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Training for an endomorph

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  • Training for an endomorph

    I have come to the conclusion that I am mostly endomorphic. I haven't made this conclusion lightly. In fact, I used to believe that body types were just a myth. What I have read across the internet includes many tips that I just don't believe due to my loyalty to the Primal way (such as eating 6 meals a day). Other tips seem like they might actually be the key to lose the weight I need to. Apparently, it is in my nature as an endomorph to prefer strength training (and I do). What I've read says that I need to work on my "weaknesses" to attain my goals, which would be cardio and endurance.

    In response, I've taken to doing low level cardio, keeping the heart rate in Mark's recommended 55-75% range, 5 days a week for 45 minutes each session. I also started sprinting once a week (8 ~100m sprints w/1 minute rests). The advice also says to frequently engage in high intensity exercise, but I doubt I could do that as I would be continuously sore. I currently do exercises as laid out in Convict Conditioning (avoid weight lifting due to a back injury) three times a week. I squat all three sessions, pushups in two, ab work in all three, and bridging and pullups just once.

    Seeing as endomorphs gain muscle easily, and keep it easily, I was wondering if I could get away with decreasing my volume of strength training and replacing it with more low level cardio (and if it would be more beneficial for an endomorph like myself...for efficiency's sake. I know from past threads that I've started that efficiency is a dirty word on this forum, but I do not have a lot of time throughout the week, no getting around it. I surmise that doing this would also free up recovery that my muscle would otherwise need from the strength training. This way, I can engage in short spouts of high intensity exercise frequently (perhaps something like 20 fast pushups several times throughout my working day).

    BTW, I'm not concerned with slowed progress on my strength. Just want to maintain what I have until I finally reach my desired leanness. I'm working my way up to the progression standard of each exercise that I'm on, then I'll just stop there for now (already there with full squats, just a matter of decreasing resting time).

    Thoughts?

    Also, slightly off topic, but I just want to know if something I read was true about endomorphs. It said something along the lines of an endomorph hanging onto fat so much that even when a fat cell's energy is used, the body may replace it with water until it's absolutely sure it can destroy the fat cell. Since this can take up to a month, endomorphs may experience very little weight loss until suddenly a woosh effect happens in which pounds are seemingly lost instantly. I'm really curious because after ruining my metabolism over the holiday's (eating completely SAD for two weeks), I have been eating since then in such a way in which I should have lost weight, but I haven't. If anything, I'm gaining.

  • #2
    I'm an endomorph. I do a lot of strength training because I like being strong and I'm lucky to put on muscle really quickly--so I'm good at it, and I generally like doing things I'm good at. But as far as leaning out/being athletically capable, what works for me like gangbusters is HIIT. I stayed exactly the same size, shape, body comp, and ability level for YEARS doing just low-level cardio and strength training. Once I started doing short interval workouts (we're talking 10-15 minutes tops, with intervals of 20-30 seconds max effort : 40-60 seconds rest), I started seeing changes in ability and body comp. It still didn't get me to where I wanted to be fat loss-wise--only diet has done that--but it changed my shape from just pudgy to more "athletic with a squishy layer".

    What I've read says that I need to work on my "weaknesses" to attain my goals, which would be cardio and endurance.
    I just posted a thread about this, actually, complaining that I'm still not making fast enough progress in cardio endurance. The overwhelming recommendation was to add in sprint interval workouts, like tabatas or 30sec:1min work-rest intervals. The work interval has to be all-out, max effort, you-think-you're-gonna-die work. And then you just rest for the other interval. As someone put it in that thread, the rest interval is not there for you to recover, it's there so you can work your hardest on the work interval.

    Also, slightly off topic, but I just want to know if something I read was true about endomorphs. It said something along the lines of an endomorph hanging onto fat so much that even when a fat cell's energy is used, the body may replace it with water until it's absolutely sure it can destroy the fat cell. Since this can take up to a month, endomorphs may experience very little weight loss until suddenly a woosh effect happens in which pounds are seemingly lost instantly.
    I don't know anything about the reasoning behind it, but just anecdotally, this is a pretty accurate description of what happens for me. Maintain for a few days or weeks, then a sudden whoosh of 3-4 pounds gone in a matter of days. I think it makes it extra hard to lose weight because it's really discouraging, and most endomorphs just give up when they eat perfectly for weeks and don't lose anything.

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    • #3
      I think I would be constantly wiped out and sore if I did HIIT on top of sprints and lifting, too. I just do lifting 2x a week and sprints 1x a week or less, take a hike on the weekend and take easy walks at lunch for sunshine the rest of the time. This doesn't get me to reduce fat at all, but that's not a priority right now. Someday I'll do HIIT in place of lifting, but for now I'm not very strong and my focus is to change that. The Primal Blueprint Fitness book shows lifting and HIIT as interchangeable. One or the other, but not both. Doing both probably runs the risk of overtraining. Anyway, if you think you aren't focusing on strength right now, you might try prioritizing the HIIT instead of lifting and see if that can budge some of your more persistent fat. I've also heard that you can just do a 5 minute "finisher" thing after lifting to try and budge the weight. It's kinda like a mini HIIT session but without any rest between exercises. Honestly I do not have the energy for such a thing after lifting. It's a struggle to walk back to my office sometimes.

      As a persistent endomorph (I've even got photos from childhood to prove there's a difference between non-fat endomorphic me and my ectomorphic little sister), I don't really believe that anything other than concentration-camp-like eating regimens is really going to get anymore weight off me. I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and even hiking 30 miles a day I never got any thinner than I am now.
      Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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      • #4
        ^I think, from what I've seen, that I seem to have a higher tolerance for heavy exercise than a lot of other people. I don't really get DOMS or get too tired or anything, and I lift 2-3x per week and do HIIT or just HIT (metcon) 5-6 times a week. So I don't think I'm a good example of overtraining levels.

        But I agree with everything you said. Too much of both lifting and HIIT would be overtraining. I think, for fat loss, HIIT is the way to go (this has at least been my experience), and tossing in a day of heavy lifting per week will allow strength gains without making your muscles too tired. And yeah, a tabata to finish out a strength workout will go a long way toward both burning fat and building cardio endurance, and it's only 4 minutes long.

        Honestly I do not have the energy for such a thing after lifting. It's a struggle to walk back to my office sometimes.
        Good! It should be. If it's not, you didn't lift heavy enough. My brother used to give me crap for driving to the gym instead of riding my bike because it's less than 2 miles away. I told him to do a heavy lifting session and see if his legs and arms could operate a bicycle after that.

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        • #5
          Unfortunately, all your advice seems to jive with what I read. More HIIT. Exactly what I don't like. But if it is what's necessary, than so be it. In the Convict Conditioning layout, the exact exercises that I'm doing are as follows:
          • Close Pushups (working up to 3x20, and then I will make it my maintenance load until strength once again becomes priority)
          • Half Pullups (working up to 3x15)
          • Straight Bridges (working up to 3x40)
          • Knee Tucks (working up to 3x40)
          • Full Squats (already achieved 3x30 and am keeping this my maintenance load)


          I will probably continue the ab work multiple times a week for the sake of my fitness standards for the Navy (and abs tend to recover quickly anyway). As for the other movements, do any of you advise that I can cut back on them to once a week each, filling the free time with lots of HIIT?

          As for a variety of HIIT, in order to hate it a little less, how many different exercises can I do (again, without interfering with strength gains and muscle recovery)? I know of burpees, sprints, jumping jacks, and even pushups and squats done at high speed. Anything else?

          When it comes to my days off (weekends) and I have the free time, can I get just as much benefit splitting a full HIIT workout into segments throughout the day, or is that less effective?

          Would my idea about doing very short bursts of movements a few times throughout my working day yield mild HIIT-like effects?

          And lastly, the first responder indicated that he remained unchanged for years despite all the low level cardio. Should I cut out my low level cardio in favor of more intense work? I will, of course, continue the low level cardio on the weekends and any other time I can. But in my normal time crunch during the weekdays, should I just forget about it if it's not going to yield results?

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          • #6
            As for a variety of HIIT, in order to hate it a little less, how many different exercises can I do (again, without interfering with strength gains and muscle recovery)? I know of burpees, sprints, jumping jacks, and even pushups and squats done at high speed. Anything else?
            My preference for a HIIT workout is kettlebell and jumprope, alternating intervals. Get a KB that's not too heavy (your focus is speed and explosiveness, not strength), and do 30sec on, 1 min off of any KB move, like russian swings, overhead swings, cleans, clean & press, turkish getups, snatches. With the jumprope, you can do singles, double unders, and high knees. Plyometric work like tuck jumps is also good.

            When it comes to my days off (weekends) and I have the free time, can I get just as much benefit splitting a full HIIT workout into segments throughout the day, or is that less effective? Would my idea about doing very short bursts of movements a few times throughout my working day yield mild HIIT-like effects?
            Someone else could probably explain the science behind this concept, but as far as my personal experience goes, this doesn't work for me. But your HIIT workout shouldn't be longer than 10-15 minutes, so I find it dubious that you think you can't find the time.

            Should I cut out my low level cardio in favor of more intense work? I will, of course, continue the low level cardio on the weekends and any other time I can. But in my normal time crunch during the weekdays, should I just forget about it if it's not going to yield results?
            My opinion? Yes. It's junk fitness. Unless you're talking about walking, which is great and you should definitely do daily. But like, jogging, biking, stuff like that, should only be done for pleasure, not with any fat loss goals in mind. And actually, for my particular body, lots of jogging/running did nothing but spike my cortisol and make me gain weight. I gained probably ten pounds training for and running a marathon.

            Also, I'm female, so take what I say with a grain of salt--ladies and gents tend to differ a lot when it comes to fat loss.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
              Someone else could probably explain the science behind this concept, but as far as my personal experience goes, this doesn't work for me. But your HIIT workout shouldn't be longer than 10-15 minutes, so I find it dubious that you think you can't find the time.
              I wasn't saying I don't have the time during the week. I definitely have time for a 15 minute workout everyday. What I was asking is if I could get just as much benefit or more from using my freer time on the weekend by doing shorter, but more frequent workouts. For instance, on Saturday, what if I did four or more 5-minute HIIT workouts spread out throughout the day? This interests me because while I now realize I need to keep my metabolism high constantly as an endomorph, I will have a huge mental hurdle because I hate high intensity so much and I believe that spreading it out would make it easier to choose to do. On top of that, the example I provided has me doing HIIT for longer if you add up every session. And if mini HIIT workouts are effective, I foresee myself needing to start doing them first thing in the morning every day to get my metabolism going. But I don't really have time for a full workout in the morning. Right now, I wake up at 0530 every morning and head right to class which lasts until 1615. I then have homework that due to confidentiality, must be done in the classroom, so I usually choose to stay after class ends. Sometimes I don't leave until all the way to 1900. That's a lot of time spent being inactive. Which is why I'm curious about the effectiveness of shorter but more frequent HIIT workouts. It's also why I'm curious about doing a set of explosive BW exercises a few times throughout the day (we get 5 min breaks every hour).

              I'm also still worried about recovery. To the point where I might try creatine for the first time, just to make sure it's not an issue.

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              • #8
                good info, i think so, you can do singles, double unders, and high knees. Plyometric work like tuck jumps is also good.thanks

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                • #9
                  Heatseeker, another thing...

                  When you discovered that HIIT was the key, how often were you doing them. I realize that HIIT workouts cause an afterburn affect hours after exercise, but I think that would still allow my metabolism to slow down in between unless I did HIIT everyday. But I've also read that HIIT everyday is unsustainable. The thing is, I probably have a tendency to do more than I should (overtraining), but experience tells me that doing the minimum (such as PB fitness) isn't enough. I'm just trying to figure it all out and I have a limited time to do it. I'm in a unique situation in which my training pipeline in the Navy is 2 years long, but eventually I'll be on a boat, forced to eat a gov't-approved diet. I would prefer to be at my goal before then so that I at least know that such a goal was attainable for me.

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                  • #10
                    But I've also read that HIIT everyday is unsustainable. The thing is, I probably have a tendency to do more than I should (overtraining), but experience tells me that doing the minimum (such as PB fitness) isn't enough.
                    I did a HIIT session every day and was fine. But then, I've found that I have a higher tolerance for intense exercise than most people (not that I'm better, faster, or stronger, just that I recover faster). I usually take whatever the "recommended" amount of workouts per week is, and add 2-3 more workouts. Because, like you said, it's also been my experience that doing the minimum or the recommended amount is insufficient for my goals. PBF at the recommended amounts got me nowhere.

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                    • #11
                      Just to clear up potential confusion: Is HIIT the same as the sprint workouts Mark puts out. Where one sprints for about 50-100m, then rests a minute, repeated about 6-10 times. Those take me about 10 min, and they certainly get the heart rate up, but the rest time seems too long to be considered HIIT. Though quite honestly, I'm not sure I want to do HIIT if it means wanting to puke my guts out everyday. PB sprinting on the other hand is something I could see myself doing everyday. I actually kind of enjoy it.

                      When I woke up this morning, I tried a HIIT workout off youtube that involved jump squats, jumping jacks, and high knees. It used tabata-style intervals. I wasn't even able to finish the 20 sec of jump squats without stumbling a couple of times. Probably due to my legs in a recovery state from my strength training. Clearly, such motions will be impossible for me to sustain everyday.

                      I think I'm going to try a full body strength workout twice a week, and sprint on all the other days (except my 24 hr fast day). In the morning, I'll give my self a boost using a mini-HIIT session doing a motion like jumping jacks so as not to aggravate recovering muscles. How does this sound? Or is this still not high intensity enough based on your experience?

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                      • #12
                        We're different, with different bodies, and what is "enough" is going to be different for you than it is for me. I'd say just add in 2 or 3 HIIT sessions a week, and if you feel like you can handle and would benefit from more, do more.

                        Also, you'll get better at stuff like jump squats and other plyometric moves. Endurance is a skill just like anything else. You have to practice and push and pretty soon you'll be able to do the entire 20sec.

                        Mark's sprint intervals are definitely HIIT. Anything with a sprint/rest interval is HIIT. As far as the rest period goes, some exercise scientist a while back (this is from memory so don't ask me to cite the source) figured out that the work:rest ratio in HIIT that gets the best results is 1:2. So, 20 seconds : 40 seconds, 30 seconds : 1 minute. You could even do 10sec:20sec (kind of a reverse Tabata).

                        I don't think Mark would recommend sprinting that many times a week. As movements go, the sprint is one of the most taxing on the entire body. If you're truly sprinting correctly, you shouldn't be able to do it more than once or twice a week.

                        The best advice I have is to get a speed rope and a kettlebell. You can find KBs cheap on Craigslist.

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                        • #13
                          Sprinting doesn't seem too taxing to me. Though I think I have pretty powerful legs (actually a trait of endomorphs according to some of my reading). I always wondered why heavy squats were my favorite lift before the injury. I sprinted last night on top of the HIIT workout I did in the morning. I did a strength training workout on Friday. My calves right now are absolutely destroyed. Other than that, I feel like I could sprint again right now. I just ordered some creatine and some Xtend BCAA (which has other stuff as well). Hopefully, I can boost my recovery to continue down this path. As it stands right now, I'm already please with the results. I did my weekly carb refeed on Friday, which usually leaves me a couple pounds heavier from water weight. Less than 2 days later, the scale reads 1/2 lb less than it ever has since the holidays. So far, I've been bouncing around in the range of 165.5-168 lbs, despite weeks of "doing the right things." This morning was the first time it read below that. Looks like HIIT is the key. Thanks for all the advice.

                          BTW, what is a speed rope? Is that different than a jump rope?

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