High-Intensity Training (HIT) has always been controversial in Bodybuilding due to the uncommon and unconventional principles it promotes. Unlike other popular types of training that consist of high sets and high repetitions for muscular growth, HIT goes against it all and brings something completely new to the table. HIT is wrongfully one of the least popular training methods utilized by current bodybuilders, not because it doesn’t work but because it’s not as appealing as the training style created by Arnold Schwarzenegger just a few decades ago.
How does HIT work?
HIT is a form of strength training created and promoted by Arthur Jones, the creator, and founder of Nautilus. High-Intensity Training is based around a few elementary training principles developed by Jones; these principles can often be played around with as long as certain requirements are met. The movements performed within a HIT exercise program need to be performed with a high level of effort and intensity; HIT can be explained as a way of performing progressive resistance.
HIT workouts are meant to be kept very brief and spaced methodically around the week. By doing this, the body will heal, recover and grow at a faster rate. Every exercise needs to be done in a controlled and slow manner; the repetitions should be kept high. After each repetition is done, gradually control the negative, taking up to four seconds before you begin performing the next one. A highly involved concept in HIT is the “Isometric Hold” principle; this means that you will squeeze your muscle for up to three seconds at the top of the movement and then follow it with the already discussed (four-second) negative. How does HIT compare to other training styles?
The answer to this question is straightforward, and HIT does not compare in any single way to any other given training method or style. The most popular training routines used today by bodybuilders from all levels are often derivatives of the training style promoted by the seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger. While there’s nothing wrong with Schwarzenegger’s training style, it simply does not work for everyone, and it’s highly overused.
Most training methods encourage the athlete to perform four to five exercises for each body part, each exercise for five sets and each set for twelve repetitions. These workouts then recommend the athlete to perform a body part per day throughout the whole week, with maybe a rest day or two in between. Most of these workouts will require the bodybuilder to be in the gym for up to two hours when performing unilateral movements that will only do so much.
High-Intensity Training teaches the bodybuilder to perform a movement correctly, so it directly affects muscle growth. HIT focuses on the isometric and the negative portions of the workout by activating slow and fast-twitch muscle fibers that other types of movement would not activate. High-Intensity Training routines are meant to be intense throughout the whole workout. Every exercise, set, repetition, and rest period is filled and surrounded by an intensity that any other training style can’t match.
Arthur Jones believed that the human body would benefit more from one high-intensity set than four low-intensity ones. The key to muscle growth is creating pressure around the muscle to grow to new heights. Think about it. What do you think is more effective? Five ten-second straight sets or one three-minute set with long negatives and isometric holds? By performing HIT, you will slow down your repetitions and sets, but you will also be out of the gym faster as you will only need a few sets per exercise to fatigue it. You will be able to create and enhance your muscle-mind connection, and you will also become stronger. The key to HIT is keeping the muscle constantly working and then give it time to rest, heal and grow. This training style is a lot more complex than it seems, but it works. People just choose not to use it because it “doesn’t look as intense or cool.”
Bodybuilders who have used HIT
Like it was stated above, there isn’t a big demand for High-Intensity type routines, but there are still people worldwide who actually use it to take their physiques to new levels. Believe it or not, Nautilus was created by Arthur Jones purely to promote this very particular training style. The machines were built around High-Intensity Training techniques, but not many know that. A few bodybuilders who have used this training style are Mark Dugdale, Eddie Robinson, Clarence Bass, Casey Viator, Boyer Coe, Ray Mentzer, Mike Mentzer, and Dorian Yates.
Dorian Yates and Mike Mentzer are probably the best-known promoters of this training style. Mentzer had a physique that could only be classified as art. He had incredible shape and thickness that drove him to be one of the best bodybuilders of the Golden Era. Some argue that he clearly beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1980 Olympia but lost due to politics.
Dorian Yates was won the Mr. Olympia six times and was the first person to ever step on an Olympia stage with a monstrous physique such as his. He used HIT throughout his whole career. His training carved a legendary physique that can’t be matched to this day. A quick look at his training videos will give anyone curious enough a look at just how painful and effective the HIT training style actually is.
James passion is fitness and everything related to optimizing your health and wellness. He utilizes progressive overload and macro calculations and mental techniques like mind-muscle connection in his training. He shares his teachings as a senior coach.