Curator of Fitness & Fun on the Seacoast

The Missing Ingredient In Your Workouts? Add A Heaping Helping of High Intensity Training (Dr.’s Orders)

“As you get older  — train hard but train smarter.” – Dr. Ken Leistner. Wise workout words from a wise man.

Yes, I know that All Hallows Eve is almost upon us, and he may resemble Freddy Krueger a bit, but be not afraid. The doctor is here to help.

Dr. Ken is a strength training writer, coach, personal trainer, strength consultant for the National Football League and chiropractor. He is renowned for training elite high school, collegiate, professional, and Olympic athletes alike. He also is one of the originators and developers of High Intensity
Training (HIT) for athletes and has achieved legendary status in the strength training community, and he has the “secret sauce” to what is missing in your workouts.

I was first introduced to Dr. Ken’s HIT workouts by my Strength & Conditioning Coach, Barry Darling while coaching at Stonehill College. Barry was and is a Dr. Ken disciple and incorporates HIT workouts into his team workouts and with personal training clients. The fundamental principles of HIT are that exercise should be brief, infrequent and intense. Exercises should be performed with a high level of effort, or intensity, where it is thought that it will increase muscular strength and endurance. Advocates of HIT believe that this method is superior for strength building (and as it turns out calorie burning too).

Many, but not all, circuit training or HIIT (high intensity interval training) gym workouts that are en vogue today have elements of Dr. Ken’s HIT, that is IF they are done at high intensity levels and to muscle failure. CrossFit workouts are a direct off-shoot of HIT, but it all started with Dr. Ken’s HIT workouts in his garage on Long Island.

Most of us can fit some cardio in each week on a treadmill, in the pool, on a bike or outdoors. But when time is short
and we want to burn the most calories in the shortest period of time, cardio alone won’t cut it. This is where Dr. Ken’s HIT workouts come in. Study after study has found that shorter HIT workouts can actually have MORE physiological/fitness benefits compared to longer low-intensity workouts.

And, according to a recent CBS News report, “High Intensity Interval Training Offers Condensed Workout,” fitness experts now believe you burn more calories after a high intensity interval session than during it. It’s called the afterburn effectt. Dr. Ken was way ahead of his time in the field of fitness since he was living, teaching and coaching HIT back in the 1970’s as a power lifter. His HIT workouts are timeless and could be the missing ingredient in your workout routine.

So, if, like me, you need some variety and welcome a fitness challenge, here’s a great 4-week HIT workout program, inspired by Dr. Ken – and one of my personal favorites that I mix into my routine every winter. [*FYI – this is a great workout to bring on the road, if you travel a lot]. Here it is… a heaping helping of high intensity training in only 90 MINUTES a week. You want to get stronger, more fit, burn more calories and don’t have a lot of time as the work and emails start to pile up? It’s time to HIT IT! Enjoy the afterburn and being HIT Fit… Dr.’s orders.

Your Four-Week HIT Workout Plan

This fast-paced workout will help you shed fat, build muscle, and boost your fitness level —in just 90 minutes a WEEK!


  • Complete this workout three days a week, resting at least a day between sessions. So you might train on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
  • Do the six (6), yes only 6, exercises in the order shown.
  • Perform the workout as a circuit, doing one set of each exercise before resting for two minutes. Once you’ve done one set of each movement, repeat the entire circuit one or two times. That way you’ll do a total of two or three sets of each exercise. When you’ve completed the weight workout, finish with five minutes of high-intensity cardio. Choose any cardio machine you like.
  • These 6 exercises done at high intensity (HIT) will take you only 30 minutes a day!

Your charge: Exercise for 60 seconds at the highest effort you can maintain for the entire duration. Then slow to an easy pace—say, about 30 percent of your top intensity—for another 60 seconds. Alternate back and forth for the entire five minutes.

1. Inverted Row

  • Secure a bar three or four feet above the floor. Lie under the bar and grab it with a shoulder-width, overhand grip.
  • Hang at arm’s length from the bar with your body in a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders [A].
  • Keeping your body rigid, pull your chest to the bar by bending your arms and squeezing your shoulder blades together [B].
  • Pause, and then lower yourself back to the starting position. That’s one repetition. Do a total of 10 to 12 reps.

2. Mountain Climber

  • Kneel on all fours, your hands in line with but slightly wider than your shoulders.
  • Straighten your left leg completely and lift your right knee toward your chest.
  • You should be on the balls of your feet, positioned like a sprinter in the starting blocks [A].
  • Now quickly switch leg positions [B] as many times as you can for 30 to 45 seconds. That’s one set.

3. Split Squat to Push Press

  • Hold a barbell at chest level with an overhand grip that’s just beyond shoulder width.
  • Stand in a staggered stance, your left foot in front of your right [A].
  • Keeping your torso upright, lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees [B], and then simultaneously push yourself back to the start as you press the bar over your head [C].
  • Lower the bar to the start. That’s one rep. Do a total of eight to 10 reps, and then switch leg positions and repeat. (If desired, you can use dumbbells instead of the barbell.)

4. Dumbbell Woodchop

  • Hold a light dumbbell with a hand-over-hand grip, your arms extended above your right shoulder [A].
  • Keeping your arms nearly straight, bend at your knees and forcefully rotate your torso to the left as you draw your arms down and across your body [B]. (You should move as if you’re chopping wood.)
  • When your hands reach the outside of your left ankle, quickly reverse the movement with the same intensity. That’s one repetition. Do 10 to 12 repetitions, then switch sides and repeat.

5. Squat Thrust-Chinup Combo

  • Squat on the floor beneath a chinup bar, lean forward so that your hands are on the floor and you are on the balls of your feet [A].
  • To begin, quickly kick both legs back behind you into a pushup position [B].
  • Immediately reverse the move and go back to the squat position [A].
  • From there, jump up and grab the chinup bar with an underhand grip [C].
  • Pull your chest to the bar [D]. Drop back down and repeat.
  • That’s one rep. Do a total of eight to 10 reps.

6. Pushup-Traveling Lunge Combo

  • Assume a pushup position, but instead of placing your hands on the floor, brace them on a pair of dumbbells [A]. Now do as many pushups as you can [B]. Then stand up with the dumbbells and perform a traveling lunge: Keeping your torso upright, take a step forward with your right leg and lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees [C].
  • Push from your front foot and step forward into a standing position. Next, repeat, lunging forward with your left leg.
  • That’s one rep. Do a total of six to eight reps, and then turn around and do the combo in the other direction.
  • Perform each workout twice each week. Begin and end each session with 5-minutes at an easy pace.

[Remember to always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program or new workout program.]


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Categorised in: General Fitness, New Blog Posts, Workouts & Training Tips

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