You may have noticed that Astone Fitness’ Blog is kind of on a role with giving you all the info you need to know about today’s trends in fitness. We filled you in on Boot Camp Training and Crossfit. High Intensity Training is next in the line up. Though there are a lot of conflicting beliefs, researchers are finding that High Intensity Training is a more efficient way to get workout results than the way we have been doing it for years.


What is High Intensity Training?

The common way to weight train involves doing a predetermined number of reps in several sets. (Avg. 3 sets X 12-15 reps per exercise) High Intensity Training or H.I.T. refers to a training method that involves doing one set of each exercise up to momentary muscle failure or exhaustion. Exercises are usually only done once a week in order to give that muscle group a sufficient rest period. The main principle of HIT is that the workout is short (usually 10-20 minutes) and intense with reps performed slowly and controlled. This training technique can provide you with a wide range of benefits such as muscle conditioning, fat loss, increased muscle strength and enhanced cardiovascular fitness. Studies are finding that low volume/high intensity training is the most effective way to increase both muscle size and strength.

How it Works

The idea with HIT is that you put your muscles under extreme stress; creating a huge growth impulse. Then you give the muscles a lot of time to recover and build. There are two main factors in doing a HIT workout properly:

Perfect Execution done Slowly Each exercise must be done with perfect form and done at a natural slow pace. Because this means there is less room for cheating or yanking the weights, the workout is all on the muscle you are working, creating better results.

Going to “Real” Failure In most training methods, repetitions are done to failure. (i.e. you keep pushing until you just can’t move the weights anymore no matter how hard you try, and this is the end of your set) In HIT, you go beyond that point.

Some options that are used to help you go beyond failure are: Human Assistance Your spotter will wait until you reach the point of muscle failure and then support you for another two to three reps.

Pyramid Training Immediately lower the weights after failure is reached and do a few more repetitions with reduced weights. With machines, you can have a spotter who removes a couple of plates for you. With free weights you can prepare a lighter set and quickly and safely switch from your heavy weights to your lighter ones.

Short Breaks Another option is, once you reach the point of failure go back into a neutral position, wait for five seconds and then have another go at completing as many reps as you can.

Static Holds Although you may not be able to lift a weight for another rep you will almost certainly be able to hold it statically for a further period and finally lower the weight at a slow controlled speed.  This will take you over the edge to complete exhaustion.

Pros and Cons of HIT


  • Less Injury: Because of the slow movements there is no excessive tension in any body parts that are not directly involved in the lifting. You are less likely to cause injury to joints because with the slow movements there is no jerking motion and less room for posture error.
  • Plateau Breaker: Many weightlifters will use a HIT routine to help break a plateau; meaning they will use HIT temporarily when another routine stops giving desired results.
  • Easier to be Motivated: Though the training is extremely intense it helps to know that you only have to complete one set, and have about a week before you have to that exercise again.
  • Less Time Consuming: It is a lot easier to be motivated to do a workout when you know it’ll be over and done with in 20 minutes or less.


  • You Need a Boost: It is extremely difficult and painful to train as hard as is required to workout past the failure point. Without someone spurring you on it’s extremely hard to be motivated to push yourself that hard workout after workout.
  • Working with Heavy Weights: It is argued that if you are not doing HIT with a trainer it is hard to know when a heavy weight may be just too heavy for you. This could result in serious injury.
  • Everyone is Different: HIT recovery time varies from 48 hours up to a full week depending on the trainer and the exercise. But every person recovers a different rates and there are a lot of things to factor in, such as:
    • Some muscles take longer to recover than others
    • Men recover faster than Women
    • The older you are, the longer it takes to recover
    • If you are fit it will take you less time to recover than someone who is not
  • It’s PAIN: Though the workout may be shorter it may be hard to motivate yourself because pushing your body that hard can be extremely painful and takes a lot of energy.

Important tips for HIT Training

  • You should not perform the same exercise at the same weight for more than eight weeks in order to keep progressing. Increase the weight and reduce the repetitions, as you get stronger with each workout.
  • The weights should be regulated properly so that your muscles reach full failure after 5 to 8 reps. Muscle failure is reached when you will not be able to perform even a single more repetition.
  • Enjoy the benefits of the negative parts of the exercise. The negative part of weight training refers to the lowering of the weight. The weight should be lowered down slowly, and you need to concentrate on the muscle being worked. This will stimulate further growth and strength because muscles are weakest in positive/contracting movements.
  • You should not rest for a period longer than 35 seconds in between exercises. Long rest periods causes the intensity of the workout to be reduced resulting in difficulty reaching the failure point.
  • Supplements for muscle recovery are recommended when doing HIT, due to the reason that this technique puts a large amount of pressure on the muscles.

Though High Intensity Training has the perks of achieving greater results in a shorter period of time than the typical multiple set workouts, it should be reserved for those who are already fit and looking for an additional challenge or quick boost. If you are not particularly fit and/or overweight it is recommended to stick with the traditional way of exercising until your muscles are stronger in order to prevent injury.

 Check out getbulky.com’s  new HITMAN High intensity training manual: http://www.getbulky.com/high-intensity-training.html


Resources: http://www.bradgouthrofitness.com, www.workoutexperiment.com, www.backformfitness.com

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