High Intensity Training FAQs


Anyone a least a little bit knowledgeable about High Intensity Training has heard the names of Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer,to name a couple proponents.  Nautilus founder and exercise promoter Arthur Jones made high intensity training popular in the 1970s.  Later on, a bodybuilder named Mike Mentzer put his own spin on H.I.T. and came up with a training discipline called Heavy Duty.  Although Mentzer died in 2001, his fans still abound online extolling the virtues of his famous Heavy Duty program and exercise philosophy.

What are the Basics of High Intensity Training?

high intensity training

Arthur Jones

High intensity training methods vary but the concept is the same.  A weight is lifted for a certain number of repetitions until the lifter comes to the point of momentary muscular failure (MMF).  The definition of MMF is when you either can’t do another rep or you can’t do another rep with good form.

The guidelines for high intensity training are:

1)      Training intensely—intensity of effort is the main concept.  You do reps very slowly.

This is only possible when the weight you are using is lighter than used in conventional training.  Usually the cadence is two or three seconds on the concentric, hold for one or two seconds, and then three or four seconds on the eccentric.  It is the slowness of the reps that recruit all muscle fibers from slow twitch to fast twitch.

2)      Training Briefly–Hitters don’t spend hours in the gym but rather, minutes instead.  No more than one or two exercises are done per body part.  If you train with intensity to failure, you couldn’t do any more nor would you want to.

3)     Training Infrequently—This means that you don’t necessarily train as regularly as other conventional ways.  According to Mentzer, the exercise is only a stimulus, a trigger, to activate the growth mechanism.  After this mechanism is activated, rest is the most important component in the training.

The staunch proponents of H.I.T. say that that while it may not be the only way to develop  size and explosive strength, it is the best way.

Are There Any Opponents of High Intensity Training?

There are not really opponents but rather, experienced lifters who disagree with the premise that all an athlete needs is a good hit routine as a sole means to develop explosive power.  Louie Simmons of Westside barbell powerlifting fame and strength consultant to many pro football teams says that H.I.T. makes athletes slow and that it only develops hypertrophy and the endurance/fatigue of muscles.  Dr. Fred Hatfield, another renowned powerlifter, made fun of hit mocking its “Jedi” practitioners as following a false religion.  As of this date, there is no world class powerlifter who uses high intensity training exclusively.  One critical difference between the two camps is a disagreement as to the rate of muscle atrophy without exercise stimulus:  Mike Mentzer was reported to have said that it takes at least two weeks for a muscle to atrophy.  Elite Powerlifters, however, say that they can start losing strength in less than a week.

Are There Advanced High Intensity Training Techniques?

There are advanced weight training H.I.T techniques such as:

  • Rest pauses—the most understood definition of rest pause is when you do your work set, put the weight down for 10 seconds and then pick the weight up to do another set to failure.
  • Static contraction training—after doing your work set, you hold the weight at a static level for as long as you can.
  • Slow negatives—in your work set you let the weight down as slowly as you can with every rep.
  • Negative only training—no concentric  phase is used here.  You either get the weight up yourself or use a spotter.  Much heavier weights can be used than normal.

How Does one Progress Strength-Wise with High Intensity Training?

One progresses with hit training fairly much like other ways of training.  To elucidate, there are 2 basic progression methods:  Single and double.  Single progression, in its simplest form is when you always do, say, 6 reps for a particular exercise— weighted chins, for instance.  Each time you do chins you put a tie a little more weight around your waist but you are always doing 6 reps.  Double progression is when you increase the weight after hitting a certain rep target.  You start with 6 and then do an extra rep each time you do that workout.  When you hit 10 reps, you put on more weight and start at six again.

Single progression training lends itself very well to what is called micro loading.  This is when you put only a pound or two more on the barbell each time you do the exercise—in some cases, maybe only half a pound.  Do the math—if you do 6 reps every time you perform an exercise once a week, after a year you will be lifting 52 more pounds on that exercise.  Most lifters however, don’t do continue micro loading an exercise because they change something in their workout out of sheer boredom.

Do All H.I.T. Methods Involve a Slow Way of Doing Reps?

Yes, most methods involve slow reps.  There is a high-intensity-like method called DoggCrapp (AKA DC) training that suggests executing the concentric phase of a lift explosively while lowering the weight down slowly on the eccentric phase.  True hitters, however,  say that any kind of explosiveness in weight training can lead to unwanted injuries.  DC Training also involves a rest-pause technique in which you perform a first set of reps and then perform 2 rest-pause sets with a 10-12 breath rest in between the sets (in order to infuse oxygen into the exhausted muscle tissue).  DC training attempts to combine powerlifting and bodybuilding together using a Monday-Wednesday-Friday alternate upper/lower body split routine.

Do High Intensity Training Enthusiasts Also Do Cardio?

Hitters say that it may be unnecessary to do any type of cardiovascular training because it is possible to add a cardiovascular conditioning element to a H.I.T. workout.  You do this by stringing all exercises back to back without any rest and performing each one with a very slow rep cadence.  For instance:

1)First do leg presses;

2)then do a chest press

3)Then do a rowing exercise

4)Then do overhead press;

5)then do a chin pull down.

Each exercise is done in a 5-1-10 cadence.  The concentric part of the lift is done for 5 counts, held for 1 count, then the eccentric part is let down very slowly for 10 counts.

Is the Nutrition any Different for High Intensity Training?

The nutrition requirements are the same as they are for any other type of bodybuilding regimen.

1)Eat a well balanced diet of high quality proteins, whole grain carbs and good fats and colorful fruits and vegetables that are high in anti-oxidants.

2)To gain weight, eat a calorie surplus of carbs.

3)To lose weight and get more muscular definition, increase good fats, decrease carbs and maintain a calorie deficit.

Conclusion

High Intensity training aficionados say that there isn’t much difference between doing one set to failure and 3 regular sets for ordinary strength gains.  They say it takes less time to train and they don’t have to train so often.  The most important thing is that if a High Intensity Training motivates people off their butts to build muscle and keeps them strong and healthy, then it can only be a good thing.

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