Weight training for some is the most important part of Bodybuilding and while it’s true that nutrition and rest are highly delicate subjects, training deserves its own discussion space. Asking ourselves if training is more important than nutrition is the same thing as asking what came first, the chicken or the egg. In reality answering both of these questions is useless, training is equally as important as nutrition just like the chicken is to the egg. I know this example may be a little weird but I think it gets the job done in explaining the importance of two fundamental Bodybuilding factors.
High-Intensity Training or HIT is probably one of the least talked about training styles when it comes to discussing hypertrophy training. The most talked about training program revolves around the typical five exercises for five sets and twelve reps, some exercise programs may include a few super sets or drop sets but, why doesn’t anyone talk about HIT as much? The most logical answer to this question is that High-Intensity Training is not as appealing as other styles of training, and that weirdly enough some consider HIT to be a beginners training style, the cold hard truth is that HIT may actually be the secret to achieving new levels of muscular development for both experienced and inexperienced bodybuilders.
How does HIT work?
HIT training is based around a few principles developed by the late Arthur Jones and other well known individuals such as Mike and Ray Mentzer. High Intensity Training is a bodybuilding style that allows the bodybuilder to build his physique in a unique and painful way, HIT workouts tend to be shorter, more intense and a lot more technical than regular programs.
The principles of HIT state than in order for muscle to grow and be subject to hypertrophy it needs to be under constant and intense tension, this tension can only be achieved by performing slow and controlled repetitions. A lot of beginners like to think that by performing any universal and generic training routine they will be bound to grow as they are constantly doing lots of sets and repetitions, this is not entirely true.
To understand how HIT differs from a normal routine we will use the bench press as an example, a normal routine would tell the bodybuilder to do five sets for twelve repetitions then rest for thirty seconds and repeat the process four more times. The problem with this style of training is that the bodybuilder will not hit all of the needed muscle fibers and will not develop his strength like he potentially could.
In a HIT routine the bodybuilder will perform up to two warm up sets and one single working set, each and every repetition will be performed till failure. The difference between HIT and regular training is the duration of the sets and the repetitions, a HIT set will require the bodybuilder to hold the weight on the positive, negative and neutral positions of the lift, the movement will be controlled and every single possible muscle fiber will be worked each repetition can take up to ten seconds to perform.
What makes HIT so special?
HIT is a philosophy in itself that enables the bodybuilder to think and perform in a different way. Building muscle is an unnatural movement and High-Intensity Training is an unnatural training style. HIT takes the bodybuilder out of his comfort zone and places him in an uncomfortable position while most training styles are all about explosiveness and speed; HIT is all about control, patience and discipline.
High-Intensity Training enables the bodybuilder to build the mind muscle connection that is needed in order to build a world class physique. Most bodybuilders like to stay away from HIT because it doesn’t look as hardcore as a Schwarzenegger-style of lifting but what they don’t seem to realize is that sometimes less is more. High-Intensity Training demands the bodybuilder to go all out on every single set and that’s why he’s only required to do a maximum of three sets (two of them being warm ups) per exercise.
Think about it, most bodybuilders spend hours inside the gym doing countless sets and repetitions, logically there comes a point in time when they become fatigued and can’t move at a hundred percent. High-intensity Training psychologically enables the bodybuilder to focus all of his strength and power into one productive set. High-Intensity Training is based around the principle of maximum rest and that’s why it suggests that each body part needs to be worked out every six or seven days. HIT is a really difficult, technical yet efficient and productive way to take one’s physique to the next level.
Famous Bodybuilders and HIT
The original creator and promoter of High-Intensity Training is the late Arthur Jones, not many know that he is the developer and creator of the renowned gym brand Nautilus. Jones created every single piece of equipment to accommodate his style of training. Like it was already stated, High Intensity Training is a very particular workout style, no other training method puts as much emphasis of the negative, positive and neutral movements such as HIT and the same thing goes for rest and recovery.
There are literally a handful of bodybuilders out there that have been known to use this style of training year round to build their physiques, the most popular ones being Mike Mentzer, Ray Mentzer, Casey Viator and Dorian Yates. Mike and Ray Mentzer are the best known HIT prodigies, their way of training was fast, simple and extremely demanding; they usually did three workouts a week, covering all body parts, Mike and Ray performed various warm up sets before attacking the weights on their first and last working set till failure. Casey Viator was just an animal, even bodybuilding legends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu and Frank Zane were in awe at his extraordinary strength and humongous physique, he like the Mentzer brothers, used HIT as his only training method.
Just like the previously mentioned bodybuilders, there have been a few more that have achieved incredible physiques by utilizing High-Intensity Training but none of them are as popular as the six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. Dorian was guided by Mike Mentzer but yet he managed to create his own style of HIT that enabled him to become a bodybuilding legend, if you want a perfect of example of what HIT training looks like you might be interested in watching Mr. Yates perform an excruciating workout in his dungeon gym, all in all, HIT training is probably the ultimate and most demanding training style known to man.