Three at home video workout series have exploded in popularity the last several years. Persuasive commercials for P90X, Insanity, and Rushfit bombard TV viewers of the OCS candidate demographic. Many candidates have used these programs before OCS to varying degrees of success, but have you ever seen an academic comparison of these programs and their claims?
Now we have one, thanks to Fabio Comana, M.A., M.S., who scientifically evaluated and compared the three programs. So how do they stack up? Which is the best fit for the unique physical challenges of OCS? Would they be recommended for candidates?
First some quick introductions to the programs:
Rushfit is a product of UFC champion George St-Pierre and his trainer. It consists of an 8-week training program which Mr. Comana characterizes as consistent with weight-loss and muscle conditioning and definition. Rushfit gives a “greater emphasis on muscle endurance than on muscle building or strength,” and introduces a wide variety of training variables to increase workouts’ intensity.
Insanity, previously reviewed on the OCS blog here, is a 60-day program also aimed at weight-loss and muscle conditioning and definition. It emphasizes muscle endurance and cardio, with high emphasis on plyometrics.
P90X, perhaps the most famous program, consists of a 90-day program which Mr. Comana characterizes as useful for weight-loss, conditioning and definition, but that can also emphasize optional muscle building and strengthening. It includes more dumbbell exercises than Insanity, which is more bodyweight in nature.
Compare and Contrast
So how are the programs different from each other?
Rushfit emphasizes endurance over strength, is weak on cardio, and has a sound flexibility routine. Insanity emphasizes cardio and endurance over strength and has suspect flexibility advice, including static stretches after the warm-up. P90X has good flexibility training and incorporates almost all parameters of fitness.
Rushfit has a scientific progression of a variety of exercises, although its cardio guidelines are weak. Insanity seems to have no scientific progression built into its often homogenous workouts. P90X has a quite varied program based on scientific progression.
Rushfit and P90X were rated as highly safe workouts. However, Mr. Comana saw danger in the Insanity program. “High plyometric volume, lack of biomechanical coaching and knowledge, lack of understanding of energy pathways (i.e., appropriate work-to-recovery ratios) mean this program increases the risk of excessive fatigue, compromised technique, muscle soreness and possible injury,” all of which led him to rate Insanity a 4 out of 10 in overall safety.
For general fitness, P90X and Rushfit seem to be strong programs. Insanity seems to be incomplete at best and dangerous at worst. Of note is that P90X seems to be the only program that can be tailored to effectively train for strength, although it requires a greater investment in additional gear such as dumbbells and a pullup bar.
Bottom Line for the Future Marine
Are any of these programs recommended for OCS or boot camp prep? First, we definitely can eliminate Insanity after its shortfalls were identified in the evaluation. Rushfit and P90X do seem to offer strong overall fitness programs. Although it is an expensive investment, P90X seems to be the best fit for the workouts and strain of OCS, since its cardio and strength advantages over Rushfit match well the cardio and heavy marches of OCS. However, it is not as closely aligned with OCS workouts as the Ultimate OCS Preparation Workout featured on this site, which we recommend in the 10 weeks leading up to OCS. If OCS is farther out for you, P90X is a very simple workout for beginners who need advice or discipline in their physical training.
If you are more than 10 weeks away from OCS, P90X would be a strong program to improve your overall fitness level in a structured, scientifically-sound training regimen.
Read the full evaluation report by Fabio Comana, M.A., M.S., here: P90X, Insanity and Rushfit: A Side-by-Side Comparison of TV’s Most Popular—and Extreme—Workouts