Interested in trying high intensity interval training but not sure what the best place for you to start is? With the number of workouts out there in this popular practice of mixing up bursts of intense activity with short periods of active rest, it’s no wonder you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. But if you’re anything like us, you wanted to jump aboard this calorie-torching, fat-blasting routine as quickly as an archer can hit a bull’s eye with a game of bar darts. So we spoke with Joshua Carter, personal trainer and Fit Body Boot Camp owner (who has over 20 years of experience helping clients get in the best shape of their lives), to learn how to get in the right HIIT groove for your body type.
“The key to choosing the right workout, and even the right exercise is having your goals clearly defined. Your goals are often dictated by your body type. There are 3 main body types: Ectomorph (the skinny guy), the Mesomorph (the athletic build) and the Endomorph (the fat guy),” says Carter. He continues:
So the endomorph and the ectomorph should not be dong the same workout because it is likely their goals are very different. The ectomorph is more likely to want to add some size, build muscle and get stronger while the endomorph is more likely to want to drop weight, and is not likely to be concerned with adding size. The mesomorph being more of the athletic build generally has some mix of those two goals, wanting to get stronger add some size while staying lean … And that is the beauty of HIIT — it is as versatile as it is effective.
To explain how it’s done, Carter takes the example of bench pressing (that core movement that most are familiar with already) and then shows how you can use different loads, timing patterns, and accompanying exercises to deliver the perfect workout for each body type. For these workouts, make sure to bring a timer (or your phone) to keep track of active and rest periods.
1. Ectomorph: Ectomorph bench press HIIT
(10 rounds, 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off)
Carter explains the best routine for the “skinny dude”:
So this guy wants to get stronger and bigger. Fast, rapid sets are not the way to go in this case. We need to go heavy, and take our time while still utilizing the metabolic benefits of HIIT. We will want to use a relatively “heavy” load with a relatively short work to rest ratio, in this instance a 1:2 ratio.
For this workout the trainee would need to do a proper and thorough warm up, then set up the bar with a heavy load, something he could do for 5-7 rep, say. Set the timer for 20 seconds of work and 40 seconds of rest for a total of 10 rounds. In each 20-second work period knock out as many reps as possible (6 reps or so), and don’t be surprised if that number drops as you do the workout. Don’t rush the reps, lower the bar slowly and under control and return the bar to the top faster but still under control. Rack the weight when the timer tells you to rest and resume when it tells you to start again.
Seems too simple? Just try it. It’s more rigorous than you may think.
2. Mesomorph: Mesomorph bench press/medicine ball push-up
(12 rounds, 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off)
So what are the workout goals for this kind of fella? Carter explains:
This guy wants to add some size, some strength while staying lean. No problem. For this guy we will use a moderate load, a 1:1 work to rest ratio and we’ll throw in an accompanying move that further utilizes his natural athletic abilities and really lets HITT shine.
Carter describes exactly what you need to do for this fast and effective workout:
In this case we will use the alternating medicine ball push up. For this workout we will alternate between the bench press and the medicine ball push up. So round one is benching and round two is the med ball push up and so on. After a good warm up set up the bar with a moderate load that will allow for 12 or so reps. Have a med ball on the ground ready to go. Set the timer for 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. When the timer goes off knock out as many bench presses as possible with good form, controlling the bar on the way down and back up. When the timer goes off rest for 30 seconds, but get in position for the push up. When the timer goes off commence with the alternating med ball push up — the first rep with your right hand on the ball, go all the way down and back up, then roll the ball (or hop into position) so the ball is now under your left hand and complete another full rep. Do this for the entire 30 seconds. When the timer goes off you have 30 seconds to rest and get back to the bench press. Keep going back and forth like this for 12 total rounds.
This one gets tough fast and you’ll see the reps go down on each round — that’s fine. Just give it all you’ve got and your chest will definitely be smoked by the end.
3. Endomorph: Endomorph ball slam with bench press
(12 rounds, 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off)
So who should do this kind of routine? Carter elaborates:
He does not care about size, and strength is not usually a priority. He needs to get lean and drop fat. HIIT is a perfect fit. For this workout we will use a (relatively) light load and a non-competing movement that will further accelerate the metabolism utilizing a 2:1 workout to rest ratio. In this case, we will be going 40 seconds on 20 seconds off. We will be pairing the ball slam with bench press this time around. This is a powerhouse move that is not a high-skill move but will skyrocket the metabolism to burn a maximum amount of fat.
And here’s the flow of the HIIT regimen for the endomorph:
So again, after a good warm up set up a bar with a relatively light weight that will allow for 15 reps or so. Have a 20lb slam ball at the ready (one that will not bounce up and smack you in the face.) Set the timer for 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off for 12 rounds.
Get in position for the bench press and when the timer goes off start benching, always with good form and never fast. You will soon see 40 seconds is a long time. When the timer dings you have 20 seconds to rest and get into position for the ball slam. When it goes off, raise the ball high above your head (even coming up onto your toes) and slam it onto the ground as hard as you can — like it’s the head of someone you are really mad at. Pick it up fast, get it above your head and slam it again, over and over for the entire 40 seconds. When the timer goes off quickly catch your breath and get back to the bench.
Again this one gets tough very fast. It spreads out the metabolic workload over the whole body and is perfect for the goal of the endomorph.
So next time you’re feeling winded next to someone at the gym and wondering why you can’t perform as well as them, remember to consider the best type of workout for your body type and goals. “No matter your goal, with the proper planning and execution you can work HIIT into your routine to get results fast,” adds Carter. Now, where’s that super absorbent towel?
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