle.

Hooks and Jump Rope

  • There really is nothing to figure out in this exercise. You throw 8 hooks with either your right or left hand, then jump up and do a double (meaning your imaginary rope goes under your body 2x) jump rope. Then switch hands and do another 8 hooks.

Even though there are no predetermined breaks, don’t hurt yourself. Take one as you need it and get back into the game.

Power Jacks – This is from the Fit Test review

  • Power Jacks are like normal jumping jacks but you do a squat when your legs go to the out position and your arms do not touch when you are in the up position.

*Remember – DO NOT compromise form.

Level 2 Drills – Also from the Insanity Plyometric Cardio workout.

  • Level 2 Drills are just like Level 1 drills, but instead of 4 push-ups and 4 plank level mountain climbers, you do 8.

Frog Jumps

  • Frog jumps are just like the ones you did as a child. You come from a standing squat and jump forward, then backwards. Easy but not fun, especially since you should be tired at this point. Make sure your butt stays down and both of your arms touch the floor.

Power Knees

This exercise is also from the Fit test review.

  • 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. Do at least 50 on one leg, then switch knees.

Mountain Climbers – Another workout from the Plyometric Cardio Circuit set.

  • This exercise is the standing up version. Just like rock climbing, get your arms way up in the air and start climbing your imaginary mountain. Do as many as you can.

Ski Down – Another workout from the Plyometric Cardio Circuit set.

  • Not much to add other than to be sure you land softly on your toes (like a cat). Your knees will send me an email later thanking me. Be sure to keep your knees together. Lastly, swing your arms for momentum.

Scissor Runs/ Switch Feet

  • Guess where this workout came from – Yeah, just like all the other ones. Not much to add at this point except just make sure you keep up with the pace.

Suicide Jumps – This is from the Fit Test set

  • Suicide jumps combine a plank with a jump in between. This is the only additional information I can add to this.

Push-up Jacks

Since I linked to other reviews above, I am sure you have read this already.

Water Break – 1 minute.

Stretch – Don’t skip this, very important, also crazy at this point for reasons you can already guess.


Insanity Pure Cardio

This workout is nuts!

I really want to give this a 5 out of 5 Charles faces award, but I can’t because of the warm-up/stretch sequence.

So, it gets 4 out of 5 Charles faces



This concludes my review on  Insanity Pure Cardio.

Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd

Self processed fitness missionary and author of most of the ridiculous fitness articles written on Charles Lloyd Fitness.com. I am not really a writer, but a workout fiend who happens to have a blog. The single mission of this website is very simple: Get You In Shape. I have been blessed with the gift of good health and want to share it with you. Join Me.

    20 replies to "Insanity Pure Cardio – Review"

    • Keri

      There are a few things I noticed were incorrect on this description. One being that the Hooks and Jump Rope are actually only 4 hooks and 4 jump ropes on each side and the second being that the level 2 drills say just like level 1 where you do 4 pushups and 4 mountain climbers but the mountain climbers are actually 8 in the level 1 drills! The stance jacks you should also mention the twist involved so that people are touching their right hand to their left foot and vice versa! I love this workout! I wanted to print off a copy of this because im going to mexico and they dont have dvds at the resort so i may bring my ipod and look like a loser with my piece of paper on the floor doing it with headphones on and no video. people may think im crazy!

    • Charles Lloyd

      Awesome stuff Keri.

    • Bethany

      I just started the Insanity program. I’m now on day 5 (I’m probably not as fit as I should be for this program, but still I push on). I come to your website daily to check out the days program before I do it, so I know what kind of torture I am in for. You’re very thorough and I go in knowing what to expect and feel more prepared than going in blindly (especially since I am on my first week and have only done each video once). Thanks for your insight, knowledge and helping me stay one step ahead of the game!!!

    • Charles Lloyd

      Thanks Bethany, that means a lot. Also thanks for stopping by. Also just ask away if you have any questions or not clear about anything.

    • Sal

      This one ended being my favorite! The first time doing it, Shaun T kept saying, “I’m getting nervous, guys.” LoL! It really was intense and when I was done I was laughing giddy!
      I’ve never been giddy after a workout before.

    • Mindy

      Awesome! I’m looking forward to this one. It’s going straight into the DVD player after work!

    • Charles Lloyd

      Go get em’ Mindy!!!

    • Kevin

      Do you know of any DVD’s that are as effective but not as redundant? I am blown away by doing push ups every day along with many other moves.

    • Charles Lloyd

      Depends on what exactly you are looking for. The human body is limited to what moves we can do. Most of the moves are redundant, but it is kind of like learning the basics of basketball (bounce pass, shooting dynamics, et al.) any one can do something just OK once, but to be able to do them correctly EVERYTIME…that’s another story. But it mainly depends on what you are looking for.

    • Shaun

      I just want to know if i can only do the pure cardio workout 4 times a week, will i get the same results and is it good for my body? I also want to add that i hate the warm up stretches,can i skip the warm up and do a quick warm up of my own, i just want to make sure please!!

    • Charles Lloyd

      Shaun, You can do that, but your body will get use to it pretty quick. If you do your own warm-up, make sure you do it for an adequate amount of time. Also incorporate some stretches AFTER your workout, your body will thank you later! Thanks for dropping by!

    • Elaine

      I just started Insanity and I am so glad I found your website. I just did cardio recovery today so I’m scheduled to do pure cardio tomorrow. My calves seems to be on permanent contraction since I started Insanity, lol. I am sore all over but more my calves. Going down stairs is torture. Is there a good stretching exercises you can recommend for the calf muscle?

    • Charles Lloyd

      Elaine, Because of the limited range of motion of your calf muscles there are really only toe raises (in whatever variety) that can stretch the calf muscles. So you need to find a some kind of wall (curb/strudy structure) and place your toes on that structure (a couple inches off the ground), then push your heel to the ground and slightly lean forward, or you can do the wall push method like the picture here:http://blog.charleslloydfitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/stretch_calf.gif. HTH

    • Mark

      The idea behind the warmup and then stop to stretch, is to elevate your heart rate, and then slow it down. The same idea with the Max Interval. You work out hard, then stop for 30 sec, and so on. People are shedding the pounds so why change it if its working?

    • Evan

      Hey Charles….Love the posts about insanity I started 17 days ago…so today is Pure Cardio and Cardio Abs. I was wondering if you had any tips for reducing double chin. I am trying to eat right and I do insanity every day. Any sort of exercises you can do to tighten your neck ?

    • Jennifer

      Love the sight!! I have just started Insanity… I was looking for something a little more challenging. I was doing TurboFire and it wasn’t that much of a challenge anymore… here I thought I was just in good shape!! Wow was I in for a shock!! I have to push myself beyond what I ever have before. I may not look like those women on the screen, but I sure feel an intense level of accomplishment when I get through it (even with my girl push-ups at the end)

    • rubber_muscles

      I check your site everyday before I do the workout so I have an idea of what’s ahead of me. Thanks for the descriptions!

    • Jim W.

      I am on my second week of month one and feel good so far. I am currently in training to run a 50-mile race in May (and I have a couple of half marathons between now and then). It’s really hard to balance distance training with Insanity. Some days my legs are just fried after I do both. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Louise

      I have come to enjoy your review here in my first week of insanity.. The way you write is entertaining while actuality letting me know what I’m in for for that day. Thanks

    • Charles Lloyd

      Thanks for dropping by Louise!

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