This is a short article about HIT, a rather unique and unusual bodybuilding/weight training method.
Basic principles of HIT
When you are training according to the HIT method, you perform only one set of each exercise and you train each muscle group only one single time per week.
No, I’m not pulling your leg. As an example, if you’ve just completed a set of squats today (one single set, that is), then you wouldn’t be doing any more squats until this same time one entire week from now!
The reasoning here is that using high intensity training, you put your muscle groups under utterly intense tension, building a massive growth impulse, after which you give the muscles a whole lot of time to recoup and grow.
How can you get this kind of strong growth impulse with only one set? HIT has 2 aspects to it, making it exceptionally intensive:
1. Best Possble Execution
One does every repetition of an exercise with painstakenly perfect execution and you perform the repetitions very slowly. What this means is: Zero cheating or yanking your weights, no extra tension in any areas of the body not directly needed for the weightlifting as well as gratuitous amounts of of pain in your muscle tissue.
2. Going Beyond Failure
Following most training techniques, reps are carried out to muscle failure. I.e. you keep pressing until you simply can’t move the weight load any longer, no matter how hard you are trying. That’s the point of muscle failure and also the point where a set ends. In HIT, you’re going past that point.
This needs to be further explained, of course. After all, how can you go beyond failure?
How to Keep Going
There are a few methods used that will help you move beyond failure in High Intensity Training. Here are a few of them:
For a lot of physical exercises, this is quite a straightforward option. Everybody knows the spotter can help out a little on that very last repetition, when you are performing bench-presses. With high intensity training, the spotter can wait until you get to the point of failure and then very softly support you for an additional 2-3 repetitions.
Another technique is to immediately lower the weights immediately after failure is reached, and complete a few additional repetitions with the reduced weight load. With machines, you could have a spotter who removes a few plates for you and when training with dumbbells and barbells you can prepare one heavier and one less heavy set of weights and then change between them as quickly as (safely) possible.
Five Second Rest
This final one is a method you can even make use of when training solo: As soon as you’ve reached the point of failure, go back to a neutral (non tension) position, wait for five seconds and then have another go at completing as many sets as possible.
My Personal Take on HIT
Performing the HIT workout is a agreeable experience for approximately six and three quarters of every week after which it turns into a truly excruciating experience for the rest of the week, beginning with the beginning of the exercise routine and ending a couple of hours after it is done.
I was surprised at how much strength I accumulated in the course of my time doing HIT. I sort of assumed that doing just one set per week would lead to stagnation, at best, however I made as much, if not more, progress as I did with volume training before. I should also mention that when training HIT, I felt in good, pain-free shape at least five days of the week. With more traditional split-training type of routines, I usually feel sore all over on most days of the week.
One of the most fascinating facets of HIT are actually the mental ones, though. To begin with, it’s just extremely tough to train as hard as is required. Without someone spotting for you, spurring you on, correcting you and shouting in your face to do one more rep, I don’t think it’s even possible to get there. I also noticed that my attitude approaching each exercise was effected by the fact that I constantly knew this one was going to be the only set for an entire week. You generally start out driven to push as hard as you can – and by the point where you’ve reached muscle failure and kept going, you typically regret you ever started…
For me it comes down to this: High Intensity Training is definitely an interesting, advanced workout method.
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